For reasons I still fail to comprehend, Yianis “the Modest” Varoufakis, still manages to surface in the media, either as a celebrity speaker or as a controversial author. But it is probably only in the UK, where his status has been recently elevated into that of an unlikely hero. More than a year after that horrendous decision of the British, and with no solid strategy in hand, it seems that many Brexiteers believe they could draw useful lessons from the negotiation between Greece and its EU and IMF creditors, Varoufakis led back in 2015.
Well, I have news for them. It failed. Miserably.
If you want to understand why, I highly recommend WSJ’s article “”What Britain’s Brexit Negotiations Can Learn From Greece and a recent LSE Discussion Paper “Why Grexit cannot save Greece (but staying in the Euro area might)“. The later is an excellent brief analysis on what the short, medium and long term problems Greece would face had we left the Eurozone under Varoufakis’s “inspired” plan B.
After endless discussions with British colleagues and friends I feel their frustration. Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.
We Greeks live with it for most of our lives.
Btw, if you want more read about where we stand at the moment in Brexit read the recent Guardian article: “UK’s approach to Brexit is ‘nostalgic and unrealistic’, says EU negotiator” (Guardian, 31/8/2017) and why “Brexit Is Beginning to Look Like No Brexit” (Bloomberg, 28/8/2017).
If you are in a hurry start from the links in BOLD.
Incredible Science: AI
- If this AI thing is new to you, maybe a non technical video from DAVOS 2016 will enlighten you: Key people from academia and industry discuss “The state of Artificial Intelligence“.
- Not everyone is partying with the prospect of more AI though. Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are not that thrilled. Read here why.
Looking for more?
- Check your knowledge on AI with Slate’s Quiz: “What Can Artificial Intelligence Actually Do?“
- If you’re up for a longer read, have a look at DeepMind’s CEO interview.
Modern Government & data
In the era of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, ODI (the Open Data Institute, UK) is making a very important argument on Data Infrastructure. What is it and who owns it? This argument is even more important as UK government is thinking of privatising the Land Registry, as it recently announced in the 2016 Budget.
And if you wonder how local governments can benefit from digital technologies then Nesta has a very comprehensive report for you: Connected Councils: A digital vision of local government in 2025. (Download the pdf here)
Nesta has also “5 ideas for renovating democracy“. May sound obvious but it’s governments we are talking about.
The power of Networks
Last but not least, a long but very concise presentation on Network effects (think Facebook, Airbnb, What’s App). What they are, why they are important, how they can help you in business. A highly suggested read.
I guess these are enough for the weekend!
The abundance of information and news is a fact. The difficulty we now face is how to pick up the ones that matter (for each one of us). Every day I get about 10 news bulletins from various sources including: The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, TIME, DW, BBC (mainly through their excellent tech shows: Click & Tech Tent), TechCrunch and Crunchable and of course many Linkedin groups or twits from people or organisations I respect and follow.
Usually all this stuff is piled up in my inbox and I go through it early in the morning or late at night, trying to identify those reads that actually mean something to me. I’m fascinated from technology and science, entrepreneurship, innovation and of course International relations.
So these are my picks for this week:
Deep Learning for Robots: Learning from Large-Scale Interaction; Posted on Tuesday, March 08, 2016; by Sergey Levine, Research Scientist on Google’s Reseach Blog. It is a great piece on how interconnected robots can learn and improve their performance through repetition. Neural networks and AI is here.
Now, speaking of AI, I cannot but jump to another company promising amazing change in human computer interaction. Check out Magic Leap and put them on your radar. I think we’ll soon hear more about them.
New kids on the block
Another start up to follow is LightSail. They are developing an adaptive literacy software, and managed to raise $11 million in a Series B round. Among the investor was Scott Cook, the co-founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Intuit (leading the round) and the Bezos Family Foundation.
This week the US government, announced a new initiative that gives access to local & federal datasets. The Opportunity Project, will allow developers to access under-utilised data to build new solutions. After Open Data maybe the next evolutionary step is the market of personal data. Although this is not new, Nesta (UK) has conducted some very interesting reports and they share their valuable insights. Read this post by John Davies to find out more.
Another report worth reading (only 26 well designed pages) would be “Research Software Sustainability“, Report on a Knowledge Exchange Workshop, by Simon Hettrick, of The Software Sustainability Institute.
Never Stop Learning
If you are looking for an intriguing listening, you can listen to “Blitzscaling” podcasts. This was an entrepreneurship class at Stanford presenting a strategy in which a company “pursues unusually high rates of growth in a way that’s tactically inefficient in terms of capital and other resources, but strategically essential to capitalizing on a large and attractive market opportunity.” You can find everything you may need here.
With so many examples of disruption in established sectors, we still haven’t seen any real revolution in education. Despite e-learning, MOOCs and so much tools, mainstream education (from K-12 to higher) still follows the same structure (lectures, assignments, exams). A new paper by Nesta discuss “The challenge-driven university: how real-life problems can fuel learning“. Inspiring food for thought.
It’s always good to remember people whose contribution to this world was far beyond their existence. One of them was Ray Tomlinson, who died on Sat March 5th, at the age of 74. He was the inventor of the email and of the @ symbol. He will not be forgotten. Read about how he died, but more importantly how he lived here.
I spent last Friday in Athens in a conference taking place for the first time in Greece. Agile Greece Summit 2015 was the first of its series in Greece and I do hope that more will come. Not only the speaker roaster sounded very promising on the announcement, but it proved an exciting one indeed. From Spotify to Swiss Postal services and from Vodafone to IBM, every session proved revealing.
I did not have the chance to follow every speaker since the programme was deployed into two parallel sessions, but I did manage to have a full day of interesting discussions, provoking arguments and inspiring ideas.
I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Spotify, on “Why autonomy is at the heart of agility”. Kristian Lindwall & Cliff Hazell talked about Spotify and the autonomy of every worker. You can get an idea of their talk from a previous presentation you can find here.
I liked the approach of Gunther Verheyen, from Scrum.org for scalling scrum, although before we scale scrum we first have to impelment it successfuly and to really hone it. If you are new to agile and scrum by the way, Scrum.org is an excellent starting point, which also offers a range of Scrum Courses and Certifications.
Ben Linders, a world class agile expert, showed how using different exercises can help you to get more value out of agile retrospectives. You can find his presentation along with other very useful material in his web site.
Claudio Perrone, another speaker with many capacities and even more skills, presented PopcornFlow, his new model for continuous evolution through rapid experimentation. His web site is full of interesting information and tools.
But probably the real revelation (at least for me) was Niels Pflaeging. It wasn’t just his relaxed American style, nor his humour and provoking (to some) language. More than that, it was his profound ideas and fascinating arguments that engaged the whole audience. Niels is worth reading. His short and nicely illustrated book that we got as a freebie proved a great companion in my way home. Niels has a whole universe of books, white papers, videos and presentations and it’s worth looking at every one of them. (Start here).
All in all, it was a great workshop and I hope we’ll have the chance to build further the agile community and knowledge. Maybe some day we’ll manage to even actually use it in Greece.
Summer. Just a few weeks ago, end of July and instead of being at a beach and listening to the waves, you drive for about 3,5 hours to be in Zagori. Along with you another 1000+ athletes waiting to climb Timfi as fast as they can and run it downhill even faster. Before that there was Olympus Marathon, and half a dozen other races on mountains all over Greece.
Snow, mud and icy trails during spring. Dusty, dry rocks and hot sun during summer. Almost every weekend, you are there, standing at the starting line, regardless of the weather, the season, your problems and your worries. Read the rest of this entry »
Ι recently read a great article in HBR by Michael G. Jacobides entitled “Greece’s Problem Is More Complicated than Austerity“. I’d like to urge my FB friends (especially non-Greek ones) to read it carefully and give it some serious thought if they want to really understand what is taking place in Greece.
After the latest Greek deal in July, the parliament indeed voted for some (not all) prior actions necessary to re-start negotiations on a new long term bailout program (the third since 2010). Nevertheless, the ruling party is (as most of us expected) heavily divided between more than one of its political components. The most influential of which are the radical neo-communists led by the Former Minister of (non) Development, P. Lafazanis, who believe that the new Drachma is the solution to all our problems. Unfortunately, they are not offering any solid justification of how leaving the Euro will actually help the country and not their own political nomenclature. Read the rest of this entry »
So, we now have a result. The Greek people have voted no to our recent referendum. I’m still not exactly sure what the question was in the first place, or even why it was necessary to go through such a process, at this particular moment in time. Regardless of all these, I follow the ubiquitous social media and I am convinced that we’ll need considerable time to heal and recover, from this friction and conflict. I see fear, distrust and genuine concern from those of us who voted YES, bitter and arrogant comments from many that supported NO, unbelievable accusations (from both sides) and masses of people celebrating in streets and squares as if the war is over and we have won the lottery, both as a nation and as individuals. Either I totally get something wrong or I’m biased and pessimistic by nature (which, I probably am). Read the rest of this entry »
Well this is probably my easiest and most beautiful designed post. It’s an auto created report from The WordPress.com with stats on 2014 blogging. Very elegant.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
It was my first time in China. Many years ago, I had gone as far as Singapore for a business opportunity that never took off. Back then, I was impressed by the tall, shiny skyscrapers, the smells and the colour of a modern far east. I tasted food I had no idea what it was, I walked in exotic places and I saw things completely new to me. I also experienced the exhausting humidity of the tropicals and the extreme difference between indoor and outdoor climate. No wonder they call it the air-conditioned nation.
Last month, more than 15 years after that first encounter I found myself wandering in Beijing. The journey to arrive there involved 3 different planes, one delay, a missed flight, 4 airports, a car, a train and 2 taxis. Cut the long story short I arrived at my hotel exhausted after a journey that lasted more than 24 endless hours. Read the rest of this entry »
Ελληνική έκδοση εδώ.
I first set foot in Limnos 4 year ago. It was August. For those of you who don’t know, Limnos is a moderately big island in the NE Aegean Sea. Konstantinos, a good friend and longtime surfer, had invited us in the island for an extended weekend. They had put together a windsurf and kite club. “They”, is he and 2 friends of his, with peculiar nicknames and close to mythical stories surrounding them. Three windsurfers that after traveling to the hottest surfing spots on the planet, decided to wait for the next big wave in a small bay, SE of Limnos. Read the rest of this entry »