Cumulus Partners

9. December 2012 07:39

Reading two cool books on data and decision making ...

9. December 2012 07:39 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Well, I'm not exactly sure that Nick Taleb would agree that his new book, Antifragile, is about data or decision making, but I'm seeing everything these days through those lenses, and Taleb's book certainly fits into the big data analytics worldview -- at least from my perspective. The other book I'm reading is The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail -- But Some Don't by Nate Silver. Both books are really about fate, fortune and understanding the future. And both were recommended to me by a client, which is a nice side benefit of working with smart people who care about the underlying laws of the universe.



23. October 2012 02:10

A deeper dive into the big data dimension!

23. October 2012 02:10 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Heading off to Strata Conference + Hadoop World in NYC this week. Should be valuable, and interesting. I've been writing about "big data" for a while now, but an upcoming gig puts me deeper into the weeds of real-time big data analytics. I'm looking forward to learning more, meeting a bunch of really smart people, and then turning all of my experiences into a series of seamless narratives. Of course, I also hope the snacks are good ...

1. July 2012 16:15

Meanwhile, back in the hall of mirrors ...

1. July 2012 16:15 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

As a parent, I approached Elizabeth Kolbert's excellent article in the New Yorker about spoiled children with a reasonable degree of trepidation. I mean, who wants to read more about the awful failure of our generation to produce kids who are as perfect as we were?

Like all of Ms. Kolbert's articles, this one was lucid, entertaining, and frightening. About halfway though, however, I had the distinct feeling that I was trapped in an echo chamber, or perhaps a hall of mirrors. Older generations always find fault with the habits of younger generations, and the Baby Boomers are no different in this respect. What's odd is how we've blamed ourselves for the alleged flaws and shortcomings exibited by our children as they face one of the most difficult periods of social transformation since the Industrial Revolution.

People are going to look back at the early 21st century and wonder how anyone kept their head screwed on straight. I have complete faith in the ability of my children and their pals to negotiate the twists and turns of whatever lies ahead. And I have no doubt that the future will be difficult and dangerous because that's the nature of the future. The past is always less dangerous because it's dead and buried. 

I counsel my children to enjoy the present, seize the day, and cherish the moment. I also advise them to follow the timeless motto of the Boy Scouts: "Be prepared."  


22. May 2012 03:18

If a tree falls in the forest ...

22. May 2012 03:18 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

I recommend reading John Stepper's excellent new post, "Your best use of social media may not require a single post." Although John's post is about regulated industries such as banking, it touches on an area that many social media professionals find ... touchy.

Here's the rub: Ask most social media pros how they judge the success of a post and they'll tell you by the number of comments that it generates. Many people consider comments to be a valid proxy for engagement and interest.

Personally, I don’t believe that comments are a valid proxy for engagement or interest. The content you post has intrinsic value whether lots of people or few people — or no people — reply. Not every piece of information you post has to inspire a dialogue to get the job done.

Seems to me like a variant on the old, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it fall, does it make a sound?” Yes, of course it makes a sound, and yes, when you post content on a social collaboration platform, that content has value — even if it does not result in a social conversation that can be tracked and quantified.

10. April 2012 08:34

Flying into the cloud

10. April 2012 08:34 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

So it looks like HP is going into the public cloud business. Can't hurt, I suppose. There's still plenty of room for competition, so it makes sense for HP to join the party. Ed Oswald has a good post about it in betanews. I don't think the news will rock the industry, but it's another data point in the slow march toward broader acceptance of the public cloud as a legitimate part of the IT infrastructure universe.

16. February 2012 05:46

Very nice interview with John Glenn

16. February 2012 05:46 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Definitely worth watching ... I remember listening on the radio as Friendship 7 orbited the Earth. We didn't care that the Soviets had already send cosmonauts into orbit -- we were delighted by our achievement, and we knew that more successes would follow. Unlike the Soviets, who cloaked their space program in secrecy, ours was wide open and transparent. We all knew that Glenn was experiencing problems with his heat shield, and we prayed that nothing would go wrong. It was an exciting, exuberating time -- and we loved every minute of it! Back then, we believed that all of us had "the right stuff!"

2. February 2012 17:29

Spare us the analogies ...

2. February 2012 17:29 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Writers love using analogies. Like shortcuts or quantum wormholes, analogies can get you very rapidly from Point A to Point B in a manuscript. In conversations, however, they are much less effective. Instead of helping you communicate, they tend to add layers of abstraction onto a process that is already abstract.  Nobody likes feeling confused, and abstractions tend to have that effect when they're used in a conversation.

My point? Leave analogies to the writers. We're trained to use them safely. When you're having a chat, speak in concrete terms. The people you're chatting with will appreciate it!  

13. September 2011 17:16

Getting ready for writing by reading

13. September 2011 17:16 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

My dad once told me that writers write. As a professional writer, I would add that writers also read. Whenever I begin a new writing project, the first step always involves reading -- and lots of it. At the moment, I'm writing a book on leadership and performance improvement for a new client. It's aimed at a general audience, so I'm reading a bunch of titles that would normally be off my radar. For instance, I'm reading "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren because it's divided into many short chapters and people seem to like that kind of approach. I'm also reading "Strengths Finder 2.0" by Tom Rath, which is a popular self-help book. And I've picked up a copy of "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" by T. Harv Eker, to see how he integrates the book's message with his training business.

For ideas and inspiration, I'm reading "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell, "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley, "Nonzero" by Robert Wright, "Drive" by Daniel Pink and "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Arielly. These are exceptional books, and I recommend them highly.

For me, one of the best parts about starting a new writing project is that it gives me an excuse to go out and buy a new bunch of books. I need to see that stack of books sitting on my desk ... that's how I know I've got to start writing again! 

27. July 2011 02:55

Seeing the colors of numbers ...

27. July 2011 02:55 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Jolie O'Dell recently posted in Facebook that she sometimes has a difficult time understanding people on the phone. Her post sparked a lively conversation, and it reminded me of the strange way that our brains work. For example, when I was a child, the numbers one through twenty and most letters of the alphabet (and even some words) had distinct personalities, genders and colors in my mind whenever I saw them ... now I just see numbers, letters and words ... it's OK, but sometimes I miss my childhood ability to create vivid hallucinations around graphic images ... and around music ... on the other hand, I'm happy it doesn't happen while I'm driving or trying to finish a manuscript on deadline ...

12. June 2011 07:36

Last week Hartford, this week Boston

12. June 2011 07:36 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Had a wonderful time at the CT Business Expo in Hartford. Enjoyed chatting with lots of very nice people who seemed really interested in learning about social media. A big "thank you" to the excellent sound techs who loaned me a laptop for my afternoon workshop on "industrial strength" social media strategy. The room was hot and the audience was tired, but the PowerPoint slides kept them awake. Sometimes PowerPoint is a good thing, after all!

This Tuesday, David B. Thomas and I will be leading a panel at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. Should be fun!