Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Announcing my translation of PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE, by Michael Polanyi

I am very happy to announce the release of my translation of Personal Knowledge. Towards a post critical philosophy, the most important book by Michael Polanyi, first published in 1958. Portuguese version is entitled Conhecimento Pessoal. Para uma filosofia pós-crítica and it is around 450 pages. This is the third book by Michael Polanyi, translated by me, after previous releases of A dimensão tácita (The tacit dimension) and O estudo do homem (Study of Man).
Presentation of this translation will happen during next specialized workshop of ALTEC 2013 congress. This is the first event of a new series of meetings about "Great thinkers and thoughts: science, technology and development". It will happen next 28 October, in the building of Alfandega of Porto, from 11:00 to 13:00. For more information about the program of this meeting and the new cycle, see here. Although this specialized workshop is part of ALTEC Congress, attendance fo this session is free (but free registration in the entrance will be needed).
To translate this great work of philosophy was for me a great intellectual adventure and personal discovery, that fully absorbed me for one year. As I said in the introductory note I have written for this edition

  • Just as Polanyi theorized about the process of intimation for discovery, I discovered the intimation of Polanyi's thought: the discovery is a leap, struggling and risky, sometimes even conflicting, which creates a new meaning. Nobody stays the same after knowing something, after a process of discovery. Of course this work of translation and discovery also transformed me. 
I also mention the motivation of my courses and students, specially the Innovation course for PhD students in the School of Engineering, University of Minho, in the discovery of Polanyi thought:
  • Understanding innovation involves understanding the mechanisms of social and personal discovery in science and technology - innovation is not a technological issue, but a social issue with major economic implications. This was the key message in this course, so no wonder the contributions of Michael Polanyi to understand the processes of discovery and innovation were relevant and they have attracted my interest. The same motivation led us to organize an anthology of essays by M. Polanyi about science and technology (whose translation is now being published). This also helped to convince us to get down to this work: to translate the most important work of Polanyi. 
Full text of this introduction, english version, is available here.
This printing is an academic edition. A commercial edition will be available very soon. Meanwhile, chapters of the book are available here, for academic purposes.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Incremental innovation by Google: increasing power by new gmail changes

1. Apparently, a small change. Gmail inbox messages are now automatically allocated to three default tabs: promotions, social (from social networks, including google+) and primary (all the remaining messages: the most import ones for most of the professional people).
My own experience: great! And fewer concerns about opening non primary messages - including the promotional ones. I may get a look at the titles, but very rarely open anyone of them. Digital life quality has improved ... due to an (apparently) small change.

2. This is a typical incremental innovation by Google, that has implications for near half a billion of gmail users. Google basics is a disruptive innovation that gave Google a unique competitive advantage: free use for all, kindly paid by advertisers. I have discussed Google innovation in a recent paper (see here, chapters 5 and 6).
But sustainability of Google depends on a continuous flow of incremental innovations, not of a new radical changes. Small changes with impacts on millions of users. These are technological changes: technology changes when the object changes (the new gmail tabs), the way you use the object changes and consequently the "community of believers" do change. The change is positive when the "community of believers" increase in numbers or satisfaction, meaning additional value for users.
This gmail technology change is typical of all these changes.

3. Consequences may seem disastrous for advertisers. That could be argued to be dangerous for Google business model. FT Tech Blog has posted an interesting piece (here) with first data about the impacts of the changes. The implications are non linear: yes, people opens less promotional messages (see figure, from FT), but google spam filters are now less restrictive, and those users that that usually open promotional mails seems now to open even more messages. As summarised by one email intelligence company (cited by FT post):
  • The key takeaway here is that the people that matter the most to email marketers won’t read less email now. In fact, it’s likely they’ll read more.
  • Marketers may see a decline in engagement from less active subscribers, and if this group still drives a lot of revenue and conversions, then it’s likely marketers may have cause for concern. 
FT Tech Blog conclusion:
  • What is clear, however, is that Gmail, which has more than 425m active users around the world, is evolving constantly and marketers will need to adapt their strategies to keep up.
There another name for this: power, driven by apparently small, non disruptive, technological innovations. Google way to do business.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Post modern information systems

This is not the first time I find interesting materials in Michael Schrage blog, from MIT. His recent post "Invest in Digital Marketing to Control Your Destiny" (here) has very challenging material about last US elections (for president) and the role of innovative and integrated IT analytics and procedures, a case that he sees as inspiring for all business operations: 
  • The Obama campaign's techniques, tools and technologies deserve detailed and dedicated attention from every organization that takes data-driven decisions seriously
  • As campaigner-in-chief, however, this President is demonstrably without peer. His "Obama for America" fundraisinganalytics and "get out the vote" operation was a masterpiece of agile electoral innovation and entrepreneurship. Partisans from both sides of the aisle believe it transformed presidential politics.
Schrage links to a presentation (Inside the Cave, by engagedc.com):
  • Until the actual "Obama for America" codebase is freely available (and this is the subject of intense debate), if you want a blueprint, map or resource for your own organization's digital marketing aspirations, read, reread and then circulate Inside the Cave. It will provoke the internal conversation and debate your business likely needs.