Turn It On and Go!

Thirty-three years ago last Monday (22 June 2009), Jimmy Luther Lee of Clayton, CA filed a U.S. Patent for the design of the current day Fish Locator [1] device. The idea of an electrical devices used to locate fish wasn’t a new idea. In the patent it was necessary to address the common Patent term known as prior art [2]. These so-called Fish Locators were already being produced before Lee’s invention, but they were troublesome, unreliable and fragile devices. Lee’s invention signifcantly changed, through technological improvement, the device and in-turn spawned the turn-it-on-and-go device we have today.

Lees’ invention made it vastly easier to use the device we call the Fish Locator; and by various other product branded names. Thus, it in turn made it vastly easier to SELL, as well! Popularity, accessibility, usability, necessity – all soared. To the point that nearly every motorized craft used in the pursuit of fishing – fresh and saltwater – have at least one Fish Locating device – onboard. Their popularity – yeah, necessity – even insures that even non-motorized craft make use of them. Ice fishermen have made the fish-locating device essential in their pursuit of fish through frozen surfaces.

Fish locators have become indespensible to the modern fisherman. Many refuse to leave home without one.

TRACK – STORE – RECALL

In a similar story, the world of communication has been altered forever by the power of 140 characters. In a way no one would – or could – ever have anticipated.

Before Twitter [3], communication in bite-size bits was considered incomplete and many times incoherent. And for the most part it was nearly impossible to keep track of such bits-n-pieces of information. Let alone even consider recalling them for future use. What use could they possibly have?

The major reason such small bits of information were deemed unsusable, was the lack of an ability to track, store and recall such tiny bits of thought. Then putting them together in any meaningful way… well, it would be literal nightmare. No one REALLY enjoys nightmares.

In the early 1990’s, when the information world was rocked to its foundation by the advent of the Internet [4], the problem of track, store and recall took on megalithic proportions. How to solve this thorny issue was on every database-thinking mind in computerdom.

The answer turned out to already be in their programming toolbox: the TAG [5]. The key was getting the ‘TAG’ out of its square hole and capable of conforming to meet any ‘need’ as necessary. The solution came in the form of a specific language for ‘TAG’s called XML [6], or eXtensible Markup Language.

XML is a 2nd Generation programming derivitive of an earlier, far more complex software language. This tool-of-programming-torture is known as SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) [7].

Anyone familiar with – whether knowledgable in the How-To’s or not, of creating web pages, may recognize the term ‘Markup Language'[8]. The acronym HTML [9], for which most people now recognize as the ‘language of a web site’ is ‘Hyper Text Markup Language’. HTML is also a much simplified and very specific derivative of SGML.

The solution for keeping track of the every exploding levels of information created by-the-second on the Interent was to embed TAGS in the HTML code. Very specific TAGS rules were established as the versions of HTML were developed. The result are what now know as META TAGS [10].

The META TAG is a way of highlighting specific WORDS and PHRASES with a published web-based document that are SEARCHABLE via the next solution in the track, store, recall. We call them Search Engines.

The search engines, the best known one being Google, are the devices we use to located what we would most like to read or see, from the billions of pages availalbe on the Internet.

The search engines send out billions of instructions every hour to scour the WEB for information on pages, types, updates, drops, locations, and much, much more – dealing with every single page that exists online. Without META TAGS, a page is NOT searched. Thus, it is NOT found, either.

XML is unique in that anyone can write completely new tags for their own specific needs that will work with any XML script they create. This has been far and wide across the Internet and Information Technology communities.

There are many ‘flavors'[11] of XML. XML has been ‘flavored’ a lot. Many of which are extremely powerful.

The entire financial world – irrespective of national origin – use XML as their tool of choice. One specific ‘flavor’ of XML called XBRL (Xtensible Business Reporting language) [12] is not only used, but since 2005 the U.S. Government has made, the use of XBRL, manditory for Financial and Business Reporting. By 2012 ALL nations worldwide will require ALL businesses to use XBRL for their reporting.

Why?

Three very important and powerful reasons: Track, Store, Recall.

#HashTAG and 140 Characters of POWER

Twitter is pervasive. Twitter is humongeous! Twitter, the social-networking tool, based upon communication in 140 characters or less, is rapidly becoming THE First Level of Communication in the Online World.

But there was a problem.

Twitter did not allow the ‘owner’ of a Twitter account to ‘get to the code’ so they can embed ‘searchable tags’. Fret not fellow cyber dispensor of Tweetdom! The community of Twitter-fiddlers have taken care of this thorny issue.

Twitter-users (Tweeters?) were able to provide every user with an amazingly simple solution. The solution came easily because the backbone of Twitter uses XML – remember, Xtensible Markup Language? – to store, retrieve and deliver data.

Remember earlier mention that XML’s power lies within its inherent ability for unique tag creation by the author of an XML script? Well, Tweeter developers tapped this power to provide us, their fellow Tweeters – aka: USERS – with a vastly easy solution: the #hashtag.

By incorporating what had already been used in the community of IRC (Internet Relay Chat)[13] users, #hashtags[14] [the ‘#’ pound or number sign is commonly referred as a ‘hash’ in programming, thus the name #hashtag] became the name by Twitter users.

When Chris Messina voiced his initial proposal on 25 August 2007[15], for the use of #hastags for Twitter and reiterated in his post on 23 DEC 2007[16], Twitter didn’t have a track feature and he was looking to solve a specific problem of grouping, he was echoed by many[17] within the budding Social Networking[18] community.

In a round about way, as do many of the best ideas developed have appeared, #hashtags become the default tagging system for Twitter users. Bringing Tweets the power of Track – Store – Recall. [19][20][21]

What DOES a Fish Locator and the #hashtag have in Common?

Despite what seems to be no connection between the story of a Fish Locator and the Twitter #hashtag, they reall are very much connected. Both are the result of filling a need, by using pre-existing platforms, to provide answers to immediate needs. But they did far more. Their introductions have spawned hundereds – even thousands – of other uses, ideas, products and services. They were both a unique answer to a common problem with wide-ranging additional applications and solutions. Each one in-turn presenting more questions to germinate the next wave of technological development.

But even more in-common they share the same end result. Both the Fish Locator and the Twitter #hashtag, in-the-end, are about Track-Store-Recall.

Information is power. The ability to TRACK information, then STORE it provides immediate and future power.

But, having the ability to RECALL that information at anytime, form anyplace, by anyone… well, that is priceless. And that, is power.

— Resources —-

[1] Patent Application: Fish Locator – http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4050308.html
[2] prior art (Patent Application) – a term used to describe any information made available to the public, in any form, BEFORE the application by another for invention patent, to establish originality. If prior art is established and uniqueness of the new application is not found, said application could be denied. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prior_art
[3] Twitter – http://twitter.com/about ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter
[4] Internet – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet
[5] TAG – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_(metadata)
[6] XML – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML
[7] SGML – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SGML
[8] Markup Language – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markup_language
[9] HTML – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML
[10] META TAGS – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_element
[11] ‘Flavors’ – a term often used in relation to varieties of the Operating System LINUX, to describe variations on the core code. The ‘flavors’ retain the core abilities of the code, but provide additional – often very powerful – tools and capabilities. Thus the term has carried over into other areas of coding and program development. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Linux_distributions
[12] XBRL – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XBRL
[13] IRC – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Relay_Chat
[14] #hashtag – http://twitter.pbworks.com/Hashtags
[15] Chris Messina: Groups for Twitter; or a Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels – http://tinyurl.com/3by4w3
[16] Making Sense of #hashtags – Chriss Messina – http://factoryjoe.com/blog/2007/12/23/making-the-most-of-hashtags/
[17] What does # mean in a twitter post? All about octothorpetags. – http://vielmetti.typepad.com/vacuum/2007/11/what-does-mean-.html
[18] Social Networking – http://www.commoncraft.com/video-social-networking ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking
[19] #hashtags – http://hashtags.org/
[20] Twitter’s Page on ‘All Things #hashtag’ – excellent resource – http://twitter.pbworks.com/Hashtags
[21] Track your #hashtags a) http://hashtags.org, b) http://www.twitter.com/search, c)

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We read daily of small entrepreneurial companies being gobbled up by Big-COs in an effort to line their lairs with the necessary accouterments of technology they don’t have the talent or time to develop. And as well, in many cases the small-cos are gobbled just for the sake of gobbling or to keep competition from ‘feeding’.

Regardless of whom it is doing the ‘gobbling’ or who gets ‘gobbled’, ‘gobbling’ is not good. Gobbling causes a retardation in new development.

How does it do that you ask?

Simple. Big-CO’s are about making money for the bottom-line. Start-ups are all about exploring new ideas and bringing the first generation of new products to the world of consumers. The two are not compatible; in status and in purpose. But the Big-COs continue to believe they cannot survive without either owner or stopping competition from owning the goods of the little-cos. And the little-cos think they must become part of the Big-COs in order to have the capital to bring their next-Big-Thing to market.

Unfortunately, what both don’t seem to realize is:

  1. The BigCO is too big and too busy worrying about ‘bottom-line’ to mess with the development of a bunch of newly absorbed little-co remnants!
  2. The little-cos realize, far too late, that they are on-their-own and in short supply of funding dollars.

Oh, what a viscious cycle. Why doesn’t someone step in an stop it?

The reason is quite easy, most folks who could… know it’s no use. They realize they could loose their heads in the ‘reaction’ from the attempted rescuse with no effective positive outcome. Eveyone would loose.

It is just not seen as worth it.

Yet, all the while the entrepreneurial bloodline is loosing its seedstock of truly great business building minds.

This bit of news just came across the wires a while back.

Fox Buys Photobucket, Flektor

“HEEDING THE NEED FOR ENDLESS innovation, Fox Interactive Media plans to pad MySpace and its other Web properties with two technology companies strong on consumer-generated–as well as edited, mashed up, and shared–media.by Gavin O’Malley, Thursday, May 31, 2007 6:00 AM ET Online Media Daily

Where does it end?

That is a good… and timely… question as yet another piece of news came across my wire this afternoon and nearly every afternoon of another small company being gobbled up in the rush of the ‘power-driven-BigCos’ to have it all. And in the fray, the one thing that is so vital to the future of technology gets squashed: innovation.

These startling bits of information give us a startling glimpse of an even more startling sign that in their haste to make big corporate payoffs, some of the best technology startups – even those who have gone big and are still climbing, may soon become only the victims to the ‘big-boys’ lust for power, at the hands of the unscrupulous.

And we find ourselves – private and small business America – the big time loosers for it all.

VFTB

The Digital LaunchPad

In the digital world voices all sound the same: bits, bytes, hums and whirs. There is no human voice here, only the sound of electrical charges and discharges. But just the same there is a language. A growing and important form of communication, greater – more powerful – than anything ever devised or visioned by mankind.

Yes, it could be our downfall. But so, too could have been – and was – said of the printing press. In some senses, it did bring down many. In other more profound ways it provided the power necessary to bring literacy and education to millions upon millions of humans who would never have known it. In this the downfall was the seeds for the greatest expansion of knowledge ever in the history of mankind.

A Matter of Perspective: Is It Not?

Technology is cursed – and blessed – with being a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways: Good and Bad. However, it’s not the sword that initiates the cutting – not the initial energy needed. No, the sword is merely an instrument that must be guided to have influence – we are that influence, it is us – humanity, whom swings the sword: or stops it.

So.. how we weild this new ’sword’ will tell a lot about our future as living organisms; as community; as spirits. The power we now have is so mighty – that it pales the pen of yesteryear. The digital world will control our every being…. or at least as much as we afford it control.

And that’s the key isn’t it: Personal Responsibility … or in another word: Choice. We make the call, as it were, and live with the decisions. Nothing has changed in that scenario. Only now we engage a choice and feel the outcome much faster. A powerful club to wield.

How well we choose, determines the character behind the choosing. How well we live with the errors we make, that will be determined by the level of Personal Responsibility each of us assumes under our own control.

BLOGSTROM: the term

The term blogstrom is a term of my own creation. A lot of other names have been attached to this incredible tool since making it’s public debut back in the early days of 1990. Back when the only thing people knew of the forthcoming Internet … were the few bulletin boards (BB’s) making the rounds on the new-fangled personal computers coming out of the likes of IBM, Dell, Sony, Apple and others. Such names as CompuServe, Prodigy and the scurge that is still with us, AOL.

Dave Winer, former owner of Userland Software, creator of the first powerful, computer resident blogging CMS tool, Radio, began calling the arena in which blogging was taking place – or would be taking place – as the blogosphere. A good name. But I thought it more accurately described the ‘area’ – and not the action taking place. Thinking about that is what led me to refer to the ‘happening’ as the BLOGSTROM.

Blogstrom was inspired by the word maelstrom. The site Answers.com – one of my favorite resources! – defines maelstrom as the following:

 

  • A violent or turbulent situation;
  • A whirlpool of extraordinary size or violence.

I believe this very aptly describes the ‘happenings’ going on inside – and outside – the blogstrom.

The Blogstrom is violent: in both much of what is said and done and it’s definitely turbulent. The Blogstrom is also a ‘war zone’. Old media are falling right and left – along with the long-held belief that only the ‘knowing professionals’ can – or even have the right – to dispense news or thought provoking information. This is nothing short of a social coupe! That is a radical change and change is violent in its nature.

The Blogstrom is a violent and turbulent place. Does this mean it’s not safe?

Well, yes – in some sectors that is true. Just like that same truth applies to certain areas on planet earth: not all are human conflict generated, either. Walking up to a feeding predator – such as a grizzly bear, tiger, lion or hyeana – will grant you a very large opportunity to be the viande du jour! Undoubtably a violent environment. But as well, there are many places where one can be within dangerous proximity of such natural violence and yet remain safe: distance, vehicle, containment – in some way you can be near, but not in danger. See the violence – even experience it a bit – but, without experiencing damaging results.

The Blogstrom is also a whirlpool of immense size and violence; there’s that word again!

A whirlpool – the physical characteristic of water, not the appliance manufacturer! – is, according to Answers.com…

 

  • A rapidly rotating current of water; a vortex.

    • Turmoil; whirl.
    • A magnetic, impelling force into which one may be pulled.

Once again, a perfect description of the ‘happening’ within the Blogstrom. It’s not quiet in here! We the bloggers who make up the Blogstrom, cause a great amount of uproar, noise, stir and general all-around commotion! That’s what we are. It’s who we are as well.

The Blogstrom is a vortex. Answers.com again provides us definition for the word vortex:

 

  • A place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that surrounds it.

Many of us take great delite in ‘playing’ in the very eddies of its fateful vortices. Staying but moments from disaster; daily. That’s the Rush! the Thrill! the Reason… we continue on dancing the step of dare with the ebb and flow of the Blogstrom.

Eventually, everything will be sucked into this ever expanding vortex until we’re all absorbed by it. From the looks of things today, we may not be too far from that time and place.

But are we talking of something bad here? Depends on to whom you pose that question. Some feel the Blogstrom is the worst blight to hit the human race. Others see it as a miracle cure for the disease of knowledge exclusion. Again, it’s the case of the double-edged sword. Which way it swings depends completely on us.

This blog is about that swing. The, as Dow Chemical has now coined, the “Human Element”. We are the maelstrom at the center of the vortex I have termed the Blogstrom. It is humanity that has the power of which way the winds of this change agent will blow.

Will we step up and guide with wisdom the swing of the blade? Or, will be carelessly loose concentration and let the blade swing wildly where it may?

Listen in as Voices From the Blogstrom sifts the bits and bytes of the digital hum for whom the blade shall toll next.

VFTB