Power of search engines – Lift ’10

Search engines are much more powerful than I knew! Estelle Metayer impressed me in the Workshop she organised at Lift ’10, “How Intelligent is your Company?

I have also learned such a new word as “deep web” in the Workshop, and learned by doing that a number of smart search engines allow us to find information from webs which are not linked to other web sites.

For example, pipl, a search engine that collects a number of pieces of information on person and display them in a well sorted out way. When I input my name, I was almost frightened and thrilled at the same time!

Frightened because my photo posted at my Facebook was there. How come, as I allow only my friends to see my page of Facebook!?

Thrilled because I found my video posted by someone! It was my presentation at IGF last year. I even didn’t know that someone was taking a video when I was talking.

“pipl” also displayed a series of my papers and books I published when I was at the OECD, and some dates back to even 1992! I felt I have my personal archive on the web.

To be fair, pipl is not perfect, yet, at least. It has picked up an ID photo of someone else from Facebook, and placed my volunteer activities at World Civil Society Forum as profession.

Above said, I’m convinced what technologies are enabling us to gather intelligence, any kind of intelligence, which you may not be aware.

So we should utilise them smartly, rather than stay away from them.

Lift ’10 is this week

I am participating in Lift ’10 again this year to be held on 5-7 May. Lift is so unique and inspiring that I cannot miss.

In the first year, in 2007 , I was a new comer, impressed and inspired by Lift. In the second year, I enjoyed meeting with people I met at LIft in the previous year, and enjoyed networking of like-minded people. Last year, in 2009, I organised a workshop of “Cyber Volunteers”, with friends at ICVolunteers and those connected with Asia@home.

This year, I’m registered in three workshops and look forward to taking a fresh shower of ideas!

Lift history in posters

Lessons for CEOs — Toyota’s recall

Has CEO taken lessons from Toyota issues?
What lessons for CEOs from Toyota

Toyota’s large scale recall issue has been in spotlight in the past weeks, but this may have brought a valuable lesson to a CEO of a major car manufacturing company.

At the Geneva Motor Show this week, I have picked up interesting thoughts from an interview with Mr. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan;

We don’t consider that it is a problem for one car manufacturer, but it’s an issue for the whole industry. Because all of the sudden, we ask “OK, What can we do to improve our own company?”, “How can we react in a way which is more transparent?”, “How can we react in a way which is much faster?”

Today, it is happening in one company, but at the same time we’re trying to learn for our own future about what is acceptable and what is not.

Because, recalls you’re going have recalls. Nobody can guarantee that there is never going to be a situation where there is no recall.

Mr. Ghosn went on saying;

Nobody can say that I have my own processes and they are going to be stable forever. We always look at what can we better, and revise our processes, just our processes, and particularly empower the people who are in front of the consumers, who are near the field to make decision quickly. Not waiting for the information to go through the hierarchy to the top level of the company before getting an answer. If you think a consumer is facing a problem, fix it. Immediately. Then we deal with the internal issues.

I’d expect that Nissan and other car manufacturers take good lessons from Toyota recall issue this time and they’ll prove what they will have learned, should a recall happen to them. It’s them to prove.


ECO and consumer concerns of car manufacturing industry, Geneva Motor Show 2010

I visited the 80th International Motor Show held Geneva, 4-14 March 2010.

Fancy cars

I observed an increased response by car manufacturers to the environment concern. Compared with my last visit of the show in 2007, it is a remarkable change all the major companies exhibited hybrid cars. In 2007, only Honda exhibited a hybrid car already in use in the market place. Not only for cars for the general consumers, such as Nissan and Volks Wagen but also high-end sports cars have launched hybrid cars in their own concepts. Hybrid engine has become a trend, as long as this show is concerned.

SUBARU exhibited electric cars used by Japan Post and Tokyo Electricity Corp. (See photo)

SUBARU electric car used by Japan Post
Ferrari Green Car, Hybrid

To catch up the trends, the luxury sports car manufacturers have also launched hybrid cars.  Both Porche and Ferrari announced their first cars with hybrid engines. (See Photo Ferrari Green Car)

Fans of sports cars with strong engines have a mixed feeling. They like strong cars regardless of CO2 emission levels. At the same time, they also feel it responsibility of manufacturers not to damage the environment. Most of them seemed to think it inevitable, and desirable even though they have to compromise their exicitment with fancy sports cars, that luxury sports car constructors walk with the environmental concerns of the people worldwide.

National solutions for global problems — From WEF

I worked at WEF (World Economic Forum) held in Davos. My role was to help a Japanese TV crew as a coordinator, mainly to make appointments with those people whom the journalists wish to interview. One of the people I coordinated was Dr. Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International.

The interview was inspiring. I almost jumped from the floor when his words hit my long-lasting question; how we overcome limits of the nation states systems?

He said; How do you bridge this gap, between the global problems on one hand and national solutions on the other?

The phrase was a concluding remark of a discussion about the way to build a new world system to overcome the present global problems, especially financial problems. He discussed the limit of national solutions and need for global co-operation to overcome the limit.

To summarise, we live in the world where a problem happens in one part of the world spread out over the world, climate change, terrorism, epidemic disease, etc. If we stay focused on national solutions for global problems, that wouldn’t work for the world. He proposed a global cooperation, as an alternative to un-coordinated national solutions.

The issue of national vs global benefits is not new to me. My professional experience in the past convinced me that fragmented regulations across countries is a loss; to companies, to customers, and to our society. Though my experience was as a government relations manager in the telecommunications industry, exactly the same was true.

To be realistic, I am not sure if politicians and business people could co-operate for the global benefits, leaving national and personal interests aside. However, I cannot think of a better solution. It would take a long time for the world big leaders to co-operate in their financial regulations and economic policies, but it is the only way to go.


Technology for Society — From WEF

I’m just back from Davos, the 40th World Economic Forum. Though my work was always behind the scenes, I met stimulating people and enjoyed many stimulating thoughts.

What’s nice is that WEF posts most of the sessions on the web.

Please share with me, thanks to technology, the session “Technology for Society” (29 Jan, 2010):

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google; Google makes available technologies that allow us to help others –> YK: True! All of its services, i.e. mails, maps, etc. are tools for social networking, knowledge transfer and more.

At the aftermath of an  earthquake in Haiti, Google flew a low altitude airplane and took aerial photos as precisely as possible to help the rescue teams on the ground.

Please find discussion of Google and the CEO of Ushahidi, Google on China and  more –> Technology for Society, 28 Jan. 2010

Is it true? – DIY in air travel

Airlines say that self-service is the way to go. It makes customers travel easy. Customers want it.

Is it true? May be, but with limits.

Automated systems, such as online booking  and self-serve checking-in, are programmed based on a set of assumptions, based on a hypothesis that all the things go well throughout a travel.

Travel however is full of irregulars. Each travel is different. In addition, passenger convenience is very personal. Self-service check in is stressful for me when traveling with 2-3 bags and luggage (This is a normal travel style for a woman traveling a long distance with connecting flights). There is no space to put a handbag. This requires me to do some complicating maneuver to pick up a reservation record from the bag before typing a booking number in a kiosk in front of me. The process is more complicated for a parent traveling with two young children.

I can go on to list other experiences of this kind. The same is true for aged passengers who don’t understand languages spoken by airline staff, or who are not familiar with doing things on computers.

Airlines are moving on toward “contact-less” travel.

The idea sounds good and logical to airlines, but I wish it doesn’t go too far. In reality, air travel is a complex activity as it involves a number of small but important events, from booking, checking-in, flying, changing flights to picking up luggage at the destination airport.

Self-service will work only if it is accompanied by a carefully organised safety net, as passenger requirements are so varied that one can’t  take them into account in self-service systems. I hope airlines listen to customers carefully, in preparing the way forward of “DIY” or Do-it-Yourself in the air travel process.