Which is also to say that Amazon Books is trying to be a place of community—a place where people will meet and hang out. A place that celebrates both introspection and extroversion. A place much like Apple’s buzzing, light-flooded, free-wifi-enabled temples—only with the tech gadgets on display being, for the most part, books.
Which makes sense. Amazon has always been, implicitly, about community, with “customers” and “customers who bought this item” and the like omnipresent, if anonymous, in the commercial transactions it hosts. Amazon Books is simply translating that implied community into a more immediate one. “To give you more information as you browse, our books are face-out,” Amazon notes, “and under each one is a review card with the Amazon.com customer rating and a review. You can read the opinions and assessments of Amazon.com’s book-loving customers to help you find great books.”
To me, the last few Oracle OpenWorlds have melded with each other. I usually avoid the band evening so typically associate each with a sporting event. So last year, the local Giants were on their way to winning the World Series, in 2013 America’s Cup sailing fever pervaded the event, in 2012 CEO Larry Ellison used his keynote to highlight a pretty impressive command of athletes who had dominated the London Olympics.
This year, something else is dramatically different. The large number of non-IT tracks is striking. HCM, Modern Finance, SCM, CX, Industry specific tracks are being hosted at a nearby hotel away from the main Moscone Center venue. There are a staggering number of sessions – over 2,500. Many of the customer panels have NO CIOs – all are line of business executives. In the HCM panel I am moderating tomorrow, the guidance has been to focus on HRO hot buttons not so much cloud/IT architecture issues.
Oh, it is still an IT-centric conference, but impressive how business conversations are being intermingled with Java, Exadata and encryption discussions.
When I reviewed the Walt Isaacson 2011 book on Steve Jobs I wrote
“Stylistically, I would have loved for him to have the started the book around 2000 and spent 3/4 of the book on the amazing string of Apple and Pixar achievements since then, and SJ’s own just as amazing willpower and strength through all the medical procedures he endured, and woven in as appropriate snippets from SJ’s previous history. But Walt presents a chronology from birth so the first half of the 600+ pages is somewhat plodding and repetitive.”
From that pov, the new Danny Boyle (director)/Aaron Sorkin (screen adaptation of the book) movie does even worse, because it ends in 1998. Jobs matured as he aged, and he surrounded himself with a cadre of superb executives like Jony Ives and Tim Cook who have marched Apple to even greater heights.
But I wondered how a director like Ridley Scott, would have handled this movie which is woven around 3 product launches. After all, Jobs was Mr. “One More Thing” – the man who singlehandedly made product launches an immaculate art form. We would have likely seen much more of the event production details, maybe even the gory details that go into manufacturing and logistics behind millions of units of a new product.
I specifically invoke Ridley, because my only nitpick about “The Martian” was I wished he had added 10-15 minutes of Matt Damon in depressed, gloomy moods as he fought fear, loneliness, feelings of being abandoned – shades of Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway”.
Boyle/Sorkin, in contrast, only seem interested in the human angle – and there focus mostly on the negative aspects of a younger, less mature Jobs. And the movie takes liberties with facts – e.g. Joanna Hoffman, a prominent character in the movie, was long retired when the iMac was launched in 1998 – and I started to wonder how much was Hollywood fiction.
Not sure the movie adds much to our understanding of the Man.
For Fortune’s first “Change the World” list, we’ve found 51 companies that have made a sizable impact on major global social or environmental problems as part of their competitive strategy. This list is not meant to be a ranking of the overall “goodness” of companies or of their “social responsibility.” Big corporations are complex operations that affect the world in myriad ways. The goal here is simply to shine a spotlight on instances where companies are doing good as part of their profit-making strategy, and to shed new light on the power of capitalism to improve the human condition.
To assemble our list, the editors of Fortune and FSG, a nonprofit social-impact consulting firm, reached out to dozens of business, academic, and nonprofit experts around the world, asking for their recommendations. Fortune and a joint team from FSG and the Shared Value Initiative then vetted more than 200 nominees. In our evaluation, we considered four criteria: the degree of business innovation involved, the measurable impact at scale on an important social challenge, the contribution of the shared-value activities to the company’s profitability and competitive advantage, and the significance of the shared value effort to the overall business.
The movie, The Martian, is a testament to fierce human determination to survive, and it is also a tribute to human ingenuity. I predict it will be good for NASA and for STEM broadly.
Mark Watney, the Matt Damon character, describes his predicament
“I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last thirty- one days. If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I’m fucked.”
But he does not crawl under a rock and die, he innovates and then some as the movie vividly shows.
The characters are science polymaths as one explains
“Everyone has multiple roles. I’m the doctor, the biologist, and the EVA specialist. Commander Lewis is our geologist. Johanssen is the sysop and reactor tech. Martinez pilots the MDV and MAV. “
Ridley Scott, the director, is no stranger to space and science fiction with credits like Alien and Promotheus. This movie weaves in the Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA locations in Houston and Cape Canaveral, and from the Chinese space agency – and celebrates astrodynamicists, botanists and a variety of other STEM careers.
The movie is adapted from a book which in itself is a tribute to crowdsourcing of STEM disciplines. In 2009, Andy Weir
“started posting the story chapter by chapter on his personal blog where anyone could read it for free. The early version of his self-published book attracted a lot of science-minded readers, and they offered feedback. Weir is a (software engineer and) space nerd, but he says chemistry is not his area of expertise. "Chemists actually pointed out some problems in early drafts," Weir said.”
NASA is basking in the PR from the movie. In a blog post they say
The Martian movie is set 20 years in the future, but here at NASA we are already developing many of the technologies that appear in the film. The movie takes the work we’re doing and extends it into fiction set in the 2030s, when NASA astronauts are regularly traveling to Mars and living on the surface. Here are a few ways The Martian movie compares to what we’re really doing on our journey to Mars.
Go enjoy the thrilling movie. Even more so, thank it for the next generation of STEM enthusiasts it will encourage.
As it nears a size and scope never before approached by a technology company, Apple is doing things its executives said it never would.
Apple’s co-founder, Steven P. Jobs, once announced that using a stylus with a computing device was passé. But guess what? The company is now offering a stylus, called Apple Pencil, for $100. And in a move sure to make Apple old- timers squirm, the newest version of iPad, which has an optional keyboard that attaches to the tablet, is even imitating some of tile features of Microsoft’s competing product, called the Surface.
The authors adopt the conventional (and correct) view of the Enlightenment, that between the late 17th and early 19th centuries, a number of philosophers and other writers advanced theories — about economics, politics, science and society — that marked a decisive break with the past. These concepts, they believe, still define the modern world. The authors’ big four are Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and (a joint prize) Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. The ideas are, of course, capitalism, socialism, evolution and liberal democracy.