Posts Tagged 'history'

Email, Digital Photography, and the Hole in our Historical Record

Posted on April 30th, 2017 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

Letters from the past One fine day in the 20th century BCE Ilabrat-bani, an Assyrian merchant from Kültepe in Anatolia, wrote to one Amur-ili a letter concerning shipments of textiles, and providing advice for travel. The letter, written in cuneiform on a clay tablet, survived to reach present day historians and inform their research. On June 8th of 1511 Piero Venier, a merchant living in Sicily, penned a letter to his sisters in Venice. It contained his observations from an Auto de Fe he’d witnessed in Palermo, where the Spanish Inquisition burned at the stake conversos suspected of heresy amid.. Read more

What would Ada Lovelace think of Knowmail?

Posted on November 3rd, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Individual Solutions

This post was first published on the Knowmail blog. Cross-posted with permission.   The computer will never be creative or intelligent by itself; it can only do what we tell it to do. I like to call this statement “The Frankenstein clause”: it plays down the primal fear we humans have of our machines getting better than us, then taking over the world. Basically it says, “Move along, folks… Nothing to worry about, we’re the real brains here… These dumb computers will always obey us…” This statement was made by many during the 20th century, but the first to articulate.. Read more

The two Faces of Anytime, Anywhere

Posted on February 14th, 2014 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Individual Solutions, Organizational Solutions

A cool idea (or so we thought) … It really did sound like a great concept at the time: Work Anytime, Anywhere! Catchy slogans like that always sound good, like Andy Grove’s prediction in the nineties of “Free MIPS, Free Bauds” (which is pretty close to reality by now). And the concept of being able to do your work from anywhere as if you were in the office, and at any time of your choosing rather than 9-to-5, seemed particularly cool – so liberating and exhilarating! We in IT were certainly delivering the capability. Admittedly secure remote access was a.. Read more

Konrad Zuse, Alan Turing, and the World’s First Computer Startup

Posted on October 18th, 2013 · Posted in Startups

Having a hobby you’re passionate about is important. Having a job you’re passionate about is important. And if you’re lucky, there will be a congruence that allows work and hobby to cross-fertilize each other. My hobby of many years is the study of the history of computing technology (you can see some of my collection on my hobby site), and it’s ended up merging with my work. It enriched a number of my lectures – this one, for instance – by providing an unusual treasure of innovative examples; and it led to engagements as curator and scientific consultant for cool.. Read more

CAPTCHA: A Wonderful Adventure in Exhibition Space

Posted on April 7th, 2013 · Posted in Off-topic

Somehow my career has repeatedly led me into doing unexpected and wonderful things. One such piece of serendipity has been the role I landed at the Jerusalem Science Museum as the curator of an exhibition in honor of Alan Turing. This project took a year and half, and gave me the occasion to work with some amazing people at the museum, interact with many more from around the world, and learn so much about that tragic genius, Alan Turing, of which I wrote here before. Now we’re finally done, and the exhibition is open to the public. It wasn’t my.. Read more

A Timeless Management Lesson for Innovative Technology Startups

Posted on November 12th, 2012 · Posted in Startups

I want to share with you part of a letter written to a technological innovator who wanted to bring his invention to market: Firstly: I want to know whether if I continue to work on and about your own great subject, you will undertake to abide wholly by the judgment of myself … on all practical matters relating to whatever can involve relations with any … fellow-creatures? Secondly: can you undertake to give your mind wholly and undividedly … to the consideration of all those matters in which I shall at times require your intellectual assistance and supervision; and can.. Read more

Alan Turing’s Earthshaking Philosophical Insight

Posted on October 12th, 2012 · Posted in Off-topic

Being the curator of the Alan Turing Year exhibition at the Jerusalem Science Museum, I was invited to sit on a panel dedicated to Turing’s legacy at the ICON Science Fiction, Imagination and The Future festival in Tel Aviv. My talk there was well received, and touches on some interesting truths, so I decided to share its content here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! Incidentally, Alan Turing’s life and work will be the basis of a new lecture I will be adding to my public speaking offerings. The subject is a fascinating one on so.. Read more

An early observation on multitasking

Posted on May 25th, 2012 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

While browsing a forgotten bookshelf I found myself leafing through an old volume called “The scientist in action – a scientific study of his methods”, by one William H. George, a Physics professor from Sheffield. This book had been published in 1938 by Emerson Books, NY. And as I flipped the pages I happened to notice the following statement: It is one of the properties of man that if he tries to give attention to many things at once he becomes confused. Confusion of thought is a hindrance to scientific research… I have no idea who Mr. George was, but.. Read more

Is email going away?

Posted on April 23rd, 2012 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

Every now and then someone proclaims that email has outlived its usefulness (some, groaning under their Inboxes, might say outstayed its welcome), and is on the way out. How about it? It might seem that these pronouncements of doom for the world’s most widely used messaging channel have some basis. After all, the young generation – Generation Y – really prefer to conduct much of their communication via Facebook; it is said that some universities don’t bother to assign email accounts to their students because they don’t need them anymore. And even in the enterprise, we have that startling declaration.. Read more

What would Socrates think of Google?

Posted on December 8th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was discussing with a college student I’ve been advising whether it was a good or a bad thing that Google makes access to answers so easy. To my surprise, she opined that it’s a bad thing – because people who use Google to answer a question are more likely to forget the answer they find, whereas if they have to think the problem through and discover the answer for themselves they will remember it in the long term. An interesting insight from a Gen Y. But what struck me as remarkable was the fact that this is not a.. Read more