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Tim Berners-Lee: The next Web of open, linked data March 15, 2009

Posted by psychobserver in Social Networking, TED Talks, Trends.
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I got back to watching some TED talks and the talk from Tim Bernes-Lee felt like a good one to start with. In his talk he reveals his vision for the evolution of the Web, moving from sharing documents to sharing raw data. The presentation is very visionary and somewhat scary I would say.

Watch it below:

If I get the idea well, Linked Data means that when browsing the Web “tomorrow” instead of looking through documents (web pages), the search engine (or whatever is used to browse) will look through raw data. So, I guess one could type a question like “How many friends does Nicolas Lassus have?” and get results from many different places/databases that would answer that question.

Personally, I see quite a number of huge hurdles to overcome before something like that could work. The first thing is something faces by Wikipedia everyday. How do you ensure that the data is accurate and legitimate? Even if people are not trying to manipulate others, there are so many ways to calculate something that just providing raw data can be totally unusable. For this to work, everything around the world would have to be entirely standardize. For example, the way unemployment rate is calculated in different countries is different because of each country’s specificities (or political agenda). Theoritically speaking standardization would be great, but is it realistic?

Another problem is that data is actually a huge business. The open source concept is great, but gathering good data is actually a very time-consuming and tough job. How do we “reward” the people who bring the data to the masses? Personally, I am not a big supporter of the free economy and I believe things that are free today, may not be free tomorrow anymore. Somebody at some point in the supply chain has to pay for things.

The last problem is privacy. If people are able to post data about other people on the web. How do we control that? Facebook and other social networks are testing the limit of this on their side and it will be interesting to see where things go… (I’m reading some articles on the topic and will try to write a post soon about that).

This said, Linked Data can definitely have great applications in some fields. All the fields where data standardization has been happening really fast in the past like financial reporting, corporate social responsibility, etc. Linked data in that field would be a great advance. As I worked on CSR a bit, I really feel that all these reports corporation work so hard on producing should be replaced by Linked data. Something that allows people to easily compare and analyze what companies are doing to make better informed decisions about their purchases or which brands they supports. This standardization has already started and there is just a very small step to make to actually make Linked Data a reality… whether something like that could spread to the whole Web will be interesting to witness.


TED Talk: Clifford Stoll – An Agile Mind March 28, 2008

Posted by psychobserver in TED Talks.
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Clifford Stoll at TEDI guess Clifford Stoll is the most hyperactive human being on this planet. I found his talk about everything so good and inspiring. The thing that resonates the most to me is: “Think local, act local”. The world is so complex. If you try to reach too high you end up doing nothing. So just consider what is in front of you, make a small contribution and things are much easier in this way. And in the end you may contribute much more than if you try to reach for the stars.

Helping Africa August 24, 2007

Posted by psychobserver in Africa, Innovation, Micro Financing, philanthropy, TED Talks.
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Once again, I have been spending some time on TED.com watching couple of videos. Videos from TEDGlobal 2007 about “Africa: The next chapter” have been posted and I would like here to highlight two of them here, although I guess all of them are great. These two videos show the change that is happening in the world of charity today. A realization that conventional charity models have not been working and that change is needed.

These two videos focus on the same idea. The idea that the African continent instead of being carried towards the future should be prepared to face it by itself, with dignity. That’s why both speakers focus on educating, training and coaching people in Africa to help shape their own lives, shape their own businesses, and eventually help shape their own societies. Of course, the talks are much more powerful that anything I could write, so here they are:

Jacqueline Novogratz: Tackling poverty with “patient capital”

Jacqueline Novogratz

Patrick Awuah: Educating a new generation of African leaders

Patrick Awuah

I encourage anybody interested to watch the rest of TED videos from this conference. On my side, I will right now go donate online to the Acumen Fund, the fund lead by Jacqueline Novogratz.

TED Talks: Twists of the Mind December 9, 2006

Posted by psychobserver in Customer Experience, TED Talks.
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Michael Shermer TED TalkI know I wrote that the next few posts would be about cultural differences between France and Hong Kong, but as a good French person I only define rules so that I can have the pleasure to break them… ;o)

So, here is another TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talk video. This one is by Michael Shermer, founder/publisher of Skeptic Magazine, and author of several books, including Why People Believe Weird Things. It was recorded in February 2006 and last around 18 minutes.

Apart from the fact that you will get a good laugh watching this video, there is one very important point I found there about priming. Priming is roughly preparing the mind to what it will encounter. The result is that the mind will focus its attention on one thing, while actually other factors should be taken into account. Priming can result in total bias if not taken into account.

Imagine you are discussing with the creative director of the advertising company you are working with. He (or she) explains you the concept of the ad they made and shows you the storyboard. You find it great. You produce that and it is a total failure because people just don’t get the concept… The very fact that the creative director explained you the concept before showing the storyboard induced a bias that you should be aware of. This may sound trivial, but it happens everyday. It is just like asking participants to rate a product in a focus group after telling them how “this product has so many cool features”.

Is More Choice A Good Thing? November 14, 2006

Posted by psychobserver in Customer Experience, TED Talks.
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Barry Schwartz TED TalkHere is another great video taken from TED (Technology Entertainment Design) Talks. This one was made by Barry Schwartz in July 2005 following the release of his book “The Paradox Of Choice” (duration: 20 minutes).

Please go check the Malcolm Gladwell video I posted earlier if you did not watch it.

In this talk, Barry Schwartz builds a very strong argument against providing too much choice to people. He highlights that in regards to choice, although too little is bad, too much can as well have a very negative effect on people on four different aspects:

  1. Regret and anticipated regret
  2. Opportunity cost
  3. Escalation of expectations
  4. Self-blame

This presentation relates directly to customer experience and to the strategies companies employ to provide positive, or higher than expectations, experiences. With expectations getting higher with the increase in choice, companies should consider the paradox highlighted here seriously.

If we look at clothing shops in Hong Kong for example, instead of having a simple Giordano, now you have Giordano, Giordano Ladies, Giordano Junior, Giordano Concepts. With every new type of store created, customers’ expectations of how well a specific store can address their needs will increase, thus making it much more difficult to exceed these customers’ expectations. Few choices answering specific needs and clear distinctions between each choice, rather than choice overload, is a winning formula.

Customer Experience is about Individuals! October 25, 2006

Posted by psychobserver in Customer Experience, TED Talks.
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Malcolm Gladwell TED TalkThere is a great speech from Malcom Gladwell, the author of bestsellers “Blink” and “The Tipping Point“, that I think explains very well the need to consider customers as individuals. It thus complements nicely the concept that customer experience is about individuals as I highlighted in my last post on What is Customer Experience. It also highlights the need to use innovative techniques when researching customers to uncover needs that cannot be identified by direct questioning.

His talk on “what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce” was made during the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) 2004 event in Monterey. I know it is a bit old, but it is simply a great talk that can be watched over and over.

When watching this, we can wonder how ready the organizations we are working in or we are interacting with are to identify, understand and leverage differences among customers.