Thursday, October 09, 2008

Meltdown Round Up

It's been a while since I've posted here but given all the economic meltdown panic and confusion floating around I felt obligated to toss in my two cents (which apparently just became worth one cent while writing this sentence) in the hope of shedding some badly needed light on exactly what got us into this mess.

A few caveats;

- I'm not a finance geek (but I could probably play one on TV)

- I'm not heavily invested in any markets or complex financial instruments

- I don't own a TV (nor do I watch much)

In my opinion what's happening right now is not a stock market meltdown, it's a truly global, fully international, credit and commercial banking crisis the likes of which the world has never seen. Consumers everywhere (all of us, if we're not too busy panicking) are scratching our heads trying to figure out how we've become ensnared in something so complex...

How did we get here? I mean seriously, how did it come to this?

One of my heros was and is the late physicist Richard Feynman. Now I can't say I'm too crazy that he helped invent the Atomic Bomb but while serving on the Space Shuttle Challenger investigation commission he brilliantly (in front of panel members, NASA engineers and TV cameras) explained how the Shuttle exploded, simply by clamping some booster rocket "O" ring seal material, dipping it in ice water for 30 seconds and then saying (paraphrasing) "when this material is at or below a temperature of 32 degrees it looses it's resiliency (gets hard) and fails... and when you guys launched on a cold morning, the "O" rings were frozen and failed". You can see him here (30 sec clip).

For the past two or three weeks I've been waiting for someone of Feynman's caliber to come along an explain this economic meltdown to the world... but I'm afraid there's no one in sight. Even amidst the the US Federal bailout no one really knows the quantum of the problem.

Below are some of the clearest and most concise (non-TV, non-corporate controlled mainstream media) resources I've seen, heard and studied over the past few weeks and feel obligated to share them (and encourage you to share them with the people you know and love). My objective: help promote understanding of exactly what got us here in the hope we can rationally fix / rebuild / repair the situation via informed decision making... before it's too late.

There's a little over two hours of audio here so take your time plowing through it. Given its potency, relevancy, accuracy and high quality it's probably better to digest the links slowly, one at a time. Might even be a good idea to load up the MP3's on your iPod and listen (or share in the listening) with friends or loved ones, then have a discussion;

AUDIO: NPR's "This American Life" Part One:
The Giant Pool of Money (59:00 min)
Explains the nature, origin and history of the US Mortgage Crisis. Simply the best explanation of what led to this situation.
Download MP3 file here.

AUDIO: NPR's "This American Life" Part Two
Another Frightening Show About The Economy (59:00 min)
Recorded the Friday after the $700 billion bailout bill passed congress.
Download MP3 file here.

VIDEO: PBS NewsHour explains Credit Default Swaps. (7:00 min)
Those pesky, complex, unregulated, global financial instruments that Warren Buffet has called "weapons of mass destruction".

AUDIO/PODCAST: NPR's Planet Money is an outstanding daily audio resource that translates breaking news about global financial and economic matters into easily digestible bite sized chunks. Really easy to subscribe it it via iTunes.

PRINT: A great piece from The New Yorker's Think Tank section called The Rationality of Panic by Steve Coll.

UPDATE: Here's a recent Twitter exchange with Paul Kedrosky.

Given the gravity of the subject matter it's a disturbingly mixed blessing to be called "precise" by a guy this smart.

UPDATE: Here's the full slide deck (containing information and advice) that silicon valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital presented to it's portfolio companies earlier this week. Budding entrepreneurs should pay close attention to slide #49.

UPDATE: Great slide deck on making sense of the mortgage meltdown from the Milken Institute in Los Angeles (via Paul Kedrosky).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How Swarm Communities Work and Grow (video)

Here's a new video I worked up that graphically describes how Swarm Communities Work and Grow (5:00 min)

You can view the large format, high resolution version HERE.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Site...

with lots more info on both Work and Play, along with an enhanced photo and large format video gallery. C'mon over... Link

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Busy as a Bee!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I started a new gig today as company cofounder and;

Chief Marketing Officer / VP Business Development

“Swarmteams™ is a unified global messaging platform that integrates internet and mobile phone communications to enhance the performance of teams, groups and social networks through intelligent sharing of information among member devices — regardless of their location.”

We're essentially a mobile social networking technology platform but with a serious twist – "Multichannel, 2-Way, Mobile Group Messaging that bridges Mobile Devices with the Web/internet" (check out the TechBriefing/Demo links below)...

but more importantly – we enable our clients and business partners to engage, support and monetize their most important user communities (24x7) via integrated 2-way messaging across mobile phones, instant messaging, email, web and RSS – in a way that unifies, promotes and measures modern electronic "engagement marketing" activities.

Our unique approach is based on research into the field of biology and the effective forms of team communications and collaboration found in nature. Ken Thompson, my new boss, is a software engineer and researcher and has spent the past 10 years engaged in coaching teams, networks, communities and groups to work more effectively together. His contribution in developing the “Bioteaming Manifesto” centered on research into how biological groups and teams (e.g. ants, bees, geese, penguins and dolphins) effectively communicate and collaborate to achieve their goals.

Swarmteams consists of a small group of wonderful people located in N. Ireland and now Toronto and I'm exceptionally proud to be working with such a talented team!

That said, I'm off to workbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Check out the Online TECH BRIEF/Demo videos I created for:
Enterprise/Corporate Messaging and
Mobile/Web Media: Owners and Distributors
(including Wireless Carriers and MVNO's)

Multichannel Mobile Group Messaging:

Unique Differentiation:

Link to my new Hive!
Link to "Bioteaming" concepts.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

History of the PC in TV Commercials

Here's a great article from PCWorld that covers the history of the personal computer from the perspective of TV ads that ran throughout the years. Featured are Atari, Commodore, Coleco, Tandy, Apple, IBM, Packard Bell, Microsoft and others. The Ad above is a favorite of mine -- even thought it never mentions computers :-) Link via BoingBoing.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lawyers... start your engines!

With the dust settling on Google's acquisition of YouTube (in an all stock transaction last week) the boundaries of both business models and copyright law seem likely to get "reset" as massive media conglomerates (and the mandarins who run them) try to make sense out the emerging internet media landscape.
This ought to be fun to watch...
Link to VentureBeat.

UPDATE: here's a Prof. Michael Geist article from The Toronto Star (10/16/06) on why YouTube won't be the next Napster.

UPDATE: GigaOm reports "and so it begins" by Universal, but the suits are against relatively small companies. "Got Precedent"?

Monday, October 09, 2006

"GooTube" a done deal!

Google to acquire YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock.
Link to Yahoo! Finance (via Paul Kedrosky)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Surviving Midair Collision

This is an amazing, harrowing and ultimately tragic story about surviving a midair collision -- which ultimately claimed 155 lives of the not so lucky.
Link to report of the crash in Brasil.
Link to NY Times with an excellent video piece.
UPDATE: an interesting post from Philip Greenspun at Harvard.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When will the peanuts start to float?

Richard Branson's SpaceShipTwo interior designs...
Link to BoingBoing

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Human Cell Animation

Well, if any of you out there know a better way to exchange long protein strings, I'd sure like to see it ;-)
Link to animation video.
Link to BoingBoing post.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Clinton on Fox News

Via the "Lost Remote" blog:
"President Bill Clinton’s interview on Fox News Sunday is spreading like wildfire around the internet. (If you haven’t seen it yet, Clinton became upset when asked about bin Laden. “So you did Fox’s bidding on this show,” he told host Chris Wallace. “You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.”) Clearly, this is a viral video if there ever was one, yet the relaunched dropped the ball. Yes, it’s displaying the story and video prominently. But there’s no way to email, link or embed the video. So what did Drudge and a fair share of blogs do? Linked YouTube’s clips of the interview, not So far, the first YouTube clip of the bunch as been viewed 988,000 times. A couple others are in the 200,000 range and counting. (And this is as of Sunday night.) You can bet’s clip of the video isn’t even close. And they can’t blame YouTube — just themselves for the lost opportunity."
Link to video.

UPDATE: Like I didn't see this one coming ;-)

Adobe Updater Updater Updater

Gotta love this Adobe dialogue box :-)
Link via BoingBoing.

Steve Jobs goes "Boom"

Via Wired "Cult of Mac" and "All ABout Steve"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Voting Machines

Yeah, but what do those Princeton guys know about computers? ;-)
Way to Go Professor Ed!
(via Kevin Burton's FeedBlog)
UPDATE: Prof. Felton responds to Diebold's response here.
UPDATE: Rolling Stone has a related article here (via Engadget).

Monday, September 18, 2006

"White and Nerdy"

Here's a little Wierd Al diddy that attempts to answer the musical question:
"Kirk or Picard" ;-)
(via Merlin @ 43Folders)

First in my class here at MIT
Got skills, I’m a champion at D&D
MC Escher - that’s my favorite MC
Keep your 40, I’ll just have an Earl Grey tea
My rims never spin, to the contrary
You’ll find that they’re quite stationary
All of my action figures are cherry
Steven Hawking’s in my library

Link to full lyrics here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gordon Lightfoot

If you don't know Bob Lefsetz of "The Leftsetz Letter: First in Music Analysis" you should. It's a great blog and here's one of his Podcasts featuring the music of Gordon Lightfoot (with some interesting back stories) but hey, even before hearing it knew that the rights to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" are almost impossible to secure because Lightfoot donated all royalties to the surviving families of the Fitzgerald crew...
Link to the Lefsetz Letter blog.
Link to MP3 Podcast file (explicit language).


Download YouTube videos to your iPod. Way cool.


Monday, September 04, 2006


I watched "Sideways" again last night. What a brilliant film and screenplay, especially with lines like this, where Miles uses metaphor to subconciously describe himself to Mia:

"Pinot is thin skinned, temperamental, ripens early, not a survivor, you know... like a cabernet, which can grow anywhere and thrive even when it's neglected. No, pinot needs constant care and attention. In fact it can only grow in these really specific tucked away corners of the world and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it really... only someone who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into it's fullest expression... and then it's flavors are the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient on the planet."


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Marketing Terror / Managing Attention

A long and interesting hypothesis by Keith Olberman of MSNBC news via Kevin Burton's FeedBlog. Link to video.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Watching Lebanon

An interesting New Yorker article (and worthwhile read) by Seymour Hersh. Link

Friday, August 11, 2006

The London Plot

Here are a couple of interesting pieces on the foiled London bomb plot.
Both touch on the issue of "emotionally potent oversimplifications" and the effect they have on us all.
Personally, I subscribe to the concept of not being afraid.
Link to an interesting video piece by Ze Frank (adult language).
Link to a NY Times OpEd piece.
(via Dave Winer)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Got Art?

I just caught this browsing YouTube:
A girl takes a picture of herself every day for three years.

With the internet increasing in power and scope as a distribution platform, will user generated content like this lead to a kind of renaissance in art and communications?
You be the judge.


Here's some pretty cool vintage content (photos and videos) from the Government of Ontario, Ministry of Industry and Tourism's web page.

I'm pretty sure I sang this song more than once on the way to the cottage when I was a kid ;-)

Link to video. Link to main page (via Cory at BoingBoing).

Escher in Lego

Escher's "Relativity" in Lego.
Link via MeFi.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mein Kitty-Kat

Here's a great web site that absolutely delivers on what it promises.
Link (via MeFi).
A great example of user generated content.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The NORAD Tapes

Vanity Fair has an amazing story on The North American Air Defence (NORAD) response to the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The web article also has interspersed audio links that let you hear actual conversations between ground controllers and F-16 pilots.
Link via BuzzMachine.

and here's a related post from a while back that may help you visualize air traffic density on any given day in the continetal US. Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Open Access Advocate?

Call me a whacked out conspiracy theorist, but could this be the real reason Gates is stepping down from his role at Microsoft?
I'd sure like to think so...
(via Prof. Ed Felton's "Freedom to Tinker").

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Passion of the Mel?

Holy cow!

"The Lifehacker's Dilema"

by Dave Grey (via Merlin at 43Folders)

NSA spotting

Check out this screen grab from a Daily Show piece aired in late June. The premise: the NSA domestic surveillance would have been much easier to spot if people had only inspected their phone bills a little closer, check out the other line items:

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wal*Mart Nicht!

Wal*Mart bails on Germany.
Link via Buzzmachine and an update from MetaFilter.

iPod has "Four Year Life Span"?

Which is perfect — if you're a replicant :-)
Link to Gizmodo.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tom Petty on NPR's "Fresh Air"

During my first days in University environment (specifically, 97 King Street West in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada -- don't look for it, it's not there anymore ;-) with a great group of guys I'm still friends with today, Tom Petty was a house favorite... and still is. Here's a great interview between Tom and Terry Gross of NPR's talk show "Fresh Air".
Link to NPR Fresh Air page.
Link to interview MP3 download.

Winning at any cost...

...has come to this?
I suppose the old adage about political elections ("it's not the voting that matters, it's the counting") sort of applies to sports ("it not the winning, it's the not getting caught").
"Landis Tests Positive for Doping" Washington Post
and New York Times story link via Paul Kedrosky.
UPDATE: Freakonomic's has this to say re:
cocktailing the night before a race.
UPDATE: and in further defense of Floyd...

CEO Geek-fest!

Mexens Technologies CEO, Cyril Houri, is interviewed by the MSMobiles tech blog. A fairly gruelling but truly outstanding technical conversation (read: "full on geek out" :-) about how the Navizon Wireless Positioning System works with PDA's, cell phones and smartphones as an augmentation / replacement for GPS positioning.
Link to MSMobiles.
Direct Link to the MP3 audio file (90 minute interview).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Blast from the past...

...and hopefully, this one won't hurt anybody:

Human League's "The Lebanon" -- linked via MetaFilter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To boldly go?

The cast of classic Star Trek perform "Camelot" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. An awesome mashup!
Link to YouTube via MetaFilter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Ain't it the Truth" Cory...

In a recent story Cory Doctorow writes:

" Wikipedia gets it wrong all the time. So do bloggers. But then, so do newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. The interesting thing about systems isn't how they perform when they're working to specification, it's what happens when they fail.

Blogs, Wikipedia, and other online media fail gracefully indeed. When a newspaper gets a story wrong, it can take 24 hours to get a correction out – if it corrects it at all. There's no ready way to link criticism of a newspaper article with the article itself. Certainly, you can't make the edits yourself.

But if you find an error in a Wikipedia entry, you can fix it yourself. You can join the discussion about whether a blogger got it wrong. Automated tools like Technorati link together all the different blogs discussing the same topic, turning them into a conversation. "

Link to via BoingBoing.

"Who Controls the Internet?"

Is the net erasing national borders?

Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith (Assistant US Attorney General under John Ashcroft) talks about his latest book (co-written with Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu) called "Who Controls the Internet?"

Aside from a very concise summary of the book, what's cool about this 20 minute speech is that he mentions a company called Infosplit and it's role in developing geographic identification technologies.

I was proud to serve as Infospit's VP of Business Development prior to its acquisition by Quova and extremely priviledged to work with an absolutely brilliant CEO/Architect/Engineer, Cyril Houri. Both Cyril and Infosplit are mentioned fairly prominently in the good Professor's book in the context of the Yahoo! US / Government of France / Nazi item auction case and the role Infosplit technology played in settling it.

powered by ODEO

This audio is part of an ongoing series offered by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Monday, July 17, 2006

24 Hours of Toronto

A 60 second / 24 hour time lapse of Toronto as seen from the intersection of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. I used a tripod mounted SONY DCR-PC100 DV Cam, Gawker 0.8 and a dual core MacMini to capture one frame every 60 seconds.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

P-47 "Thunderbolt" Camera Footage

Recently declassified gun camera film from P-47's in action over Europe in WWII, proving once again that -- War is hell. (via MetaFilter)

"Kawabunga Yahweh!"

OK, I just finished a long walk through some forest trails in downtown Toronto and while I was chugging along this KQED radio Podcast episode of "Forum" (hosted by Michael Krazny, NPR San Francisco) popped up on my iPod.

Michael was interviewing / chatting with Steven Kotler, author of the book "West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief".
What an amazing conversation, ranging from spirituality to neuro chemistry to biology to healing -- and let's not forget that wonderful, acquatic, slacker-hippy nonsense called "surfing" ;-)

Highly recommend you make / find some time to give this a listen... and feel free to pass this blog link along to your surfing and non-surfing pals alike. Really great stuff.

Here's a link to the KQED "Forum" interview hosted on Odeo
(you can listen in your browser or download the MP3 version).