Research, Technology, and Teamwork blog by Susie Wee
Susie shares her thoughts about research, technology, teamwork, and great user experiences from her perspective as the CTO of Client Cloud Services; as the former VP of the HP Experience Software Business; as the former director of the HP Labs Mobile and Media Systems Lab; and as a player, captain, and former coach of team sports. She also shares some career tips she picked up along the way. Susie's personal blog is at http://www.susiewee.com/blog .

Ten Tech Thoughts for the 2010's


New Year’s Day is always a time for reflection, especially when the new year ends in a 0. This morning I tweeted some tech thoughts I have on the 2010’s. I’ll follow up with blog posts dedicated to some of these topics. In the mean time, here are some of my first tweets for the new decade.


 



  1. The 2000’s: From Y2K to the geo-social-mobile web.

  2. The 2000’s and 2010’s: Search engine showdowns. Browser showdowns.

  3. The 2010’s: Fight of the Operating Systems!

    • Open Source OS’s or S.O.S.?



  4. The 2010’s: Rapid churn: in devices, in OS’s, in services, …

    • The 2010’s: Innovation in devices and devices+services. The emergence of the Client Cloud.



  5. The 2010’s: Devices get more senses. And services learn to use them.

  6. The emergence of client-cloud experiences: 2009: Mobile apps improve mobile web experiences. The 2010’s: PC apps improve PC web experiences.

    • 2010: Apps or browsers? In mobile? On PCs?

    • The 2010’s: Great strides in user experiences.



  7. 2009-2010: From notebooks to netbooks. 2010-2011: From netbooks to notebooks.

  8. The 2010’s: The rise of the platforms.

    • 2010: The year that many will realize that they are better as a platform.

    • The 2010’s: Better off as a platform: Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Microsoft, Google, …

    • The 2010’s: Social capabilities are built into the fabric of the internet.



  9. The social web: 2008: Finding your old friends. 2009: Meeting new friends & followers. 2010: Converting your followers into friends.

  10. The 2010’s: Immersive multimedia experiences… for entertainment and communication.


 


Well, that’s my tweetburst for this New Year’s morning. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which do you think are most interesting? Which do you agree/disagree with? What would you add to the list?


 


Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!


 


From cameraman to camerawoman in NIR imaging research

In the world of image processing research, it is important to have standard test images so people can compare their results. The cameraman image is a test image that has been used for decades. It can be found in many image processing textbooks and homework problems.



The Cameraman image is widely used as a test image for image processing research.


Imaging and photography has come quite a long ways since then. Just for fun, here are a couple pictures I took during my trip to Cairo Egypt for ICIP 2009 and a brief introduction to some research that Professor Sabine Süsstrunk presented on Near-Infrared Imaging to improve digital photography in the years to come.


Professor Sabine Süsstrunk does research at EPFL in her Images and Visual Representations Group on high dynamic range imaging using visible and near-infrared (NIR) spectrum. She takes two pictures of a scene. First, she takes a "normal" picture which captures the visible spectral components of the scene. Then, she uses special NIR filters on her hacked camera to capture the NIR spectral components of the scene. The NIR spectrum does better on a hazy day because it does not get scattered as visible spectrum does.


A "normal" digital photograph uses color lenses to capture the visible color of a scene. NIR does not capture color, but it does capture high frequency components. So, it takes some fancy image processing on the normal and NIR-captured images to create nice high-dynamic range images. Take a look at Sabine's web page on NIR imaging to learn more and see actual improved images, and to hear it directly from the source.


When Sabine gets back to the lab she will process her pictures of the pyramids using her research techniques. We should be able to compare her pictures of the pyramids to mine. It was a nice hazy day, so we should see some nice improvements!
In the meanwhile, take a look at the pictures I took of Sabine taking her NIR pictures. Do you think we have a new camerawoman test image?



Camerawoman-1-small
Camerawoman-2-small

Top ten tips for doing business in Asia

The NY Times published an article about President Bill Clinton’s visit to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-il about releasing the two imprisoned American reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The result was simple and surprising- they were released! I found this article particularly interesting because it describes not only the result, but the approach that was used to achieve it. The article included the approach that was used for the meeting request and the meeting itself. As I read the article, I saw many parallels with the experiences that I have had when doing business in Asia. This post contains ten tips for doing business in Asia which I gleaned from this article and my experiences, which includes successes and failures.


Doing business in Asia is critical for every industry I can think of, but doing business in Asia is different from doing it in any other part of the world. In order to be effective in your career, you need to be aware of these differences.


For a little bit of background about me, while both of my parents are from Asia, I was born and raised in western NY with American friends who come from multi-generation American families, and English is the only language I speak fluently. In college and grad school some of my friends were Asian-American and Asian. But when I started doing business in Asia I had as much to learn as anybody else. Since then, I’ve had research collaborations and business interactions in Japan, China, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan and I’ve managed teams in Japan and China. While I bumped heads a lot at the beginning and still manage to bump heads every so often today, I have also built some of my closest working relationships there, and some of these working relationships have evolved into close friendships. But despite all this, I know I still have a lot to learn.


Back to my tips... In my mind, the biggest thing to remember is that being effective at doing business in Asia requires building credibility, building relationships, and building trust. With each interaction you can build this up or tear it down, but if you achieve trust then you will be able to accomplish more than you could ever imagine.


Without further ado, here are my top ten tips for doing business in Asia.



  1. Plan your meetings carefully with an insider who knows and understands the people, the relationships, and the culture.

    • Do not presume that you understand the culture; there are many levels of subtlety and depth that even the most well-studied and experienced foreigner will never understand.



  2. Plan meetings where you match the levels of the meeting attendees as much as possible. Send the meeting request to/from a well-respected person of the appropriate level.

  3. Be thoughtful, polite, and respectful at all times. This should be in the tone used in a meeting request, every interaction, the meeting itself, and the follow-up. Respect the people and their situation- there's probably a lot more going on there than you think.

  4. Be humble and avoid any hint of superiority or righteousness. You might be well-established in your own community, but when you are working in Asia you have to establish yourself in their community.

  5. Focus on building the relationship as much as achieving the goal.

    • Bonus tip: If you achieve trust in your relationship, then you will succeed.



  6. Read the smallest gestures (e.g., a light invitation, a small comment, or a small request) and reciprocate. This is a sign that things are going well.

  7. Provide a way for your counterpart to offer alternatives without saying No and without losing face. Conversely, provide a way for the host to end with a good result and save face.

    • Do not force him/her into a corner.

    • Do not force the conversation to go into other highly substantive or controversial discussions.

    • Do not force decisions to be made on the spot. He/she usually needs to consult with others to make decisions.



  8. Allow your counterpart to prepare for the meeting. Give him/her an opportunity to consult with others on the issue at hand before the meeting.

  9. Do not presume anything about anyone. The must unassuming-looking person in the room could be the most influential. You will never know.

  10. Accept that you may need multiple visits to achieve the desired outcome, as it will only come when you build the relationship, credibility, and trust. This may seem inefficient at first, but if you stick with it the result will be a working relationship and friendship that is stronger than you could ever imagine.


One thing I’d like to note is that while this post is called "Top ten tips for doing business in Asia", different Asian countries have very different cultures. For example, Japan and China are as different as France and Germany. But these tips should be universal and I’ll save some of the finer details I learned for later posts.


Finally, I’d like to thank my Asian collaborators from the past and present. You have been very patient with me through my mistakes and you taught me a lot, and we are friends and collaborators for life. Thank you!


What do you think of these tips? Do you have comments fom an Asian or non-Asian perspective? Do you have tips to add?

Social cloud technology in the fabric of the Internet

A shell for Twittertweetsh


Remember the good old days when you had a terminal screen and you typed ls, cd, and man? And, if you were a little more advanced, you might have used pushd, popd, cat, head, and tail. Well, there is a very alpha project called tweetsh. Tweetsh is a command-line shell interface for Twitter. It treats Twitter users/tweets as a big directory/file system and lets you access it with basic shell commands. Very cute and clever.


From what I can tell, this project is one guy in Amman-Jordan hacking for four days, so understandably there are still some bugs in it. But I think it's cool in that geeky sort of way, and TechCrunch thought it was noteworthy, too. And in the comments of the TechCrunch articles are a few other back-to-basics Twitter interfaces around such as a Ubiquity plugin for FireFox and a Twitter wrapper for emacs.


These are geeky cool, but I think they represent (or at least make me think about) a more significant trend. Let's take a closer look.


Technology, platforms, applications, and services for Social Networking


The computer was built on technology- computing and memory. The web was built on technology- computers, networking, and protocols. Blogging was built on more technology- web and syndication. All of these were created with the intention of being platforms that other applications and services would be built on.


Social networking primarily has been built as a service and application (built on the web), e.g., MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. You could call them service platforms, because to varying degrees they are supporting APIs that other apps and services can be built on. I would say that of the four, Twitter takes the most platform-centric view from the UI level in that it made it easy for others to build user interfaces, applications, and services on top of it from the start. (Let's face it, tweetsh is actually a retro UI for Twitter.) Facebook (with Facebook Connect) and MySpace are gradually moving that way too. These are platforms at a service API level.


But now there is a more fundamental movement going on. Social networking and cloud services are being built into the fabric of Internet. More accurately, Social cloud technologies will be built into the fabric of the Internet.


Creating a stable social cloud technology platform for the Internet


Open protocols have been created for social networking and cloud services. For example, OpenSocial is a common API for your social network and RSS has a cloud element defined to support an rssCloud.


Note that these social cloud technologies are not new; it's just that they are coming to life and ready for widespread implementation and adoption. As social cloud technologies get adopted, they will create a stable technology platform that the developer community and industry can build and grow on.


Why now?


For a few reasons:



  1. There are enough users of social networking and there is enough evolution of the usage models to create the demand.

  2. There is enough services and applications and enough churn and instability in the industry to create the need for a stability and interoperability.


What does this mean?


This has a number of implications:



  1. It will become easier and more standardized for developers to build social networking cloud applications and services in a leveraged way.

  2. Social networking applications and services will become more interoperable.

  3. People will be able to have more control of their digital social networking lives.


Marhsall Kirkpatrick writes, Is a perfect storm forming for distributed social networking?


My answer is: Yes. And social cloud technology will be at the base of it.


What do you think? Is now the time for social cloud technology to be built into the fabric of the internet? What technologies are key to making the internet a stable social cloud technology platform?


For you tech historians and pundits out there, did I get this right or wrong?

Back from sabbatical: Blogging is back, but comments and subscribers are not

I took a sabbatical from blogging for the last 1.5 years. It was not because I was making a statement. It was not because I switched to a flashier tool. It was just because I took a job that was not very conducive to blogging. In essence, I was immersed in a business VP role and there were too many sensitive issues I would have had to navigate around, so this made it difficult to write posts. Now I'm in a CTO role which I find to be much more conducive to blogging.


Since I had a year and a half away from the blogosphere, I had the opportunity to "see what changed" now that I'm back. I looked for my blogging tools tucked away in various corners of the internet, afraid of what I'd find as I reached into the cobwebs. Fortunately, or should I say unfortunately, I remembered most of my passwords. There they were, remnants of decayed accounts and dismal blog stats everywhere.


Regardless of my own situation, this did give me a chance to notice some significant changes that occurred in the blogging world over the last 1.5 years. Here are a few significant changes that I think are worth noting:



  • The players have changed.

  • The tools and methods have changed.

  • Subscribers are dead. Actually, they're not dead, but they've taken a new form.

  • Comments are dead. Actually, they're not dead, they just dispersed.

  • Services churn.


Let's look at these a little more closely with a little Q&A.


Where are the old players?


The most important part of jumping back into blogging is reading them. I scratched my head to find my blog readers (in those dusty deep dark corners). Some blogs had hundred and thousands of posts that I had to catch up on (or just mark as read). But, a number of the blogs were dead or on sabbatical, like mine. Many people were much more thoughtful than me, in that instead of just falling off the face of the blogosphere they actually said they were taking time off. And these were pretty well-reputed, prolific bloggers who had followers and live conversations going on all the time.


Takeaway: Many of the old players are on sabbatical.


What are the new tools?


So now I had to go out and find new blogs to read. I went through the cobwebs again, but I realized that some older tools, like blog readers, seemed a bit stodgy and linear. The new way that I find and read blogs is by chasing a maze of links embedded in tweets on Twitter. Then, instead of subscribing to the blog's RSS or atom feed, I subscribe to the blog author's tweets.


Takeaway: Twitter is the new blog reader of 2009. Blog readers are dead… unless they evolve to incorporate Twitter… and they are doing exactly that.


Who are the new players?


So I twittered my way around the twitterverse which took me through part of the blogosphere and found some of the new players. I was pleasantly surprised to find the world of Gen Ys, also known as the 20-somethings, or the 80s (born in the 1980's, used in China). They're great. Honest, motivated, ambitious, and trying to make their way in this down economy. And there is this whole industry of career coaching- and yes, they're coaching each other. I'm pretty excited about this group and how they will change the world in their own ways.


Takeaway: The new players are Gen Y's who are about to step into their 30's.


Where are my subscribers?


Since I was away from blogging and because my blog address had changed (don't ask), I lost almost all of my subscribers. So, when I wrote a new post, I had to find a new way to let people know about it. What did I do? I used my swanky social networking tools to advertise it- I posted a link on Facebook and I tweeted a link on Twitter. While I don't have much of a Twitter following, my Facebook network is pretty rich. So, I did get a modest number of readers for my post.


Takeaway: Blog subscribers are gone. They are followers or friends instead.


Where have my comments gone?


As soon as I posted, I received a number of comments, but few appeared on my blog. Instead, the comments appeared on my Facebook page as Facebook comments. Also, one of my posts was forwarded, but not by a blog trackback, instead it was forwarded by a Twitter retweet. So, in essence, blog comments and trackbacks still exist, but they exist through other services such as Facebook and Twitter.


Takeaway: Blog comments have dispersed. They appear on Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed(++) instead.


Which service should I use? Who can I trust?


The other thing that is happening is that there are so many services and so much churn that the community doesn't know who to trust. Facebook bought FriendFeed. Tr.im closed down, well, almost. People don't know where to turn. They don't know where to invest and store their digital life. This will guarantee that the level of change that occurred in my 1.5 year sabbatical will happen even quicker in the years ahead.


Takeaway: Services churn! People who want to keep their digital lives (and their digital friends) will be responsible for carrying it forward themselves.


Is there any room for Old Timers?


Yes, there is a lot of room for the Old Timers. As the Gen Y's enter their 30's, they will have to interact with the 40-somethings, 50-somethings, and 60-somethings. They will look to the old-timers that carry wisdom and have maintained relevance to help them navigate in this new world. In many ways, the new world will be new. But in other ways, it will be back to the basics.


Takeaway: The wise and relevant old-timers will guide the young.



So that's my view on how blogging has changed in the last 1.5 years. Please wish me luck in finding my followers, friends, and comments.


What do you think? How has blogging has changed in the last 1.5 years?

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