Impossible Facebook and the Future of Social Media

Posted by Dr. James Canton on May 30, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Impossible to imagine that a billion dollar revenue based company that dominates social media and has over 900 million users has to endure all of this huge diversionary mirage about the dysfunction of their public offering. Whew!! There I said it.

Common wisdom is that drop in value has something to do with Facebook’s S1 public offering disclosures, their lack of desire to actually make money (please, does anyone actually believe this?). I cannot think that anything is farther from reality.

Facebook is developing, and I do mean developing a disruptive new business model that puts a value on connections, relationships, networks of communities. Over $1 million per 900 million. Over $3 Million per business. This is a new, yet to be proven business model.

So the fast R/evolution of web business is hard to see in real time. Microsoft dominated the desktop, Google blew up advertising, Apple conquered the apps world and now Facebook is a mega disruptor all over again dominating social media. This doesn’t mean there is lots of room in the business ecosystem for Twitter, Linked In, and others to play in the huge global web connected marketplace. Plenty of dinero. Plenty of time to grow new innovations with a long tail.

So back to Facebook. Impossible Facebook. Can they meet the mobile web challenge learning from Apple? Can they monetize advertising like Google has? I think they can and they can co-compete with other players.

Keep in mind that to 900 people today and over two billion people tomorrow, within five years, Facebook will be the Web for most people. Search, communicate, transact, locate and share all via Facebook.

So do I care that the stock is dropping? Or the valuation is questionable? No. This is a billion dollar company just growing up. Give it time, while your on Facebook or off Liking this or that.

Let’s let Mark show us what he can do. I bet he is a closet data scientist that has big plans for big analytics, big data and has a vision of the future of social media, maybe even the future of society and business.

Impossible Facebook is a fulcrum of change, electrifying the now and maybe the future of social media. Give them time to stretch and grow.

2012 Global Futures Forecast

Posted by Dr. James Canton on February 9, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

The Global Futures Forecast is a trend analysis of what’s coming this year from Dr. James Canton, the Institute for Global Futures. What’s on the horizon.

Just published at the Global Futures Forecast. Future of water, network agility, innovation, mobile, youth dissent, cyberhacking…

See for the full publication GFF 2012Future of Mobility

IBM’s Watson Challenge: Future Computing

Posted by Dr. James Canton on November 18, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

My friends at IBM research invited me and small group to the latest Watson Challenge at UC Berkeley and Stanford this week. I had a deep dive into the computing technology behind Watson and it was a exceptional.

Watson, named for the founder of IBM, was the computer that beat the World chess champ and recently became the winner over the humans on Jeopardy. Now Wellpoint the health care provider to 60,000 patients wants to hire Watson to do decision analysis.

I know what your thinking–HAL from 2001, the Matrix and Terminator’s Skynet cannot be far off. If we have Angry Birds will we have Angry Computers? This is a fair question. Luddites don’t unite just yet. There are legitimate concerns about supercomputers running our world in ways that humans do not approve of where humans are oppressed by computers. We are not there yet.

What the folks at IBM do get credit for is experimenting with inventing new ways to intelligently use data and computing to maybe, just maybe make the planet and our future a better place. Other then just making a commercial product they are making a profound contribution to computing technology but also are doing some Big Thinking about how we can use computers in health care, security, transportation and safety to better meet grand planetary challenges.

For this I give them lots of credit, willing to think big and apply computing to larger more holistic frameworks. If we are going to face the big challenges of our day and the future, Watson and computers and AI’s like Watson, who become, even evolve into true thinking machines with IDH Intelligence Different then Humans will make the difference.

Watson is a learning computer operating at 80 terabytes of power and 15 terabytes of memory. What makes Watson interesting is not the techno data but the combination of machine learning, natural language processing and reasoning programming. Watson is the beginning of a new more powerful era of thinking machines.

Is Watson a true AI, an artificial intelligence I asked the IBM team, is “he” capable do you think one day of self-awareness? maybe even consciousness? They don’t think Watson now or in the future will achieve self-awareness and after the deep dive into the technology behind Watson I agree.

AI, once known as the fifth generation of computing project ran into many barriers over the past 30 year of computing. Theoretically AI, thinking machines are possible and likely but not based on the still rudimentary computer tools we have today.

What future does Watson point to? Intuitive computing based on nanoscience-based computer chips, software that is genetic-inspired, Cloud Computing networks, quantum information systems and synthetic biology when mashed up will offer new hardware, software and computing ontologies that will transform the future of computing.

So real AI, that can advise us and invent new solutions for a planet in conflict dealing with poverty, explosive population, war, climate change and business requires a new computing model well beyond where we can can envision today. Are we there yet? No but we are on the way.

The exploration of evolutionary biology, as a computing platform is a direction I am interesting in exploring. Computers that use GA and GP, genetic programming and algo’s may hold the key to future computers.
Computing that is based on network cloud deployed anywhere AI, cloud based intelligence, with a personality, now that is coming.

If we are really going to make a better world we need next gen tools like Watson to help us get there. When Watson builds the next Watson then we will perhaps discover a new generation of post-human computing, built by computers that can help the humans figure this all out.
Stay tuned.

Steve Jobs Legacy: Making a Better World

Posted by Dr. James Canton on October 11, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Steve Jobs passing has touched millions and rightfully so. As an innovator he wrote the book. In my last posting I acknowledged the lessons I learned working with Steve and Apple. But now his death has stirred new awareness in me about him and his legacy.

Look around our world in our home, in our kids hands, in schools and more now in business–The Apple experience is pervasive in our world, not just the device of choice. Animation from Disney where Pixar lives to iTunes, a paradigm shifting new business model to the iPhone populate our lives across the world. But Steve was always about a bigger idea that was beyond selling stuff. He was always about putting tools into people’s lives to transform their world for the better. This was a fundamental part of Steve’s DNA. He was not just a great salesman, he was a reality-shifter. This is an alchemy quite different.

When we launched the Mac at Apple none of us including Steve Jobs or Woz had a clue how the world would embrace it. We were all nervous and excited. Not quite flying blind but not looking over our shoulders but into a unknown future. There had been recent computer failures by Apple. The media was not rooting for us. IBM and all of business had dismissed Apple. Many thought we were not ready for prime time.

Much has been made about that Apple never did in the early days consumer research which is not true. Steve was not a big fan but some of us with a background in business decided that this could be a learning opportunity. I ran the first focus groups on the Mac with doctors in 1983 bringing ten into Apple HQ to show them the Macs. They were impressed and actually looked at them as they would other medical or surgical tools. Being in charge of business and industries like medicine, I wanted to learn from them about the new Macs. Steve did not oppose things even when he was not fully in agreement.

At Apple, we thought we were doing very cool things with technology to inspire the creativity of the individual, not make a productivity machine or even to make money. We were empowering the world with new personal innovation tools. At least that was the big idea. At Apple, in 1984 we were infected by an electric excitement authored by Steve. He was the catalyst for and the Apple culture reinforced, shaped and nurtured about changing the world.

Steve was baby boomer like myself. Many boomers were influenced by the progressive politics of the 60’s, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the social awakening of the American youth, the civil rights movement and the human potential movement, from Fritz Pearls to Tim Leary. These cultural change forces were about making the world a better place. This was the social context, the culture of making the world a better place, challenging norms, challenging authority and ultimately changing the establishment (becoming the establishment) that Steve and the Boomers were shaped by. Not all of us drank the whole cool aid but Steve did and he, like all of us then was struggling to making a difference before we even knew what that was about.

Apple, in this way, was shaped by the culture of dissent, invention and the rationale challenge of creating an alternative to society’s norms. The Mac was designed to be a social and personal tool of transformation, not just a computer. Even today this is still not quite understood or dismissed as an exaggeration. To Steve and most of us in the early days at Apple, this was our creed.

The intro of theĀ  new Mac was made to media and analysts first before the public saw it in 1984. This was Steve’s idea. We needed a big buzz to promote the computer. So we placed the Mac’s, each one in their hotel rooms. When they came in before the unveiling of the next day there was a computer sitting on each of the desks in their hotel rooms. No manual, no directions, nothing, just the Mac sitting there like some sentient beast waiting to come alive.

The natural instinct was to touch the Mac which the analysts did. And then something strange happened. Something that even today is not well known but points us to the future of computing–the Mac came “alive” and spoke Hello. This was the first time a computer spoke to a human. This was the first intimate, very natural and intelligent communication between a human and a computer. All smart machines of the future will owe a legacy to the first speaking computer, the Mac that greeted the public in 1984.Putting a voice chip into the Mac was pure imagination. That was Steve.

I am sad about Steve’s passing because most of what I learned about technology, culture and business I learned first at Apple. I recall being asked what I was doing at Apple, rather then writing books about future trends and innovation and at 30 years old, with a new PhD, I felt I knew little about technology so was there to learn, explore, discover. I was there to be part of a revolution in culture that transcended computing. It was about then in 1984 and still is today in 2011, making a better world. Steve knew that and his gift was reminding us we are about bigger stuff–the stuff that makes a better world.

A year after the iPhone was introduced there was Steve holding up a billion dollar check he was paying out to iPhone developers. Steve had empowered again a new generation of entrepreneurs, with a new personal computing platform. Steve and Apple created a tsunami of innovation that went beyond business they transformed culture. And Steve’s legacy may continue not by Apple alone but by the millions of inspired individuals that are using and will use cool Apple products to make a better world.

We will never know what Steve could have done if he had more time to live. Would he have created a new generation of Apple TV app entrepreneurs? Would he have created cloud based super-cheap computers that would transform the economics of the world? Or would Apple computers be used to create a new super grid and deliver clean energy to millions?

One thing is for certain and that is that his memory should live on and inspire us all to create a better world, a world that meets with courage the grand challenges of the day. Steve would have wanted to see this new future.

Cloud Computing Futures and Big Data: What’s Next

Posted by Dr. James Canton on May 25, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Your going to hear more about cloud computing and big data impacting every organization and industry, especially government. This is the next evolution of network applications, mobile transactions and agile software services. The entire idea of information architecture, in a cloud computing future is coming very fast.

I have just given a series of keynotes to Cisco, EMC, IBM, Disney and Digital River. Everyone is embracing a cloud based strategy, why? cost-effectiveness of their IT spend and agility.

Business agility cannot evolve without IT agility. Write once, use everywhere. App’s that can be easily developed, deployed and delivered are the future and the future is now.

Now onto Big Data. I wrote a forecast on my website about the coming Digital Tsunami, the convergence of tech and applications, from media to logistics to health care to personal genomics–an explosion of data–100 exobytes is coming FAST. Are you ready? No one is.

The storage, use, distribution and capture of 100 exobytes is insanely huge. Pardon the Apple pun. Being a former Apple executive is part of my DNA. but Big Data is the use of huge peta and exabytes of data to better serve customers, find value, develop products, feed the planet, protect the environment–you name it.

So our future is the Cloud.
For more see

The Top 7 Strategies That Should Drive Cloud Computing

Posted by Dr. James Canton on April 23, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Recently I gave back to back keynote presentations to Disney, Cisco and soon IBM. Cloud computing was on the agenda. A few things to help you think strategy about the Cloud. For more on this see my website and on the home page I have a Future of Cloud Computing thought leadership article for you at

1. Consider a rationale and low impact transition strategy from your legacy infrastructure to the Cloud.
2. You have to be clear about the ROI on Cloud, why are you embracing this now/ What is the ROI?
3. I support Cloud Strategies but they must support and be driven by sound business strategy–not the other way around.
4. Keep in mind that a Cloud strategy should also support or better enable where you are going–how will the Cloud drive future value for customers, employees etc. You got to have a clear mission that validates the time, cost and resources.
5. The Cloud must support a mobile strategy which is essential to your future.
6. The Cloud must support a rich social media platform.
7. The Cloud must support security in the Cloud.

Get these right and you will be on your way to having a viable and rational Cloud strategy.

Stay Tuned