» Archive for November, 2012

The End of One Era… and Start of Another

Friday, November 16th, 2012 by Jonathan Spira

Last one to leave, turn out the lights

Since 1998, Basex:TechWatch has been a weekly communiqué from the desks of our analysts directly to you.  Without our loyal subscribers, it would have never had the run that it has.  Now we have decided to complete this chapter and start a new one.

Basex:TechWatch was created to keep readers on the leading edge of new ideas and new technology in an easy-to-read digest format.  Since 1998, we’ve written well over 20,000 articles and never missed a single issue.  What we wrote about in our analyst opinions resulted in thousands of e-mail messages from readers asking questions and commenting.  The topics we covered in the areas of knowledge sharing, information management, and collaboration were both exciting and a substantial learning experience.

Of course, no swan song would be complete without a mention of the problem of Information Overload.  When we first started talking about this problem, in the mid 1990s, most people thought we were crazy.  After all, there could never be too much information.  Once we started publishing numbers that described the incredibly high cost of Information Overload the tune changed.  We were gratified that so many thousands of companies and the media came to rely on what our research revealed, which included the fact that the cost of Information Overload to the U.S. economy was one trillion dollars for the year 2010.

The sheer quantity of it all was unprecedented, and many of the new offerings were also somewhat alien, but our 20,000+ loyal readers told us that they relied on Basex:TechWatch so we never strayed from our mission.

In recent years, however, we found ourselves approaching what would become a critical turning point as what had once been new and foreign was now at the point of becoming mainstream.

Approximately three years ago, we started an experiment that has gained momentum at the same time that we saw collaboration and knowledge-sharing technology mature into what it is now.

Our research in content management systems led us to start several online magazines, Frequent Business Traveler (née Executive Road Warrior) and The Diesel Driver.  They took off beyond our wildest expectations.  We recently passed the two million mark in terms of page views and have formed a new entity, Accura Media Group (borrowing the Accura corporate name from a company my father founded).

Starting on January 1, 2013, we will be officially ending operations here at Basex to devote our full efforts to Accura.

Our work at Accura is, in many ways, an evolution of Basex, bringing our high-level research and communication to an editorial setting, and like Basex, Accura’s brands are already considered an authority in their respective areas of expertise.

Looking back on the years that we have invested into Basex, and forward to what we will be doing at Accura, not only are we humbled by the magnitude of support we have received, but we eagerly await the challenges ahead.

Thank you for reading and subscribing, for your comments and for your support.  This is the final issue of Basex:TechWatch and, starting in December, we will share Frequent Business Traveler Weekly with you.  I hope you will like it as much as we do.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex and author of Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization.

After Sandy: A Slow Return to Normalcy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by Jonathan Spira
Delta Terminal 3 at JFK early Thursday morning

Delta Terminal 3 at JFK early Thursday morning

Airports Open, Some Power Restored, Subways and Buses Running

For some, a sense of normalcy has begun to return to the Northeast. The cleanup continues, more people have power, and operations are starting resume at both John F. Kennedy International Airport as well as at LaGuardia.

The two airports were literally underwater after Hurricane Sandy struck earlier in the week. New York Governor Cuomo had previously gone on record saying that LaGuardia Airport would be closed indefinitely.  While almost 20,000 flights had been cancelled since the weekend, and 2,899 flights had been cancelled just yesterday, only 572 flights had been reported as cancelled on Thursday as of 9 a.m.

In the early hours of Thursday, I arrived at JFK for a flight to Los Angeles on Delta expecting mass chaos.  I had been unable to print my boarding pass at home so I expected lines out the door both at the check-in desks, kiosks, and security checkpoints.  What I found as I entered the former Pan Am Worldport was a calm, almost serene scene.  There was no one on line at the business-class check-in desk and the agent, who told me she still didn’t have power at home, was nonetheless cheerful.

With a boarding pass in hand, I wished the agent well and headed to the security checkpoint.  There was one person in line and no wait time.  The TSA agents were cheerful and friendly and greeting passengers, asking about how they had fared.

My flight was departing from Terminal 2 so I headed to the walkway and towards the Delta SkyClub near my gate.  Two agents were on duty as I entered and one whom I recognized welcomed me and checked me in.  She told me she hadn’t had power since the storm but she was doing all right and she clearly was happy to be at work instead of at home without power.

The club was quiet.  On previous early morning flights, I’ve found it packed, but today there was just a sprinkling of travelers enjoying a bagel or muffin.  Everyone seemed in a good mood to be travelling, based on what I overheard.

At the gate, my flight, which was oversold, had started to board.  Everything was calm and orderly despite a full flight.  Incredibly enough, we pushed back on time at 7 a.m. and there were only a few aircraft ahead of us for takeoff.

My experience, however, contrasts greatly with what my colleague Cody Burke reported after riding his bicycle through Red Hook in Brooklyn yesterday evening.   Red Hook is one of the most impacted areas in New York City. The blocks were lined with shoulder high piles of trash, soggy mattresses, ruined clothing, and building debris. On one corner, a group of people stood around a campfire lit in an old oil drum. The hum of water pumps was everywhere, and huge hoses emerging from the front doors of the houses were spilling flood water out into the street.

In addition, traffic in Manhattan yesterday was pretty much gridlocked at every turn and, as contributing editor Henry Feintuch reported after driving in, there was simply no place to park.  After 90 minutes of looking for a parking spot, he turned around and drove back to Westchester.

Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where an administrator described third-world like conditions following the failure of its backup power, was evacuated as was NYU Medical Center the day before for the same reason.