Internet Divide And Conquer

Cut Cable

Remember in the old Western’s when the Indians were about to attack the town, and before they rode in with knives and flaming arrows–what would they do?  


The Indians would cut the telegraph lines–no calls for help out, and no communications in–the town and its people were completely cut off.


The very next scene would be the slaughter of everyone in the town including a bunch getting scalped. 


How have things changed in the 21st century?


Not so much so, as the New York Times reports today on the constant threats to our underground Internet lines being cut–with 16 cuts to the lines in the San Francisco Bay area alone in the last year. 


Similarly just a couple of weeks ago, the media was reporting about the U.S. being worried about Russian subs cutting the undersea Internet cables.


But isn’t the Internet built like a spiders’s web (i.e. the World Wide Web) with redundant routes so that it can withstand even a nuclear attack?


Apparently, if you take out key Internet Exchange Points (IXP) or major international cable lines then the Internet can be seriously disrupted. 


Similar to the impact of an EMP weapon that fries our electronic circuits…poof no more communications. 


If you can cut off our core communications ability–then it’s a simple strategy of divide and conquer.  


Divided we are weak and can’t communicate and organize ourselves to either know what’s going on or to effectively respond. 


Like sitting ducks in the Old West surrounded and cut off–it was a slaughter. 


This is why it is so critical that we not only build redundancy in the cable lines, but that we create alternatives like satellite Internet or Google’s Project Loon for balloon Internet access.


It’s not just the military, law enforcement, and emergency management not that needs to be able to communicate–we all do!


With excellent communications, we can unify ourselves and we are strong–but if we are left in the dark, then divided we fall. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Flowchart Your Programming

Flowcharts have been used for quite some time for visualizing and organizing business processes and making them more efficient (e.g. business process reengineering).

Now flowcharts are being used to build and link reusable programming code.

NoFlo or Flow-Based Programming (FBP) simplifies application development by using libraries of pre-written code and then dragging and dropping them into your process flows.

This leverages objected-oriented programming (OOP) and uses modules of open-source code, which are linked together to create a full program that solves a business problem.

The flowchart helps to avoid spaghetti code by providing for a more organized, modular, object-based development environment.

These flowcharts can not only be a collaborative tool where developers can build or map code, but can also be part of the systems documentation that ensures a higher-level of understanding of the total programming solution.

NoFlo raised over $100K on Kickstarter in 45 days in order to advance this project from Javascript to iOS, Android, and Python platforms as well.

To me, this programming paradigm seems to have real legs:
– A process-based model for decomposing solutions
– Simple information visualization through a common flowcharting toolset, and
– Reusable object code from programming libraries in the cloud.

I’d say YesFLo–this makes a lot of programming sense. 😉

Google Hypocrisy?

Google Hypocrisy?

Google, which touts itself as the one that “organize[s] the world’s information and make[s] it universally accessible and usable,” ended its Reader product on Monday, July 1.

The RSS reader was a terrific tool for aggregating content feeds on the Internet (and Google is a terrific company that benefits the whole world’s thirst for knowledge).

With Google Reader you could subscribe to tens or hundreds of news services, blogs, and other information feeds and read it on your desktop or mobile device.

Reader represented the Google mission itself by pulling together all this information and making it available in one reading place, simply and easily for anyone.

While the Goolge line is that they killed Reader, because of a declining user base, I find this less then credible, since anecdotally it seems like a very popular that is helpful to people. Moreover, Google could’ve chosen to competitively enhance this product rather than shut it down.

So why did they end a great product that literally fits their mission perfectly?

We can only surmise that the ad clicks weren’t there (and thus neither was the profit) or perhaps Google felt this product was cannibalizing attention from their other products like Google News (a limited aggregator) or from some of their paying ad sponsors or partners feeding other products like Google Glass.

We may never know the answer, but what we do know is that, in this case, Google sold out on it’s core mission of organizing and providing information and abandoned their adoring userbase for Reader.

Feedly and other more clunky readers are out there, but Google Reader is a loss for the information needy and desirous and a misstep by Google.

RIP Reader, I think we will yet see you, in some form or fashion, yet again. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Laurie Pink)

Toward A User-Centric Government

My new article in Government Executive is out today. Called “Too Big To Succeed”–the article talks about the importance of simplifying and organizing large, complex organizations, such as government, to achieve transformational and valuable change. The article is anchored in the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Law of Large Numbers.Although the article doesn’t use the term user-centric government, this is exactly the point and continuously driving forward with advanced technologies can help us make the leap. Hope you enjoy reading! Andy