The end of the year is around the corner, and this is the right time to share few ideas and ask for suggestions.
Obviously, I have plenty of ideas, fewer “drafts”, few planned activities- both on my future personal and future business side.
The picture that you see along with this post? An extract from the latest update to my CV summary http://www.slideshare.net/robertolofaro/cv-summary-20140215draft (there will be a further update at the end of the year- but for the time being it is still a collection of separate elements; this version includes links to each book).
I know that my foreign friends would like, as some did in Brussels, ask about the current corruption scandal, so I will share what I wrote in Italian on Sunday (it was confirmed by news on new arrests in other “compartments” within the State bureaucracy- but, at last, swift retribution has been promised):
“se mi dicessero che la “#corruzione #pro #contratti” nel comune di #Roma ha fruttato solo 60 milioni su 6200, direi che più che la somma, mi stupisce il numero di persone sinora coinvolte (serviva davvero una contabilità parallela stile Al Capone per tener traccia di tutti i pagamenti e le “condizioni di elargizione”)
le indagini saranno comunque una verifica sul campo della “#compartmentalization” della corruzione: se si allargano in verticale (più persone, ma non più contratti), vuol dire che è diffusa la conversione dei ruoli di autorizzazione in “sinecure”; se si allargano in orizzontale (più contratti, con le stesse ed altre persone), vuol dire che al primo fenomeno vanno aggiunti i rapporti di scambio (io non vedo quello che fai tu, tu non vedi quello che faccio io- il vecchio “una mano lava l’altra” a livello sistemico)
a naso, ma spero di sbagliarmi, potrebbero purtroppo esser veri entrambi gli elementi
se si restasse ai 60milioni, vorrebbe dire che la corruzione a Roma vale meno dell’1% del budget: a veder il nostro posizionamento nelle statistiche internazionali (in gran parte basate sulla percezione dall’interno), situazione quasi virtuosa…”
Where did I get the figures? Here: http://www.comune.roma.it/PCR/resources/cms/documents/bilancio2014_mod_09.pdf
The reason? I was curious about a statement within an interview of the former Mayor of Rome Alemanno, where he quoted a much lower figure for the Rome budget- so, I went to check at the source… there is a 1-year peak, followed by figures more in line with what Mr. Alemanno said (I think that it was 3.5bln EUR).
As I posted today on Facebook:
“considerations after another day in Turin
knowledge society? gossip society: another sign of wilful decline
unemployment is so high, that now backbiters, gossipers etc. sharing disinformation that they can have access to only through informed sources are a dime a dozen- hoping to get “credits” for future employment (while the public+private employees sourcing the gossip can safely hide) by acting as “agent provocateurs”
pathetic: they should rather invest in themselves, than turn into cannon fodder- trouble is, when they will realize that they have been used, they will usually turn to crime and violence- jailbirds and cannon fodder for extremists created for petty short-term interests
and you don’t need to work for S&P to understand the side-effects of the current social environment
my fellow Italians seem to prefer to cocoon within conspiracy theories involving foreign powers, financial institutions, and the usual local paranoid paraphernalia, instead of turning statements of “modernity” into reality
akin to shuffling the tables on the deck of the Titanic while it is sinking…”
After “browsing” through Piketty’s book (I picked up the English version from a local library- yes, I am lazy, and I wanted to be able to quote in English something that was more or less an “official” translation), I read a book from an Italian author more or less on the same issue, but with more information about Italy, in preparation for a conference that I attended (a second half should be in January).
At the same time, I reminded something that I had found in Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs…” while I was still living in Brussels, I went scouting for his books on the online catalogues of local libraries (I love OPAC :D).
Well, I found a few, and tried to pick up some, with some funny events between last week and this week (between a reservation that was confirmed and then disappeared, books that were listed “on the shelf” and instead were missing, books listed as available but then shown to have been on loan… expired since August!).
I will let you imagine what the local “paranoids’ official&private club” assumed 😀
If you read Piketty’s book, you can find links to his database- and if you followed my online scribbling, you know that, by inclination, accident, and eventually business, if data are available, I like to use them as catalysts for thinking.
Said in plain English: you might have ideas, but cross-checking with information might help you discover that your assumptions are wrong, or that “common wisdom” is based on misleading (or misread) data.
As an example, as I got tired of newspaper articles quoting “Doing Business 2014” (the OECD report), I went to the source, to understand the methodology, and then do my own number crunching.
I found something interesting, that I used to “test” a method to use Excel to prepare a relatively complex chart (you know that my graphical skills are minimal, and therefore you can polish it if you prefer): http://www.slideshare.net/robertolofaro/thinking-about-doing-business-2014-understan
As you can see, the idea was to check visually how close countries are, and who are their real “siblings”: being a member of the EU or the OECD isn’t enough.
Don’t worry- in business as well as with economists and politicians, this happens more often than you can imagine, also because few have the time and will to actually go to the sources, and most people simply read a summary of a summary of… somebody claiming to quote the source 😀
So, whenever I write a book (often, also when I write a post on my blog), I prefer to re-check with sources: as a service to the reader, and… as a service to myself (knowledge update).
Unfortunately, political correctness sometimes implies that, even if you discover that the king is naked, while everybody claims that the king is dressed with magnificent cloth, you just have to keep mum.
Trouble is: when it rains, it pours- in both senses; meaning: most people aren’t silly, simply wait for somebody else to “open the dance”.
The image in my mind is something else, my first “buffet reception” in Brussels, in the Grand Place, while I was still in high school (OK, political tour): nobody dared to be the first to approach the waiters and ask for food or drinks, but as soon as one of us, poor students venturing into European politics, approached the table… a stampede of much older, better dressed, serious looking people built a “human Chinese wall” between us and the food 🙂
Piketty’s website shares (online or via download into Excel etc.) a database comparing countries across multiple variables- but, frankly, if you dig into the explanation on how the data had to be “massaged” to be used in comparing information, you can see that most newspaper articles quoting it were short on the nuances, and presenting a clear-cut, unequivocal picture with a deterministic value where this wasn’t really the case.
I looked for Diamond’s books- and maybe I will postpone that part to the next year (when I will buy them), but for the time being I will use the books (and data) at my disposal- both from Piketty and the OECD, as well as from few more of my own books (e.g. “Peoplequake”, a book that I quoted once in a while, as a discussion item while talking about potential evolutions of our economic “modus operandi”).
As I disclosed yesterday on Facebook, I was actually collecting data and reading books to prepare something to mix my knowledge of a branch of technology called “Business Intelligence” with something that might appeal more than few “number crunching aficionados”.
The picture that you see represents the six books that I published so far- actually, self-published via Createspace/Amazon, as my aim is to be as free as possible in using my own IPR, while reaching as large as possible an audience (hence, Amazon/Kindle/Slideshare).
Monetary results aren’t yet part of my aims, as building some visibility for my skills, experience, ideas is my primary objective- until when I will have the resources either to start my next business around it, or simply decide to churn out few more books, and work on something else.
Usually I do not share plans, but progress reports on what’s going on, or just plain results of what I already did (I did so since my childhood- as I was told decades ago, back then I was already boringly old :D).
So, let’s make another exception: one of the books that I am preparing is on rethinking business intelligence (number crunching for business) not just for business- but also for other domains, now that we are all “drowning” in data (what I and other called “Infoglut”- actually, I used that term since mid-1990s, as part of an application that I had built, to distribute information by subscription- another summer project to test some ideas and technologies).
The “democratization of business intelligence” actually implies creating a shared playing field, and I am testing various technologies available today, to think and share few ideas of which technologies and approaches might work in the future.
The format? Akin to the one that I used for BYOD and IoT http://www.slideshare.net/robertolofaro/the-business-side-of-byod-and-the-internet-of-things (technicalities but also changes in business and private life: basically, the idea that employees might use their own tablet, smartphone, etc. for business purposes- and, in the end, carry their own office in their pocket; plus, the concept that anything around you that can get a chip installed might soon turn into something connected to everything else- yes, including your washing machine or car).
To be more practical, by late January I would like to complete my readings and number crunching by creating a full “business case and example”, along with documentation, building instructions (as I did with my summary CV and other material that I shared online, including the “Doing Business 2014” chart), and everything else (from the analysis to the results), using… Excel and PowerPivot, a free tool that nobody uses, but is actually more powerful than many business intelligence tools that were around few years ago.
I want to keep this post at no more than 2,015 words, and therefore I will do something simpler- cut it short.
Just as a closing note: as a further stepping stone within my long journey through the Chinese culture and language, yesterday I finally went to listen to “Nixon in China” (the opera), as I wanted to hear at least half of it with a decent music quality (you can find on YouTube various versions, but obviously with lower audio quality), and picked also a book on the analysis of that opera, as well as its political and cultural context.
It is nice to read about mythical emperors, as I am doing now, but I wanted to have a look at something that I vaguely remembered hearing about when I was a kid, and this before looking at documentaries about it.
As for my Jared Diamond books quest… I found in a library a copy of the Italian version of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee” (i.e. Homo Sapiens), and, as the translation was published by Bollati Boringhieri, I think that this older book could be a decent complement to my reading of Piketty before re-reading Peoplequake.
What about the other books? There will be time…
Obviously, if you have questions or suggestions about what should be included, let me know.
Once I am done, I think that I will share presentation material on Slideshare, and probably a ZIP file or additional material via my robertolofaro.com/portal, but you can join my http://www.slideshare.net/robertolofaro profile to get informed whenever I will publish something.