My Tribute to Kethan | Arriving in Malaysia

My beloved Kethan lost his fight to leukemia on July 11 this past summer. It is why I am here in Malaysia, and it is why I am traveling to Penang on Friday to speak at TEDxWeldQuay on Saturday. In many ways, this is a very private story, which is why I am so thankful to the family to be able to tell it so very publicly. I speak so loudly for Kethan, because I know that what he taught me can inform us all…  Continue Reading →

My Tribute to Kethan | Making a Difference

As I shared in my recent post about my TEDx world tour for Kethan, this journey is sparked by the deep impact that Kethan and my wife, Maureen’s, cancer have had on my life, my work and my soul.

It is my deep belief that the “Power of People. Connected.” will be vital to finally dethroning the “Emperor of all Maladies,” as Sidhartha Mukherjee calls it in his book of the same name. As I make my journey from Malaysia to Rome to Dublin, it is my hope that my TEDx talks will spark a desire in each of us to follow our souls and our hearts to be inspired like I have been by Kethan. That inspiration can and will take many different forms. We can each be a pebble that creates our own ripple effect in the pond of humanity.

For me, there are a few causes or ponds into which I am throwing my pebble in the fight with cancer. Continue Reading →

My Tribute to Kethan | EMail to LLS & Pfizer Friends

Following is an email I shared with Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Pfizer Friends after Kethan’s memorial service:

Kethan Kumar, my little brother and our honored hero lost his fight last Thursday after a long battle with leukemia.

It was wonderful to have so many LLS and Team in Training friends at the service, and I know that Jennifer’s presence from Pfizer was especially heart warming to the family. I am also very thankful to Deb Barker and the South Central Texas chapter for hosting the reception following the service. It was beautiful and gave time for all to share in fellowship and swap stories about Kethan. In addition to tons of flowers, posters for personal notes and a great slideshow of Kethan from birth to today, there was a someday is today poster of Kethan, Sumi and Lokesh from Kethan’s Story on display (the specific frame is from about 3:41; they are all smiling) … along with John Walter’s (CEO of LLS) wonderful and thoughtful letter.

Rainbows were present throughout the service, and I have posted to my Facebook a picture of a rainbow that appeared over his home last Thursday, literally as God was welcoming home his angel. One of his teachers lives in the neighborhood and captured it. Kethan’s service also ended with a rainbow, and pictures of all the kids letting go over their colorful balloons is also on my Facebook page. We counted down from 11 (Kethan’s age) to 1 and then released the balloons, along with silent wishes, prayers and hopes.

The Physical Geography of Companies (Part 3 – Soundscapes)

I write this final part of the series on the physical geography of companies in the study of Francis Alÿs’s late father just west of Brussels (a photo of this study appears in a post from CLOUD Finance last year).  It has been a busy few weeks since Part II of the Physical Geography of Cities, with meetings in New York City, the commencement of SWIFT’s digital identity incubation project in Mountain View, CA and the past week in Munich, Germany where I was on two panels (one planned, one unplanned) at the European Identity Conference.

As I mentioned in Part II of the Physical Geography of Companies, I was stunned when I began reading some of the philosophy behind Francis’s work, since it so closely aligned with my own thinking that surrounds CLOUD.  As I toured the opening of his exhibition at MOMA with my wife, his brothers and sisters from Belgium and the rest of his family, I was struck with the same feelings I had when seeing his exhibition at Wiels in Brussels.  Quite simply, wow.  The ways in which “one of the greatest artists of our generation” expresses his work is simply spectacular.  I do not paint on the same canvas, but I hope CLOUD will paint with the same spirit (le meme coeur).
The ideas for Part III have been stewing for a while and may be the last post on the philosophy behind CLOUD for a few months, as we tackle the practical aspects of bringing this vision to life through various emerging projects we are starting with a number of terrific partners.  However, it seemed necessary to put forward some additional thoughts on the connected company and more importantly the impact of connected people. The inspiration of a beautiful day in the countryside west of Brussels could not be a more spectacular setting by which to capture these thoughts. 
You will recall that I ended Part II teasing out the idea of the frame in which we “paint” our companies. The difference between the mediums of a painting and a soundscape are a fascinating tableau by which to tease out how the connected company and the connected economy must work as we move into the future.  This quote from David Toop in “Sound Passing Through Circumstances” helps carry this idea forward:
Artists who begin with the visual are confronted with the challenge of the system within which they work, in which the visual can can stand for status and containment.
That’s just it.  Our current companies are much more like the work of a European master, painted on the static fabric of the canvas and then framed appropriately and hung on a wall.  Even the masterpieces of the great European composers are in many ways “framed” similarly, using sheet music, rather than a canvas, and then reproducing these notes through a conductor and their orchestra without variation.  The urban soundscapes that Francis Alÿs and others capture are not planned for ahead of time; they emerge:
Sound has no sightline, no fixed point in space, no duration beyond its own activation, no single moment of existence, no edges, but only cumulative moments of disappearance at the edge of its reach.  Its place as a mark within (the) temporal dimension and the mapping of space can be a mixture of the precise and ambiguous: a bell rings, the clock chimes, a cannon fires a shot.
The whole point of CLOUD is make these types of random connections possible on the Internet.  Right now, we “frame” our connections on the Internet by painting inside the lines of a web page.  The future of Dave Gray’s connected company, the connected economy and beyond may well be found in the urban soundscapes discussed by David Toop and captured in some ways by Francis’s work now on display at both the MOMA and at PS1, an extension of MOMA in Queens.  However, even Francis notes, that the very capturing of these “soundscapes” and his “walks” reduce the transient nature of these furtive acts.  In his words, “the video (of such acts) can flatten any sense of emergence.”
Just like new mediums allow for new types of art, it is our hope that the new language of CLOUD for the Internet, CTML, will allow for all of as connected people to create new works of art, too.  These new works of art will also force us to become comfortable in the idea that we may never actually ‘frame’ these masterpieces in some static form. Just like “sound passing through circumstances,” it may be our “walk” in the words and work of Francis Alÿs, that is our true and lasting art.

The Physical Geography of Companies (Part 2 – The City Motif)

On Tuesday, May 3, I will be at the opening of an exhibit at MOMA in New York City. I am excited about this particular opening because the artist is my wife’s cousin, Francis Alÿs.  Francis is Belgian but has had his home and studio in Mexico City for a number of years. Over the course of my 21 years of marriage to Maureen (cousin to Francis), I’ve had the pleasure of being with my wife’s family in Brussels many times and staying in Francis’ ‘apartment’ that he keeps there.

For me, Francis’ philosophy is as important an influence on my thinking as the visual impact of his work and his art.  Of particular note in this series on the physical geography of companies is a particular quote from a conversation between David Toop and Francis Alys recorded in London, July 6, 2005.  The quote relates to the dynamic of a city, which if you read Part 1 of the Physical Geography of Companies, is a compelling thought framework for the evolving connected company: Continue Reading →

The Physical Geography of Companies (Part 1 – Overview)

During SWIFT’s Sibos conference in Amsterdam last October, I wrote a piece that looked at the physical geography of finance and how currency and other monetary instruments shape this industry.

Since the Social Business Summit in Austin, hosted by the Dachis Group on March 10, I’ve been thinking a lot about Dave Gray’s initial installment on the connected company… I’ve wanted to contribute substantively to the dialogue but something has been nagging at me… and it finally hit me this week… our view of companies is similarly constrained by their physical geography. Continue Reading →

CLOUDDimensions: WHERE I Am™

Places, the recent introduction by Facebook, has opened another vector in the ongoing privacy discussion, a discussion sparked not only by Facebook, but by Google and others.  Google’s Street View is another actor in this on-going privacy debate and Eric Schmidt’s own comments about privacy reveal a distorted view of the key component of the Internet, ME.

WHO, WHAT, WHEN & WHERE in World of ME 1.0

As was mentioned in yesterday’s post on CLOUD’s Dimensions, Who, What, When and Where look different in a world of ME 1.0, as opposed to a world of Web 2.0.  This post looks specifically at one of these four axes, WHERE I Am™, and provides more detail on CLOUD’s thinking on this particular dimension.  To frame our discussions on dimensions, the diagram to the left will become more prevalent in CLOUD’s public facing conversations about its work.  In this case, WHERE I Am is shaded to indicate that for the purposes of this conversation, WHERE is a fixed vector or axis.

As one unpacks the idea of WHERE I Am, there are actually several components acting in concert.  There is, of course, my physical presence, but there is also the dimension of geography. WHERE I Am is actually a combination of two places:  mine and the geographic location I happen to be occupying at any given moment.  With or without ME, the geographic location still exists.   Continue Reading →

When Standards Interact: A CLOUD-Inspired Future for XBRL

During a recent trip to Seattle, I had the pleasure of sitting down for lunch with Charlie Hoffman, father of XBRL. Paul Wilkinson, Chief Strategy Officer for CLOUD and former Sr. Adviser to Chairman Cox at the SEC, had introduced us, and we’ve had a few good phone conversations over the past year about CLOUD and XBRL.

During our lunch, Charlie had an interesting reaction to CLOUD, describing it as the “logical model for the semantic web.” That lunch conversation, plus my reading of his and Liv Watson’s excellent book, “XBRL for Dummies,” have sparked some interesting thoughts about ways in which CLOUD and XBRL might interact in practical ways.

Continue Reading →

Beyond Schools: A New Foundation for Education in the 21st Century

Originally published in the Texas Lyceum Journal during their 21st Public Conference in November 2006, “Harnessing the Lightning: Economic Growth Opportunities for Texas,” this article not only addresses a different way of thinking about education but has many early seeds of what has evolved into CLOUD’s vision for the future of the Internet.

From the intro to the article:

Education is at a crossroads as our global economy and society undergo signifi- cant change. By shifting our thinking from institutions to individuals, Texas can be a true innovator as we go beyond schools and create a new foundation for education in the 21st Century. As the world flattens, so too must education. Linking this flattened system will al- low Texas to build a true talent pipeline that leverages our education assets in new ways and strengthens our future workforce and economic development. 

A copy can be downloaded here:  CLOUD Education (Beyond Schools – A New Foundation)