Samstag, 21. November 2009

Innovation Book published and available!

So many talks on Innovation are just positive - only seeing one side of the coin "innovation" (and often just claiming how good the author or his (or her) company is in innovation). Therefore I tried to write a book with main objectives
  • showing both sides of innovation: conflicting goals ("paradoxes") which have to be managed,
  • and bringing some news - what has changed in the last decade?

The results are a list of about 20 paradoxes from the well-known "destructive creativity" to the "exuberance paradox" and the "tradition paradox", and, in some sense, almost a textbook on (Corporate) Innovation with a lot of personal experience. As with my first book, I have added a rather extensive modern glossary of terms and of references. If a reader has worked through the book, he or she should be familiar with the main ideas and trends in Innovation!

And I found a very valuable co-author and co-fighter to publish: Rainer Willmanns, the president of the German Managers' Association!

Although the book is in German, I love to give talks and discuss in German or English - with students as with innovation professionals.

Done last Monday in Munich with the innovation managers of companies from the Munich area!

Freitag, 4. September 2009

Life Stress, Death and Psychological Coherence

My wife died August 23, 2009, after three years of cruel disease (ALS) - slow death, switch after switch of her life switched off. Now what? Her electric stair-case climbing chair is empty, and much more is terribly empty after 41 years of good marriage: Pls see the photo at the cemetry chapel.
Now what, Walter?
In the book "Fantastic Voyage - live long enough to live forever", the authors Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman cite a table of stress factors titled "Stressful Events and How They Rate":

I proudly own currently with the factors 'Death of a spouse' and 'Retirement' two of the main negative (killing) factors - and with Christmas I will get another one!

How to survive? fortunately, I understand at least rationally what to achieve and what to do: the psychological theory of Salutogenesis helps defining as goal (for feeling healthy resp. being healthy) the status of coherence and a 'sense of coherence' (SOC). Coherence in this sense of the sociologist Aaron Antonovsky means
  • Comprehensibility:
    The cognitive side - understanding the situation with underlying reasons and the naturality of the process (apart from all the contingencies of life and this "why she"?),
  • Manageability:
    Being able to work through all consequences - from administrative work to a rearrangement of life as far as possible,

  • Meaningfulness:
    Accepting some meaning and significance of continuing, e.g. re-finding some directions or detecting new meaning.

This Sense of Coherence is a key notion of the theory of "Salutogenesis".

Although a very, very large portion of human activities in politics, in religions and pseudoreligions and even around science is certainly desastrous, there remains hopefully enough trust in continuing, personally and in general! But this will probably become my 3rd book.

Montag, 6. Juli 2009

Are there proofs in science? e.g. "the babies of smooking mothers are healthier"

Strong proofs, weak proofs, and very weak proofs: Strong proofs can be seen as adding a burdock to a cluster of burdocks ... in mathematics in particular but (in a somehow softer meaning) also in physics:

The term "proof" is often used in science - but in what sense?

Everybody knows mathematical proofs: A mathematical proof has to be precise and convincing - and then the mathematical lemma is proven for all cases and all times. There are just two minor blemishes:

  • Some proofs are so complicated that they are very difficult to comprehend even for the best specialists (and to be proven as proofs),

  • more and more proofs are by computers (and mainly by brute computational force): These proofs check e.g. thousands or even million of cases which are all components of the subject lemma (e.g. as has been the case with the four color problem).

In any case, a mathematical proof is interwoven in the system of mathematics (which is for a physicist (see Einstein) as a system and in its perfectness a magic secret):
In this sense, a proof in mathematics is always “strong”.
On the other side, refutation is unavoidable if there has been found at least one case violating the lemma – then the lemma is not in the system of mathematics.
In science we have to be even more careful: If the term “it has been proved” is used, it can only mean:
1. One (or a small number of) experiment(s) with measurements of some precision deliver(ed) in their limits the claimed property.
2. Then we claim that the experiment could be repeated as often one liked to do (and where you would like to do) with the same results in the experimental limits.
Disproof (falsification) means that we have a problem with at least one failing experiment and we have to go “back to the drawing boards”).

Two examples from physics:

  • Newton used the solar system and Kepler’s (i.e. Brahe’s) data, and the Jovian satellite system, as the experiments to derive celestial mechanics – and he had, as we know, the magic feeling to have found a law valid for the entire universe, earth and heaven.

  • Cockroft and Walton initiated a nuclear reaction by bombarding Lithium with protons and observed experimentally (“proved”) the validity of the equivalence of matter and energy according to the famous formula
    E = m c² .

But there are invisible interconnections within many proofs:
The statements and the experiments are often not isolated but networked and parts of “the system”: We have in science therefore marginal statements which are loosely coupled with the system, and substantial statements that are tightly coupled:

  • Loosely coupled statements can be falsified without general impact,

  • Tightly coupled statements (as E = m c² ) hold the system together. Falsifying means a revolution (probably a Nobel prize).

Through this integration and the securing through the system by many bolts clicking in, we can call this second class a “strong” scientific proof – the hooks to the network give strength (and the looser proof is just a “weak” one).

In another Blogpost, we have introduced the notion of “scientific hardness” - this is just another view of the hardness of a scientific area.

But we have also “very weak” proofs through a practical issue:
Often, experiments and statements use statistical data – and this makes it very difficult to achieve “proofs” even for a singular experiment:

  • “hard” (and reliable) are statistical experiments with very large numbers, e.g. in classical physics with 10**23 or more objects, or experiments in the Internet, e.g. by Amazon, with millions or hundreds of millions of clicks,

  • “weak” (or just invalid) are experiments with small numbers and by depending on small differences for the proof, as, e.g.,
    o “leukemia in the proximity of high tension lines
    (or mobile ground stations)”,
    o “cancer in the proximity of nuclear reactors”.

It is very easy to make wrong statistical experiments and to draw wrong causal conclusions, and very hard to conduct and analyze correctly. There are many cases where claimed pro-results (e.g. “magnetic fields increase cancer risk”) after a professional analysis on the same data proved clearly the null hypothesis!
Never believe statistical medical studies where only one or two cases more or less make the difference: Try to make experiments under trivial conditions where possible.

The probably most striking wrong and even counter-intuitive “proofs” are examples of Simpson’s paradox which are true ("proven"):
“The mortality in Sweden is higher than in Costa Rica” (in spite of the extraordinary Swedish health care system) – is it really healthier to live in Costa Rica?
”The mortality of babies with low birth weight of smoking mothers is lower than the mortality of low-weight-babies of non-smoking” – is it healthier for a baby to have a smoking mother?

The explanations are:

  • In all age groups in the population, Swedish mortalities are lower than the Costa Rican' - but the Costa Rican population in total is so much younger that the total mortality is higher,

  • Smoking mothers are from all parts of the population, mothers with low-birth-weight babies have probably some serious health problem. The mother's smoking affects the birth weight more neutral – together, this gives the observed crazy statistics.

If there are underlying unknown degrees of freedom, the statistical result can be completely nonsense – again: make things simple as possible (but not simpler), a quote loaned from Albert Einstein.

Montag, 29. Juni 2009

IT: Status and Outlook of AI

Forbes recently had a nice collage of articles on AI and the status of AI :

One problem with many critics of AI is that they overestimate the "Human Understanding"! And they are not fair to computers - finally, also we humans do not understand some words or jokes or some CAPTCHA graph (intended to inexpensively differentiate humans and simple computers).
We have to see that some appliactions (e.g. numeric computing, storage and storage-based applications as, e.g., Google) directly benefit from Moore's law and grow exponentially, others only much weaker and grow only linearly in power (as, e.g., speech recognition and natural language understanding).
Therefore, Computers can often directly solve problems by "brute force", e.g. in translation by learning from all accessible sentences Chinese-English. In this Forbes series, Peter Norvig from Google describes this as "unsupervised learning": Given a sufficiently large base of material, e.g. master chess games or spoken English, the computer solution becomes great! The computer is in many cases by orders of magnitude better in pattern finding and association detection!
But orthogonal to this success is improvement by method i.e. in software:
Every software programmer knows that the performance of a simple approach and a better programmed approach can differ by many orders of magnitude even in elementary tasks!
The Turing Test will go the same fate as other negative predictions e.g. "computers will never be able to drive a car" (I remember hot discussions on this): The issue will just become meaningless and uninteresting because it will be obvious that computers can. Then the next human task will get in the focus, e.g. (some degree of) creativity or biomimetic personal robots as Kevin Warwick explains in the parallel article. And finally, there will not be "natural" and "artificial" intelligence, just intelligence - if you use some paper and pencil to make notes and support some thoughts, you are not ashamed either.

Donnerstag, 25. Juni 2009

Private: ALS and Dog Therapy

There is nothing positive to report from the ALS disease of my wife - it is just strugglng with more and more problems. Now she cannot even stand any more, I have to carry her. It is now very difficult to put clothes on etc..

One highlight was yesterday: our friendly neighbor visited us with the wonderful huge white dog Don Merlin. This Pyreneen shepherd dog is so friendly and beautiful - this was for my wife (and me) a great highlight! Don Merlin is a therapy dog mainly working with disabled children.
A wonderful creature - hope to see you two again soon!

Montag, 22. Juni 2009

Physophy: The computer science paradox - negative view and less interest, more important

Computer science (I prefer the European term "Informatics") has a strange position in science and society: Everybody agrees that IT is ubiquitous -
but Informatics is less and less visible in the society:

Where are big inventions of computer science visible? Internet and computers are no real computer science results (maybe Google's search is ?).

And Informatics is less and less appreciated: See also the decreasing number of students!
Just saw a note by a scientific colleague working on history and future of science: Computer science is not on his radar - "it is just some auxiliary tool".

Indeed, for many practical purposes, the current IT progress and the professional work done by IT people for business is commodity:

the same ideas as 30 years ago, new trials, and cost reduction is the main driver!
There are people stating that computers anyhow have only two hand full of ideas which are repeated over and over since 30 - 40 years, e.g.

  • virtualization,
  • caches and working sets,
  • hierarchies,
  • distribution of control and work (local - remote),
  • componentization and integration,
  • simple structures (no goto's, today no threads) .

Three more negative arguments:

Informatics builds large systems - in order to do this, it must be strictly and simply structured; this implies a lot of repetitive work (it does not help that this is automated - automation is just lifting the level, the simplicity at the human interface has to remain by definition).

For many applications, IT is under the surface, and the applications are in the foreground (and are visible, and in a company will earn the career).

IT is so popular and fast progressing, that a large part of the pragmatic progress is known to almost everybody who wants or needs to, computer scientists or laymen, - with a relatively low entry level (cp. this to quantum physics, for example!): the professional advantage is often small.

But apart from this unappreciative economic and social role, Informatics and IT become more and more fundamentally important: Informatics and IT are the science and the engineering discipline to organize every work done in society, and because all changes in nature can be described as ongoing work, all nature.

The scientific importance of Informatics cannot be exaggerated:

  • basic infrastructure of economy and society (wait for personal robots!),

  • new pillar of science and engineering (repeating nature in the computer)

  • continuation of the biological evolution:
    Don't forget - life is software, evolution was and will be informatics.

Even the connection between information and physics is not satisfactorily understood - and no limits of IT systems are visible: Informatics builds ultra-large-systems and larger.
But the science behind this is just in status nasciendi!

Therefore in daily life, IT is just infrastructure - but it is also the infrastructure of the human future!

Sonntag, 21. Juni 2009

Physophy: A Scientific Hardness Index

Recently, I have read in a blog on a conference on Pseudosciences:
"Nothing against pseudosciences pls - Einstein's theories are probably also pseudosciences" - and I was shocked. (The post referred to the effect "you think about a person, and then he or she calls you", and claimed that this is causally connected).
In my understanding, we have roughly three classes of systems (or sciences):
  1. Superhuman systems as, e.g. fundamental science, e.g. particle theory -
    no individual could produce it alone. Mathematics (or computer software of large complexity) is the glue,
  2. Human systems of varying stability and hardness (established or under construction),
  3. Pseudosciences (besides science or in contradiction to science).

To have a simple index, I propose to have a hardness scale, similar to the Mohs hardness for minerals, with:

  • positive values: scientific statements
  • zero: neither scientific nor obvious nonsense
  • negative: non-scientific (para or pseudo).

This gives my proposed scale "Scientific Hardness Index" from +3 to -3:

+3: Fundamental science (superhuman), e.g. fundamental physics

+2: Science established, probably high precision, e.g. astronomy, evolution

+1: Scientific theory under investigation e.g. extended longevity

0: Neutral -neither scientific nor obvious nonsense e.g. visitors from other stars

-1: Beside science but not hard contradiction (e.g. astrology)

-2: Hard contradiction (e.g. predictions, telekinesis)

-3: Proven wrong (or obsolete) (e.g., "earth is a hollow sphere")

These numbers cannot show the tremendous nonlinear difference in the system strength of these levels: I would like to compare

  • a level 3 - area with a world class building with concrete and steel,
  • level 2 with a solid house,
  • level 1 with a play with Lego blocks to try what is fitting,
  • level 0 with a heap of cotton balls,
  • negative levels just with rings of smoke (more or less hazardous)
I know, this will not end the discussion what is pseudoscience and not, on the contrary, - but it should make clear what one is talking about, about a 800 m height modern construction or about a heap of cotton balls (or mozzarella?) or just about smoke (unfortunately, as you know, you can earn a lot of money just with smoke and cigarettes ...).

Sonntag, 3. Mai 2009

Physophy: Evolution continues dramatically with IT

Biological evolution meets IT evolution (the flat blue arrow from the right) in this figure:

A hard consequence of evolution is a major change in the vision of human history:

Look at the historical, clear picture as, e.g., claimed by the Abrahamitian religions:

First, a world is created with a hard and fixed hierarchy of species (the humans are kings and queens and can do with the lowers almost everthing they want - and they do or did),

second, the world runs for a certain time to separate the good from the bad, and

third, the world stops with extinction and nemesis and paradis for the selected.

With evolution, the world has been created in a big bang as a basis (if you like), and then a machinery for evolution has been generated - and with this machinery, there is no reason that evolution will stop (with us "original" humans as final state).

Apart from other (more conventional) driving forces for evolution, we are in an epoch where IT technologies explicitly intervene evolutionarily and accelerate evolution:

Hitting the individual or the population altogether are, for example:
  1. Understanding genetics and epigenetics (genetic engineering),

  2. Enhancing humans with neuro-devices and more (e.g. neural implantations),

  3. Virtual lifes with realistic minds merging to real (and competing with real life),

  4. Real virtuality with personal Robots (e.g. competing with real human partners),

  5. Social communities allowing collaboration,

  6. Mind sharing technologies starting to merge individuas and IT.

In the figure, the evolution in biology up to now ("in carbon") and the evolution in IT ("in silicon", at least for the time being) are joining and opening a spectrum of channels for evolution, from close to IT to close to flesh and blood (in the figure, the green area): It seems that we take all of them. Nobody knows the overall outcome - this is the singularity! And we are not sure that the resulting evolution will be guided (or "intelligent") - neither biology nor IT was "guided" although the latter was even made by humans.

As Ray Kurzweil states: "Life is Software" - and when we are able to change the software of life, improve (?) or add, we perform evolution. Given the many influences and influencers of the coming evolutions made by humans, it is probably again no "intelligent design" - it will be non-intelligent, I am afraid, but it will hopefully be successful whatever this means.

Freitag, 20. März 2009

Innovation: Déjà-vu, vu jà dé and jamais vu

A futuristic picture from 2002: A wearable computer with communication ...
Two annoying points on Innovation:
  • Innovations take often such a long time to succeed, e.g. 15 years,
  • and new people think that this is brand new.

The idea to write this blog post was from the LinkedIN forum "Greater IBM" where younger colleagues show that they think "this is new" or "this should come" - and its already here, and waiting for success. The specific innovation discussed there is the open mobile phone wave - now the mobile phone finally becomes a regular computer. This is correct and important, but it is not the first time:

  • starting about 1990, the [wintel] computer became mobile as "wearable computer".
    Xybernaut was the leading company (I had once dinner with the CEO).
    But the product remained a niche, no success, bad ending of the company.
  • about 2004/2005, IBM Research had a modular mobile computer "Metapad" (with touch-sensitive screen). A start-up trying to distribute the Metapad failed.

Now technology and context (mobile device penetration) and entrepreneurship (Steve Jobs) make the open mobile computer Me.C possible ...

Another long-running innovation are RFIDs, starting e.g. with Paul Moskowitz' United States Patent 5,528,222 - filed 09/09/1994 . And I read today "70% of RFID projects fail" - although not for technical reasons! And RFIDs (and their variants) are still futuristic for many people!

Therefore the title of this post on innovation and these notions:

  • Déjà-vu something new with the feeling already been seen
  • Vu jà dé something old and often seen which suddenly looks different
  • Jamais vu something simply new

Mittwoch, 4. März 2009

Physophy (and IT): Evolution as a software system

Evolution is . . . Evolution is the main part of modern biology, and one main part of modern biology is bioinformatics! The core of the evolution is the development of a software system (based on genes and proteins etc), but function-wise it is a compact, special, adaptive software system with controlled adaptability:
This software orders the detailed construction of organisms.
What is missing today, is an analysis and modeling of evolution as a software system!
There are several aspects of commercial and industrial (human-made)software which are helpful in understanding, e.g.
  • it is easier to reuse running code than to develop new,
  • similar: reusing established subroutines allows hierarchical structures,
  • flexibility on the code level requires building blocks,
  • flexibility on the execution level requires configurator capablity.

But you need more (and most of it is new and non-trivial):

  • preparation of self-modifying code
  • close interconnection between program and storage
  • mechanisms for easy reconfiguration,
    adaptive to "more or less mutations wanted",
  • i.e. management of the "mutation distances".

The "mutation distance" determines the probability of again useful software after a random software mutation. What is needed are software engineering models how to achieve these functional features - and then see how much is directly implemented in genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics.

This software engineering science is the engineering discipline of biology - a wonderful field of exciting and relevant research, much more scientific than ruminating the (of course also important) human software generation processes...

Many people are not aware that evolution takes place on the software level, not on the level of visible features (phenotypes)!

“I made this program longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” - paraphrasing Blaise Pascal (after ).

Montag, 2. März 2009

Innovation: Fine Arts and IT

IT, Art and Social Data: Fleshmaps from
artistic studies by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viégas (2008)

More Business, less Art
Origin: Martin Wattenberg

Industry is always balancing between standardization and innovation: Maturing means cost reduction through standardization - but "market" means trying to be special! One way to be special in areas where humans are the target audience is fine arts. But what is new?

New is the exploitation of IT for fine arts (vice versa). IT is a wonderful magnifier of the creative power, and also of the distribution power of some piece of art.
Many great examples are from the IBM (close to MIT) group around Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viégas:
From a business perspective, examples combining business, IT and fine arts are more and more important to attract people in the information flood: The example shows the stock market overview on Monday, March 2 - with a lot of red (losses).
More fine art, more life and less bsuiness (presumably) shows the web site fleshmap mapping human bodies and desires.

Mittwoch, 11. Februar 2009

Physophy: From Newton's and Mach's Bucket to General Relativity

Newton's bucket is a famous experiment (not a thought experiment) really made by Isaac Newton. If you have a bucket filled with water, and you start to rotate the bucket, what will happen?
  1. Start: The bucket rotates, not the liquid: the water surface is flat
  2. Bucket and water rotate in an equilibrium: The water surface is a parabola (almost)
  3. Stop the bucket: The water continues to rotate and the surface is still parabolic.

The parabolic surface proves that the bucket is rotating: against the environment, against earth, against the next fixstars, against absolute space.

Newton selected absolute space as reference - the "sensorium" for God.
In fact, the experiment states physically just the existence of some (approximate) intertial system as the famous Foucault pendulum!

The Austrian Ernst Mach (born in Moravia as I was) asked:
What if the bucket would be surrounded by thick rotating walls? Thick means really thick, many kilometers of rotating matter while the bucket and the water would be at rest? He predicted that the water surface would also become curved; this means that inertia is the result of the matter in the universe.

General Relativity moved somehow in that direction with the frame-dragging effect (Lense-Thirring effect) ...

The picture from

is a modern version of Newton's bucket in a science museum using two immiscible liquids: The equilibrium interface is a parabola.

Private: Swiss winter impressions

This is just to recall the Swiss situation before the SVP referendum to close the borders against the new European Union members Bulgary and Romania.

Last Sunday, the Swiss people - the Souverain - voted in favor of openness.

PS: The photo shows some concrete tank barriers from the Second World War period crossing a valley. My wife calls them "Toblerone".

Sonntag, 1. Februar 2009

Physophy: Telescopes - almost a Moore's Law

Moore's law - in short, the exponential growth of IT - is mainly driven by the miniaturization of electronics, down to the nanolevel. This implies that all products with IT are driven down in cost or/and performance. But it affects also material-bound products - a nice example are telescopes for astronomy. The figure from a German astronomy blog (German description and legend)

by Leonard Burtscher shows the increase of the resolution of telescopes:
After thousands of years with a natural resolution of human vision of one or two ninutes of arc, the accessible resolution increases dramatically, in particular in the last 3 decades. The reason is that electronics and IT allow to minimize the relative material efforts with tricks as adaptive and active optics, and to economically build larger telescopes than ever! It is great how IT (an almost material-less technology) can help to build large material devices more efficient and therefore assist in the Golden Age of astronomy!

Private: We have a stair-climbing wheel chair

The disease (ALS) of my wife weakens the muscles without mercy: Currently, we manage together to climb and descend the stairs in our house. I have learnt to assist with both hands and symmetrically, but it already takes all my force although my wife has only 50 kg's ...

Our house has 4 levels - this means 3 stairs - , and also stairs outside to the garage. (At 3 of the 4 levels of the house, this gives a wonderful view about the lake and mountain).

In order not to be one day insulated at one house level after a breakdown of my wife, I have bought a stair-climbing wheel-chair. This is nice (expensive) technology with sensors, battery and a strong motor - I have still to learn to master it!

Montag, 19. Januar 2009

Private: Just two Swiss winter photos from two days ago

Winter road to the Mythen mountain
Horses in snow and sun

Freitag, 16. Januar 2009

Physophy: Cognition in Physics - and we humans don't understand nothing

Logitech G5 Laser Mouse Flickr Photo by Erik Charlton

This post was triggered by a question by my colleague Max:

Philosophy today without this physics base cannot meaningfully talk about nature, world, and men:
Classical thinking in physics - as, e.g., manifested in Newtonian space, time and causality - is only the trivial limiting case of modern understanding (so-called correspondence principle), e.g. for speeds which are small regarding the speed of light. But be careful - this is not always true - sometimes the post-Newton understanding even penetrates our normal life in our position right in the middle between cosmic and nuclear scales!

For us, the non-understandable comes as contradictions or paradoxes: The electron is a wave and a particle, space and time are connected, clock rates depend of velocity, the world depends on the observation, and so on!

There are two guides to construct the model of the world (i.e., the prediction of observations and experiments):

  • the pragmatic guide: experiments,

  • the magic guide: mathematics (in two flavors)
Model of the world (cognition), the accumulated set of agreed experiments, and the system of mathematics evolve and develop together (with technology as necessary co-partner!).

"Understanding" in the rigorous sense (but unsatisfactory) means: Having a system of analytic equations giving the background, resp. performing a computer simulation delivering the observed result (probably after quadrillions of computations, almost repeating the real actions).

"Understanding" for a physicist means (i.e., what does this effect "really" mean?) that the result can be predicted and understood on the base of some other observed and already accepted results.

This can be described by a multilayer model: Then "understanding" means to be able to deduce the properties of phenomen level N by accepting the phenomena of level N-1 (independent if either N-1 or N seem "paradox") . The level N is an "emergence" of level N-1.
Of course, this opens the question of a lowest level - and of the ending of the chain!

I am here using as a picture the computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelhart which everybody (still) knows: The user does not need to know the exact position of the cursor (driven by the mouse) on the screen, or even the physical principles of the mouse sensors. The user just observes the cursor movement and corrects the mouse motion to the desired position. There is no underlying "understanding" - only literally superficial understanding!
It is similar how a child "understands" the computer - but can play games.

PS: Under "Physophy", I understand the [my] naive combination of contemporary physics and thoughts.

Mittwoch, 14. Januar 2009

Innovation: The CEO needs a process

Perfectly boiled egg Flickr photo by cesarastudillo

There is a nice sketch by the everyday philosopher Victor von Bülow alias Loriot (in German) describing the problems to produce a perfectly boiled egg
(video here :

Topic is the conversation of a couple during breakfast: Unfortunately, the egg is hard boiled.

My translation of the central part:

HE: You boiled the egg only by your instinct - then the egg will only be by chance a 4 1/2 minutes egg!

SHE: But it does not make any difference for you if the egg has just boiled by chance 4 1/2 minutes!

HE: I would like to have a soft-boiled egg and not an egg just soft by chance!

This is just the same in an enterprise: It is great to have by chance some innovation - but the CEO would like to have a process for a continuous reliable stream of innovation (a process)!

Innovation: Creative Destruction

Synthetic Diamonds

Innovation has become a terrible buzzword - I am afraid many people don't like to hear it any more; "Innovation" (and, more general, "change") is wanted but not loved ...

One reason for problems in innovation are the inherent difficulties and even contradictions. Innovation management has to handle contradicting goals. The best known is probably the "Creative Destruction" by Joseph Schumpeter (a fellow-countryman from Moravia):

Innovation is in general destroying or at least jeopardizing the established, often in the own company!

The photo shows a nice recent example from Russell Hemley, Geophysical Lab of the Carnegie Institution: It is now possible to produce artificial diamonds of almost arbiratry size. Diamonds can now be every girl's friend (but probably not so good friends anymore) ...

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2009

Private: Swiss Winter Photos

Icy Lake
without snow like a mirror

under construction

Ice sculpture

My wife suffers unfortunately from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Skelorosis) - probably the most cruel soft disease. Our main pleasure is driving by car in the lovely Zurich and Central Switzerland area. I know in the mean time many small roads and many lakes.

Today, we have the typical local 3-zones-climate:
  1. We are under the fog (moderately cold),
  2. a couple of 100 Meters above, the area of icy fog with wonderful frosted trees,
  3. above this, within 50 Meters altitude difference: Deep blue sky and brilliant sunshine (and ice and snow).

Please see above some recent (winter) photos from the sunshine zone...

Sonntag, 11. Januar 2009

IT: Writing a Book (on "Information Technology")

Writing and publishing a book - I mean a paper (hard, real) book - is even in Internet times something special: It means something stable, staying, visible and tangible. In the mean time (from my 2nd book plan), I know the main problem for writing a book: namely, finding a publisher!
For the book "Trends in Information Technology", the start was very convenient for the author (me): When giving a talk (a keynote at the Swiss computer scientists' conference some years ago), Bernd Knappmann - at that time the editor of the publisher VdF of the leading Swiss university ETH Zurich - asked: "Would you like to extend this talk to a book? Should be interesting!"
The talk was my personal version of IBM Research's "Global Technology Outlook" - a talk and ppt-presentation prepared by IBM Research year by year. I had the pleasure to give this talk several hundred times, customized to the occasion and customer, and supplemented by the contributions of world-class researchers and consultants...
For the book, I took what I had learned in my 34 years from physics in IT, gadgets, software and innovation management. And in addition, I was open to non-business ideas on IT-Trends - from Participatory Panopticon, Singularity to Wireless Energy: My intention was to outline the main trends in IT for all areas, from nanotechnology and chip design to software and virtual worlds.
So far, the book received quite good reviews (in several computer magazines, by the Springer IT expert for the German Computer Society GI, even in the newspaper NZZ - the most famous Swiss newspaper).
I am asking every reader for comments, extensions (what is missing), changes or correction of errors!
PS: The book is in German - the publisher is not pushing an English edition.
If someone (an author, a publisher?) is interested to license the book, I would help with a raw translation.
It would not even be mandatory to understand German!
This would also be a chance to make a rework
(and to become a co-author for the English edition).

Begin the Begin

Explaining the CERN cluster 1991

After 34 years as committed physicist, system engineer, software professional, adtech / innovation manager and event manager for customer conferences on the future, it is time to enlarge the circle of interest beyond the hard IT and business world to (almost) everything I think is relevant - still including the business areas

  • Information Technology, Nanotechnology and Software

  • Innovation Management

  • Management Practices

but now also covering for fun

  • Fundamental Physics and Philosophy of Nature

  • Astronomy and Cosmology

  • Philosophy and Psychology of Science, Pseudoscience and Religion

  • Philosophy of Computers

and of course Private Aspects

  • my Wife

  • my Family

  • Switzerland