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Month: August 2007

Reading the signs

While we’re talking about leading indicators, there’s the Iraqi “fixer’s” story on Fresh Air (August 9) about knowing when a car bomb will explode.

Ayub Nuri solved reporters’ everyday logistical problems and helped conduct interviews with local sources. He was the insider.

One afternoon his car was ordered into an area he knew was seething. He put on his helmet and flak jacket and tried to make the driver go elsewhere. But the driver followed orders, and within a few minutes Nuri noticed neighbors fleeing. After a few more minutes, the bomb went off, not far from where he’d just stood.

He was lucky, of course, but the lesson is about knowing the territory intimately and reading the signs.

In small businesses, the boss’s guts or other body part is the dashboard. An alert owner of a mom’n’pop grocery is almost clairvoyant about the rate that eggs are selling at any particular hour, for example.

Shouldn’t that level of intensity and subtlety be the standard for electronic dashboards?

Managing by walking around with a dashboard on your head

Imagine an executive walking around with a “dashboard” on his head. It looks like a pair of sporty sunglasses, but it does much more. Whereever he turns his head, pop-up windows tell him what he’s looking at. He doesn’t even have to ask “What’s going on in that cubicle?”

Detailed background on everyone from temps to hot-shot VPs shows up in his little glasses.

I’m just free-associating on the fantasy described in William Gibson’s 1994 novel Virtual Light. Jason Fry mentions that vision in today’s Wall Street Journal. His article is about New York cabbies complaining that the city’s new GPS system can track them—and the many other uses for tracking.