My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 071709

From the home office in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.

#1: Reading: Your Idea Sucks, Now Go Do It Anyway http://bit.ly/10Dwi0 Most important thing is to get started, not be right #innovation

#2: Love this quote: “Disruptive innovation has been held up as the Olympics of innovation sport.” http://bit.ly/15ypw6

#3: Google and Apple “are accidental competitors. They just don’t seem to know it yet.” http://bit.ly/4xjXCJ

#4: Reading: Adoption stories http://bit.ly/6hNJr by @panklam on The AppGap #e20 #e2adoption

#5: Social Computing Journal picks up my post – Enterprise 2.0: Culture Is as Culture Does http://bit.ly/eTA43 #e20

#6: P&G’s @JoeSchueller has a nice comment on Google Wave’s potential in the enterprise on Socialtext’s blog: http://bit.ly/xRkGj

#7: I like @fredwilson‘s take on customers. Active transactors vs. active users. http://bit.ly/WrHQ2

#8: RT @markivey Why BusinessWeek Matters (from a former BW writer) http://bit.ly/fe9GC Really GREAT post, why we *need* our news institutions

#9: An entrepreneur who has built companies in both Silicon Valley and NYC describes the issues w/NYC for startups: http://bit.ly/G2Hss

#10: I ♥ wikis

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My Take on Crowdsourcing Published on Business Week’s Website

Business Week’s Editor for Innovation and Design, Helen Walters, recently asked the crowd for their opinions on crowdsourcing, via Twitter:

thoughts on crowdsourcing? @jtwinsor has written a bw op-ed but we want to publish the crowd’s take, too. (pls RT!)

I replied with a couple tweets, which I then coalesced into a single thought via email. Business Week recently published ten of these opinions. Here’s mine:

BusinessWeek quote on crowdsourcingYou can see all of the opinions, and the a link to John Winsor’s op-ed here. Another contributor, Braden Kelley, also wrote up his Business Week crowdsourcing comment on his blog Blogging Innovation.

U.S. Innovation Is Failing, or It’s Never Been Better

BusinessWeek TimeTwo stories came out this week from Business Week and Time, with polar opposite views of what’s happening with U.S. innovation. Here’s the glass-is-half-empty version from Business Week, The Failed Promise of Innovation in the U.S.:

“We live in an era of rapid innovation.” I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase, or some variant, over and over again. The evidence appears to be all around us: Google (GOOG), Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, flat-screen televisions, the Internet itself.

But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if outside of a few high-profile areas, the past decade has seen far too few commercial innovations that can transform lives and move the economy forward? What if, rather than being an era of rapid innovation, this has been an era of innovation interrupted? And if that’s true, is there any reason to expect the next decade to be any better?

There’s no government-constructed “innovation index” that would allow us to conclude unambiguously that we’ve been experiencing an innovation shortfall. Still, plenty of clues point in that direction. Start with the stock market. If an innovation boom were truly happening, it would likely push up stock prices for companies in such leading-edge sectors as pharmaceuticals and information technology.

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Instead, the stock index that tracks the pharmaceutical, biotech, and life sciences companies in the Standard & Poor’s (MHP) 500-stock index dropped 32% from the end of 1998 to the end of 2007, after adjusting for inflation. The information technology index fell 29%. To pick out two major companies: The stock price of Merck declined 35% between the end of 1998 and the end of 2007, after adjusting for inflation, while the stock price of Cisco Systems (CSCO) was down 9%.

Consider another indicator of commercially important innovation: the trade balance in advanced technology products. The Census Bureau tracks imports and exports of goods in 10 high-tech areas, including life sciences, biotech, advanced materials, and aerospace. In 1998 the U.S. had a $30 billion trade surplus in these advanced technology products; by 2007 that had flipped to a $53 billion deficit. Surprisingly, the U.S. was running a trade deficit in life sciences, an area where it is supposed to be a leader.

A more indirect indication of the lack of innovation lies in the wages of college-educated workers. These are the people we would expect to prosper in growing, innovative industries that need smart, creative employees. But the numbers tell a different story. From 1998 to 2007, earnings for a U.S. worker with a bachelor’s degree rose only 0.4%, adjusted for inflation. And young college graduates—who should be able to take advantage of opportunities in hot new industries—were hit by a 2.8% real decline in wages.

The final clue: the agonizingly slow improvement in death rates by age, despite all the money thrown into health-care research. Yes, advances in health care can affect the quality of life, but one would expect any big innovation in medical care to result in a faster decline in the death rate as well.

Now here’s what Time Magazine says in How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live:

When we talk about innovation and global competitiveness, we tend to fall back on the easy metric of patents and Ph.D.s. It turns out the U.S. share of both has been in steady decline since peaking in the early ’70s. (In 1970, more than 50% of the world’s graduate degrees in science and engineering were issued by U.S. universities.) Since the mid-’80s, a long progression of doomsayers have warned that our declining market share in the patents-and-Ph.D.s business augurs dark times for American innovation. The specific threats have changed. It was the Japanese who would destroy us in the ’80s; now it’s China and India.

But what actually happened to American innovation during that period? We came up with America Online, Netscape, Amazon, Google, Blogger, Wikipedia, Craigslist, TiVo, Netflix, eBay, the iPod and iPhone, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter itself. Sure, we didn’t build the Prius or the Wii, but if you measure global innovation in terms of actual lifestyle-changing hit products and not just grad students, the U.S. has been lapping the field for the past 20 years.

How could the forecasts have been so wrong? The answer is that we’ve been tracking only part of the innovation story. If I go to grad school and invent a better mousetrap, I’ve created value, which I can protect with a patent and capitalize on by selling my invention to consumers. But if someone else figures out a way to use my mousetrap to replace his much more expensive washing machine, he’s created value as well. We tend to put the emphasis on the first kind of value creation because there are a small number of inventors who earn giant paydays from their mousetraps and thus become celebrities. But there are hundreds of millions of consumers and small businesses that find value in these innovations by figuring out new ways to put them to use.

There are several varieties of this kind of innovation, and they go by different technical names. MIT professor Eric von Hippel calls one “end-user innovation,” in which consumers actively modify a product to adapt it to their needs. In its short life, Twitter has been a hothouse of end-user innovation: the hashtag; searching; its 11,000 third-party applications; all those creative new uses of Twitter — some of them banal, some of them spam and some of them sublime. Think about the community invention of the @ reply. It took a service that was essentially a series of isolated microbroadcasts, each individual tweet an island, and turned Twitter into a truly conversational medium. All of these adoptions create new kinds of value in the wider economy, and none of them actually originated at Twitter HQ. You don’t need patents or Ph.D.s to build on this kind of platform.

Hogwash

My own opinion is that Time is right, Business Week is off here.  Business Week’s article makes a tough-to-sell argument based on the stock market and stagnating wages. It looks at trade deficits, and death rates. These macro factors certainly reflect innovations, but they’re affected by too many factors to lay it all at innovation’s feet.

While I don’t have a decade-by-decade list of innovations to back up my view, I in no way think we’re living in a period of failing innovation.

We, as people, are just as creative as we’ve always been. There’s been no mass mutation of our genetics to cause a decline there. The same spirit that compelled our great-grandparents is alive and well inside us. If there was a drop in innovation, it would need an identifiable systemic cause. Business Week doesn’t provide that.

We’re living in an era where entrepreneurship has never been more accessible. Capital, outside of dips in the economic cycle, is readily accessible. Technology is cheaper than ever. The ability to leverage the web for marketing and information is unprecedented.

The Time article gets it right. The innovations continue apace, many of which are more distributed than before. I saw this firsthand at Maker Faire, where average folks are turning out all sorts of cool things.

When you distribute the innovatin’ to the people, it’s only a matter of time before a wave of new ideas will emerge for all of us to enjoy.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 052909

From the home office in Pyongyang, North Korea…

#1: Twitter may add some FriendFeed features to the service, is what @scobleizer heard today at #140tc http://bit.ly/d87Av

#2: Business Week includes the Cisco fatty story in its article about managing corporate reputations online: http://bit.ly/3ZCG9

#3: @justinmwhitaker I take a broader view on innovation. The perception is that it’s all Clay Christensen disruptive. Most will be incremental.

#4: You know what I like about working at Spigit? Plenty of competition out there. Fun to see them laying the smack down on us. Love it.

#5: Four of the most damaging words to corporate innovation an employee can say: “Aww, forget about it” #innovation

#6: Great post on critical distinctions in #e20 use cases, and ‘collaboration’ vs. ‘participation’ by @johnt http://bit.ly/12umLp

#7:  @dhinchcliffe Very keen to hear enterprise perspectives on Google Wave. Will it compete w/ SocialText, Socialcast, CubeTree, Yammer?

#8: When does a company need a dedicated product mgt function? $1.5-$3.0 mm in revenue and/or 20-25 employees: http://bit.ly/C2CTr

#9: Dara Torres sets a new record in 50 meter butterfly http://bit.ly/lsRER And sadly, I find myself wondering how a 42 y.o. is setting records.

#10: Just looked at my E*Trade account for the first time in months. Less bad than I thought.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 050109

From the home office in La Gloria, Mexico…

#1: Not sure if it’s good or bad that I just learned that David Souter is retiring from the Supreme Court via Twitter Trending Topics.

#2: Had to do it, subscribed to @whitehouse

#3: The #TCOT grass roots conservative movement on Twitter is riven by feuding at the top: http://bit.ly/nwr1m

#4: Interested in corporate innovation? Join Forrester’s @oliveryoung & me for a webinar to learn practical ways to improve  http://bit.ly/cGI4W

#5: Reading: How to Get the Most From Your Best Ideas http://bit.ly/kuWci by @Accenture

#6: Looking at BW’s 50 most innovative companies http://bit.ly/18nBe7 How much of what #1 Apple & #2 Google do really applies to most companies?

#7: Reading – Enterprise 2.0 marketing score card: solid ‘C’ http://bit.ly/T1yJi by @sameerpatel Great Google Trends charts

#8: Joined foursquare, which asks you to add/rate stuff for cities. Hard to be hip as a parent, here’s my playground entry http://bit.ly/MBsE4

#9: Really interesting study and hypothesis about how our brains forget/rewrite memories just by recalling them http://bit.ly/1941k8

#10: Today is apparently a big day 4 college acceptance letters. Here’s a post that describes harshest/nicest reject letters http://bit.ly/1anN7p

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 032709

From the home office in Fargo, North Dakota…

#1: My alma mater, UVa, to drop its computer labs since everyone has laptops. http://bit.ly/6YnAe I remember the labs well.

#2: MSNBC picks up the cisco fatty story: http://bit.ly/IJH5

#3: ABC News online picks up the cisco fatty story http://bit.ly/HodQ1

#4: The twitterer behind the cisco fatty incident, @theconnor , blogs her response: “Dear Internet Superheroes” http://bit.ly/tDx4k

#5: Connor Riley (@theconnor of cisco fatty fame) sits down with MSNBC online for an interview http://bit.ly/KDcPe

#6: “Business is a good game – lots of competition and a minimum of rules. You keep score with money.” Nolan Bushnell (Atari founder)

#7: A classic Business Week article from 2000 asks “But how will Google ever make money?” http://bit.ly/ovA6x #twitterbusinessmodel

#8: Catching up on this amazing e2.0 post by @dhinchcliffe “Sharepoint and Enterprise 2.0: The good, the bad, and the ugly” http://bit.ly/IAiDW

#9: Still wonder why we don’t have BART ringing around the SF Bay. Instead, we get BART + Caltrain. Why? Tracks is tracks.

#10: Utterly fascinated with the SF K Files blog where parents (i.e. moms) are posting info about the kindergarten arms race: http://bit.ly/sl5fU

Business Week Launches Info Sharing Social Network – Will It Float?

Business Week Magazine has entered the social networking world with Business Exchange. Business Exchange is built around the sharing of information and discussing it with others. Here’s how Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler described it:

“Business Exchange, a free online information hub, is a new initiative of BusinessWeek.com. It enhances the ongoing reporting and analysis of Business Week writers and editors in print and online by aggregating other sources of news and analysis (including other media brands, blogs, videos, and research reports). Readers can use it to track business trends, with hundreds of topics available at launch, or create a specific topic that’s not currently on the Exchange.

The best part is the social underpinning of this platform. Users (including our journalists and editors) can share their own knowledge about a subject to enrich each topic far beyond what any single person or search engine can accomplish.

Business Exchange is a mix of:

  • Social bookmarking
  • Forums
  • Social network

Business Exchange vs. FriendFeed

FriendFeed actually has a similar mission to that described by Business Week’s editor-in-chief. So I put together a quick comparison of the two sites:

FriendFeed feels like a hotbed of activity, the kind of site where you’re compelled to hit the F5 refresh button. Business Exchange is more staid, partly because it doesn’t yet have an active user base, partly due to its design. The key design points from the table above that make a difference are:

  • Bounce to the top – Adding a comment or a save doesn’t move an item to the top of the Business Exchange page for a given topic, losing that feeling of “what’s hot”.
  • Forced segregation of content – For a given topic in Business Exchange, you can look at News or Blogs or References. But you can’t take them all in at once.
  • View Saves by user – In the list of entries on Business Exchange, you can’t see how many times an item has been Saved. This information is available for an individual item. But it’s not an easy experience to see what others found valuable.

As seen in this discussion, community, conversations, variety and outstanding design are making a difference for FriendFeed.

That being said, Business Exchange is new and it’s beta. Let’s see what they are doing.

Business Exchange’s Features

Content is both streamed and added. Being streamed into Business Exchange seems like a nice bonus for a media site or blogger. Check out the difference below in the way these two items made it into Business Exchange:

The MyDebates post was “published” into the topic. The Soul of the Enterprise post was “added” to the topic. From what I can tell, designated media sites and blogs are automatically added based on either key words or tags.

Full Profile. You get a full profile page on Business Exchange. Work, education, picture and up to four links to other sites. It also shows your recent activity, which is nice.

Building a social network. You can’t search for other users. So you find them when they’re displayed as “Active Users” on the site, via the items they Save or Comments they make. It makes it a bit challenging to build out your list of subscriptions. Your subscriptions are simply a list, and you can click an individual to see their activity. There is not currently a way to see the aggregated activities only of your subscriptions.

Focus on Most Active. At different points on the site, Business Exchange gives a list of what’s most active. The home page tells you the most active Topics, and gives a list of Active Users. Each topic includes a list of Most Active, which does aggregate from News, Blogs and References.

The definition of Most Active inside a topic is probably based on the number of Views, Saves and Comments. You can see all of those stats for an item when you go to make a Comment. I like seeing those stats.

If You’re Business Minded, Check It Out

It’s early in the life of Business Exchange. Getting more users will, of course, make it a more interesting place to hang out. It doesn’t hurt that it hangs off the businessweek.com site, and that it can get periodic boosts from the print magazine.

I’m still learning the site, and maybe the Most Active tab for each Topic is the place to be.

My profile on Business Exchange is here. If you sign up, add me, and I’ll add you back.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Business+Week+Launches+Info+Sharing+Social+Network+-+Will+It+Float%3F%22&public=1