Getting a better sense of just how small a nanometer is

I am doing a bit of research on history and prospects of nano technology. Since 2000 the US government has an a nano technology initiative to ensure that the country stays what people consider a radical new technology to create new materials and structures. The chips in our computers and smartphones are getting ever more powerful because engineers are able to use nano technology to pack ever more transistors onto a chip.  In addition to providing useful short history of nanotechnology, gives an useful illustration just how small is “nano”?

Nano Scale


CEO of Large German Publisher speaks out: Why we fear Google

This if one of the most interesting open letter I have ever read by a CEO. Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, closes his open letter:

Dear Eric Schmidt, you do not need my advice, and of course I am writing here from the perspective of those concerned. As a profiteer from Google’s traffic. As a profiteer from Google’s automated marketing of advertising. And as a potential victim of Google’s data and market power. Nevertheless – less is sometimes more. And you can also win yourself to death.
Historically, monopolies have never survived in the long term. Either they have failed as a result of their complacency, which breeds its own success, or they have been weakened by competition – both unlikely scenarios in Google’s case. Or they have been restricted by political initiatives. IBM and Microsoft are the most recent examples.

Read full letter in FAZ: Why we fear Google

Announcing a Special Feature: “Letters from China”

During the first two weeks of June,  I will visit China for the first time. To share my impressions, I plan to write a few Letters from China.  Today I want to give you a bit background on the trip. For a long time, I wanted get out behind my desk and see China with my own eyes. This visit is long overdue given that I started to research the development of the Chinese synthetic dye industry five years ago.

The goal of my visit is to get a deeper understanding of what the future of China will likely look like. More specifically, I want to become more knowledgeable about whether China will become the world leader in high-tech industries and if so how. For this reason, I want to build connections with people in China who are participating in or following these developments.  Until now I have been relying on Hong Jiang to be my eyes in China. I recruited her from China to write her doctoral thesis under my supervision. Together we published an article entitled Regional institutions, ownership transformation, and migration of industrial leadership in China, showing how the leading centers of synthetic dye production industry shifted twice in the period from 1978 to 2008 because of differences in the institutional composition of regions within China. Hong is currently back in the field trying to find more evidence on how personal networks allowed entrepreneurs to access crucial knowledge from established firms. Our particular challenge is to find knowledgeable people from companies that went out of business so we can establish with more certainty that they lacked the personal contacts that allowed their rivals to be more successful.

It is important to realize that synthetic dye technology was developed in the West decades ago and has become stagnant.  This is why Chinese firms could become the largest producers in the world by simply imitating product innovations made abroad. Now, I am looking for one or more industries where Chinese firms are not simply copying innovations made abroad but where they are at the frontier of global knowledge. If you think you know such an industry, please contact me. After my trip to China, I hope to have a better sense of the kind of high-tech industries in which China may be pushing the global knowledge frontier.

To avoid false expectations, let me emphasize that I am not writing my Letters from China as a “China expert.” I am very well versed in Western social theory and, more specifically, evolutionary theory in the social sciences: As an evolutionist, I have strong theoretical commitment that success is built on a mountain of failures. Or, to put it more simply: China cannot become the leader in a sector without trying out many things and figuring out what works through experience. (I lay out this perspective in non-technical terms in Scaffolding in Economics, Management, and the Design of Technologies). But I have modest credentials regarding the “facts on ground” in China.  Aside from what Hong Jiang taught me, I can trace most of my knowledge about China to three books that I found particularly useful.


Jeff Bezos on how to build organizations for innovation

Here are Bezos thoughts on n how to build organizations for innovation:

A willingness to fail and to be misunderstood “then what you can do is you can ramp up your rate of experimentation”. “So successful inventions [are] inventions that customers care about. It’s actually relatively easy to invent things that customers don’t care about, but successful invention, if you want to do a lot of that, you basically have to increase your rate of experimentation.

“And that you can think of as a process: how do you go about organising your systems, your people, all of your assets, your own daily life and how you spend time, how do you organise those things to increase your rate of experimentation because not all of your experiments are going to work.”

Bezos advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is “never chase the hot thing”. “That’s like trying to catch the wave, and you’ll never catch it. You need to position yourself and wait for the wave.”

From CIO Magazine

BBC Documentary on Facebook

The Hollywood movies about Facebook gave us an outline of the history Zuckerberg and the firm he founded. While this BBC documentary retells some of the facts from the Hollywood film, it brings to light many other interesting features of the facebook phenomenon.

A Gravity Defying Idea