Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page
So here’s a simple test I undergo from time to time: Create a simple, informative presentation with charts and images. Do this while travelling to the conference via plane or train. Assume that the venue will offer a rich choice of incompatibilities and idiosyncratic setups. So save it as a PDF, and, for fun, as a SWF file. Further, put it on a USB stick or, as I also do now, slot it into one of the many slide-sharing and storage sites.
And, if you are like me, the presentation is likely to be fairly skeletal and won’t include the language you use in the actual lecture. But the conference organizers (or panel organizers) will want that, and you may also want to stay on script, so you’ll need notes.
I am quite sure–no, actually, I’m just guessing–that one can do all this with Keynote or PowerPoint. But could you do it for free? No doubt, the experts among us could do it speedily. But my experiences with MSFT have been anything but speedy; the opposite. Whereas I have never really had frustrations with OpenOffice, though I’ve surely encountered oddities. But I’ve also encountered, and indeed helped to form, a community of sympathetic and friendly experts who have generously offered their help. And also created some terrifically useful templates–and then sent them to me, at 1 AM, when I really really needed them.
Like many, I’ve been declaiming the imminent demise of Microsoft, and I’ve been doing that since about 2002. Partly, my argument was motivated by my desire to showcase OpenOffice as the better option, and open source ways of making and distributing software superior to the enclosed hive of Microsoft. But I also believed my propaganda. Microsoft’s business model, of putting Windows on enterprise desktops and limiting choice to its “office” products, worked fine in the days when the Internet was an academic exercise but self-destructive in the present age of the more capable Web.
The former age–whose persistent ghosts are not to be dismissed as old-CIO tales–was a heavy one, and, as we say, locked the user into the vendor’s product universe. The present age is much lighter, or will be, must be, inexorably. In this day and age, with mobile finally ascending (took its time, but more because of business reasons than technological), and with the cloud gaining the reality of being backed and invested in by enterprise-class businesses, the tools, the apps, are available and usable (provided there is the bandwidth) as the result of open standards, and other open protocols and technologies. This is good: the open market gives rise to new businesses. But it also threatens established ones, or at least those whose steps have been more clumsy than nimble and unable to grab the multiplexed audience’s attention as something other than a 20th century hangover. Yes, I’m exaggerating. This is a blog.
Of course, IBM was able to pirouette astonishingly effectively, as was Apple. And in the case of IBM, the analogy is suggestive, as it kept its legacy business while still opening itself to disruptive novelty. (Sun, of course, was hanged by its legacy businesses and obligations and though it proclaimed open source ambitions and even acted on those, it rather infamously failed to connect its claims to revenue in any convincing way.)
I see now a landscape that is actually not too different from what I’ve imagined for some time: A world where there is a burgeoning international field of interesting–and sometimes innovative–technologies, companies, projects, some open, some not, but all (or at least most) using tools that do not lock the user into the vendor’s product but rather appeal to the user on the basis of quality and character. In short, on the basis of what we use for any other commodity or thing we wish to use.
From my perspective, the growth of the cloud and the rise of a more level market (even profoundly weighted by Apple), is generally good. It also makes my own profession, as a community strategist, more interesting, as the one element that any organization actually needs to make its products collaboratively is a functioning community, and they quite often do not come spontaneously into being, at least not in the way that is desired by both the sponsoring company and the non-company participants.
I tend too to avoid Valley writing, as I’m always skeptical that it is not just self-congratulatory marketing. But….
I’ve long refused reading the books of the top minds of the Valley, probably from fear I could be convinced and would have to change my “fixed mindset” as I recently discover my brain was working. Hopefully, I’m not yet 30 and YES, I did read one of these books and YES, it’s a game-changer for me at least.
Chris Anderson’s “Maker : the new industrial revolution” is a brilliant book, one of the kind you can’t close without DOING something. And it really matches with all my current thoughts on a community-based world (may sound familiar for US readers, it’s a new world for Europe at least, and what I experience in Asia confirms it’s a US exception). By the way, this post and a few other to come will go into a new category (after “Playing with Data” and “Going social in Asia”), say hi to “The…
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