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06 November
2003

Powershift

Reading Powershift more than a decade after it's publication, I can't help but be impressed by the clarity with which Alvin and Heidi Toffler have identified major trends in today's world at an early stage. Subtitled Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century, this book applies ideas from Future Shock and The Third Wave to show that power is not just shifting between individuals and groups, but its very nature is being fundamentally changed by the information revolution. This shift is changing the way governments and businesses are run and the way wars are fought. It is especially pertinent in light of the ongoing global war against terrorism.

It's not that they're infallible prognosticators. They're expectation that a new generation of supersonic transports would follow the Concorde doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon, and the potential of CD-I (Compact Disc Interactive) never came to fruition. They are, however, right on target with their observation that the rising importance of knowledge in wealth creation fundamentally changes power structures.

The Tofflers identify three components to power: force, money, and information. All three components have been recognized since the dawn of civilization, but their relative importance has changed over time. In the ancient agrarian civilizations, force was clearly primary. The industrial revolution greatly enhanced the efficacy of money, or wealth , as an attribute of power. Similarly, the information revolution is emphasizing the role of knowledge in the wielding of power. The effectiveness of information as a force multiplier was recently illustrated by the performance of the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Posted by Steve at 19:22 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 January
2004

Designing with Web Standards

Jeffrey Zeldman is passionate about web standards and it shows in Designing with Web Standards. Standards tend to be pretty dull subject matter, but Zeldman's wit and enthusiasm make this an easy read. He explains why you should use standards and how to do so in an imperfect world where the standards compliance of web browsers varies wildly.

The "why" of standards based designs is that web sites which separate content and presentation with XHTML and CSS are easier to maintain and look good in all 21st century browsers, while accommodating older and non-graphical browsers, accessibility tools for the visually challenged, and automated web systems like Google. It also reduces the bandwidth required. The "how" is illustrated with numerous examples and case studies.

This should be on the reading list of every web designer and web applications programmer. I'll be using his ideas in my site redesign.


Posted by Steve at 10:16 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 April
2004

Five Equations That Changed the World

The Power and Poetry of Mathematics

I finished reading Five Equations That Changed the World by Dr. Michael Guillen last night. It's an easy read that provides insight into the character and motivations of mathematical physicists. The five equations are:

  1. Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation

  2. Bernoulli's Law of Hydrodynamic Pressure

  3. Faraday's Law of Electromagnetic Induction

  4. Clausius' Second Law of Thermodynamics

  5. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity

These equations are the keys to the universe. May we use them wisely.


Posted by Steve at 05:07 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 May
2004

All Corvettes Are Red

I finished reading All Corvettes Are Red which tells the story of the creation of the C5, the fifth generation Corvette. GM came close to killing it, and the book is as much about GM's corporate culture as it is the car. It is worth reading for both Corvette fans and anyone interested in new product development. The C5 is truly a great car, and it's interesting to see how a company that has often stumbled in recent years could bring it to market.

Red is perhaps the natural color for Corvettes, just as it is for Ferraris and other sports cars. My C5 was silver, but my Honda S2000 is red, as was my del Sol. If I get a C6 it might be red, but I think I might be ready for another silver car.


Posted by Steve at 21:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)