Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs 1955-2011

With his passing just six weeks after stepping away from his role as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs has made Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, one of those days that many of us will remember for the rest of our lives - a day when someone whose shining brilliance and persistence brought him victory after victory throughout the past four decades. The only thing that beat him, and even that took seven years, was pancreatic cancer.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say right away that the same major surgical procedure Jobs had in July 2004, called a pancreaticoduodenectomy (or "Whipple procedure"), is one I myself underwent in March of this year, and for the exact same reasons. The full (and somewhat grisly) details of the procedure are perhaps best left to Wikipedia, but one thing I can vouch for is that it requires, shall we say, one's full attention.

The idea, for those of us - like Jobs and myself - "lucky" enough to have a tumor on the head of the pancreas rather than elsewhere, is to remove not just most of the pancreas but also a welter of other internal organs that alas represent the collateral damage of this particular operation. I may put quotes around lucky but in truth it really was a stroke of luck, for both him and me. Because the prognosis for pancreatic cancer anywhere else in the pancreas is not exactly uplifting.

The Jobs operation in July 2004 went well, as did mine in 2011...a tribute to the prescience of the U.S. surgeon Allen Whipple who first devised the procedure as long ago as 1935, making it one of surgery's longstanding success stories. Resecting a malignant tumor is a serious business, Whipple's original methodology has understandably been refined and improved, but those surgeons who perform this procedure - which can take anything up to eight hours - are to my mind surely some of the bravest and finest in the front-line of oncology.

Allen Whipple died in 1963 when Jobs was just eight. But it would have been interesting had the two of them met, because both were pioneers in the truest sense: they were both individuals whose gift was to be the first to enter a new region, thus opening it for eventual occupation and development by others.

The regions of technology that Jobs and his companies (plural) entered first are known to us all. His legacy is all around us. The international Cloud Expo team, in particular, will be thinking of him in just one week's time, when Apple's iCloud service is due to launch.

RIP Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Live By the Web, Die by the Web

I just this morning received the following enthusiastic message from Klout:

Summer of Klout

Way to go! Your Klout Score braved the dog days of summer and still came out on top! Maybe it's time for a vacation?

This made me chuckle, because if one thing is true about my Summer it is that I didn't brave the dog days, not at all. Instead I vanished into the haze that those few lucky enough to be cured of pancreatic cancer can vanish into. Part physical, part psychological, it's a kind of Never-Never Land - or, more accurately maybe, a Sargasso Sea, a zone characterized by the calm winds of the horse latitudes.

So, no matter what Klout may say to the contrary, this was for me a summer of seaweed rather than sagacity...and I apologize to those who were expecting me to show greater resilience to my chemotherapy. No one has been more surprised than me. I am certainly not out, but it would be wrong of me to pretend that I'm not down. I'll come back fast, I always do; but it may not be till the final doses of Gemcitabine have been injected into me in the epic half-hour infusions that come twice every three weeks to crush my white cell production and, along with it, that of any would-be neoplasms.

"Better safe than sorry," that's all one can say. Along with, "Roll on, 9th Cloud Expo!" - because by then, I will be free and clear of chemistry and cytotoxins will no longer be mixed in with my bloodstream.

I - quite literally - cannot wait.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How Four Months Can Very Soon Feel Like Four Years

Strange just how much can happen in one-third of a year.

Four months ago to the day, I was wheeled into an operating theater in Denmark's top hospital. In the intense few hours that followed, a gifted surgeon and a deeply professional team obtained a dream result: they successfully resected a malignant tumor from my pancreas and then took an incredible number of biopsies from surrounding tissue, just to be on the safe side. Each and every one subsequently came up negative, so the cancer hadn't spread.

I wrote briefly about the experience of being both diagnosed with the deadliest of all the cancers and spared/saved from it all within the space of three weeks. Many people have asked me: how have things been going since?

The answer is not simple, for one reason: chemotherapy.

As part of its world-beating approach to combating deadly cancers, Denmark's University Hospital recommends and requires that a "cured" patient nonetheless undergo follow-up chemotherapy...for six months.

Three of those months - nearly - have now elapsed, though I have to admit that no month when you are undergoing chemo "elapses" (if only). Having one's post-operative existence divided up into 21-day cycles, each one marked by rising levels of heavy metals in one's body, well it's no walk in the park, alas. And the side-effects of the chemicals used [PDF] - I can testify - are in some ways as insidious as the original cancer, in that they are gradual, but comprehensive.

In my case, and remember each and every cancer patient reacts difficulty, I managed the first three cycles, 63 days, with only a few setbacks. But the fourth cycle somehow knocked me sideways, which is why you have heard so very little from @jg21 on Twitter, and seen so very little of me on Facebook since June's wonderful 8th Cloud Expo in NYC.

The past three weeks, in fact, have brought me face-to-face with some very harsh realities. The final three months of chemo are going to be a challenge...and, in order to successfully meet that challenge, I am going to have to dramatically rearrange my professional priorities so as to maximize healing time, minimize stress, and optimize my working day.

For all indirectly affected by this epiphany, which would probably have been better had it come a tad sooner, I apologize. But never has "less is more" been truer. For me to be back to fighting fitness - and weight! - for the Fall, I need finally to accept that convalescence (from Latin convalescere, whose root is in valescere, to be strong...which I currently am not) isn't something that you just "fit in" around all your other commitments; it is something you have to prioritize ahead of those commitments.

My aim in July, August and September then is to write, but to do so largely offline. You will still see the results online, but only as and when they are uploaded. Look out soon, for example, for my updated and hugely expanded Top 350 Players in the Cloud Computing Ecosystem, for an entirely new feature, Around the Cloud in Eighty URLs, and assorted other features aimed at providing convenient one-stop destinations for Cloud insights and information.

I need a 3-month respite from Twitter. By the final three months of 2011 I shall be completely done with chemotherapy, will no longer be tasting heavy metal at the back of my throat 24x7, will no longer be falling asleep for 12 hours at a time, and will no longer see every muscle group in my entire body subject to the ravages that only chemo can exact...a fierceness that has no respect for former waist or neck sizes.

I repeat to myself twenty times a day that it is better than the alternative. And it is. But it would be wrong of me to pretend that this hasn't been the longest four months of my life, and that I am steeling myself for a rough final three months still ahead.

When all is said and done, it seems a ridiculously small price to pay for surviving pancreatic cancer. I am very very grateful.

It brings to mind the words of the writer Melodie Beattie, who memorably noted:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, [and] the unexpected into perfect timing."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The "Summer of Cloud Computing" Begins...

On June 6-9, when the doors to Cloud Expo New York open at the Jacob Javits Center, IT infrastructure and operations professionals from around the world will be able to see with their own eyes that the "Summer of Cloud Computing" has well and truly begun.

With company participation from every level of the cloud computing ecosystem and a non-stop, 4-day technical program, Cloud Expo New York features expert speakers from every top Cloud player, including Abiquo, Amazon, Amplidata, AppZero, Aprimo, AT&T, Backupify, CA Technologies, Capgemini, Cbeyond, CiRBA, Cisco, City of Portland,,, Cloud9, CloudSwitch, CodeFutures, Dell, Dell Boomi, Desktone, Eucalyptus Systems, FastIgnite, Fiorano, Full360, Fusion-io, Global Digital Forensics, GoGrid, Google, HP, HyTrust, IBM, iGATE Patni, Impetus, Interactive Intelligence, Interxion, KPMG, KuppingerCole, Layered Technologies, Layer7, LogLogic, McAfee, Microsoft, MIT,, Mycroft, National Reconnaissance Office, NetDialog, The New York Times, NJVC, NYSERDA, OpSource, Oracle, OutSystems, OxygenCloud, Parabon, PayPal, PerspecSys, Ping Identity, Pitney Bowes, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Quest Software, Racemi, Rackspace, Red Hat, RightScale, Rise Partners, Riverbed Technology, Robust Cloud, Roundarch, Servoy, SnapAppointments, Spoon, Stoneware, Sybase, Telx, 1010data, Terremark, Trend Micro, UShareSoft, Virtela, VMware, Voxel, WidePoint, Xiotech, Yahoo!, Zapthink, Zetta and Zeus Technology.

On the Expo Floor, with over 100 booths, leading technology solutions providers will be showcasing a welter of technologies aimed at making cloud computing reliable, stable and manageable for customers large and small.

The quality of the speakers is best evidenced by the fact that they include:

  • Co-Founder and CTO of Dell Boomi - Rick Nucci
  • President of Dell Services - Steve Schuckenbrock
  • CEO of Abiquo - Pete Malcolm
  • CEO & Co-Founder at RightScale - Michael Crandell
  • Sr. VP of the Application Platform Division at VMware - Rod Johnson
  • CTO of Rackspace - John Engates
  • CEO of Backupify - Rob May
  • CEO & Founder of GoGrid - John Keagy
  • CTO of Worldwide Services at Microsoft - Norm Judah
  • Group VP of Software Cloud Strategy for Oracle Fusion Applications - Chris Leone
  • VP of Global Cloud Computing at Yahoo! - Todd Papaioannou
  • Technology Evangelist at Amazon - Jinesh Varia
  • Developer Advocate at Google - Chris Schalk
  • Sr. Software Engineer at IBM - Doug Tidwell
  • Director, Cloud Global Practice at HP Enterprise Business - Marc Wilkinson
  • CIO of the National Reconnaissance Office - Jill T. Singer
  • CTO at PayPal - Scott Guilfoyle
  • CTO & Co-Founder of Eucalyptus Systems - Rich Wolski
  • Sr. Director of Cloud Platforms at Red Hat - Tobias Kunze
  • Co-Founder & CEO at OpSource - Treb Ryan
  • VP, Cloud Services at Terremark - Bill Lowry
  • CEO of FastIgnite - Simeon Simeonov
  • CTO & Co-founder of UShareSoft - James Weir
  • Advisor Lean IT & Cloud Computing at CA Technologies - Gregor Petri
  • Distinguished System Engineer at Cisco - Jim French
  • Sr. Mgr. of SaaS Products & Cloud Solutions at HP - Neil Ashizawa
  • CTO McAfee Content & Cloud at McAfee - Scott Chasi
  • Business Development Director at Oracle - Arturo Pereyra
  • Co-Founder of CloudCamp - Dave Nielsen
  • Director at KPMG - Bhargav Shah
  • Sr. VP of CRM at Oracle - Anthony Lye
  • CTO & Chief Architect at Layer 7 Technologies - K. Scott Morrison
  • Partner Engineering Consultant at Spoon - Lee Murphy
  • CTO of Sybase - Irfan Khan
  • CTO of Vordel - Mark O'Neill
  • CEO of AppZero - Greg O'Connor
  • Founder & CEO of Oxygen Cloud - Peter Chang
  • VP of Cloud Architecture & Services at Virtela - Ron Haigh
  • Co-Founder & CEO of Fusion-io - David Flynn
  • Co-Founder of The Rackspace Cloud - Rackspace
  • President at Layered Technologies - Brad Hokamp
  • SVP of Facilities Engineering at Terremark - Ben Stewart
  • Founder/CTO of PerspecSys - Terry Woloszyn
  • CISO for the City of Portland - Logan Kleier
  • Co-Founder & CTO of - Rik Arends
  • Engineering Fellow with NJVC - Kevin Jackson
  • Founder & CEO, Parabon Computation - Steve Armentrout
  • Managing Partner at ZapThink - Jason Bloomberg
  • Sr. Sales Engineer at Eucalyptus Systems - Paul Weiss
  • CEO of Servoy - Jan Aleman
  • VP of Product Marketing at Oracle - Rex Wang
  • Global Director for Global Application Outsourcing at Capgemini - Mark Skilton
  • CTO at Ping Identity - Patrick Harding
  • Corporate Business Development at Zeus Technology - Raja Srinivasan
  • Technical Leader in the Office of the CTO at Riverbed Technology - Steve Riley
  • Product Development Lead at Rackspace - Josh Odom
  • Co-Founder, CEO & CTO at Stoneware - Rick German
  • VP of Community at - Mark Hinkle
  • Software Manager at The New York Times - Paul Robbins
  • Chief Solution Architect at Desktone - Danny Allan
  • Director of Advanced Technology & Products for Quest Software - Thomas Bryant
  • Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers - Brian Butte
  • Java EE and GlassFish Evangelist at Oracle - Arun Gupta
  • President & Co-Founder of HyTrust - Eric Chiu
  • CTO & SVP, Operations at OpSource - John Rowell
  • Co-Founder of KuppingerCole - Tim Cole
  • Product Manager in the Cloud Division at Rackspace Hosting - Megan Wohlford
  • Communications Director at Interxion - Jelle Frank
  • Co-Founder of 1Plug Corporation - Penelope Everall Gordon
  • Founder at SnapAppointments - Cody Harris
  • Co-Founder of CiRBA - Andrew Hillier
  • Co-Founder of SnapAppointments - Brock Holzer
  • Director of Integration Solutions for Aprimo - Amelia Ross
  • Executive VP at LogLogic - Bill Roth
  • VP Engineering at NetDialog - Tim Rühl
  • Developer, Web Services JBoss/Red Hat - Anil Saldhana
  • Vice President, Products at Zetta - Chris Schin
  • CIO, Enterprise Business Partners - Pradip Sitaram
  • Sr. Director of Engineering and R&D at Impetus Technologies - Vineet Tyagi
  • 2011 Instructor at Cloud Computing Bootcamp - Larry Carvalho
  • Business Development Manager at - Lieke Arends

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Social Comparison Engine Meets Cloud Computing & PaaS

One can add the word "social" to any other word in the English language right now, and somewhere, sometime, a group of software developers will turn the colloquy into some kind of a website or application.

Take "social" + "comparison" for example.

In 2006, whileon maternity leave, French-born Vanina Berger (pictured) - a senior software engineer - wanted to compare unusual things such as the best place to give birth. Realizing that it was not so easy to find comparison tables about things that were not products to sell, she began wondering if perhaps what was needed was a comparison engine, a tool that allowed one to collaborate with others to maintain a matrix with a lot of interesting details, advanced criteria such as ratings, etc. In short it would be very nice to have a generic, collaborative and social tool that helps everyone to create easily comparisons...about ANYTHING.

Vanina's partner Alexis Fruhinsholz found the idea interesting and started to work on the project at the end of 2008. The result was, a site I'd not heard of until the team behind it reached out to me yesterday to ask if I'd like to use it to conduct a comparative survey of PaaS/Cloud services.

The results are below. Let me know what you think about as an application. I am certainly intrigued.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It Is Time To Help the Web Be All It Can

May 1st seemed the perfect day to just take a few moments to pause and take stock. This is going to be the only year of my life (I hope!!) involving an escape from death, and in those circumstances it is difficult to prevent oneself from wondering how best to use the gift that has been handed to me: nothing less than the remainder of my life.

So let me report on the results...

First, a brief historical preamble. Eighteen years ago - on April 30, 1993 - CERN released the source code of the world's first Web browser and editor into the public domain. It was called WorldWideWeb, all joined together just like that, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee has some screen shots of it at his CERN page.

It would be very difficult to argue anything other than that, in the eighteen subsequent years, the technological trajectory that CERN's browser heralded has resulted in tumultuous changes in business, education, government, entertainment, and society. Did it cause them? Maybe not. Did it accelerate them? Hell, yes!!

"CERN's intention in this is to further compatibility, common practices and standards in networking and computer supported collaboration," wrote CERN in its accompanying note to the release of the code (pictured above). It was a phrase that resonated with me then, and it is one that resonates with me still today. "Computer supported collaboration" - on which I published a pioneering book in 1994 edited by the late Peter Lloyd - is, in my view, the philosopher's stone of the World Wide Web. Like that imaginary substance that people in the past believed could change any other metal into gold, "eCollaboration" has been touted throughout every one of those eighteen years as the real payoff from the Web....if only companies, organizations, governments and indeed society at large could figure out how to harness it.

Email is the world's most widespread form of computer supported collaboration. Facebook is another, far more recent one - as is YouTube and eBay and Skype and of course Twitter. Yet it is my view, and has been for many years, that none of these technologies or applications or sites unleashes the true potential of co-intelligence - the shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration (and competition) of many individuals.

So how can we get from TBL's browser to a truly co-intelligent world?

That, as I reflected on May Day in my book-lined, technology-rich work studio, is the crucial and most significant question of our time. It is also a question to the exploration and answering of which I am intending to devote a significant proportion of my efforts, moving forward.

"There is a quantitative element to human affairs," as H.G. Wells once famously wrote. "Doing something does not amount to very much if we do not do enough." [my emphasis]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

8th International Cloud Expo: It is going to be simply Cloudtastic!

Okay, things have been happening just so fast and furiously just recently that many people have asked me to just take a deep breath and help them play catch-up. Here goes...

Basically all you need to know is that I am back from having "lost" two months of my life.

In those two months I somehow managed to 1. discover that for some reason or other I was not myself, 2. ascribe the blame (wrongly) to a recurrence of the shingles that I had contracted 27 years ago, 3. achieve a diagnosis (correctly) of a massively distended gall-bladder, and 4. pursue that line of inquiry to its logical end...which was alas that the entrance to not just my gall-bladder but three other internal organs - a sort of 4-way traffic junction if you will - was being obstructed by a two-centimeter tumor lodged at the head of my pancreas.

Stranger still, in the same two months I also managed to 5. have the tumor resected (sliced out) successfully, 6. have my entire digestive system rearranged in a so-called "Whipple procedure" (feel free to Wikipedia it, but make sure you are sitting down first), 7. recover from the radical surgery and 8. begin the first cycle of a nine-cycle, six-month course of "preventative" chemotherapy aimed at minimizing the possibility of any return of pancreatic or any other kind of cancer to anywhere in my body.|

It wasn't quite the 2011 that I had scheduled back in November and December of 2010.

To claim that my work didn't get majorly disrupted would be ludicrous, delusional. On the other hand, Cloud Expo New York, the 8th International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo - thanks to the amazing team effort that has characterized this event since its inception seven successful shows ago - is trending to be the biggest Cloud event ever. We have over one hundred exhibitors from every level of the cloud computing ecosystem and a non-stop, 4-day technical program, with expert speakers from every top Cloud player, including Abiquo, Amazon, AppZero, AT&T, CA Technologies,, Dell, Dell Boomi, Eucalyptus Systems, Fusion-io, Google, HP, IBM, Layered Technologies, Layer7, LogLogic, McAfee, Microsoft, OpSource, Oracle, OutSystems, OxygenCloud, PayPal, PerspecSys, Quest Software, Rackspace, RightScale, Spoon, Stoneware, Terremark, Virtela, VMware, Xiotech and Zetta.

Altogether, not too shabby. But then, this is the tech conference world's top team. Cloud Expo New York may be only the eighth successive Cloud Expo, but it is actually my fiftieth consecutive event as Conference we are building on a fairly decent track record of eleven busy years of producing conferences for the Internet technology community.

But before you worry that maybe, among my newfound plans, there might lurk some wheeze to write the book Pancreatic Cancer is Good for You, let me assure you that on the contrary never in all my life have I felt so humble and privileged and plain dumb lucky.

I am fully aware that the odds I have beaten - or, rather that I have been helped to beat by a brilliant piece of highly invasive surgery carried out both fast and well - were very very long. Lots of different stars had to line up for me to be declared, essentially, cancer-free just seven weeks after being diagnosed with what turned out to be a malignant tumor straight out of Pancreatic Cancer 101 - as in, not only able to kill, but usually successful in killing, if not within a year or two, then almost always within five.

"The silent killer" is what they call pancreatic cancer. Its survival rate is, in the words of one of the earlier websites that (alas!) I chanced upon very early while trying to get a sense of what I was up against, "dismal." And even the less dramatic and more scholarly sites that I found a little later were still very forthright: only 20% of pancreatic cancers are even operable...and of the 20% that are operated on, only a certain percentage seem to end up cured. Most still seem to end up dead. (The mystery of that one still defies me, but perhaps other patients are typically older, or less fit, than I was when diagnosed, so that their tumors, although removed, left traces of cancer behind...)

But then again, what actual use are statistics? What matters, when you are up against a major medical challenge, is you...not some sample of other patients. What matters is to feel strong, to feel loved, and to feel optimistic - and I was blessed with all three. So actually it isn't really surprising at all that I beat the odds. With all that strength (partly from fitness, mostly from stubbornness!), all that love (from my family, my friends, and colleagues who have simply blown me away with their compassion and concern and positive karma, and not least all that optimism (supplied to me at birth in almost infinite quantities) could I ever have failed?

I promise you that this is last time that any of you will have to endure hearing about one man's brush with "PanCan" as this scary killer is called. From here on all have to say about it will be said through actions rather than words, specifically my participation in the 2011 San Francisco Marathon on July 31, when I hope you will consider helping raise $10,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (> which is trying to double the survival rate for pancreatic cancer by 2020. The money will go directly to much needed R&D, much neded because for whatever reason very little real progress has been made in fighting this particular cancer in the recent past.

Either way, whether you decide to allocate a few dollars to fighting PanCan or not, know that I will be there on the podium as ever at Cloud Expo New York, and that you will truly not be able to discern any difference: I will still be my same old self...for better or for worse! So look out for me as conference emcee, Power Panel moderator, host, and as a general all-purpose go-to guy if you have a bone to pick with Cloud Expo or (even better) a constructive suggestion as to how we can go on making the event more and more valuable to those who participate, whether as delegates, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, or attending press & analysts. I should be pretty easy to find! :)

So.....see you in New York City at the Jacob Javits, 6 - 9 June. It is going to be simply Cloudtastic!

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Small Bites All Day Long – Whatever Tastes Good."

Occasionally in the life of every commentator, even those of us who look at the future of the future day and night, you experience what amounts - yes, there is no other word for it - to an epiphany.

The earliest techno-epiphany I experienced was not, in reverse chronological order, the realization that mobile was the new normal, nor that computing was going unswervingly social, nor even that the Web was going to forever alter the economics of insight capture and distribution. Nope. It dates much further back, to the advent of the Internet itself.

Of course, as a Brit, when I talk of "the advent of the Internet" I am doing what Americans do when saying that the Second World War started in 1941...I am speaking about it from a wholly insular perspective. But this was back in the day, and that was how the world was. We are talking about the world pre-"globalization" - a world where each nation, roughly speaking, paddled its own canoe.

My employer in those days was the British Broadcasting Corporation, and it is indeed through the BBC that my epiphany came. At the time I worked for both BBC-tv and BBC Radio in separate but simultaneous capacities, so it was natural that I also ate my own dog food and both viewed and listened to the BBC more or less 24x7.

That is why it is easy for me to remember the day in the early 1990s that, on BBC Radio's most popular and influential morning show, the then Chair of the British Computer Society was called up by the presenter of the show and asked, bluntly: "So how would you go about explaining this 'Internet' thing."

The BCS Chair didn't miss a beat. Of course he'd probably been asked the question a dozen times before in the past little while, but never by a presenter from mainstream media. He could have alluded to the Internet's origins, attempted to bedazzle the huge morning audience with his erudition and knowledge. Instead he did what so few people, in such circumstances anyway, do. He nailed it.

"The best way to comprehend the unique quality of the Internet," he answered, "is first to understand that it is made up many small parts, loosely connected."

Many. Small. Parts. Loosely. Connected.

That was it. That was, unmistakeably, the very essence and core of the Internet. But it was the first time that I had ever heard it boiled down so magnificently...into just five words.

That was all a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time ago, and since then we have seen the creation of the Web, the dot-com crash, the fallow years, and now the New Boom/Bubble. But the five words still resonate with me. And what is more, they were the first thing I thought of when someone recently sent me seven rather similar words, and caused an entirely new epiphany...this time in a more personal context.

Let us not get too bogged down worrying why anyone would be giving me nutritional advice. Suffice it to say that I have been obliged recently to review my eating habits, mainly because of having lost 10% of my body weight to a radical surgical procedure aimed at curing me of pancreatic cancer. And, in this context, a fellow cancer survivor just wrote me - full knowing that I was struggling to maintain the 90% that was left, let along get my weight back to status quo ante, that's to say, before my Whipple surgery - a brief note of advice.

Here was her wise counsel: "Small bites all day long - whatever tastes good."

So what was the epiphany? Well it was this: the advice was proffered in the context of nutrition, but those seven words leapt out at me in another context completely - forgive me, dear reader, for at this point you will realize that one of the things about cancer survivors, particularly those who have been operated on successfully and are now undergoing six months' of preventative chemotherapy, is that they constantly wax philosophiocal.

I mean, surely those seven words - sent by a dear, dear friend - are a recipe not just for recovery after radical surgery...surely they're a recipe for life itself? For in the banquet of life what better advice could one possibly give a favorite nephew or a beloved son or daughter than this? "Take small bites all day long - whatever tastes good." :-)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Are We Tweeting Ourselves To Poverty?

So James Franco has declared that 'Social Media Is Over' and done the unthinkable...he has shut down his Twitter account.

Will the world stop spinning? Is this the end of western civilization? What next, will people stop asking questions on Quora, will they cease to publish photos on Facebook, will we see the end of Skype-messaging? Worst of all, might the long-awaited Godot known as "Enterprise 2.0" now never turn up?

Well I have news for us all: Franco may be righter than he knows.

It is not that Social Media Is Dead, however. It is that "Social Media" itself is too fanciful a term, right up there with "Social Shopping."

Personally I am not convinced that Twitter is primarily a social medium, I see it more as a collaboration tool that has been momentarily sidelined and become stereotyped in its usage despite its infinite applicability.

But then that is the curse of "Social" - the word has a track record of bogging down all that it engulfs.

One example. I am so ancient that when I first studied "Social" and Political Science at Cambridge, there wasn't even a Social Science faculty, my degree course was affiliated to the Committee of Social & Political Science. Adding the word "Social" to science, back in the day, was akin to adding the word "Fair" to trade. People smelled a rat!

Now it gets added to anything and everything, so that we have the Social Graph, we have Social Data, and we even have Social Authority. But the mother and father of all the "Social" colloquies remains "Social Media."

Let's see whether James Franco's move this week triggers a debate as to whether we are not about to see a correction in the international marketplace of ideas, a retrenchment from the strangely misguided notion that the hand the writes the most Tweets rules the world.

No wonder China is out-pacing the U.S. on so many metrics of productivity and economic progress: according to Nielsen, social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online in the U.S.

Friday, April 1, 2011

We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants...

What more could anyone want from one's dearest colleagues than unstinting support and love when adversity strikes and you need good karma by the bucketload?

Major props to the Cloud Expo New York support team in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey - three of the dedicated team of masterminds behind 2011 Show Registration, East & West coast, the Conference website and the logistics of all the Exhibitors & Sponsors to 8th International Cloud Expo.

Thanks, guys! July 31's SF Marathon will be my chance to thank you all for your amazing positive energy...without which I surely wouldn't have been able to bounce back so fast and so strong in time for the June 6-9 show - currently trending to be our best event ever, with more expert speakers on a greater variety Cloud topics and from a wider range of players in the Cloud Computing ecosystem than ever before.

The beneficiary of all funds raised through my July 31 run will of course be the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network - hence the proudly purple T-shirts here!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Of all the "ists" in the world - artists, motorists, psychologists, anesthetists, equilibrists, whatever - the one type that probably everybody dreads in the very type I am due in just a few hours today to meet for the first time in my life: an oncologist.

Let me say this as gently as I can: no one wants to experience the kind of involuntary system re-boot that is involved whenever something as radical as Whipple surgery is involved. But Whipple patients still have a whole second challenge ahead of them: even if, as in my case, the surgery is completely successful, the recommended Next Steps involve chemo.

While not as debilitating as some other forms of chemotherapy, the drug Gemcitabine (a.k.a. GEMZAR) is most likely to become my new poison of choice. I won't know until the oncologist tells me how long the treatment will last, but I gather it may come in 21-day cycles. Given the proximity of Cloud Expo New York, I certainly hope the chemotherapy is a resounding success!

Meantime, I will continue to work even, if as in this photo, I have had to be creative at avoid creasing my stomach where the scar from the Whipple operation is still knitting together only very slowly. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention!

Monday, March 28, 2011

How the Web Can Help Fight Cancer

There is really no other way to do this than just to blurt it out: six weeks ago I was diagnosed - unexpectedly and completely out of the blue - with pancreatic cancer.

What has one of the deadliest forms of cancer got to do with "New Media"? Quite a lot, it turns out. Because thanks to the Internet, I was able - before my consulting surgeon could even say it to me - to learn that in cases such as mine where by some quirk of fate pancreatic cancer is detected early enough, there is a very radical surgical procedure that is claimed to be curative. Curative as in, if everything goes okay, you emerge from the operating theater cancer-free.

Needless to say, Wikipedia played its role here. Its entry on the so-called "Whipple procedure" is a classic of detail and balance.

But Facebook wasn't far behind. There is both a Pancreatic Cancer topic page and a separate, and invaluable, topic page on the Whipple procedure. Honestly, who'd a thunk it?

The final new-media pièce de résistance came when I was thinking about what to do, having had Whipple surgery just ten days previously, with the entry I had already secured last December into this year's San Francisco Marathon on July 31.

The answer was obvious: use the Web to transform it into a fundraising run, a personal 26-mile journey toward helping raise funds towards doubling the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020.

Here is the donation link: I am not saying that it is exactly a barrel of laughs to have cancer diagnosed one week, Whipple surgery three weeks later, and chemotherapy due to start just three weeks after the surgery...but I will say that, if you have to undergo such a fate, then using the Web to make it easier to endure, manage and understand is definitely the way to go!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Twitter Epiphany? The Power of a Hash Tag (#jan25)

As America - on the East Coast anyway, including in Washington, DC - tucks up in bed, the sun is rising on Egypt. Which seems an appropriate time for @jg21 to briefly explain what I had in mind when resolving for the past 12 hours or so to re-Tweet as many of the comments and links flying around via Twitter as I found meaningful, informative, and (often) inspiring.

"Freedom of expression is a human right," blogged Twitter co-founder Biz Stone Friday, on Day Four of the blockage by the Egyptian government of Twitter and Facebook. And this was not mere opportunism by Stone, because it is the exact same thing that he said four months ago. Here is what he said already in September:

"Twitter isn't a triumph of technology it's a triumph of humanity. A more connected world leads to a more empathic world."

So that is the proposition I set out to test. Does Twitter really have the power to increase the sum total of empathy in this often troubled world? Call it, if you like, an exercise in "empathetic calculus."

One kind and co-hearted soul has already been kind enough to mention - via Twitter of course! - that my "barrage" (his word, but I make no objection!) of re-Tweets had an effect on her, and a good one:

#FF @jg21 for a barrage of #Jan25 & #Egypt Retweets. Reading about the situation in Egypt makes everything else seem... minuscule in scope."

In a follow up exchange, he was even kind enough to say "good work sir. We are in dire times. The horrors of the world cannot be hidden thx to technology. We are ALL of this world." So I feel that I haven't intruded in vain upon people's attention-span, even if my chosen means was a little front-on, I feel certain, for many people.

In a follow-up post over the weekend, I will try and analyze what my Twitter-fest did for me personally, as opposed to my Tweeps - whose forbearance I call out here and for which I shall be eternally grateful.

This much I can tell you in advance: it has been a transformative experience, so far as my view of microblogging is concerned.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Facebook, Google, and the Near-Term Future of the USA

On the day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 12,000 for the first time since June 2008, it is impossible not to correlate the eloquence and optimism of President Obama's "State of the Union" speech on Tuesday night with the restoration of a sense of perspective and hope in the USA about the future.

Obama grasped the nettle full-on. "We are poised for progress," he declared, adding:
"Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing."

As one blogger expressed it, though - and he is a former Goldman Sachs trader called Tyler Durden, so he ought to know wheref he speaks:
"There was a massive pink elephant in the room called reality though."

Durden's gripe is with the unreality of Obama's praising Google and Facebook so highly in an America where 26 million people are unemployed or underemployed. It is with his failing to address that while the salaries of U.S. CEOs are up, the average median employee salary on a comparative basis is stuck somewhere in the 1970s.

"This is our generation’s Sputnik moment," Obama said, in the most-quoted sentence of the entire address. America, in other words, needs to enter an Education Race akin to the Space Race that it entered in 1958.

What role will New Media activities play in all of this? Facebook may be many things, but a tool for better education is not one of them. Google stands a better chance in that regard. But Twitter? Can tweeting really help restore America's lost position in the world?

Those who live by new media die by new media. The 44th president of the United States of America needs to be careful when hitching the wagon of his presidency to stock prices and IPOs...can we all really have already forgotten the Dot-com bubble, which peaked in March 2000, when the NASDAQ lost nearly nine percent of its value in just six days and many dot-coms began to run out of capital and were acquired or liquidated?

What do you think? Is the 'Sputnik moment' a metaphor that can help re-boot America? What web-based organizations instil more hope in you, commercial giants like Facebook and Google...or non-commercial minnows like Wikipedia? How can we best preserve a World Wide Web in which there is room for both?