Innovation: What Does It Look Like?

Innovation is an oft-used word these days, but what does it really look like?

During the month of January 2007, I will be working on answering the question of what innovation looks like, at least for certain situations and organizations. This initial work of defining the concept of innovation is part of a six month plan which centers around innovation.

The six month plan has a number of components, and more will be added if appropriate. One component is to work with a diverse group of people to identify five top books about innovation in today's world which apply to advanced manufacturing, to the knowledge economy, and to organizations focused on making innovation a major part of their way of doing business.

Another component is to identify people in the 18 northeast Wisconsin counties of the New North region who are innovators. Part of identifying those people will be to understand what is innovative about products and services they've brought to the market. Having a list of people, products and services that exemplify innovation makes it much easier to explain what it is and catalyzes further innovation.

A third component of the six month plan is to explore innovation in the PPNB industry supercluster (pulp and paper, printing, nonwovens and biorefinery). This industry supercluster has been identified as a strength of the New North and is a good place to focus the efforts and resources of AMW (Abba Makolin Waldron & Associates, LLC).

If you have a suggestion for the top five innovation books, if you want to be part of a project to identify New North innovators, or if you're interested in innovation in the PPNB industry supercluster, contact me through www.goodprocess.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

May your Journey through 2007 be rewarding, interesting, challenging and filled with friends and new acquaintances. Happy New Year!



Networking, Innovation and Technology

Interesting possibilities opened up this week in the areas of networking, innovation and technology collaboration.

Nine opportunities for traveling down unique roads popped up over the past seven days; today's post is limited to three in particular.

Possibility #1: New connections with the west coast technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial community.

Several Wisconsin innovators, entrepreneurs and geeks met with a Silicon Valley resident who was in Wisconsin for the Christmas holidays. We talked for more than five hours about issues ranging from Wisconsin/Silicon Valley future collaborations to recommended San Francisco tourist sights to global economic theory and the knowledge economy.

Further discussion betwixt people who met during this week's gathering are absolutely guaranteed; outcomes will include both casual conversations and collaboration on a fascinating tapestry of technology topics. The aftermath of that initial meeting is going to be fun to follow.

Possibility #2: New connections between highly innovative organizations in northeast Wisconsin.

On Friday I participated in a meeting to discuss backgrounds and the paths forward for two organizations with huge potential for innovative impact in the New North. What was expected to be a one hour meeting turned into a three hour meeting. That rarely happens in today's world of jammed schedules and a general dislike for meetings. The two organizations appear to be highly complementary, with each bringing assets and resources the other will benefit from and appreciate.

Specific next steps in this new partnership were discussed. Upcoming weeks will see several iterations of a collaboration plan between the organizations. After a concise, effective plan is developed for moving ahead to achieve specific innovation and technology goals, the plan will be reviewed by decision makers on both sides, and the project will be launched.

Possibility #3: Meetings, ideas and discussions related to innovation, technology, entrepreneurism, collaboration and networking reached a critical mass today, creating the 4% network.

I'm convinced Signore Pareto's 80/20 rule is valid. If one makes the further refinement that a 20% subset of the initial 20% will have much in common and work well together, then a network of that twice-winnowed group will generate fantastically worthwhile ideas and accomplish great feats. All that remains is to gather a core group, put some structure around this idea, then identify and connect people who are passionate about developing and growing this 4% global network.

Life is a Journey, not a destination. New paths have opened this week. Methinks the 4% network people chose the one less traveled...



New Version of Blogger

Google's new version of Blogger, it's blogging tool, recently came out of beta.

The new version has stumped me ever since it was made available to me in the beta version, and tonight it once again bested me. The main annoyance whilst it was in beta was that I couldn't get the sign-in process to work well. At times it wouldn't accept my user name and password, and other times it wouldn't save them, like it did in the original version. Based on comments read online, other people were likewise having issues with the beta version.

For yesterday's post, it appeared the new version of Blogger was finally working correctly for me. When I logged in to write a post last night, I decided to try the new version again. The sign-in seemed to work ok, although I didn't see much difference in the appearance of the Create a Post window from what I was previously used to. Wrote the post yesterday and things seemed to go ok.

Tonight when I tried to go to the Blogger log-in window, it appeared to automatically log me in to the new version without me even hitting a Sign-In button or choosing whether I wanted the old version or the new version. But then when I was in the new version, I didn't see the familiar "New Post" icon, or a "Create a Post" link or anything else that would let me start writing a post. I messed around for a few minutes looking for the magic key to open up a new post window, but I guess I didn't play enough of King's Quest or the other early computer games for hunting treasure. Just wanting to get the post written, I signed out, then signed in to the old version of Blogger and wrote this post.

The conundrum in which software writers and others who "improve" products and services find themselves is how to make changes for the better without causing the users of their products and services more frustration than it's worth. Let's hope Google improves the new Blogger interface or I figure out where they put my cheese...



What 2007 Holds For Knowledge Workers / NNf

2007 will bring some interesting developments for knowledge workers, as foreshadowed by the two 'Mobile Computing & Communicating' articles in this week's NEW NET issues list below.

The first article addresses mobile and wireless trends for 2007. Knowledge workers are becoming increasingly mobile, and are beginning to want and expect to be connected 24/7 everywhere. The Sprint $3 billion nationwide mobile WiMax network, if successfully implemented, can play a big part in making '24/7 everywhere' a cost-effective reality. The trend most useful to me in this article is the "Convergence: one phone, many places" trend. When that trend becomes a fact of life, phones will be much more enjoyable for me.

The second article addresses mobile offices and "Working Anywhere." Certainly not all knowledge workers have the globe-trotting work life the article's author does, but many of them need to be effective workers in more places than just at their desk in their company office. As more of the information and tools people use in their work become either portable or accessible anywhere, the restrictions of 'not being at your desk' will disappear. You'll be able to get the info you need, you'll be able to communicate with everyone no matter where you or they are, and you'll be able to make the decisions needed to make you effective, whether you're at your 'office desk', in a coffee shop or restaurant, or at your cabin by the fireplace after a morning cross-country ski outing.

Of course, with all this accessibility people also need to figure out how to not work 24/7/365 and how not to expect others to be continuously available and working. But for now, let's just enjoy the improved tools for knowledge workers!


Below is the final list of issues for TUESDAY, 26 December 2006. There is no NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) meeting for 26 December, in celebration and honor of Christmas and Boxing Day!

The ‘net

  1. Crazy 3D Avatars From Gizmoz http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/21/crazy-3d-avatars-from-gizmoz/
  2. The new 100 most useful sites http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1975939,00.html
  3. Zoho Gets All Wiki http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/20/zoho-goes-wiki/
  4. Virtual shocks produce real-world distress http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061221-8477.html
  5. Founder of Wikipedia plans search engine to rival Google http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13129-2517026,00.html
  6. Microsoft Loses More Ground In Online Search http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061222/tc_cmp/196701523

Security & Privacy

  1. Homeland Security project didn't protect privacy http://news.com.com/2100-1029_3-6145796.html
  2. Sony Rootkit Settlement Reaches $5.75M http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20061222/tc_pcworld/128310
  3. 'Merry Christmas to our heroes' e-mail installs malicious code http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9006738&source=rss_topic85

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Seven top mobile and wireless trends for '07 http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/12/21/HNwireless07_1.html
  2. How To Work Anywhere Part One Of A Series http://andyabramson.blogs.com/working_anywhere/2006/12/how_to_work_any.html

Open Source

  1. Sun's Looking Glass 3D Desktop Released http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20061222/tc_zd/197289
  2. Samba developer resigns from Novell http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061221-8481.html
  3. Linux Desktop 2006: better than ever http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS3202338982.html
  4. Red Hat: Earnings up, customers in, competitors out http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2006/12/red_hat_earning.html
  5. Biologists baffled as millions of penguins vanish; FDLLUG’s adopted mascot’s relatives in danger… http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1905342006


  1. The Worst Stock for 2007: Google http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2006/12/21/the-worst-stock-for-2007-google.aspx
  2. Personalize Your Google Toolbar http://tools.google.com/firefox/toolbar/FT3/intl/en/
  3. Google drops beta tag from Blogger http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061220-8468.html
  4. Interview: Vint Cerf, Google's chief web evangelist http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=ConWebDoc.8996
  5. Google Passes Yahoo in Tally of Visitors http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/23/technology/23google.html

General Technology

  1. 16 Digital Photography Tips for Christmas http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/16-christmas-photography-tips/
  2. Adobe goes interplanetary in document viewer war http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061222-8487.html
  3. Image search race: Polar Rose, Pixsy, Snap, Ookles, Riya — list is getting long http://venturebeat.com/2006/12/19/image-search-race-polar-rose-pixsy-snap-ookles-riya-list-is-getting-long/
  4. Battery makers recharge their lineups http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061222/ap_on_hi_te/rechargeable_batteries
  5. Robots could demand legal rights http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6200005.stm
  6. Christmas trees interfere with gamers Wii fun http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1501119/story.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10416532
  7. Early returns on Xbox Live Video show it outperforming competition http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061222-8486.html
  8. New ergonomic backpack lightens the load http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/medizin_gesundheit/bericht-76395.html
  9. Your Shiny New Toy Needs Attention http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/23/AR2006122300023.html

Economy and Technology

  1. Linkedin gets down to business http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/story.aspx?guid=%7B118AEE94%2D321E%2D405A%2DB824%2D9463492785BF%7D&dist=rss
  2. Circuit City swings to loss in 3Q http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061219/ap_on_bi_ge/earns_circuit_city
  3. At holidays, Net photo business cranks up http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-12-21-shutterfly_x.htm
  4. A Prius in Every Garage http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2006/pulpit_20061222_001373.html



Why Collaborate?

"Without outside stimulation it was hard to break free of his own assumptions. One mind can think only of its own questions; it rarely surprises itself."

This quote is from Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card. When it was spoken aloud by my computer today, whilst playing the Overdrive audiobook version of the above book, it explained clearly a major reason for collaborating with others. There are a few people who work best by themselves and can produce unique and powerful contributions when laboring in solitude. Those types of people will often come up with breakthrough ideas and 'eureka' insights. Most of what is accomplished in the world, however, is best accomplished by people working together.

A somewhat nebulous, and until now unstated, goal of mine is to get to know enough of the right people to form a critical mass of innovative, entrepreneurial and technology-focused individuals. This goal is a natural outgrowth from, and result of, my exposure to and (limited) understanding of a number of concepts, including the following:
  1. Schumpeter's swarming theory and ideas about needing a critical mass of entrepreneurs and innovators to bring about the "creative and destructive effects of technological innovation."
  2. The NEW EOS report's call for improved collaboration, entrepreneurism, and networking in northeast Wisconsin.
  3. Friedman's 'Flat World' vision of Globalization 3.0 in which individuals and small groups are key players.
  4. Margaret Mead's quote, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
  5. Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point concept of how people are connected through others, combined with Keith Ferrazzi's Never Eat Alone stories and ideas about how much can be accomplished by connecting with people, especially those who have similar or complementary ideas and goals.
  6. Vint Cerf's observation about the importance of "...being immersed in an environment where science and technology was interesting and important."
The network towards which I'm working has not yet reached critical mass, and its growth and maintenance will, I suspect, be a lifelong addition. The emerging network has, however, started to produce glimmerings of what is possible. Several ideas discussed over the past three years have taken root, and others are simmering in the kettle. NEW END, NEW NET, WSMS group, BarCampMilwaukee, BarCampMadison, and a few more have come out of the network. A supercomputer, a new linux gui, Milwaukee Media Lab/Fab Lab, NEW IEI, SpaceCamps, and many others have been discussed and may one day grow and reach for the sunlight. Based on what I've seen, read and talked about with others, there is one thing of which there is no doubt in my mind:

An open source environment with true collaboration between a neural net of hundreds of interconnected innovative, entrepreneurial minds will produce some amazing projects and events!



Better Living Through InfoComm Tools

The internet sucked up a couple hours of my life this morning, sparking the decision to write today's post on the topic of "Better Living Through InfoComm Tools."

By "InfoComm Tools", I mean information and communication tools, especially those tools related to the Web, the internet, computing and consumer electronic devices.

The Lifehacker website does a good job of covering infocomm tools, as do many other sites, but in spite of all the info available about the infocomm tools, there are many times the "There must be a better way to do this" feeling pops up.

While much of the "better way to do this" feeling may be attributed to people always wanting what they don't have, and some of the feeling is due to specific tools not having yet been developed, a significant reason for the desire for better tools is because most of us do not take time to learn how to use available tools.

A "better way to do it" situation that repeatedly makes itself known to me is scheduling meetings. Figuring out a day and time for meeting with others seems like way more of a hassle than it ought to be. Whether it's a meeting with one other person or a project meeting with eight other people, it seems to take forever to set up a meeting.

One reason to meet is to communicate with others regarding tasks required to accomplish a common objective. Much of the communication required to complete those tasks can unquestionably be done via email, IM, collaborative web tools or some other means that does not require two or more people to be connected at the same time. With most people and collaborative efforts, though, a certain amount of synchronous discussion is beneficial.

One key to scheduling meetings is to do it as far ahead of time as possible. However, even for project teams and other meetings that can be scheduled in advance, the meeting scheduler needs to figure out who the key participants are and make sure the meeting time will work for them.

A well-designed online calendar and meeting scheduler tool will be a 'killer app.' I won't use the scheduler as frequently as Google, but it will be just as indispensable. If you use a meeting scheduler tool, please post a comment with links to the tool and details of how you use it.



BarCampMadison: 3 - 4 March 2007

The date has been set for BarCampMadison -- it will be held on 3 - 4 March 2007!

Mark your calendars. Put BarCampMadison in your schedule. It's going to be a great time in Mad City...

The next step in getting ready for BarCampMadison is to let all your friends and tech acquaintances know about the event. Consider connecting with and inviting a few tech people you've heard about or whose blogs you've read.

If you aren't real familiar with what barcamps and unconferences are, do a little reading online. The BarCampMadison website will have links to sites explaining more about those topics, or you can do some searching on the web and find a ton of info on the subject.

Think about what would make the event fun and worthwhile for you. Come up with one or more tech topics about which you are passionate and consider leading a session or two. You don't need to be an expert or a polished public speaker to lead a session. Leading a session isn't about presenting a class lecture. It's about sharing something that's really interesting to you with other people interested in technology, about getting the participants in your session excited about the subject, about learning from them, and about discussing their questions and suggestions. BarCamps are for making connections with other people who are interested in the topics about which you're passionate.

Finalizing the date for BarCampMadison is "a good thing", but it evokes both warm fuzzies and luke-warm smoothies (no cold pricklies). The warm fuzzies are that this tech unconference will be fun, lots of interesting aspects of technology will be discussed and demonstrated, and new tech connections will be made from Madison and other parts of the midwest. If we're lucky, we'll even get a few people from outside the midwest. The less-than-totally-good aspects of BarCampMadison are that I'll end up spending more time than I should on BarCampMadison activities and that there are bound to be a few details of the event which are not what I'd consider ideal. Some of the non-ideal details will happen because life isn't perfect or fair, and some will happen because other people involved in the event will have opinions and preferences different than mine. Diversity and variety are nice, but it would also be fun to have things exactly the way I think would work best...

The key to the luke-warm smoothies, or even cold pricklies, is to turn lemons into lemonade and sell it for a good profit and to understand the benefits of doing things differently from the way I might prefer them.

At this moment, there's only one less-than-ideal issue from my viewpoint -- we had to book the event at a hotel. The unconference, unconventional aspect, open source feel of barcamps is unlikely to be facilitated or enhanced by the hotel, IMO. Most of the barcamps I've read about have not been in hotels or typical conference centers. However, the 2007 Madison tech unconference will be in a hotel, and it's more important to have the unconference than to put it off until all conditions are ideal. With a bit of luck and planning, BarCampMadison 2008 will be held in a non-hotel location that promotes and is conducive to an innovative open source collaborative atmosphere. In the meantime, we'll turn the hotel's features to our advantage as much as possible, such as holding some discussion sessions in the hot tub area.

Bottom line: Sign up today for BarCampMadison if you haven't already done so. If you need any help signing up, contact me or someone else on the Participant list. And if you have the time and interest, jump right in and help out with organizing the event -- all are welcome and lots of help is needed to make the event as enjoyable and worthwhile as possible.



A Busy Week For Google / NNf

Being the number one way to find things on the web, Google is always busy, but this week had an extra portion of hustle and bustle in the Google news department.

Here are just some of the news items highlighting recent Google activities and products:
  1. Google released a beta product to search for patent information.
  2. You can register domain names through Google.
  3. NASA and Google announced details of their collaborative efforts.
  4. Google bought parts of a Swiss mapping company to improve their European map capabilities.
  5. The Google AJAX Web Toolkit was released under the open source Apache license.
If you're interested in details of the above items, click on the above links to read more about them. Or search with one or more of the news search engines, such as Google News, Yahoo News or Findory.

Three of the above items are particularly interesting to me. First, the patent search function. A large part of AMW Process Group (Abba Makolin Waldron & Associates, LLC) deals with innovation design and implementation, and AMW founders have over 25 patents collectively. Making patent and other intellectual property information more accessible will help make us more effective in our jobs.

Second, the domain name registration is something which will likely be useful to me in the next few weeks. Registering a couple names through Google and using Google Apps for Your Domain are a couple items on the short term to-do list.

Third, NASA partnering with Google will mean only good things for civilian and sport aerospace activities and progress. Only time will tell where the NASA/Google collaboration will lead, but there is no doubt that a few of the kids who use the Google/NASA tools and information in the upcoming years will eventually become key players in the civilian aerospace movement.

If you haven't checked out Google's online tools lately, come to a NEW NET meeting, or just go to www.google.com/intl/en/options/ and spend some time looking over what SkyNet has to offer!


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 19 December 2006, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:50 pm weekly gathering at El Meson/Mister Churro, 207 N. Richmond St., Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. The Shrinking Long Tail - Top 10 Web Domains Increasing in Reach http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/long_tail_shrinking.php
  2. Internet2 and National LambdaRail not merging any time soon http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061213-8415.html
  3. Adobe hitches long-term wagon to Flash, Apollo http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4153
  4. Renkoo launches event service — in time to schedule holiday cocktails http://venturebeat.com/2006/12/15/renkoo-launches-just-in-time-to-schedule-holiday-cocktails/
  5. Mozilla Delivers Thunderbird 2.0 Beta, Preps Firefox Update http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061214/tc_cmp/196603919
  6. Web King: MySpace Takes Throne From Yahoo http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Business/story?id=2725192&page=1&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312
  7. Adobe tackles browser incompatibilities http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/12/14/HNcssadvisor_1.html
  8. The Great Internet Brand Rip-Off http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2006/tc20061215_022904.htm
  9. I Spent Sunday Evening Playing kdice http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/17/i-spent-sunday-evening-playing-kdice/
  10. Flickr Increases Account Sizes for Holidays http://www.searchenginejournal.com/?p=4133

Security & Privacy

  1. Yahoo Messenger releases security update http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1009_22-6144110.html
  2. Rustock Trojan A Model For Future Threats http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061214/tc_cmp/196603916
  3. Zeroday Emergency Response Team to the Rescue http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2072955,00.asp

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. iPhone Officially Announced http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=5374
  2. Skype unveils yearly long distance package http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061213-8410.html
  3. How Skype & Co. get round firewalls http://www.heise-security.co.uk/articles/82481
  4. Skype Supports Smart Phones http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20061213/tc_pcworld/128179
  5. Goodbye To Freebies, Hello To Freedom http://news.yahoo.com/s/bw/20061215/bs_bw/b4015152

Open Source

  1. What Can't Open Source Achieve in the Next 10 Years? http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000144
  2. Google Opens Up AJAX http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3649066
  3. Open source is where the action is in 2007 http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/12/15/HNossaction_1.html


  1. Google now searches U.S. patent database http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/12/14/HNgooglesearchespatents_1.html
  2. Google to Sell Domain Names http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3649306
  3. Forget iPhone, Think Google Phone http://gigaom.com/2006/12/17/google-phone/
  4. Google's Holiday Wish May Come True: An Online Clone Of Microsoft Office http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061216/tc_cmp/196700217
  5. NASA-Google partnership ready for liftoff http://news.com.com/NASA-Google+partnership+ready+for+liftoff/2100-11397_3-6144508.html
  6. Company to give Google Earth a European mapping boost http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/12/18/HNgoogleeuropean_1.html

General Technology

  1. Wallops launches rocket for Va. pad's first success http://tinyurl.com/yaa3hr
  2. End of an Era: FCC to Drop Morse Testing for All Amateur License Classes http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2006/12/15/104/?nc=1
  3. Microsoft Lends a Hand to Robots http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20061214/tc_nf/48770
  4. IBM, Yahoo Team on Free Enterprise Search http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,128180-pg,1/article.html
  5. Nintendo to replace 3.2 million straps for Wii controllers http://www.sltrib.com/ci_4851040
  6. Sony applies for motion-sensitive controller patent http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061215-8434.html
  7. Mac minis help automaker Ford http://news.yahoo.com/s/macworld/20061219/tc_macworld/miniford20061219

Economy and Technology

  1. iPod to rule holiday shopping again this year http://news.yahoo.com/s/macworld/20061213/tc_macworld/ipodshop20061213
  2. Ignoring an inconvenient truth http://news.com.com/2010-1041_3-6143968.html
  3. Modern economy gives more workers opportunities http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/modern-economy-gives-more-workers-opportunities/2006/12/17/1166290414095.html



BioIndustry in Wisconsin and The New North

Although the 14 December BioIndustry conference in Wisconsin Dells was more heavily focused on investing than on technical or other non-financial details of the BioIndustry in Wisconsin, it was still worth my time going to it.

The title of the event was "Investing In Agriculture", so the emphasis on investment certainly couldn't be construed as unwarranted or unexpected, but my interests are more on the innovation and nitty-gritty research and operation details of the industry sector than they are on the financing and investment aspects.

However, there were some excellent contacts for the biorefinery sector at the event with whom follow-up will be done, such as Greg Lawless from the Agricultural Innovation Center, Gena Cooper from the Dept of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Mike Robinson from North Prairie Productions, John Biondi from C5-6 Technologies/Lucigen, John Madole from J. C. Madole Associates, Doug Johnson from Environmental Intelligence, and Andrew Clark from NWTC.

The PPNB industry supercluster concept (pulp & paper, printing, nonwovens and biorefinery) was of interest to a number of the above people. Follow-up will be done with the above people to pursue discussions, meetings and other actions in northeast Wisconsin concerning the PPNB supercluster.

The PPNB supercluster proposed in the 2003 Northeast Wisconsin Economic Opportunity Study is a good fit for the New North's economy. It will be interesting to see how both the biorefinery cluster and the PPNB supercluster develop over the next few years.



Biorefinery Conference: Investing in Agriculture

A biorefinery industry conference, Investing In Agriculture, is being held in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin on 14 December 02006.

Because the concept of a PPNB industry supercluster in Northeast Wisconsin seems to make a lot of sense, I'm headed to Wisconsin Dells on the 14th to network with the conference attendees, speakers, vendors and organizers. PPNB stands for pulp & paper, printing, nonwovens and biorefinery industry segments. These are four industrial categories that fit well together because of common or related raw materials, processes and products, and because they are tied together in other ways, such as the products from one sector being a raw material for one of the other sectors.

One of the concepts related to industry superclusters is that innovation occurs at the interfaces or intersections of the different industries in the supercluster. In some cases, products from two of the sectors may be complementary and result in new products or new uses. In other cases, people working in one industry may have knowledge very useful in a second industry but that process or product knowledge may not be commonly available in the second industry.

Northeast Wisconsin needs to explore many ways to become more competitive on both a national and global basis. Innovations, investments and collaboration in and around the biorefinery companies are good opportunities for the New North, as well as other parts of Wisconsin, to create good paying jobs and stable regional economies where the traditional agricultural and manufacturing jobs are being lost to productivity improvements and lower wages in other regions.

If you have an interest in biofuels, bioenergy, bioproducts or other aspects of the biorefinery industry segment and want to talk about those interests, please contact me.



MinneDemo - Definitely Worth It

MinneDemo (the Minneapolis quarterly democamp) was a worth the drive from Appleton to Minneapolis, where 180 tech-focused people gathered to network with each other and to see six tech demos by Minneapolis area people.

The event was held at Acadia Cafe in downtown Minneapolis, which turned out to be an excellent venue for the size of the crowd and the format for the evening. The Acadia Cafe has a room that holds 60 - 90 people, depending on the seating set-up, with a stage, projector and screen, and good sound system. The other Acadia room is the main dining area with several booths, some comfortable lounge chairs, and a bunch of tables. We cleared out most of the tables and chairs in the dining area to make more room for the large crowd. With the number of people that showed up (no fee for the evening), the two rooms were full, so future MinneDemos held at the Acadia may need to limit the attendance to 175 so they don't end up having too many people for the venue.

Twenty-four beer varieties, along with wine, coffee, tea, fruit smoothies and a few other beverages were available, as well as a nice selection of food. A huge selection of drinks, delicious food and all the tech talk you could want. It doesn't get much better!

Justin and I had a pretty good trip from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, with the drive being I-94 freeway driving almost door-to-door. Had our usual wide-ranging conversation all the way to Minneapolis, including talking about a number of interesting tech projects.

Upon arrival in the land of the Vikings, after picking up some good coffee (and strawberry gelato for me), we went to the InRadio offices for a meeting we had arranged with Dan Carroll, president and founder of InRadio. He was scheduled to be a presenter at MinneDemo, and Justin wanted to talk with him about imp, InRadio's rich-media attention tool. We spent an hour getting to know Dan a little and learning about imp, as well as a little more about InRadio and the Minneapolis tech community. (An interesting note is that the UTNE READER ["provocative writing from diverse perspectives"] offices are on the same floor as InRadio. Dan worked at Utne for a while, and Utne was one of the early investors for InRadio.)

Listening to the six demos, talking with the presenters and meeting lots of other interesting tech people throughout the evening made for an unquestionably fun and educational experience. Justin is pretty sure there are a couple connections he made that he'll be following up on with respect to Fireseed projects or other tech work he has going on. I met 10 people to whom I need to write follow-up emails in the next day or two. We got to know a few of the Minneapolis tech crowd, which will help build personal and business connections between the I-94 cities of Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, as well as with other areas of the Midwest, and maybe the world! With a little luck, a contingent of Minneapolis geeks will roadtrip over to the BarCampMadison being targeted for February 2007, and the Wisconsin tech crowd can reciprocate by organizing a group of ten or more to participate in the MinneBar planned for April 2007.

For more MinneDemo and MinneBar details, watch for posts on this blog, check out the Fireseed website and the main BarCamp website.


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 12 December 02006, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:50 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. We're meeting at Tom's because people have expressed a desire to periodically meet at places other than Mister Churro. Tom's has free wireless, good food and a nice upstairs area where the manager said NEW NET can meet.

The ‘net

  1. Cult hit "Firefly" coming to an MMORPG near you http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061210-8391.html
  2. Wikipedia offers free web hosting - free as in free beer! http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/8027/53/
  3. 2006 Web Technology Trends http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/2006_web_technology_trends.php

Security & Privacy

  1. Hackers get around Windows Vista activation – sort of http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/7912/52/
  2. 2006: The year in security http://www.techworld.nl/idgns/1746/2006-the-year-in-security.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Palm buys back rights to Palm OS http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061208-8386.html
  2. BlackBerry Orphans http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116553463083344032-9kSGKb7mlDbKnP_bODbne3JavT4_20070107.html
  3. Spam is back with a vengeance as filters lose effectiveness http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20061207/tc_afp/afplifestyleusitcrimesecurity
  4. With cellphone video, little brother is always watching http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20061206/tc_usatoday/withcellphonevideolittlebrotherisalwayswatching
  5. Is Wi-Fi Headed to an Early Grave? http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20061208/tc_zd/195922
  6. A WiFi mesh network for your car http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061211-8396.html

Open Source

  1. Open Source at 90 MPH http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/dec2006/id20061208_509041.htm
  2. Linux Development Lab Lays Off Nine http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061206/tc_cmp/196601777
  3. Office 2007, OpenOffice.org Work Together http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20061205/tc_pcworld/128079
  4. Putting OpenSUSE 10.2 Through Its Paces http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2070453,00.asp


  1. Google Earth: Opening my eyes to a whole new world http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/opening-my-eyes-to-whole-new-world.html
  2. Uh Oh, Gmail Just Got Perfect http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/09/uh-oh-gmail-just-got-perfect/
  3. Google Offers PayPal Competitor At No Charge http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061208/tc_cmp/196602476
  4. Schools help Google test tools http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/business/16203370.htm

General Technology

  1. Wii Have A Problem (watch the video on this webpage!) http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/12/08/wii-have-a-problem/
  2. Russia wants to join NASA moon project http://english.people.com.cn/200612/08/eng20061208_330075.html
  3. As Microsoft looks ahead, will Vista be the end of an era? http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13129-2494732,00.html
  4. China to push its own EVD format http://www.techspot.com/news/23808-china-to-push-its-own-evd-format.html
  5. Lawsuit: Xbox 360 update "bricking" consoles http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061208-8381.html
  6. ATI loses ground in graphics after AMD purchase http://news.yahoo.com/s/macworld/20061206/tc_macworld/ati20061206
  7. Consumer networked storage market to pick up http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061212-8405.html
  8. Allchin 2004 email: I'd buy a Mac if I didn't work for MS http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20061209135113443
  9. Software glitch spoils inaugural launch from Va. Spaceport http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/ap_newfullstory.asp?ID=84410

Economy and Technology

  1. Major music labels test unrestricted MP3 files http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2006-12-07-music-mp3_x.htm
  2. DRM Spells Trouble For Apple, iTunes http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/topnews/wpn-60-20061207DRMSpellsTroubleforApplenbspiTunes.html
  3. Arctic summers could be ice-free by 2040 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061212.warctic1212/BNStory/Science/home
  4. Some venture capitalists switching sides http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/16220265.htm



MinneDemo Roadtrip

The Minneapolis barcamp, MinneBar, spawned a related quarterly tech event in the Twin Cities called MinneDemo.

MinneDemo is the Minneapolis version of Demo Camp, "a lighter-weight style of un-conference [than a barcamp]. A DemoCamp last only a few hours on a weekday evening, as opposed to a traditional BarCamp which would usually be a multi-day event and take place on a weekend."

The next MinneDemo is happening on 11 December 02006. Justin Kruger and I felt it was a good opportunity to check out some of the interesting tech demos and meet a few people in the Twin Cities tech community. So we'll be zipping onto a Milwaukee I-94 West on-ramp on Monday morning for the six hour roadtrip to the 'real' frozen north.

Here's the line-up for the seven 15-minute demos planned for 11 December:

  1. Data_Pix (Jeff Beddow) -- Data_Pix is a self-descriptive data presentation method that allows visual interactive browsing of large complex datasets.
  2. Fetchster (Eric Caron) -- Fetchster is a locally-owned, nation-wide job board that spiders company websites for job openings (eliminating the middle man, such as CareerBuilder)
  3. imp (Dan Carroll) -- Through imp, users can legally discover, acquire and share songs, movies and more -- all of which is recommended to them by sources they trust.
  4. Doomtree Reactive Video Utility (Paul Wenzel & Justin Heideman) -- In real time, we manipulate motion graphics, video footage, and imagery for on-stage performance. Using Quartz Composer and Max/MSP, it is not Web 2.0.
  5. Mike O'Connor -- I was going to talk about the Corp.com 3rd-level domain registry. But that's so 3-months-ago. Keep an eye on Bar.com. It's going to turn into something cool a few days before the demo. I'll tell ya all about it.
  6. Co-Pilot (Eric Grumdahl) -- Co-Pilot helps housing and human service agencies end homelessness in Minnesota, by streamlining information management, simplifying accountability and providing feedback to policy-makers, funders and programs.
  7. Bonsai (Erik Haugo} -- Bonsai is a highly-configurable web-based personal note manager.
As of this evening, there are 152 people signed up to be at MinneDemo. If you're interested, sign up and head to Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis on December 11. We'll see you there. And if you want to roadtrip with us, just let me know. The more, the merrier...



Civilian Aerospace: Possibilities and Opportunities

"New settlement planned at south pole -- of the moon."

That was the headline of an article appearing in the online Seattle Times on 05 Dec 02006. The headline was especially interesting because I'm currently re-reading an old favorite, "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein, and because of some current activities related to civilian aerospace.

Reading articles like the one mentioned above, reading online about Anousheh Ansari and her stay on the ISS (international space station), learning more about Charles Simonyi's trip scheduled to the ISS in 2007, and working on activities involving civilian aerospace frontiers makes me feel like I'm in a prequel to Heinlein's book. There is no doubt we live in exciting times, and times of great opportunity.

If you have an interest in civilian aerospace, please contact me and let's discuss the possibilities for innovation and global collaboration that will lead to civilian explorers in space!


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 05 December 02006, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:50 pm weekly gathering at Mister Churro, 207 N. Richmond St., Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. Will Second Life Be The AOL Of Online Virtual Worlds? http://techdirt.com/articles/20061128/171959.shtml
  2. ON THE WHIMSY OF LINE RIDER http://mp.blogs.com/mp/2006/11/s_23.html
  3. AskCity Launches. It’s Cool. http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/03/askcity-launches-its-cool/
  4. Good blogs you’re (maybe) not reading http://www.fimoculous.com/archive/post-1825.cfm

Security & Privacy

  1. London pilots "future crime" database http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061128-8299.html
  2. MPAA Lobbying for Home Theater Regulations http://www.bbspot.com/News/2006/11/home-theater-regulations.html
  3. U.S. Warns of Possible Cyber Biz Attack http://www.forbes.com/technology/feeds/ap/2006/11/30/ap3218741.html
  4. Romanian charged with hacking U.S. government computers http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/16137103.htm
  5. ATM system called unsafe http://redtape.msnbc.com/2006/11/researchers_who.html
  6. Nike+ IPod = Surveillance http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72202-0.html
  7. FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool http://news.com.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html
  8. McAfee Avert Labs unveils predictions for top ten security threats in 2007 http://www.ameinfo.com/104119.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Cheap PCs could herald a spam epidemic http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061128-8305.html
  2. New Opera makes music on cell phones http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061128-8312.html
  3. Intel jumps on 802.11n bandwagon with Centrino http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061129-8322.html
  4. Cellular providers pressuring Google over mobile apps http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061129-8319.html
  5. Windows Live Search For Mobile vs. Google Maps Mobile http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/smartphones/windows-live-search-for-mobile-vs-google-maps-mobile-218467.php
  6. ASUS Motherboards to Integrate Skype and Standard Phones http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=6876

Open Source

  1. 30 Essential Pieces Of Free (and Open) Software for Windows http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2006/12/01/30-essential-pieces-of-free-and-open-software-for-windows/
  2. Judge leaves SCO's case vs. IBM on life support (updated) http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061201-8325.html
  3. LinuxBIOS: to replace your proprietary BIOS http://linuxbios.org/Welcome_to_LinuxBIOS
  4. Open source projects threatened by e-learning patent http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061203-8341.html


  1. Anger at YouTube videos that show how to break into houses http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23376335-details/Anger+at+YouTube+videos+that+show+how+to+break+into+houses/article.do
  2. Google Apps for Your Domain http://analytics.blogspot.com/2006/11/google-apps-for-your-domain_27.html
  3. Major Update in Google Spreadsheets http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2006/11/major-update-in-google-spreadsheets.html

General Technology

  1. Your Next House May Come From A Printer http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20061203/tc_cmp/196601091
  2. New settlement planned at south pole — of the moon http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003462227_moon05.html
  3. Universal to seek money for each iPod sold http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061128-8309.html
  4. Wireless headphones let you listen with clarity http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0612040141dec04,0,394054.story
  5. Windows vs. Linux vs. OS X http://www.cio.com/advice_opinion/infrastructure/operating_systems/halamka_os_review_17.html
  6. Sniffing out Microsoft’s ‘OS in the cloud’ skunk-works project http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=119
  7. On to the next version of Windows http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=126
  8. AMD Quad FX Platform: More Isn't Better http://www.extremetech.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=195212,00.asp
  9. GM developing plug-in Saturn http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-061129gm-plugin,0,4659937.story?coll=chi-business-hed
  10. A new wide-angle lens for video surveillance http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/index.php?p=425

Economy and Technology

  1. Create Jobs, Eliminate Waste, Preserve Value http://www.inc.com/magazine/20061201/entrepreneur-hendricks.html
  2. SoloSEO.com Offers SEO Project Management Tools http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2006/11/soloseo-seo-project-management-tools.html
  3. Seagate CEO: I help people "watch porn" http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/30/magazines/fortune/obrienseagate.fortune/
  4. Is Microsoft Driving Innovation Or Playing Catch-Up With Rivals? http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116490323676636989-HnHPKLzkyy9xKy2wnokbd2bc_bE_20071130.html



Innovation: Working on Something Important

We should work on projects and ideas that are important, not just ones that are interesting to us.

This point was made both by a recent O'Reilly Radar blog post and by the book, "Innovation: The Five Disciplines For Creating What Customers Want."

Making sure you're working on important projects can be challenging for several reasons. First, most projects don't figure out why they're important, don't clearly communicate why they're important, or just plain aren't important.

Second, it's challenging because most project leaders don't feel the need to have projects understood as 'important' by those on the project team. As Marc states in his O'Reilly Radar blog post, "The best way to get developers to build something great is to make them believe your goal is worthwhile. If you do, control from the top will not only be unnecessary; it will be impossible. That's the best situation you can hope to create, and frankly I love that so many people don't believe that, since it makes things so much easier for those of us who do." [Bold emphasis added by B. Waldron]

Third, a majority of people take a job to feed, clothe and house themselves and those for whom they are responsible. Finding a job with important projects, or seeing their job as important, often takes a backseat to the hundreds of little everyday obligations and interruptions clamoring for a piece of their time and their minds. Once you're in a job where you don't work on 'important' projects, the security blanket of your job can give you lots of reasons not to rock the boat and not to find a new job that does have important projects.

When you're thinking about, proposing, launching, leading and participating in projects, do everything you can to make sure the project is important and is understood as important. Make sure your project is solving important problems. If you do that, it will truly make people's lives better and the world a better place.

An innovation that doesn't solve an important problem is an innovation that will not succeed.

[NEW NET will meet on Tues, 5 Dec, at Mister Churro. See tomorrow's post for more details.]