Policy and technology: a "longue durée" view

Random thoughts on policy for technology and on technology for policy


January 2013

The main tools to help me thinking are Venn diagrams, mindmaps, tables

I am noting that whenever I think of something, I use one of these three methods. 

I also use tags – but I dont know where it fits. Perhaps in the diagramme.

Also, I love taxonomies.

And it’s a long time I want to read “Women, Fire and Dangerous things” by Lakoff.

What is the discipline that study this? Semiotics? Logic?

An humble copernican revolution in managing contacts

Managing my network of contacts, finding the right people to involve in projects is a key activity in my job.

Yet when I have to create a committee, list of experts, I simply create a new list on gDoc spreadsheet, and start filling it.

I decided to adopt the web/tagging/link approach instead.

Have a unique list of contacts and add tags to them based on the expertise. Not on a systematic basis, but starting from present need. I need to create a list of “innovation players 2.0”, and I will just start adding names in my address book and tagging them.

For the moment I will do it using groups in my Mac address book, but I should use instead a web-based contact management tool such as Gist. But I havent fully grasped it.

Obviously, the most powerful thing would be when my contact tags interact with my tags on evernote, my tags on diigo, on asana…

So that by clicking one tag on my Operative System (rather than one directory), I have all my projects, contacts, references, bookmarks, task…

How do you manage your contacts?

Using Google to back up my hypothesis

In my work, I have to develop creative ideas. But when I present them, I have to back them up by evidence.

Before Google, you had to study the literature, develop the ideas based on that, and write.

Now, I first start with an idea (building on what I know, what I’ve studies previously) and then I search on Google for evidence to back it up. Whatever your idea is, you will always find a pdf (even better in Google Scholar) that presents and defends exactly that idea.

Not exactly a scientific method…

Impressed by the business model of – but are the results meaningful?

In these times of innovative, cool and non-monetizeable web 2.0 companies, I was impressed by using

The idea is simple: they have a standard report to assess your skills, strengths and weaknesses.

You allow them to send the survey to your Linkedin network. It’s free but if you want to see the results of the survey you need to pay 100$ (in theory for a year of services but I doubt I will re-use it).

So I did: after all, it’s free just as any other web tool these days.

Then the answers started to come in. More than 80 of my contacts took the survey in one week and expressed their opinion about me.

Obviously, I couldn’t resist. I HAD to buy the report. As I tweeted some time ago, vanity is the most powerful driver of human behaviour.

Comparison with others (for both envy and vanity) is certainly the most powerful and basic force. Almost irresistible.

So here is the great idea. Pick a standardised and very traditional report questionnaire. Make it social , let your contacts fill the questionnaire. Resell the answers to you at a premium. And people will just pay, driven by the animal forces of vanity. 

Pure genius. Just imagine linkedin has 200 milion members. If 0,1 % of the members take the survey (not an unreasonable assumption, 0,6% of my contacts did in just one month) , this is 200K people, this makes 20 Million dollars revenues. With a very basic questionnaire, with no need for human intervention. What a difference “social” makes!

Anyway, beside this, I found the report quite useful in order to identify my strengths and weaknesses, and my career prospects seem very positive.

But I would like to put the results in perspective. Maybe people just answer positively to such surveys. I would like to have some kind of comparison/benchmarking tool, telling me how I score compared with my contacts, and which contacts have similar scores to me. Maybe will sell me such services at premium rate 🙂

In any case, here are my basic data:

87 answers in one week

Main area to be improved: listening to others

Net Promoter Score: 78 (3 points short of “Great: Most people see you so favorably that they will help advance your career with glowing recommendations, introductions and connections.”)

My company prospects: 8,4 out of 10 (“Great”)

My personal prospects: 8,7 out of 10 (“Great”)

It would be great if anyone having used the service could report on their results, for comparisons’ sake.

How to convince policy-makers that #science20 is for real?

In 2 weeks I have a challenging presentation to policy-makers about Science 2.0, based on the results of our study. By Science 2.0 we mean open access, open data, open code, reproducible science, citizen science.

The big challenge is how to convince policy-makers that science 2.0 is not just a fad.

My arguments are:

– it’s happening already: data showing that many scientist are practicing it;

– it’s having an impact: discoveries made using science 2.0 that would not have been possible before;

What are in your experience the best argument to use in such case?

Blog at

Up ↑