Tuesday, February 23, 2010

 

Bloom Box and the 408

I recently saw an observation about some Silicon Valley companies being more 408 than 415. This refers to the area codes, with 415 being more on the northern end, into San Francisco, and 408 on the south end toward Santa Clara and San Jose. The implication was that 408 was more Old-School with its roots in semiconductors, with the other end being more Web.

Another implication was that Green Tech was going to come from the 408. All the engineering, time, and investment needed by semiconductors is the same thing needed by Green Tech. No two guys in a dorm room. Nothing calls this difference out more than the Bloom Box in Sunnyvale, which looks like it's having its coming out party tomorrow.

CBS 60 Minutes already had a preview this past weekend. With installations already at Google, FedEx, Walmart, and eBay, the Bloom Box could be a real world changer, especially when you think India, Africa, and other large populations where virtual farming doesn't have much of a following.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

 

Hundreds to connect the dots

I'd previously wondered if it weren't possible to apply some Valley technology to help strengthen our national security in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing. Since then, I'd come across Palantir Technology, a company the very much looks like what I had in mind. As heartening as this was, a recent New York Times piece, "New Teams Created to Connect Dots of Terror Plots," renewed my concerns.

The counter terrorism center was preparing to cut its workforce up to 20 percent, but is now instead ramping up to connect the dots:
While this level of commitment of resources is impressive, in absence of any other information, I think it would be troubling for technology people. If I were presenting this for technical approval, I could see one of the first questions coming: Does it scale?

If large numbers of people is your resource in the absence of anything else, then maybe that's the approach. The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, for example, was astounding in its own right, but the jaw dropper was the performance of what appeared to be mechanically actuated boxes turning out to be hundreds of orchestrated, practiced people.

But addressing the task of combing through mountains of data with humans just seems ultimately a sisyphean exercise. It may be okay that they may never get on top of the situation, but getting increasingly closer, or even maintaining the existing gap, may be all that we can ask. The problem is, the gap is growing, as this week's plane crash into an IRS building shows. Whether or not this event can be characterized as domestic terrorism, it remains that yet another vulnerability to be monitored has surfaced.

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