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PartnerWorld – Day 1

March 13, 2006


Today started with the keynote, if you don’t count the gym. I’ll skip the IBM stuff because it was good, but it’ll be widely written about by better writers than I.

Except for the new IBM product called the mobility connection. I’ve always felt the that the ultimate data entry device was voice. They showed getting email on an earpiece, with it sorting out the urgent and being able to answer. Voicing RSS feeds for MP3 devices, all the things you do on a keyboard, now by voice with it actually recognizing you. I’m ready for this, I was never much of a thumb typer. This was absolutely the coolest thing I’d seen. I’ve been an advocate of voice for data entry and manipulation for a long time. Now that the social stigma of looking like you are talking to no one while you’re carrying on a public conversation in an earpiece is gone, this is relevant.

What was way out good was Burt Rutan of Scaled composites and Spaceship 1. Since the theme is Innovation, he was perfect as a speaker. He described how all the major innovators in aviation were kids during the invention of the airplane, that there were no restrictions such as we have today, we are so afraid we might put a foot wrong that no real progress is made. We haven’t been to the moon in since the 79’s and when we go back, it’ll be with similar technology, not to innovate (remember velcro and tang?). In the early years of aviation, many new ideas tried and in 4 years the basic airplane was invented.

His words were Inspire to Dream, let kids invent. You have to have confidence in nonsense because people will say your ideas are nonsensical. Innovators can’t be dismayed by naysayers, which there will always be plenty of. If half of people say it’s impossible, it’s research, if not – it’s only development. and can you take the risk. What’s ironic is I heard the same words from a VP of research at IBM in a 1:1 later in the day. IBM separates Research from Development.

Where I agreed with him was that the most innovative plane ever invented was the SR-71 Blackbird, but that was in 1959, so he defended his innovation statement adroitly.

Humor came in when he said NASA screwed up mars exploration by landing lunar rover in dessert instead of downtown mars. If we’d seen the martians, we’d have been more likely to want to go there and would have done it..

Today’s innovators like Richard Branson, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos were inspired by Apollo as children, back to his aeronautical references.

His most breakthrough aircraft and innovation was the spaceship 1, that when it re-enters the atmosphere it folds and rights itself making it safer than the Space Shuttle.

Relating to our industry, his first computer was an Apple II that he played games on. The reason computer got better was for fun, that it made us ripe for invention. He cracked a joke that thanks to Al Gore who invented the internet, that’s what spawned the capability to communicate and we had internet commerce.

He pointed out that we need competition. The original space race occurred because we were scared when the Soviets beat the Americans into space. Even now, the only place to buy a ticket to space is from Russia.

Burt predicted safe efficient high volume space flight, in next 15 years, at a value 5 times more valuable than the government NASA program. I agree with this that private enterprise provides the proper environment for competition creating a better product at a lower price.

His prediction – we’ll be able to buy a ticket and fly higher and faster than fastest military fighter today. That will inspire the military to improve and keep up (sub orbital capability). This will make space travel safer as it did for commercial air transportation where the risk is 1 in 4 million that you’ll have an accident. Right now it’s 1 in 62 for space flight. Space flight will be a growth industry. We’ll have a resort hotel in space, competition will drive it and we’ll see a resort trip around the moom and it will happen in his lifetime. Some won’t go back, people will go to colonize and take risk in hostile environment….something we’ve done throughout humanity.

Next there was the analyst conference with Donn Atkins.

Then the Press Conference,

Then 1:1’s which are always interesting, this is where the tough questions come.

That’s day one. Can’t wait for day 2, cause it’s the last one for me.

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From → ibm, partnerworld

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