Tech lust: I want an iPhone! Now!

I have resisted all smartphones and PDAs up to now. Blackberry was too corporate. Treo seemed too crappy and poorly integrated with the rest of my life. Motorola…well I never really took it seriously. And I really hate the whole structure of being locked into a mobile provider’s network, content and the exorbitant data pricing in Canada.

Now Apple’s iPhone.
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How I lust for this thing. Impossibly thin. iPod, phone and internet communicator. Fantastic form factor and absolutely breakthrough user interaction. Thin, widescreen, gorgeous. WiFi, GSM, Bluetooth, EDGE. Integrated with ITunes content. Partnered with Google and Yahoo. A real web browser experience. Running OS X. A real computer. $599 USD for 8GB model.

It won’t be introduced until June in the US in partnership with Cingular. How much longer before a Canadian can get one?

I am panting in breathless anticipation.

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Now on Facebook

Continuing experiments with social software tools, Facebook has broken out into my sphere. Tom blogged a good summary about why Facebook works well. It’s definitely a place that is more worth spending time than LinkedIn, which beyond keeping track of my business contacts and knowing who knows whom, hasn’t proven to be terribly useful. I have refused to go to MySpace, which is ugly and gross in my opinion. Facebook has a lot of interesting features, which I have only begun to explore.

I know I have a few friends who read this blog who don’t use any of these tools, so I’m inviting you all to get on Facebook and check it out.

Mark Kuznicki's Facebook profile

Update: I just discovered the Firefox toolbar extension for Facebook. Juicy awesomeness. Live notifications, one-click content sharing, built-in search box, Growl notification, friend listing in sidebar and more social goodies.

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Search for a 21st Century Ideology

Andrew Sullivan has been arguing that the main political fault-line of our age is not Left vs Right, but Faith vs. Doubt. He argues for a politics of doubt and a religious perspective of skepticism and wonder. He argues for an anti-fundamentalism that embraces both positive and negative freedom, “freedom-to” and “freedom-from”; a creed based not in the possession of Truth, but in the pursuit of it.

Over the holidays I had a conversation with Mark Surman, where I claimed that I did not subscribe to any political ideology. Mark called me on this and reminded me of the political compass, where ideology has two axes: economic left/right and social libertarian/authoritarian. He’s right, of course. I DO have an ideology, or rather a political orientation, but I don’t see myself reflected in major political parties or even in political discourse in general. And I know I’m not alone. Not by a long-shot.

The Political Compass

Here’s the classic two-dimensional political compass. I would characterize the horizontal axis as a measure of economic equality vs. free-market capitalism, and the vertical axis as social freedom vs. control. (Interesting that Stephen Harper is plotted to the Left of Tony Blair in this. Source:

More after the jump…

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Continue reading “Search for a 21st Century Ideology”

BubbleShare Finally Gets Its Payday

After a previous flirtation with Fox Interactive that ended abrubtly, Toronto-based BubbleShare finally found a buyer who’ll love them forever Congratulations to Albert Lai and team. BubbleShare hosted the very first DemoCamp, which started a phenomenon in the Toronto tech and startup scene. It’s great to see a successful exit for them.

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Play in the Entrepreneurial Sandbox

Via David Crow and Mark Dowds, news of an open house next Friday, January 12th at 5:30pm (sign up on Upcoming) for Indoor Playground, a coworking facility for startup entrepreneurs, coders, consultants, their friends and fans at Richmond and Spadina. With very flexible membership options, there seems something for everyone. From a few desks to a 1-day a week part-time space to meeting space when you need it, it will be interesting to see how the startup community comes together in this kind of a structure.

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There is a need for creative entrepreneurs to get the space (and decent espresso) they need to work and have meetings but also to gather and mix and socialize in a way that helps make the connections to discover the next big idea. I applaud Mark, David and the rest who have contributed to this. My one quibble: at first, I really didn’t like the name, but I guess that’s a taste thing. (How about The Sandbox?)

I DO like the idea that innovation and play are closely related – something I picked up from listening to Alex Manu and Eric Zimmerman. What is a game? A game is a set of rules. Play is what happens in the interstitial space between those rule structures. Play, creativity, innovation and passion are are all very closely related. These ideas are at the very core of a vibrant startup culture.

It is up to the community that comes together in the playground to embrace this idea and create the rules that will support its creative process.

If creativity and innovation come from play and passion, then understanding how to build the surrounding rules for the game is really important. The rules include how companies are formed, how individuals and companies engage with community, how space is created and sustained for community and play, how large companies and government can support the processes of discovery and benefit from them in a way that doesn’t kill the creative spirit that spawns those innovations in the first place.

The places that get the rules right for the 21st century creative economy will win in a global race that is only beginning.

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“Safe-fail” and “Strong opinions, weakly held”

I recently came across Dave Snowden’s blog at Cognitive Edge, an “open source style” consulting practice that came out of IBM’s Cynefin Center for Organisational Complexity. He recently wrote a post called “Safe-fail or fail-safe” and linked via Anecdote to Bob Sutton’s strong opinions, weakly held. I’m borrowing both terms for my own work.

Safe Fail

Under conditions of complexity, with many causal linkages unknown and perceivable only in retrospect, Cynefin’s framework suggests that the appropriate decision-making response is to Probe, Sense and Respond. That is: try, fail and adapt. This the same methodology that underlies agile software development and emergent social behaviour. It is the method of evolutionary biology.

As complexity becomes an increasingly common characteristic of our economic and social systems, our management and governance structures will need to loosen up the historical industrial-engineering paradigm of “fail-safe” to allow for an emergent social-adaptability paradigm of “safe fail”. Organizations will need to change their practices to allow for and encourage safe failures when environmental conditions call for them. This change in practices is difficult because the traditional fail-safe paradigm is deeply embedded in institutional structures and cultural norms. In all likelihood, entirely new organizations will emerge that incorporate safe-fail methodologies. The successful ones may end up being acquired by more established players seeking to adapt to rapid change, or they may end up acquiring or overwhelming those that don’t.

Strong opinions, weakly held

This is me…my natural way of being. I love big ideas, form intuitive conclusions early and follow my hypotheses with further testing and research in the real world and in conversation with others. As a mantra, strong opinions, weakly held is as good as any. Maybe I’ll put it in my bio somewhere.

It is about making bold statements while being open to challenge. A strong opinion creates the motivation to develop strong arguments for it. “Weakly held” refers to an attitude of openness and receptivity to challenge. Any knowledge worth pursuing is not finished and static, but living and breathing, with much yet to be discovered.

This is an appropriate attitude for a blogging citizen wonk. I would argue that it is also an important attitude for other areas of innovation, including academia.

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