The paradox of Social Business Software … press that lever … The Attention Question in Social (via @rossdawson)

The challenge is this: by simply increasing the efficiency through which people connect and collaborate, we may paradoxically consume even more of their attention because it is now easier for them to connect with people. This can lead to a depletion of their ability to do useful things with their new connections because they will be too busy monitoring, maintaining and developing their networks.

Great article ( ) – I love the analogy with the coal question. The quote: “increases (in) the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource”. More connections, made more easily, may not have entirely the desired effect.

In fact the varying levels of payoff from social business software [did I get a mail? was it interesting?] add the nuance of random reinforcement – much like rats receiving food at random for pressing a lever. The result – rats that do nothing but press the lever despite having more than enough food at hand.

Not, of course, that you or I could possibly fall into such a category.

"No product is an island" – Donald Norman on Semiotic Engineering product design

No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly. That’s systems thinking.

This is not a new insight. However Semiotic Engineering promises to bring methodology to the process to … “Make sure that each message is consistent with the others in tone, voice, locus, and message.”

Check out Donald Norman’s review at 

The book itself is on my reading list —…

(via @PhilMcCreight)

Past futures video from 1969 – forecasting by UK post office (via @martinduursma)

Check out the similarities – and the differences – to today’s internet. Shades of the French Minitel ( Think terminals on legs – for scanning – think printing by holding up photographic film to the screen. Not entirely steam punk, but lovely retro future and plausible if we withheld just a couple of display/printing breakthroughs.

Cloud computing as paradigm shift (notes on awesome talk by @swardley via @cloudbook)

I like the broad sweep view that Simon takes here. It’s a nice meta view on the notion ( that cloud is a heavily overloaded term – so much so that it means everything and nothing.

A proof point for cloud being like the industrial revolution and centralization of power generation would be to revisit writings from these eras to see how they were talked about at the time, and whether there were similar buzzwords used to describe ‘the age of’ … or whether these things are only visible in retrospect. On the other hand, as William Gibson says, “The future is already here – it is just unevenly distributed” — perhaps we’re already at the point of reviewing changes that have occurred in pockets and the (start of the) revolution is over.

Simon summarizes the work of Nicholas Carr on ‘IT doesn’t matter’ (more recently ‘the Big Switch’) with a single table showing how technologies commoditize and that the biggest change for IT is that it has become a cost of doing business rather than an innovation driver. Implication is that standardization, simplification, and reducing cost becomes the imperative which then becomes one of the many drivers for “the cloud”. This is undoubtedly true.

Implications for Citrix — For a long time, Citrix has provided tools to turn IT into a utility — the Citrix Cloud Center ( will provide the same functionality in a world where IT assets live both inside and outside the datacenter. This forms part of the armory for IT organizations (and companies in general) to continue the inexorable cost reduction forced by IT becoming ‘just’ a cost of business.

‘Cloud’ is best understood as a shorthand for the changes wrought by the internet and by IT surpassing the core needs of business. It is a label for a range of new technologies, capabilities, and uses of the same.

Cloud is NOT a technology nor an end in itself.


[post updated to reflect twitter conv with Simon Wardley]

Here’s a blog post from Simon on the issue: