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Call #
: Last Call (really!)



This next call completes nine years of Yi-Tan, with almost 400 calls together. 

It will be our last one. Srsly!

I've wanted to migrate Yi-Tan toward REX and the Relationship Economy ideas I've been working on, but the more I think about it, the more different from our current Yi-Tan it becomes. 

Something new will emerge, and I'll tell you about it. But it's a good moment to hit the reset button and bask in the memory of the conversations we've had here.

Together, let's:

  • Reminisce about our favorite topics, statements, moments
  • Share questions we would love to explore someday
  • Conspire what a successor to Yi-Tan might look like


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Shareable Cities



Cities are hot, and I'm not making a point about climate change. Cities are the locus of many interesting shifts in what we buy, how we live together and create community, how we design our spaces, how we govern ourselves and what we value.

In 2008, we crossed over: now more than half of all people in the world live in cities. By 2030 it should rise to 60% and by 2050, to 70%, turning 4 billion urbanites into 7 billion.

Catalyzed by recent financial crises as well as technological breakthroughs, "collaborative consumption" (also known as the sharing economy) is at the forefront of city revitalization. Fifteen cities recently signed a Shareable Cities Resolution, declaring their support for the sharing economy. Other public leaders around the world are taking notice, though the conversations are still early.

This call we'll focus on what it means to be a "shareable city." With April Rinne of Collaborative Lab, let's discuss:

  • What are the major facets of a shareable city?
  • Who is pioneering this trend? What are they doing?
  • What barriers show up on the way to sharing broadly?
  • How can shareable city transition activities be funded?
  • How might shareable cities evolve? 


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Mobile Commerce



As smartphones and tablets proliferated over the last five years, a constant question remained about the ability (or inability) to make money from the mobile point of purchase beyond the likes of Amazon or eBay. On the advertising front, the possibility of mobile display advertising being as profitable or effective as desktop and browser based was almost written off as not possible.

But now the real business results are astounding, from the success of mobile advertising (Facebook reported that mobile advertising revenue is now 30% of total, from nearly 0% ONE year ago, thanks to sponsored ads in news feeds) to retailers realizing they have a new channel where they can put their inventory at their customers fingertips, anytime, anywhere (Asos, an online only apparel retailer, said mobile traffic was 8% in August 2011. In May 2013, it was 30%) to businesses that fit so well with the location-based aspects mobile provides (Yelp says 40% of local ads were shown on mobile devices, from 36% in the previous quarter, and 59% of searches were on mobile (web + app).

With Brynne Thompson, let's discuss:

  • Which businesses  do you think “get” this dramatic shift, and which will be left behind?
  • What entirely new business models could emerge?
  • Which businesses are the new “ferrymen”, helping others get on the mobile bandwagon (Amazon? eBay?)
  • Are there any knock-on effects mobile commerce implies that we want to explore, such as a change in user buying patterns or how this impacts established brands?



Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: If I Ran Microsoft



After years of struggles and market-share loss for many of its core offers, Microsoft is reorganizing. Here's Ballmer's memo to the staff.

The "One Microsoft" vision is meant to fit the way the world has changed around Microsoft. Skepticism abounds: GigaOm, Forbes, TheVerge.

With Coburn Ventures' Brynne Thompson, let's discuss:

  • Do you agree with Ballmer's vision? Positives? Negatives?
  • What would you do if you were in charge? (Remember our If You Were Emperor? call.)
  • Where do you think Microsoft goes from here?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Refueling in Space



Most of the weight that space launches lift is fuel to break their bonds with our little blue marble. Once you're in orbit, it takes much less energy to move around, but that energy is crucial.

Solution: a system of refueling stations in outer space, mining fuel available nearby. The Shackleton Energy Company wants to be the first to do this (watch this video). They're looking for $25B in seed capital.

With Jim Keravala, Shackleton's COO, let's discuss:

  • How will Shackleton build its system?
  • What are the opportunities? The barriers?
  • How do you see this all rolling out? When?

For extra credit, watch Jim's presentation and this TED talk to the end.


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Our Changing Commons



In 2010, Dave Witzel and I reconnoitered the Commons in a series of podcasts for the Environmental Defense Fund, which included guests such as Charlotte Hess and Ruth Meinzen-Dick. 

Here in the Yi-Tan calls we've talked about municipal broadband service as a Commons, with Chris Mitchell.

Let's dive deeper into Commons with Cardozo law professor Brett Frischmann, who has parallel research interests in infrastructure Commons and knowledge Commons. His work ranges from telecommunications to medical research and the Internet. 

With Brett, let's discuss:

  • How can we best understand Commons? How has this changed over time?
  • Are Commons assets or liabilities?
  • How true is the "Tragedy of the Commons"?
  • What can we do to improve our ability to nurture Commons?

(I've taken to capitalizing the Commons out of respect, and to call it out in prose.)


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Makers and Making



Maker Faire is under way this weekend in San Francisco. It's definitely a signal, a harbinger of larger changes afoot. 

What are those changes? How should we frame the making to better understand its implications?

Plausible starting points: 1) it's transforming education; 2) it's teaching everyone resilience; 3) if you can't open it, you don't own it; 4) art isn't hard!; 5) learning can be fun; 6) yours?

Together, let's discuss:

  • What does the Maker Movement mean to you?
  • How is it affecting your world? The whole world?
  • Where is it headed? What does it portend?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Change Your Brain Trajectory



We occasionally take excursions into our gray matter. In May 2008, Alvaro Fernandez introduced us to the market for brain fitness.

A lot has happened since then in brain health, including a shift away from pharma interventions in favor of non-invasive options. 

Alvaro's just now publishing the second edition of his book, The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. You can read the foreword here.

With Alvaro, let's discuss:

  • What are common misconceptions about the brain and the mind?
  • What's possible that we believed impossible?
  • How can we personalize brain fitness options?
  • Where are we headed in the way we invest in our brains?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Questioning Conventional Wisdom



Scarcity equals value. Nature, red in tooth and claw. Does it? Is it? Is the Commons really Tragic?

There are so many sayings we take for granted, narratives that govern our behavior. And many of them are plain old wrong. (Here's a Prezi listing some juicy ones.)

As Mark Twain so elegantly said, "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."

Together, let's discuss:

  • What conventional wisdom do you know is wrong?
  • Why? What's your proof? What should we think instead?
  • How does the battle over these narratives play out in business and politics?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: From Sci-Fi to UI



More and more, we see science fiction become science fact. Melie's and Jules Verne's voyages to the moon? Check. Joe Jitsu's two-way radio watch on Dick Tracy? Check.

Tom Cruise's UI in Minority Report? On its way. (And its personal advertising, too, eventually.) Star Trek's Holodeck is in the works, too

Last year, Nathan Shedroff and Chris Noessel published Make It So. They've been describing how flights of sci-fi imagination can influence real-world designs.

With them, let's discuss:

  • What is the relationship between sci-fi fantasy and real-world fact? Best examples?
  • How do you separate wishful thinking and bad design from inspiration?
  • Who is really good at this process? Where should we be looking?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: The Singularity



Will you be able to upload yourself to the cloud? Are we headed for a technological Singularity? Or some other kind? Will computers become sentient?

As each year goes by, these questions shift from science-fiction fantasy to the realm of reality. But how real?

With Peter Kaminski, David Weinberger, Kathryn Myronuk and Scott Draves, let's discuss:

  • What is real and unreal about the different visions of the Singularity or the uploaded self?
  • Would you want to live in those worlds? Why?
  • When do you think we'll see the first real evidence that things are truly different?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: The Big Fish



Which companies do you see as the Big Fish in the tech business now?

Let's propose Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook as a starting point.

Each has catalyzed one or more revolutions, from mp3 players and mobile phones to showrooming, friending and search. They're crossing paths more and more: Amazon's in the cloud, Google's selling hardware... what's next?

With Al Chang, let's discuss:

  • Who else belongs on this list? Why?
  • How are the Fish's strategies colliding? Differentiating?
  • Which Fish is best positioned? Why?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: The State of the World



We're just back from our first trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the first one in a few years that wasn't set amid global firestorms such as the 2008 financial crisis, the Occupy movement and the near-meltdown of the Eurozone -- not to mention climate, food and water.

Given that context, this Davos may have been a little too "business as usual."

Is that right? Where do you think the world is these days?

Together, let's discuss:

  • Where are we in the grand scheme? Imminent collapse? Typical crises? Things are getting better?
  • Whose opinions make the most sense to you? 
  • What's the most important action to take now? What effects will that action have on world markets?

This call will help us set up for a call about the Singularity that we will hold on March 4.


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Tech in 2020



We've just ticked over into 2013, well on our way into the second decade of the new Millennium.

Tablets and smartphones seem to have passed laptops. Screens that don't respond to a swipe feel like they're broken. Printers threaten to turn 3D. Unmanned drones are filling the skies. Garage biology and hackathons are popping up everywhere. 

Together, let's discuss:

  • What will technology be like in 2020?
  • Why do you think it'll play out that way and not another?
  • Who are the winners and losers? (think all stakeholders)


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: How Institutions Are Changing



In The Institutional Revolution, historian Doug Allen cracks the code on why the institutions of pre-modern Britain, particularly the aristocracy, made sense despite all their weird behaviors (here's a Jeff Jarvis review). It was about trust in an age when measurement was unreliable or unavailable.

Institutions are in turmoil, in industry after industry, as well as in government and non-profits.

Leadership is also shifting a lot.

Together, let's discuss:

  • How are institutions changing? Which are the successful ones?
  • What's shifting underneath that's causing these changes?
  • Are new models of leadership emerging? What are they?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Land Use



Land is complicated. It gets appropriated, expropriated, squatted, defoliated, remediated, occupied, enclosed, liberated. What was once the Commons we shared is now parcels brokered by Century 21.

The ways we govern land have a great effect on poverty and a society's overall well-being. 

With historian Jo Guldi, let's discuss:

  • What are the major forces and trends in land use?
  • Who is innovating? What are they doing? To what effect?
  • Where is land use headed? 


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Electric Cars



Someone killed the first electric cars, but they're making a comeback. Slowly.

Issues abound, from cost and range to refueling strategies and (lack of) installed infrastructure. Did you remember to plug your car in last night? Who wants to wait for batteries to charge?

With Tim Meyer, let's discuss:

  • What's the state of the EV (electric vehicle) market? 
  • How are the different business models faring? What's catching on best?
  • What's holding the industry up? Whom should we watch?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Managing Info Overload



Back in 2009 we had a similar call, which turned into a fun session of tool and technique sharing. 

Much information has coursed through the pipes, so to speak, and it feels like time to ask this question again. 

Together, let's discuss:

  • What tools and techniques do you use to avoid drowning in information?
  • Where are you mentally on the drowning-flying spectrum?
  • Does it just get worse? Will it stop? 


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Promise and Barriers of Community Broadband



Remember the early Internet days when it seemed that municipalities everywhere would be putting up ubiquitous Internet access? What happened to muni broadband?

We've seen some successes, notably in places such as Santa Monica, Calif., Chattanooga, Tenn., Bristol, Virginia and Lafayette, Louisiana.

But mostly incumbent telcos, cellular carriers and cable TV operators have played a brilliant rearguard action, working public utilities commissions and local legislatures to their advantage.

With Christopher Mitchell of ILSR, let's discuss:

  • What has happened to municipal networks?
  • Under what conditions have they thrived?
  • How might the next ten years play out? 
  • What can be done to help them?


Click here to hear the podcast:

Call #
: Decision Making Biases



You're rational, right? You sell your losing stocks willingly, you know how base rates affect which issues matter, right?

Or do you?

Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky launched a revolution in economics by bringing us behavioral econ

It has been richly accepted that humans don't make "rational" decisions but there hasn't been too much talk about meta methods and practical day to day tactics to combat the negative effects we might have in and on our own lives from the biases that burrow into those decisions like a cancer.

With Dave Bujnowski, let's discuss:

  • What are the implications of our biases for investing?
  • How can we adjust for our biases and misconceptions?
  • What meta methods seem to work? What tactics do you use?


Click here to hear the podcast:




Older podcasts are out here:

Oct 2008-July 2010 podcasts (196-288) (redundant, yes?)

June 2005-March 2007 podcasts (39-126)

Next call

10:30am Pacific, 1:30pm Eastern


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