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Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Silicon Valley Diary – Part 1

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Google Sign Mtn ViewHey everyone, it’s Thea here again reporting to you live from the valley of silicon.

Well, I’ve been here a week already and it’s been a non-stop trip so far. I’ll reckon I’ll need a holiday to recover from my holiday.

I’ll be honest with you, trips to California always sound much more glamorous than they actually are, for me it’s just going home. But home to a place where every other corner practically has a tech company on it and every daily car ride is, invariably, past at least one of the big names we’re all familiar with now, be it Yahoo, Apple, Cisco, Google, IBM etc.

Something in that still remains cool to my inner geek. It’s a little inspiring in some way to be surrounded by these global companies. It’s like the valley is steeped in an entrepreneurial spirit that isn’t quite the same anywhere else I’ve ever been.

Scotland, of course, has had its amazing contributions in terms of inventions (television; telephones; penicillin; antiseptics,…hello), but, arguably, not particularly in its global start ups.

Nope nowhere else on earth is quite like the valley.

ONE FOR THE BOOKS

My first weekend was spent in Santa Cruz at an intensive writing conference – discussing various project ideas with other would-be writers. Additionally, we heard experiences of authors, editors, agents and marketing experts.

Much time was spent going over the new paths for publishing (mainstream press, self publishing, different types of ebooks, etc), as well as the various opportunities used to promote works through different social media channels.

Did you know there are 1000 books a day published by mainstream publishers? Or that 47,000 novels were published in America last year? Or that on Amazon: Kindle books are outselling all print books?

Well, I sure didn’t…

Over all I have to say that writing conference was an experience that managed to be both inspirational and deflating in equal measure.

WE CAN ALL BE JOURNALISTS THESE DAYS

The past two days were spent at Stanford University attending a conference: the Eighth Innovation Journalism – how innovation is affecting the business of journalism – from mobile publishing to collective intelligence.

At NSDesign we’re lovers of technology, trends, and of course social media so this conference, too, was right up my street.

There were students, technologists, journalists, and entrepreneurs from all four corners of the globe discussing the many ways we’re all connecting and changing history through stories. Not a new subject – it’s one we covered recently here on our blog and how journalists are using social media for news gathering.

Never has this all been more apparent than in the major global stories over the past year – from the Iceland Ash Cloud, to Japan’s earthquake and Tsunami, to protests in Egypt, to the floods and tornadoes across America.

These incredible events, coupled with today’s mobile technology (smart phones, handheld video cameras etc), mean that any one of us has an opportunity become a citizen journalist if we’re in the right (or wrong) place at the time of the event.

The whole landscape of news, publishing, and indeed interaction is changing and what can feel like break-neck speeds. It’s certainly been a thought-provoking and interesting time to be alive, has it not?

In part two of my Silicon Valley Diary, I’ll be sharing some of the latest hot sites and exciting apps that people have been talking about here in the valley.

Check back Monday for that, OK?

So until then, I’m Thea, saying “See Ya!” :)

The Digital Future Debate

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Last Sunday’s Glasgow Herald included a nice article and review on the recent “Digital Future Debate” where a load of technologists, educators, politicians and entrepreneurs all met up to discuss a strategy for Scotland moving technology forward for the good of the nation and it’s economy.

Firstly – I’m genuinely sorry I didn’t attend myself – I was invited but other commitments meant I couldn’t attend.  That said – it does sound like much of the discussions centred around some “not so new” ideas.

To summarise (you can read the whole article here), the debate focussed on 3 themes – Infrastructure, Innovation and Education.  The main Infrastructure discussion appears to have been the issue of getting the country’s broadband improved above the current 8 megabits per second maximum, with much condemning of the former Scottish Executive for not investing in a lightning fast fibre-optic network at the start of 2007.  BT’s role was under under examination, with their “8mb is fast enough for what we need now” attitude generally slated for the lack of future vision, and understanding of the potential that a truely high-speed bandwidth infrastructure might provide (the next Google or YouTube based in Scotland?).  From a web-hosting perspective, the days of “unlimited hosting” and “all you can eat bandwidth” might actually become reality (don’t get me started on the webhosts that currently offer this!!) if such a network became available.  Like everything – from an enduser point of view, it’ll come down to cost.

Innovation was an interesting one… with points such as “can every schoolkid get a laptop” and the notion of creating “digital tsars” charged with promoting and championing the nation to embrace hi-tech.  The later is an idea that personally I think has great potential.  There’s a few good initiatives currently happenning in Scottish Schools to help promote science and technology, the focus (quite rightly) being on demonstrating the actual practical implementations of learning the various curricular subjects, and seeing what they mean to the “real world”.  One example of this is the “Technology Challenge” that NSDesign hope to be involved with this year.

 This leads into the final topic of Education, where the best quote of the day must surely have come from Steve Leach (bigmouthmedia)-

“Typical entrepreneurs are people with high drive and low compliance. That makes them difficult to live with, but it also makes them top-quality business people, and the schools we have today are looking for the complete opposite,” he said. “They look for high conformance and low drive, and this is creating a nation of robots who walk in, do what they’re told and move on. I think we need to address that as a fundamental issue and look at ways in which we can reclassify classroom troublemakers as the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

This concept again ties in with some really great work already being done in Scotland, looking at education from a different angle, focussing on a skills-based learning system and equipping the people of Scotland with the capabilities to face the challenges of 21st century life.  The Urban Learning Space (which I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with) is one such initiative that I hope continues to pioneer in this area.

So – once we sort out Infrastructure, Innovation and Education – then Scotland will be in a position to become a world-leading hi-tech country where no one can stop us!!  If only it was that easy.  All good and valid points were brought up, but nothing (I fear) truely new, and as one “commenter” has already posted on the Sunday Herald website – “quite frankly, I hear this in EVERY country I visit”.  Don’t get me wrong – there is a clearly a need for such forums, and gatherings of the “people that matter” – it’s apparent that anything which can help this country adopt a more “joined-up thinking” approach is vital – but perhaps it’s now a time for less thinking, and for just getting on with the “doing”.