Sunday Aug 31, 2008

Time Delays

In Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition is Reshaping Global Markets, George Stalk, Jr. and Thomas M. Hout wrote:

Distortion between actual demand and perceived demand plague most businesses today. To escape them, companies have a choice. They can produce to forecast and try to ignore the reverberation that would cause them to do otherwise, or they can reduce the time delays in the flow of information and product through the system. The traditional solution is to produce to forecast...The new solution is to reduce the consumption of time throughout the system.

Managing time and information in supply chains have improved considerably since Stalk and Hout wrote their 1990 book. Bullwhip effect remains universally and as well-recognized (starting with ideas rooted in Jay W. Forrester's work) as in 1990. It is also known that even in the case of perfect information flow up a supply chain, some amplification of oscillations will continue to propagate upstream of any supply chain, and the only control action that remains (in a world of "perfect" information flow) is still the reduction of time delays, some of which will continue to survive due to the physical conditions of lived time and space. It still takes time to transport goods from point A to point B.

Friday Aug 01, 2008

Web Smarts -- Using Time

Imagine how much easier it will be if my wife and I, who share calendars on Google, can use some kind of service that would  propose a few flights for our family to some desired destination at some free cross section of our time—the move from Internet calendars and other identity-rich measures (whether of the Google, Yahoo or other variety) to integration with already existing web services we all use (for everything from travel and budget planning to various other purchases, projects and plans) should be a relatively trivial matter.  

Another scenario—I'm looking for a house. My calendar is on the web. Some service can arrange house seeing expeditions for me and reserve time on my calendar.

This does not seem to be a tremendously difficult mathematical problem, and it doesn't involve much AI.

So, why don't we have these types of services yet. Lack of proper integration?

This type of integration simply allows to deploy other dimensions of search and constraint satisfaction technology—any search or technology that reduces transaction costs and brings real convenience to us. There is not really much else to it!

Tuesday Oct 30, 2007

California Earthquake -- Alum Rock

A jolty but short lived 5.6 earthquake, which happened at around 8:04:54 pm PST, took a minute or so to travel from the epicenter to where I live. SJ Mercury has a running roll of how others felt. (The earthquake was recorded on USGS website  within a minute or so, even before the magnitude could be calculated.)

Thursday Apr 12, 2007

Technology, Time and Space

(Preamble: This is a draft. However, what started as a draft has turned into something more through the dialog in the comments section. So, I'll leave it as it is, at least for right now.)

A farmer in Heilongjiang province of People's Republic of China, a nomad in Mongolia or a bushman in Namibia only need to look into the night sky to observe the canopy of far away stars and to conclude that space stretches to farthest distances imaginable.

When we, individually, come to realize our own mortality, and compare the length of our lives to the life of, say, a Redwood tree, a mountain, Earth, Sun or a distant galaxy, we can conclude, rather easily, how shortly our lives occupy time in its vast stretch.

One would hope that recognizing the apparently infinite reach of time and space should help moderate the ego and bring some humility to all who care to examine what stretches and presents itself in their surroundings. Yet, few seem to have a discerning eye, and we are prone to falling prey to our egos and our own feeble notions of grandiosity.

We often use various tools (call them "technologies") at our disposal to shrink space or time in the practice of this present life.

We produce things that lead to durability and mobility.

In fact, all technologies can be categorized according to the extent they contribute either to durability or mobility.

As time has moved forward and the industrial age has engulfed human life, the emphasis in produced tools has shifted from providing durability to providing mobility.

The Persian nomadic tribes invented the carpet thousands of years ago to carry through various seasonal moves, from place to place, as a floor covering which survived many moves over many years.

The Persian carpet, as a mobile covering, conveyed, also, in its design, a definite sense of stability and durability in life.

Paper, as a recording technology, emphasizes the durability of recorded content much more than the mobility of the content it carries. It cannot be carried as readily as bits of information on a wire but it inherently requires no energy for retaining and presenting the content it carries.

The Internet (some call it the largest copy machine in the world) emphasizes the mobility of content it carries more than the durability of the content it might be said to record.

Why has the modern age focused primarily on provision of mobility? What is lost when tools emphasize mobility over durability? Is there a pendulum that may swing back? Why will it swing back?

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