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.

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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millennial Minds: Understanding What Makes Us Tick


As a fringe millennial (Generation Y) who turns 35 soon, I have had the good fortune of memories from both the pre and post Internet era. Back in the good old day, we had the 13-channel universe, VHS tapes and played 8-bit Nintendo to our hearts content. Meanwhile, reading hard bound paper books on the Winnipeg Transit bus was the cool thing to do, smartphones was something out of Star Trek, and computers were modestly clunky monstrosities in themselves.

Now times have changed in 2015. Millennials are an important and powerful purchasing group. We crave instant, rapid-fire information bombarding our senses. We now can read books on computer tablets, watch videos on our mobile phones, and snap a photo to anywhere in the world within seconds.

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A Look Into the Millennial’s Mind [Infographic] via We Are Social Media

If you are looking at marketing products to this group, We Are Social Media in April this year published an infograph, from a study from PinPoint Research, showing millennials preferences for video consumption, social media use, and what technology we own. Consider, 81% of Generation Y own their own television; 76% have a laptop; 40% an iPhone/smartphone; and 48% still have a desktop computer (strangely enough).

Factor in Facebook (36%), Twitter (30%) and Instagram (30%) are the three social media outlets of choice for millennials, and marketing departments have of effective outreach tools in advertising products or services.

Marketing and advertising to our demographic is a constant evolution. Companies can not use the same five-year-old campaigns  (let alone 80’s style ads) for success in 2015.

This is critical, considering millennials are willing to spend more on entertainment (including premium television channels and ad-free videos), despite being more thrifty as PinPoint Research said in Adweek:

“In fact, their view on personal finances sounds more like the Boomer generation emerging from the Great Depression than the ‘entitlement’ label they keep hearing,” the study said. But “despite their frugality, millennials are expected to spend money on lifestyle and entertainment more than prior generations.”

With limited time, limited marketing budgets, companies who best understand millennial minds through customer engagement will be very successful for a long time.

Generation Y is Giving the Workplace an Extreme Makeover


Generation Y is continuing to give the workplace an Extreme Makeover, similar to the popular reality ABC television series.

Another recent infograph (see below) posted on the Gen Y Hub and created by Cisco for their Cisco Connect report in late 2012 suggests companies better have dramatically shift how they manage their workers.

Image Credit: The New Workplace Currency via Gen Y Hub

Image Credit: The New Workplace Currency via Gen Y Hub

For example, 3 out 5 Generation yers believe they have the right to a flexible work environment. The data also points to 80% of interviewees being allowed to pick the device for the job they do on a daily basis.

If that is not enough to turn your head, then perhaps this will. Half of respondents get this, would rather lose their WALLET before losing their smart phone or mobile device (ummm, yep losing your I.D. debit card, or hard earn cash is worth pennies, but that sexy iPhone is priceless and worth the world to you!).

As an early thirty something, I can understand the dramatic shift that will occur in the workplace. I honestly hope that as a generation Yer, that some good will occur, and our workplace will have more meaning to us. However, some of the other things I could do with out. I still value my wallet, my photo I.D. card, and I don’t pick my choice of iPad for work (I have Dell were I work). However, if I plan to start my own small business within the next few years, you can best be assured I will pick an Apple iPad, plus an HP laptop.

Anyways, I am kind of interested what type of workplace we are going to see within the next decade. I am guessing more telecommuting will be the order of the day.

Drop me a line and let me know what you think. Email me at adamjwpg@mymts.net, or contact me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+.

 

 

Generation Jobless: Infograph (re: Generation Screwed)


Recently, CBC released a documentary called Generation Jobless, which discusses the plight of Generation Y (Generation Screwed) and the challenges they face, including crappy jobs, skyrocketing costs and wondering if all the stress, debt, is worth it for the piece of paper three to four years later.

Just for your interest here an infograph (see below) that explains some of the problems Canadian Generation Yers are facing once they graduate University in terms of cost, compared to those who graduated in 1980.

Image Credit: CBC Doc Zone

Image Credit: CBC Doc Zone

Some food for thought stats based on the infograph:

– One way bus fare was $0.60 in 1980, compared to 2012 at $2.65

– Basic cable in 1980 was $20.00. In 2012, its more than doubled at $50.00

– Phone costs last year were $40.00 twice the price of a telephone in $20.00

– Stamp costs were $0.17 in 1980, compared to $0.61 in 2012.

– A home purchase in 1980 was on average $76,214. Practically affordable. Last year, the average Canadian home was $369, 677.

If you think that is challenging, back in 1980, a full-time teaching job was $15,000 with full-time benefits and regular increases. In 2012, for a supply teacher, someone would make $24,940, with NO pension, NO regular benefits and NO regular increases.

The path towards prosperity for my generation, may not be exactly traditional, but rather you could very well generation Y be the “Entrepreneurial Generation.”

So  what does everyone think? Drop me a line at adamjwpg@mymts.net. You can also reach me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

 

 

 

Generation Y and the Changing Workforce


I have covered Generation Y (aka Generation Screwed) numerous times on this blog, often trying to show both sides of the coin on were my generation is headed.

On a boring Saturday night, on my computer, I pulled a fantastic infograph on some interesting Gen Y stats from Workshare.com (Below).

Gen-Y-infographic

Image Credit: Workforce.com

Workforce notes we are the most educated generation ever, along with being the most tech savy. Heck, 90% of generation Yers own an electronic device.

But here are some things that this infograph should make you think about, now, but in the future.

This generation, unlike others want meaning in their workplace. We want constant feedback from our bosses. We do not tolerate a lot of garbage. We want a high quality workplace. We want environmental sustainability. We are even wanting to accept lesser money for more challenges (which makes me wonder why the rise of interns. Read Intern Nation).

While it sucks now, and it may get worse, perhaps something to consider is by 2025, 75% of the world’s workforce (here is hoping) will consist of generation Yers.

If this is true, and as of 2012, only 45% of American information workforce in a corporate office, there could be a lot of potential to see a lot of game changing entrepreneurship, and a lot of startups. This may very well be the most entrepreneurial generation also.

Will this mean a new wealth boom in the future? I don’t know. It’s doubtful in the short-term. Macleans a few weeks ago noted millennials are the New Underclass citing the huge economic and financial challenges slapping them in the face:

Equally troubling, university-educated Canadians experienced a relative increase in unemployment between 1997 and 2005 and a corresponding dip in relative wages, according to a federal government study. By contrast, those with a college, or even a high school education, managed to improve (or at least maintain) their outlook, relative to other workers. In fact, the only group that experienced a similar relative increase in unemployment during the period were those Canadians without even a high school diploma.

………….. It wasn’t always so bleak for Canada’s youth. Wayne Lewchuk, a professor of labour studies at Hamilton’s McMaster University, grew up in Windsor, Ont., and recalls that many of his university buddies took assembly-plant jobs with Chrysler and Ford after graduating in the mid-1970s. The work wasn’t great, but it paid well and the benefits were good. “If you’re measuring life purely by your material standard of living, then they’ve had a much better life than I’ve had,” says Lewchuk, who instead went back to school to pursue two more degrees. “They started working 10 years before I even got my first paycheque.”

Of course, most of those automotive jobs are long gone. So are many other relatively high-paying factory jobs in Ontario and Quebec. They are casualties of globalization and Canada’s subsequent shift toward a “knowledge-based economy”—one that’s built on providing services instead of forging things out of plastic and steel. At the same time, the global commodity boom that began around 2003 refocused attention on Canada’s vast resources, particularly oil and gas. But despite the billions poured into Alberta’s oil sands, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that Canadian workers, collectively, are no better off. The CGA study, for example, suggested the proportion of workers employed in industries with above-average earnings declined between 1991 and 2011, despite strong overall growth in the economy.

Wages are only part of the picture. Unions, once the guarantor of a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, have shrivelled as employers cut back on pension and health care benefits in a bid to better compete in a globalized market. Indeed, the very concept of a gold-plated, defined-benefit corporate pension plan (which guarantees a certain level of retirement income) has all but disappeared. A recent study by the debt-rating agency, Dominion Bond Rating Service, found that as many as two-thirds of North American defined-benefit plans are underfunded. Many companies are pushing new employees over to less costly and less comprehensive defined-contribution plans.”

Will millennials/Generation Y have the same standard of living like Baby Boomers? Let me know what you think, hit me up by email at adamjwpg@mymts.net, Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

Does Generation Screwed Need to be the “Entrepreneurial Society?”


 

On my blog, I have provided extensive coverage about “Generation Screwed,” and the challenges they face in order to stave off being one of the generation’s that is going to be worse off than their parents.

I had on my last post regarding this generation in September, provided some solutions, including reforming the education system and higher participation rates of labour unions, if necessary.

Recently, I had found some interesting analysis on the world of on-line freelance work.

A recent article from Website Magazine discussed the recent results from an Elance survey that interviewed 3,000 people about their freelance situation with some interesting statistics, showing a potential new future employment trend.

The survey found most online freelancers are either come from Generation Y (millennials) 48% or Generation X , 38%.

Elance also noted that 42% of survey participants have bachelor degrees, and 24% masters.

Meanwhile, 67% of freelance professionals said they expect more money to roll in from their work within the next year, exceeding the 57% of respondents who had seen their income grow in 2012.

The strongest demand from the Elance survey in the past year came from web design (574% increase), voice acting (295% increase) and content writing (256% growth). That’s astonishing numbers, and showing that on-line freelance work could be the real deal in finding work in a globalized economy.

Here are some other interesting facts that came from this survey, that people should pay attention to:

Elance noted that most freelancers are on the go, with 2-6 projects ongoing all the time, with 70% happier and 79% more productive than if they were working for someone.

All most half work as full-time freelancers, at 48%, while 25% do this as a part-time gig, as they slug at a full-time job.

Survey respondents in 2013 expect to see the biggest growth in the freelance market in various areas including: web and mobile programming, content writing, online marketing, graphic design, and the multi media market.

Men also dominate as the majority in freelancing, taking of 58% of the jobs, compared to 42% of females.

Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance, puts it nicely in perspective in the shift we are seeing in how work is done, thanks to freelancing:

“In just a few short years, freelancing has gone from a last resort option to a lucrative and fulfilling career,” said Fabio Rosati, president and CEO of Elance.  “As a ‘Business of One’, your potential is no longer constrained by where you live or the corporate hierarchy – the survey results clearly show that the online work opportunities are enormous.”

Does, this mean that freelancing will be the cure to all of the problems of this generation? I doubt it. If you look at a recent report by the Community Foundations of Canada. The report points to Canadians are some of the best educated in the world and more educated than ever, crippling debt, baby boomers not retiring fast enough and the lack of job opportunities are smashing the dreams of “Generation Screwed.”  We need to pay more attention to this as we are going to be paying for our parents health care and houses, which we can’t afford. How we get their, will take innovative ideas, and retooling a lot of the old institutions, and allowing boomers to retire faster than a Dodge Ram.

However, maybe, if the on-line freelance trend continues to advance, Generation Y and some of Generation X may have to change some of their thinking around. I know as a freelance writer, currently some of the work is very minimal. But while I work full-time, I am building contacts to advance my career, in what I want to do: either renewable energy/climate policy. Plus, if I continue to work at it more clients will come, thus hopefully creating a legitimate small business down the road.

Freelance work won’t solve all the problems. But for Generation Y, an “Entrepreneurial Society,” could alleviate some of the employment ills.