Bitcoin has been designed to be resilient against not just technological attacks, but also political ones. Cryptography, incentives and decentralization are all tools used to give the Bitcoin network a high level of resiliency. Here I will discuss how communication decentralization is important for Bitcoin’s resiliency and how this feature can be enhanced with alternative last-mile communication technologies such as mobile mesh networks...[more]
Most people try to win.
The real question is, “at what?”
If you focus your sights on winning the local bowling league, the effort can consume you, and you will be aware of your progress and your competition.
Or, if you turn the poetry you’re writing into your game, with the goal of winning that next stanza–not in the eyes of a publisher, an editor or a reader, but in your eyes–you can turn that into your thing.
If, instead, your goal is to raise more money at a higher valuation in the Valley, then that’s the game you’ve chosen.
Or, perhaps, your game is to bend others to your will, to prey on yet another human you see as weaker than you are…
Often, we choose games we can’t possibly win. That approach might be working for you, as it lets you off the hook because you won’t have to work out what to do if you win.
And sometimes, we choose games where we can’t win unless someone else loses. And these games can often have long-term, toxic after-effects.
As you can see, modifying a game you’re already playing because you don’t like how it’s turning out isn’t nearly as useful as picking the right game in the first place.
The green innovation centre in Benin focuses on exploiting the potential offered by rice, soy and poultry.
What is so innovative? Coaching in business administration: Every fortnight, 60 experts visit a total of 1,500 farms and processing plants. They provide instruction in the following areas of business administration: management, accounts, preparation of business plans and development of visions for the future. This enables firms to expand and new jobs to be created...[more]
Still Practiced Pagan Rituals of Europe
For years, photographer Charles Freger, has been traveling throughout European countries trying to capture the spirit of what he calls “tribal Europe” in his “Wilder Mann” series.
Pagan rituals mainly relating to winter solstice and spring renewal were the most common rituals he came across. The series of pictures/costumes above are meant to explain the complicated relationship humans have with nature and life and death cycles.
The FULL SERIES is absolutely amazing. Check out all the costumes we couldn’t include in the post.
The list of reasons is nearly endless.
We need all of them to explain the shortcuts, phone-ins and half-work that we’re surrounded by.
All of them are pretty good reasons too. We’re in a hurry, the system is unfair, the market demands it, no one will notice, it’s not my job, I was handed a lousy spec, the materials are second-rate, the market won’t pay for quality, competition is cutthroat, my boss is a jerk, it’s actually pretty good, no one appreciates the good stuff anyway…
On the other hand, there’s only one way to justify work that’s better than it needs to be: Because you cared enough.
Loosen the constraints on a system and the system will almost always do better in the short run.
That’s if we define better as the visible outputs of what the system does. And short run as, “the stuff that happens before we have to live with the side effects.”
So… if you remove environmental regulation from a factory, it will probably make more stuff faster. For awhile. But then the river is sludge and the workers are dead, so in the long run, not so much.
If you stop paying taxes, you’ll have more money today. But the civilization you depend on to enjoy that money will soon disappear.
If you stop taking medicine because you don’t like the stomach ache it gives you, you’ll definitely have a better day today. Until you stop having a better day, because of the illness that comes back because you stopped taking your medicine.
All side effects are more simply called “effects.” And getting clear about the time frame we live in is the first step to leaving things better than we found them.
This week, Ben, my youngest, graduates from high school. Which for any photographer dad also means senior photos. We obliged mom with a standard version, shot in the back yard with a soft box and underexposed foliage as a backdrop.
But we also wanted to do something a little cooler, of the real Ben: at his desk, late at night, appropriately doing some kind of science/engineering.
So this is what we came up with. Lit simply, the fill light was an on-camera flash. The key light was, well, a pencil.Read more »
Through its subsidiary, CARL Sweet Food, the company produces a range of innovative food products using sweet potatoes...[more]
Kommerce deploys blockchain, cryptocurrency and data analysis to empower African businesses to access capital markets - and for capital markets to safely and efficiently finance African businesses.
Best I can tell, most of the folks in the organized crime industry care a lot more about the ‘organized’ part than they do the ‘crime.’
Organized as in: who’s up and who’s down. Who gets to decide. Who’s in charge and who has power.
The crime is simply a shortcut.
The same is true for people on Wall Street. The money is simply a means to keep score of the organized part.
When people are willing to sacrifice their principles to take shortcuts, when they’re willing to bully or cheat or lie to get more status, we are understandably disdainful. Because the boundaries matter. Because we can see that once someone is willing to cheat a little to win, they’re probably willing to cheat a lot.
I wrote down a few thoughts on Facebook's cryptocurrency efforts, and how they might affect their work in developing markets. I welcome all criticism and arguments.
Spend a minute looking at Facebook’s Q1 2019 Report and you’ll find a healthy business firing on all cylinders. In spite of all the negative news on Facebook, it seems to be doing well - profits are up, user numbers are growing and all is well with the world. On deeper examination, one sees the justification for some of Facebook’s recent moves...[more]
If you start a book, you will do better if you have a plan for finishing your book.
If you take the time and spend the money to go to college, it’s worth considering graduating as well.
Aretha Franklin died without a clearly stated will. As a result, her heirs will waste time, money and frustration, because Franklin was both naive (a will doesn’t make it more likely that you will die) and selfish.
If you’re born, it pays to plan on dying.
Every year, millions of people needlessly suffer in old age because they didn’t spend twenty minutes on a health care proxy.
If you’re going to take a job, everyone will benefit if you think about how you’re going to leave that job.
And if you start a company, you should realize that you’re probably going to either sell it or fold it one day, and neither has to be a catastrophe or a failure.
Beginning is magical. So is finishing. We can embrace both.
Civilization depends on the apology. When humans interact and something goes wrong, the apology builds a bridge that enables us to move forward.
But apologies are failing more often. Two reasons: First, organizations aren’t humans, and organizations often seek to avoid or industrialize the human work that civilization needs. And secondly, the apology is a complex organism, one with many structures and purposes, and our culture models (or fails to model) how it’s supposed to be done.
Consider that we can say, “I’m sorry” at a funeral even if we didn’t murder the deceased, but we also say, “I’m sorry” when we bump into someone in a crowded train station and “I’m sorry” when we get caught shoplifting. Three different situations, with fundamentally different amounts of complicity, blame or guilt.
When someone accidentally bumps into us, we don’t expect compensation or punishment, but we very much want to be acknowledged. On the other hand, acknowledgment is insufficient when someone sought to profit from our pain.
We can start by asking, “what is this apology for?” What does the person need from us?
- To be seen
- Punishment for the transgressor
- Stopping the damage
The first category is the one that most demands humanity, and it’s also the most common. A form letter from a company does not make us feel seen. Neither does an automated text from an airline when a plane is late. One reason that malpractice victims sue is that surgeons sometimes have trouble with a genuine apology. This non-human behavior is getting worse and is being celebrated in parts of our culture (mistaking it for strength), which leads to a demand for the other three.
Compensation is the ancient tradition of seeking to make a victim whole. Unless the injury is solely financial, financial compensation is insufficient, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t tried to build systems that use money to atone for ills.
Punishment is different from compensation. Punishment allows the victim to feel seen, because he or she is now aware that the transgressor feels some pain as well. (Punishment is unsatisfying to the victim if he or she is unaware of it). Punishment is economically suspect, though, because other than the second-order feeling of being seen, the punishment doesn’t directly help the person who was injured. It also can spiral forward, leading to ever more damage.
And finally, stopping the damage, which often co-exists with the other three needs. This is the affirmative act of making sure it doesn’t happen again. This is correcting the website so that the next person who reads it won’t see the same error. This is fixing the railing so the next visitor won’t trip and fall. This is the organization investing time and energy to actually improve its systems.
Compounding these totally different sorts of apologies is the very industrial idea of winning. Victims have been sold that it’s not enough that your compensation is merely helpful, but it has to be the most. That you won the biggest judgment in history. That the transgressor isn’t simply going to jail, but is going to jail forever, far away, in solitary confinement. We’ve all ended up in a place where one of the ways to feel seen is to also feel like you came in first place compared to others.
There’s an old cartoon–an irate customer is standing at the complaints desk of a store, clearly not mollified by the clerk. She then asks, exasperated, “well, what if we shut down the store, burn it to the ground and run the owner out of town… will that be enough?”
The challenge that organizations have is that they haven’t trained, rewarded or permitted their frontline employees to exert emotional labor to create human connection when it’s most needed.
The traveler goes straight from, “my flight is overbooked,” to “I want a million frequent flyer miles and a first class ticket on the next flight.”
The patient goes from, “the scar on my leg isn’t healing,” to “I’m going to sue you.”
And the most common unseen situation is the customer who walks away, forever, because you have a broken system and you’re not hearing from your people about how to fix it.
Organizations that refuse to see the pain they’re causing because they’re afraid of being held responsible have missed the point. You’re already being held responsible. The question is what to do about it? You can stonewall, bureaucratize and delay, and hope that the system will suffice…
The alternative is to choose to contribute to connection by actually apologizing. Apologizing not to make the person go away, but because they have feelings, and you can do something for them. Apologizing with time and direct contact, and following it up by actually changing the defective systems that caused the problem.
“Yikes, I’m sorry you missed your flight–I really wish that hadn’t happened. The next flight is in an hour, but that’s probably going to ruin your entire trip. Are you headed on vacation?”
“You’re right, you booked a front-facing seat, but you got one that’s facing backward–and I hear you about getting motion sickness, my sister does too… I know that Amtrak has been having trouble with our systems, but I have the hotline number of the head of ops–I’m going to call and let them know.”
“Yeah, I shouldn’t have written that review. I was in a bad mood when I wrote it. I apologize. But, to set the record straight, I’m going to delete that review and write a new one, just as loud, but this time telling people about how much you care.”
Consider that an effective apology has a few elements to it:
1. You know what sort of apology you’re offering.
2. You share your story with the aggrieved as well as hearing their story, thus becoming human, and then taking the time to help them feel seen by you.
3. You engage with the person who was harmed and find out, beyond being seen, what would help them move forward, noting that it’s impossible to make complete amends.
[It’s worth noting that these are not the same steps you’d take if you’re simply hoping the person will shut up and go away, without you seeing them. That’s not going to happen, and acting as if it will, will only make your problem worse.]
Empathy –> Connection –> Trust
Aberdeen is a Market Intelligence company. We provide market data (Firmographic, Technographic, Leads, and Intent) as well as quantitative and qualitative insights based on those data. My primary role as Chief Technology Officer is to develop and improve products that deliver and maximize the value of these data and insights. This is really the same "right content, right context, right time" problem that I have been working on for years as a content management professional.
Our strategy for detail data is to push them directly to the systems where they are actionable. For example, our Aberdeen Intent for Salesforce app creates Salesforce opportunities out of companies that are showing intent. The Salesforce app also includes some charts to visualize summaries and trends. We also have other apps to help Salesforce users interact with our firmographic and technographic data. But Salesforce accounts are often rationed and not everyone spends their time there. The conventional answer to reach other users is a customer portal.
But does the world really need yet another portal?
Technical and non-technical roles are forced to work in so many different platforms. I feel especially bad for marketers (queue the scary Brinker SuperGraphic). But every office job today seems to involve logging into different systems to check in on various dashboards or consoles.
Yes, single sign-on can make authentication easier. But SSO is rarely configured because so few of these systems are owned by Corp IT. Plus, you need to remember where to go.
Yes, an email alert can suggest when it may be worthwhile to check in on a dashboard. But establishing the right threshold for notification involves time consuming trial and error that few have the patience for. It only takes a few "false alarm" notifications to make you hesitate before following a link.
Corporate portal technologies tried to solve this problem by assembling views (portlets) into one interface but the result was both unwieldy and incomplete. There is a constant flow of BI initiatives that try to solve this problem by bringing the data together into a unified place. Too complicated. Too cumbersome. And yet another place to go.
So most users are doomed to flit from portal to portal like a bee looking for nectar.
I am starting to believe that we already have the unified, integrated portal we have been looking for. It is the email client where we spend hours of every work day. Rather than develop a dashboard or portal that people need to go to, deliver simple glance-able email reports that highlight what is new/different and needs attention.
Longtime readers of this blog may be aware of my contempt for email as a collaboration and information management tool. However, even in the age of Slack, there is no more reliable way to notify business users than email. Decision makers live in their email clients. If you want to get information in front of someone, the best place to put it is in their inbox.
Designing email-friendly business intelligence is not trivial. Beyond the technical limitations of email clients' HTML rendering capabilities, you also have to consider the context. People are already overloaded with email so the reports need to minimize cognitive load. They need to quickly convey what is important within a couple distracted seconds. Perhaps even on a mobile phone in between meetings. Less is more - just a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to make the user feel like he is in the loop and can answer questions about the status of the program or take action if necessary.
Frequency is also an important factor. The cadence should align with the decision making cycle. These emails are not for catching daily anomalies. Those types of warnings are better handled by system alerts that only go out when thresholds are met (behind schedule, over budget, no data detected...).
As I think about a portal to deliver Aberdeen's market intelligence insight, I keep going back to the question, what if our BI portal wasn't a portal at all? Wouldn't it be better to put our data into user interfaces that our clients are already looking at?
Our summer program taps into the potential of ambitious high school students, supporting you through the process of launching an actual startup.
Join a highly-curated group of promising young entrepreneurs from around the globe for four intense weeks. You'll learn from industry experts and work in a group of peer co-founders to build real products and solve business challenges in viable ways.
LaunchX isn't a business plan competition - students start real companies. These startups are driven by using the design thinking process to discover innovative opportunities, backed by extensive market research, multiple iterations of prototypes and user testing, and gaining traction through getting real customers and partnerships.
Binyavanga Wainaina died last night in a hospital in Nairobi at the age of 48. We lost him far, far too soon, but Bin spent his brief time on earth remarkably well, and packed more insight and discovery into his time than many people who survive twice as long.
Binyavanga Wainaina, photographed by Victor Dlamini for The JRB.
Like many people, I learned of Binyavanga’s work first from his remarkable and cutting essay, “How to Write About Africa”, a compendium of clichés that infect a great deal of writing about Africa, especially writing by well-meaning, liberal white westerners like myself. We met in person at TED Africa in Arusha in June, 2007, where he gave a funny and rollicking speech that touched on the rapid changes Kenya was going through, and the need for an African literary scene not centered around London or New York. (TED recently released his talk from the archives – it’s a wonderful picture of his thinking and his passions at the time.)
He and I found ourselves on the conference circuit together – searching around today, I found a video of us on a panel at PICNIC in the Netherlands in 2008. We got to know each other better that fall, when he came to Williams College – about ten miles from where I live – and was a scholar in residence for a year, and we met a few times for coffee and chats about politics. Looking back on his writing at that time, I can see his thinking move from the politics of the moment in Kenya to larger issues of the legacy of colonialism, the emergence of new pan-African identities, and the ways in which his own biography illustrated those themes. Writing in the Guardian, Helon Habila describes his autobiography, One Day I Will Write About This Place, as “subtle”, a coming of age story that helps explain how he became the brilliant and incisive commentator he was as a grown man.
What Helon and other readers didn’t know was that Bin had left a key part out of that autobiography: his identity as a gay man. In 2014, he came out in a “missing chapter” from that book, a letter to his late mother titled “I am a homosexual, mum”. In it, he explains that it took him until he was 39 to self-identify as gay, and until he was 43 to come out publicly. His coming out was a deeply brave act, as homosexuality is not recognized under Kenyan law, sexual acts between men are a felony, and there are no legal protections against discrimination for gay citizens. Over the last few years, he’s been an extremely visible LGBT activist, using the combination of his ever-sharp wit and his increasing fabulousness to bring the issue of LGBT equality to new levels of prominence and visibility in Kenya. It’s a terrible irony of his death that the Kenyan high court is about to issue a ruling that may recognize rights for LGBT Kenyans.
I sent Bin congratulations after his coming out, but the next exchanges I had with him were around his health, which took a sharp turn for the worse in 2015, with a series of strokes. Friends helped raise money for him to seek treatment in India, and he recovered well enough to tour and speak. Unfortunately, it was another stroke that felled him last night.
I am reaching the age where I am starting to lose peers. Not lots of them yet, thank god, but enough that I have noticed a pattern. I search my email and look at what we talked about and when. With Binyavanga, it’s logistics: where might we meet up and when? There’s a long exchange about Kenyan musicians Just a Band and helping find them gigs at US colleges, thoughts on what US schools are good places to spend a semester as a writer.
Today I realized that I am looking not just for memories, but for reassurance that I didn’t leave a last email unanswered. And while I’m glad that my last exchange with Binyavanga was one where he asked a question and I answered, I’m angry at myself that I hadn’t reached out in the last couple of years to ask him a question: how he was, what he was doing and thinking, his thoughts on the high court case.
Binyavanga was an inspiration as a thoughtful, brave, colorful, provocative, passionate and wise man. His transformation into a fuller, happier version of himself as he became an avatar of queer Africa was remarkable to watch, and an inspiration to think about what transformations I want to make in my own life as a mostly het, cis-gendered, middle-aged white dude. I regret that I didn’t have a last chance to talk with Binyavanga, waiting as he rolled a cigarette, collected his thoughts and declaimed his truths.
Rest in peace.
Pamii" Daniella Ekwueme is improving on tradition and filling a void in the Nigerian spirits market.
In 2016, Daniella Ekwueme, the founder of the Nigerian palm wine company Pamii, had a casual thought when looking out at her mother's land in Abuja. "She just had this farmland and she wasn't doing anything with it," she recalls. "So I was like 'Oh, have you ever thought of planting palm trees and getting palm oil or palm wine and boxing it up?"...[more]
It’s the blockbusters that get all the hype. The home runs, the viral videos, the hits.
It’s the sudden shifts, the ideas that change everything, the fell swoops.
Fell swoops seem like they’re worth chasing, but a hit isn’t a strategy, it’s an event. Nice work if you can get it, but hard to plan on or build on.
It takes patience to avoid planning on swoops. It’s more productive to live in a house that’s built out of bricks, one at a time, day by day.
Here’s to a swoop-free journey.
Do-it-yourself projects give researchers the equipment they need at bargain prices. But making your own technology requires commitment and time, and it is rarely easy...[more]
The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) has announced the names of nine SA and Zimbabwean biotech entrepreneurs that have been selected to take part in BioCiti, a six-month training programme in Cape Town.The selected companies are:
The programme, which will run at the Bandwidth Barn, is being run in partnership with SA’s OneBio and The TechVillage from Zimbabwe...[more]
- CapeBio Technologies
- Gourmet Grubb
- PharmaHealth Technologies
- WNNR Biotech
- My BluePrint
- D Chem Group
With enough top-down energy, it feels like the creator of an idea can broadcast it, anytime and anywhere. That enough hype/promo/media/leverage ought to allow a major publisher or network or candidate to bend the culture simply by yelling.
If you follow this road, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
For 500 years, this hasn’t been true for books. And now it’s not true for anything.
Ideas spread from person to person. Horizontally. Because someone who encountered an idea cared enough to spread the word, to talk about it, to insist that friends and colleagues pay attention, if just for a moment.
If you can figure out how to embrace the true fans, they’ll go ahead and spread an idea–not because you want them to, but because they want to.
Your ability to reach a tiny group of committed fans is essential. But the work spreads because of the fans, not because you figured out how to spend money to interrupt more and more strangers.
Cloudline leverages lighter-than-air technology and the latest developments in unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver essential goods and services to the 1 billion people without direct access to roads and runways
The “Africa Power Access Accelerator” program by the African Power Platform (APP) bridges the existing gap between project developers and consultants / technology providers / financiers.
The APP brings in to this program the efforts of different stakeholders to partner for the successful implementation of power projects in Africa.
Bringing together the expertise of a range of partners, the "Africa Power Access Accelerator" program creates a platform where developers can access everything required to get their project to implementation. From development expertise and funding, equity and debt providers, consultants, technology and equipment providers to full EPC and O&M services, we put viable projects on a success track...[more]
Food company Farafena (founded by Oumar Barou Togola) works with about 1,000 women from nine different villages in Mali, paying them directly for the crops they grow.
As a result, the African women have been able to start micro-businesses, build homes for their families and educate their children...[more]