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broadstuff"broadstuff" - 5 new articles

  1. Sweat those Pipes!
  2. Riepl's Law - Why email isn't going away anytime soon
  3. The Darwinian Stew of Web 2.0
  4. State of Social Business market in France
  5. The Future of Social Business 2015
  6. More Recent Articles
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  8. Prior Mailing Archive

Sweat those Pipes!

An interesting day the SCTE Spring Lecture yesterday – thanks to those speaking and organising the event. The headline topic was DOCSIS 3.1, which is the next evolution of cable modem technology. I have spent the last few years working with DSL-based ISPs, so it was good to find out what’s been going on with cable.

DOCSIS 3.1 updates cable modem technology by increasing the potential spectrum available and improving the efficiency of is of spectrum use. It also opens the door to better integration between the TV data sides of cable technology, as well as standardising platform management interfaces. However, it seems the most important thing for cable companies is to get more bits through their existing infrastructure. This is good for the companies and the consumer.

Like any infrastructure business, telcos and cable cos want to squeeze their assets as long and as much as possible. If we had invented broadband access as a green field technology, we would have laid a fibre to every home. Of course, digging trenches is expensive and engineering should be the art of the possible. In the telco world, the DSL family of standards were developed to squeeze data over the twisted pairs originally designed for voice. (A quick historical note - ADSL was originally developed to carry video on demand over ATM, back in those seemingly distant days when the Internet was a curiosity for geeks and academics.)

A few years later, in the late 90’s, DOCSIS was developed to overlay data on cable TV networks. Because cable TV uses co-axial cable rather than twisted pairs, this was always an easier task. Cable does have a disadvantage because the cable is shared by many customers and therefore the bandwidth has to be shared. This is known as the “contention ratio”, but DSL suffers from shared resources as data goes deeper into the network and this is really the point of the Internet i.e. a shared medium that can be used by everyone intermittently.

Cable companies have dealt with contention and increasing demand for bandwidth by -
• allocating more bandwidth to broadband data
• improving efficiency (bits/hertz) by upgrading the technology to allow better performance over the same network.
• improving the network quality to reduce noise and so improve bits/hertz (also known as the constellation size.)
• segmenting the network to reduce the number of customers “sharing” each data feed.

From the mundane exercise of sending technicians to tighten connectors (improving network quality) to the high-tech of advanced line coding (new technology), these approaches all have costs and benefits and so it becomes one side of a business case. The other side is the competitive environment. In the UK, Virgin Media are offering 152Mbit/s as their top tier and one has to assume that this pitched so as to outstrip anything BT can do using DSL and twisted pair! In Europe, teclos are using Fibre to the Home (FTTH) to reach Gigabit speeds and the cable operators are responding. DOCSIS 3.1 will make this much easier for them.

As an aside, a question was raised about the theoretical limit to the amount of bandwidth a human can consume. We didn’t get a good answer, which was fair enough as it is really a question that involves cognitive psychology. However, it did bring to mind a review I read many years ago for a V.32 (9.6K) modem that said something to the effect that it was all very clever, but no one can type that fast!

Riepl's Law - Why email isn't going away anytime soon

Layers of News Media over time - Business will be no different(from

We've written about this a few times on Broadstuff, but not for Social Business. I wrote about this application of Riepl's Law to Enterprsises over at the Agile Elephant Blog, but in short:

It’s never going to happen. Email will be here for a long time still, so get used to living with it. Social Business systems that can’t cope with email will die a long time before email will.

The reason for this is that, in the entire history of new media from the invention of speech onwards, newer and further developed types of media never replace the existing modes of media and their usage patterns. Instead, a convergence takes place in their field, leading to a different way and field of use for these older forms. The diagram above shows how mewdia generations have gone in News, it will be no different for Business communications. (Source

This observation is called Riepl’s Law.

This was first noticed by Wolfgang Riepl. Riepl was the chief editor of Nuremberg’s biggest newspaper at the time, and was stated as above in his dissertation about ancient modes of news communications.


The Darwinian Stew of Web 2.0

News this week that GigaOm and FriendFeed have closed down.

GigaOm was one of the (better, IMO) Tech blogs-cum-digital news sites, the problem was (i) so many others also opened up at the same time, and (a salutary lesson) GigaOm was more about sound analysis rather than froth or shilling. If there is one lesson from Digital media it is that heavyweight content usually sinks, we are still largely in the "digital weeds" phase of ecosystem development in digital media . TechCrunch* soild itself to AOL, this does raise questions of whether there will be a larger shakeout soon.

Friendfeed was one of the (many) experimental social network approaches trid out in the 'noughties - some modes like Twitter & Facebook "stuck", many didn't. Joost, Seesmic, Plurk....remember them? The Friendfeed founders were smart, and Google bought Friendfeed for its people, but the product was left (as so often) to wither slowly on a decaying vine.

In reality though, the two are merely part of the huge evolutionary process going on as part of the overall Digital Transformation into Homo Surfiens, no different to the huge experimemntation of say the shift of shipping from sail to steam, or development of aircraft, or any other radical new technology you can mention. A huge number of experiments are tried in the Darwinian soup of technology evolution, some climb up the slippery stick and make it as "best ways forward" and jump the chasm, the others are subsumed into the mud silt at the bottom of the evolutionary ecosystem as experiments that failed....till next time.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, startups to silt.... but the overall Digital Transformation continues apace. It's often salutary to think back on the world 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago and look at what has changed in ICT as Moore's law carries on carrying on. And just think, if it wasm't for Edison we'd be surfing our tablets by candlelight....

*Update - I note its founder, Mike Arrington, tweeted today that he was glad he never took outside funding for TechCrunch. Therein probably hangs a tale. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all succesful companies are the same, every failed company fails in its own way.

State of Social Business market in France

I published a summary of the Lecko report on Social Business is France 2015 over on the Agile Elephant blog, in two parts:

- Research into the evolution of deployment and what companies are doing

- Research into the software and comparisons of features

There is quite a lot that is useful for UK and other countries rather than being just France specific. The most powerful part of the work however, in my view, is the analysis of 35 software packages against c 550 datapoints (see analysis diagram of one package, Jive, above), its a very good way of comparing for selection and "best fit" analysis, also allows them to make a much more transparent "Gartner Quadrant" estimate (see below)


The Future of Social Business 2015

Bjoern Negelmann and the Gartner Hype Curve of Social Business

I wrote up 2 notes in our Agile Elephant Blog (over here and here) on the state of Social Business today, but here is a summary:

In essence I buy Bjoern Negelmann's analysis at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris last week that it is in the Slough of Despond phase, and the only way is up (see picture above).

This is confirmed in my view by the latest McKInsey report on the subfect, which essentially notes that it is here to stay, and more and more companies expect to expand its usage.

I also think the fact that two "New New" memes - "Digital Transformation" and "Enterprise Social Networks" are now riding on its coat, tails tells you that it's hitting early mass markets. But last word to the McKinsey analysis of "what comes next":

Begin with a targeted approach, then broaden impact. While the overall adoption of social tools remains widespread, the results indicate that most companies use them intensely in only a few functional processes. Yet the successful use of social in sales-and-marketing processes suggests how much more potential value is at stake in other parts of the business. To get the most value out of social technologies, companies should focus on specific cases where these tools could be implemented in a targeted way. A company already using social tools could broaden the technologies’ impact by adopting them in areas such as operations, where they are used less often now.

Focus on metrics. As companies adopt (and adapt) these relatively new technologies in their business, they also face the challenge of measuring data they’ve never seen or worked with before. To use social tools more effectively and understand where and how they can add future value, companies must mind how to measure the impact from tools already in use. One approach is comparing existing metrics from areas of the business where social is used against control-group areas without social tools. But the best methodology depends on the process and what benefits companies ultimately want to see.

Change the way people work. Executives are optimistic about the potential business value from social tools—a common attitude toward new technologies. There’s an initial growth phase that drives adoption and excitement around the technology, but then companies need time to figure out how to use it to drive real productivity improvements. To reach the next S-curve of value from social tools, companies must think more holistically about the organizational and cultural changes to make.6 Social tools have the potential to change organizations, but only if those tools are implemented in a way that changes how individual employees work day to day.

From the Slough of Despond, the only way is up.....


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