16260: Disrupting the Schumpethon

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Skill or Habit? What belongs to the first category and what belongs to the second? And how can technology better promote skill? That is the primary question of this week’s podcast and we take a long time to answer it. Our trip takes us through the writings of Adam Smith, an app that can calculate net wealth from a business card and an eight year old disruptive innovator who will never move to Brooklyn “because everyone knows that the best startups aren’t in Brooklyn.”

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UnknownThe Schumpethon is business pitch contest of the Lillian Moller Gilbreth School for Disruptive Innovation, the fictional school that is next to our fictional office in Silicon Valley. It is, of course, named for Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1960) the Austrian economist who studied business cycles and argued that recessions helped move capital from less efficient industries to more efficient industries. This episode introduces Maddie, one of the competitors in this year’s contest. This is not her first Scumpethon but as she is only eight, she will have many more opportunities to disrupt.

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16250: Getting the Right People

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What kinds of qualities do you want on your team? We start discussing skills and the qualities of our personnel with guest George Dyson while our intern and our IT guy go in search of John Von Neumann’s early computer. Dyson identifies some useful lessons from Julian Bigelow, who served as the engineer on von Neumann’s computer.
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This episode deals with personnel lessons learned from an important early computer, the one built by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study.  Unlike some of its antecedents, this machine followed a basic pattern that has been replicated in modern processors.  That pattern is called the “von Neumann architecture.”

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The von Neumann architecture was first described,  in an incomplete way, in a paper called “The Draft Report on the EDVAC.”  Most scholars accept that this paper was conceived and organized by von Neumann, though it was probably drafted by von Neumann’s assistant and contains contributions, perhaps substantial contributions, from others. Beyond dispute is the claim, as Anna notes, that it was written in Courier Font.

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16240: When We Observe, What Do We See?

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Observing Technology and Technological Organizations. And while you’re at it, how do you explain a boating accident to your boss, who thought that you were going to meet George Dyson?

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16230: Scientific Observation with George Dyson

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We now live in the age of Big Data and believe that numbers hold the answers to all our problems.  But in dealing with technology, it is useful to return to first principles and start by asking what assumptions underly our data and whether or not those assumptions are true.

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UnknownOur guest this week is George Dyson, a historian of technology, a futurist and a kayak builder from Bellingham Washington.

 

 

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16220: A visit to Bucks of Woodside

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Negotiation. Negotiated Technology. How do we start to make the compromises that turn a technology into a product. We sit down with our CTO, Vinny and our Business Manager, Evelyn, in the famous Silicon Valley Restaurant, Bucks of Woodside, to discuss these issues. (And oddly, the waiter looks remarkably like Rohit.) This week, as we get ready for our visit with Historian George Dyson.

This episode introduces new cast member, Geoffrey Grier of San Francisco’s Recovery Theatre.

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Bucks of Woodside
Bucks of WoodsideBucks is a well-known Silicon Valley restaurant in the hills north and west of Palo Alto. In common with a certain class of business restaurants, it is decorated in a style that can only be described as “Eclectic junkyard”. Unlike many of these places, the decor has a certain authenticity because it doesn’t seem to have been carefully designed or arranged. The artifacts were acquired by the owner and simply fill the place.

Perhaps unique among such restaurants, the own of Bucks Slide3
apparently made an offer to purchase Lenin’s body after the disintegration of the U. S. S. R.  The exchange of letters between the restaurant owner and a mid-level Russian minister captures both the unconstrained deal making of Silicon Valley with the rapicious actions of Russia’s new oligarchs.   The restaurant offers a price in “the low six figures” and the Russian minister ducks the offer while suggesting that Russia might have some other cultural artifacts that could be purchased for that sum.”

 

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16210: The Omnipurpose Negotiator

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A crisis with Evelyn-the-Business-Manager leads to a discussion of organizational operations, negotiation in the work place and to a preview of the new podcast season – which includes interviews with the historian of technology, George Dyson.

This episode introduces new cast member, Margaux Amie.

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Janus Cones
evelyn coneJanus Cones are graphical tools for organizing events and activities in a way that allow you to see the trends and forces that are shaping people, or organizations, and businesses. They can deal with personal events, global themes and everything in between. Here we have the kind of cone that Evelyne would have done to reject her personal perspective.  It is one of the cones that Tamara asked her to do.

 

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16205: Holding up the House of Cards

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A letter to the editor. A change of staff. A new idea. A pitch to the CEO when the CTO would do. And a moment of chaos. The new series of How We Manage Stuff begins by asking how we handle changes in the technological environment.

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Note on Scrum Sessions & Letter to the Editor:

HWMS actually did receive an inquiry about the length of Scrum sessions. The answer came from a paper presented at the 2012 Agile conference by Shiohama et al. There is not a large literature on this question, which is perhaps why it came to our attention. For those of you who do not know Scrum methods, they are a variation of Lean production or Agile development. One of its features is that it divides the task into short term goals. The entire development team will work towards these goals in an intense activity that is often called a sprint. Usually, the term “scrum” refers to the morning meeting or “standup” that occurs during the sprint.

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16165: The Binge – Don Shafer, The Cycle of Continuous Improvement, Pierre Bourque

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A binge of three episodes.  A binge for your workout.  A binge for your commute.  Or just a binge to catch up on the episodes that you missed.

This binge has three episodes from the fall.  In the first Don Shafer of the Athens group talks about deadlines and why software projects can run late.  In the second , Rohit our overly enthusiastic IT guy, explains why Walter P Shewhart, the inventor of the cycle of continuous improvement is so important.  In the last, Pierre Bourque tells us about the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge and why you should know about it, even if you don’t use it.

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