Think

Is M”y” Generation Uniquely Apathetic?

This is the question my friend Mark Korshak is looking to answer in “Project Youthanized.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNqeEcDp_jg]

But how do we truly compare generations?

Let’s consider a student in college 30 years ago, to the student today (The generation Y student). How would these students engage activism?

Years Ago: pass out fliers   Today:  send out emails

Years Ago: organize a rally  Today: create a Facebook group

Years Ago: collect donations (change in a cup)  Today: collect donations (PayPal)

Years Ago: attend a rally   Today: watch a speech on YouTube

Years Ago: start a magazine  Today: start a Blog

Technology must be considered in any cross generational comparison.

Although it may seem as if students today are indeed “apathetic”, I can’t help but wonder, is that really the case? If you’ve ever joined a facebook group, if you’ve ever commented on an article, if you’ve ever published ANYTHING to the web, then you have engaged some form of activism.  You have made your voice heard. The extent of that activism however, is still unknown.

I wish Mark the best of luck in determining, how, if at all, “uniquely apathetic” our generation is, and how he goes about measuring the extent of this apathy.

The International Game

Who is winning? And at what sports?

I’m not speaking in literal terms, but a recent post by Andrew Weissman really forces us to look at the future of business. Business creation, sustainability, and innovation.

Six sigma worked pretty well for GE. Google’s 70/20/10 rule seems likes its doing just fine. What new business strategies will emerge….and where?

An invention I should have pursued further

Last year, I began pursuing an idea with a good friend of mine. We met with one of our extremely talented professors, Giri Venkataramanan, and began developing mathematical equations to turn our idea into a reality. Well, we stopped pursuing the idea due to a simple lack of free time, and sure enough, the idea has surfaced and is now in production.

“Terry Kenney’s Dragon Power Station prototype works by harnessing the kinetic energy of trucks passing over plates buried in the road and turning that energy into electricity.

– Jason Chen, Gizmodo.com

Even one of the comments made, expresses the same thought process we encountered.

“@ludwigk: It’s a great idea though if done as already noted by NOT lowering your fuel economy. If they placed this on, say, every interstate off-ramp. Everyone needs to slow down anyways. Lots of traffic. It’s not going to hurt your fuel efficiency if you’re already trying to stop. all it will do is save you some wear and tear on your brakes. Granted, it’s probably not generating as much power as that article initially claims, but still…every bit counts.”

But if anything good comes from this, it is this: Validation. (Andy M taught me this)

The fact that this idea was developed, and is in production, validates our initial pursuit of invention.

Maybe next time.

Fred Wilson – “And Who Do The Other 17% Think Will Win?”

The anticipation of who will be the democratic nominee is growing. Fred Wilson posed a great question today in his post titled “And Who Do The Other 17% Think Will Win?

“My other thought when looking at this chart was “if these were two stocks, what would people be doing with them?”

– Fred Wilson

Behind any investment, their must be substance. Which candidate is proposing ideas that are subtenant, tangible, and practical. We all remember what happened in the dot com bubble when people started pouring money into those revolutionary internet ideas. And who made it out on top?

Substance behind the idea.

Better image here

Rocks, Paper, Scissors….Memristor?

Consider the game of Rocks, Paper, Scissor. Three components. Three pieces that make up a rather historical game. What if a fourth component was introduced to the game? What would that fourth component look like, and what would its properties be. Wouldn’t this drastically alter the way the game is played?

Yes.

This is happening now in the world of electronics and circuits and stands to revolutionize an entire set of rules. What was once three fundamental devices (resistor, capacitor, and inductor), now has a fourth family member called the memristor.

Basically, this new device remembers how much charge was passed through, either forwards or backwards. Disregarding all the technical jargon, I wonder how this will effect chip manufacturing and design. 

Might the smallest invention or innovation ultimately have the most profound effect? 

There is simply nothing like true innovation.

What happens if you play Rocks, Paper, Scissors, _____________? Try it.

 

On the Microsoft/Yahoo merger…

“No one wants it (the Microsoft-Yahoo merger) to happen. The only reason it’s being considered is that the management of Windows Live has been so ineffective that they can’t ship anything worth using. They are consistently behind what consumers want, and unlike the old Microsoft, they are so poorly managed that they can’t even copy everyone else. “

Anonymous source to Mary Jo Foley of ZDnet

So adding more layers of complexity to an already dwindling organization is going to help? Microsoft is better off staying focused on XBOX and bridging the gap between media and the living room.

Where did their core competencies go?

Google, Microsoft head to MadTown

The amount of countless hours I’ve spent in UW-Madison’s Engineering Hall, should earn me the “GAL” or “Get a Life” award. Instead I will receive a degree in Electrical Engineering from UW-Madison. And perhaps the same reasons I decided to attend this University, are now being considered by Google, as they too plan on setting up shop in Madison, Wisconsin.

In a statement to The Badger Herald, Google representatives said, “We are opening an office in Madison because the city offers an excellent quality of life, a deep local talent pool and commitment to education at all levels, including the University of Wisconsin.”

Madison, WI

Photo © UW-Madison University Communications

And anyone that has ever stepped foot in Madison could agree with that statement. But being that Google is a worldwide leader in software and computer architecture, its main focus will be within the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Leading this Madison/Google operation will be “retired professor emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering James Smith and 1980s computer engineering graduate James Laudon.”

Add a new Biomedical research to the list as well, and Madison will continue to lead the way as one of the premier research facilities in the world.

Some other great programs within my department, that I have been lucky to be a part of.

  • WEMPEC – Wisconsin Electrical Machines and Power Electronics Consortium
  • WCAM – Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronic Devices

It is extremely rewarding to see that my department, its students, and faculty members, have yet another great achievement to add to the list. 

The Stockdale Paradox

“Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time

Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

-Jim Collins, Good to Great

Let us try and apply this to our own lives. What could possibly be the result?

Investing in the Machines

Investing in internet companies is relatively straight forward. Find good people with a good idea, and let the programming begin. But what about all of the other industries out there? I recently read a post by GigaOM’s

“I don’t want to believe it’s the end of startups trying their hand against the likes of AMD or Intel, but until we come to a breakthrough in materials, ways to reduce the IP hurdles or the cost of masks and design, entrepreneurial chip engineers will have to focus on power management and cooling, MEMS and RF.”

There is a bit of a catch 22 here. The scientific breakthroughs needed to make chip-making more cost effective are going to either come from the large chip makers themselves (Intel, AMD) or research institutions and universities. Either way, the chip makers maintain their lead in the market place (they may even buy up some of the patents), or the small startups will still require that big initial investment in the machines, lithography labs, clean rooms and every other expensive component needed.

Might it be beneficial for Intel to initiate a program with a model that looks like Y-Combinator or Betaworks, but for microprocessor design and manufacturing? If so, beneficial to who?

Graduating and the pursuit

Is it happiness? Is it financial security? Is it location? Is it independence? How do we inevitably select a career path? This May, I will be graduating from the University of Wisconsin (Electrical Engineering) and will be working for Lotame, a relatively new online media company. If I were to guess where or what I would be doing a year ago, I would most likely tell you I would be attending some form of graduate school.

But this is not the case.

Where will you be a week from today? A year? 

What industry will you be in? More importantly WHY?

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