Searching Inside Myself (learning from Google employees’ not-so-secret secret)

A review of ‘Search Inside Yourself’, by Chade-Meng Tan (book)

The book’s full title is ‘Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)‘. Which is sometimes shortened to just ‘SIY‘.

Chade-Meng Tan (Meng) works for Google, where his official job title is “Jolly Good Fellow (which nobody can deny)” (Meng was involved in developing Google’s online search function, but more recently has been developing and running the SIY training course for Google employees).

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Why it makes sense to ‘Like’ and ‘Check-in’

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/pressureUA

For a long time I thought, as I believe many people still do, that ‘Liking’ posts or webpages (eg, Facebook‘s ‘Like’ button), and ‘checking-in’ at locations (eg Foursquare) were just for fun, an unnecessary novelty.

With the development of social discovery, and smarter algorithms used for advertising, it’s becoming apparent to me that there is in fact quite some value in ‘liking’ and ‘checking-in’.

Of course, many people will immediately shudder, raising privacy concerns, and concerns that it is time-consuming or frivolous (see also my post “Thoughts on privacy versus disclosure in today’s society“). These can be fair objections, but let’s investigate things a little further.

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Thoughts on ideas, brainstorming, facilitation, and crowdsourcing

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DrAfter123

Having an “idea” is a uniquely human thing.  It can be fun, beautiful, empowering, motivating, exciting, artistic, valuable. *

Through personal reflection, brainstorming, facilitation and crowdsourcing ideas can be leveraged and improved upon, to the point that the outcome is far better than the initial idea.

Ideas come from creative thinking, considering the previously unconsidered, often referred to as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking or ‘strategic’ thinking (albeit strategy in many businesses seems, disappointingly, often not to be that creative).

I enjoy the creative process of originating and developing ideas, and so wanted to pull together some thoughts on this.

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Language translation update – Rosetta Stone, and more on Google Translate

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/duncan1890

I’ve not posted much on language translation recently, so I’d thought I’d take another look and see what’s going on … A couple of things have come to my attention:

  • Rosetta Stone are doing some interesting things with iPhone/iPad (to be honest, not too soon – I’ve always thought that smartphones/tablet computers and Rosetta Stone are made for each other)
  • Google Translate continues to push forward – their smartphone app (for Android, iOS, etc.) is quite simply amazing (and yet still quite simplistic, but imagine where they’ll be in another 5-10 years, which is quite a long time in tech terms …

I like the contradiction of the above – one that promotes better language learning, and the other which helps you get by without language learning. Somehow typical of the world today – more solutions, more options, more complexity, more tailoring to individual needs, etc.

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The new ‘news’, and how you find it

How do you follow the news? – Do you read a newspaper, in paper form, or online (or several)?  … watch ‘the News’ on TV? … listen to ‘the News’ on the radio? … read news websites? These approaches to following the news (even online news sites) are grounded in ’20th century’ thinking, and are in many ways inefficient and ineffective.

Which brings us to the question ‘What is news?’ (simply ‘new information’?). When you want to find information, and find that Google doesn’t help you find the full answer, what then? Wouldn’t it be nice if the news and information that we want to hear comes to us in a personalized way?

There are some excellent, recently developed online tools available to assist you finding, more efficiently and more effectively, the news and information that interests you, whether it be current affairs, work related insights, or topics of personal interest.  In this post I comment on some of these tools, in particular RSS feedsGoogle, Twitter and Quora.

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Is the iPad Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”?

I recently read (and retweeted) the tweet above.  It made me think what has been achieved in a relatively short space of time (30 years or so, since computers began to reach the public, initially in only a very rudimentary form), and inspired me to develop those thoughts.

As @dna4ever42‘s tweet quotes Stephen Fry (in the Time magazine article ‘The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again?‘), Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) likens the iPad to the encyclopedia in Douglas Adams’ brilliant ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘ (the encyclopedia being that guide), written by Adams, a close friend of Fry, in 1979.

It is indeed a shame that Adams, who Fry describes as being the first person in the UK to own an Apple Macintosh computer, isn’t able to see the iPad (Adams died of a heart attack at the age of 49 on 11 May 2001) – one can be fairly sure that he would have been excited by it.

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Test results for comparison of free online translation tools – update

A commentator on my Blog recently pointed out that my post on universal language translation, and the test results of various online language translators failed to cover Bing (Microsoft) Translator – a huge error on my part?  Well clearly it is an obvious ommission, but I consider my approach to have been solid (I took the top 10 results from Google, but obbiously Google is biased in a big way against Microsoft, but interestingly seemingly less so against Yahoo, whose Babelfish was included in the search results).

In any case, I have repeated my ‘standard’ test on Bing Translator (same test as I applied to the other online translation tools). Did I expect Bing to come in and blow away the competition?  I thought it might at least come near the top of the pile. It didn’t. The results set out below, with further comments.

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