Learning to Reframe Failure

It’s been my experience that a lot of people who did well in high school and university end up faltering later in life because they’re afraid to fail. I found, during high school especially, that doing what was expected – getting good grades and not acting out – was a way of avoiding confrontation. And while this education is something that has served me well over the years and I’m grateful that a great deal of my learning in school was driven by positive reinforcement, there is something missed if you’re not learning through failure.

In a recent podcast, Good Life Project host Jonathan Fields talks about how it’s important to let go of the fear of failure in order to do the things most important to us. It’s not that we should attempt things that have no chance to succeed, but that we shouldn’t think of failure as such as terrifying prospect that we don’t even start.

Fields notes that it’s important to reframe what it means to fail: “Instead of saying, ‘I’ll be judged and ostracized’ the different frame on that is, ‘If I fail, what an extraordinary opportunity for me to understand why I failed, understand how to do it better and then apply this new knowledge to the next iteration of my path.’”

While “Failure is not an option” was a snappy quote around the Apollo 13 mission, apparently the real quote was more along the lines of: “…when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them.” Contrary to the sort of thinking that cripples us, this reaction to bad situations is productive.

It’s not that be fail but how we fail that comes to define us.

Yarn Bomber Magda Sayeg Recontextualizes Knitting

Coming from a family of great women crafters and often hearing craft disparaged in comparison to “real art”, I really like the sentiment behind “yarn bomber” Magda Sayeg’s rationale for her extreme knitting.

This craft, which is strongly associated with women has, in the past, been delegated to a domestic existence where it has been undervalued and under-appreciated. I love that, in some way, I have contributed to showing the strength of this craft—knitting and crocheting doesn’t have to be functional, it can be subversive, renegade—even illegal in certain cases. It’s bad ass! And it makes me proud, as a woman, to be a part of something that is so powerful.

While knitting is often considered less of an art because it tends to quite literally follow a set pattern. And yet here’s someone who’s standing up for knitting as a legitimate form of creativity and expression by adding new meaning and context.

Check out Magda Sayeg’s her interview with Design Milk for more on her work.

CIX launches program to help Canadian tech flourish in the Valley

The Canadian Innovation Exchange is launching a program designed to help give emerging Canadian tech companies from early-stage start-ups to more developed players the chance to develop stronger connections in the Valley.

CIX is accepting applications for its accelerator program until March 11, 2011.

In partnership with DFAIT and the Consulate General in San Francisco, CIX is taking applications for the CIX Canadian Technology Accelerator, a new program to support the innovation community in Canada.

The accelerator program will place three qualified Canadian companies in the Plug and Play Tech Center (PnP) in the heart of Silicon Valley for three months, rent paid, starting in June 2011.

Andrew Maxwell, board member of the Canadian Association of Business Incubators, said that accelerators and their cousin, incubators, can have a great effect on both the companies they house and the community at large. “The evolution of incubators from multi-occupation, mixed-use buildings to high-technology regional accelerators for commercialization is receiving increased attention at all levels of government and academia,” he wrote.

And there are accelerators and incubators closer to home. For instance, the Waterloo Research and Technology Park Accelerator, opened in May 2006, can be seen as a regional hub to connect a wider community of entrepreneurs interested in commercializing their technology product or service.

PnP, however, provides the chosen companies access to an even larger start-up community in which they will work alongside more than 150 other tech start-ups from more than 20 countries. They will also meet with experienced mentors and advisers who can guide their growth and development in the Valley and beyond, as well as be introduced to local angel networks and venture capital firms.

The program is open to any Canadian-based digital media and information technology company, and applications must be completed before March 11, 2011. The three companies will be selected by the CIX Selection Committee and be announced in early April.

MSCI to launch microsatellites to give remote regions Internet access

Canadian satellite company Microsat Systems Canada Inc. (mscinc.ca) is developing a communications constellation comprised of 78 so-called “microsatellites” that will provide backhaul network capacity for mobile devices, and connect remote regions of the Earth to the Internet.

Wireless backhaul is the part of the network that carries voice and data traffic in the Radio Access Network from the mobile base station to the mobile operators’ core network.

Given the rapid growth in data services and steady growth in voice traffic, these technologies need to evolve to accommodate the next generation of services. Announced Wednesday, MSCI’s new COMMStellation (www.commstellation.com), which consists of a cluster of microsatellites in a 1,000 km orbit above the Earth, is a potential solution to this problem.

“The influx of millions of data-hungry mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is causing unprecedented strain on mobile networks, which have already reached, or are nearing, capacity,” said MSCI president and CEO David R. Cooper. Cooper notes that COMMStellation will support mobile operators’ expanding capacity needs, and may help support government initiatives to connect their citizens to the Internet.

Former Bell ExpressVu Satellite TV CEO and Elevest Corporation founder Michael Neuman said high-speed backhaul infrastructure is a necessary component for the success of Internet businesses, noting that “if a country does not have it – it will fall behind.”

An altogether unique solution, COMMStellation promises to be a cost-effective and viable way to deliver 100-percent global coverage, something that will be important to the emergence of Internet business models, and the empowerment of remote communities worldwide.

MSCI said that its solution will provide more than five times the data bandwidth density for the same satellite output, and all for hundreds of millions less cost in comparison to its closest competitor, network service provider Other Three Billion (www.o3bnetworks.com). O3b is launching an initial constellation of eight medium-Earth orbit satellites into space at an altitude of 8,000 km to address the backhaul market “other three billion” on the planet who have limited or no access to the Internet.

COMMStellation, in comparison, will provide an eighth of the data latency and 10-times the total constellation capacity. It also has the potential to provide bandwidth to 6.9 billion people on Earth, not just the “other three billion.”

Tourisme Montréal and Gowalla help tourists explore the city socially

Montréal can be a confusing city. (image from flickr user guenno)

In an effort to make Montréal’s neighbourhoods, businesses and attractions more familiar to visitors, Tourisme Montréal (www.tourisme-montreal.org) has partnered location-based social networking platform Gowalla (www.gowalla.com) to create a custom branded presence.

The Tourisme Montréal content is available on Gowalla, which is a free smart phone app that lets users to check-in at a location, post a comment and photo, and read tips and recommendations by other users who have been to the location in the past.

This partnership is the first of its kind between a Canadian city and a social check-in network, but it does make sense. Google maps has been indispensable whenever I’m travelling to a new city. And the possibility of experiencing new (or old) sights and being simultaneously connected to other individuals and their experiences sounds like an excellent way to connect with a locality.

My concern, however, is that “checking in” will identify tourists as possible targets for crime, replacing the traditional cameras and unfolded maps.

CNW expands its online monitoring application with social media in mind

Canada NewsWire (newswire.ca), which is mostly known among media professionals for its distribution of press releases, has expanded its online monitoring application, MediaVantage (www.mediavantage.com), with social media content and automated tonality scoring capability.

Having already been a powerful search engine for Internet news coverage (built on technology gained from the April 2010 acquisition of Ottawa-based dna13), CNW said the updates to MediaVantage will give clients a more complete picture of what’s being said about them, and make “keeping your finger on the pulse of online chatter” easier.

“As more consumers move online, it becomes imperative for professional communicators to know what’s being said about their brands online, in both social media and online news outlets,” CNW president and chief executive Carolyn McGill-Davidson said. “MediaVantage’s latest release gives users access to more content within a highly efficient user interface.”

MediaVantage draws content from the most influential posters (such as the top 400,000 blogs) and public content from the most popular social sites (such as Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr). Users can also customize the list of content to search to filter out noise and irrelevant content (on the Internet? I had no idea).

In addition to social media enhancement, MediaVantage now has the ability to enable users to understand overall coverage and tone over time with what it calls “automated tonality scoring”. This enables users to track opinions expressed in English-language online and social media without manually reviewing and scoring each clip.

This could be an interesting tool for PR professionals, given the reality that effectively aligning and measuring communications efforts has gone beyond traditional media.

Bell Canada Adds New Android Smartphone: the LG Optimus Chic

Bell Mobility has added the Optimus Chic, LG’s latest smartphone, to its lineup of Android phones.

The Optimus Chic, which tech blog Engadget characterized as a “low-end” Froyo phone, has a 600MHz processor, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 3.2-inch, 320×480 HVGA capacitive touchscreen.

“We are delighted to bring the latest smartphone in the Optimus series to Canada with the Optimus Chic,” Marketing LG Electronics Canada VP Colin Bettam said in a statement. “This phone is unique in that it offers all of the power of an LG Smartphone and Android, all in a stylish design with a high gloss, minimalist finish that will surely be appreciated by customers with a discerning eye.”

An exclusive offering from Bell in Canada, the phone features 802.11b/g WiFi, A-GPS, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and FM radio, as well as the ability to be used as a portable wireless router to connect up to eight other Wi-Fi devices to the Web.
With an onboard memory of up to 150MB and an external 2GB microSD in-box, the Optimus Chic memory can be expanded with the addition of a 32GB microSD.

While not the powerhouse of other available phones, the Optimus Chic is also powerful enough to enable users to use Google’s augmented reality browser Google Goggles, which gives clients information about the things around them including landmarks, as well as the ability to identify books by their cover, translate text, record contact info from business cards, and more.

One of the major selling points of the Optimus Chic is that it is available for $0 on a three-year term with a minimum $50 voice and data plan or for $249.95 with no term. This is a bargain compared to Bell’s iPhone 4, which is available for $159.95 on a three-year contract.

Gary Smith

Ontario Government Awards $25M Grant to Tech Firm Ciena

Gary Smith
Gary B. Smith, head of Ciena, discusses the advantages said his company's network infrastructure solutions, intelligent software and a comprehensive services practice help give its business partners a competitive edge.

The Ontario government has announced its support for telecommunications equipment company, Ciena Canada (ciena.com), in its development of new technology designed to increase the speed and capacity of fibre optic networks.

The province announced Monday that it would be providing Ciena a $25-million grant as part the company’s commitment of investing $900-million over five years to expand research and development in Ontario. Ciena has also committed to partnering with universities in research and development, and the hiring of 125 university graduates.

The grant is part of the province’s five-year “Open Ontario” plan, designed to create new job opportunities and help promote economic growth. Introduced by Premier Dalton McGuinty in March 2010, the five-year Open Ontario plan was a far-reaching set of policies for the nurturing of “a climate where business can thrive, create jobs and build innovative new products to sell to the world.” These measures included the funding of education to train workers, as well as tax reforms to encourage business, chiefly the halving of taxes on new business investment.

Ciena anticipates its R&D investment, coupled with the $25-million government grant, to help create 353 new jobs and support 967 existing jobs.

Polar Mobile creates multi-platform smartphone apps for Digital Journal

Digital Journal has released a range of apps spanning the most popular smartphone platforms.

Becoming one of only a handful of news outlets to bring user-generated content to mobile phones, “social news” firm Digital Journal has partnered with mobile software developer Polar Mobile to release apps for nearly every smartphone platform on the market.

According to Digital Journal’s Wednesday announcement, the Toronto-based media company has released free news apps for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch as well as BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone devices.

The Digital Journal news apps feature articles, blogs and images from professional and citizen journalists, bloggers, photographers and reporters from around the world. Readers can use Digital Journal’s smartphone app to follow breaking news from contributors spanning 175 countries, and share articles via Facebook, Twitter and email from within the apps.

“We’re very excited about bringing user-generated content to virtually all smartphone platforms at once,” Digital Journal chief executive officer Chris Hogg said in a statement. “Mobile platforms are shaping the future of media, and we’re happy to partner with Polar Mobile to bring our engaging news network into the palm of your hand.”

Kunal Gupta, CEO of Waterloo-based Polar Mobile, said that a mobile strategy is essential to every brand, and the Polar Mobile platform will help Digital Journal “grow [its] reach on mobile and drive new revenue.”

Hogg said the new smartphone apps will complement its already highly interactive mobile site at m.digitaljournal.com. “Our smartphone app gives mobile news readers a clean and simple interface to read news, while our mobile website offers them the chance to take part and engage in the news-gathering process,” he said.

Enabling individuals to access and interact with content on mobile devices is important given worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 417 million units in the third quarter of 2010, Gartner research reported, noting the 35 percent increase over the same period the year before.

This focus on mobile apps will have an even greater importance as the smartphone market grows to 1 billion units by 2013, according to estimates from Morgan Stanley Research.

Polar Mobile research found that the application marketplace is also expected to see booming growth, as the global market for mobile app downloads is expected to climb to 21 billion downloads by 2013.

Four steps to becoming a Web 2.0 enterprise

A recent McKinsey & Co. report shows the areas in which Web 2.0 has benefited organizations.

The use of Web 2.0 technologies has not only continued to gain greater adoption among enterprises but has also proven to provide a significant competitive advantage, according to a new report from the McKinsey & Company.

Drawing upon responses from more than 3,200 executives across a range of regions, industries, and functional areas, McKinsey’s latest report found significant increases in the share of companies using social networking (at 40 per cent) and blogs (at 38 per cent). As well, the survey found that the number of employees using Web 2.0 technologies continues to increase.

According to McKinsey’s findings, the adoption of Web 2.0 by enterprises adoption provides a range of benefits from the ability to stage more effective marketing campaigns to having faster access to knowledge to make more informed business decisions.

The study authors, McKinsey’s Brussels office director Jacques Bughin, and McKinsey Global Institute senior fellow Michael Chui, have outlined a number of ways in which managers can help lead their organizations to become “fully networked enterprises”.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  1. Integrate Web 2.0 into employees’ everyday work activities. Through the course of this study and other supporting research, McKinsey found that integrating Web 2.0 technologies (such as social media and customer relationship management software) into the company’s work flow ensures that they are used by employees, and that their gains are maximized.
  2. Foster adoption and usage. Without a base-line level of adoption and usage, a company’s Web 2.0 benefits will stagnate. Enterprises must continue to drive adoption and usage because, according to the study, those respondents that reported low levels of both also reported the lowest levels of benefits.
  3. Break down organizational barriers to change. By enacting distributed decision making and work through greater collaboration within the organization and through all levels of the company, businesses have reported market share gains and profitability. Organizations that are fully networked, after all, tend to have a more fluid flow of information, deploy talent more flexibly to tackle specific problems, and allow lower-level employees make decisions.
  4. Apply Web 2.0 to interactions throughout the enterprise – and beyond. The McKinsey report suggests that businesses adopt Web 2.0 procedures for interaction between customers, business partners, and employees. This creates organizational collaboration and flexibility internally and with collaborative partners, but it also provides a better customer experience and the ability to better address client needs.

Fully networked organizations — those that have been able to truly integrate technology-enabled collaboration into their business — have been able to reap the greatest rewards. These businesses are able to forge closer marketing relationships with customers through better customer support and product-development efforts, as well as collaborate across traditional organizational structures and share information more broadly.

A natural consequence, according to McKinsey, has been improved market share.