TurboTech Sep 14, 2011: Watson’s job, TechCrunch changes, Twitter numbers, ACL Fest


[ MUSIC ] developerWorks: Yes, it is time for TurboTech. I’m Scott Laningham with the
“Turbo” himself, Todd Watson. Todd Watson: Aloha. developerWorks: And you kept
the shirt on for one more week. I’m proud of you. Todd Watson: I did. It’s starting to stink. No, no, I washed it. developerWorks: Just to show
solidarity with you, I didn’t shave. But I didn’t go a week; this is only two days. I know I’m looking a little bit
Wolfman Jack here or something, but… Todd Watson: You know, working from home… [ LAUGHTER ] developerWorks: So you ready for Issue 1? Todd Watson: I am. developerWorks: Let’s hit it. Issue 1 is… Todd Watson: Watson got a real job. Right. You know, we’ve been saying for
months at IBM that Watson really needed to stop playing games on TV and go out and get a
real job, and now he’s gone and finally done it. Watson’s going to go to work for WellPoint, which is the country’s largest medical
benefits provider, that being the U.S., and he’s going to be helping improve
patient care through the delivery of up to date evidence-based healthcare
for millions of Americans. How cool is that? Now, there’s no word yet on whether Watson is
going to be more Marcus Welby or Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy, but we do expect his
bedside manners to need some cultivating. Now, if you remember back from when Watson was
on TV playing Jeopardy, the system can sift through an equivalent of about one million
books or roughly 200 million pages of data and analyze this information and provide
precise responses in less than three seconds, which is a heck of a lot faster
than you and I can do it. And Watson is going to help the WellPoint
organization to allow their physicians to easily coordinate medical data programmed
into Watson with specified patient factors to help identify the most likely diagnosis and
treatment options in complex cases and to serve as a tool in the physicians’
decision-making process. So don’t freak out and think
that suddenly it’s going to turn into HAL and, you know, go bonkers on you. The doctor’s going to be
using it as a diagnostic tool to help them identify treatment options —
for example, that balance the interactions of various drugs and narrow them on a large
group of treatment choices, for example, and also more quickly select the more
effective treatment plans for their patients. So I think this is very cool. This is the first real industry adoption
we’ve seen of the Watson technology, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. developerWorks: And we know that’s one of the
exciting possibilities that Dr. Ferrucci talked about in that interview we did with him
at South By Southwest last year, right? Todd Watson: Absolutely. As he was telling us about how
the technology actually works, you can see that that natural
language processing and the intelligent Q&A capability really
lends itself to this kind of diagnostic. developerWorks: Okay. Issue 2, Michael Arrington out at TechCrunch. Todd Watson: Well, you know, Scott, I mean, Arrington’s been on the scene
for a number of years now. I think it was 2005 or ’06, kind of in the midst
of when we used to call social media Web 2.0 and a lot of the emergence as the
Internet market kind of regrew coming out of the trough of 2001 to 2004. And you know, he’s been a king maker. And I had a bad feeling when
AOL bought TechCrunch and then, of course, when AOL bought Huffington Post. You know, when you have Arianna Huffington and
Michael Arrington in the same room together, well, it probably ought to be a very big room. And so apparently, you know,
Arrington had announced he was going to be managing his TechCrunch
venture capital fund, for which he’s raised a whopping
$20 million dollars in VC funding. And a lot of journalists and bloggers
chimed in and said, hey, wait a minute, that’s kind of a conflict of interest… …even though, you know, Arrington had
indicated he was not going to necessarily blog about those entities he may be investing
in or he’d have kind of a disclaimer. I guess, you know, the egos
came together and clashed and they decided it was time
for him to say bon voyage. So TechCrunch is expected to go
on but without him at the helm. One wonders if it’s kind of
like Apple without Steve Jobs. I guess we’ll see. developerWorks: And you still
call him Jobs; I call him Jobs. Todd Watson: Jobs. I can’t stop myself. developerWorks: That was a good one. The next one, Issue 3, Twitter: 3 million
sites using tweet button and counting. And I’ve got some thoughts about
Twitter, too, but jump into that one. Todd Watson: Yes, so speaking of
TechCrunch, I give them credit on this one, because Leena Rao was out there at the
Disrupt conference, which was something that Arrington had fostered, a
conference where a lot of the Internet and VC community come together and have
a powwow these last couple of days. They mentioned in a blog post that Twitter is
finally debuting a publisher analytics platform to help websites understand
data around the tweet button, which is going to be launching
to the public soon. Rao writes in her post that Twitter now
has a hundred million active users sending about 230 million tweets a day, and of
course that doesn’t include the tweets I send out to the tweet-verse which fall flat
like the forest that never makes a sound, even when somebody is around listening to it. And that they’re also driving a,
quote, good amount of sharing activity. But yes, try to ask somebody to quantify
that activity, and they’ll just smile at you like you’re not in on the joke and walk away. So though a lot of many…a lot
of the third-party apps have tried to measure Twitter’s traffic for publishers, the best analytics always really
comes straight from the source. And this new product for publishers is
intended to decipher and make sense of all of that inbound and outbound traffic from
publisher sites via that tweet button and from links and to give everybody a better
barometer of what their tweeting activity is. So, hey, we’ll keep our fingers crossed. But in the meantime, don’t tweet on me. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. developerWorks: You know, a lot of
people, at least in the United States that were following national
news here, saw that a week, week and a half ago we had some severe
wildfires in this area where you and I live. And of course, Texas as a whole has had a
just horrific year with draught and wildfires, 300 straight days I think now of wildfires. But in the Austin area we
had some very severe ones, one that burned up like 30,000-plus
acres and over 1,400 homes. And it’s interesting because I found at
least in the first two day of what become about a five-day event, the
first two days the only place that I could get reliable news was Twitter. People jumped right on it. Todd Watson: Really. developerWorks: And there
were a couple of hashtags that were covering all that information. You could get updates on what was progressing
here, what were the evacuation routes here, where could you get supplies
if you needed them there. And they were even tweeting numbers, they
were saying they needed volunteer firemen. It was just another example of, to me,
how powerful citizen journalism can be and social networking, and in some ways how
traditional media is almost giving up the battle in keeping up with it in those type of settings. What did you think about it? Todd Watson: Uh-hmm. Yes, I think that’s a trend that will
continue, and it has been, I mean, we’ve seen it in a number of acts of God and
natural disasters over the last several years. You know, I had mentioned that
story a while back when I was in China during the earthquake May 12th, I
think it was, 2008, and I had my BlackBerry, and that was how I got word
out, you know, to the world. That was before I guess China
had suppressed Twitter. Apparently now it’s much more difficult
to get the feeds unless you have a VPN. But certainly we saw it in Haiti. We’ve seen it in some of the other
natural disasters more recently, you know, everything from the earthquake to
some of the fires you mentioned and the tornado scenarios
we saw earlier this year. So, yes, I think that decentralization
and ability for people via, especially via mobile devices
is a big difference maker now. I guess the question is, though, when you
don’t have a sanctioned news source, you know, we’ve also seen incidences
where, in fact, over the weekend, I think it was NBC’s Twitter account
was hacked and they announced that I think there was bombing or a
bomb threat or something at Ground Zero. So it can work both ways. developerWorks: You have to be careful. Todd Watson: And I think that Twitter’s got
to continue to work on the sanctification and the authentication of those IDs and protect
them, because, you know, named news outlets like NBC or CNN run the risk of those
break-ins, and imagine really disaster scenarios if the wrong news got out there
and moved markets the wrong way and it was all fiction instead of fact. developerWorks: Right. Good points. Austin City Limits Music
Festival is the final issue today. Todd Watson: Yes, this is the 10th
Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. For those of you who don’t know what
it is, it’s building on the name of the Austin City Limits music show, and it
was a festival in the same spirit as a Bonnaroo or a Woodstock or others
that started back in 2002. In fact, I moved in right
down the street from it. I went the first eight years. I haven’t been able to get
a ticket the last two years. It’s grown phenomenally. I mean, it’s international now. People come in from all over the world. Obviously we in the city of
Austin welcome them with open arms and certainly their economic contributions. And you know, that is a place…or that is
an event you can certainly follow on Twitter. This year they’re actually using a YouTube
channel to broadcast some of the performances. So if you go out and Google Austin City Limits
Music Festival, you can find their website and they’ll have some information about that. And so they’ve had some of that in
the past through the AT&T Blue Room. This year they’re doing it through YouTube. You can follow all your crazy
friends on Twitter at #acl. And for those of you who are wondering in
advance, it is expected to be 98, 99 degrees. So the cool front that came
in last week is gone. So drink lots of water. AT&T has already put new towers up — in
fact, I can see them right down the street from my house — to accommodate
all the additional cell phone and mobile data traffic they’re expecting. So if you can’t tweet to your friends in
Nebraska, it’s not because AT&T didn’t try, because I’ve already seen evidence
that they’re here in a big way. developerWorks: Good show. I haven’t been to it yet. I’m within miles of it and I just can’t
bring myself to weather that crowd. But I’m glad to know some of it’s
going to be on YouTube this year. Todd Watson: Yes. It’s a phenomenal show. I mean, performers are ranging from, you
know, the most popular bands in the world to artists you’ve never heard of. But I can assure you their booking is quite
good and you can pretty much wander to any stage at any time and see some
really top-notch musical acts. So definitely check it out if
you’re in town and can get a ticket. developerWorks: Todd, good show this week. And you do have permission to change
shirts next week if you’d like. Todd Watson: Okay. Well, I’ll bring out my tuxedo shirt next week. developerWorks: I’m going
to wear a top hat next week. I promise. If I can find one. Todd “Turbo” Watson, I’m Scott
Laningham, and this is TurboTech. [ MUSIC ]

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