Thursday, September 27, 2007

MacArthur Fellows in Virginia

Two Virginians were recently recognized as MacArthur Fellows. They are Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at VA Tech, and Corey Harris, blues musician from Charlottesville.

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Tenth Annual Business Forum

The 10th Annual Business Forum will be held in Charlottesville on December 6 and 7, 2007, at the Darden School of Business. Workshops include Transforming Ideas into Enterprises, Delivering Innovation through Social Networking, Information Tsunami – Email to Twitter and Beyond, and Crash & Learn – Anatomy of a Failure.

The keynote speaker will be Frank Cappiello, who will present his take on The New American Economy – A View from Wall Street. The Friday morning panelists for Live Fire - The Angel Round represent three of the top angel groups in the United States, from Connecticut, Ohio and New York.

The Charlottesville Venture Group has put on this conference for the past nine years. This year's event is presented by the combined resources of the Charlottesville Venture Group and the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council. On October 2nd, the group will announce their new name, and celebrate their joint venture.

UPDATE: The 11th Annual Business Forum is scheduled for October 30 and 31, 2008. For more information about the CVG Annual Business Forums see the Annual Business Forum blog. For program and registration, see Virginia Annual Business Forums.

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CNE Welcomes New Director

The Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) welcomes Kerry Dodson, their new Executive Director. Membership in the CNE is open to Charlottesville area nonprofits; the dues range from $100 to $400 annually.

The current CNE calendar of upcoming events includes their Brown Bag seminar, How to Write a Survey, on Oct. 4, and the Oct. 19th FOCUS presentation by Bob Eliason of JMU College of Business Management on the basics of starting an online business from establishing a website to handling payment.

The January 2007 Virginia Network of Nonprofit Organizations (VANNO) report The Virginia Nonprofit Sector indicates that there were 8,537 reporting charitable nonprofits in Virginia in 2004, and that the 1,240 foundations in Virginia held $6.1 billion in assets and gave $388 million in grants.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Another First at IBM

Italian workers at IBM are planning a September strike in Second Life, according to various sources. The Grid Live says that the event will begin on the 25th; the Union Network site has instructions for participants.

Intel has joined IBM in anticipating "the 3D internet", according to Justin Rattner in his keynote speech at the recent Intel Developer Forum.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Presentations, Zen

Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen offers Swedish doctor and researcher Hans Rosling as one of the masters of displaying data in live talks. Reynold's Play the Music has several short videos and comments on the components of Rosling's incredibly effective presentation at TED 2007.

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New Executive Directors Welcomed

Two new leaders in the entrepreneurial and technology community in central Virginia have just been announced.

The Virginia Piedmont Technology Council recently joined forces with the Charlottesville Venture Group, and announced the new executive director, Tom Thompson of Charlottesville. On October 2, the new organization name will be announced, and Thompson will be introduced to the members.

The NewVa Corridor Technology Council (NCTC), formerly the New Century Technology Council, announced Cory Donovan has taken over from Gordie Zeigler. Their Fall Gala is scheduled for October 12.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Every Nobel is a Prize

According to the NY Times,
Michael Nobel, who is indeed Alfred’s great grand nephew, approached [the organizers of NanoTX’07] about announcing a new prize for advances in alternative energy. He wanted to be the featured speaker at a reception meant to honor the surviving members of the team of scientists who won the 1996 Nobel Prize for chemistry for the buckyball. ... [However] the organizers received a disturbing fax from The Nobel Foundation in Sweden. It advised them that Mr. Nobel had been voted out as head of the Nobel Family Society at a meeting in August of 2006 “mainly because of his unauthorized activities and involvements in the name of the Nobel Family Society.”

The original press release, a more current one, and comments from the Nanotechnology Law Report.

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NextFest 2007 Notes

Wired NextFest 2007 wrapped up this weekend.

Brian Lam's list of the best of the Fest is at Gizmodo; Molly Wood's video is at c|net news; Phuong-Cac Nguyen has a great summary of new gadgets at Cool Hunting; and Brian Heater has a running commentary at GearLog.

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David Weinberger’s (author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto) recent book Everything is Miscellaneous (May, 2007) is about "how we’re pulling ourselves together now that we’ve blown ourselves to bits". Early reviews and related podcasts are on his blog. JD Lasica's Modest Review on Social Media quotes Weinberger:
From management structures to encyclopedias, to the courses of study we put our children through, to the way we decide what's worth believing, we have organized our ideas with principles designed for use in a world limited by the laws of physics.

Suppose that now, for the first time in history, we are able to arrange our concepts without the silent limitations of the physical. How might our ideas, organizations, and knowledge itself change?

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Competition and Copyright

In March 2006, the Cato Institute published Circumventing Competition: The Perverse Consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by Timothy B. Lee.

From the Executive Summary:
The DMCA [Digital Millenium Copyright Act] is anti-competitive. It gives copyright holders—and the technology companies that distribute their content—the legal power to create closed technology platforms and exclude competitors from interoperating with them. Worst of all, DRM [Digital Rights Management] technologies are clumsy and ineffective; they inconvenience legitimate users but do little to stop pirates.

More recently, he noted on Ars Technica that the RIAA seems to want the universities to do its dirty work.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

PanImages Search Engine

University of Washington's Oren Etzioni, Director of the Turing Center, has announced the launch of PanImages, a multi-language search engine for images. (Description here).

Earlier this year, professor Etzioni received the Englemore Memorial Lecture Award for "longstanding technical and entrepreneurial contributions to artificial intelligence..."

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Virginia Biotechnology Industry

Virginia Business magazine reviewed the state's biotechnology industry, noting the research institutions associated with VCU, VA Tech, the University of Virginia, and the new SRI Center being developed in Rockingham County. They quote Randal Kirk, of Third Security: What matters [to biotech] “is the value of the intellectual property.”

The Virginia-based Biotechnology Institute has a short FAQ on the industry, as well as industry and education programs.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Google Funds Moon Robot

Google announced the Google Lunar X-Prize, $30m in prizes to private firms that land a robot rover on the Moon. The competition to send a robot craft to the Moon is being run with the X-Prize Foundation. The program is also offering an opportunity to send digital photos and humanitarian messages along with the winning spacecraft, through the Lunar Legacy program.

Using Google Earth, one can see a scale model of the solar system superimposed on one's own neighborhood here. Earlier scale models of the solar system were built by the people of Aroostook County in Maine, and by Brian Parks in Madison, Wisconsin. Nearly ten years ago, Mitchell Charity posted links to several scale models of the solar system.

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Nuclear Virginia

According to the Lynchburg News and Advance:
If the nuclear renaissance is on the way, Lynchburg, home to AREVA NP, might be the new Florence, Italy.
Through a partnership with Maryland-based utility Constellation Energy and Virginia-based BWX Technologies and about $600 m in funding from French utility company EDF, AREVA would like to be one of the first to build its Evolutionary Power Reactor in the United States. The new company, UniStar Nuclear, has made its intentions known to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it plans to submit applications within the next 12 months to build two AREVA reactors, the first in Maryland.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Google and NASA

The NY Times today reports on the ultimate exec perk - a NASA runway for the use of the Google jet fleet. It's good to be the founders of Google Earth, and be able to collaborate on NASA research.

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SL Tender

Mark Wallace of 3PointD has written something I thought I'd never see: "God bless IBM". He goes on oto say that
an IBM employee [and entrepreneur] with his own private island in Second Life has had some coins minted that are each worth one Linden dollar. That’s right, you can now hold the Linden dollar in your hand and actually spend it — if, that is, you’re on Tender Island, which has been owned by IBMer David van Gent since March.

Only 75 coins were struck, so naturally, they are becoming collector's items, said to be available on eBay. Of course, the coins were reviewed on Smart Lindens, a new blog dedicated to " helping you save by finding sales, deals and savings on the items that you want to buy in Second Life".

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Virtual Stuff

According to the New York Times, Stuff Matters in Virtual Worlds:
When people have the opportunity to create a fantasy world, they can and do defy the laws of gravity (you can fly, and walk under water in Second Life), but not of economics or human nature.

Second Life residents often take virtual jobs, even poorly-paid ones. They are evidently discovering what inheritors have struggled with for generations: It’s not as much fun to spend money you haven’t earned.

Robert J. Bloomfield, a behavioral economist at Cornell University, studies investor behavior in the real world and recently became interested in how investors behave similarly in Second Life. Reporter Daniel Terdiman's book “Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life” will be published soon. Not only does stuff matter to residents of SL, it provides rich opportunities for research, analysis and publication.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Avatar Faces, Custom and Whole

Want an avatar head and face that is uniquely you? Relatively new to SL, CyberExtruder has been producing personalized avatars for a number of games, including Quake from id Software, The Sims for nearly 8 years. Now they have partnered with Cranial Tap to bring their product into Second Life.

Recently, CyberExtruder and Cranial Tap partnered up with Linden Lab to provide a privatized newbie area, as part of Linden Lab’s efforts to improve user retention.

Between making game avatars, CyberExtruder is in the business of facial recognition for security purposes.

With the perfect custom face, a real life version from Fabjectory is next.

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Business in SL - Conference

Conference in London, late September: Achieving Real Business Growth Through Second Life (Note: This conference title is registered) According to the sponsors, The International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC), most SL residents are Europeans over the age of 30. The presenters' list includes head shots of their SL avatars.

Back in April, Mitch Wagner noted that "quite a few Second Life users are network engineers. These are Cisco's customers, and Cisco is aggressively using Second Life to communicate with them." In May, Business Week described SL in terms of Anshe Chung's "booming land development business, which she has built from nothing two years ago to an operation of 17 people around the world today. As we chat, her story sounds like a classic tale of entrepreneurship." And in July, Sheila Yoshikawa of Sheffield University reported on the Blogher 07 SL Conference, including the business and branding panels. Recent University of Utrecht research on business in SL is summarized Browsing the Metaverse (The full pdf report is available online in Dutch)

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WTC Memorial to Open on 9/11 in SL

The World Trade Center sim (SLURL) opens on 9/11, according to Aleister Kronos at 3pointD.
The smooth surface of the wall itself is broken by rivulets of rainwater, trickling like tears down the lists of the dead. Thunder rumbles overhead, as the rain comes down, splashing into the pond. It is a mournful and respectful place.
The sim was designed by avatar Liam Kanno (Odin Liam Wright) of the V3 Group, who was at Ground Zero that day.
Ground Zero Museum Workshop website.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Kiva Update

37Signals has a nice update on Kiva, the online microloan program for small entrepreneurs in developing countries. (See BGNonline last November for more related links)

Social Edge maintains the Kiva Chronicles, the story of how Kiva came into being, and how it is progressing through the ups and downs of social entrepreneurship. At this writing, they have funded every business request they received.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Oobjects and Gadgets

The recently launched Oobjects already has some interesting lists, like the 10 Biggest Product Failures, such as the Apple Newton, a personal organizer that required a personal assistant to carry it around for you, based on people mistaking sophisticated engineering for sophisticated design. They also list 21 Futuristic Interfaces, such as the swimming goggles with a heads up display.

Oobjects describes itself as "... like Billboard Chart for gadgets". Of course, viewers are invited to vote their selections up or down.

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Passive/Aggressive Launches

The new blog, Passive/Aggressive Notes, is a display of passive-aggressive notes among roommates, neighbors, coworkers and strangers. Launched in May, the notes already elicit nearly 100 comments each.

They've used Google Analytics to see what search strings actually bring visitors to the site, and here are the results, which include "how do you spell tennant", "things to do with cookie dough","should nanny sleep on the job?" and "what will the weather be like for the rest of july in saskatchewan?"

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Personalized Search, and Cuill

Geeking with Greg has an interesting series of posts summarizing recent research on online brands and branding (especially the importance of Google and Yahoo! brands). The blog tagline, Exploring the future of personalized information, indicates the focus of the articles. Linden says "[Search] Personalization changes what people see based on their past behavior and the past behavior of others".

He also points to Search Engine Roundtablereports from the recent SES 2007 (Search Engine Strategies conference).

The stealth search engine, Cuill, is reviewed in John Battelle's Searchblog; there's an overview at TechCrunch.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Graham's Advice to Startups

Paul Graham has some very straight-forward advice for entrepreneurs in startups: Don't Die.

In his words, "The odds of getting from launch to liquidity without some kind of disaster happening are one in a thousand. So don't get demoralized [when the disaster happens]."

He goes on to say that founders seem to succeed when they do cannot fail publicly; "One of the most interesting things we've discovered from working on Y Combinator is that founders are more motivated by the fear of looking bad than by the hope of getting millions of dollars."

His advice: Stay in touch with the investors and with other startup entrepreneurs, and try to make something that at least someone really loves. The number one thing not to do is other things. Distraction is fatal to startups.

Graham points to Octopart and its founders as examples, noting that the publicity they have received makes it nearly impossible to fail now. Welcome to Help, which launched the end of August, may be another example. (They are hosts for the current CotC)

After not dying, entrepreneurs may want to consider this advice from A VC, to "hire someone who knows about cash flow forecasting, gaap accounting, bank lines, collecting revenues, and managing your dwindling cash balances" in order to get through ugly adolescence.

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Financial Markets

The Times on financial markets over the summer:
I’ve been away for six weeks. Much been happening?

You could say that. Financial markets have been in turmoil. Central banks have had to extend emergency lines of credit to cash-strapped banks. Hedge funds have collapsed. Institutions have been bailed out using taxpayers money. Scores of planned mergers and acquisitions have been cancelled. Normal service in the City has, for the present, been abandoned.
Thanks to Paul Kedrosky for the pointer.

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Journalism and the Burning Man

Dale Dougherty has an interesting piece on O'Reilly Radar on the difference between news coverage of the Burning Man, and Scott Beale's continuously updated blog coverage, including videos, comments and pingbacks, at Laughing Squid.

BTW, tomorrow is the 83rd annual burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe, so Laughing Squid is ready for it with videos and still images from prior years.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Updating Technorati Charts

Technorati now has automatically updating charts of recent blog posts containing specific words, such as "entrepreneur". The first chart shows results for all blogs, the second for blogs with a lot of authority, according to Technorati.

English posts that contain Entrepreneur per day for the last 30 days. (all blogs)
Technorati Chart

English posts that contain Entrepreneur per day for the last 30 days. (blogs with authority)
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Sermo with Doctors

Joshua Porter of Bokardo points to the physicians' network, Sermo, as one of the new specialized social networks online. According to the Sermo site, the business model "is one of information arbitrage, the opportunity that arises when breaking medical insights intersect with the demand for actionable, market-changing events in healthcare" and "Sermo technology is the first of its kind to authenticate and credential physicians in real-time. Our state-of-the-art technology is working behind the scenes, re-validating physicians every time they sign in..."
For example, Sermo Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., generally charges $100,000 to $150,000 a year to nonmedical businesses like hedge funds, which use it to research such things as how doctors feel about new drugs. The site, founded by Daniel Palestrant while he was a surgical resident in Boston [was] launched last year... Snippets from the Wall Street Journal

Sermo partners with the American Medical Association, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics, the University of Michigan's School of Information Science, and Northwestern University. "By collaborating with Sermo, these partners have accessed a new research tool, opening the door to more efficient research, and increased opportunities for grant funding and research publications."

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Patents and Trolls

According to Technology Review, patent law is becoming saner due to recent Supreme Court rulings. The cases were Ebay V. Mercexchange; Medimmune V. Genentech; and KSR International v. Teleflex.

Several people left interesting (and some dissenting) comments, including Ronald Riley of the nonprofits InnovatorEd and the Professional Inventors Alliance, Anthony Kuhn of the new Innovators Network, and Gabriel Kent of Future Progress.

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Netherlands in SL

The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions has opened the first national tourist office in Second Life, according to the World Travel Guide. Here's a description from Your 2nd Place. The main design firm for the site is Brink Media.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Graham on Stuff

This summer, investor Paul Graham noted that he had too much stuff.

I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. Stuff used to be rare and valuable. You can still see evidence of that if you look for it. For example, in my house in Cambridge, which was built in 1876, the bedrooms don't have closets. In those days people's stuff fit in a chest of drawers. Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitudes toward it haven't changed correspondingly. We overvalue stuff. ... once you've accumulated a certain amount of stuff, it starts to own you rather than the other way around. ... Nothing owns you like fragile stuff. For example, the "good china"...

A historical change has taken place, and I've now realized it. Stuff used to be valuable, and now it's not.

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Bus 2.0 Disruptor List

Business 2.0 recently identified 10 businesses with the potential to rewrite the rules of existing industries or open up entirely new markets.

Here's their list of the The Next Disruptors :

Bloom Energy wants to short-circuit electric utilities by building a power plant in every home. Zink is trying to create a market for mobile printing, without the ink. Blinkx thinks it can become the Google of video. Virgin Charter is helping to launch the air-taxi industry. Expensr is a webtop application for managing personal finances. Zipcar sprinkles its rental cars throughout urban neighborhoods with the densest populations and lets people book online by the hour. Raydiance has developed the world’s first fully software-controlled, desktop-size USP laser that cuts without heating surrounding material. MFG.COM is an online exchange for the manufacturing industry. PatientsLikeMe is an online community where patients can discuss and track medical conditions. Vanu uses software that allows mobile networks to accommodate devices with different standards.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Smashing Data Visualization

Smashing magazine recently published a great piece on data visualization. Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the pointer.

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