Kristian Hammond on truly democratizing data and the value of AI in the enterprise

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Narrative Science's foray into proprietary business data and bridging the data gap.

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In this week’s episode, O’Reilly’s Mac Slocum chats with Kristian Hammond, Narrative Science’s chief scientist. Hammond talks about Natural Language Generation, Narrative Science’s shift into the world of business data, and evolving beyond the dashboard.

Here are a few highlights:

We’re not telling people what the data are; we’re telling people what has happened in the world through a view of that data. I don’t care what the numbers are; I care about who are my best salespeople, where are my logistical bottlenecks. Quill can do that analysis and then tell you — not make you fight with it, but just tell you — and tell you in a way that is understandable and includes an explanation about why it believes this to be the case. Our focus is entirely, a little bit in media, but almost entirely in proprietary business data, and in particular we really focus on financial services right now.

You can’t make good on that promise [of what big data was supposed to do] unless you communicate it in the right way. People don’t understand charts; they don’t understand graphs; they don’t understand lines on a page. They just don’t. We can’t be angry at them for being human. Instead we should actually have the machine do what it needs to do in order to fill that gap between what it knows and what people need to know.

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Mike Kuniavsky on the tectonic shift of the IoT

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: The Internet of Things ecosystem, predictive machine learning superpowers, and deep-seated love for appliances and furniture.

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In this week’s episode of the Radar Podcast, O’Reilly’s Mary Treseler chats with Mike Kuniavsky, a principal scientist in the Innovation Services Group at PARC. Kuniavsky talks about designing for the Internet of Things ecosystem and why the most interesting thing about the IoT isn’t the “things” but the sensors. He also talks about his deep-seated love for appliances and furniture, and how intelligence will affect those industries.

Here are some highlights from their conversation:

Wearables as a class is really weird. It describes where the thing is, not what it is. It’s like referring to kitchenables. ‘Oh, I’m making a kitchenable.’ What does that mean? What does it do for you?

There’s this slippery slope between service design and UX design. I think UX design is more digital and service design allows itself to include things like a poster that’s on a wall in a lobby, or a little card that gets mailed to people, or a human being that they can talk to. … Service design takes a slightly broader view, whereas UX design is — and I think usefully — still focused largely on the digital aspect of it.

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Mary Yoko Brannen on ethnographic thinking and contexts of organizational cultures

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Organizational cultural identity, HELP systems, and the end of English as the lingua franca.

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In this week’s episode, I sit down with Mary Yoko Brannen, the president and CEO of CLIA Consulting, the Jarislowsky East Asia (Japan) chair at the Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives, and a professor of international business and research director at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business.

Brannen is an expert in ethnomethodology and qualitative studies of complex cultural organizational phenomena. She spends a lot of time focused on how changing cultural contexts affect technology and how to leverage cultural identity in the global workplace. We unpack all that in this episode and talk about how her proposed “ethnographic thinking” approach can address language and culture gaps in the global marketplace.

Here are a few highlights from our chat:

I’m an organizational anthropologist. What does that mean? It means that, like anthropologists study far-away tribes, I study organizations as if they were tribes. I’m interested in organizational culture, and how organizational culture combines with national cultural differences, as well as occupational cultural differences, and how people can integrate those and work together.

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Aaron Irizarry on Nasdaq’s journey to embrace product design

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Getting a seat at the table is one thing; understanding what to do with it is way more important.

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In this week’s episode of the Radar Podcast, O’Reilly’s Mary Treseler chats with Aaron Irizarry, director of user experience for Nasdaq product design, about Nasdaq’s journey to become a design-driven organization.

Irizarry also talks about the best ways to have solid conversations about the designs you’re working on, and why getting a seat at the proverbial table isn’t the endgame. He’ll be speaking about these topics and more at the O’Reilly Design Conference, January 19-22, 2016, in San Francisco.

Here are a few snippets from their conversation:

It’s really interesting to see an organization that didn’t have a product design team as of, what, 2011, I believe, see the need for that, bring someone in, hire them to establish a team, which is my boss Chris, and then see just the transition and the growth within the company, and how they embraced product design.

The more we delivered, the more we built equity within the company to be able to kind of have more of a say. … What has really helped us is that we didn’t just focus on getting a seat at the table. We focused on what to do when we have that seat, and how we keep that seat and bring others to the table as well. Read more…


Do one thing…

I don't want barely distinguishable tools that are mediocre at everything; I want tools that do one thing and do it well.

350px-Pudu_jail_west_wallI’ve been lamenting the demise of the Unix philosophy: tools should do one thing, and do it well. The ability to connect many small tools is better than having a single tool that does everything poorly.

That philosophy was great, but hasn’t survived into the Web age. Unfortunately, nothing better has come along to replace it. Instead, we have “convergence”: a lot of tools converging on doing all the same things poorly.

The poster child for this blight is Evernote. I started using Evernote because it did an excellent job of solving one problem. I’d take notes at a conference or a meeting, or add someone to my phone list, and have to distribute those files by hand from my laptop to my desktop, to my tablets, to my phone, and to any and all other machines that I might use.

But as time has progressed, Evernote has added many other features. Some I might have a use for, but they’re implemented poorly; others I’d rather not have, thank you. I’ve tried sharing Evernote notes with other users: they did a good job of convincing me not to use them. Photos in documents? I really don’t care. When I’m taking notes at a conference, the last thing I’m thinking about is selfies with the speakers. Discussions? No, please no. There are TOO MANY poorly implemented chat services out there. We can discuss my shared note in email. Though, given that it’s a note, not a document, I probably don’t want to share anyway. If I wanted a document, even a simple one, I’d use a tool that was really good at preparing documents. Taking notes and writing aren’t the same, even though they may seem similar. Nor do I want to save my email in Evernote; I’ve never seen, and never expect to see, an email client that didn’t do a perfectly fine job of saving email. Clippings? Maybe. I’ve never particularly wanted to do that; Pinboard, which has stuck to the “do one thing well” philosophy, does a better job of saving links. Read more…


The first rule of management: Resist the urge to manage

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick on leadership, teams, and culture.

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In this week’s Radar Podcast, I sit down with Google engineering site lead Ben Collins-Sussman and Tock founder and CTO Brian Fitzpatrick.

The two have just released a new book, Debugging Teams, a follow-up to their earlier book, Team Geek. We talk about the new edition, how managing is a lot like being a psychotherapist, and how all their great advice plays out in their own lives. Enjoy the show.

Here are a few snippets from our conversation:

Collins-Sussman: The first rule of management is resist the urge to manage. … a manager’s main job is not to bark commands, but to actually aid the team and provide cover, do whatever it takes to remove roadblocks and make them more efficient. Really, being a manager is about getting out of the way and trying to figure out what they need.

Fitzpatrick: Another thing is, when you become a leader, people will come to you and ask questions. They’ll come to you and ask you for advice, and the best thing you can do is ask them questions right back. It’s not being dishonest, or disingenuous, or evasive … If you ask them questions like, ‘What do you mean by this?’, or ‘What are you thinking of?’, or ‘What do you like to do?’ or, ‘How do you feel about this?’, you can gently guide them a little bit by the questions you ask, but really make them think. After a few minutes of questioning, they’ll come up with their own answer.

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