Lets start with the Flight . At the end of last week came that rare luxury and respite – the NOAH show! For two whole days , since 2009 , the investment community have been able to lounge in Old Billingsgate and make up their minds about what is likely , what is imminent and what wont happen in eCommerce and Internet services . On threesatges and in front of some 600 investment outfits , over 500 early growth players say ± its me you were really looking for “ . The cases , the comparitive performance , and the real knowledge on display is hugely heartening . Something tells me that London as the start-up centre of Europe is now a bit off the top of the curve . NOAH advisors , who run this show , have opened a Berlin show and intend one as well for Tel Aviv next year, and if I were them then I would also be looking at Barcelona when the current crisis subsides . But location is not the most important thing here . Innovation in services cultures in a networked society goes viral – and comes out of a global market to start with , as the Dallas , Texas , based founder of Bumble demonstrated as she appeared on stage with her Russian tech partner , Badoo . They were interviewed by the founding partner of NOAH , and its Master of Ceremonies , Marco Rodzynek, in a session. That reminded me that behind the apparent strength of seemingly impregnable network market leadership like Facebook there always looms a lither , smarter competitor who grows very quickly , and who must be emulated or acquired if seemingly impregnable positions are to be maintained .

 

Then if you waited till the end of Marco’s Show you got to fly . Featured there were Volocopter and  Lillium , a full week before NASA and Uber announced their deal , adverting the glories of investing in autonomous air taxis . Lillium , a vertical take off jet solution , can land on a tennis court and can take you 300 km at 300 km per hour . Volcopter , as its name suggests , is driven by a ring of small rotors , is also battery driven but shorter in range . Both are German , both do huge information-based navigation work , and Lillium has been extensively experimented with in urban conditions in Dubai .Although they were a surprizing find in this context , for those of us who lead a screen based existence , they were a welcome reminder of the real world significance of all the data crunching going on around us . And as I rode home comfortably on German owned Chiltern Railways , I reflected on leaders in my country prepared to invest $75 billion on a new railway line , not yet begun , which will , when it opens in 2033 , clip a life and job saving 22 minutes off the train schedule between London and Birmingham . Mercifully I shall not be here to see it – I shall be in the air taxi!

 

Another visionary with a loaded gun full of ideas at NOAH was Ali Parsa , the founder of Babylon healthcare . Within days of the show he had announced another big leap forward in supporting Britain’s overworked healthcare system with voice and video medical practice extensions , allowing computer supported diagnostics for those who cannot or need not get a consultation in person . as this gets better and better , and has more intelligent systems support , it offers the only real hope we have of getting the NHS back on track as a national free-at-the-point- of-use system. And as the network gets better the diagnostic session will improve , and the analytics will deliver more insight . Listening computers will be able to prompt the doctor with more questions , and produce a range of answers and probabilities , and a treatment schedule for the doctor to consider and turn into prescriptions , patient notes and records for the regular GP . By using this for minor ailments the system  may survive – if we do not use it outside of London then it certainly wont , but it does point again , in a tiny country like Britain , towards a need for  equality in what is rapidly becoming a human rights issue – access at home to superfast broadband . We should be giving every citizen regardless of where they live at least 40 megabits of upload and download . The fact that we are not ( yet the South Koreans are ) was graphically demonstrated by the village in Devon who , on 5th November , the traditional Bonfire Night , burnt in effigy not Guy Fawkes , but a British Telecom Superfast Broadband van . Not much diagnostics down there , then, and not even a high speed train in 15 years time to take them to the next NHS bottleneck much quicker . The future is here , as William Gibson so wisely said , but its not very evenly spread .

 

Much more to say about journals and funders and scholarly communication  next week After the Great Debate at the Stationers company this week , we all decided that regulation under Brexit was only going to get worse , and as we thought of data regulation and copyright we fel better off where we were than where we might be going . And i am chairing the session on “ whose Research is it Anyway “  at London Information  International on December 5-6 . More warming than mulled wine , I assure you !


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