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On the day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 12,000 for the first time since June 2008, it was impossible not to correlate the eloquence and optimism of President Obama's "State of the Union" speech on Tuesday night with the restoration of a sense of perspective and hope in the USA about the future. Obama grasped the nettle full-on. "We are poised for progress," he declared, adding: "Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing." As one blogger expressed it, though - and he is a former Goldman Sachs trader called Tyler Durden, so he ought to know wheref he speaks: "There was a massive pink elephant in the room called reality though." Durden's gripe is with what he deems to be the unreality of Obama's praising Google and Facebook so highly in an Ameri... (more)

Obama Endorses the Value of U.S. Social Technologies

"We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living." With this one sentence, spoken Tuesday during his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama ushered in once and for all the Age of Sociotechnology, the age that recognizes the importance of the interaction between people and technology in both workplaces and society. Obama recognizes perhaps better than anyone in America the extent to which technology nowadays is socially constructed and society is technically constructed. "We are the nation...of Google and Facebook" - those eight words may well go on to become the most significant President Obama has ever uttered to date. For better or for worse, it would seem that the destiny of the U.S.... (more)

HP Offers Products & Services to Deal with Mobile Computing & Social Media

HP this week announced a suite of products and services aimed at overcoming the challenges presented by the convergence of some of today's hottest business trends, mobile computing and social media. The four software products and three services are designed to help enterprises leverage traditional systems of record, while creating an improved and extended presence and engaging better with customers, partners, and even employees. IT-driven systems of record, while they serve up useful information, are usually commodities and in themselves don't create business differentiation. The new offerings, however, provide systems of engagement, which change the way enterprises interact with those people now using tablets and smartphones in increasing numbers, as well as through social media. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.] "Unless we worry about a syst... (more)

Closer Look at One NoSQL Database – MongoDB

Among the new crop of NoSQL database products, MongoDB ranks quite high, in my opinion. The company that produces MongoDB is 10Gen, a venture backed new start-up since 2008. But its rapid growth over last 4 years bears testimony to its technical strength. MongoDB’s name comes from the middle five letters of the word “humongous”, meaning big data. It is an open-source, document-oriented storage which is schema-free and can entertain dynamic queries with full indexing. The programming model is BSON – binary encoding of JSON (Javascript Object Notation), a lightweight text-based open standard designed for data interchange. Douglas Crawford of Yahoo invented JSON in 2006. The other key tenet of MongoDB is its scalability architecture – it can scale out horizontally using its automatic “sharding” (or keyrange partitioning). It does provide master-slave or peer-to-peer re... (more)

TechCrunch Founder Speaks Out About AOL Acquisition

So TechCrunch, founded on June 11, 2005 by Michael Arrington, was acquired yesterday - September 28, 2010 - by AOL. In announcing the acquisition - on TechCrunch itself, naturally! - AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong wrote, in addition to saying that the TC acquisition was "a great complement to our continued investment in world class content, that "I’m sure founder Michael Arrington will have a few words to say as well." Well, true to form, Arrington (pictured) did. The TechCrunch founder, who moved to Seattle earlier this year to achieve a bit more balance in his life after five years of incessant activity in Silicon Valley, described in a relatively brief post how Armstrong had already mentioned back in May that AOL would love to buy TechCrunch. The make-or-break factor for AOL, Arrington recounts, was whether he as Founder and guiding spirit, would stay on. Here is how he cha... (more)

A Twitter Epiphany? The Power of a Hash Tag (#jan25)

As America - on the East Coast anyway, including in Washington, DC - tucks up in bed, the sun is rising on Egypt. Which seems an appropriate time for @jg21 to briefly explain what I had in mind when resolving for the past 12 hours or so to re-Tweet as many of the comments and links flying around via Twitter as I found meaningful, informative, and (often) inspiring. The Twitter hash tag I have been laser-focused on is #jan25, named for the day on which the country-wide demonstrations in Egypt began. "Freedom of expression is a human right," blogged Twitter co-founder Biz Stone Friday, on Day Four of the blockage by the Egyptian government of Twitter and Facebook. And this was not mere opportunism by Stone, because it is the exact same thing that he said four months ago. Here is what he said already in September: "Twitter isn't a triumph of technology it's a triumph of hu... (more)

Microsoft to Pay $8.5 Billion Cash for Skype

Obviously born to pay retail, Microsoft is gonna ante up $8.5 billion cash money to scoff up Skype and turn it into its new Skype Division with CEO, Cisco veteran Tony Bates, as president. Bates will report to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The price, more than Microsoft has ever paid for anything although it once offered $48 billion for Yahoo before it thought better of it, includes the assumption of Skype's roughly $700 million debt. Although Skype's a freeware money loser - off $7 million on revenues of $859.8 million last year - Microsoft, which has had little luck with the Internet the past 15 years, said it expects the acquisition to generate significant new business and revenue opportunities. Barron's notes that eBay only valued its 30% piece of Skype at $620 million in a 10-K filing last year, implying that Skype was really worth roughly $2 billion. Presumab... (more)

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Social media and the increased role that linked communities of users have on issues, discourse, and public opinion are changing the world in many ways -- from how societies react such as in the Middle East turmoil to how users flock to or avoid certain products and services. The fact is that many people are now connected in new ways and they’re voicing opinions and influencing their peers perhaps more than ever before. Businesses cannot afford to simply ignore these global -- and what now appeared to be long-term -- social media trends. The latest BriefingsDirect discussion then focuses on the impact that social media is having on enterprises. We specifically examine with an executive at Capgemini on what steps businesses can take to manage social media as a market opportunity, rather than react to it as a hard-to-fathom threat. Hear too how services are being develop... (more)

Steadying ‘Information Optimization’ on a Moving Walkway

Ask any technology evangelist worth their salt roughly when the ‘next big thing' is likely to arrive and they will typically say about five-years from now. It's a safe bet; so-called ‘paradigm shifts' in technology tend to occur roughly every half decade - or at least they have for the last quarter century or so. The pressure that results from constantly evolving technology shifts has a direct impact upon us as users and, very crucially, the data we consume, manipulate and interact with beneath the innovation curve. Although innovation is great and we all enjoy product development, being able to optimize information across the various forms of data we touch is becoming more complex. This complexity is then compounded and exacerbated given the constant forward momentum produced by subsequent innovation waves. Metaphorically Speaking... The result of these truisms is ... (more)

Yahoo Sues Facebook, Wants the Joint Closed Down

Yahoo went ahead Monday and made good its threat to sue Facebook for patent infringement. And the suit’s a doozy. It says Facebook’s whole social networking model of creating profiles and connecting with all and sundry was stolen – Facebook was an utter loser before it took a free ride on Yahoo’s patented technology – and “Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO,” it says, “has conceded that the design of Facebook is not novel and is based on the ideas of others.” Exquisitely, Yahoo says this practically minutes before Facebook is due to go public at a massive valuation of $100 billion, timing that may make Facebook squirm. Somebody still left at Yahoo must have remembered that the company employed a similar strategy right before Google went public and came out with 2.7 million freshly minted Google shares 10 days before the IPO. They must have whispered ... (more)

Proxy Fight over Yahoo Takes to the Web

This being the 21st century, dissident stockholder Third Point LLC has taken its nascent proxy fight over the soul of Yahoo to the web. Under a "vacancy" sign, it's set up a precedent-setting blog at www.valueyahoo.com where it intends to pick apart the litany of Yahoo's missteps to convince its fellow investors that the company's destiny would be better off in savvier hands like those of the four pretty high-profile independent directors it's proposed should sit on the Yahoo board. The site is done up in Yahoo's signature purple and there's a linking Facebook page. (You will of course remember that Yahoo's new CEO Scott Thompson, ex of PayPal, is suing Facebook for infringing Yahoo patents.) Third Point says, "We created ValueYahoo as a guide for our fellow Yahoo shareholders who want change at one of technology's most valuable - and sadly, we believe, most mismana... (more)