Twenty-Five Years Later: Are We Better off with The World Wide Web?


In case you have been under a rock, this week was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first ever World Wide Web (WWW) page on August 23, 1991.

Celebrating the silver anniversary of the first WWW page is a milestone which brings reflection now in 2016.

Many things have happened since that fateful day in 1991. Computers have become cheaper (and smaller) thanks to the invention of smartphones and tablets. The days of hearing that annoying dial-up sound, confirming you have connected to the Internet, have gone with Wi-Fi and 4G mobile networks. Adios Yahoo! Chat. Hello Facebook, and other social media networks for interacting with others.

monitor-1308951_1920.jpg

Monitor via Pixybay Under Public Domain by the Creative Commons 

 

Meanwhile, the Internet of Things is in line to become what some dub it as “social media for machines.” As author Jeremy Rifkin calls it the convergence of communications, energy, and a logistics Internet. The WWW helped guide this.

Now for the one billion dollar question: Is the world better off with the WWW/Internet or not in 2016?

It’s not an easy answer. Both the Yes and no sides have excellent arguments which would make you think.

Many benefits of having the WWW has been promoting another global brand into another area of the world. Consider in the early 1990’s, most people in North America would not have heard of world-class soccer competitions, including the UEFA Champions League, or Copa Libertadores. The WWW has allowed international organizations like both UEFA, and CONEBOL to promote their brands at a global reach. Places like Canada could see top-notch club soccer more often. Now in 2016, the UEFA Champions League is frequently seen on multiple channels of TSN, or beIN Sports. Perhaps even, more important is this has spilled over into North America’s top-tier soccer league, Major League Soccer (MLS). MLS now is considered a top choice sport among millennials.

Another significant advantage of the WWW has been able to cut transaction costs. A 2012 Mashable article noted without the Internet, paying for stamps to send a letter, instead of emails would cost $6.3 US trillion. That’s a lot of money saved by businesses, and individuals that could have gone to the US Postal Service (Or Canada Post in the Great White North).

Lowering transaction costs from the WWW has allowed for more opportunities for collaboration, globally. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams highlighted this in their 2010 book Macrowikinomics. They argued:

In this new age of networked intelligence, businesses and communities are bypassing crumbling institutions. We are altering the way our financial institutions and governments operate; how we educate our children; and how the healthcare, newspaper, and energy industries serve their customers.

A good example of mass collaboration is CleanTechnica.com, which is a blog focusing reporting about the new post-industrial renewable energy we are heading. This site provides analysis and news which mainstream media fails to pick up on clean technology.

Yet, the WWW has provided major societal headaches.

Privacy and security the one issue to me, which can drop an atomic bomb on any good the WWW has done for society.

With social media tools, it’s possible for someone to stalk someone on a daily basis. In 2012, The Guardian reported social networks and the advancement of smartphones was making easier for stalkers to target people.

Meanwhile, in 2016, cyber hackers have a never-ending list of destructive tools at their destruction ranging from viruses, malware, and ransomware. Who can forget the Heartbleed bug, which knocked down CRA, and extended the tax deadline in 2014 by five days? (I know because that was my first year of running my tax business and drove me bonkers). Or consider the “Dragonfly Incident” of 2013, in which hackers targeted a French website of a renewable energy company, implanted a virus, which infected customer computers.

Are we better off now than in 1991? Yes, and no. Yes, we have more information, yes we can collaborate more with people from other parts of the world. No, we are more at both an increased personal security and privacy risk. It’s not as simple as playing your Playstation 4 on your 50-inch Samsung smart tv against someone from China, or Pokemon Go on your smart phone. There are real issues which everyone needs to grasp. It’s gut check time for government, policy makers, and Silicon Valley.

The WWW/Internet will bring more positives, and just as many challenges in the future.

Perhaps, here are two videos from two people who represent the pros and cons of the WWW/Internet. Don Tapscott, and Andrew Keen.

What do you think? Has the WWW/Internet been a good or bad influence? Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or by email at adamjwpg@mymts.net.

 

 

Advertisements

Thank You Tragically Hip, Thank You


This Saturday will be a historic night for Canadians, as one of Canada’s greatest rock bands in our generation will play for the last time.

The Tragically Hip will take center stage at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Windsor, Ontario, and in front of a national audience on CBC.

Last May, lead singer Gord Downie announced he had terminal brain cancer, which shocked Canadians. As a tribute, the Tragically Hip announced they would do a Canadian-only tour during this summer to support their newest album, Man Machine Poem.

292561165_dd2a472d67_z

The Tragically Hip Performs at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in 2006 by Radiobread via Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

 

For thirty-two years, The Hip have enthralled Canadian music fans for over a generation. I remember listening to some of their songs, back in high school at Miles Mac, to counteract for all the pop songs at the time. They offered something unique. I could not pinpoint it at the time (but later I would understand what it was they offered).  I had the opportunity to see them back at the 2000 War Child concert at the Forks here in Winnipeg (along with Chantal Kreviazuk). They performed some of their world-class hits including Ahead By a Century. They put on a sublime show that day. It was that day, I figured out how good they were, and perhaps one of Canada’s best-kept musical secrets. The Hip were rock enough to deliver a knockout punch, yet had lyrics to their songs that would make you think about life.

But perhaps the best thing outside of their music was the Hip represented Canada very well. Gord was a big fan of hockey. The Hip also rattled the chains of social justice, when needed. By writing about the injustice of David Milgaard in Wheat Kings, to advocating on environmental issues.

Take it all in this Saturday. Whether you are at home, watching on a big screen at a local event, or listening on your smartphone. You won’t see the Tragically Hip ever again. Then again in today’s age, you will never see a band like The Hip, period. With rap, pop, and even country dominating our music scene, good current rock in 2016 is virtually gone. Factor in globalization where anyone can tap into other genres of music from other parts of the world and it’s nearly impossible a band (Outside of Rush) like The Tragically Hip will ever grace Canadian music as they have.

A piece of music dies on August 20th. A part of Canada dies on August 20th. A piece of generational art dies August 20th.  Let’s celebrate what The Hip has done for Canada. Let’s not treat this as a funeral but as a celebration. A celebration of one of Canada’s best rock bands ever (besides Rush, and Matthew Good Band in the 1990’s). Soak it in. Laugh, cry. There will not be one dry eye from coast to coast Saturday, August 20th.

Thank you Tragically Hip, Thank You for the memories.

 

The Case for the #CanPL in #Winnipeg


My last post on the Canadian Premier League, I discussed key factors in making the Canadian Premier League a viable and firm professional sports option. This time, I look at my hometown of Winnipeg, and why the Canadian Premier League would fit perfectly like a goalkeeper’s glove this time around if all the ingredients are in place at  a possible 2018 kickoff.

A city of approximately 718,000 (793,000 in the greater metropolitan area (GMA) ), Winnipeg has grown since its population of 627,400 (677,000 GMA) when the old Canadian Soccer League played its final season in 1992.

So why now? Why would professional soccer work this time in Winnipeg, compared to 1992?

Let’s look at some factors.

The first is Winnipeggers understand soccer more now and have been supportive of big games when played here. Over 28,000 showed up in May of 2014 for an international friendly between the Canadian and United States women’s soccer team. Meanwhile, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was a huge success here, attracting large audiences during June 2015.

 

FIFA World Cup 2015 US Australia

US vs. Australia at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg June 8, 2015. Via Adam Johnston Instagram

 

Another case for a successful Canadian pro soccer team in Winnipeg: the possible backing of two heavy hitters: The Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) (who own the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets), according to Canadian soccer blogger Duane Rollins. While I question the management decision of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, at times with their football operations, having a playable field with Investors Group Field is critical for the new Canadian Premier League team. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Football Club get much-needed dates, outside of Manitoba Bisons football, Winnipeg Rifles, and the odd concert. Factor in around an additional 7-10 games yearly at 2,500-4,500 Average per Canadian Premier League game (estimation) gives some modest financial muscle for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While it would be nice to sell out Investors Group Field for a Canadian Premier League game, in the beginning, having a healthy crowd to the games is critical in encouraging Winnipeggers in coming out.

If TNSE is involved, it will add some marketing oomph to a brand new team. Ever since the Winnipeg Jets have returned to Winnipeg since 2011, True North’s branding of the team has been remarkable. They are worth $350 million US and have increased their market value by 20% since they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-2011. You can’t go anywhere in Winnipeg without knowing what the Jets logo is. With TNSE scheduled to open up a downtown square, similar to Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square, having a soccer team to broaden its sports empire and attracting a larger demographic of Winnipeg sports fans would not hurt given the changing demographics of Canadian sports.

However, to ensure the future success of pro soccer in Winnipeg, some things will have to be addressed.

First, as I have previously on this blog and social media, you need a supporters club. I won’t go too much into that as I have discussed it and made a hard case for it. You just can’t attract suburban soccer moms from bedroom communities like West St. Paul.

My second point is the need to get our local media to embrace fully the possibilities of what a Canadian Premier League can do for Winnipeg. While Winnipeg has produced some of the most well-known soccer media personalities in Canada (Bobby McMahon with his work with Fox Sports World and Rogers Sportsnet, to Jerrad Peters from the Winnipeg Free Press), the challenge is going to ensure the club has a mainstream media presence amongst a rabid hockey town. Having dedicated reporters from both the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun would help. Winnipeg’s sports radio station TSN 1290, by going after radio broadcast rights along with a weekly phone in should engage Winnipeg Canadian Premier League supporters.  Local television rights would be useless, considering if there is a national broadcaster showing all Canadian Premier League games.

But perhaps one last challenge is let’s face it; Winnipeggers are cheap. We are cheaper than cheap. Winnipeggers want a bargain. We flock to places like Dollarama, Dollar Tree, and Giant Tiger searching for deals (try going to the Dollarama at Portage and Donald daily). If Canadian Premier League ticket prices are affordable (For example 11 games for Ottawa Fury fall season tickets are as low as $96.00 for the supporters group section; $137.39 for the regular adult section), then that’s a bonus to get extra butts in the seats between May through October.

It’s not going to be a slam dunk. But this not 1992. It’s 2016. Lots changed. Demographics, the Internet, and globalization have helped spread “The Beautiful Game,” across Canada and here in Winnipeg.

 

FIFA WWC 2015

2015 FIFA Women’s Worl Cup Pre-Game Ecuador Vs. Japan June 16, 2015 at Investors Group Field Winnipeg, Manitoba. By Adam Johnston via Instagram

 

Let me know what you think. Do you think pro soccer can succeed this time in Winnipeg? Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or by email at adamjwpg@mymts.net.

 

 

 

The Social Media/Smart Grid Nexus


 

When you think of social media, your initial thoughts come to posting a link on Facebook, trying to connect with a potential employer on LinkedIn, or tweeting about the latest Major League Soccer game on Twitter.

The second aspect of social media networks most people think about is leveraging marketing opportunities to sell products and services online.

What you may not think about social media is its potential to enhance smart grid capabilities to improve efficiency, accuracy, and maximize the customer experience.

7196460482_3fdc41aef3_z.jpg

Social Media by Giulia Forsythe via Flickr. Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved

In simple terms, smart grids utilize Internet-based technology to provide two-way communication between devices and the utility, according to the US Department of Energy. Components of the smart grid include smart meters, sensors which transfer data to the service, and web-based energy management systems.

While the current grid system was excellent in providing energy management for the 20th century, which used fossil fuels, today’s energy system in 2016 is a lot more complicated than of prior regimes.

Blackouts in recent history, changes in technological habits, along with increased extreme weather risks due to climate change have strengthened the need to implement smart grids.

Currently, we are seeing smart grid projects seen all over the world, including projects in Austin Texas, and in Germany, to improve energy costs and emissions. Elements of the smart grid are being implemented in wind, and solar farms, and utility power plants in better managing energy systems.

Smart grid global market value is expected to reach $400 billion US by 2020, according to GreenTech Media. The World Economic Forum called for in 2015 a $7.5 US trillion investment within the next 25 years in improving our global grid system to meet our current energy challenges, while mitigating climate change risks.

Early in the 2000’s author Jeremy Rifkin predicted the implementation of a smart grid. His 2002 book The Hydrogen Economy, he argued that end users would use similar smart technologies and principles which helped propel the World Wide Web in the 1990’s to plug and play their fuel cells into localized Hydrogen Energy Web’s (HEW). Rifkin also notes this would help decentralize the energy system, as consumers would be able to share clean energy with each other.

While his initial prediction did not necessarily come to pass about the hydrogen economy, his ideas have flourished about a World Wide Web of Energy through the Smart Grid and the Internet of Things. He added further context in his 2014 book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Rifkin discusses the three broad components of the Internet of Things: A communications Internet, an energy Internet, and a logistics Internet.

Based on Rifkin’s analysis, the communications Internet through social media can play a role in easing the energy Internet through smart grid implementation.

Social media analytics can provide massive amounts of data in tracking where extreme weather events affect power outages.

Meanwhile, many companies are using social media to create a universal smart grid experience for customers.

 

8536472494_137b5bc3a0_z

Smart Grid by IBM Research via Flickr. Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved

 

Oracale’s Opower, creates social energy software for utilities to enhance a client’s smart grid experience. Opower’s software runs on both computer and mobile apps (tablets and smartphones, which allows a customer to get real-time data on how much energy consume while providing suggestions on how they can cut their use. Utilities who have used Opower’s public service customers have created 11 terra-watt hours in energy savings (TWh), with 3TWh, coming in the past year alone.

Meanwhile, expect further social networking and smart grid integration into the future as dynamics shift from baby boomers towards millennials. A recent study suggested millennials are demanding a mix of more smart technologies, renewables, and social media be implemented by utilities, as they become the biggest consumer demographic.

I would expect the next few years to provide some disruptive, exciting development for utilities, as they look to make Generation Y happy, lower their carbon footprint, and create a plug and play consumer energy experience.

Social media is much more than snapping a photo on Instagram, or uploading a video on YouTube. Mashable said it best in 2011:

As the smart grid continues to reach more American homes, it truly will form a nationwide social network unlike anything ever was seen.

SnapGrid Perhaps?

What do you think of social networking merging with smart grid technologies? Is this a good thing? How can clean tech, renewable energy analysts and social media marketers collaborate here? What challenges do they face?

Let me know. Drop me a line on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. You can also email me at adamjwpg@mymts.net.