Month: April 2009

New outlet for Autism creativity using Google Sketchup

A very cool new way of using a proven tool, Google Sketchup is a piece of software that is easy to use and can help you make 3D designs of houses, offices, anything. These can then be placed on Google Earth for the world to see.

A recent project called Spectrum explored how Autistic people, particularly kids use the software. Their natural strengths in visualisation enable remarkably effective and sophisticated use of this tool and potential create a longer term development path and perhaps even any industry.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this project, it gives us all hope for a better future through meaningful application of technology. Read more here.

Where is home?

It is amazing how fast the world is shrinking. While we still see suffering from developing and conflicted nations on the TV, our personal networks selectively develop via professional and social networks (PSNs) to span a filtered world.

Where is home to you? Your suburb, small town or city? Perhaps you are altruistic and environmentally aware enough to say it is ‘Earth’ because we all need to care for it?

A new generation may have their definition of home defined by their social network on linkedin or twitter perhaps?

The only issue is our ‘home’ network is filtered by our connectivity rather than our humanity if we are not careful.

Economic Power Of Language

What language/s should you or your children learn to position yourselves best for global success in the future or to minimise impact of downturns?

The ability to back a winner perhaps different to your native tongue or to connect between languages (speaking two or more languages well) becomes even more import because of the associated network effect benefits and the economic power of the home country/countries e.g. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or more strategic measures like politics, technology or more brute force influence like their ‘defense’ force.

The most important languages today (an over simplified list with some flaws no doubt) are (in millions) –

< 1,500m English

< 1,300m Mandarin

< 700m Hindi/Urdu

< 500m Bengali, Spanish, Arabic

< 300m Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

< 100m The Rest

This list is rough but effective in ranking those that speak a language as their primary or secondary language. It may change a little in the < 100m range once we consider those who speak three or more languages but overall it is largely a good picture.

I am a great believer of the network effect. The first telephone was not very useful by itself but now we have billions around the world it starts to get pretty useful. The cost of the ability to talk to the second telephone was pretty much the same as the first, plus of course the interconnection cost between households.

The most recent telephone in the world now (perhaps a grandmother in the UK or a teenager in China) now has a very powerful tool in their hand for a fraction of the absolute cost of the original one, most importantly the incremental cost of having the ability to communicate with others on the network is NOT the same again per person/household, it is something like ten orders of magnitude less.


The same can be said for email, traditional mail, TV, iPods, Mobile Phone SMS/Text, iPhone Appstore, SWIFT (the main interbank system for moving money) and lots more technology or services or user experiences.

It can even apply to subtle quirky things like the ability for millions of Mumbai residents to get a hot lunch delivered from home each day for a very low cost using the Tiffin Box network or the ability for Nokia users to pick up hundreds of millions of other Nokia handsets and start using it very efficiently instantly.

Now that the world is in a global financial crisis without any doubt (it was obvious to most it was coming from October last year), the role of language and the associated network effect becomes worth considering.

So which languages have more economic power?

Clearly Mandarin is powerful but the GDP per capita is low in China so it is probably lower than English but maybe not that much lower over the coming years if China continues to grow and English speaking nations like the US and UK decline a little.

English is exploding as second or third languages in China so joining the two top languages will help cement China’s success if they stay the course.

India and the sub-continent generally has relatively low per capita GDP too so while they have good growth it is unlikely Hindi/Urdu speakers will move out of their unique second tier position in the next twenty years. However there are over 65m English speakers in that group so their network effect is large indeed as a bridge.

Meanwhile English is now the defacto language across more international commerce and international law entities so it will probably remain the most economically powerful (not least because the top 3 or 4 share markets are also conducted English language).

The top three will be highly resilient too because of their strong network effect (non-resident Indians and Chinese globally are a major force in their own right).

The next band is the most interesting, Arabic and Spanish have substantial numbers and very large network effect to English and a majority of the <100m languages so they are in a unique position for breadth of connection across the smaller pools. Their influence is also typically lower GDP per capita but has some huge outliers in the very wealthy (e.g. middle east natural resources) and also as a result provided those wealthy and powerful don't make bad investment and political decisions will probably be the most resilient of groups for the next twenty years and possibly thousands of years.

Bengali is also in this third band but with low GDP, volatile growth, health and political challenges it will probably remain in a similar tier for the foreseeable future.

The next band is < 300m and there is no doubt Russian is the most powerful here in the long term because of natural resources but isolation in geographic, legal and commercial ways will hold them back from moving up substantially. Meanwhile Japanese is very strong and remains an economic powerhouse but growth will be low in economic terms so they are unlikely to move out of their band unless the continue to developer bridges to the major tiers particularly Chinese and return to the earlier post war progress made with English.

The final band has many traditionally powerful groups including French, German, Pujabi, Wu, Cantonese (Yue Yu), Marathi and more. Most of these will continue to grow in influence but mainly as a result of the network effect generated by learning other languages, particularly English.

Of special note is Cantonese, they have been the primary source of Chinese immigration to the Anglosphere for 150 years plus have a very high percentage of speakers of English and Mandarin. Cantonese speakers are uniquely positioned to be the bridge language and culture globally between the two very different leaders English and Mandarin.

It will be an interesting future for the next generation regardless of these views. My winner predictions are English followed by daylight, then Chinese and thereafter the top 9 will remain largely unchanged with Cantonese possibly sneaking into tenth place ahead of traditional European, African and Asian challengers.

Australian NBN Disaster

The National Broadband Network announcement was made yesterday, no surprise that the dominate carrier Telstra’s share price went up.

We won’t get it rolled out for 8 years, what a joke. Korea is doing a similar rollout in 3 years.

It will deliver 100 Mega Bits Per Second to the average home, office and school. Big deal, the Korean rollout is delivering TEN TIMES that – One Gigabit Per Second.

I doubted Kevin when he was elected but not I know he has pathetic ability to select a team – Stephen Conroy has FAILed.

Even worse is Wayne Swan, allowing the PM to sprout off and commit to a $43 billion dollar investment with little more than 10% of the funding to cover it. They will spend double the surplus the previous accumulated by the previous government in just one announcement.

I just feel sorry for the kids.

Now they won’t get hospitals, roads or decent internet. They will just get multi generational debt without the infrastrcture they need to pay it off.

At least they will have the cables hanging in the air outside their house as a constant reminder of three failed attempts at solving Australia’s tyranny of distance.

More App Stores Than You Can Poke A Stick At

The plethora of new application stores for mobiles to download is inevitable, since Apple showed the way with what will soo be 1,000,000,000 downloads it seems to make sense that others would soon follow… and they have.

So here is a comparison table of the major app stores from –
– Apple for iPhone OS (and iPod)
– RIM for Blackberry OS
– Nokia
– Google and the Open Handset Alliance for Android
– Palm for their new Palm OS

We will add the others as them come to light.