29 April 2005

Micro Soft-Peddling Influence

FOLLOW-UP: The Jenius has brilliant friends. One is a Lousiana Lass named Carol who pointed out about yesterday's post that the University does have a direct effect on pre-college education because it helps create the teachers for those levels. This obvious point was not mentioned by either Dr. Vélez (excusable, given his limited amount of time to respond) or by The Jenius (inexcusable.) Thank you, Carol...

Who lives in Dallas. Think about that for a moment.

This week, Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá attended a Microsoft-sponsored conference in Washington D.C.

Before The Jenius jumps on this, a few points need to be clarified: Microsoft is a hugely successful company; it is not a monopoly; its main products (OS, "productivity" suite) are poorly-designed "bloatware"; the reliance on Microsoft products creates enormous security problems and its dominance is being eroded by better products. These facts are beyond dispute; accept them and move on.

That the Governor attends a conference in Washington D.C. is not exactly news; that he attends a Microsoft-sponsored conference is, but not in the offhand, slap-dash manner so typical of the local sheep in the Fourth Estate. Here are the salient points:

1) What does Microsoft seek to achieve by inviting the Governor and other "leaders" to these events? Influence, disguised as "marketing."

2) What does the Governor know about the ramifications of using Microsoft products for government networks and systems? Exactly what he knows about ancient saurian mating rituals: nothing. Proof: Acevedo's remarks about the Knowledge Economy were banal, trite and vapid, and in deference to the Office, The Jenius will just leave it at that.

3) At what point does "marketing" slip past the border into "undue influence"? (The Jenius is on a polite streak. And it hurts.) If a political "leader" is invited to an event, his/her expenses paid, gets the chance to receive the benefit of exposure to other "leaders" and celebrities and gains the benefit of publicity, are We expected to believe that this is done solely for educational purposes as a "stringless gift" from Microsoft?

One could argue that Microsoft is really educating since the local government has already bought the craptacular spectacle that is Windows and the Seven Million Flaws. But any purchase can be exchanged or replaced, if the client so desires. And as open source programs gain favor around the world, as Firefox chips away at Explorer's dominance, as the world grasps the basic concept of "well-developed software beholden to no single entity" as a key factor in truly powerful and effective systems development and as the increasing need for security exposes the glaring defects in Windows, one wonders if "marketing" is actually the right word for what is going on.

And one wonders at the cluelessness of the Governor. It is not remarkable, as he is merely one of an overwhelming majority of clueless "leaders" making noise by reflex, not reflection. To babble about the Knowledge Economy and not give it the attention it deserves--no--the attention it demands as the engine of our future is to fail to fulfill the basic duty of being the Governor and of being the "leaders" of our country. So many have failed before and apparently, We will witness again another failure.

If We continue to let The Fools run the show.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 April 2005

PRTEC Forum: Education--Part II

At the end of Dr. Jorge Vélez Arocho's presentation at the recent PRTEC Forum, Mr. Elvis Grafals, General Manager of Tyco, asked what could be done to make a difference in students before they reached the university level (Dr. Vélez Arocho is Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus.) As Mr. Grafals pointed out, by the time they get to college, students have had 12-14 years of what can be called "wasted education."

The Jenius later asked Dr. Vélez if the University, aimed at preparing students to meet the challenges of the Knowledge Economy, could reach "down" to grade school education and guide the process. The Chancellor indicated that was almost impossible, as the Government sets the standards for education, that all the University could do was focus on the end result: preparing students for their immediate future.

The Jenius agrees that the Chancellor is correct in his assessment of the University's role. But the fact is that We can do something about Education's overall lack of effort, muddle-headed "standards," uninspired personnel and retrograde curriculum. We have already started. It's called "Education as Business" and it is a thriving, but currently short-sighted solution.

The current private school system is a "cherry-picking" process where the schools try to find the most tractable, "normal" children to make the educational process "easier." (Translation: cheaper.) Parents who try to shelter their children from the many (and often exaggerated) evils of the public school system practically tie themselves in knots in order to find "the right school" which is often based on cost, school hours and access ease. Very few seek educational criteria because all schools pretty much have the same basis, as the Government dictates "standards." (The Jenius asks: If Government dictates what is to be taught and how, what difference is there between "education" such as this and propaganda?)

What is needed are new schools aimed at developing the skills that truly matter in the New Economy. Forget the current system of "memorize and repeat," which is nothing more than a gorging and vomiting of data, with the same end result: a smelly mess. The Jenius is talking about schools with a targeted curriculum in sciences, arts, thinking and business skills and real-world problem-solving. To avoid running the demented gauntlet of accreditation the Government has dumped on us, they can be established as "academies" similar to martial arts and dance studios, where the emphasis is on developing skills, not catering to sub-standard and pig-headed educational requirements.

Would parents support them? Why not? Many are already paying twice for educating their children, once in taxes that go to line pockets and again for private schooling. If martial arts dojos and dance studios can attract students because there is a perceived benefit in their teaching, how much more attractive would be academies that actually prepare children for true daily living and career progress?

As my good friend Roberto says: It is always good business to replace the government. Academies that teach the knowledge and skills that the government cannot, will not and should not teach is a business bonanza waiting to happen. It won't be an easy development path, but unless We start down the Road to Progress, We will end up hitchhiking on the Road to Irrelevance.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 April 2005

PRTEC Forum: Education--Part I

At the recent PRTEC (Puerto Rico TechnoEconomic Corridor) Forum, Dr. Jorge Vélez Arocho, Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, spoke about the Role of the University in the New Knowledge Economy.

His presentation was lucid and insightful. He acknowledged the power of the University as a magnet for ideas, recognizing that the Mayagüez campus has developed a worldwide reputation as a producer of scientific and technical talent.

Dr. Vélez mentioned a series of initiatives, many of them already in motion, that will expand the University’s role in biotech, nanotech, food safety research, computer engineering, hi-tech business development and student exploration/experiences of other countries. He stated that universities are already falling behind, both here in Puerto Rico and around the world, and that to avoid becoming ultimately irrelevant, they had to act upon a future context, with a global, multicultural point of view, an innovation-always mentality and should seek to become and establish a learning community that broke down barriers between “academia,” “business” and “the populace.”

But Dr. Vélez’s biggest contribution was in stating that we must act. He challenged the audience to cut the talk and get to work. (He said it more diplomatically; The Jenius doesn’t need or want to be diplomatic.) His urging was to move as quickly as possible from Idea to Action by finding the resources that could get the Idea off the ground, if only in a small step.

Dr. Vélez stated he was aware that money was always a needed resource, but he urged the attendees to stop waiting for the government to fund ideas, that the search should include the thousands of private sources available, to be creative in forming alliances and partnerships, but above all, to seek new ground from a global perspective. Dr. Vélez pointed out that refining or trying to perfect what has been created was not the wave of the future: the future belongs to innovation, where the entire process from concept to execution could be managed.

Of the many statistics and trends he mentioned, one stands out: By 2035, education and learning would be the industry providing the most “income opportunities.” The Jenius agrees, but sees that date as being a “global” figure. For the world we live in, the so-called “First World,” education and learning will be that primary income opportunity niche well-before 2035. At present, education and learning, if broadly defined to include non-fiction books and multimedia, accounts for almost 9% of the all retail purchases in the U.S. with a growth rate of 15-17% a year and rising even faster. At that rate, by 2014, education and learning will be only second to food as a personal expense.

Statistics may lie, by intent or accident. Ignore the numbers and simply look at the world around You. It is changing faster. It is becoming more complex. It is opening markets that have never been sold to before. It is placing a premium on the individual, on his/her power of choice, talent and potential. The key to using talent and potential to the utmost lies in educational choices, beginning with the first one: Will I become a true knowledege worker/lifelong learner or will I let the world pass Me by?

The Jenius Has Spoken

26 April 2005

Prim(at)e Government

The recent Mayagüez Forum, sponsored by the Puerto Rico TechnoEconomic Corridor and the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez was both disappointment and surprise.

The disappointment: Attendance was scarce. The Jenius estimated that attendance was in the 40-50 persons range when a Forum of this nature needed to attract between 100-130 persons. Of the attendees, academia was well-represented, private industry less so and government—well, let’s say The Fools were consistent. With the exception of government officials who were invited to speak, not one Fool from any level of government—State, Municipality, Agency—was present. (Exception: PRIDCO, but they really HAD to be there. At least they were represented by Bright People below the Executive level.)

Another disappointment was the still-pervasive feeling that Government was THE key player in “solving” the development conundrum. Although less-so than in previous years, there still remains a deep-seated need for Government to be the “Sugar Daddy” that bestows his “favors” on the "unwashed." However, it is becoming clear that Government-as-Problem-Solver is no longer a popular or even common position, but it still occupies a high regard as “a first choice” because really thinking about solutions is hard work and We’re too damn lazy to even try to break the whine cycle.

The fact the the City of Mayagüez had no representative at this Forum is a bare-faced disgrace. That other cities and towns didn’t participate is also inexcusable, but understandable as The Fools have near-sightedness that impedes vision beyond the length of their pockets. But for the City of Mayagüez to ignore this Forum should be grounds for packing the entire city’s “leadership” into a container labeled “Collective IQ = 8” and send the whole shebang to float—or sink—in Mona Channel.

What messages are being sent here by this double-barreled ignorance?

---The Fools only care about money. “THEIR” money. Forget the fact that it’s actually OUR money, We elected these baboons and they act like owners of what isn’t theirs.

---The Fools play “monkeyshines,” acting up, screeching, clamoring for attention, but when it comes time to sit down and listen to someone worthy (and The Jenius wishes to point out that everybody is worthy when compared to The Fools) unless “THEIR” money is involved (travel and meal expenses, anyone?), they can’t be bothered to sit down and shut up. It strains their neural system, such as it is.

---The Fools are playing a game of one-upmanship that has to end. For far too long, We have given these mental rejects a degree of respect and tolerance far above what they deserve. They are not the solution: WE ARE. To every possible extent, We must take into Our own hands the tasks—and the responsibilities—of developing Our economy, Our society and Our culture because baboons don’t know how. Even their feeble neural systems will eventually be able to figure out that their power base is eroding and that the only way to regain some semblance of it is to align themseves with Us. But for that to happen, We must ACT.

Note how crucial timing is: We have a government that can generously be described as “impotent” at this point, with an Executive branch that doesn’t execute and a Legislative branch that can’t fiscalize its own chambers, resulting in a headless hydra that can’t act even to its usual pathetic level. If there was ever a chance to sweep aside the muck and establish Our Own Path, this is it. Our Time is Now. If not Now, then Never.

As for the surprises, they will be presented in the coming days.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 April 2005

Kevin's Voice

Kevin Shockey posted the following on April 21st, in his excellent blog “Portal al Exito”: http://www.x-cito.com/

Although it is done mostly off-line I have started an on-going conversation with Gil Schmidt. I’ve been meaning to join the on-line conversation he started. Today I had a telephone call with Kevin Faughnan, Director of the IBM Academic Initiative. Everything he had to say was exactly what Gil and I have been sharing. It flowed from him so smoothly that it angered me. I was angered by the complete failure of the government, industry, and academia to recognize what seems simple for the rest of the developed and emerging countries in the world to see.

I propose a very simple plan. Reclaim your voice. We all must begin to inform our elected officials, our employers, our educators, our vendors, our neighbors, our children, our parents that while we enjoyed our economic glory years, the world moved on. It moved on, and we are WAY behind. Nothing but our complete acceptance of our fate and our complete commitment to put aside our differences will give us any hope.

The same day Kevin posted eloquently, The Jenius was at a Forum to discuss the merging of Academia, Private Industry and Government in biotech, nanotech and high-tech developments. During the next few days, The Jenius will be blogging about the ideas and impressions of that Forum.

To remove suspense from the equation: the outlook is not entirely dreadful. There is Hope. But as Kevin points out, without a higher degree of acceptance and commitment than what We currently have, Our future is bleak. To drive the point home: At this rate, Our stultifying and unimpressive present is nevertheless brighter than Our future.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 April 2005

Flops To Brush Aside

The Jenius wrote once about the feeble Internet Society of Puerto Rico (ISOCPR) and the hope is that such an exercise is never to be repeated. (Not for their sake, but Ours.) Amidst the plethora of groups with lofty and dirt-level aims, two are worth noting at this moment: DSLibre and The Center for the New Economy.

The first is a group ostensibly formed to open up broadband reach and access in Puerto Rico. Within days of its website launch, The Jenius contacted the group. And received a thunderous silence in return. The Jenius is accustomed to being ignored, so a second e-mail was dispatched, with the same result. Close observation of the group yielded a quick and accurate observation: it was not aimed at True Growth.

That broadband access is required for Knowledge Economy power is beyond question. That DSLibre is an absolute failure in fomenting that goal is equally beyond question. The conclusion that the group was formed under Greedy Soul ideology is hard to refute. What else can be said about an organization that has not advanced an inch since 2003 despite the now even more-overwhelming disadvantage We face?

Is The Jenius tip-toeing around the obvious conclusion, that DSLibre was formed solely as a sales channel? No. What The Jenius is avoiding is obscene language in the bashing of stupidity.

The Center for the New Economy is, as my friend The Texas Dude calls it, a Brain Dump. Formed with the goal of fomenting policies and research for new economy growth, and though blessed with an apparently sincere Heart, the Center is a gobbledygook factory aimed not at progress, but at preserving the status quo.

Money where My mouth is time: What POSSIBLE goal could people representing the current power structure have in “developing” new policies? Let’s see who is represented: Banco Popular, Ferré Rangel Enterprises, Microsoft, Coqui.net (now part of Verizon), McConell Valdés, Caribbean Business and Oracle, amongst others (including the ISOCPR. Woo-hoo!) Hmmm… the largest bank (4 of the top 7 are present), the largest newspaper (and richest private corporation), the dense-as-brick telephone “monopoly,” the largest software providers to the government, the largest private publisher (and only local business weekly) and assorted others, some of whom are also “names” in advertising and law.

Let The Jenius be perfectly clear on this point: The Center for the New Economy is nothing but a front for “old economy” powers to keep their power bases as safe as possible.

The Jenius knows where the Burden of Proof lies. Here’s a sample:

1) Is the list of “developers” indicated above (taken from the website: http://www.grupocne.org/Corporate%20Partners.htm) one that jumps out at you as being composed of True Champions of a New Economy? Especially when basic elements of that New Economy are disruptions of their power bases? (VoIP vs. Verizon; Internet vs. El Nuevo Día; open source vs. proprietary software, etc.)

2) The website has fewer and fewer details from 2001 to the present. How can something that calls itself a Center for New Economy and that touts the idea of a Silicon Reef as a “goal” treat its primary contact channel as a mere afterthought? Isn’t this a case of Henry Ford Sr. riding to work on an old nag? What is being hidden and why?

3) And finally, given the “power broker” list above, what POSSIBLE excuse can the so-called Center for the New Economy have for being as inconsequential and vapid in results as it has been so far? Can You, Internet industry insider, say that the Center has made a difference in Our overall growth? In the Island’s economic growth? In anything that doesn’t flow back to its own “power mongrels”?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 April 2005

Creativity Rules

The Jenius prepared his brilliant post of the day, but hesitated. Please take note of this fact as The Jenius is seldom one for mortal doubts. The post He wrote seems to Change the Rules of the Game, and such a Change needed Groundwork.

In typical Jenius fashion, the Groundwork now precedes the post. Here, from Hugh Macleod, are some very personal, very astute and sensible Rules on How to be Creative. http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/000932.html

Why are they presented here? Because without a creative focus, We are left doing the same “dog-paddle in the muck of mediocrity” We’ve been doing for the past few years. With Mr. Macleod’s introduction, here are 15 of his 30 Rules on How to be Creative. The Jenius has highlighted key Rules, for reasons that should be clearly evident.

“So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

* Ignore everybody.

* The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.

* Put the hours in.

* If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

* You are responsible for your own experience.

* Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

* Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

* If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

* The world is changing.

* Merit can be bought. Passion can't.

* Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

* Sing in your own voice.

* Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

* The best way to get approval is not to need it.

* Power is never given. Power is taken.

The Conversation will now expand.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 April 2005

Kaleb's World

In a radio interview on a show The Jenius co-hosts, Mr. Hector Carlo, Director of the Technology Incubator known as ViTEC2, agreed with Yours Truly that focusing educational changes at the university level alone is not enough and that changing the educational system, a government purview, would take time.

The Jenius might add "lots and lots and lots of" time. If We depend on The Fools, that is.

We have a half-generation (about ten years' worth) of children and teenagers whose operational environment is sociodigital. They live in technology the way the rest of us, older and less naturally-involved with it, cannot imagine.

Take my little boy, Kaleb. He'll be 5 in May and though his computer time is restricted (as is his TV time and no video games yet), he maneuvers around a computer with an ease that puts The Jenius to shame. Everything in the environment makes sense to him: it has to because it's happening. Kaleb routinely shortens procedures, creates shortcuts and generally modifies the digital environment as much as possible.

Why, then, is his TV time restricted and he does not play video games? Because more important than having an electronic babysitter and his physical manipulation skills are the development of his imagination and thinking skills. Kaleb has learned to read not because he was forced to, but because he sees it as a daily activity. He solves jigsaw puzzles and plays with blocks, logs and other manipulation toys as ways of using his creativity. He spends more active time with toys, books, paper and crayons than with passive TV viewing. And once a day, for about an hour, he explores the computer.

The Jenius is not saying there is a method here, nor that this is the one true method or even that others need follow it. What is important is that Kaleb is a child, allowed to explore as a child and encouraged to use his healthy child-energy to play and learn, rather than have it shoved in front of an idiot box.

Sadly, Our schools are larger versions of idiot boxes, less colorful, but more damaging in their backward-thinking, bereft of leadership and vision, politicized to the point of septic-tank effluvia and incapable of evaluating themselves towards a better future.

Is there a Solution here? Of course: Take back education from its pathetic patrons and place it within the home and the near-community. Education is a business, for there is a huge market, an increasing need, constant demand and sustainable models to compete for clients. But at the heart of that education industry there must be a clear sense that the end product, the merging of Knowledge and Student, has to be geared towards Empowerment and the Future, not Idiocy and the Past.

Let's leave those two worthless products to The Fools that foment them.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 April 2005

Simple Principles

In another golden conversation across the table with the brilliant Kevin Shockey (more of a hero than any of you know), The Jenius eventually asked what 3 focal points—or principles—the local Government should concentrate on to help propel the development of Our growth in the Knowledge Economy.

The principles/foci were chosen for simplicity (always a concern when dealing with The Fools), potential impact and degree of government control. The three are: broadband access, free software and supporting Knowledge Economy businesses.

1) The Government should immediately begin a program to create a total broadband access network that covers every inch of Puerto Rico, one that embraces every sector, from industries and business to education and health to government and family.

2) The benefits and advantages of free software and its widespread use are no longer debatable. Brazil has taken the lead and Puerto Rico can follow suit with a free software program to create hundreds of thousands of knowledge interns for less money than it takes to pay for Special Independent Prosecutors.

3) The days of propping the eroding manufacturing base and competing on wage scales ended 30 years ago; The Fools are beginning to see it now. The businesses of the future are smaller, smarter, more powerful, more agile, more human than every before. If We support these types of businesses, We thrive. If We don’t, others already are.

Imagine what this simple list, easily contained by an index card, could do for Us if the Government used it as its Compass. Take points 1 and 3 and apply the “pull” methodology mentioned in a previous post. Can You see how that scenario would play out, what it would do to galvanize Our industry?

(What to do about Verizon? Opening up the current deadlock, which only the Government can do, would put them in their rightful place as nothing more than a mere player in Our sandbox, thus stopping the Crap-Happy Gorilla act they currently employ.)

Imagine what would result from broadband access cheaply available to every person, business and agency on the Island? Now think of point 3, the businesses this could foment, attract, develop and nurture. A veritable 3,600 square mile launch pad filled with one of the greatest concentrations of talent to be found anywhere in the world.

(How else could you reverse the brain drain unless you offer something no one else can match?)

Isn’t this vision more in tune with what We want and what We deserve? And note that the link between points 1 and 3 is obviously point 2, a clear logical path even a third-grader can understand, so simple that almost all The Fools can see it as well.

Funny how a very powerful 3-item agenda can be developed by two people in brief conversation, albeit two people with intelligence, knowledge, experience, determination and drive. Imagine what could be done if We brought 5, 12, 100 or 10,000 more to THAT table?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 April 2005

Conscious Leanings

In response to Mr. Rodríguez’s comments of The Jenius’ previous post: As Mr. Rodríguez’s intelligence is unquestionably high, his “way out” remark would almost certainly be referring to the “abstract” or “conceptual” nature of most of The Jenius’ prior postings.

The Jenius is aware of this and until The Conversation is fully engaged, will most likely continue to lean in the direction of “abstract” or “conceptual” rather than the more “substantial” postings that suggest “things to do.”

The reasons are Simple and Powerful:

1) The Jenius is not so concerned with creative problem-solving as He is with creating a problem-solving process. There is a difference: problem-solving, creative or pedestrian, is a matter of alleviating symptoms, whereas a problem-solving process looks beyond the surface to the Deeper Causes.

2) In order to foment a process, basic principles must be laid down. Call them “rules,” “framework” or “points to agree upon,” they are needed to orient the discussion. The Jenius seeks to define the basic principles, or have The Dialogue begin with the acceptance or modification of these principles.

3) To offer “solutions,” “tasks” or “goals” for the mere sake of compiling, say, about 500 of them, is an exercise only of patience and empty bravado, as these “ideas” are seldom if ever connected to any underlying basis in Truth. Without such a connection, they melt like snow crystals in summer heat. Not to mention that a list of “500 solutions” is bound to create more problems than it actually solves.

4) The Jenius does not have all the answers. He is, after all, a Jenius, not a god. Rather than argue about “solutions” in mere yes/no fashion, which leads to competition, The Jenius knows it is best to argue about “directions” in yes/no fashion, for that discussion leads to cooperation.

The Jenius is NOT a proponent of “abstract” over “practical,” or as He calls it, the difference between the “Silicon Reef” and “Where’s the beef?” To offer abstract notions and eschew practical action is the wet dream of ivory tower mannikins. The Jenius knows ivory towers are silos filled with wastes. But to try to impose practical “answers” in lieu of an agreement on basic principles is the act of either power-hungry straw people, money-grubbing porkers or their combined children, known as “politicos.”

It is not an easy path, this one The Jenius treads. But with the help of Mr. Rodríguez and others like him, The Jenius walks confidently, knowing that though mistakes will be made, they will be but steps in True Progress.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 April 2005

Government "Pull"

Seek and ye shall find. If The Bible can use it twice, The Jenius can crib it with confidence.

In a recent New Yorker article, analyzed further by the inimitable Dave Pollard, James Surowiecki, of "The Wisdom of the Crowds” fame, reported on an innovative British Government proposal: to buy 300 million doses of an effective malaria vaccine when it is developed. www.newyorker.com/talk/content/?041220ta_talk_surowiecki

The Jenius hears a collective “So?”

What the British Government is doing is “pulling” a product to market by giving it a market. Instead of throwing monies at the “best ideas” (often the weakest ones with the “best connections”), the Government determines what the best idea is and sets the target amount for a successful completion.

Now Governments are notoriously dumb. It’s the nature of being a beast. But Government is often quite good at pinpointing key issues for the greater good, for they are often the only entity with a “far enough from the details” perspective and are the repository of the widest diversity of public opinions.

Pollard suggests that all government funding be of the “pull” variety. His extensive analysis and procedural method can be seen here: http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2004/12/27.html

Applied to Puerto Rico, the local Government can determine key projects to jump-start Our limpid efforts at becoming a global Knowledge Economy player and let the entrepreneurial system do its thing. If the government sets too low a “market,” few or no players will jump in. If it sets too high a “market,” so long as the money goes to the private sector with no “bureaucratic stickiness” involved, the winning company or companies will simply receive a greater competitive edge. A bigger prize does have a way of sharpening One’s efforts.

Best of all, the government releases no funds unless the objective is achieved. Fear that bigger, off-Island companies will crowd Us out? The government can set the ground rules to exclude outside competition, but that won’t help much because if We depend on protection to grow up, We simply won’t grow up. The Jenius says “Let them come and We’ll kick their butts anyway!”

And if the government can’t decide what’s key or not? That’s where We come in. Notice how often it all comes back to Us.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 April 2005

The Right Stuff

The Jenius has been less-than-optimistic these past two days, so to keep that from becoming a trend, a sunnier posting is definitely required.

What are We doing right?

The Jenius confesses to a 20-minute bout of “Brain Freeze.” However, the Challenge was Overcome:

* We are waking up to the value and need for additional business information. New publications, flawed but energetic, are opening new doors and making strong efforts to raise the woeful standard of business journalism in Puerto Rico.

* We are beginning to understand that education is a business, that the end result is a product and that as consumers, We have more power than as citizens. Seems tragic, but them’s the breaks.

* We now have several people who see the Internet for what it is: a customizable environment. It is not a sales counter, a TV set, a cash machine or a library: it is all those things and more. It’s like thinking of the Amazon jungle as merely a piranha, two snakes, a bunch of leaves and a weird moth. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, and unlike the jungle, where customization is destruction, on the Internet, customization is ALWAYS creation.

* We have a Government mired up to its unseeing eyeballs in the accumulated muck of decades. Why is this good? Because desperate times can be assuaged by Intelligent Measures. Considering that The Fools cannot ascertain their fundaments with a cartographic chart, where do You think the Intelligence will come from? Exactly. But We have to step up and provide It.

* We have the accumulated experience of thousands upon thousands of experiments done around the world on how to face up to the challenges of the Knowledge Economy, Information Technology and the Sociodigital Revolution. We can skip inventing the wheel and go directly to adapting the right model.

* We have a vast, untapped reservoir of talent and brains: Children and teenagers who KNOW that the world is so much more than Our elders perceive and have the need, drive and guts to do what it takes to Make Things Happen. Do You think The Jenius is relying on cliché? Here’s a hint that He is not: Hacker attacks from within Puerto Rico are rising. Think about that. Deeply.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 April 2005

The Ignorance Economy

The Jenius had a conversation with the increasingly-impressive Kevin Shockey. He suggested that a Dialogue about the Knowledge Economy would fail to raise interest, that in some way, We would have to find another term to cut through the profound disinterest that permeates Puerto Rico.

The Jenius suggests We discuss "The Ignorance Economy" and how Puerto Rico is its Undisputed World Leader.

No, The Jenius is not One for subtlety. We don't have time for weak-willed politesse.

The Ignorance Economy is NOT the lack of access to the Knowledge Economy. Lack of access is not usually the result of Ignorance, but the result of dictatorial leadership and poverty. These are conditions far beyond the control of most individuals and groups and thus cannot be labeled "Ignorance."

What can and is labeled Ignorance is the willful neglect of reality, the closed mind and eye that fails to think or see. The Ignorance Economy occurs when the tools, methods and power of the Knowledge Economy are available, but the individuals, groups, society and/or nation choose to Ignore it. Ignoring Knowledge is Stupid. Thus, in clever repartee, "The Ignorance Economy," as a title, succeeds in capturing Puerto Rico's current status of near-suicidal indifference, incompetence and leadership vacuum with which to face the challenges of the Future on two very accurate levels.

Does this Truth upset You? If Yes, Good. If No, well We know where the problem lies, don't We?

Many of You will object to this hammer-strike by The Jenius, arguing that We are doing the job, that We are facing the challenges of the Future to the best of Our abilities. The Jenius concedes that, yes, an effort is being made, that there is a push for progress and growth.

But can anyone say that what We are doing is enough? More precisely, to eliminate the demagogues and loose-lipped: Can anyone make a cogent, reasonable case that We are doing enough? Notice The Jenius does not say "Our best": He would settle for "enough."

And why is Puerto Rico the Undisputed World Leader of The Ignorance Economy? Because We are the richest and most technologically-advanced nation in the world with the least presence in the Knowledge Economy relative to Our advantages. The Jenius agrees this is a very subjective assessment, but to strike a familiar tone, can anyone make a cogent, reasonable case that We are NOT advantaged, that We are truly global players in the Knowledge Economy and thus We are absolutely living up to Our potential?

The ball, as they say, is in Your collective court.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 April 2005

Defining "Knowledge Economy"

What does The Jenius mean by "the Knowledge Economy"? The question is important because defining one's terms is the clear difference between substance and piffle.

The Jenius does not do piffle.

The Knowledge Economy is one where the driving force is intellectual capital, multiplied in effect by widespread technology. It is characterized by being very fluid (low entry barriers, high degree of change), heavily dependent on human resources, but not limited by them (think the power of 10 minds versus the muscle of 1,000) unconcerned with geographic boundaries or distance or time differences, capable of leveraging individual efforts to market-changing effects and is an economy that creates and destroys markets with savage precision.

The key skills needed to thrive in the Knowledge Economy are technical knowledge, imagination, problem-solving, strong sense of identity united with empathy, literacy, logic and the ability to improvise. Other skills, such as those needed for education, marketability and social leadership are extensions and additions to the ones listed.

The Jenius has said it before: Never in history has Puerto Rico had sufficient resources to become anything but a weak minor player in a global economy.

Until now. It's as if the tide of human history had turned in Our direction and declared: "You always said You could Do Great Things in the World if You had the Chance. Well, boricuas, here it is." And instead of leaping at the Chance and doing a salsa number in a world of waltzes, We're doing jacksquat. And stupid jacksquat, at that.

We are no longer "too small" to compete globally.

We are no longer "disconnected" from the world at large.

We are no longer "barred" from foreign markets. (And don't give The Jenius any of that "U.S. treaty forbids" crap: You can sell over the Internet to anyone You want to and that's a stone-cold fact.)

We are no longer "a minority." In the Knowledge Economy, the only minority is ignorance.

Okay, wait a minute, then maybe We still are a minority. Because if We continue to accept "limitations" when they have been removed, to accept "leadership" that is to intelligence what sewage is to gourmet food and to let the future go by because We are too lazy to Make It Happen, then yes, We are ignorant. We will be a minority. And the Knowledge Economy will be a fabulous party where We go only as janitors.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 April 2005

Enter The Group

Solution: Gather a group of 10-12 experienced Internet Industry of Puerto Rico experts, people who fit the following criteria:

1) At least 5 years' experience dealing with Internet development in Puerto Rico at the commercial, industrial or governmental level.

2) Multiple project experience, preferably crossing disciplines and development channels. Examples: software, hardware, process management, infrastructure implementation, education, marketing, project financing etc.

3) The ability to express their own opinion, whether in small groups or large ones.

Odd, that criteria #3, right? But The Jenius feels it is the most important one, for unless we gather a group of opinionated experts, we will be stuck with the same bland forums We have dissipated Our efforts with.

How do We find these "opinionated" people? Majority referrals. The Jenius knows a few, and those few can nominate others until The Nominated step forth and the target group of 10-12 is self-selected. Note how The Jenius is already included in that group.

Why, pray tell? Because The Jenius sells nothing. Those who know The Jenius may wonder if His services as Advisor are being offered in the business sense. No they are not. The Jenius earns His keep from other sources, so He can remain "off the market." The rest of The Group can sell everything under the Sun, and should, but at least One Person should be focused on getting The Dialogue going and on-target. That person is The Jenius. For now.

Does this make The Jenius "better"? No. Does this make The Jenius a leader? No. All it does is give The Jenius the perspective that The Dialogue will not get started without The Group to lead it. And The Group will not happen unless someone, in this case, The Jenius, makes the effort to bring it about.

What will The Group do?

1) Determine the major obstacles keeping Puerto Rico from being a truly global Knowledge Economy player. ---- [Not a difficult task.]

2) Prioritize these obstacles. ---- [Fairly easy, though most likely contentious.]

3) Determine the major steps needed to overcome the top three obstacles. ---- [This could take a while...]

4) Implement as many of the major steps as possible, on as many fronts as The Group can comfortably manage. ---- [We enter The Jungle and try to Tame the Beasts.]

Is this overly-simplistic? Without being defensive, The Jenius asks that if You answer "Yes," then please submit Your Suggestion. The point here is that simplistic or complicated, detailed or macro-view, logical or emotional, unless We truly make an effort, one that brings together like-minded but independent thinkers, and give some sort of push to take the reins of Our future, We will be arguing about these same matters next year, and the year after and maybe one more. At that point, We can then start arguing about "What We could have done" as We watch the Knowledge Economy dance and prance its way into a brighter future while Ours slowly darkens to distant points of light.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 April 2005

Our Future is Not For Fools

The Jenius lives "Far from the Madding Crowd." (Look it up: The quote is accurate.) In the case of the Competitivity Forum, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, that distance should have been eliminated. Not for the sake of The Jenius, but for the sake of Our future.

A Good Man called The Jenius today and said "We are not close to being competitive. The (foreign) presentations I saw were amazing."

Asked by The Jenius if We COULD be competitive, the Good Man replied: "If You ask over time, We can't compete in 5 years. We can't compete in 10 years. But We can probably compete in fifteen."

Let The Jenius state: This is not a pessimist. This is not an outsider. This is not a man with his head in the sand. This is a capable, informed, proud-to-be Puerto Rican man who has suddenly seen the Truth.

It is obvious: We are falling behind. Every day.

The Good Man noted that NOT ONE Senator, Member of the House or Government Official of any rank was present. The Jenius does not waste words speaking about fools, though maybe, in partial defense, The Fools received the presentations in some other forum or fashion.

But The Jenius knows they didn't: Fools are Fools no matter the opportunity.

Is this what We face? An increasingly-rapid descent into marginality? The sweeping aside of Our talent and potential? The Fate of being locked away forever from the very stage We once had a place on?

Puerto Rico was once the shining jewel of economic progress. Now many of Our former students are masters of their universe, while We play footsies with Our future. Our insipid faith in The Fools has been paid in the only coin they have: Chaos. We have let the "moldy bread and beastly circuses" entertain Us, distract Us, woo Us into a sense that "The play is the thing," when in fact, their play is nothing more than mindless drivel that buries gold under sewage.

Is the obvious pain The Jenius heard in the Good Man's voice an empty sound? Will We continue to let Fools play while Our future fades? Are We to let things continue so that, when the future fades, We can sit in Our empty present and croak: "If We'd been in charge, things would have been different."?

Heed The Jenius: WE ARE IN CHARGE. And that sound some of Us hear is the slow draining of Our future.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 April 2005

His Name is Dave Pollard

Sometimes, The Jenius is The Jenius because he recognizes when Genius is found in others. The last time was in 1980.

I jest. It happened again today. Dave Pollard is an outstanding thinker and idea analyst, as well as being an excellent communicator. His blog, How to Save the World, is a veritable treasure trove of great concepts, made even more impressive by the fact that Dave's ideas and those of The Jenius are frequently congruent.

His most recent postings are eye-opening and thought-provoking, two traits Dave seems to evince at least three times a week: http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/categories/businessInnovation/

Note the first one, with Dave's diagram of Critical Entrepreneurial Skills. The "Top-Level" skills (seen vertically but structured horizontally) include such familiar categories as Understanding the New Economy, Finding Enterprise Partners, Forming Networks and Alliances, Innovation, Using Technology and Improvisational Management that The Jenius has just barely brought to Your attention. Note also how important these skills are to eventual New Economy success. Ignore The Jenius if You wish: Ignore the Truth at Your peril.

Then scroll down to "The Role of Infomediaries," Understanding that We are all Infomediaries.

Then scroll down once more to see the differences between Coordination, Cooperation and Collaboration, in defined, practical form. Notice Dave has provided a framework to help decide how each of Us can participate in The Dialogue to Develop Our Internet Industry.

Take 20 Minutes to read Dave's Postings. Your future, OUR future, depends on absorbing and implementing many of these concepts. And the future waits for no one.

Not even The Jenius.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 April 2005

Abstract and Practical

The Jenius doesn't remain one by being lazy. In a search for Truths, one can find both support for one's positions and opposition to what one supports.

As an industry service, The Jenius presents two interesting links. The first, from the always fascinating ManyWorlds.com, is about Decision-Making. In previous posts, The Jenius has spoken about choice, so to further the discussion by targeting the Decision-Making Process is, well, a stroke of Jenius.

The second is from the always engaging Mark Cuban, he of billionaire fame, Maverick ownership and the living breathing proof that evolution need not be progress. With shudderingly-inept spelling, Cuban presents an idea and his reasoning, about the future of music retail, in purely informal style.

Note the contrast in presentation and tone. And yet, note also, which one makes the most sense. One is theory, the other is practicality. One seeks to prove an abstract, the other to make a buck. Neither (a word The Jenius pronounces as "NIGH-ther" rather than the plebian "KNEE-ther") is better than the other. Both are valid. But unless We provide a spectrum of input, We will fall further behind.

Some of Us may only be able to do abstract, others may only be able to do practical, and still others can provide a range. But not doing anything is exactly zero. The Internet, and its industry, is a dialogue: one-sided conversations do not a global Economy Make.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 April 2005

A Credo To Share

Why is The Jenius so forthright and direct? What, to coin a phrase, makes Him tick? Here are quotes that summarize the stance and intent of The Jenius:

"He has...the obligation, whenever the facts and events do not speak for themselves, to give the frame within which their meaning becomes clear."

"...he has the obligation to set forth his position honestly and forthrightly as his own, regardless of consequences."

"...he must be strong enough to make himself unpopular with those who can smooth his path or make life pleasant for him."

"...he has the obligation to resist the voice from within himself which tells him to play it safe."

"His responsibility is...to the integrity of his mind."

Lofty. Courageous. Inspiring. Damn near unique, The Jenius might add. Some would say unrealistic, but to that The Jenius can only reply: It is not meant to be easy. The mission that The Jenius has asked of Himself is to lead The Dialogue about the Internet Industry in Puerto Rico, with an eye towards someday seeing Us lead The Dialogue for the world.

Can that be accomplished by namby-pamby, mealy-mouthed mumblings? By hearts that quail at the thought of "Rocking the Boat"? By spines that liquefy to puddles when faced with the thought of taking an unpopular stand, i.e., One that holds integrity in the face of scorn? By minds more intent on dollar signs than signs of progress?

Is The Jenius confusing mere business with Destiny, the mundane with the abstract? Certainly not. To Our industry, at this moment in history, We are The Leaders. We can ignore Our true role and let history forget Us or We can rise to the challenge and write history.

Many of You have stopped reading. You have decided that The Jenius speaks cowpoop that is irrelevant. Even though You have departed anyway, The Jenius must point out: You are not needed. When the True Leaders write history, You will benefit, as parasites have gained benefit since the dawn of time. That makes You, oh parasite, the oldest profession.

And the source of wisdom quoted above? "A Newspaperman's Credo," by Max Lerner. Once again, the Fourth Estate lends a hand in the search for Truth. should We hold Ourselves to any lesser standard?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 April 2005

Cathedral and Bazaar

In a totally unintended remorse-inducing moment, the brilliant Kevin Shockey asked Me if The Jenius had read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar."

Uh, no.

Though familiar with the basic premises of Eric Stevens Raymond's work, The Jenius had not read the opus. In a burst of energy, The Jenius did.

Prepare for insight.

The basic premise is that there exist two fundamental ways of Developing Software: "rigid"--as defined by "cathedral", and "open"--as defined by "bazaar." The power of Raymond's original insight is that the two ways also frame other types of development. Or lack of it.

Take the Puerto Rico Internet Industry. Is it "cathedral" or "bazaar"?

A "cathedral" implies a structure, guided by a firm hand. Oh, heavens no, that is not the case here.

A bazaar implies a team, guided by a firm goal. Sheesh, are You kidding? Team? Goal? The Jenius laughs.

So what are We? We are the worst of all cases: a Multi-person melee each locked into a limited structure. We lack the team spirit AND the overall structure, so We are, in essence, tiny cathedrals in the same field.

And what are tiny cathedrals in the same field? Mausoleums. Elaborate tombstones that fail to achieve usefulness, much less grandeur.

Is that, to quote Rosemary, all there is? No.

We are not a cemetery, Despite my Analogy. We have a "Field," We have "Players," We have "some rules" and if we decide to play, the goal will become obvious. But, and this is BUT squared, We have to choose bazaar--the Team--as Our primary premise.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 April 2005

Logic Better Than Greed

What is it about Our efforts here in this Internet Industry of Puerto Rico that compels Us to use "Industry Growth" as a feeble excuse for "Just give me more clients"? Egad! Is The Jenius AGAINST more clients? Perish the thought! The Jenius is against hypocrisy, a disease of the mind that leads to the ridiculous belief that others are too dumb to notice you are faking sincerity.

The premise is usually stated as: "Let's get together and create a group that leads the way to a better tomorrow" or some such piffle that reeks of month-old tripe. The stated purpose is noble: the ultimate execution is crass venality, or for you of moral bent, Greed. For every Noble Soul--and rest assured, each group has always had at least one Noble Soul--there are dozens of "Me for me and only for me" souls who wouldn't know nobility if it bit them on their software.

Is The Jenius--gasp!--naïve about human nature? Far from it. However, The Jenius has the simple Belief that leaders must set the proper example. 'Tis a simple Belief, but 'tis My own.

If We are all greedy souls, a horrible thought that borders on Truth, what growth can We expect in Our industry? This is not a hypothetical question: it is the apparent current reality. We speak of "unity" which is shorthand for "Just give me more clients." Is The Jenius repeating himself? Funny: so are the greedy souls.

Why, pray tell, is "Industry Growth" so massively important? The logical diagram looks like this:

(A) We live in a Knowledge Economy, where information is the source of economic growth.

(B) Information management, flow and implementation are vital to achieve success in the Knowledge Economy.

(C) Information management, flow and implementation are technical fields first, requiring specialists, by definition a minority of the populace.

(D) For general economic growth to happen in a Knowledge Economy, specialists must lead the way for generalists to join the Knowledge Economy, thus combining knowledge with mass participation.

(E) If specialists fail to lead the way, generalists will be delayed or impeded in their participation in the Knowledge Economy, thus delaying or impeding growth in the Knowledge Economy.

Break the chain and you harm Our growth in the Knowledge Economy.

Is The Jenius repeating himself? Funny, so are the greedy souls. Who should We listen to?

The Jenius Has Spoken.