The portrait of the blogger as an artist.

25 11 2014

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I had a conversation with a co-worker yesterday. It’s someone I respect a lot so the conversation rattled around in my head for awhile. It was on the topic of blogs and the changes in writing over the past ten years.

As an avid blogger my initial reaction was no way. She pointed out that at professor of hers had talked about texting, blogging and the new media changing the language around us. That is something that over time has happened many times. Any group of people communicating in a focused on structured manner will be to adapt to new rules generated by that conversation and communication. You don’t spring fully formed onto this planet with a regional dialect, you learn it over time.

Texting has changed writing radically in this country. I myself am terribly bad at writing complete sentences (in the morning in my blog often – and when texting almost always regardless of the time). Blogging on the other hand has changed the country in the negative like texting modifying and altering the grammatical and presentation rules of writing.

But writing like painting and sculpture is also an art form. Blogging gives many more artists the chance to express their art. To steal the old drinking adage (you don’t own beer you borrow it) and apply it tow writing it is the same. You don’t own the ideas that spring from what you write. You own the concept you put on paper and the words you write. But the reader owns the ideas they have and create from there.

Based on that blogging is a canvas. Part of the artists palette. Over the years I have had fortune to visit art museums in many cities and countries. I have looked at some of the great works of art and wondered. Salvador Dali’s work appeals to me. I like the mixture of what is and what well isn’t. The giraffe as a dresser. It is art.

So are many blogs. Certainly there are blogs that give rise to question that statement. Conspiracy blogs at times frankly many at best are examples of what can be done that isn’t art but rather well I will keep my opinion to myself. But you can find those writings in the 1930’s and frankly any part of the last 1000 years. Cheap and easy literature produced for mass consumption not quality.

It isn’t a first amendment issue in the end. Everyone has the right to an opinion. We don’t always have the right to share that opinion (if your opinion is shouting Fire is a hobby and you are in a crowded theater you don’t have the right to exercise your hobby unless there actually is a fire).

Blogging is a spectrum From literary expression all the way to conspiracy theories blogging runs that gamut. It is in the end merely another vehicle for the artist to dream and share aloud.

“In the hallway the women bustle to and fro and speak of Michael Angelo.”

TS Elliot.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





An essay on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

24 11 2014

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“Ask not for whom the bell tolls. The bell tolls for thee.”

John Milton

Like so many great works of literature I’ve read over the years certain words and authors stick with me year after year. Milton, Blake, Hughes, Pound all bounce words and thoughts off my cerebral cortex into the long term memory banks.

Sitting next to design considerations and concepts of requirements gathering is a single Tyger burning bright in the forest of my mind. Music and literature influence us by enabling us to have a cradle of creativity within us. A burning desire for a moment to reach beyond what is there and consider what could be there.

That momentary burst when it is revealed to us that more was always there. We just hadn’t seen more. We saw only what our limits would allow. Bursting past those limits we could see what had been there forever waiting for us like a loyal companion sitting and waiting at the end of every day.

Oh again to sit amongst those who argue the essence of the universe. To see and hear that which isn’t there. To grasp for a moment of reflection the potential within what could be. To innovate in ways that were not possible before.

What is the change then that we must undergo to open this door? How do we join the group that argues the essence of the universe? It just science. It isn’t just math. Those are far to dry to see the edges that are flaking and here the symphony that is there. For years we chased STEM improvements in schools. To create that moment where the universe wasn’t the only view to be seen.

In the end the art is important as well. There is a poetry within innovation that calls to us. It is as if the moment of innovation is a mixture of science, math and art. Technology included in that but it often rides along patiently waiting for a moment.

It took science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) to build the first Macintosh computer in 1983. It took art to destroy the previous conceptions of computers and in placing that Super Bowl Ad in 1984 change for a moment the course of the world.

Apple isn’t the only company do merge STEM into STEAM most companies do now. But Apple’s core is a mix of all four (Math, Science, Technology and Art). Pageantry and majesty rising out of the ashes to proclaim change.

It is art that in the end rings Milton’s bell.

In the end Mr. Frost it isn’t the road heavily traveled nor the road less taken that we seek. It is the road that mixes all four components to produces the STEAM that moves our creative dreams.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





An interesting question about a TV show…

23 11 2014

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It seems for me a that the few times I watch TV (other than sports) I get frustrated. Shows have writing that is flat or to contrived or worse doesn’t challenge me. Sporting events are my primary enjoyment.

Yesterday I did happen to watch an interesting show. I used to many years ago love the show Magnum PI. It was a funny quirky show and Tom Selleck was someone that just came across well on the screen. I’ve caught a couple of his new show “Blue Bloods” and find the show, cast and writing to be good.

Friday of this week (or maybe last – when you DVR everything dates become well no longer relevant). The show in particular has a bunch of stories going on. The one that intrigued me was the story of a woman, who had raised her sons in a tough neighborhood and didn’t in the end like the police. Mostly because her sons, that had never gotten in trouble were constantly stopped and frisked because they were African American. A tough topic for a TV show to take on but they did present a interesting case. The police needed to have this woman’s help as she actually captured an event on her cellular phone that was trending the other way in public opinion (that in fact the police officer had beaten the suspect as was stated by two “eye witnesses.”

First off there is an extremely hard morality question in this show. Who should you be loyal to?  As we see from the various problems we’ve had in the past few years that alone is a tough question. Ours is a country filled with us against them people. Virtually every group of people and every great migration to America is from somewhere else where the group was oppressed. Or people were taken against their will and forced to a new place.

I wrote an essay a couple of weeks back on Freedom and the right to equal opportunity. The question on the table is who do you side with. The reality we have today is a country comprised of people that often fled governments. From the Irish immigrants, Italian Immigrants, South Vietnamese immigrants were all fleeing an oppressive and destructive government. Why would any of them trust governments again? Because in the end most of the people (except those brought here against their will) were running to what they believed to be a better place.

In the end the woman gives the police the video she took on her cellular phone. They appealed to her as a mother, pointing out that the policeman in question had a mother who also questioned why her son wasn’t treated fairly.

There are two interesting stories for me out of that. The first is the technology has changed the world radically and the concepts within the Internet of Things will continue to change this world radically. The number of places you can go without a video camera is growing smaller every day. The other side of all this is about the right thing to do. The moral responsibility we all have to do the hard things.

It in the end was a great episode that was well written and the story line was not contrived. It asked both sides of the question “the people that don’t trust the police” and the police being asked to wear video camera’s. In the event shown they added the human element of the video camera actually malfunctioning prior to the escalated violence that resulted in a he said/she said issue. No matter how much we rely on technology there is still a human element.

All deserve equal opportunity.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





Your wait time is 6 minutes (no matter how many times you repeat that 25 minutes isn’t six minutes)…

22 11 2014

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There has to be a paradigm – somehow a magical equation that tells you in the end you need to cut the time people wait on the phone before they talk to a human being. Yesterday I attempted to close my eBay account.

Waiting on the phone for more than 25 minutes (your projected hold time 6 minutes).

Find out that I can’t close the account yet. So I guess after more than 10 years on eBay I am just punting. I will keep trying to close the account but I will no longer consider, do business with or use eBay.

In the end I was probably meaner to the customer service representative that is just doing their job so for that I do feel bad. It is a hard job to be on the phone and deal with the problems and issues people have with a product or company.

The quality of interactions both with eBay and eBay customers has gone downhill in the past five years. Each year getting more than incrementally worse. There are so many fraudulent buyers on the service now it is far too risky to sell on eBay.

So I am no longer using, considering or well even caring about eBay.

The issue comes about with the new model they have. I posted a listing (I have a 100% customer satisfaction rating on more than 900 transactions). The person won the auction and once they got the item they started negotiating. Rather than reading the original post which was the contract they agreed to, they declared the item was incomplete. The auction specifically said there are none of the original adds on included with the auction. eBay of course in their infinite wisdom found in favor of the buyer.

  1. Problem 1: Buyer didn’t read the original eBay listing.
  2. Problem 2: I suspect in the end eBay can’t read. How can you find for a buyer when the auction say’s no slide trays included. The buyer opens a case saying the slide trays were missing.
  3. Problem 3: This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact it happens with every auction now. People win and then say I didn’t get x. But the auction listing specifically says “x is not included.”

In the end I suspect there is a lesson here. I am going to keep digging until it is revealed.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





Answering the bell–an e-mailer asks about bias in RFI’s and RFP’s

21 11 2014

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I got a great question in my email this morning from someone who reads my post on the IASA Global Blog site (you can find my post here). I was talking about the responsibility/ethics of architects involved in the creation of either an RFI/RFP outbound or the organizational response inbound to the same.

The question I posted was around the ethics – what should you do. The e-mailer asked an interesting question that made me think for awhile. RFI’s and RFP’s are supposed to be neutral and represent only the the requirements of the solution.

What, the e-mailer asked, if you read requirements that you know were written for a specific solution?

First you have to be careful. There are many types of documents in the world. But RFI’s and RFP’s by their nature are not always created by one person. So reading for meaning is dangerous. The meaning you may find in fact may only be the meaning from one author and usually when organizations review multiple proposals they have multiple people reviewing them. Be careful what you read.

As I thought about it more I started thinking about the orientation of the observation. The bias of the reader and what that would create. It reminds me of an old science experiment I used to do with kids when I was teaching. You can create an image that changes based on the color of the lens or lack of a lens used to view the image. It’s a variation of the old elephant game (blindfold a group of people and have them touch various parts of an elephant and tell you what they are touching as a whole, rather than just the piece they are connected to).

That impacts as well. The bias of the reader and the perspective of the writer both impact the end game. So my simple e-mail answer back was it depends. In many cases organizations release requests for proposals with a specific partner delivering the solution already in mind. That brings into the reality the bias of the people writing the original (out-bound). That also impacts what you answer with.

After all that my e-mailer said how can anyone be successful then in responding to requests for proposals? That is the real question and its all about hearts and minds. In order to change bias you have to have not an accusation but a path forward. Not a “declaration” its bad to be biased but a demonstration of how what you envision is so much better than anything that organization has.

You have to shift the organizational perspective. That in the end is the hardest and easiest job of all. It’s why a great Business Development team working with a great solutions team produces responses that win. They cover both sides of the customer with concepts and ideas that change the perspective and bias even if they didn’t influence the creation of the RFI/RFP.

It is not the mountain you climb, but what you do when you get there that matters.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow





The interesting problem of social snooping…

20 11 2014

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I have an interesting fear/security question in my inbox. A dear friend (pre-IT days so also a long time friend) sent me an email. I’ve been his IT guy for more than 25 years. He noticed a number of former co-workers were looking at his Linkedin profile.

It is an interesting problem and one that bears some thought. My initial response to him was the typical new age social response. Don’t put anything on your social pages that you wouldn’t say in person or wouldn’t say ever. He asked me what I meant by that. I thought about it for awhile the other night and this morning I sent him a reply with the following what shouldn’t be on social media guidelines.

Never post that you are going on vacation, until after you are home. Save the moment by moment pictures until you get back. There are people that watch social media sites just to see when other people are on vacation. That way there isn’t anybody in their house, and breaking in is a lot easier.

  • Set-up rules and stick to them for when you include names. I include names when I am reviewing a product, receive lousy customer service or receive exceptional customer service. Sadly there are few of the last blogs but that is a different issue.
  • Never say anything about a specific person that is in any way derogatory. Seriously. You can delete it, but people remember nasty posts.
  • Check your public profile. It may not be what you want to share with people that aren’t connected to you.

The reality is that there are a growing number of people in the not social at all category and they simply do not even have on-line profiles. There are a growing number in the minimalist movement. They post only the least possible information to connect with people that know them but no more.

Social Snooping is something that in the end can damage the second party. The snoopy as it were. The snooper on most sites can even appear anonymous so you don’t even know who is snooping and who is simply trying to figure out if they know you.

The largest social site doesn’t even tell you who has viewed your profile. The largest business site will tell you but as stated above not everyone is required to reveal their identity. It is hard at times to evaluate if someone is in fact snooping.

So you go back to the three rules and stick to them. If you blog, post your rules every quarter or so (I do – it helps keep them fresh in the readers minds). The most thing about social media is the reality of the tipping point.

We are near that tipping point. Either Social Media becomes part of the day to day communications structure of the world we are in. Or it fades away and the next big thing comes along.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





Pen and paper–the Equil Smartpen (ok connected pen)…

19 11 2014

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Over the years I have chased my personal issue of pen and paper. I am a huge fan of writing notes on paper with a pen. For years I have been a devotee of the Livescribe pens for that very reason. They allow me to combine notes and recordings of events into a single unified page. I have a Livescribe pen in my bag.

I do still like to take notes on paper whoever and sometimes I find myself missing the old yellow legal pad. Plus at times the Livescribe paper gets to be expensive. At work we have a stack of yellow legal pads and frankly I have thought about taking those to meetings rather than the Livescribe. The problem> Then I have to transcribe my notes to digital.

Enter a new pen to the market. The Equil Smartpen2. It allows you to use any paper. You simply download the application (PC, Macintosh, iOS and Android, I honestly don’t know about Windows Phone support) and away you go.

The pen is smaller than the Livescribe so it is a little easier. In larger meetings where things fly faster than you can write, the Livescribe has that nice record feature. The newer pens actually use the connected device’s audio recording rather than recording on the pen.

But the Equil has a great feature. It has an application that is designed to capture sketches. Sure it will convert your handwritten text into digital typed text but it also has this cool support for those who are more artistic and like to draw things. I like to draw out diagrams when I am talking to people so being able to copy them and paste them into an email is very nice.

Overall the technology in this space has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. You can very easily find good video pens, good scanning pens and digital capture pens that work for what you are trying to do. It is a market that I follow because I like to take notes in meetings. Sometimes taking notes helps a lot.

At some point though we have to talk about using the word Smart in front of an object when you actually mean connected. A smart pen would leap out of my hand and start writing for me. A connected pen allows me to write and puts that onto my digital device. So let’s think about that name going forward.

By the way the connected thing also goes for watches. A connected watch is able to display the information on your phone. A smart watch is able to well do things your phone can’t do and then push that information to your phone. There are more watch connections than there are true smart watches.

I would share some of my artistic renderings from the Equil pen but either they are not shareable or well not good. If you are in the market – another pen to consider.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow








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