The following was originally posted on Wikinomics.com on June 3, 2010.

Last year, former Wikinomics blogger Jeff Perron interviewed Jim Stolze on the virtues of social interaction on the web, posing the rather esoteric question: Does the web make us happy? Related to this, I recently came across a great series of info-graphics from Retrevo that suggest that, while the web may indeed make some if us happy—enough to interrupt us during sex—it may not be a healthy diversion. Much like smoking a cigarette in an episode of Mad Men, social media has become a pervasive part of all our everyday activities, from eating, to sleeping, to using the washroom.

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The following ws originally posted on Wikinomics.com on April 26, 2010.

I just came across the 2011 edition of an awesome info-graphic Death & Taxes, from 29-year-old graphic designer (and obvious data junkie) Jess Bachman. I think this is a great example of what Nick Vitalari wrote about a few months ago with respect to open data and citizen-led initiatives. Specifically, he said:

“Open data unleashes the creative potential of citizens and private enterprise to create new services, software applications, and insights that the government cannot do by itself. The shear numbers tell the story. Millions of citizens and hundreds of thousands of companies of all sizes uniting to independently create value and enhance the common good.”

This is exactly what you are seeing below. Bachman breaks down the 2011 Federal budget in a surprisingly simple graphic, showing total spend per category, percent change, and size relative to other spending priorities (click the image for the interactive chart).

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The following was originally posted on Wikinomics.com on February 15th, 2010 – click here for full comment history.

There is no such thing as privacy on the Internet anymore—anything you say or do lives on ad infinitum in Internet memory. In the intro of his Harvard paper, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger notes that “In March 2007, Google confirmed that since its inception it had stored every search query every user ever made and every search result ever clicked on. Google remembers forever.” As one of the most pervasive tools of our generation, Google and its associated applications have changed the way we think about data, privacy, digital identity, and memory.

A recent article by Nate Anderson in Ars Technica highlights professor Mayer-Schönberger book, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. The message: “Technology has now made ‘remembering’ the default approach to information, and in doing so, threatens to make ‘forgetfulness’ obsolete.” This is not only a profound change from 20 years ago, it can also be detrimental to our ability to think and analyze information. The article goes on to say: “Selective forgetfulness is a boon to humanity; it keeps us from drowning in our own recorded data. It allows us to sift and sort, then to think at a higher level of abstraction instead of wallowing in detail.”

But, this may all soon change.  Perhaps, computers can learn to forget too.

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The following was originally posted on Wikinomics.com on July 2, 2009.

One of the critical challenges with enterprise collaboration (a Steve noted earlier) is determining how to measure and reward it. For inspiration on how to solve this problem, I look to non-corporate collaborative context – professional sports, and more specifically, the NBA. In this environment, success is based largely on collaboration between players, individual and team outcomes and rewards are easily measured, and some efforts are being made to measure the value of teamwork in a quantitative sense.

What really propelled my thinking in this area was an article written back in February in the New York Times. “The No-Stats All-Star” written by Michael Lewis, (author of “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game“) highlights “a basketball mystery: a player [who] is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.” Specifically, the article dissects the play of Shane Battier, a collaborative team player whose value is difficult to measure using traditional basketball statistics.

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 The following was originally posted on Wikinomics.com on May 11, 2009 – click here to see full comment history.

As someone growing up in an immigrant family with a strong emphasis on education, it’s somewhat blasphemous to suggest that grad school is a waste of time. However, there does seem to be a growing sense that the traditional ROI associated with higher education is shifting. Rising tuition is being met with fewer job opportunities (especially for PhDs) and a renewed interest in entrepreneurism, while at the same time education in general is coming under fire for its antiquated model of pedagogy.

As an example, a recent study by Skidmore economist Sandy Baum and the College Board, approximates the real lifetime value of a college degree at about $300,000. This estimate is based on the assumption that those with college degrees earn an average of $20,000 more per year than non-graduates, and takes into account the average cost of tuition and books, as well as annual inflation over a forty-year career. This estimate is down from previous calculations of an approximately $1 million payback. Mind you, this is for undergraduate degrees. It begs the question: What about more specialized and more expensive graduate degrees (expensive both in terms of tuition and opportunity costs)?

MBA degrees are a specific point of contention. While conventional wisdom will have people flooding into MBA schools, there is also a sense that maybe professionals should seek to upgrade through less conventional, more productive means. Indeed, the sheen associated with an MBA is tarnished by the fact that many of the financial decision makers that perpetrated the economic downturn were themselves alumni of some of the most respected business schools.

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My Facebook baby

The following was originally posted on Wikinomics.com on February 11, 2009.

Nothing will test the mettle of a social network more than the arrival of a new baby. My wife and I just found this out when our first child was brought into the world and, shortly thereafter, onto Facebook. More than weddings or other life-altering events, people seem enamoured by babies and aren’t shy to let you know. The thing that amazes me is the speed and simplicity with which it happened. All it took was a one-line status update on the day after the birth – I went home from the hospital for a mere two hours to shower, eat, and nap and managed to have enough energy to post “Naumi is a dad!”

What followed was a flurry of activity, both on- and off-line.

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The following was originally posted on Wikinomics.com on July 4, 2008.

I just watched George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead last weekend. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s your typical zombie apocalypse movie – the reanimated dead wreck havoc, attempting to eat the living; mass hysteria ensues; a small band of survivors kill zombies in gruesome ways until they realize in inevitability of their fate. Now, for the non-zombie fans, the interesting thing about this particular movie is the sub-plot that tells of the group of film students’ need to document the end-of-days (kind of similar to the movie Cloverfield). Now, I’m not one to argue the “facts” in a film about zombies, but here’s where it gets a little whacky. The movie postulates that if there was a zombie apocalypse, the fall of big media would result in bloggers taking over, leading to infinite voices and more spin:

“The mainstream had vanished with all its power and money. Now it was just us, bloggers, hackers, kids. The more voices there are, the more spin there is. The truth becomes that much harder to find. In the end, it’s just noise.”

Clearly, George did not read Wikinomics. It’s true that big media would fall with studios being overrun by the living dead, and that bloggers and citizen journalist would carry on. But all accounts we’ve seen of bloggers and citizen journalists suggest that the more eyes you have on a story and the more voices you have reporting, the less spin there is. In fact, the truth is usually obfuscated by big media, not the other way around. Moreover, in times of crisis, we’ve seen that small groups of individuals working together online have been extremely affective at mobilizing aid and sharing information – just think of the Katrina People Finder Project.

The second question raised in the Romero movie is whether or not Web communication would go down in a time of war. When the band of survivors’ Web feed dies part way through the movie, one of the characters notes:

“The f#*#@!% service is going down… there’s nothing… how could there be nothing. The relay towers are out.”

Seems a bit simplistic. I mean, what about cell phone networks, satellite communications, and personal LANs? Maybe I’m wrong, but would think that the Internet would carry on even with limited human involvement. Maybe power would be first to fail, leading to other outages? Hmm… Note to self: In case of zombie war, be sure to charge cell phone and laptop…