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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Educational Resources for Space

Education, Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, August 3, 2015
6:36 pm


Recently, I received some fun suggestions from Jasmine Dyoco from EducatorLabs via the Feedback page on this site. Intrigued by some of the Space Travel posts on this blog, she suggested a number of great links to educational sites related to Space and science:

I was impressed by the Vision of EducatorLabs:

EducatorLabs is comprised of school librarians and media/market research specialists who work as curators and conservators of the scholastic web. In previous decades, our resource collections were finite and we knew our card catalog backwards and forwards; nowadays, modern technology provides us with a seemingly infinite inventory of educational resources. Unfortunately, there simply are no comprehensive card catalogs for the internet and, sadly, many untapped resources go undiscovered by most teachers.

Naturally, we feel compelled to bridge the gap. Our mission is to assist educators, for whom time is a precious commodity, in discovering valuable resources of substance for classroom use. We also seek to strengthen connections among the educational web by acting as courier: because of our high standards, our approach is grassroots and hands-on in nature.

As a father of six children, all of whom graduated from public schools in Mesa, AZ, I have deep respect for dedicated educators who go above and beyond their “job descriptions” to offer students outstanding educational experience. And now, as my grandchildren are growing up, I am so grateful for teachers and schools that are willing to go the extra mile to help young minds learn and grow and spread their wings of discovery!

Thank you, Jasmine!

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Business-led Innovation

Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
2:01 pm


This morning I watched an interesting webcast where Bob Evans, Oracle’s Senior Vice President, Communications spoke with Jean-Marc Frangos Managing Director, External Innovation, BT Technology Service and Operations, on the subject of innovation to provide outstanding customer experience.  I was impressed with a statement Frangos made:

“Innovation is not something a special team does—it is something that must be ingrained in the mindsets and behaviors of everyone, and for which, ideally, there should be no special process.”

I learned that last year, Oracle sponsored a study on this subject by the Economist Intelligence Unit, “Cultivating Business-Led Innovation:”

The study, including results from a survey of 226 global respondents, also features customer, author, and expert interviews on strategies for fostering innovation, along with information about technologies that support innovation and lead to competitive advantage.

The study concluded six recommendations for improving the process of business-driven innovation:

Culture comes from the top: it’s up to the leadership to set a tone that makes workers feel empowered to innovate—and allowed to fail.

Success in innovation is also about failure: redeploying members of teams involved in failed innovations can help to increase the prospect of success elsewhere by ensuring that learnings are disseminated.

Pushing down authority is an enabler: empowering smaller teams to build their own tools to solve business problems helps to give rise to wider innovations.

Encourage small iterative projects: These set up an environment in which repeated experimentation and learning refine winning ideas.

Disruptive technology trends are empowering: executive respondents to our survey feel that the IT department should play a key role in educating business leaders about new technology trends. Knowledge is of course critical to using new technologies appropriately and effectively.

Get everyone involved: look for opportunities to increase the cross-fertilisation of ideas between as many business units as possible. Encourage customer participation and customer data comparisons in innovation initiatives.

Innovation is tough, especially for big companies with competing priorities.  It is always enjoyable to be involved with intelligent, motivated people who believe in innovation and create outstanding results.

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AC/DC: The Tesla–Edison Feud

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
3:58 am

Two of the great minds in the history of electricity were featured in a recent article in Mental Floss.  These two men, giants in their field, were closely related in their work, but diametrically opposed in so many ways.  This short, but fascinating article gives a good overview of the feud between them.

Edison tesla 12

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Abundance vs. Scarcity – Which do You Choose?

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, March 7, 2013
7:41 am


On the whiteboard in my office is a statement, “Abundance is born of shared ideas,” which I wrote down when first introduced to the book, “The Emergence of the Relationship Economy.”  We don’t have to look very far to find many examples of how innovation sprang from ideas shared among creative, energetic people, leading to a rich abundance and growth of health, happiness or monetary wealth.  This type of expansive thinking and action results when people look outside their situation in life, whatever it may be, and concentrate on what can be, rather than what is.  This is an Abundance Mentality.

In contrast, a Scarcity Mentality prompts people to look inwardly, concentrating on the supposed constraints of a situation or condition in life.  Perhaps this is no better illustrated that in a video being shared widely on Facebook. “9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact.”

This video cleverly compares the wealth of the 1% richest people in the US with the rest of us 99 percenters. The graphics are well done, the narration and music are professional.  However, there are at least five glaring errors in the supporting logic:

  1. By focusing on relative percentages rather than absolute values of personal wealth, the video infers that somehow the wealth of the 1% automatically diminishes the wealth of everyone else.  After all, the stack of money for a guy on the left side of the chart sure looks smaller than the stack on the right side.
  2. The video assumes scarcity, rather than abundance – that the sum of all society wealth or individual wealth is constrained to a fixed amount, that individuals are somehow limited in opportunity for growth because the 1% are insanely wealthy.
  3. The video assumes that “fairness” is defined by a more even distribution of wealth.
  4. The video infers that if some magic would occur to take the wealth of the 1% and spread it in some more equitable fashion across the rest of us, that we would all be more happy and the world would be a better place.
  5. The video assumes that monetary wealth is the ultimate measure of success or happiness.  After all, how can I be happy when someone else has more money than I do?
With these comments, I don’t intend to excuse that rampant greed that fuels so much of society today, but I propose that getting all caught up in the “Scarcity Mentality” embodied in this video diminishes our ability to focus on innovative thought and action, which could alternatively lead to abundant growth, both individually and as a society.
An example from my past is particularly important to me.  I grew up on a small farm in southern Idaho.  My college educated father loved farming, but couldn’t make enough money on the farm to support his growing family, so he began teaching school, an occupation he despised.  We still worked on the farm, plowing ground, harvesting crops, feeding pigs and milking cows – tasks that demanded relentless attention but yielded little monetary gain.  We never went on an overnight vacation; the cows demanded to be milked every morning and every night.
But my dad had a vision of what his children could become.  Knowing that he couldn’t afford to send us to college, he allowed us to work outside the farm to earn money to finance our education.  I bucked a lot of hay, milked a lot of cows and made a lot of cheese for other employers.  Dad could have focused on the scarcity  and constraints of our farm and demanded that I exert all my work on the farm within those constraints, but he favored the abundant focus, which enabled me to get an education and pursue a successful career.  Dad never achieved even a modicum of monetary success that would show up in the video, but measures his abundance in the success, happiness and abundant lives of his seven children and their families.
I recently watched a video where Ben Carson told of how his mother, one of 24 children, abandoned by a bigamist husband, living in dire poverty, refused to focus on her own bad situation, but make her sons study at the public library so they could rise above the dire conditions in which they were born. Inspired by what he read, Ben rose to become Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  In addition to financial success, he has blessed many lives through his skill and dedicated service.
In my current employment, I could get all caught up in the fact that Larry Ellison has many more billions of dollars in his bank accounts than I have in mine, or that he has yet to invite me for dinner on his private Hawaiian island, or that I will never catch up to him monetarily.  That would be Scarcity Mentality on my part.  But when I focus on what I can do innovate, to serve our customers or to move our industry forward, opportunities blossom. That is the Abundance Mentality.



IAM Disruption vs. Innovative Migration

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, March 2, 2013
9:12 am

Kuppinger per

I enjoyed reading Martin Kuppinger’s response to Ian Glazer’s challenge, “Killing Identity Management in Order to Save it.” I tend to align with Martin’s conclusion as a pragmatic approach:

I do not believe in disruptiveness. I believe in approaches that build on existing investments. IAM has to change, no doubt about that. But there will still be a lot of “old school” IAM together with the “new school” parts. Time and time again it has been proven that change without a migration path is an invitation to disaster. Embrace and extend is the classical migration methodology for classical technical transformative strategies.

There is no question that we need continued innovation in Identity and Access Management.  There are new business problems to conquer, new size requirements to scale, new user expectations to master.  But let’s recognize that current systems have also conquered many problems and achieved beneficial levels of effectiveness. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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Old Time High Tech

Author: Mark Dixon
Sunday, September 16, 2012
8:17 pm

A friend of mine posted the following photos on Facebook today – showing how an “Oil Pull” tractor would have powered a threshing machine about 80 years ago.  Although our technology is much “higher” now than then, we must never forget that we stand on the broad shoulders of those who innovated before us.

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Source Doc: The Information Needs Of Communities

Social Media, Source Doc, Technology, Telecom
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, June 13, 2011
5:08 pm

Federal Communications CommissionOn June 9th, the Federal Communications Commission issued  an interesting document, “The Information Needs of Communities – The Changing Media Landscape In A Broadband Age,” authored by Steven Waldman and The Working Group On Information Needs Of Communities.  (A two-page summary of the document is available here.)

The document introduction states:

In culmination of its work over the last year, the FCC Working Group on the Information Needs of Communities delivered a report on June 9, 2011 addressing the rapidly changing media landscape in a broadband age. In 2009, a bipartisan Knight Commission found that while the broadband age is enabling an information and communications renaissance, local communities in particular are being unevenly served with critical information about local issues.

Soon after the Knight Commission delivered its findings, the FCC initiated a staff-level working group to identify crosscurrent and trend, and make recommendations on how the information needs of communities can be met in a broadband world.

I enjoyed reading the statement by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps that accompanied the document’s release; here are a few excerpts:

Let’s begin with a basic truth: the future of our country’s media is an issue that goes to the heart of our democracy. A well-informed electorate is the premise and prerequisite of functioning self-government. To make this compact work, it is imperative that the FCC play a vital role in helping to ensure that all Americans have access to diverse and competing news and information that provide the grist for democracy’s churning mill.

The Digital Age holds amazing promise for expanding the scope of our democratic discourse. The Staff Report recognizes this and the present Commission has focused tremendous energy on both broadband deployment and adoption. But let’s recognize up-front that building a new town-square paved with broadband bricks and stacked with good news and information is not going to happen on auto-pilot.

An open Internet is not the entire solution for robust Twenty-first century journalism. It’s tougher than that, and I, for one, don’t believe we’ll get there absent some positive public policy solutions. We have never had successful dissemination of news and information in this country without some encouraging public policy guidance, going back to the earliest days of the young republic when Washington, Madison and Jefferson saw to it that newspaper were financially able to reach readers all across the fledgling young republic.

These issues mean a lot to me because I believe they mean a lot to our country. I have been outspoken about them–and sometimes blunt, I know. I intend to keep speaking out on them in the months and, if needed, the years ahead. This nation faces  stark and threatening challenges to the leadership that brought us and the world successfully through so many dire threats in the century just past. Now we confront fundamental new uncertainties about the revival of our economy, where new jobs will come from, how we will prosper in a hyper-competitive global arena, how to support the kind of education that our kids and grandkids will need to thrive–indeed to survive–in this difficult time, how to open the doors of opportunity to every American, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives.We’ve got a lot to get on top of as a country and if we don’t have the facts, don’t have the information, and don’t have the news about what’s going on in the neighborhood and the town and the nation and world around us, our future will be vastly diminished. That’s why so much rides on the future of what we are talking about today.

I think these are valuable objectives, but it isn’t clear where this document will lead.  One author commented, “FCC Report on Media Offers Strong Diagnosis, Weak Prescriptions.”

I personally feel sensitive to this changing landscape.   I love the innovation of the USA Today and Wall Street Journal iPad apps, but I still enjoy reading the local paper-based newspaper over breakfast.  But my favorite local newspaper went out of business a couple of years ago, and the surviving newspaper is steadily shrinking in size.  This local newspaper’s online presence falls far short of the USA Today/WSJ readability model.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

To start with, I think I’ll transfer the whole 465-page report to my iPad and read it there.

PS.  I think the FCC has an ugly logo.  That’s all.

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