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Der Protest gegen die DrosselungsplÃ¤ne der Telekom verlagert sich auf die StraÃe.
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The distinguished tech inventor, entrepreneur and writer Jaron Lanier is nostalgic for the future. In his acclaimed new book, Who Owns The Future?, which is out today, Lanier takes Silicon Valley to task for monopolizing ownership of the future.
Explicitly comparing the “extractive” business models of Wall Street with Silicon Valley’s “free” content economy, Lanier told me that we are “pulling the value out of bits”. “Free” is the big problem, Lanier says. This Facebook/Google model is “not a sensible way to run the world,” he says, because it takes advantage of naive consumers, thereby impoverishing them and shrinking the economy.
But Lanier, for all his criticism of Silicon Valley, remains an optimist about the digital economy. “Work your f$@king butt off,” the inventor of virtual reality advises startup entrepreneurs. And, in what may be the best free advice anyone gives you this year, he tells entrepreneurs to focus on making your customers wealthy.
In another life, the densely accented Belorussian media theorist Yevgeny Morozov might have made an amusing subject for a Saturday Night Live skit. But, in real life, there’s nothing at all comic about Morozov. Wielding a scalpel as sharp as the most acidic SNL scriptwriter, Morozov has turned his intellect against such illustrious tech thinkers as Tim O’Reilly, Jeff Jarvis and Steven Johnson.
To be “Morozoved” is to be savaged in 16,000 word critiques that seek to destroy the reputations of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest. So why, I asked Morozov, does he indulge in these types of intellectual blitzkriegs? “The whole debate is a nonsense,” he explains, laying out the foundations of his new book To Save Everything, Click Here.
Silicon Valley, he argues, claims that it can solve big political problems like climate change or obesity. But, he says, the tech community – with its algorithms of human perfection – has no understanding of how imperfect we actually are. Indeed, Morozov uses himself as a good example of both imperfection and hypocrisy – suggesting perhaps that the next person to be Morozoved will be Morozov himself.
Once upon a time, back in the prehistoric late 20th century, we all suffered from something called Future Shock – a condition that, according to best-selling writer Alvin Toeffler, made us unable to deal with the pace of technological change. Today, however, our future shock has been replaced by present shock. That, at least, is the view of the contemporary Toeffler, Douglas Rushkoff, who has just written the much lauded Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.
Rushkoff’s intriguing thesis in Present Shock is that today’s always-on technology has created a dictatorship of the present in which everything happens now. So what are the real entrepreneurial opportunities, I asked Rushkoff, in an age in which everything happens in the present? Rather than at companies like Facebook or Google, he explains, real innovation will happen with entrepreneurs who understood that our industrial model has been replaced by what he calls a “steady state real-time economy.” The big opportunities, Rushkoff says, now lie in areas like authentication, banking and alternative currencies – and with timeless companies like Etsy and Duncan YoYo.
Intel is one of those rare tech companies – IBM also comes to mind – that has successfully reinvented itself with each new wave of technological disruption. So, in our post-PC, networked age, how should we define Intel now? According to their new CIO, Kim Stevenson, Intel is a “computing company” that is now trying to be “startup-like”. And one disruptive area that Stevenson believes is “unexploited” is 3D visualization applications – products which make visual sense of big data. There’s a “market gap” here, Stevenson told me.
3D visualization is “for real”, she explained, because 3D camera costs have come down and because so many of our products are touch and gesture enabled. This may be one reason why, as Stevenson reminded me, Intel is getting into the device business. And it’s certainly one area that intrigues their investment arm, Intel Capital. I suspect Stevenson is right. Since the late nineties, when I ran business development for Pulse3D, 3D has always been the product of the future. But this future has finally arrived and I suspect that Intel’s latest reinvention will be to ride this immersive wave.
So what’s the future of e-commerce? According to Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, the multi-billionaire founder and CEO of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, it lies in making online stores more hospitable. In his new book, Marketplace 3.0; Rewriting the Rules of Borderless Business, Mikitani lays out his vision for the future of online retailing. As he told me, buying products online will be marked by a shift away from what he calls “standardization” toward a more customized experience.
This new “hospitality” model, Mikitani explains, is essential if e-commerce is to remain a disruptive force in the digital economy. In a sense, I suspect, Mikitani might be suggesting that e-commerce should become more Japanese, in its focus on politeness. Perhaps. But neither Mikitani nor Rakuten should be underestimated. With its $15 billion market cap, its acquisitions of Buy.com and the e-book creator Kobo, not to mention its $100 million investment in Pinterest, Rakuten has emerged as a genuine global player in the digital economy. Mickey Mikitani and his 10,000 employees at Rakuten really are rewriting the rules of borderless business. They might even be the real future of e-commerce.
Finally, our secret is out. Today, Deborah Perry Piscione’s much anticipated new book Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Can Learn From The Innovation Capital Of The World is being published. As Piscione told me, the real secret of Silicon Valley lies in our absence of hierarchy.
In contrast with New York, she told me, Silicon Valley is obsessed with “ideas” rather than with “greed” or “power”. And this love of ideas, Piscione insists, is why it’s the west rather than the east coast that is really driving innovation in the United States. I’m guessing that not everyone – particularly those up and down the eastern seaboard – will agree with Piscione. So expect Secrets of Silicon Valley to spark a much-needed national conversation about how best to innovate in an economy in which too many executives still crave stability and fear change.
And so the book has finally been written about Big Data. This new book, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think - written by Oxford University professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and The Economist journalist Ken Cukier – is the definitive guide to a new age which, both authors promise, is going to revolutionize the way we live, work and think. But “we are still in the first inning” of this age, Cukier says. So what are the business opportunities right now, I ask them, for startup entrepreneurs wanting to unlock new economic value in the big data economy? Healthcare and automotive, Cukier argues. Education, Mayer-Schonberger adds. But both authors also recognize the dangers of a big data age in which we flesh-and-blood humans might be in danger of ourselves being reduced to mere data.
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