Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sneaking up from nowhere? Or are we just not looking?

The other week I went to the launch of WebMission 09, the focus of which is Enterprise 2.0. This got me doing a bit of research, first on the web, but then by asking the younger members of my family. It turns out that this is more than a gratuitous application of the latest marketing terminology. There is a revolution going on in cyberspace and many in "normal" business are not giving it the attention it deserves. Some of the tools that have been developed don’t come labelled as “business relevant”. Some of them have their beginnings in distinctly odd places. Who would have thought that when Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Digg first started that they would play a part in the election of an American president? On Facebook, he has evolved to a new model post the election, on Youtube, almost 113,000,000 people have viewed his channel, on Twitter he has 135,000 followers, and on Digg his election night announcement got 36,000 diggs – he has the top 2. By comparison the Number 10 YouTube can’t quite manage 6,000 views!! It's not just social networking. Who could have foreseen the power of Wiki’s in capturing, rationalising and communicating the tacit knowledge held in a community? Who would have foreseen the proliferation of blogs, or that people could earn a living in Second Life? Yes, we need to think harder about what these tools can.


Friday, 28 November 2008

Another step on the journey

Yesterday we spent a fairly large number of hours at the sift panel for the sandpit.  We have been going through the 240 plus Expressions of Interest as individuals, but yesterday we met as a group of mentors and funders to select those who will attend.  None of us have ever seen such a huge interest and selecting 30 from the 240 was always going to be a difficult and taxing process.  Those of you who have filled them in know this, but for the rest of you.... the first page of the EoI covers the experience of the applicant and what they can bring to the sandpit in terms of expertise.  The second page addresses the processes that we use in a sandpit.  We have learned several things over the last few years.  The first is that this second page effectively determines who will be successful in a sandpit.  The second is that some applicants know this and spend time making their points.  A complication of this sandpit is the wide range of expertise we need to assemble to address the issues in the area.  We had to balance the numbers of "hard science" people, "soft science" people, designers and so on.  

The bottom line is that we selected 33 people who will be hearing from the EPSRC in the next few days.  Apologies to all those we didn't select.  What we do now know is that this area is ripe for investment and there is a strong capability in the knowledge base.  I suspect the EPSRC may well be thinking about whether to invest more... but then it's not my decision.


Thursday, 13 November 2008

in loving memory

I found out today that i'm not the only one who cant bring himself to delete the contact details of deceased friends and family from his mobile phone.
It seems to me to be a little bit too..... "Final", to simply erase an old friend from memory - and perhaps this is the problem - perhaps I have personalised the word "memory" and consider my phone now as an extension of my very being. I have no doubt that these past friends will stay with me for ever in my head, so why does it feel so wrong to delete them from my phone?

And the realisation that other people might have the same anxieties, made me think - perhaps in this digital age we need a 'digital resting place' where we could go with our mobile phones to transfer the 'memory' of a deceased friend with a little more respect and dignity than simply clicking 'delete'

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Location Anchored Virtual Reality

This involves anchoring a virtual reality experience at a physical location. Thus the experiences in the virtual world can only be had at a specific real location. Eg.

• A virtual command post can be set up at the scene of an incident. This command post involves the sharing of information in the virtual world but can only be accessed by those at the scene of the incident.

• A set of blogs and media files are left at famous outdoor sculptures. Groups of friends can contribute, copy, and share files only while they are viewing the sculpture.

reference -

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Be careful what you wish for....

The time limit for expressions of interest has passed and we now have to sift them to decide who gets to come on the sandpit.  Usually, for a sandpit, you need between 25 and 30 people.  Too few and you are starved for interaction.  Too many and you cannot get progress on a small number of impactful projects.  From my experience, there are about twice as many applicants as places, so the process is fairly civilised.  On Friday afternoon, I got the pack of 260 applicants.  This gives us a logistics problem and the applicants an aspirational one!!!

We now have to have a longer sift meeting - to give those who have applied a fair crack of the whip, it ought to last a couple of days!!!  We are now working on how to manage the process.

To those of you who have applied, you have to lower your expectations.  You have a 1 in 10 chance of taking part.

The question we are musing over is whether we picked a particularly attractive part of this space to explore with you, or whether there is so much to do that you all applied because this is the first open call in the area.  If you have any thoughts, please let us know.


Monday, 3 November 2008

Will the DE eliminate my need to travel?

I love Paris in the springtime, I love Paris in the Fall.... etc etc but man, its a pain in the neck to get out of during the rush hour on a cold, wet Thursday evening. As I sat at the drivers wheel of my car staring at the miles of red brake lights ahead of me, I had a lot of time to think.
Why on earth had we come into to Paris for the day? We're we mad?
I love Paris. We had walked from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe, through the Tuileries and along the Champs-Élysées. We visited the Centre Pompidou and of course we shopped. All fabulous real-world physical expereinces - there is no substitute for "being there"..... or is there?
A quick search on the internet suggests that maybe we are not so far away from being able to experience foriegn travel without the hassle of rush hour traffic jams.

There are hundreds of websites that claim to provide a "virtual tour" of paris - certainly some do provide great photos of the scenary and interesting snippets of history -

want some sounds too?

why I can even do my own walk through paris with google streets -,-95.712891&spn=47.167389,92.8125&z=4&om=1&layer=c&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-google-svn&utm_medium=ha

How about if i want try some of that lovely French wine? Well it looks like i can have an online wine tasting with

But what about the smell of being there?

Ah but surely you cant experience that miserable feeling of the rain online can you? Well it might not quite be rain yet, but the idea is getting closer -

So perhaps, we're not so far away from being able to enjoy the experiences of foriegn travel without the traffic jams...... without the travel..... without the foriegn???