Monthly Archives: October 2009

Google Wave…

I’ve had Google Wave mojo for about a week on my account. First, I can understand why Google is slowly rolling it out…it does have some “rough edges” when things don’t quite behave like you think they should. However, I’ve got a handful of colleagues that have it now, and we actually used a Wave for some real work last week. I’m intrigued. It’s a phenomenal concept, and I think it will generate the mind-share to change the way folks look at electronic collaboration. For a really interesting video of how it can be used, see this link from SAP. SAP is showing their Extension that allows collaborative business process modeling, and it fits perfectly with the Wave vision. I think that the key for Google Wave will indeed be the value-add of Extensions. Wave itself provides a framework for persistent linking of messages, both synchronous and asynchronous. However, it’s what you do with that which creates the value. The SAP video shows a vision of how this collaboration can play out. The ability to play back a wave helps both to refresh participants in the evolution of the conversation and to let a new “surfer” catch up on what’s been happening on the Wave to be able to participate quickly. If I had the energy, I’d go teach myself how to write Extensions, as I think that there’s some money to be made there! I’m high on Google Wave, and am looking forward to its being widely available. It’s so limited now that this really makes the interactions seem a bit artificial, and its forte is natural, inclusive collaboration.

Book Review, “Deer Hunting with Jesus” by Joe Bageant

I bought a copy of this book after seeing a reference to it on a mailing list to which I’m subscribed (the Flyfish@ list, for the curious). A quick trip over to Amazon and it was on its way. I’ll confess that the title sold it pretty quickly, though this book does explore a subject that interests me…the inability of centrist Democrats to connect with the “Red State” vote. Growing up in eastern NC and being within a decade of age of the author provided me a bit of affinity for the subject. For the past 30 years, however, I’ve lived in Chapel Hill, NC, which will skew your perceptions of North Carolina politics a little bit in the Blue direction 😉 . I thought reading this book would help me remember why there are a lot of Red folks in NC, and maybe give me a bit more insight into the illogical (to me) phenomenon that sends voters from economically depressed areas to the polls in droves, punting for the Republican candidate more often than not. These are the same folks that, out of concern over the possible policies of the then-putative Obama administration, bought guns and ammunition in droves.

On to the book…

I really enjoyed the read. I’ll confess that it got off to a slow start for me. The Introduction and the first chapter, “American Serfs” are, while descriptive, the area where I feel that I am the least in sync with Bageant. I do believe in capitalism (with appropriate regulation!) and I don’t think that globalization will be going away…rather than fighting globalization, we need to educate and adapt, and we need policies that support that. As the book continues, it resonated much more with me. This is where he delves into the cultural factors that influence the political leanings of the denizens of Winchester, VA. I thought that he did a really good job of describing, in very personal terms, the culture of gun ownership and use. Then, his chapter on religion, “The Covert Kingdom” was also good, and in particular Bageant’s discussion of his relationship with his brother, a fundamentalist minister. I thought his best chapter was “The Ballad of Lynddie England.” Here he talks about how the abuse at Abu Ghraib could come about, and the historical cultures that still have significant influences today.

Bageant’s key point is that to be relevant to this constituency, the Blue politician has to go where these people are and be a part of their lives. Technical, logical debates from afar may work with the classic urban liberal wing of the Democratic party, but in an increasingly complex and challenging world, having foot soldiers among the voters who can package issues in ways that are relevant to the lives of Bageant’s contemporaries is the key to success. Foot soldiers carrying the “Red State” vision are there today, and are being highly effective.

Bipartisan cooperation on climate change?

A faint glimmer of hope? Cooperation between John Kerry and Lindsey Graham in an op-ed piece in the NYTimes. Given the counterproductive nature of most political discussion these days, it’s great to see folks from across the aisle willing to work together. I’d sure like to see some of this same spirit on the health care debate. In both cases, I’d say to those who are trying to subvert legislation, “what is your plan?” The status quo is not sustainable, neither in climate change nor health care. See also this op-ed piece by David Brooks for a reasonable, pragmatic view of the Baucus bill.

Yes we can begin to change the tenor of the debate to a productive dialog and actually get some things done.

REDD, a win-win opportunity?

A win-win opportunity to reduce carbon, help support people in the developing world, and save some trees, too? As this article from The Economist says, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), given the scale of potential reduction, even if it doesn’t live up to some of the most optimistic projections, still likely could make a substantive impact on carbon emissions. Worth a try…

A key thought here is that it’s time to start with actions, even if they aren’t perfect. We’ve got to attack climate change on multiple fronts, try some things, and if they work great. Things that don’t work, well, we can try something else. We’ll not make progress if we expect all solutions to be perfectly formed and congruent with a particular worldview. It’s going to take innovation, flexibility, thoughtfulness, the public sector and the private sector to make a dent in climate problems.

What happened to working together on problems?

Another great article from Thomas Friedman. What happened to “we” and why can’t we have a reasonable, sensible dialog about the serious problems facing the country. Why do so many of us want to hear only the sound bites that that support our beliefs?

Neither left nor right…we just need to talk, listen, and yes, compromise!

The older I grow, the less sure I am that I alone know the right answers. I’ve been certain I was right too many times and then realized that things were not as I thought. We’ve got many complex problems facing this country and the world. Global warming. Health care. Terrorism. Nuclear proliferation. These can only be addressed through serious, reasonable, rational dialog. Let’s work together!