links for 2009-07-17

  • As the recent financial crisis has showed so dramatically, networks exist everywhere. Global inter-linkage of loans and mortgages — which were intended to distribute risk — actually ended up spreading it far and wide. Similar network-based impacts are at work in fields as diverse as information security and supply chain management. But while networks create new risks, they also generate new opportunities, write Paul R. Kleindorfer, Yoram (Jerry) Wind and Robert E. Gunther in their new book, The Network Challenge: Strategy, Profit and Risk in an Interlinked World (Wharton School Publishing). In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Kleindorfer and Wind discuss the themes of many of the 28 essays in their book.
    (tags: Innovation)
  • In What You Don’t Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen (Wharton School Publishing), author Michael A. Roberto aims to help leaders identify problems before they become major disasters. He discusses why problems go undetected for so long, how to spot patterns across an organization and how to avoid the “isolation trap” that prevents senior executives from seeing problems that are festering beyond their control, among other topics. Roberto, a management professor at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., wrote an earlier book entitled, Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer. Below is an excerpt from a chapter in his current book.
    “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
    — Shunryu Suzuki, Japanese Zen priest
    (tags: Innovation)

  • Financial innovation is often blamed for having landed the global economy in a mess, but it has also been said that innovation will get us out of the present downturn. Still, companies can be forgiven for feeling that spending time and money thinking about the “next big thing” is a frivolous exercise. After all, every dollar counts these days, and CEOs and their executive teams are busy enough just getting their companies through the day-to-day demands of the recession.
    It needn’t be that way, according to Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich. As the two Wharton professors of operations and information management point out in their new book, Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities, if done with greater focus, identifying new opportunities shouldn’t be seen as a luxury, but a necessity.
  • Readers of a certain age will remember TV commercials aimed at showing that Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats appeal to both the adult and the kid in all of us. In the 30-second spot, grownups who crow about the cereal’s nutritious value suddenly morph into younger versions of themselves who plug the cereal’s sweet frosted side.
    I’m a bit like that when it comes to mobile startups. The consumer in me welcomes the explosion of fun, useful, and innovative games, activities, and tools on smartphones. I’ll admit that I’ve livened up many a dull train commute with rounds of Flight Control on my iPod touch.
  • The microblogging service Twitter was hacked during May 2009 and stolen internal company data was posted on French blog Korben.info this week.
    Twitter founder Evan Williams confirmed the attack in an e-mail to TechCrunch, stating, “In general, most of the sensitive information was personal rather than company-related.”
    Nevertheless, Twitter’s alleged internal projections were revealing.
    Twitter estimated that 25 million people worldwide would be using the service by the end of 2009.
    (tags: Twitter)
  • Just over a fortnight ago, Matthew Robson had never worked in banking. This was mainly because he was 15 years and 7 months old and attending a comprehensive school in South London.
    Today he is the talk of Tokyo, Wall Street and the City. Fund managers, CEOs and analysts are poring over his report, How Teenagers Consume Media, which he wrote last week while on work experience at Morgan Stanley.
    In it he laid out the world according to the teenager: a confusing place where the PC is a radio, the games console is a telephone, the mobile telephone is a stereo and text-message machine, the DVDs are pirate copies and no one uses Twitter.
    (tags: Twitter)
  • With early-stage funding opportunities tight in today’s economy, managers of university-run business plan competitions say they’ve seen an increase in budding entrepreneurs looking for a boost.
    “We’ve gone to 42 teams from 36 teams and we brought in more judges for the competition,” said Brad Burke, managing director for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which managed a competition in Houston that distributed $800,000 in April.
    The additional team slots reflects in part the growing interest the 10-year-old program has seen, which generated about 40% more applicants this year than for the 2008 competition.
  • Once kids couldn’t wait to run outside to play. Now they log on.
    The number of child Internet users in the US is growing faster than total Internet users—as well as faster than the number of US children.
    The “NetView” report from Nielsen Online pegs the population of online children ages 2 to 11 at nearly 16 million, almost evenly split by gender.
  • Prepare yourself for the onslaught of tip calculators and flashlights, friends, because the Mojo SDK for Pre’s WebOS is out and ready to rock. You can download it right here and start coding immediately, if not sooner.
    Our major beef thus far has been the Pre’s fairly sparse app store and this promises to open things up considerably. Devs should also hit the Palm Developer Network to sign up to start selling their wares online. Devs with current Palm logins should get in just fine to begin the development process.
  • Koel Cheesman posted a link on Facebook pointing to the increasingly depressing unemployment figures (and how they may actually be worse than the numbers show). Here in Oregon, unemployment went from 12.4% to 12.2%. Which I guess is… good? It may be a little too early to be giving each other high fives. People are losing confidence in the stimulus plan. Unless you’re in construction, “green” jobs or a pet project your congressperson set aside for you, you probably didn’t feel much of anything. Now some are calling for a second stimulus package while President Obama urges patience.
    (tags: career HR)
  • Researchers have shed new light on the methods by which spammer harvest e-mail addresses from the Web and relay bulk messages through multiple computers. They say that findings could provide additional ammunition in the fight against junk e-mail campaigns.
    The problem of unwanted e-mail messages, or spam, continues to vex computer users and security professionals. Currently, more than 90 percent of the e-mail messages traversing the Internet appear to be spam, according to the information released in June by the e-mail security firm MessageLabs.
    (tags: security spam)
  • Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would worsen an already bleak budget outlook, increasing deficit projections and driving the nation more deeply into debt, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this morning.

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