Edo Amin

עידו אמין A new media creator, followed the Internet from its inception as commentator, blogger, journalist, presentation consultant, developer, founder and PM. Published illustrations, infographics and columns in Israeli newspapers and magazines, participated in exhibitions at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv museum, and the Israeli Comics and Cartoon Museum. “The first Hebrew blogger” (Ynet).

Posts By:Edo Amin

A Not-So-Imaginary Conversation with an Israeli Startup Entrepreneur

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A: An Israeli founded a startup! B: So what else is new? A: Not just an Israeli, an Israeli professor founded a startup! B: Big deal, everyone’s a professor around here. A: No, a real professor! B: A dime a dozen. A: Actually, it’s two! Two real Israeli professors! B: From which university? Tel Aviv? Hebrew U? Ben-Gurion? A: One’s from Stanford, and the other is from Duke University… B: And they have a background in computers? A: One of them has absolutely none. He’s an internationally known expert in behavioral economics. B: Is it going to have an exit? A: Another Israeli professor got a Nobel Prize out of it. B: Good luck to him. And the other one? A: The second one sold two companies for almost half a billion dollars! One of them to Google! And now they raised 7 million dollars in capital. B: Wow! A: Well, now I see that I have your attention, finally. B: Okay, tell me. What
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The Secret of Success: Forget the Everyday Compromises

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Between my last post and this one, I won a prize (first prize, in fact, in a video competition sponsored by the Israel Film and TV Producers Association and YouTube), and as part of the prize I traveled to London – so my apologies for the delay. And now I’ll finish, briefly, my long story about how I invented e-mail. Maybe. Electronic mail predates the internet, and its designers did not predict most of the uses that we would make of it. In the eyes of a systems analyst, we can see in it the dubious compromises that lead to a product that is not as good as snail-mail (for example, the lack of confirmation of receipt – that’s the only reason that registered mail still exists!); the inability to include an image (today there is still no standard for including a picture in the body of the text), video and sound; the inability to transfer funds; the difficulty in following a series
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Innovation and its Disappointments

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When I say that I have reservations (or even criticism) about the idea of innovation, people react with surprise. First, how could there be even the slightest flaw in innovation? After all, it is our provider, our protector, the salvation of our budgets and the bringer of all good things, the alpha and omega. But there are also those who are surprised at my loss of faith: after all, in the past, during the heady days of the internet bubble, when I wrote a regular column for Captain Internet – I carried the torch of innovation with pride. And what wonderful innovations there were then! Yahoo (which has since been sidelined, and whose shares are no longer traded with a price-earnings ratio of 40), Skype (which is slower than ever, after having been sold for the third time, profitably – this time to Microsoft, a symbol of innovation), ICQ (sold in 2010 by AOL for half of the enormous
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How I invented e-mail (without brainstorming)

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If you are reading this post, you must certainly also attend conferences. You will also know that, alongside “conferences” there are also  “un-conferences.” These are events which bring together invited guests – but which don’t dictate the program to them. The invitees themselves create the lectures, demos and panels. This anarchistic idea began in 2003, in northern California, in Bill O’Reilly’s backyard. Bill is a veteran internet personality who invited friends, on an informal basis, for an unplanned chat. Accommodation for the event was in tents. Among the who’s who assembled at this event was Yossi Vardi, an Israeli internet personality and the principal entrepreneur behind ICQ, which was sold to AOL for about 400 million dollars, and almost overnight turned Israel into the only country in the world in which a startup is considered something cool by both young
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The Computer as a Crutch

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Once I knew a man who learned the whole of his personal telephone book by heart. He set out to memorize the telephone numbers of his hundreds of acquaintances, and discovered, to his surprise, that he had a natural ability for it. From the time he made that discovery, he no longer had a need for a phone book. I’m at the other end of the spectrum – I’m one of those people who can’t survive without a diary. I find it difficult to understand how I ever managed to function without a diary. I remember how, on more than one occasion, I missed deadlines, forgot about meetings, and lost telephone numbers. Years of this torture passed until I finally decided – I have to get a real diary: a big one, with a faux leather binding, one page per week, and with a list of contacts at the back. It really helped. The diary was normally on my desk, but I would take it everywhere with me in my
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The Unexpected Illustrator

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Who has been in the situation, because of work demands, of having to scribble a diagram on the board, in front of a roomful of watching eyes? Among the various professions, teachers probably hold the record for board time, but CEO’s, VP’s and product managers are also out there, holding those erasable markers. Sometimes we forget that government ministers are also super-managers, and those among them with a visual sense have quickly discovered the persuasive power of illustrations.  One of them is Binyamin Netanyahu, who in the past was a student of architecture, and who – every few months – amuses Israelis (and sometimes the whole world) with some drawing: on one occasion it was the “giving tree” producing the fruits of economic security, another time it was the Iranian bomb, with its red line, and sometimes it is a simple doodle for children, when visiting a school.  But
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Is User-Friendliness for Weaklings?

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“The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners” is the subtitle of a book entitled Babel No More, published about a year ago, to which a friend of mine, a university lecturer, drew my attention. The author, Michael Erard, is a journalist and linguist, who decided to crack the secret of language learning. His curiosity about the subject was aroused after noting that, unlike the wealth of research on the difficulties of learning a language, he found almost not research on the upper limit of human linguistic ability. He went to Bologna, Italy, to visit the archives of Cardinal Mezzofanti, a 19th century polyglot who spoke over 100 languages (including Hebrew). He visited southern India and Belgium, to experience first-hand what it’s like to learn in a multilingual culture. He delved into historical texts, to see if there was something there that explained what
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And, again – the Internet is a Video Machine (this time with honors)

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In my previous post, I argued that the internet is a video machine, and that most of the traffic on the internet is made up of video (as opposed to text). I didn’t think that this would generate as many responses as it did, since it’s not really news – I would date the understanding that the internet is a video machine to about seven years ago, around 2006. But it was specifically as a result of my post that I received numerous responses, and even counter-arguments. For example, it was argued that the data came from the United States, and we should not be so certain that it is true of Israel. Another argument was particularly weighty: my post compared traffic data, but this is misleading, since video files are significantly larger than text files. The number of bits used for even a short video clip, could be used to transmit all the articles that we read in a whole week! And so the
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Map map on the wall

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The trend toward integration of internet video into the syllabus continues to spread. Following the launch of YouTube and TED platforms, this week another platform has been added. This time, it is an initiative from the people at RSA – the Royal Society for the Arts, which was responsible for the videos of Ken Robinson and others. The new platform is called “Watch Draw Think”. This platform allows teachers to upload and share ideas for constructing lessons, based on the animated films produced as part of the RSA-Animate series. The system is not particularly sophisticated. In fact, it is rather basic, but what makes it interesting is that it allows teachers to also upload Il est important deeviter de seadonner e ces jeu de casino . their own whiteboard images – I imagine that this refers to illustrations in the RSA’s associative style. After all, the style of illustration that
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The beauty of creation

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Teaching the Computer This week, a group of 13-year-old students visited my studio. They were working on an assignment on the subject of the cinema. I showed them how I create animations through a combination of illustrations and software, and they were fascinated. I had to get on with my own work, so I accompanied them to the door. When they left, the person escorting them whispered to me, “Don’t think that this is normal for them, to see them concentrating for an hour and a half. I’m amazed.” For us, as artists, what we do seems normal to us. We often forget what brought us to take up this occupation – how, as teenage boys and girls, we were captivated by the magic of animation, or the music, or the drawing. Since then we have grown up, and now we make a living from drawing things that are meant to be watched by people – and by teenage boys and girls. We tend to forget how
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What did I learn in Chemistry class? How to develop chemistry with girls

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I saw this short animated movie recently and I found it particularly enchanting. The movie is the work of Andrew Park, from English studio Cognitive Media, the same Andrew Park who was responsible for the well-known and highly acclaimed RSA Animate series. In this case we are talking about a totally different level of learning and explanation – not a graphic realization of lectures by famous thinkers, as Park did for RSA, but the study of Chemistry at the introductory level, for schools. The specific topic of the movie is the conditions under which chemical reactions processed, and the script presents the viewer with the following question: how can we improve the conditions for romantic encounters in the school corridor. Among the animated answers: narrow the width of the corridors, increase the number of students, shorten the breaks, and enlist the services of a matchmaker. The
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The Internet is a Video Machine

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What do you do on the internet? Surf websites, right? Not exactly. If we look at the question of “what do people do on the internet” in terms of content, not of technology, an interesting picture emerges. It turns out that web surfing (and e-mail) is the last thing that people do on the internet. What do they do mainly? Video. Cisco publishes an annual report on the kinds of content transmitted over the internet. The most recent report (2012) says that web surfing constitutes only 18% of internet traffic. 57% of what passes over the web is video, and 24% is file sharing – for the most part, this also means video. These numbers join other reports that show that, for the past two to three years, the bulk of transmissions from mobile devices is made up of video. In short, the internet is – primarily – a video machine. That’s a strange idea. Most of us don’t think about it in
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How a Research Project Became a YouTube Hit

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I’d like to tell you a story about being successful in getting information across. It’s a story that doesn’t have, as it’s hero, some millionaire entrepreneur, like in the gay old days of the dot.com bubble. On the contrary – the successful entrepreneur does exist, but he prefers to remain anonymous. Nonetheless, it’s sometimes worth singing the praises of a project, even if its hero shuns the limelight, and even if he didn’t earn a penny from his work. Have you heard of Professor Dan Arieli? No, he’s not the hero of this post. But I’m a regular follower of Arieli and his researches into our irrational behavior, and two years ago I noticed some interesting research which he helped to conduct, along with Prof. Michael Norton from Harvard. In this research, thousands of Americans were asked to respond to simple, non-scientific, questions: what, in your view, is the
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How to turn a professor into a superstar

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 Is animation merely something cute or cool, or does it add something to our ability to absorb information? Recently this question was investigated by Richard Wiseman, a British professor of psychology, who is also a YouTube superstar. Wiseman’s videos have so far amassed 90 million views, placing him in a super-league normally populated by the leading news and entertainment channels. In other words, the professor  is a hit! But Wiseman’s research was not about his own videos, but those by RSA Animate – a British animation project of the Royal Society of Arts. Since 2009, as part of this project, a series of animated videos has been produced that has become a classic – among the better known is Sir Ken Robinson’s lecture on “Changing Education Paradigms”, which alone has garnered over 9 million views on YouTube. The increase in recall is nowhere near double – recall
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