Entries from October 2008 ↓

I don’t even own a TV!

Here’s an Internet culture test: how long after someone posts a comment about a particular TV show will someone else respond with “I don’t even own a TV“?  It happens more often than you’d think — on the Ars Technica openforum it happened often enough that it evolved into a meme/joke — someone would ask for advice on fixing their Toyota and someone would jokingly say “I don’t even own a car.”  How should I cut my hair?  “I don’t even have hair!”  And so on.

This is just one symptom of something you see all over the place.  Start a discussion about what version of Windows to buy, and you’ll get people telling you to install Linux (that link was the second google hit for “which version of windows to buy”).  They could well be right, but that’s not what you came to talk about, is it?
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Where’s my innovation?

I was unable to attend this year’s EMC Innovation Conference, but had a lot of fun reading up on it, and was excited to use it as an excuse to meet up with some EMC folks from near and far who were in the area.

It got me thinking, of course, about the scope of innovation here at EMC, and at other businesses.  What makes an idea innovative?  If you simply take something you’re already doing and execute against it better, are you innovating?  Or are you just trimming fat?  Is innovation something we’ll know when we see?
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Identify growth opportunities

A colleague of mine, Fred Stock, recently wrote about “Security Advocates” in his blog over at the RSA blogging site.  In short, he suggests supplementing your core security team with outposts of knowledge throughout your product development teams, who can evangelize security concepts, eliminate trivial demands on your core security team, and make critical decisions with product-specific knowledge.

He’s obviously writing about this from the standpoint of improving the quality of your code and your organization from a security standpoint, but I wanted to add another dimension to this: growth.
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It’s about the people

As long as I’ve had access to the technology, I’ve been online and interacting with people from around the world.  Back in the late 80s, it was bulletin boards running FidoNet and WWIV.  As the technology changed, so did the communities, but it has always been about the people.  It’s no different now, and in fact it’s more obvious now than it ever has been, as your sites and tools naturally remind you that the nodes in your network are all individuals.  Whether it’s twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, or Facebook friends, you’re dealing with people nonstop.

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Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

I remembered Blog Action Day too late to have a polished post ready at 8 AM today, but after reading Steve Todd’s post on the subject I felt I really needed to get something written before the day closed out.

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Return on investment

ROI is a magic code word in business.  It stands for the ruthless bean-counters who ask one simple question in response to any proposal.  What will I gain if I do it?

As I and others have written, EMC is investing in social media, both externally and internally.  While it’s easy to quantify that investment, defining the return can be a bit harder.  How do you measure the brand perception among decision makers?  Among potential new hires?  Among employees?  Or, from my standpoint, how do you know if your workforce is more engaged, more involved, and more connected?
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Unnecessary Risks

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali

I’ve written in the past about how we need to embrace and even seek out risk at times.  Since I used American Football to discuss the topic before, I thought I’d continue the discussion with an example of poor risk management from this past weekend’s games.
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Office Politics

One of the more interesting moments in my transition from developer to manager was when, in a training class, an honest instructor said, “If you don’t want to see office politics, you shouldn’t become a manager.”  I always thought I wasn’t one for office politics, but I was beginning to get dragged into them as an individual contributor, so I realized it was a non-issue for me.

But I’m not here to talk about that kind of office politics.  I’m here to talk about politics in the office.  Well, politics, religion, and whether you prefer waffles to pancakes.  You know, the hard questions.  I recently saw a discussion sparked by an employee who felt “harassed” by having unpopular political views criticized by others at the workplace.
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Casual Friday: The Camera Eye

I occasionally use this blog to write about non-professional topics.  I confine these posts to “Casual” Friday.

I recently was reminded of a Rush song from 1981 called The Camera Eye.  It’s an interesting song because it’s the last song the band wrote which is longer than ten minutes, and it hasn’t been performed live in concert in over 25 years (so was “retired” from concert play only two years after its release).  As such it has a special place in the heart of hardcore Rush fans (ahem).

I was thinking of the song at work and realized I wanted to hear it.  I loaded up my media player, typed “Camera” into the search box, and picked which version of the song I wanted to hear (the studio version, or a bootleg recording from the Chicago Amphitheater, from March 1981).  I picked the bootleg version, the song began, and I smiled as I went about my afternoon work.

There are a few things which are completely astounding about this experience, which I realize I take for granted.

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The Distributed Self

Every person who meets me has an image of who I am.  And in every relationship, there are things I choose to open up and things I choose to keep closed.  You can call the controls I exert here “filters” or “lenses” but they are an explicit attempt by me to influence the person you see when you interact with me.  As these relationships transition into the digital realm, similar filtering is bound to take place.  I’ve written before about maintaining separate identities in different online circles, but that’s not the truth.

The truth is that your identity is distributed among those circles.  Your “self” is fragmented and strewn about your digital footprint.

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