Archive | April 2013

Nginx: russian company host 12% of the world’s websites


76 million websites managed

For being the server to web stars. Between WordPress, Hulu, Netflix, Pinterest and Wikipedia, Nginx hosts about 12% of the world’s more than 630 millon websites and gained about 2 million new hostnames in December 2012. With a total of 76 million websites under its belt, Igor Syosev’s Nginx is one of the premier online servers.

Nginx, first release in 2004

Nginx (pronounced engine-x) is a free, open-source, high-performance HTTP server and reverse proxy, as well as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. Igor Sysoev started development of Nginx in 2002, with the first public release in 2004. Nginx is known for its high performance, stability, rich feature set, simple configuration, and low resource consumption.

Nginx scales in all directions

Nginx is one of a handful of servers written to address the C10K problem. Unlike traditional servers, Nginx doesn’t rely on threads to handle requests. Instead it uses a much more scalable event-driven (asynchronous) architecture. This architecture uses small, but more importantly, predictable amounts of memory under load.
Even if you don’t expect to handle thousands of simultaneous requests, you can still benefit from Nginx’s high-performance and small memory footprint. Nginx scales in all directions: from the smallest VPS all the way up to clusters of servers.

Who uses it

Who uses it — Netflix, Facebook, Zappos, Groupon, LivingSocial, Hulu, Dropbox,, to name a few. But also millions of domains on the Internet.

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Bug: Brazilian company innovates against Pesticides


Wasps to combat cash crops

Killer wasps! Fear not–this isn’t the movies. These predatory insects are the good guys, programmed to target only their natural enemy (which is not your scrawny behind). Bug Agentes Biológicos mass-produces wasps to combat larvae and stinkbugs that threaten sugarcane and soybean plants, two of Brazil’s largest cash crops. This past year, Bug perfected a way to spray its wasps onto soy fields, just as pesticides are spread via airplane. “We can liberate the insects in the right dose, at the right speed, and with the right protection so they can be effective,” says Francisco Jardim, a Brazilian VC who has invested in Bug and sits on its board. Wasps, for example, need to be protected until their wings grow big enough for flight, or else ants present a threat. (Isn’t nature grand?)

Third-largest agricultural exporter

Bug’s timing feels right. Brazil is the world’s third-largest agricultural exporter (behind the United States and EU); it recently passed the U.S. as the largest consumer of pesticides. Yet the country has begun to phase out the more noxious chemical pesticides Brazilian farmers use despite diminishing effectiveness. Bug has the only alternative approved by Brazilian agricultural, health, and environmental ministries. It’s currently at 100% capacity with plans to double the acreage it covers.

Preventive solution to eliminate pests as eggs

Bug describes its wasps to farmers as a preventative solution that eliminates pests as eggs, forestalling full-blown infestations. It also eschews selling to small organic farmers in favor of Brazil’s agribusiness giants, such as global sugarcane producers Royal Dutch Shell. “Our potential,” says Jardim, “is Brazil’s entire $7 billion pesticide market.”

Shifting to a more efficient business model


It is really simple to think in terms of innovation as a “closed” activity where the company owns the information by different means. Research is performed, new ideas come up, and new businesses are developed. This linear analysis however is missing several advantages than can be obtained by shifting the process to an open innovation model. Some of those advantages are:

  • More amount of ideas: it sounds obvious, but it’s necessary to comment that the more people involved in the innovation process, the more ideas one can get to select from
  • Wider reach: it’s related with the previous advantage. When more people and with more different backgrounds are implicated, ideas tend to be more diverse and rich. Having people with backgrounds in art or architecture, for designing computers, for example, can be necessary, and provide with experience that computer designers may not have.
  • More focused target: Involving customers, final users, and suppliers, will ensure that targets are reached. Their opinion is of great importance. Many ideas are developed, and then rejected because of final user tastes, or supplier’s impossibility of achieving expected results. Having them making suggestions in the beginning of the process will ensure that ideas that are being developed are on the right track.
  • Resources efficiency: the amount of infrastructure necessary in a “closed innovation” business model to achieve the same results as an open innovation one is prohibitive. Companies can’t afford that amount of money. If they want those results, they should use an open model.

But, which are the steps to follow? It’s rather simple to think about them but not executing:

  1. Change the mind model of people in the company. This is the most difficult part, and yet, the most necessary.
  2. Select your partners. Thinking wider is better in this stage. Who can bring more ideas? Making a diagram on how the business model is, can be good for leaving no one behind.
  3. Make the rules: make a contract setting what can and can’t be done. Is necessary to reduce risks.
  4. Execute the process. Work platforms are necessary. Think on their impact in the process.
  5. Monitor and improve. As in every process, things can (and must) be improved.

Who is doing this now? What are their results?

Media related companies, such as movie making, or advertising, and fashion, have been doing it for a while, but also Oil&Gas companies and Automotive companies, specially in relation with their suppliers, or B2B customers.

Results are cheaper and more focused ideas. For example, wider approaches lead to the use of medicine images technology for oil fields exploration.

Why now?

People can access internet from anywhere in the world. Right now, companies can take profit from the ideas that a potential customer comes out while travelling in the metro.

To wrap up, open your mind, open your company process to the rest of the world, and the results you will find, are greater than you can imagine.

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TOP20 to Boost Your Creativity


Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you’ve ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.

1. Commit Yourself to Developing Your Creativity

The first step is to fully devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others and put time aside each day to develop your skills.

2. Become an Expert

One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in that area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems.

3. Reward Your Curiosity

One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity to explore new topics.

4. Realize that Creativity is Sometimes Its Own Reward

While rewarding yourself is important, it is also important to develop intrinsic motivation. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.

5. Be Willing to Take Risks

When it comes to building your creative skills, you need to be willing to take risks in order to advance your abilities. While your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.

6. Build Your Confidence

Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Make note of the progress you have made, commend your efforts and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.

7. Make Time for Creativity

You won’t be able to develop your creative talents if you don’t make time for them. Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project.

8. Overcome Negative Attitudes that Block Creativity

According to a 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, positive moods can increase your ability to think creatively. According to Dr. Adam Anderson, senior author of the study, “If you are doing something that requires you be creative or be in a think tank, you want to be in a place with good mood.” Focus on eliminating negative thoughts or self-criticisms that may impair your ability to develop strong creative skills.

9. Fight Your Fear of Failure

The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze your progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.

10. Brainstorm to Inspire New Ideas

Brainstorming is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for developing your creativity. Start by suspending your judgment and self-criticism, then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice.

11. Realize That Most Problems Have Multiple Solutions

The next time to approach a problem, try looking for a variety of solutions. Instead of simply going with the first idea you have, take the time to think of other possible ways to approach the situation. This simple activity is a great way to build both your problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

12. Keep a Creativity Journal

Start keeping a journal to follow your creative process and track the ideas you produce. A journal is a great way to reflect back on what you have accomplished and look for other possible solutions. This journal can be used to save ideas that can later serve as future inspiration.

13. Create a Mind Map

A mind map is a great way to connect ideas and look for innovative answers to questions. Create a mind map by writing down a central topic or word. Next, link related terms or ideas around the central word. While similar to brainstorming, this technique allows for branching ideas and offers a very visual way of seeing how these ideas are linked.

14. Challenge Yourself

Once you have developed some basic creative skills, it is important to continually challenge yourself in order to further advance your abilities. Look for more difficult approaches, try out new things and avoid always using the same solutions you have used in the past.

15. Try the “Six Hats” Technique

The “six hats” technique involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.

1) Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
2) White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
3) Yellow Hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
4) Black Hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
5) Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
6) Blue Hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?

16. Look for Sources of Inspiration

Never expect creativity to just happen. Look for new sources of inspiration that will give you fresh ideas and motivate you to generate unique answers to questions. Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend. Utilize whatever strategy or technique works best for you.

17. Create Opportunities for Creativity

In addition to looking for inspiration, you also need to create your own opportunities for creativity. This might involve tackling a new project or finding new tools to use in your current projects.

18. Consider Alternative Scenarios

When approaching a problem, utilize “what if…” questions to consider each possible scenario. If you take a specific approach, what will the outcome be? By looking at these alternatives beforehand, you’ll be better able to develop creative solutions to problems.

19. Create a Flow Chart

When you are developing a new project, start by creating a flow chart to track the presentation of the project from start to finish. Look for various paths or sequences of events that might occur. A flow chart can help you visualize the final product, eliminate potential problems and create unique solutions.

20. Try the Snowball Technique

Have you ever noticed how one great idea often leads directly to another? You can take advantage of this by utilizing a “snowball technique” when you are generating ideas for your project. If the idea isn’t appropriate for your current work, set it aside to work on later or implement it in a future project.

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BOYD: your employer’s Policy?


Profiling Canadian businesses

In January 2013, the Future of Work campaign was launched, profiling Canadian businesses that are using technology to gain a competitive advantage and transform how they operate. BOYD, Bring Your Own Device, meaning to use personal device for professional usage.

Does your employer have a BYOD policy?

Below, answers given by Cisco campaign in 2013:

1) Yes, it allows devices to be used for business and personal (36%)
2) My work forbids us from using our own devices for work (27%)
3) I’m not sure (36%)

Results of Cisco Report

Below the 2012 results of Cisco Connected World Technology Report:

1) 90% young Canadians check their smartphones starting they wake up
2) 63% of respondents check their devices compulsively throughout the day
3) 90% upload photos
4) 87% check their Facebook
5) 56% use their phone for Twitter

Obviously these devices are becoming an extension of us, and it’s great to see that one-third of Canadians can use the devices they are most comfortable on at work.

Clear direction to employees on BYOD policies

What is also clear however is that confusion exists among employees about whether they have a BYOD policy. The challenge will be for Canadian IT managers and administrators to give clear direction to employees on BYOD policies moving forward.

Why? Because as laptops, smartphones and tablets continue to become more engrained in all aspects of our lives, the workplace of the future must include policies that welcome devices of employees. The pervasiveness of these devices ensures that the issue of BYOD policy adoption is a matter of when, not if.

BYOD is just now becoming a part of popular debate among IT managers and business decision makers so it is not surprising to see a large number of respondents unaware of where their employer stands on this issue, but look for this number to drop drastically in the new few years.

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Innovative way to teach and learn


How learn if robots run the world?

Science fiction writers and blockbuster movies have been predicting a world run by robots for decades, and for most of us, the fantasy has stayed in the realm of fiction. But artificial intelligence has made rapid progress and robots are becoming more a part of everyday life than many people realize. Those who study robots and their impact on life foresee a day not too far off when many jobs now held by people will be automated.

Computers & incremental creativity

As artificial intelligence improves and slowly takes over aspects of daily life, the only way for people to continue to be useful is to “up-skill” — and that takes creativity. “Incremental creativity is just improving on something, but radical creativity is thinking something up,”. We can believe that, in time, computers will be capable of incremental creativity, slowly improving a process and building on its success. What they will never be able to do is generate a radically new idea.

The role of educators

“The role of the educator is to channel and guide what is fundamentally an improvisational process”. Education has to focus on learning how to learn – metacognition. School will still be important, but not to impart what happened during the Revolutionary War or to teach the quadratic formula. School, he said, should focus on teaching young people the intangibles, the things that make humans unique: relationships, flexibility, humanity, how to make discriminating decisions, resilience, innovation, adaptability, wisdom, ethics, curiosity, how to ask good questions, synthesizing and integrating information, and of course, creating. In the future, computers and humans will be working together to create the next big invention and when that happens, people can distinguish themselves by controlling the process and the strategy. Humans will define the goals and will think creatively about solutions.

To produce more creative thinkers

Most political leaders and education experts agree that the education system needs to adapt to the technological realities of the age and work to produce more creative thinkers. “The whole culture is coming out with support for more and greater creativity in students,” said R. Keith Sawyer, professor of education and psychology studying creativity and learning at Washington University in St. Louis, at the same conference.

Recognizing that much of the creative work generated comes out of collaborative group work, teachers can think about their classrooms as places for improvisational flow, where teachers and students are building knowledge together. Structure is needed, but some flexibility as well.

An incremental learning model

To arrive at an improvisational classroom, educators can move away from an instructional model for the classroom. The traditional model clings to the notion that children need to learn particular facts and it’s the teacher’s job to impart that information to students. Facts and information build incrementally and turn into more complex ideas, and learning is measured by testing knowledge of facts.

But many argue that this model results in superficial knowledge and low retention, weak transfer to new situations, inability to integrate facts and apply to other situations, Sawyer said.

Sawyer proposes that schooling should be constructionist, focusing on a deeper, conceptual understanding of topics with the ability to build new knowledge in new situations. To do this, students need to take facts, skills, and concepts and apply them to real-word problems. Learning should start with a driving question. This way, students can explore the topic through inquiry and discussion, working in teams, just as they would in the workplace or other life situations. Students create a tangible product that addresses the issue at hand, and along the way an instructor guides the process.

Every teacher as creative professional

Every teacher is a creative professional,” Sawyer said. “And in the ideal world, every teacher is contributing these small ideas, engaging in mutual tinkering. But we have to share with others, we can’t keep it in the classroom.” The creative act of teaching needs to be a collaborative one, like a startup team working on the next innovative product. If each teacher continues to tinker and offer ideas to the larger group, a creative breakthrough will emerge.

“It’s going to be every one of us that contributes ideas along the way,” Sawyer said. And in doing so, teachers everywhere can create the institutional change that stands between them and implementing the ideas that to many are obvious and instinctual.

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Africa: 10 innovators to watch


African entrepreneurs are using technology to develop ideas to introduce products and services to compete within the continent’s burgeoning marketplace. With the level of challenges that tech start-ups face in competing within the broader technology space, business incubation, funding and other resources have emerged as focal points for industry regulators and governments. A number of technology-focused collective communities, described as Innovation Hubs, or Technology Labs have emerged with the objective of building innovative business.

1. The Innovation Hub (South Africa)

The Innovation Hub’s status as Africa’s first internationally accredited Science and Technology Park. It covers several key sectors including IT, Biosciences, Green Technologies and Industrials.

The organistion is home to 47 businesses. These are made up of fledgling companies who utilise the Innovation Hub’s Business Incubator Program, including access to complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity and mentorship, as well as businesses looking to invest in commercial space to benefit by being part of a networked community of peers.

The Innovation Hub is behind the launch of ground-breaking initiatives. It also breathed life into the Open Innovation Solution Exchange, a web-based platform that connects innovators with solution seekers to tackle service delivery in government and increase competitiveness in the private sector.

2. Botswana Innovation Hub (Botswana)

Established in 2006, The Botswana Innovation Hub is focused on key sectors including IT, bio-tech, energy and environment, as well as mining. The Hub came about as a result of the realisation of the Botswana Excellence Strategy which had as its foundation a national strategy for diversification of the country’s economy, job creation and the pursuit of a knowledge-based economy.

Several companies and partners have registered with the Botswana Innovation Hub, including the University of Botswana, as well as a citizen-owned startup company called Kaelekae, focused on the provision of mobile phone-based platforms for social networking and marketing..

3. AfriLabs (online networked)

This network organisation was established in 2010 to promote the growth and development of Africa’s technology sector. At present the AfriLab network comprises 14 hubs and labs across Africa.

4. BongoHive (Zambia)

Lusaka-based BongoHive is a technology and Innovation Hub set up in May 2011, established to provide an area for the local tech community to network and engage each other.

BongoHive has collaborated with a social media management and content creation agency called C1RCA1964 to facilitate and advertise the relevance of Tweet Up Fundraiser. This initiative aimed at grouping online resources and people to help raise funds for important causes, including HIV prevention.

According to its website, its activity is focused on three key aspects including innovation, creativity and sustainability. Membership is free, however members must agree to specific development methods.

5. Co-Creation Hub (Nigeria)

Described as a social innovation centre, the Co-Creation Hub is focused on the strategic use of social capital and technology to boost Nigeria’s economy. Ideas and skills application seems to be a core focus of CcHUB, which, as its website proclaims, has been covered in the media for the desire to house “Nigeria’s next great idea”.

6. Ebene Cyber-City (Mauritius)

The Ebene Cyber-City is an established technology and business focused community within Ebene City, 15 km south of the capital Port Louis. The Cyber-City features the Ebene Cyber Tower 1, a twelve-story commercial building and represents a core component of the government’s plan to develop IT.

Cyber-City falls under the Business Parks of Mauritius Ltd. (BPML Group), a government-owned infrastructure development company. One of the objectives of the BPML is to cement the country’s status as a regional centre for excellence for IT outsourcing.

7. i-Hub (Kenya)

According to Wikipedia, i-Hub has been called the “unofficial headquarters of Kenya’s tech movement”

It is also described on its website as “part vector for investors and VCs and part incubator” and there is emphasis on its role as an open space for the country’s tech community, with particular reference to providing startups and entrepreneurs access to VCs, seed funders and local businesses.

i-Hub states that it has 10596 members and 152 companies on board, many of whom are positioned within Kenya’s developer community. The initiative is reported to have supported the creation of the mobile phone service M-Farm, designed to empower farmers with real-time information. Its partners include Intel, Google, Samsung, amongst others.

8. Outbox Hub (Uganda)

Defined on its website as a “technology incubation, collaboration space and innovation hub”, The Outbox Hub features Google for Entrepreneurs as a sponsor and is focused on supporting the establishment of mobile and web businesses, steering entrepreneurship through incubation and acceleration.

It is targeted at developers, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors, and provides mentorship, network and investor sourcing, as well as access to professional services.

Startup companies within the Outbox community include Kola Studios (developer and publisher of Social Mobile games for the web, smartphone and tablet devices), CodeSync (a developing one-stop music store for African musicians) and Beyonic (software development and consultancy firm).

9. iLab (Liberia)

iLab Liberia is a non-profit computer laboratory that provides access to technology and IT expertise to benefit the country.

This initiative is focused on information sharing and also hosts tech events and network facility through which tech enthusiasts can engage with each other and IT professionals. There are a host of collaborators affiliated to the iLab, including Google, the Georgia Institute of Technology and UN Volunteers.

10. IceAddis (Ethiopia)

Ethiopian university-based innovation hub, incubator and business accelerator IceAddis is based on the idea of combining innovation with collaboration and entrepreneurship.

It has been established to foster collaboration between stakeholders in the country’s developing ICT space, including academia, technology industry, the government and wider private sector.

IceAddis is reported to have more than 500 active members, a community of budding entrepreneurs and developers who leverage off the Hub’s mentorship and training programmes.

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Fermob: to innovate & to internationalize


In April, Reybier Bernard, CEO of Fermob, returning from the Milan Furniture Fair, the Mecca of designer furniture. For fifteen years, the company exhibits his collections. But beyond the commercial present on its stand, four people in-house design studio and house technicians have turned down the aisles, camera in hand. They came back with eight cents for tracking shots in this world high creative talents and lines tomorrow concentration. Because the value of Fermob, one of the pillars of its development, the bold design of its furniture.

Iron, a source of creativity

Bernard Reybier bought in 1989 the company installed Thoissey in Ain, a region of France. It manufactures furniture iron since 1953 and reduced to a workshop of 10, suffers from devastating competition from plastic. “What interested me was the whole creativity induced by a material such as iron. From the outset, the design has become an added value. ” This choice requires collaboration with external designers. Pascal Mourgue, one of the most industrial designers French side, who had already signed in 1983 the chair Silvermoon long collaborated with Fermob. Patrick in June also with the chair Facto 1998. Off to the Fair of Milan, Bernard Reybier also identified Harald Guggenbiechler who signed new models … We understand that sees pioneer, immersing themselves in exhibitions, competitions schools, to find “new blood.” However, its position in respect of departure: simple lines, accessible and non-statutory. What state in the time an image and brand.

Fermob has revolutionized the furniture

Around its internal design studio, Bernard Reybier also ensures look of a “broader creative sphere” involving fifteen engineers, technicians and marketing experts. The creative dimension inscribed in the DNA of the brand also involves the color. In 1996, Fermob upsets the small world of furniture, confined to green or white, featuring lime green, tangerine and vanilla. Then come poppy, black, eggplant … When in 2000, retailers (garden centers, stores, outdoor furniture specialists) bristle at the fuchsia, education and determination are needed to convince. Accompany, build loyal relationships with their network is actually a prerequisite for getting this message condition for innovation.

No place in supermarket

“Innovation must be backed by distributors, there must be arguments. That’s why from the beginning I took Fermob circuit supermarkets, there was no place. ” This commitment also requires accepting the risk and failure. In 1993, “Tutti Frutti” chair becomes, against all expectations, a commercial failure. And it will only fall 2012, two years late, that can be marketed chair Andrée Putman: some elements were found defective, not meeting the specifications require that the manufacturer is required.

12,000 chairs in the streets of New York

This approach leads quickly to the international Fermob. In 2012, the company exports 44% of its total turnover (35 million euros in 2011) to 36 countries, including the United States and Germany, two countries attractive for manufacturers of French furniture.

The strategy involves investing consistently and persistently country, mostly through trade shows, before turning to another: “We have to wait three years to be profitable.” The manufacturer has indeed in its catalog folding chair “Bistro” with lines dating from the nineteenth or mythical chair the Luxembourg Gardens reinterpreted in 2004 by Frederic Sofia. In late April, Bernard took off for New York Reybier for a project to store the sign.

These outlets exclusively Fermob, apply only a few very large cities in leading countries. After Paris, Munich, Cologne, New York was required. Established for fifteen years in Atlanta through a sales office, a meeting Fermob marked overseas and particularly in New York success: 12,000 chairs made in Ain discover in public parks, along the streets .. . Bistro chairs deployed in Bryant Park on behalf of the foundation kicked off this American onslaught.

Market season

This company operates in a free market world leader, but each geographical area has given rise to a leader, a potential competitor. Beyond its design and its “French touch”, the company relies on the “environmental” aspect to compete. The industrial process claims to “zero waste” Bistro chair is recyclable to 30%, “These arguments are,” according to the CEO. Remains a major challenge: the production for an outdoor environment knows the vagaries of seasonality: do not miss the boat on sunny days.

This requires an ultra fine control of deadlines and therefore production, and also justifies this production is integrated: it is one of the major pillars of the development strategy. However, the challenge becomes more complex for further afield. To invest more heavily in the Asia-Pacific region, where it makes a small percentage of 3% export, the company has signed an industrial partnership with a Chinese. Part of the range will be manufactured locally from a tool for the design which Fermob teams competed. Besides export Fermob turns to the professional market to diversify its business, and fits the standards of the hospitality industry. Today, this pillar represents nearly a third of its sales, and helps to balance its growth.

Fermob, whose capital is held overwhelmingly by Bernard Reybier, strongly embodies through him. He laid the groundwork for its development, inscribed in stone and its basic door again. He built a company of 200 people, located in rural areas and low turnover in its management of human resources. This strong incarnation can still be a source of weakness as leaving little room for others and ultimately threatening the sustainability of the company. Bernard Reybier is well aware that recently surrounded himself with two assistant general managers. He now wants to devote himself mainly to development. Without releasing his hunt for the design, his personal brand.

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Girls & Math: How to innovate to bust stereotypes


Do girls need special attention to science?

In response, some readers strongly refuted the notion that girls need the extra nudge. But according to Claude Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, it’s not that girls aren’t necessarily interested in science and math, it’s whether they’re discouraged from following their interests because of the persistent stereotype that girls aren’t good at that sort of thing.

Claude Steele has examined this very phenomenon closely for years and has identified it as a stereotype threat. The issue is much more complex than the very basic tendencies of what naturally interests either gender. He pinpoints the problem to what happens after girls follow their interests in science and math studies, when inevitable obstacles come up. He says it’s a subtle but crucial mindset that can make the difference between a girl choosing to go into a STEM (for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematic)  field — or trying harder on a math or science test — and choosing not to.

Is Math a Gift?

Stanford researcher Carol Dweck, who wrote Is Math a Gift? Beliefs That Put Females at Risk, takes it one step further. Carol Dweck has researched the topic of stereotypes, natural aptitude, and how praising effort or intelligence can be harmful, and she’s come up with a thought-provoking conclusion.

She writes. “Can anyone say for sure that there isn’t some gift that makes males better at math and science? What we can say is that many females have all the ability they need for successful careers in math-related and scientific fields and that the idea of the ‘gift-that-girls-don’t-have’ is likely to be a key part of what’s keeping them from pursuing those careers.”

Where do these stereotypes come from?

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, has also researched the phenomenon and says these detrimental stereotypes are enmeshed in our culture. “It’s pervasive in our cultural narrative,” he said at the Innovative Learning Conference. “‘I’m not this kind of learner or that kind of learner. I’m good at words, but not math.’… It’s a theory about how the world works.”

Societies without these stereotypes don’t impose the same burden, Claude Steele says, and as a result, there are a great deal more women engaging in science and math-based fields. “Poland, India, parts of Asia, where there are many more women participating in math and STEM fields, the stereotype is much weaker. The girls going into those fields don’t experience the same pressure they do in a society like ours where relatively few women participate in these fields. That strengthens the stereotype and the pressure they can feel.”

Where do these stereotypes come from? Cues from the environment that suggest there aren’t many women in this field, Claude Steele says. In short, a self-fulfilling prophecy. “The pictures on the wall don’t show many women as famous mathematicians,” Claude Steele says. “Examples used in math classes are more boy-oriented than girl-oriented.”

How to fix it?

It all comes down to our understanding (and thus, kids’ understanding) that it’s not about a fixed set of abilities, but about what can be learned. Carol Dweck observed in her study that, by the end of eighth grade, “there is a considerable gap between females and males in their math grades— but only for those students who believed that intellectual skills are a gift. When we look at students who believed that intellectual ability could be expanded, the gap is almost gone.”

If we as a society understand that ability is expandable and incrementable, and subject to deliberate practice, the impact of being stereotyped can be dramatically reduced, Claude Steele adds. Schools should practice this strategy, and parents should create an atmosphere at home that learning math and science can be as challenging for girls as for boys — and that the fun lives in solving the challenge.

At Techbridge, the after-school science and math program for girls, founder Linda Kekellis says the exposure to women role models has gone a long way in making careers in STEM fields a real possibility for students. She says more than 95 percent of girls believe engineering is a good career choice for women.

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How to Innovate with Social Media?

TOP6 - Social Media

TOP6 social media in the World

The 6 first social media are: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.

Did you know that there are more devices connected to the internet than there are people on the entire planet? This global pipeline of data keeps the world connected, and nowhere is its presence is felt more strongly than in social media. Every minute of the day thousands of photos are shared on Instagram, tens of thousands of tweets are exchanged on Twitter, hours of YouTube videos are uploaded and hundreds of thousands of pieces of content are posted to Facebook.

SocialMedia for Business

Social media for Business: the entry gate?

The question is to know if in 2 or 3 years, the entry gate of all online services of a company will have to be linked to social media: for internet web sites, as entry gate to detail products sold, for extranet for the customers and the prospects, allowing them to discuss about the company thanks to social media, and for dedicated services: giving news, playing virtual demo of products, answering and sharing topics.

How to do this? Companies will have first to develop their brand to these social medias and imagine some dedicated contents to update on social media (news, games, events…). In a second step, some links will have to be processed between these social media and standard online channels of companies. For managing this step, social media will have to reinforce their IT security which is yet insufficient for companies standards. The final step will be to make the reverse and put some links inside the companies’s systems in order to allow customers to have additional information & services thanks to social media.

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