Kurt Cagle

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Kurt Cagle is Managing Editor for Cognitive World, and is a contributing writer for Forbes, focusing on future technologies, science, enterprise data management, and technology ethics. He also runs his own consulting company, Semantical LLC, specializing on Smart Data, and is the author off more than twenty books on web technologies, search and data. He lives in Issaquah, WA with his wife, Cognitive World Editor Anne Cagle, daughters and cat (Bright Eyes). 


2 weeks ago
Is it time to skip the commute? GETTY I've been a digital nomad for a long time. In the 1990s, I began using one of the first wireless modems while publishing a technical newsletter and working on computer books. The signal was too weak to work from home, but the nearby Starbucks happened to be close enough to one of the transmitters that I could get by on my laptop. It, unfortunately, presaged a serious caffeine addiction that I'm still fighting today, but I loved the way that I could get several hours…

4 weeks ago
  This is an intriguing fallacy (what I call the disconnected data fallacy) seems pervasive in enterprise circles. It goes something like this: Most organizations are filled to bursting with databases, most specifically dedicated to supporting one particular application or another. There are also data in documents, spreadsheets, and other data stores, and that it's just a matter of laziness that most of this data is not available to other parts of an organization. Buy the right tool (or hire enough open…

1 month ago
Unemployment is at an all-time low! Great news, right? Not so fast. GETTY You might have noticed, in the last several months, that a curious trend has begun to take place in economic news. Unemployment has hit a fifty-year low - the last time it was this low, 3.7%, was in 1969, when the big news was not the economy but the Vietnam War. Yet if you are paying attention to the job payroll numbers, you may also have noticed that the number of new jobs created has been dropping slowly but steadily to 136,000…

1 month ago
Welcome to the Influence economy, where digital marketing and savvy social media skills come together. GETTY If you ask the average person what an influencer is, they might describe a woman on Instagram posting photos in a bikini, holding a weight loss product and encouraging her followers to purchase it.  Several surveys conducted of young people around the world have stated that “Influencer” is one of the most desired career options that children and teens around the world aspire to pursue.  Although…

1 month 1 week ago
Fullerene with a captured nitrogen atom. EMILY COOPER, IEEE No matter where you go, there you are. Confucius, by way of Buckaroo Banzai A buckyball is a really cool thing - a roughly spherical cage of carbon created by taking sheets of graphene and heating them in special ways. The resulting structure looks a lot like a soccer ball with a mix of hexagons and pentagons and is also known as fullerene, after Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of tensegrity and geodesic domes. Fullerene has many useful…

1 month 1 week ago
Recessions are an inevitable part of the business cycle. Preparing for them increases the likelihood that you can weather them. GETTY Talk of recession is very much in the news of late. It may or may not happen immediately, but there are several indicators that all tend to occur as an economy moves from clear sailing to stormy weather. The purpose of this article is not to predict where or when a recession will occur but provide some useful hints for what you can do to minimize the impact of a recession…

1 month 1 week ago
Signatures form the foundation of the current trust network, but they are a shaky foundation given the increasingly complex demands of determining identity. GETTY I have a confession to make. When I get contracts sent to me as PDFs, I do not normally print them out, sign them in ink, scan them back in, convert the images to PDF and send them back to the counterparty. Instead, I take a JPEG of my signature, paste it into the PDF in Adobe Acrobat, save the file, then sent it back. I wouldn’t even bother to…

1 month 1 week ago
While artificial intelligence continues to drive completely autonomous technologies, its real value comes in enhancing the capabilities of the people that use it. GETTY I love Grammarly, the writing correction software from Grammarly, Inc. As a writer, it has proved invaluable to me repeatedly, popping up quietly to say that I forgot a comma, got a bit too verbose on a sentence, or have used too many adverbs. I even sprung for the professional version. Besides endorsing it, I bring Grammarly up for…

1 month 1 week ago
A few Jack-o-lantern carved Halloween pumpkins on a ground covered by fallen autumn leaves in dark misty forest at dusk or night.GETTY This is the start of what I hope will be a regular series listing events in the Future Tech space (AI, Fintech, Cognitive Computing, Internet of Things, Data Science, Enterprise Data, Industrial Automation and Autonomous Vehicles). Graphorum 2019 Where: Chicago, Illinois When: Oct 14-17, 2019 Description: Graph technology has been steadily growing over the years…

1 month 1 week ago
You're at a conference. If you're properly prepared, you've made sure that you have a box of business cards with nice shiny graphics, embossed letters and no doubt a witty or profound saying on the card. If, on the other hand, you're someone like me, that box of shiny cards is sitting on your bedside table at your house, where you put them while you were packing everything else and then promptly forgot about. Your house is now sixteen hundred miles away, and so you're forced to cadge everyone else's cards…

1 month 2 weeks ago
The future of photography is increasingly through the remote eyes of drones. GETTY Every hour, more videos and photographs are taken today globally (some one hundred million) than were taken in the history of photography from the dawn of the daguerreotype in 1839 to the advent of the first cell phone camera (on a Nokia phone) in 2002. The advent of charge-coupled devices, tiny light sensitive electrodes capable of gathering light without the cumbersome, awkward process of chemical baths of silver iodide…

1 month 3 weeks ago
It’s CONFERENCE season! I’m planning on devoting a monthly article to upcoming conferences in the AI-Tech Space (Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing, DroneTech, Games and Media, Digital Security, Enterprise Data, Fourth Industrial Age, Digital Marketing, Cryptocurrencies, Social Media, Cyber-warfare and related areas) and will be publishing on the last day of each month for events coming up in the next month. If you have a conference that you wish to promote, please get it to me by the 25th of…

2 months ago
The subject of creativity and design has been on my mind for a while, especially since the publishing of two of my articles: The End of Agile and Beyond Agile: The Studio Model . My contention has been from the start that one of the biggest problems that Agile in general faces is that it doesn't really get to the root of creativity, or, to put it in more concrete terms confuses where and how design takes place, seeing it as primarily a group activity. My experience, after having written a number of books…

2 months 1 week ago
Social media has become such an integral part of marketing that it's easy to forget about how different a paradigm it is. Because of that, a great number of people who focus on marketing often fail to understand how it differs from other forms of online content, and as such develop strategies that are a waste of energy, time and money. Ultimately, it all comes down to cards ... specifically data cards. The data card goes back to well before the computer age. By the mid-19th century, the price of printing…

2 months 2 weeks ago
While I don't see it as a formal methodology, I actually believe that the most success production model in use today for so many kinds of IP is the Studio Model. GETTY Sometimes as a writer, you touch a nerve. I touched one in my article The End of Agile, which has gone viral with roughly 300,000 hits over the last few days. I'm still digging out from the deluge of email, Tweets and Linked In messages. Many, many people agreed with me, which I think should be a wake-up call to anyone in the Agile space.…

2 months 2 weeks ago
Agile is one of those subjects that people have strong feelings for, pro or con. Here's a rebuttal to a post recently made about the end of Agile.GETTY Guest Column by Scott Heffield, VP of Innovation at Veracity Solutions [Author's Note: This was one of many rebuttals sent to me in the wake of my article The End of Agile (which is now hovering just under 300,000 hits). In the interest of discourse, I've decided to publish it.] However, since this IS my blog, I also decided to post a counter-rebuttal (…

2 months 2 weeks ago
Agile is a powerful methodology but in an increasingly data-driven world, it may not necessarily be the right one. GETTY I knew the end of Agile was coming when we started using hockey sticks. Every morning, at precisely eight o'clock, the team of developers and architects would stand around a room paneled in white boards and would begin passing around a toy hockey stick. When you received the hockey stick, you were supposed to launch into the litany: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I only wrote…

2 months 2 weeks ago
The new economy does not look like the old one. In many respects, we're seeing the true emergence of the reputation economy that had its vogue about ten years ago. In the economy that held sway through much of the twentieth century dictated that success came largely by having deep-pocketed investors and the ability to thread the gateways - in music, in art, in literature, even in life. There was always a middleman or three, and their function existed primarily to be paid their pound of flesh so that they…

2 months 3 weeks ago
Professor Diane Coyle, leader of the Wealth Economy Project GETTY IMAGES Pity the GDP — the Gross Domestic Product. It is one of the hardest working statistics in government policy today, a single number that sums up the entirety of a country's productive capabilities. It is ubiquitous, quite often used to provide a country's economy compared to other economies when it comes to rallying the troops. Yet as a statistic, it is surprisingly poor as a means of actually measuring what it is supposed to…

2 months 3 weeks ago
Machine learning is a powerful tool in the AI toolbox, but its limitations must be understood to use effectively. GETTY Machine learning has become the latest darling of the IT marketing space, a secret sauce that is supposed to turbo-charge computers and brings us closer to the nirvana of artificial intelligence dominance …. or something like that. Like so much of what comes out of IT marketing, most of it is hype and deceptive hype at that. While there is a lot of power in what machine learning can do…

3 months ago
Time-shifting the Generations Bloomberg has lately been running a superb series about the generations growing up in the shadows of the Millennials. Go read it, though read mine as well, as I've been watching the emergence of this particular generation for a while, and disagree with a few of the conclusions that the Bloomberg articles make. First, a question of timing. The whole notion of generations came about due to the work of two sociologists — William Strauss and Neil Howe, in the 1991 book…

3 months ago
Once the need for a physical medium for currency disappears, the potential for radical change in financial systems rises dramatically. We're entering into this era now. GETTY In the 18th Century, a venture begun in England established an outpost in the New World around Hudson Bay. The Hudson Bay Company was given license by the crown to exploit the bounty of the Northernmost parts of North America, and eventually, a trading network was built out, trading fur, woods and mineral resources. This network…

3 months 1 week ago
How you go about getting a job will affect your life and career for years. Understand what you're doing, but most of all, believe in yourself. GETTY As an IT consultant, I have had, over the years, needed to negotiate salaries and later contracts for my work. I'm still not very good at it, though in general, I've learned enough to stay employed during even slow times. Throughout all this, I've found that there are a few good rules of thumb that help me determine what constitutes my upper and lower limits…

3 months 1 week ago
Alexandru Florea extends a hand. ALEXANDRU FLOREA Alexandru Iulian Florea didn't start to become a multimillionaire. At the age of 26, with his family unhappy with him for leaving university, Florea was given the option of moving out or getting a job to start paying for family expenses. He chose Door #3, starting a business that went on to become one of the larger peer-to-peer networks in the world, and from there to start others, including his most recent: Online.io, a peer-to-peer network built on top…

3 months 1 week ago
Madison Bregman, CEO of GirlZ MADISON BREGMAN One of the central challenges of knowing one's market is having an idea about what matters to people at specific ages. Millennials have been beneath the proverbial microscope for some time now as they have graduated from college, entered the workforce and in many cases have started families. The next generation (Generation Z if you follow the Strauss and Howe designations) extends roughly from the early 1990s to the Great Recession starting in late 2008. I…

3 months 2 weeks ago
Marketing in the 21st century means selling long tails to mermaids.(Photo by Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images) NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES Marketing has always fascinated me. My first full-time job, many years ago, was working for an advertising agency as a computer graphic artist, and it gave me an understanding of the process of promoting and selling from very small (a car dealership) to very large (a chain of some of the largest malls in the US at the time). Over the years, I revisit the field,…

3 months 3 weeks ago
Every decade seems to have its database. During the 1990s, the relational database became the principal data environment, its ease of use and tabular arrangement making it a natural for the growing needs to power the data web. While relational databases remained strong, the 2000s saw the emergence of XML databases and NoSQL, the idea that databases didn't need to be structured in a purely tabular form, began to get hot. During the 2010s, JSON databases gained traction, along with the spectacular rise and…

3 months 3 weeks ago
Stop the Presses! In a recent story, the BBC reported on how Pearsons, one of the largest textbook publishing companies in the world, is getting out of the print business. This is very much like Ford Motor Company announcing recently that they will stop producing cars. While the jury is still out on whether the latter is a good idea, in many respects. The decision by Pearsons has been inevitable for a while. It is a matter of economics. Most people tend to see publishers as being focused primarily on…

4 months 1 week ago
Enterprise data projects can take you on strange journeys. Good management, a sound data strategy, and yes, a cute cat picture can make sure you reach your destination, no matter how far out. I wrapped up a project today, one that had been cut short because the company in question had a change in management and a corresponding shift in spending priorities. While I'm quite proud of what I produced given that, I also have the full expectation that the project will likely not see utilization, because there'…

4 months 2 weeks ago
This is a long article, even by my standards. It represents my thinking about the implications of artificial intelligence on the economy, beyond the normal cheerleading that seems to so frequently accompany the discussion of the topic. Feel free to respond to me at kurt.cagle@gmail.com with questions or comments. Artificial intelligence, the use of computer processes to infer and make decisions on information about the world that is not necessarily explicitly given, has been a hallmark of much of this…

6 months ago
Semantics provides a way of defining the languages that you use for describing your business or organizational processes, for describing domains of knowledge, and for managing processes and resources at a global level. Central to this is the concept of an ontology - a specific data model (or set of interconnected models) that serve to provide the metadata to accomplish those semantics. I'm not, in this article, going to talk about what exactly an ontology is (cf. link to ontology article). For now, it's…

7 months ago
Benny retired last week. There was a small party for him in the IT department, and everyone chipped in to get him an Apple Watch, the obligatory successor to the Gold Watch of yore. A couple of decades ago, he and his wife would go off on vacation, doing the travel thing for a bit before getting tired of stale camper funk and the Denny’s Over 55 Special Menu, though today, weak retirement portfolios and stealthy consumer inflation make it likely that they will not spend all that much time on vacation…

7 months 2 weeks ago
As semantics and linked data become increasingly mainstream, one question that seems to be asked increasingly has to do with a comparatively recent term, ontology, and how ontologies differ from taxonomies. Understanding this distinction is important in making decisions about metadata management, and as such affects anyone who deals with enterprise-level data. Most people have an intuitive understanding of what a taxonomy is, even if they can't necessarily articulate it formally. The Linnaeus Taxonomy…

7 months 2 weeks ago
Artificial Intelligence is still (somewhat) of a buzzword, though in practice much of what is likely to be implemented in this current business cycle under that all-encompassing umbrella has been. Visual recognition systems, check. Speech recognition, check. Expert systems, check. Self-driving vehicles, check. Recommendation engines, yup. Business Intelligence tools with a healthy smattering of data science, check, check, check. None of them are quite perfect yet (and arguably some are a long way towards…

7 months 3 weeks ago
For most of us, the word graph brings back memories (not always pleasant) of pencils and rulers and quadrille ruled paper, though a more recent generation may think instead of pie and bar charts produced in Excel from spreadsheets. However, in the last few years, another form of graph, one that goes back to a whole branch of mathematics called graph theory, is beginning to have a huge impact in business, science and the world of artificial intelligence. A graph database is a class of data store that has…

7 months 4 weeks ago
As an ontologist, I'm often asked about the distinctions between taxonomies and ontologies, and whether ontologies are replacing taxonomies. The second question is easy to answer "No." Both taxonomies and ontologies serve vital, and often complementary, roles ... if they are used right. Taxonomy is, to put it simply, a categorization scheme. Most readers should be familiar with a few critical taxonomies such as the Linnaeus Taxonomy used to represent how animals are related to one another, and the Dewey…

8 months ago
The lowly contract, a staple of business transactions everywhere, is about to get a major facelift. The typical role of a contract to date has been largely testimonial: an agreement is made between two parties (identified in painstaking detail) on page one, with stipulations about what is to be delivered at what cost, and the penalties that accrue if one or the other party fails to live up to their part of the agreement. Once the appropriate John Hancocks are signed, a process that usually involves…

9 months 1 week ago
  By Kurt Cagle  |  February 06, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES There is a running joke in standards circles: God must love standards. He's made so many of them. If you spend enough time working with standards, ontologies, reference data or information modeling, you will find yourself involved in the process of creating, modifying or defending specific standards. TOGAF, NIEM, XBRL, FIBO, UBL, Dublin Core, Schema.org, W3C, standards are ubiquitous. You would think, given this, that it should be…

9 months 3 weeks ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  January 25, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES Sometimes, you can enter into a technology too early. The groundwork for semantics was laid down in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with Tim Berners-Lee's stellar Semantic Web article, debuting in Scientific American in 2004, seen by many as the movement's birth. Yet many early participants in the field of semantics discovered a harsh reality: computer systems were too slow to handle the intense indexing requirements the technology needed,…

9 months 3 weeks ago
This was a presentation given by Kurt Cagle to the Bellevue Big Data Meetup on Jan 19, 2019.

10 months ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  January 11, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES All things come to an end, especially economic cycles. People who have logged more than a couple of decades in information technology especially are attuned to it, because their jobs and interests both tend to be forward facing. The inability of a software developer or information manager to read the future, at least in a general sense, usually means that they won't last long in the field. As the markets enter into the gyrations of this…

10 months ago
January 10, 2019  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES The engines of IT marketing recently spun out a buzz phrase that's now gaining vogue in many businesses: Digital Transformation. While the exact definition varies depending upon who is currently pushing it, the notion can be summarized roughly as follows: Organizations run on data, and in the twenty-first century, your organization needs to be able to take advantage of all of that data to remain competitive in the marketplace. By transforming your company…

1 year ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  November 14, 2018  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES Data modeling does not excite passion within programmers. Your average Java or Python developer probably doesn’t even realize that they are doing it when they write programs, in great part because a data model by itself doesn’t do anything. It simply is. In computer science terms, doing things is the hallmark of imperative (command) oriented languages, while simply being is declarative (assertional or existential) oriented programming.…

1 year 1 month ago
In 1991, authors and sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe published Generations (updated in 1997 with The Fourth Turning) where they argued the idea of Generational Theory — the notion that there were distinct cohorts throughout history that shared characteristics and values. These cohorts, going through different phases of their life, determined turnings that identified pivotal periods in history, with cohorts having a cycle of 18-20 years, and turnings taking place over an 80-year cycle. One of…

1 year 1 month ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  September 29, 2018  |  Source: CogWorld on FORBES Your business has its own language. If you sell cars, then you need not only make, model and year, but also MSRP, leather bucket seats and dealer incentives. If you are a dentist, knowing about bicuspids, prostheses and various forms of anesthesia is a must. Media companies have producers and writers, actors and grips, distribution networks and video masters. Business language is code. This language is not only critical to being able…

1 year 2 months ago
By Kurt Cagle  |  September 15, 2018  |  CogWorld on FORBES How do you describe a business? What about a person, or an intellectual work? There's an interesting little secret that people in IT likely know, but that doesn't always get to the C-Suite. Programming, at its core, is all about creating models. Sometimes those models are of classes of things, sometimes they better describe processes, but it is rare for a piece of software in your organization to not have some relevance to perhaps a few dozen…