Wednesday April 29th @ 7pm

Kicking things off with a short piece

Welcome to the first day of the 7pm Project.
To get an overview of the project please look here.

On April 29, 2020, I began recording the 7pm clapping and cheering that was happening in my neighborhood, and around the world. Cheering with thanks to the frontline and essential workers who were out there on all of our behalf, keeping the world spinning.

This is the first of those recordings – well sort of. Allow me to give a quick overview of the process I followed. Beginning on April 29th and ending on July 9th (due to technical glitch), I would place a microphone out my window and record the cheering.

Step two, which began in early July, I began to prepare the recordings for use. The recordings had a fair amount of wind noise which I was able to remove using a piece of software from iZotope (I will get more into the technical aspects in later posts). The process took a while because each days recording was different. That all took a few weeks.

Step Three, which I am in now is taking those cleaned-up recording and applying a variety of audio processing/digital music technologies to create soundscapes that attempt to capture the mood or ambiance of those few daily moments when we as New Yorkers joined our fellow global citizens. When you think about it, it’s 7pm somewhere. We were part of a global relay that went on for months.

Perhaps I should have mentioned that, while I have a keen interest in the technologies in use and enjoy playing music, I am by no means a musician. In fact, my approach draws pretty heavily on a notion that was put forward many years ago by Brian Eno – that of the non-musician. Here is an excerpt of Lester Bangs interview with Brian in Musician magazine from back in 1979.

This brings up the famous ”I’m not a musician” quote from early in his career, which confounds fans and critics alike to this day. It seems like a conceit turned inside out, inasmuch as I’ve got almost a dozen albums of his music sitting here. “Again,” he almost sighs, “it was a case of taking a position deliberately in opposition to another one. I don’t say it much anymore, but I said it when I said it because there was such an implicit and tacit belief that virtuosity was the sine qua non of music and there was no other way of approaching it. And that seemed to be so transparently false in terms of rock music in particular. I thought that it was well worth saying, ‘Whatever I’m doing, it’s not that,’ and I thought the best way to say that was to say, Look, I’m a nonmusician. If you like what I do, it stands in defiance to that.’

“When I say ‘musician,’ I wouldn’t apply it to myself as a synthesizer player, or ‘player’ of tape recorders, because I usually mean someone with a digital skill that they then apply to an instrument. I don’t really have that, so strictly speaking I’m a non-musician. None of my skills are manual, they’re not to do with manipulation in that sense, they’re more to do with ingenuity, I suppose.”

And yet one wonders still how disingenuous all this might be. So I asked him point blank: “Have you ever had any formal music or theory training at all?”


“Have you ever felt the pressure that you should get some?”

‘No, I haven’t, really. I can’t think of a time that I ever thought that, though I must have at one time.

I am by no means a virtuoso and have no real formal background, but I have been making and manipulating sounds since I was a kid hotwiring my dad’s HiFi. I have found the when given the opportunity to approach something with a Beginners Mind, I am much more engaged and the results are often more interesting.

Please keep in mind that I am learning and exploring through this process. The types of pieces that I make a month from now may be very different to this one. I will be trying to capture those evolutions/revolutions in the notes for each. So, I invite you to please sample a few pieces from different days to get a sense of the changes – both in the community participation and in my abilities to conjure something interesting.

To provide even more context for the recordings, I will also be providing some historical information for that given day, with a NYC slant. The notion of context will arise in many posts to come and is the main focus of the project which is trailing this one.



NYC Headlines from the Grey Lady

All NYC Data on this day from WolframAlpha:


Does the Rubber Meet the Road on the Path to Purchase? Thanks for nothing digital ecosystem.

Let’s start at the end. I’ve been riding on brand new Nokian WR-G3’s for the past few weeks in the very changeable NYC weather. Suddenly, driving is “way more fun”. My car, a 2001 Subaru Outback H6, is reinvigorated and I am attributing it all to the tires, the actual tires.

How did I discover the tires I really wanted?

Word of Mouth and phone calls were the only things that worked.  Every other aspect of the digital ecosystem that surrounds the path to purchase for a set of tires is horribly broken. Failures. Full stop.

The entire ecosystem has failed at providing me any value at all points along the path to purchase.

  • Make me aware that I might want to buy a new set of tires and why – I just thought you waited for the treads to wear down.
  • Know that I was due for new tires – I should have bought them a year or two ago – so many folks – from the dealership I bought it from to the various services stations and garages – to the ecommerce sites where I have bought parts and especially to the tire shop I had used previously
  • Get me relevant information about what is available – the search engines do not help you get to useful information, the return a bunch of SEO friendly pages that are simply ads.
  • No direct useful info from the brands themselves.

I’m a brand new Nokian brand loyalist and Nokian doesn’t know I exist or how I found them. If you think I am beating up on Nokian, you are missing the point.

The entire ecosystem failed itself. As I went down the entire path to purchase, not a single entity that I touched collected any actionable information from me. They don’t know what MY path to purchase was. They weren’t helpful in any of my “moments of truth”. They don’t even know I made a purchase.

The number of missed opportunities is staggering.

Think this is limited to tires? I am having the exact same situation purchasing a replacement dishwasher. This sorry state of affairs is everywhere.  In every “industry”. In every “vertical” It’s in B2B, B2C, B2B2C, Bricks & Clicks, physical & digital.

For 30 years, I’ve been professionally neck deep at the bleeding edge of what we now call “Digital”. Despite the blistering pace of technical achievement and adoption, despite huge investment and effort by the various brands and channels in the ecosystem, buying tires (or dishwashers) today is more horrible than ever.

Having participated in hundreds of digital marketing initiatives aimed at improving this situation with some very talented and well intentioned people, the goals are far from being achieved. Looking back, a handful of fundamental principles have emerged as persistent blockers to successfully seizing the opportunity.

Individually, these principles are simple. They are not new. They are well researched and documented. However, it is the connection of these principles into a coherent approach for establishing digital brands that have real impact and lasting value. To be clear – this is not about “the Uberization of X” – it is much more than that.

You may already have some of the principles in your mission statement – the point is how those words are turned into action. It is how the principles are applied to all aspects of the organization. It gets to the very heart of organizational culture and what your brand wants to be known for, in 50 years.

Those who are brave, who reconsider their place in the ecosystem, and make a sustained investment, the opportunity remains.

Yes, a story about tires can lead to turning point.

Algorithmic Attention – The new face of personal data and why brands need to catalyze the creation of Personal APIs

You want to build a personal relationship with your customers, become a constant companion and trusted advisor. Your customers deserve the professionalism embodied by the best coaches, concierges, maître’s d, doctor, teacher, and bartenders – well informed and impeccably discreet. However, this level of human attention simply does not scale.

Fortunately, the ubiquitous mesh of digital devices, applications, services, and connectivity is here capturing every aspect of a person’s life. All this data, coupled with accelerating advances in computational techniques and ever falling compute and storage costs, mean the algorithmic attention you can lavish on your customers is boundless.

The quality of the experience provided by an algorithm, however, depends on factors shared with the humans they emulate:

1) The capability of the person or algorithm to take in a set of disparate information and synthesize it into meaningful insights.

2) Sufficient, up-to-date, accurate information describing a wide swath of the customer’s life – their context – for the algorithm to process. The data available through social networks may be helpful, but is insufficient.

For illustration, let’s consider a hypothetical service called MyBabyBlends.

MyBabyBlends is a nutrition program for babies. Subscribers will receive direct shipment of locally grown, seasonal ingredients that can be, following our carefully curated recipes and meal plans, prepared into fabulous baby foods. The selection of ingredients tailored for your babies through the use of a sophisticated child development and nutrition algorithm. Tracking the daily activities and developmental progress of your babies, it’s like having a dedicated nutritionist shopping and menu planning for you.

To deliver on this promise, the algorithm will require the following information, updated regularly:

  •   Baby’s names – for families with more than one, you need to create a profile for each child.
  • Baby’s vitals – birthdate, weight, height, known allergies or sensitivities, current ailments or medication, blood type, etc.
  • Dietary restrictions – vegan, kosher, halal, paleo, etc.
  • Developmental milestones and challenges
  • Current location – if you go away – the shipment will meet you and be adjusted to your new location.
  • Log of recipes liked and not liked
  • Parental eating preferences so we can get baby on track to join you in a hearty kale salad or a bowl of pork and habanero chili.
  • Genetic information – a DNA sample will provide the best results, in lieu of that the parents can answer a comprehensive questionnaire about the baby’s heredity.

This is the new face of personal data. It is not about cookies, or purchase history. It is not about traditional CRM . It’s more than social media.  Quantified self and the Internet of Things are a part of it.

This is the Personal Data Ecosystem that the World Economic Forum, Boston Consulting Group and others have estimated will create trillions of dollars of value stand in the next 4-5 years. These estimates have also asserted that 2/3 of that value will be left on the table if a viable solution to digital identity and data access is not established.

Getting the data required poses a number of challenges for both the user and the brand.

  1. Effort – How much effort is required to get started and then maintain the program? Will the user be willing to manually input this data just to try this one service? Can that data entry be leveraged for other products and services?
  2. Trust – Why would I provide all of this information to a high-tech grocery service? Who else will have access to my child’s data? How do I know it is being handled appropriately?
  3. Liability – What liability is a brand exposing itself to as it collects more intimate information about its customers? If working with partners to provide the service, how does that impact the liability question?
  4. Infrastructure and Governance – Does the brand have the appropriate systems, staff and procedures in place to manage this sort of information?
  5. Policy & Legislation – There has been increasing public policy and legislative action activity globally with respect to personal data. Some of the initiatives have found that existing terms and conditions agreements in use do not meet the privacy rights of their citizens. Others are looking to insure that data regarding their citizens remains within their borders.

The solution lies in the establishment of Personal APIs, a means for a user to aggregate their digital information, wherever it may live and then provide, on their own terms, programmatic access to that data. This gives users a single place to keep up to date information and manage who has access to what and when. It also gives brands a simple way to access user while respecting both the users’ terms and the legal constraints of the market they are operating in. Furthermore, it may reduce liability because it allows for the development of application that use the personal information, but do not store it.

There has been a tremendous amount of work done establishing the foundation for Personal APIs under a variety of names including: IdM (Identity Management), Project VRM (Vendor Relationship Management), UMA (User Managed Access), Trust Frameworks, Privacy by Design, Personal Clouds, Data Vaults, Personal Data Markets, and Identity Ecosystems.  These initiatives have failed to gain widespread adoption, because the value proposition for both sides of the market (users or the brands) has not been strong enough, until now.

This is the moment for a few leading brands to step forward and catalyze the Personal API movement and realize the dream of meaningful personalization.

For those interested in getting involved, the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) is a great place to start. This un-conference has been convened twice a year since 2005. IIW 18 will be happening October 26-28 at the Computer History Museum in the heart of Silicon Valley.



The first email from my 12 year old – a harbinger of the Personal Data Ecosystem’s rise

Last week, I was in Mountain View participating in the Internet Identity Workshop #17 working with luminaries like Doc Searls (@dsearls), Craig Burton (@craigburton), Kaliya Identity Woman (@identitywoman), and Phil Windley (@Windley), leaders from likes of Google, Microsoft, HP, Yahoo, AOL, and Amazon, plus a slew of entrepreneurs and policy folks.

So when my 12 year old sent me a email for the very first time, it was shining example of what this conference is all about. Allow me to explain.

At IIW, lots of conversation centered on the fundamental building blocks of the Personal Data Ecosystem (the tremendous market opportunity based on personal data estimated to create over 1Trillion Euros in value by 2020 – and that’s just in Europe).

The key ingredients are:
1) Solid, simple digital identity solutions – OAuth2 and OpenID Connect fit the bill.
2) APIs to interact with products and services, programmatically.
3) Free, simple access to, or better yet full control over, your personal data from any app or service you use.
4) Commitment to simple interoperability – its all about the interop.
5) A bias toward action.
6) Connecting things – digital or not – to the internet.
7) A systematic approach to trust and privacy by design.

So here is the kicker – my 12 year old who sent me an email… is my 2001 Station Wagon. Yes my car emailed me. When it emailed me, there was no one in the car with a smart phone. The car experienced an error code (P0113 – Intake Air Temperature Circuit High Input) and it let me know – all by itself.

How did this happen? I am using a product/service called Carvoyant coupled with proof of concept software from Family Fleet Manager Phil Windley’s company Kynetx (this POC, was built on their SquareTag platform, is part of a great new project up on kickstarter called Fuse)

I have the OBD2 device plugged into my car all the time. It talks to the internet via its own cell connection. Carvoyant gets the data and makes it available to the Kynetx’ software. Totally cool.

The Personal Data Ecosystem is real, The Internet of Things includes more than just digital devices (Phil says potholes should be included)  and putting this all to work for you is simpler than you think. When you get to know PICOs (Persistent compute objects) you will see the boundless opportunity.

Interop is what its all about


Phil Windley –

“For these connected products, and the thousand more that are coming, to truly reach their potential people need a common place where their stuff connects—a dashboard for their things. Not just a dashboard, but a programmable platform that allows all these connected things to work with each other and Web services. Building that is what gets me up every morning.”

Family CTO Roadtrip: What’s in your CTO Go Bag?

It’s the time of year for family vacations. All you need is a car, a family, tons of stuff to pack, and a rental agreement for a vacation house. When I was a kid, that meant making sure my favorite cassette tapes were packed. And a book or two.

Today, the Family CTO needs to be prepared to provide the same high level of service in what can be strange and sometimes inhospitable conditions. During the loadout this year, I realized that what I need is a “Go Bag” that just sits in my car, always ready to facilitate adventure.

So here is my basic checklist for Family CTO Go Bag (automotive):

  1. A tackle box or tool box to hold all this stuff. Get one a little bigger than you need because next year you will be jamming new things into it
  2. Power Strip & Extension cord(s) – the outlets you need for all that recharging are never where you need them and then there are never enough of them
  3. 3 prong-2 prong AC outlet adapters – do folks outside the USA have this problem?
  4. Display Port -> HDMI adapters
  5. HDMI -> Audio + Composite video adapters (Red, White, Yellow)
  6. Cheap Speakers – because after you realize that you will never be able to connect your tablet to that old TV set, you need to hear what you are watching on your tablet or laptop.
  7. Audio Cables – my preferred set up is two 3.5mm Stereo Male to Two RCA Stereo Male Y-Cables and a pair of Female-Female RCA adapters. This will help you out if you need to plug your audio source into whatever they call a stereo in the house – the Aux In may be the 3.5 Mini Stereo or it may be Male RCA jacks.
  8. USB Card Reader – because you never know who is going to show up with what camera or phone.
  9. Hand Crank Flashlight & Radio – lest you forget the realities off life off the beaten path. A good old paper book with survival skills may be handy too.
  10. Inflation Pin for Football/Soccer ball (if you have kids you should have these everywhere).
  11. Wire (lamp wire – zipcord), Wire strippers and electrical tape – for those moments when you have to take interop into your own hands.
  12. rechargeable batteries, if you are using stuff that has those kind of batteries.
  13. cheap replacement headphones, two pair – because someone is going to lose/break theirs.
  14. one or two basic AC cords (the ones that will plug into any power brick)
  15. USB Adapter pack and a couple of USB cables
  16. HDMI cable and adapters to Mini
  17. Old SD Cards and Memory sticks – sneakernets work great in the country.
  18. A back up phone with a pre-paid sim, so when you drop your precious phone in the drink, you can still call for help.
  19. Ethernet cable – a couple of them
  20. Backup Hard drive with images of the machines you are bringing.
  21. An extra mouse and keyboard (small)
  22. Power Inverters for as many power jack as your car has.
  23. 3 or 4 AC/USB power plugs
  24. One 3.5mm splitter so two people can listen to one thing with headphones
  25. For retro sake I still have a portable DVD player and some classic movies.

This list is available at’s github repo. Please feel free to add to it, make additions, share it and the like.


OK Now with that all packed, all you really need to remember are the devices and their individual chargers…

4 tablet computers (3 of these use the same style charger/brick -brought a brick for each)
1 Kindle (USB charge – yet another USB Cable)
1 Music Player (Proprietary to USB -grrrrrrr)
3 Camera (DSLR, old point and shoot for the kids, and a cheap one that works underwater) – battery charger for the DSLR, proprietary brick for the point and shoot, way too many AA’s for the underwater cam.
2 Phones – with Internet Sharing capabilities (USB)


Barcelona–F1-Grand Prix-Saul Bass

A quick post – and I realize it has been a while.


Recently, I had the good fortune to visit one of my favorite places, Barcelona. I was particularly lucky to have been there while Formula One Winter Testing was taking place at Circuit de Catalunya. On Friday 2/21/2013 I had the good fortune to see some incredible talent and technology in action.

Today, I found myself immersed in Pinterest.  It happens sometimes. I was on a scavenger hunt for images related to Ray & Charles Eames, Alexander Girard as well as Saul Bass, Massimo Vignelli and Paul Rand. At some point I came across a Saul Bass movie poster I had never seen for the 1966 Frankenheimer film “Grand Prix”   – and the need to blog hit me.

I have seen the movie many times – the title sequence (which I now know was done by Bass, along with many of the race sequences) always blew me away – Dwell magazine seems to agree. And holy cow – if you ever want to go deep on Saul Bass title sequences, you need to go here – oddly Grand Prix is absent from this great title sequence site which I learned about while listening to 99% Invisible Episode 28 – you should listen to them all.

But the poster that I knew, by Howard Teperning, was a clownish affair. But, on Pinterest, I introduced to the real deal – the poster that Bass had designed


How anyone in their right mind could put aside this fantastic Saul Bass poster and choose the other is beyond me… well… I see that sort of thing every day, but it really is a bit tragic. So, I started digging around to see if anyone has any mention of it. All I can find is this bit about how rare original silkscreens do exists. If anyone has one, I’ll take it.

And so ends this little roundabout post. Let’s close with the sights and sounds of F1.