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Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Innovating with Information

The 2008 Alamden Institute had the theme Innovating with Information. There were two days of excellent, varied speakers.

Hal Varian mused about why many innovations occur almost simultaneously. He suggested looking at all the conditions surrounding them rather than the innovator. Eli Whitney might get credit for interchangeable parts but there was a long lead up to them going back to the French of Jefferson's time.

Moore's Law was not a law but a way to coordinate the whole IT industry, allowing everyone in the value chain to predict the future.

Google should do AdSense--ads on others web sites--simply to nuture the internet from which it profits.

Kristopher Pister, the creator of Smart Dust, revealed that secret to commercialization of the idea was supporting industrial sensing. "It's the avoidance of wires, stupid!" I was reminded of David Gerlenter's introduction to Mirror Worlds in which he predicts a singularity on the day the control of the real world passes to the internet.

Someone suggested that social networks are important tools for coping with information overload.

Mark Dean describe opportunities in Africa for computing, especially mobile, and IBM's commitment to the continent. I wonder if the real opportunities for mobile business are in the developing world. There is less money there, but less competing infrastructure. Esther Dyson, at the Berkman@10 conference raised the cautionary note that many phone companies in Africa are just as retrograde and entrenched as our own.

Brenda Dietrich asked what a "bill of materials" would look like for a consulting gig.

My overall takeaway: the "clicks to bricks" investing approach is alive and well. The internet represents a delightful, friction-free zone where information is cheap. So buy information on the internet and sell it in the physical world where things are not cheap. Find ways to apply the internet to real, non-information problems: industrial automation, health care, energy, Africa, ...

posted by Jim Morris @ 10:50 AM  42 comments

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