Jul 052015

To snap myself out of the current ennui that has swamped me, I’ve a few ideas for a crowdfunded project. I’m interested in what people think of them, the first two are Australian focused while the others are more international.

All five of them revolve around the changing global economy and its effects upon societies, communities and individuals.

These are the ideas and I’d be delighted to hear some thoughts on them.

True Australian stories

Australia is in a time of transition. The upcoming Federal election may well determine the nation’s development over the next half century.

The idea of this project is to get out into the regions and suburbs which aren’t being covered – if not outright ignored – by the mainstream media and talk to the communities, people and businesses about how their worlds are changing and what they are doing to deal with it.

Re-inventing Australia

After a quarter century of continuous growth Australia has to make decisions on where its economy goes next. Successive governments have identified resources, agriculture, tourism, finance and education as the ‘five pillars’ of the economy.

This project talks to the people trying to make Australia’s five pillars work along with looking at those trying to build alternatives.

The future workforce

How does the global future workforce look? Will we be all contractors for Uber or Upwork or are there other models developing around the world.

What does the next phase of the industrial revolution look like for workers in both the developed and emerging economies? This idea is inspired Sebastião Salgado’s work.

The Second City project

Every major city has a less prosperous neighbour – Sydney and Newcastle, Melbourne and Geelong, London and Birmingham, Beijing and Qingdao, San Francisco and Oakland are examples.

How are those second cities faring in a global economy that’s increasing the wealth of the rich? What are the leaders of those communities doing to reposition themselves.

The next Silicon Valleys

While we’re focused on today’s global centres like California’s Bay Area, London and Shanghai there are other emerging industrial centres that will be the next generation’s Silicon Valleys. Who are they and what do they look like?

I’d be delighted to hear readers’ thoughts on these projects and any other ideas for similar ventures.

Jun 122015

Earlier this week Apple announced a range of new services at its annual World Wide Developers Conference ranging from Music to News.

The reports were bad news for companies like Spotify and Flipboard with some reports claiming Apple could destroy $1.8 billion of investors funds.

History though suggests otherwise, industry giants like Microsoft and Google have failed in the past to crush smaller competitors when they’ve entered a market despite the minnows expecting to be crushed.

The reason for this is the smaller company is often more focused on the problem at hand while for the larger organisation the revenue at stake is tiny. For a big organisation to properly execute on a project it has to have the support, if not being actively driven, by senior management.

So it may turn out those startups are not as greatly at risk as first appears. Certainly the reviews of Apple Music haven’t been good.

Jun 022015
Customers moving online presents challenges to hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Urbanspoon was one of the original restaurant review sites and it was a good resource for figuring out was good in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Over time it fell behind and became irrelevant as other sites took over and it was neglected by its owners.

Now it’s been taken over and will be shut down by Indian startup Zomato.

The hospitality industry is tough and complex, something that’s not getting easier as keen young startups from unexpected places are entering the market.

May 232015

Uber and other car services are claiming US disability laws don’t apply to them The Daily Beast reports.

It’s hard to think of how Uber can do more to alienate the community with the service pushing legal boundaries in many cities, avoiding taxes and trying to skirt employment laws.

The danger for all the new wave of companies in their trying to dodge laws is they are inviting restrictive legislation, particularly if they’ve alienated the community and electorate.

It may well be time for companies like Uber, SideCar and Lyft to start showing a bit of humility and tact. Hubris and arrogance may come back to haunt them.

May 032015

The sudden and unexpected passing of Survey Monkey CEO David Goldberg at age 47 yesterday is a genuine shock.

Last year we interviewed David for Decoding The New Economy and found him to be a gracious and intelligent interviewee – a genuinely nice guy who wasn’t fazed by me constantly confusing Survey Monkey with Mailchimp.

With the passing of David the tech industry has lost one of the smart, good guys. Condolences to the his loved ones.

Apr 262015

Security experts have hacked a teleoperated surgical robot Security experts hack medical robot.

In a recently published paper, a group of academics showed how they had been able to change the instruction sequences, override commands or even take full control of the Raven II medical robot.

That such a lack of security isn’t in the least bit surprising is a sad commentary on the world of connected devices and the Internet of Things.

At the root of this problem is the software running this equipment has security added, at best, as an afterthought given the designers work from the assumption operators are in the room with the equipment,

If we’re going to connect these devices to the public internet then security has to be built into them from the beginning.

Whether we’re discussing remote medical equipment, driverless cars or the smart home, hardening and securing IoT devices is going to be of today’s industrial challenges.