Geoff Ebbs

Thinker, writer, performer: Geoff Ebbs is founder of the Ebono Institute
Thinker, writer, performer: Geoff Ebbs is founder of the Ebono Institute

Chairperson of the Ebono Institute, Geoff Ebbs is author of the best-selling Australian Internet Book, past editor of PC Week and PC User and producer of the Big Byte, the Generator and the Cage. Currently at Griffith University, lecturing Design students in Business in Marketing, Geoff recently completed an intense Robotics course at Riga Technical University. He is currently working on Visual Interfaces for Representing Complex Data as his contribution to the W3C Semantic Web project. This builds on his work in the 1990s on Metadex as a forerunner to compressed multi-dimensional sparse matrix inverted indexing and Proton, the forerunner to Mambo, hence Joomla.

The Cage

The Cage ran at middays on Monday on 4ZZZ for a year. It’s premise was that we lock you in until you answer the question. Every interview began with the statement ‘The Crimes Act of Queensland 1908 dictates that we cannot lock you in for more than eight hours and only four of those hours may be spent under interrogation. Do you understand?” We also randomly fired three questions from our library of placement questions which placed the interview subject in the moral landscape for the listener.

The questions were things like, Do you think abortion should be legalised, do you think climate chaos is caused by human burning of fossil fuels … . The show had an active website, facebook page and twitter feed. The show incorporated the Generator news at the top of the hour, and regular segments from The Cross.

Using StoryLines

Storylines is a subdomain of the Ebono Institute website that provides an alternative way of seeing the projects undertaken by the Institute. http://storylines.ebono.com.au

Select an item from the left menu to see its related articles which are linked on the right.

Select a project from the left hand menu to see its relationship with other projects in the database.

The projects with the deepest relationship are displayed around it, with the most significant project being at the lower right and then moving anti-clockwise around it.

The colour coding is explained in the key at the top right hand of the middle panel. At the moment the only active colour coding is the selected creative. Geoff is purple, Al Gore, Ted Nace and Christopher Alexander and their works are coloured red, leaf and light green respectively.

At the moment all relationships are considered together. The interface is designed so that you can filter the projects under consideration and the relationships that should be used to select other, relevant projects. That aspect of the interface has not yet been implemented.

Hovering over each project highlights the summary in the right hand panel.

The summaries are linked through to the article on the Ebono Institute website.

 

Ventura Tips and Tricks

The second book written by Ted Nace, published in 1989, Ventura Tips and Tricks set the tone for his successful tech-publishing venture, Peachpit Press. The friendly open style, use of graphical elements – which was shared by many other technical publishers and rapid publication techniques made how to books a valuable part of disseminating knowledge through the rapidly changing technical community.

LaserJet Unlimited

Published in 1986 and subtitled How to Get the Most from your Hewlett Packard LaserJet or LaserJet Plus Printer this was Ted Nace’ first book and the beginning of the very successful publishing firm PeachPit Press. Ted went on to write a series of other how to technical book, mostly about desktop publishing, then focused on publishing other authors. He later handed over the company to one of his managers and focus on climate activism.

The Australian Internet Book

First published in March 1995, The Australian Internet Book introduced over 250,000 Australians to the Internet. The book sold 65,000 copies across four editions making it the best selling technical book ever published in Australia and was packaged with modems and Internet accounts while people learned how to take advantage of this brilliant new tool.

The book introduced an original pedagogy that used one double page spread per idea, with two images, the starting point and the end point and adopted the emerging format of all technical books: a series of regular graphical and textual formatting devices to assist the reader in navigating through the complex text an separate technical information from explanatory information.

The directory published in the first edition included all 66 websites available in Australia and had become an online tool by the second edition, one of the four most popular websites in Australia at the end of 1995. At the time Microsoft did not believe the Internet would interrupt its plans for the MSN and offered the author an attractive contract to write the Australian MSN book. It was declined. Other publishers wanting to dominate the market offered the author attractive contracts to work on their books instead. The Australian version of many early editions of Internet books were co-authored by Geoff Ebbs, or co-author Maryanne Philips. This game culminated with Living on the Web for Dummies at which point I briefly became publisher of IDG Books Australia until it was purchased globally by J Wiley and Sons.

Strategic pipeline analysis

Click the image to watch the introductory lecture

Almost everyone in business has heard of the sales pipeline and there are quite sophisticated tools for managing and reporting from a sales pipeline to create business forecasts. The Ebono Institute has a suite of these tools available in different forms. Most businesses find our spreadsheet based system quite useful.

The Theory of Constraints work of Dr Goldratt, however, puts the pipeline in quite a different context. Based on the principles of chemical engineering, Dr Goldratt’s theory of constraints identifies the bottleneck, constraint, in any business process as the key component of the business that must be kept running at 100 per cent capacity. In most businesses it is the most expensive component, the number of aeroplane or theatre seats .. the capacity of the most expensive item of plant.

By combining the simple analytical tools of the sales pipeline reporting systems with the elegance of Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, the Ebono Institute has created a powerful analysis and reporting tool that can be expanded and added to as a business owner requires.

The most recent work in this area is the straightforward and simple introduction prepared for Design students at Griffith University. Business students will gain little from the detail of this lecture, but will quickly grasp the overall concept and the ease with which it can be extended.

Greens

As a journalist, I had always avoided carrying the membership card of any political party, or other lobby group on the basis of maintaining objectivity. While editing energy Daily in 2003, I realised that individual journalists can only gain influence as far as media proprietors let them and that independence might protect your job inside the media, but it will not protect the truth. That apparent anomaly occurs because the principle is not practiced by those with power.

I moved to the northern rivers region of NSW because it has a strong Greens vote (then 10%), high rainfall and rich volcanic soil. It is one of the few places in Australia likely to get wetter under climate change. I ran for federal parliament in 2007, raising the vote by 7 percent and mounting a largely grass roots, social media campaign.

I served on various committees at a state level and became deeply embroiled in the Green politics which has recently (2017) raised its ugly head again. I ran for federal election four times, once against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2013. I maintained active involvement in The Greens until 2016, resigning as convenor of the Qld Campaign Committee, and South Brisbane Greens, member of the management committee and the State Delegate Council.

The Prime Minister affects boredom as Ebbs wows the crowd

The basis on which I joined the Greens was to “shine my light where it was darkest”. Fourteen years later, I have recognised that while that principle has some virtue, it is also important to allow your best light to shine. I have returned to coding, and to Griffith University to rediscover those throughlines that resonate most for me personally and where I can have the greatest impact.

pathmap

pathmap is an application designed to support wellness practitioners interpret pathology results. The brainchild of nutritionist and medical consultant, Rachel Arthur, pathmap links a body of work about the detailed interplay between different aspects of pathology, biochemistry and nutrition to provide holistic insights into the patient’s condition.

Like many laboratory results, pathology are generally used as “traffic lights” where people pay little attention until they get a red light warning them that some parameter is out of limit. pathmap is an interface designed to help people see the results as a narrative. The pathmap interface shares many aspects of metadex and storylines.

One Stop Green Shop

An ecommerce venture, designed to provide a retail platform for the many cottage industries, inventors and entrepreneurs on the northern NSW Coast who had little business and ecommerce experience and limited access to markets in the city.

It suffered from being a second (or sixth) string project when my focus was on radio, politics and comedy but battled on to become the Byron Green Building Centre of which I still own five percent.

In terms of technology and ecommerce, it did not do anything particularly innovative, though we did find a work around to some problems with sharing of postage and delivery information.

It did, however, reinforce my determination to build systems that aggregate and share content across disparate platforms and provide a commerce framework that allows networks of collaboration instead of the hub and spoke affiliate model created by the likes of Amazon, freelancer.com, ebay, et al.