It’s been some time since my last post, which pondered serendipity, in the context of finding a good travel book (Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad). For those interested, my reading list of late has included Arguably (Hitchens), Stories (Chekov), In the Garden of Beasts (Larson), Fathers and Sons (Turgenev), The Tao of Travel (Theroux), and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Chabon).
For those interested in technology law, please consider my recent article on Big Data:
Demystifying Big Data: http://apps.americanbar.org/buslaw/blt/content/2012/11/article-03-pavolotsky.shtml
To be sure, while buzzwords (such as “Big Data”) come and go (which, of course, is not to say that Big Data is not here to stay), in the coming years the ability to capture, analyze, store, and make fundamental decisions based on data, increasingly from myriad, unrelated sources, will only grow. While the commercial Internet has been around for at least 20 years, the next 20 years will be the “Internet of Things,” a world of smart, connected devices (sensors, etc), capable of autonomous learning. More to come on this subject, in 2013.
While 2012 is certainly not over, it’s time for top 10 lists. For example, here’s one from Information Management.
While I am tempted to put in my 2 cents, suffice it to say that Big Data made a big splash in 2012, and we’re only scratching the surface.
Travel is no small part serendipity. The same goes for finding a good travel book.
The Tao of Travel, Paul Theroux includes the following selection from Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad (1869):
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on those accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
My interest was piqued. I had known for some time that Twain was a prolific travel writer. I had read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn many years ago, but that was about it. “Mark Twain: American Radical” (Christopher Hitchens), included in Arguably, a superb collection of essays, further piqued my interest and persuaded me that a “condensed and potted summary” of this “wickedly close observation of the habits and mentality of the common American pilgrim,” simply will not do. By way of background, The Innocents Abroad details Twain’s “pleasant excursion” to Europe and the Holy Land, in June-November, 1867, on the Quaker City.
I found Mark Twain’s San Francisco (Taper) in a book stand in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, while waiting for my lunch order from Boccolane, a salumeria.
And, finally, I read The Innocents Abroad, which was included in The Complete Travel Books of Mark Twain (ed. Charles Neider).
As many know, Twain was an inveterate traveler, having crossed the Atlantic some 27 times. The Innocents Abroad was his first travel book. Twain was 32 when he embarked on the journey that would be the substrate for the book. The writing has a bounce to it. As Neider puts it, and I would tend to agree, it sings. It is keenly attuned to the travails of travel. It is irreverent. It is not exactly politically correct. It digresses, but, usually, to the benefit of the reader. Point in fact is Twain’s exposition on the origin of the name of Lake Tahoe, to which, incidentally, Lake Como holds no water. “Fumigated, According to Law” (Chapter 20) is a romp. “The Slandered Dogs of Constantinople” (Chapter 34) is illustrative of the book’s atmospherics. Like most things, The Innocents Abroad is to be experienced first hand, and consistent with Hitchens’s admonishment, I will end my summary here.
The other work in The Complete Travel Books of Mark Twain is Roughing It (1872), his first domestic travel book.
Comments, and suggestions for exceptional travel writing, welcomed.
Why blog? There are, at least the last time I checked, at least 150 million blogs. There are more than a few blogs that are, well, about nothing. Mine is about affinities. What’s the proper gestation period for a blog? When is a post well-baked? Pasternak starting writing Dr. Zhivago in the 1920s, before publishing it in 1958. Conversely, one sitting is probably not enough to flesh out ideas of any complexity. At the same time, it would be a mistake for a blog to take itself too seriously.
In my latest post (“Privacy”), I was remiss not to include one of my favorite quotes from 1984: “Privacy, he said, was a very valuable thing. Everyone wanted a place where they could be alone occasionally. And when they had such a place, it was only common courtesy in anyone else who knew of it to keep his knowledge to himself.” He, if you may recall, is Mr. Charrington, who rented to Winston the nondescript room in which he and Julia secreted themselves to avoid Big Brother, and is ultimately revealed to be a member of the Thought Police and responsible for Winston’s and Julia’s arrest and ultimate demise.
It’s been some time since my last post. I’ve been working on another article on Big Data. Earlier this week, I presented at the Digital Hollywood Conference, as part of a panel titled: “Keepin’ it Legal – Online Marketing – Basics for Developing Legally Compliant Sweepstakes, Contests, User-Generated Content Promotions, and Complying with the FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines.” On October 30, I will be part of an international panel presenting a webinar on “Negotiating Trans-Border Licenses.” And, that should be it for a while.
In the past few weeks, my morning runs have taken me to the San Andreas Trail (San Bruno, California), Santa Cruz, and Marina Del Rey. 2.6 miles long, the San Andreas Trail is part of the Crystal Springs Regional Trail system. To the right of the trail, going south, you’ll see San Andreas Lake and Sweeney Ridge, some distance beyond which is the Pacific Ocean. My run in Santa Cruz took me from Moran Lagoon, past Pleasure Point, to the Capitola Wharf (1857), and back. There is not much to say about Marina Del Rey, except that, given my early start, daylights savings cannot come soon enough. It’s also time to invest in some new running shoes. If you’re looking to invest in a book on running, seriously consider Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (McDougall), which, at the very least, will temporarily convince you to forsake your well-cushioned running shoes and perhaps even run barefoot.
Lastly, while on the subjects of books, I’m enjoying Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, which details his travels in the summer of 1867 to Europe and the Holy Land. This comes on the heels of Mark Twain’s San Francisco (Taper), which contains his writings as a correspondent in the area. In essence, Twain wrote for whatever outfit would take his stories. The resulting collection, which includes “How to Cure a Cold” (1863), “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865) and, my favorite, “Important Correspondence” (1865) is entertaining, and, like Innocents Abroad, at times a romp.
Sitting on my table, also, is a collection of short stories from Chekov. While Twain (1835-1910) and Chekov (1860-1904) were, in essence, contemporaries, their writings could not have been more different. Twain was a humorist. His writings uplifted. Chekov trawled for bottom, or having found bottom, seemed content to write about it. “Gusev” is typical. Its gist is that the sea (a metaphor for life) has no “sense or pity,” but can be incredibly, and inexplicably, beautiful and regardless of whether you’re “protest incarnate” like Pavel Ivanych or a supplicant like Private Gusev, your ultimate fate will be the same. Fair enough, but for now I’ll stick to Twain and his feeble attempts to find a bar of soap in France.
For some time, privacy has been top of mind. I address mobile privacy (and other topics related to mobile devices and technologies) in the following presentation given earlier today: http://www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Mobility_in_the_Enterprise_Hot_Topics_in/_/N-4kZ1z12osv?ID=161829
Justice Harlan’s concurrence in Katz (1967) sets forth the standard: “My understanding of the rule that has emerged from prior decisions is that there is a twofold requirement, first that a person have exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy and, second, that the expectation be one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.‘” The first prong is simple enough. The second, less so. In his article titled “The Dead Past” (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 117), Chief Judge Kozinski, U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, hits the nail on the head: “In a world where you can listen to people shouting lurid descriptions of their gall-bladder operations into their cell phones, it may well be reasonable to ask telephone companies or even doctors access to their customers.” In other words, how much we do really value our privacy, and if we don’t really value it that much, why should we expect government to protect it? Regrettably, I only stumbled upon the article after my presentation, while researching a new article that I am writing on “Big Data.” At any rate, be sure to read it, as it will, at the very least, prove illuminating, and entertaining.
In preparation for a talk that I gave in June 2011 on use of social media in the enterprise, I had read that there were about 150 million blogs. Today, I’m quite sure the number is north of 200 million. The contents of the blogs are, by definition, public. It’s impossible to scrub or sanitize the Internet. For this reason, while this is my personal blog, I have been reticent to share any “private” information, aside from the books that I have read or am reading, the places I have visited, and some of my hobbies and interests. Of course, in our culture, if there is such a thing, (over)sharing is encouraged. TMI. Where do you draw the line?
No one can reasonably expect to have his or her car tracked by a GPS device for 30 days. 5 Justices in Antoine Jones (2012) so agreed. What about for 3 days, by virtue of pings to a cell phone, and in particular, its GPS capabilities (Skinner, 2012)? How would you feel about the collection of 60 days’ worth of historical cell site data (In re Application of the United States of America for Historical Cell Site Data, 2010), which was just argued in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit 2 days ago? Whether it’s GPS data or cell site data, we return, invariably, to the basic question: how much does privacy really matter to us?
The fog has rolled in, and Indian Summer, in San Francisco, has come to a temporary end. In “Early Risings As Regards Excursions to the Cliff House” (1864), Mark Twain writes: “I have no opinion of a six-mile ride in the clouds; but if I ever have to take another, I want to leave the horse in the stable and go in a balloon.”
In response to my previous post (which included a discussion of The Tipping Point (Gladwell)), a reader suggested reading Robin Dunbar’s, How Many Friends Does One Person Need? I will.
Once in a while, I find it useful to re-read a book, as I am now doing with The Tipping Point. It’s unlikely that I captured all of its meaning during the first reading. Or, it could be that I just need a refresher. My views may have changed on the general subject. The world changes, as we are forced to write our own afterwords. In other words, it’s never the same road twice.
I am thoroughly enjoying Mark Twain’s San Francisco (Taper). “Washoe – Information Wanted” is particularly rich. There, Twain is “asked” to opine on the history of Nevada (Washoe), the character of its climate, the “productions of the earth,” whether or not it is healthy, and so on. On the history of Nevada: “There is a popular tradition that God almighty created it; but when you come to see it, William, you will think differently.” On the character of its climate: “It has no character to speak of . . . . ” On the productions of the earth: “You mean in Nevada, of course.” On the subject of health: “However, the doctors are about as successful here, both in curing and killing, as they are anywhere.” Of course, Twain is just having fun, which makes this article, and others (please see below), that much more enjoyable.
“How to Cure A Cold” (1863) is equally entertaining. “Early Rising as Regards Excursions to the Cliff House” (1864), which debunks Benjamin Franklin’s adage, is likewise a gem. Having grown up less than a mile from the Cliff House, I can certainly relate to the fog and the cold, although none of my visits were as early in the morning as Twain’s, which started at 4am.
Regrettably, Twain did not have a chance to visit Ocean Beach, home to the Cliff House, on a day like today, one of the first of our Indian Summer, the subject of my previous post. At the beach, it must have been at least 85 degrees. Perfect visibility. The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
I have been grazing on quite a few books lately, including Arguably (Hitchens), The Tao of Travel (Theroux), Stories (Chekov, translated by R. Pevear and L. Volokhonsky), The Tipping Point (Gladwell), Peninsula Trails (Rusmore, Spangle, and Crowder), Mark Twain’s San Francisco (Taper), and In the Garden of Beasts (Larson). I’d like to credit my eclectic tastes and/or omnivorous curiousity, but, more likely, it’s just lack of commitment and/or focus. At any rate, there are only so many hours in the day, and, thankfully, only so much time on the commuter train.
In Arguably, Hitchens writes: “Commenting on Socrates’s famous dictum about the worthlessness of the unexamined life, the late Kurt Vonnegut once inquired: “What if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?” This is, of course, an extremely powerful question. There is a limit to introspection, a law of diminishing returns. Just do it? Better sometimes to focus on the banalities (which, depending on your point of view, may not be banalities at all), such as going for a morning run, raking the leaves in the back patio, and so on. Take a break from ruminating on the differences between a job, vocation, career and calling. (Twain’s vocation was that of a writer; Chekov practiced as a medical doctor before devoting himself to writing.) Like many (most?), I’m guilty of trying to divine meaning where there is none.
It’s hard to believe that The Tipping Point is now 12 years old, 4 years before the founding of the social network and sometime before the emergence of Web 2.0, viral marketing, etc. At the very least, it was prescient. I presume it found its way into my library sometime after I read a chapter (or two) of it for a “Leadership” class in business school. Query, of course, whether or not leadership can be taught, but, at a minimum, the theory was interesting. For some reason, The Tipping Point made a bigger impression on me when I first read it. While, today, I still view it as something more than a nice summary of the social psychology class I took in 1993, it has lost its lustre, not so much because the concepts of, e.g., ”The Law of the Few”, and in particular, “Connectors, Mavens, and Salesman,” are any less interesting, but because my views on the subject have evolved, as views sometimes do. Put simply, I view the book now more as entertainment than something you can apply in your everyday life.
Indian summer, in Northern California, usually begins in the middle of September and ends sometime in November. This year, it is late, although with a warm spell forecasted to start in the next day or so, we should have our first taste any time now. While during the summer San Francisco is considerably cooler than the Pensinsula and North and East Bays, during Indian summer it is sometimes San Francisco that is warmer than outlying areas. The fog is gone, and the days are still long. Now is the best time to visit the San Francisco Bay Area. Having lived in the Bay Area for past 30+ years, the beginning of Indian summer is also a marker. It reminds me that the year is quickly coming to a close and causes me to assess my goals for the remaining 3 or so months. At the very least, I will need to finish a book or two on my current reading list.
I am reminded of a very unsettling 5 seconds on a transcontinental flight last month, where the autopilot, for no apparent reason, disengaged, and no one, literally, was flying the plane, which pitched right and then down, until the pilot assumed control and/or the backup autopilot engaged. For me, this was a first, although I was assured by a flight attendant that this is not unusual. On the whole, computers, I would have to assume, fly planes better than humans, but if something goes wrong, we need to be able to respond, quickly and appropriately.
In recent posts, I have, for the most part, written about topics that are not related to technology law or business matters. To that end, I have blogged about books, history, art, travel, running and other unrelated subjects. So, consistent with the original theme of this blog, here’s a link to my recent article on Cloud SLAs (Service Level Agreements/Arrangements): http://www.cioinsight.com/c/a/Expert-Voices/Cloud-SLAs-Does-Your-Deal-Leave-You-Exposed-379610/
Technologies have evolved, and so have Cloud SLAs, which basically address what happens when the cloud service (ERP, CRM, email, etc.) is down. SLAs are of course not a silver bullet, so care should be taken to understand what they do and do not cover and the specific remedies if there are any covered outages. Despite, or because of, the current crop of SLAs, it’s also critical to have in place, and to test periodically, a contingency plan in case there’s an outage. Similarly, if the “autopilot” disengages, would you know what to do to mitigate the effects of the outage, access your data, and to have the service be brought on-line as soon as possible?