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Thursday, June 30, 2005

User Generated Content - Web For The Masses!!

We recently covered on the theme-User Generated ContentCustomers,Democratisation & Future Of Innovation,and Online Paid Content Consumption & User Generated Content,wherein we wrote,user generated content and the content service gets more people to look at online content-not general content per se - the various facilities to collaboratively communicate and be a part of a like minded/related interest community id the differentiator attracting more and more people to experience the online world better.We also covered,User Generated Content -Fresh Perspectives, wherein we referred to Paul Allen's view, The fastest Growth Sites are Built on User Generated Content.

NYTimes covers on this theme titled -Web Content by and for the Masses. Excerpts with edits:
Flickr,acquired this year by Yahoo,is just one example of a rapidly growing array of Web services all seeking to exploit the Internet's power to bring people together. From photo- and calendar-sharing services to "citizen journalist" sites and annotated satellite images, the Internet is morphing yet again. A remarkable array of software systems makes it simple to share anything instantly, and sometimes enhance it along the way. Inexpensive to create and worldwide in reach, the new Internet services are having an impact far beyond the file sharing. Indeed, the abundance of user-generated content - which includes online games, desktop video and citizen journalism sites - is reshaping the debate over file sharing. The new services offer a bottom-up creative process that is shifting the flow of information away from a one-way broadcast or publishing model, giving rise to a wave of new business ventures and touching off a scramble by media and technology companies to respond. We are now entering the participation age," Jonathan Schwartz, the president and chief operating officer of Sun feels "The really interesting thing about the network today is that individuals are starting to participate. The endpoints are starting to inform the center." Many Internet developers think that the Internet's new phase will shift power away from old-line media and software companies while rapidly bringing about an age of computerized "augmentation" by blending the skills of tens of thousands of individuals.
The Internet is now making it possible to exploit collective intellectual power of Internet users efficiently and instantly.While Hollywood studios have generally scoffed at competition from amateurs, the most striking example of user-generated content may come from Spore, an online game being developed by Will Wright, the developer of the Sims series of video games.


Skype, Masses & Corporates!!

(Via S+B)The most attractive new form of Internet telephony is also the most threatening to corporate security — for now.Unlike the growing number of VOIP networks offered by phone and cable companies, Skype is a peer-to-peer system. Skype is a "softphone" - a software-based telephone that uses a computer, cellphone, PDA, or any other equipment connected to the Web to deliver voice with simultaneous file transfer and instant messages over the Internet. This means that it creates ad hoc computer-to-computer links over the Internet whenever Skype users want to reach one another. With this approach, no central networks mediate or manage the connection. As Skype eliminates the middleman, calls between its users are free. The company generates revenue by selling services that allow subscribers to make calls to people who haven’t downloaded the software. Skype’s sound quality is better than typical telephone reception, primarily because it is not limited to the standard telephone transmission spectrum of 300 Hz to 3 kHz, a relatively narrow bandwidth. Since its debut, Skype has signed up 35 million users and, at any one time, well over 3 million people are logged into its network. With all of this, Skype would seem to be on a smooth trajectory, but that’s not quite the case. Most corporate IT and telecom managers are trying to avoid Skype at all costs.
Skype is an IT manager’s nightmare. For one thing, Skype encrypts all its traffic, which makes it impossible to monitor what employees are doing, sending, or saying when they use this communications tool. Skype doesn’t follow the path of most VOIP services. It enters the corporate network as an application embedded in a mobile device; it is activated whenever a user accesses the Internet from within the corporate network to make a call. In this way, Skype could open holes in a corporate firewall from the inside. The fear is that Skype users could expose corporate networks to hackers, viruses, and malicious software (“malware”), or shield the activities of malicious employees. For the immediate future, these conditions make it risky for most large companies to embrace or even consider adopting Skype. But with Skype, the Internet becomes their virtually cost-free private telephone-and-voicemail network, a feature-rich system for remote real-time collaboration. This will become even more obvious as Skype’s capabilities increase. Themost lasting influence of Skype will be that it will force management and IT executives to consider how to structure a network that exists both inside and outside the corporate firewall. To improve innovation and their own productivity, employees will gravitate to the most advanced collaboration and communications tools with the most reliable levels of quality, no matter what price is paid in weakened security. Companies will have the task of figuring out how to integrate new technologies like Skype into their businesses — and how to get the most out of them.

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Rules As Gateway To Business Processes!!

Barry Briggs,has thoughts which are very insightful.Earlier we covered his view on the centricity of business process to enteprises in the post The Decade Of Business Process. Now he writes with amazing clarity,Rules are the gateway for the business into the process.
Barry thinks that the technical barriers to real-time business are gradually coming down, but many remain. To get the most from investments in often heterogeneous business applications enterprises try to rationalize IT applications –and increase the adoption of Web Services and XML will - these would make intgeration easier, but the goal of extracting true business value – fine-tuning business operations as conditions warrant, rapidly exploiting new opportunities – still remains elusive.
Complex process automations have been succesfully completed by enterprises but changing these processes is expensive,laborious, and requires negotiation between multiple groups (usually, the business organization and the IT team).In current business process deployments the missing link is approachability by the business user.
To make these sorts of changes to running business systems too frequently requires the analyst to request IT assistance – code changes, regressions, and redeployments. Tight integration of business rules technology with business process technology provides a convincing platform for enterprises. In general, business rules are simple and intuitive. Research suggests that the if-then structure of rules is central to the cognitive structure and operation of the human brain. The true value of business rules appear when the rules engine is integrated as a fundamental building block of the business process.Rules can be used for many purposes within a business process. Rules can validate data, Rules can also be used to direct the flow of a process. Rules can also be used to direct interactions with humans in the course of a business process. IT developer sees databases and rows and queries and objects and messages; the business analyst sees a vocabulary (of business objects) rich in business semantics. Most business process engines come with tracking mechanisms which enable both IT and business users to view their histories including history / record of branches taken and decisions made by rules. Then, using dashboard technologies such as Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) it’s straightforward to infer causality, and thus the financial return.


The Organisation Of The 21st Century!!

(Via McKinsey Quarterly)To motivate the collaborative behavior in the new organizational model work, companies must create metrics that hold employees individually accountable for their contribution to collective success—an idea we call holding people "mutually accountable." Such metrics are particularly important for senior and top managers but are required, more broadly, for all self-directed workers. People who are great at developing the abilities of other talented people or at contributing distinctive knowledge, for example, should be more highly valued than those who are equally good at doing their own work but not at developing talent or contributing knowledge.Productive professionals make big enterprises competitive, yet these employees now increasingly find their work obstructed. Creating and exchanging knowledge and intangibles through interaction with their professional peers is the very heart of what they do. Yet most of them squander endless hours searching for the knowledge they need—even if it resides in their own companies—and coordinating their work with others.The inefficiency of these professionals has increased along with their prominence. Consider the act of collaboration. Each upsurge in the number of professionals who work in a company leads to an almost exponential—not linear—increase in the number of potential collaborators and unproductive interactions. Many leading companies now employ 10,000 or more professionals, who have some 50 million potential bilateral relationships. The same holds true for knowledge: searching for it means trying to find the person in whose head it resides, because most companies lack working "knowledge markets." One measure of the difficulty of this quest is the volume of global corporate e-mails, which rose from about 1.8 billion a day in 1998 to more than 17 billion a day in 2004. As finding people and knowledge becomes more difficult, social cohesion and trust among professional colleagues declines, further reducing productivity.
A new organizational model for today's big corporations will not emerge spontaneously from the obsolete legacy structures of the industrial age. Rather, companies must design a new model holistically, using new principles that take into account the way professionals create value. Big companies that follow these principles will get more value, at less cost, from the managers and professionals they employ. In the process, they can become fundamentally better at overcoming the challenges—and capturing the opportunities—of today's economy


Vint Cerf: Interplanetary & Pervasive Device Connectivity

The Internet pioneer is working on interplanetary communication.Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn created the software code that gave rise to the Internet. Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) gave computers standard addresses by which they can exchange packets of data - putting the "e" into email, ebiz, and everything that followed. Cerf’s latest project is expanding the world's stock of Web addresses to accommodate the proliferation of connected devices. Today that means TiVos , cell phones, iPods, and games, but Cerf says the list of connectibles will someday include nano devices such as tiny microprocessors assembled from individual molecules. Cerf is also preparing the InterPlaNet protocol, which may first be used on a Mars orbiter in 2009. Today, NASA spacecraft carry their own telecom equipment to communicate with earth. But the devices on each new mission can't interact with those on other spacecraft. Just as the Internet laces terrestrial computers into one big network, InterPlaNet would provide a common language to link all communications among space probes and planetary stations.The IPV6 can make available trillions upon trillions of addresses may sound out of this world. As the electronic devices may shrink down to the dimensions of biological cells, which humans and other creatures manufacture in the trillions. Whether cell-sized contraptions with nanoscale parts are eventually crafted from silicon, carbon, or some other material, they're bound to require Net connectivity, just as the neurons of the brain depend upon the synapses that connect them.


Mobile Phones As Tracking Agents

(Via Mobilmag)Japan has progressed beyond the usage of RFID and GPS to track people. Parents can have a wide range of services to choose from to track old parents, young children and others.The services have features which are quite advanced. Email alerts are sent to you as soon as the trackee steps out of a predefined area of up to 5km. Other than the guardian, a local support center is also contacted to deploy a fail safe strategy ensuring that the ward does not stray too far.The expectation is to have a wide range of consumers ranging from institutional buyers such as schools, care facilities, and medical organizations. Individual buyers such as families with working parents and with dependants are likely to be the largest group of buyers for this product

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Joe Kraus On Changing Landscape Favouring Entrepreneurism

Joe Kraus writes, There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because it’s never been cheaper to be one. Excite.com took $3,000,000 to get from idea to launch. JotSpot took $100,000. The 30X difference can be attributed to many reasons but Joe lists top four - Hardware is 100X cheaper
In the last 10 years hardware has literally become 100X cheaper. It’s two factors – Moore’s law and the rise of Linux as an operating system designed to run on generic hardware.
- Infrastructure software is free
Back in 1993 we had to buy and continue to pay for maintenance on everything we needed just to build our service - operating systems, compilers, web servers, application servers, databases. Costly and time consuming to negotiate. Today. Free, open source infrastructure is the norm. Get it anytime and anywhere. No license cost, no maintenance(This is debatable though).
- Access to Global Labor Markets
Startups today have unprecedented access to global labor markets. Back in 1993, IBM had access to technical people in India.Today, with rent-a-coder, elance.com and just plain email, we have access to a world-wide talent pool of experts on a temporary or permanent basis.
- SEM changes everything
Ten years ago to reach the market, we had to do expensive distribution deals. We advertised on television and radio and print. We spent a crap-load of money. Today search engine marketing changes everything. But the real revolution is the ability to affordably reach small markets. AdSense & other online advertising networks can create provide a new form of instant revenue & monetization for startups Some one wrote Technorati’s main revenue stream is Google Adsense.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Updates by Thursday night(GMT + 8 Hrs)

The Internet :Viruses, Malware & Security Issues Abound

(Via WPost) The Internet is now a global electronic communications network made up of hundreds of millions of computers, servers and other devices run by various governments, academic institutions, companies and individuals. As no one entity owns it, the network depends on goodwill to function smoothly.Built by academics when everyone online was assumed to be a "good citizen," the Internet today is buckling under the weight of what is estimated to be nearly a billion diverse users surfing, racing, and tripping all over the network. Hackers, viruses, worms, spam, spyware and phishing sites have proliferated to the point where it's nearly impossible for most computer users to go online without falling victim to them. Last year, the Carnegie Mellon University CERT Coordination Center logged 3,780 new computer security vulnerabilities, compared with 1,090 in 2000 and 171 in 1995. Computer security firm Symantec Corp. over the past decade has catalogued 11,000 vulnerabilities in 20,000 technologies, affecting 2,000 vendors.
The Internet has become so huge - and so misused - that some worry that its power to improve society has been undermined. Now a movement is gathering steam to upgrade the network, to create an Internet 2.0. It is clear that the Internet's potential will never be met unless it's reinvented.Many of the bugs in the Internet are part of its top layers of software, the jazzy, graphics-heavy, shrink-wrapped programs that come loaded on new computers or sold in retail stores. But some of the most critical issues were built into the network's core design, written decades ago and invisible to the average user. The problem with the Internet is that anything you do with it now is worth a lot of money. It's not just about science anymore. The number of users exploded to more than 429 million in 2000 from 45 million in 1995 Some technologists have said the Internet or parts of it are so far gone that it should be rebuilt from scratch, and over the past decade there have been several attempts to do so. But most now agree that the network has become too big and unruly for a complete overhaul.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Open Source : Not Ready Yet For Enterprises Across The Stack

Chad Dickerson writes, he is running out of options for areas in his IT operation that legitimately shouldn’t be open source. Operating system? Linux works like a champ. Web server? – Apache. Database layer? - MySQL scales fine for most Web-based apps, and basic master/slave software clustering for it is free, which can save roughly six figures over a commercial solution if you’re running more than a couple of database servers. App server? JBoss if you want Java, or you could just use PHP running on Apache, among many other choices.So software is almost free - hardware is cheap and now opensource solutions exist for PBX as well .Chad thinks that suggests that open source can - and will - go anywhere and everywhere. Six years ago, switching to Linux was considered daring enough. Now Linux is so routine no one really cares anymore. Linux gets chosen as it worked flawlessly. Looking farther up the stack, - a quick glance at MySQL AB’s current customer list (France Telecom, Google , Suzuki, to name a few) suggests that the once-revered database layer is no longer sacred. No doubt we will all look back five years from now and feel the same way about open source telephony solutions as solutions such as Asterisk slide down to the comfortable end of the fear curve - just as Apache, Linux, and MySQL have done before.
My Take: Open source solutions at the bottom of the stack – typically workhorse infrastructure elements are getting well entrenched – but even a layer above – lets say starting even at database level – we see the hold loosening and as we move up certainly – opensource becomes one among multiple options. I tend to take a dim view of open source relevance - see Open source -where is the business model, Opensource : Costly & Litigatious, Open Source : Reality Check. We also recently covered Kim Polese view business models of the open source support companieswhere the contours of what need to be done to support open source components become quite clear and a not seeing several players in the opensource world thinking along these lines – it would be a major impediment to consider adoption of opensource in enterprises if the support model is not made widely available and the economics and technology upgrade rate demonstrated as beneficial.

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Data Loss, Identity Theft & Offshoring

We recently covered in the post Personal Data Loss Is Not Identity Theft Bruce Schneier's view on recent citi disclosures about loss of 3.9 million personal data Bruce Schneier says,it an illusion to think that there has been an epidemic of personal-data losses. What we're seeing are the effects of laws that requires companies to disclose losses of thefts of personal data. It's always been happening, only now companies have to go public with it. We concluded therein that most data losses don't result in identity theft. But that doesn't mean that it's not a problem.
Paul McDougall writes Stop Identity Theft; Send Your Data Offshore.Opponents of offshore outsourcing are quick to seize on events that show the practice in a risky light. Eevnts like Sun’s sting operationare shown as evidence. In the United States,it is not needed to go to such lengths to obtain the raw material for identity theft- just wait for it to fall off the back of a truck. Paul is right when he writes, that the anti-outsourcing crowd doesn't want to acknowledge, the fact that reports of fraud in India grab headlines precisely because they are rare. Western companies sends billions worth of BPO work-along with all the associated customer files-to India each year, yet instances of serious security breaches are few and far between. There's every reason to believe that, overall, the art of securing data in India is more advanced than it is in the West for a very simple reason: A series of security breaches in India like those that occurred in the US would bring down not just a few companies, but the country's entire tech-and-services economy. That's why, for instance, many Indian BPO firms prohibit workers from bringing any writing tools or devices of any kind into a call center, and employ only dumb terminals that lack hard drives and printing functions. .The sting operation has definitely woken up the Indian BPO industry who are working on tightening data breach issues further.For some Western companies, just locking the doors at night seems to be a problem

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Sun & SeeBeyond – Lovely Combination!!

The proposed acquisition of SeeBeyond by Sun is certainly a very good move(though there may be concerns about the valuation)- a very bold acquistion at that. The next "Internet Wave" will be the integration of legacy applications into new, composite applications. Seebeyond has limited proprietary lock in. Sun is poised to be early and forceful in monetizing this opportunity .Realization of Sun’s strategy to grow through targeted well as organically With the Proposed StorageTek (STK) Acquisition Sun plans to build the Storage Management Practice and SeeBeyond acquisition shall help Sun build the Enterprise Web Service Practice.
Look at the key advantages that this bestows Sun with:

- Sun’s enterprise application platform space strength gets significantly stronger.
- Sun gets ready to get into the sweetspot of enterprise middleware – high value
integration including BPM &transaction co-ordination features.
- Vaults Sun into a prominent position in SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)
- Realizes synergies in technology/architecture as both firms use Java, Web Services
- Enables Sun’s customers to build solutions for regulatory compliance, RFID, SCM etc
- Brings in common vertical focus & strong systems integration capabilities.
- Business integration is a key CIO spending priority
- Helps sun encash customer preference for platform players

This is overdue for Sun.Traditionally, Sun has had limited capabilities in integrating enterprise applications and this plugs in very well and have seen. Besides being seen as sun’s investment in futuristic areas, this would make them competitive in the integration area.This is a prerequisite in responding to may RFP’s – Sun used to tie up with small vendors for that – the task becomes more easy and brings in more credibility to Sun’s stack of solutions.This would also go a long way in helping Sun advance into sophisticated solution areas like supply chain management and RFID(where Sun has some presence) Giving customers a way to integrate their applications without having to put [software] together into one stack is certainly a legitimate alternative proposal to put forth to the market.
Sun’s strength is channel relationships – that’s an area where Seebeyond was seen to be lagging significantly. Hopefully this would change. Sun's ultimate goal is to open-source all of the components of the JES stack, but apparently there is no time frame for when the ICANN technology might be open-sourced. Now Sun has to ensure that SeeBeyond support shall continue to exist for other platforms and also has a job at hand to win support from competitors –Several SeeBeyond applications run on Non-Sun platforms.Sun now has the right elements in place – would they get the firepower to storm the market – we should wait and see – but Sun’s promise increases – this also sends strong warning bells to other standalone integration players

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Nokia, OpenSource & Competitive Advantage

(Via Infoworld) Nokia needed to beat competition on features to sell more mobile phones. Open source provided them with some help.Open source is good for many things, but sustainable competitive advantage isn't one of them.Anything you implement using open source today your competitors can implement tomorrow. Nokia's real differentiators in this case was a little different – There’s a limit to which features can be added & hardware can be extended to a mobile handset through miniaturization, fancy color screens, and headsets. Software provides the edge in such a scenario. A PC in every pocket? Probably not. The industry tried that with PDAs and it didn't pan out. Low power, small screens, and half-baked input methods doomed those devices to a niche market of gadget freaks and the technology elite. Cellular phones suffer many of the same drawbacks, but they have one universal feature that PDAs lack: robust network connectivity. Not only can you make voice calls on them - still the most requested feature among American consumers - but you're also guaranteed a full range of Web and Internet-enabled data services.
If the mobile handset is viewed as a thin client - iIts underpowered processor and poor storage make it a lousy choice as an application platform. As the front-end UI to an application hosted elsewhere, however, it can be more than adequate. It can even excel
. Much of the enterprise market has already chosen the Web as its application-delivery platform of choice. So, to capture that market, all Nokia needed was a Web browser - albeit one robust and feature-rich enough to deliver the same functionality users have come to expect from desktop PCs. Nokia went with WebCore, the open source Web-rendering engine from Apple Computer. This gave Nokia first-mover advantage. Its competitors might implement a full-featured Web client tomorrow, but Nokia can deliver one today. Apple's code freed Nokia to concentrate its development resources on areas where it really could gain competitive advantage. In Nokia's case, that means UI. For a manufacturer of consumer devices, implementing core technologies isn't half as important as making them usable - something Apple must have known when it adopted open source as the basis for its own Safari browser. Innovation doesn't always mean starting from scratch. For Nokia, and Apple, open source isn't an end in itself. It's a beginning - one that allows these companies to concentrate on what they do best: delivering great products. The key question is how enterprises can get focused in using opensource to its advantage.

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Generation "Why Should I?" – The Entitlement Generation!

The entitlement generation - Now, deserved or not, this latest generation is being pegged, too — as one with shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company. After all, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have previously been described as feeling overly "entitled."According to Martha Irvine's article, the new generation has "shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility, and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company." Having lived through an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, the 'entitleds' have "become accustomed to instant gratification," according to a pediatrics professor. And a consultant grumbles, "It seems they want and expect everything that the 20- and 30-year veteran has the first week they're there."Many also seem to agree that the generation raised on PCs and PlayStations is the least willing to pay its dues. Are you having these kinds of problems with your younger employees? And, given the developments of the last five years - the Internet bust, 9/11, the war in Iraq - do you think a change may be on the horizon?

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Web Services – Architecture & Roadmap

( Via William Vambenepe).The grand daddy’s of the computing world - HP, IBM and CA recently released an approach note describing how we see the different efforts in the area of management for the adaptive enterprise coming together and, more importantly, what else is needed to fulfill the vision. The note has explanatory map of the standards/specifications landscape, from the low levels of the Web services stack all the way up to model transformations and policy-based automated management - covering all the key stack elements. I beleive this note is a must read for enterprise architects - for it covers all web service related standards and brings a cohesive binding framework for rolling out SOA/Web Services inside enteprises.
Businesses use information technology components produced by many different vendors. The technologies used to deploy, configure, secure, monitor and control physical and logical IT resources have all evolved independently, resulting in a complex collection of systems management technologies and solutions. Different types of resources use a variety of manageability technologies. Managing business systems in a cost effective fashion boils down to dealing effectively with the complex task of integrating multiple different management technologies. There are many challenges facing the IT systems management community in defining a roadmap for the evolution of management systems to support emerging business environments. The first step of the roadmap focuses on enhancing existing management solutions to leverage the growing functionality and ubiquity of Web services. As Web services and service-oriented architectures continue to garner support within the IT industry for application integration and agility, it makes sense to leverage them for the integration of management. For most companies, the management of IT resources involves attempting to interact with a heterogeneous collection of hardware, software and platform assets. Using Web services for management begins to address and eliminate many of the problems raised by integrating a diverse set of resources into integrated management systems while simultaneously providing a foundation for an SOA compliant management infrastructure.As Web services and service-oriented architectures continue to garner support within the IT industry for application integration and agility, it makes sense to leverage them for the integration of management. For most companies, the management of IT resources involves attempting to interact with a heterogeneous collection of hardware, software and platform assets. Using Web services for management begins to address and eliminate many of the problems raised by integrating a diverse set of resources into integrated management systems while simultaneously providing a foundation for an SOA compliant management infrastructure

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Google, VLC Media Player & Video Playback!!

John Battelle scoops, Google will shortly launch an in-browser video playback feature based on the open source VLC media player. This is the logical next step for Google's video search and upload function, which began taking uploads back in April.
The videos tagged free will be made available for real time streaming through the VLC player. The company also intends to make its VLC code available to the open source community as part of their Google code project. The video will be searchable via the meta data provided by the submission process (no, there's no PageRank for video, yet). This is the start of something big.
-For one, it's clear this will be integrated with the Google payment program.
- Secondly, this is a big deal for many institutions which do not have the ability to host and stream their own video, but would very much like to get their message out.
- Third, this is clearly a shot across Microsoft's bow. The Windows Media Player is a standalone application, rife with its own DRM and entanglements with Hollywood.
- Fourth, this will help the spread of an alternative universe for video distribution and playback, one independent of the walled garden business model in which video is currently locked.


The Newspaper Of The Future

Mr. Simons, the editor and publisher of The Journal-World and the chairman of the World Company, thinks of himself as not being in the newspaper business,- but in the Information business trying to provide information, in one form or another, however the consumer wants it and wherever the consumer wants it, in the most complete and useful way possible. He views, technology as our servant; it's our valet; it gets our stuff out there - but it's still about the content," adding that his company's online and cable properties have helped to forge a closer relationship with readers.A recent survey by Nielsen/NetRatings, newspaper Web sites nationwide had a 12 percent increase in unique visitors from May 2004 to May 2005, with a significant portion of readers aged 35 to 44 switching from a newspaper to the same paper's Web edition for their daily read.The World Company's advertising staff said that its sales force had embraced convergence enthusiastically and that offering customers multiple advertising platforms - on TV, on the Internet and in print - has become a strong pitch. But the company is still finding it difficult to persuade readers to interact with online display ads. And, while willing to adapt to news advertising demands, the company refuses to turn its Web site into an advertising billboard, believing that the clutter would undermine the quality and integrity of its journalism. The worldcompany evolution and perpsective of convergence technologies quite early is clearly an interesting story to read and a phenomenon to watch.

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Is eBay Losing Sheen?

I was speaking to a friend yesterday who thought despite competition stepping up heat, eBay looks too invincible and difficult to be replaced.
We recently covered Bambi Francisco writing on steady decline of eBay traffic - wherein the point made was -The longer eBay's performance stays in this humbled state, its hiring abilities get affected. The best and brightest flocking to Google, Yahoo's - the competition for talent is intensifying.Importantly, if eBay's business model appears to be growing more vulnerable, entrepreneurs will become more encouraged to challenge it. There is no compelling reason for any seller to limit to eBay's marketplace when the entire Web is the marketplace? It may be that eBay's just getting ready for Act II, and its setback after 10 years may mark the start of a new beginning. This report continues the assessment of eBay's future.With roughly 150 million registered users, eBay Inc. ranks among the world's most powerful companies, online or otherwise. It had more than 1.4 billion items listed last year. For every $100 spent online worldwide, $14 was spent on eBay. Entrepreneurs grumble that executives pander to big-ticket electronics vendors and industrial manufacturers - not the teddy bear enthusiasts and numismatists who were faithful a decade ago, when eBay was founded and enjoyed a kitschy obscurity. They complain about shoddy customer service, including site crashes and anti-fraud software that too often mistakes a legitimate business for a huckster.EBay executives are looking for new revenue as growth slows in North America and competition heats up from Amazon, Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. and startups. eBay faces daunting obstacles, such as cracking the asian e-commerce market and broadening the audience for PayPal, the online payment division that still does 71 percent of its transactions through eBay. EBay foes concede that it would be nearly impossible to eclipse the world's largest online auction company. But that hasn't stopped them from carving out niches where they perceive eBay to be weak.

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Consolidation & Acquisition Spree!!

Gilbane reports ECM Acquisition Week pointing out to merger and acquisition news this week!
- Hummingbird & RedDot
- Trados & SDL
- Infodata & McDonald Bradley
- Stellent & e-Onehundred Group

The RFID industry is just starting to move out of the start-up stage - The logical next step in that is some consolidation.Even as uses for the digital barcodes and tracking chips proliferate, the radio frequency identification industry may be on the verge of a shakeup that could hit the Dallas area harder than others. Experts say that while consolidations, bankruptcies and mergers may sound traumatic, they would actually indicate the industry is maturing. The industry is growing faster.
For example,135 companies had exhibits at the RFID World conference in Grapevine, Texas, earlier this year compared with 80 last year in Denver, and the show floor at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center was crammed with more than 3,000 attendees. In September, Symbol Technologies bought RFID firm Matrics. Last month, VeriSign bought radio frequency consulting firm R4 Global Solutions. Neither of those deals involved Texas companies, but given the concentration of radio frequency identification companies in the Dallas area, industry experts say it's only a matter of time before deals start closing closer to home. Tony Sabetti, director of retail-supply-chain products for the RFID division at Texas Instruments, said there are about 40 to 50 companies in the Dallas area focused solely on radio frequency technology.Many of the new firms sprang up to cater to companies trying to meet Wal-Mart Stores RFID mandate. Wal-Mart has already required its largest suppliers to start using radio frequency technology, and is now pushing its smaller suppliers to adopt it as well. While many suppliers simply did the bare minimum to comply initially, they now hope to use radio frequency tags and readers to help their own supply chains operate as efficiently as Wal-Mart's. The less sophisticated start-up radio frequency firms that just stick tags on boxes without helping a company overhaul its supply chain are going to see demand decline.

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Kim Polese on Open Source Support Companies

Kim Polese shares her perception about the business models of the open source support companies.Excerpts with edits & comments:

- Any opensource product being used by organizations would need support. Commercial organizations want to reduce their costs, and want to know that their deployments are covered in case of trouble. Cost reduction isn't about doing everything in-house, it is about finding a solution that provides the right mix of services you need at a price point that makes sense.
- Consulting services are frequently concerned with customizations and tuning, and so may be offered relatively earlier in the open source lifecycle while the code is less complete. By contrast, traditional telephone support will become cost effective through economies of scale.
- On service bundle - The bundles will be familiar, as that of commercial vendors Where things will differ is in pricing models. Commercial vendors almost invariably charge a maintenance fee based on the license fee. Support fees may also be tied to this metric. With open source components, other benchmarks will be tried in an attempt to serve customer and vendor needs more precisely.
- Once an open source product reaches mainstream use, the need to extend or correct the code is reduced and the skillset comes back to communication, remote interaction, and the ability to seek and utilize diverse external information sources. There is an additional need to be keenly aware that your team-mates work for other companies, frequently competitors. It is therefore important in using external information sources like discussion fora and mailing lists to be aware of the difference between public and private information. Debugging problems in public while protecting sensitive corporate assets and proprietary information requires forethought and tact.
- One of the weakness of opensource is the lack of traditional productization - items such as install scripts, documentation, configuration tools, that will have to be provided by the provider of support services. The developers of open source frequently don't feel the need for good documentation, or the desire to devote the time required to write it. This is one of the parts of usual product release management that is lost by this development model. Similarly install scripts, configuration tools. Open source support organizations will be evaluated in part on how well they assist in this area.

- SpikeSource will focus on integration and certification of well established open source components, and will offer periodic updates and support services around those integrations. Because of economies of scale, SpikeSource will provide better certification, documentation, and configuration tooling than end-users can justify developing on their own. The product updates will follow a product management process and bug or security fixes will be provided in a separate stream from feature improvements to permit customers to better determine which upgrades they want to adopt when. Most of these updates will be sourced from the community, through active monitoring of development activity, but some will be developed in house in response to important problems that the community hasn't yet addressed. SpikeSource will substantially reduce the cost and uncertainty of integrating open source products into IT applications. With all these, am not sure of any sustainable open source support model - this is not in anyway different from a distributor - and to do all these requires scale - resources and reveneue!!

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Folksonomies : For The People, By The People

An unprecedented amount of Web content has begun to be generated through web logs, wikis and other social tools thanks to lower technology and cost barriers. A new host of content creators is emerging, often individuals with the will to participate in discussions and share their ideas with like-minded people. This is to say that this increasing amount of varied, valuable content is generated by non-trained, non-expert information professionals: they are at the same time users and producers of information. We have gone past a critical mass of connectivity between people that has introduced a new revolutionary ability to communicate, collaborate and share goods online.
To respond to these increased informational and exchange needs, new communication models are emerging and producing an incredible amount of distributed information that information management professionals, information architects, librarians and knowledge workers at large need to link, aggregate, and organize in order to extract knowledge. The traditional organizational schemes used so far are not suitable to address the classification needs of fast-proliferating, new information sources or if, to achieve this goal, better aggregation and concept matching tools are required.
Folksonomies attempt to provide a solution to this issue, by introducing an innovative distributed approach based on social classification. Librarians and information scientists have created appropriate and powerful classification systems. Classification requires the design and consistent use of a scheme for a systematic organization of knowledge. Folksonomies are a new, rapidly evolving approach to classification of digital objects. Much has still to be discovered and tested. What we have not created yet is probably a middle ground, somewhere between the pure democracy of bottom-up tagging and the empirical determinism of top-down controlled vocabularies. Read the full paper here.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Shai Sees Outsourcing As The New Unifying Enemy For Business!!

Shai Agassi sees in the transition from Client server (or internet enabled client/server) architecture to a next generation Service Oriented Architecture, a repeat of all the same phenomena’s seen in the last mega shift (from Mainframe to client/server). It starts with a period of uncertainty focused around pure-technology discussions, followed up with a de-facto standardization of an agreed blueprint. Business/application discussion replaced technology application discussion as the main focal point for a significant eco-system/after market evolving around very few players. The previous change was so sharp it was almost brutal to the incumbents. The industry as a whole found a common enemy which moved every participant in the market with an intense fervor. The common enemy of the last wave was undoubtedly the mainframe – everyone wanted to get rid of the mainframe and many companies were hoping to build their business plans on reducing and replacing the maintenance cost for the big beasts, and the people that operated them.

Shai raises the question - Who is today’s unifying enemy –Shai jokes that some of SAP’s competitors actually had in mind a few years back that it would be that big element to replace, thinking of breaking the enterprise backbone into a small collection of components and letting hundreds of fish swim in coordination to make a single shark - unfortunately that plan didn’t work, as one cannot really replace the application backbone that easily, and SAP has actually figured out the SOA is a great thing and moved from a follower mode to a leadership position in the last 3 years. Geoff Moore’s great model for process innovation provides some insights in this scenario. In the past most of the resources got sucked in maintaining the mainframe application. The way from there is either back to investment in core or being outsourced. It is interesting that an identical phenomenon exists today - but not manifestable in a physical mainframe box. The enemy is still a fight for relevancy, and the fear is still pretty much the same only with a different name,- outsourcing .
Shai thinks that the unifying enemy could be outsourcing. – as the outsource step will not end in one move, rather it will become a “WalMarting” of the industry, regardless of any enterprise’s business plan. Today the rate of business model innovation has and is significantly accelerating. Shai says by outsourcing the IT of an enterprise, the business flexibility after the contract is signed is lost (think changes to your house plan after the master contractor has signed you in blood on the blueprint…think again). The master contractor may enjoy while while you are hoping none of your competitors changes the business model and you need to catch up. Catching up is really hard to do. The next big game is who becomes the industry disruptor, and who gets dragged behind. The disruptions are going to come in shorter intervals and with more brutal force. The disruptions will start interlocking across industries, and will feel more like Tsunamis than earthquakes.
My take: (Again personal views,like all other posts here- not related to my organisation in any way) - I await Shai’s second piece – but to me on the face of it, looking at outsourcing as the unifying enemy looks like an overstatement - also the effects and the nature of impact of outsourcing looks skewed & exaggerated - shall post my views after Shai’s follow –up piece.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Nokia's Roadmap - Mobile People & Living Technology

Glenn Letham writes after attending Nokia Connections 2005.Excerpts with edits and comments:
Nokia is chasing market share and positioning itself to secure a big piece of the pie as mobile device usage is expected to swell from 200 million users Globally by year end (2005),to more than 300 million by 2010. Through its product and solution offerings the company boasts that they are creating opportunities for innovators.
Key tenets of Nokia’s Roadmap

- Predictions are for 3 billion mobile device users by 2010
- Nokia has a target of at least 40% market share
- Expanding markets include mobile multi-media, enterprise mobility, and network services.
- Broadband wireless is/and will continue to drive new markets
- Speech and handwriting technologies are hot!
- Application developers are moving towards the smart phone environment and away from the PC
- Emerging markets are Russia, Asia Pacific, China, Middle East, Africa
- Linux OS is gaining speed
- The proliferation of wireless broadband usage (subscribers are expected to jump from 2.5 million to 30 million by 2009.
- Voice convergence driven by growth in WLAN uptake – the company will embrace new convergence business opportunities!
- Other trends to be aware of include WiFi, WiMax, RFID, and VoIP
Another key concept that was evident in much of the discussion at the event was Nokia’s planned efforts to mobile enterprise voice. At the heart of this ambitions goal is the opportunity that exists by separating the fixed and mobile voice technology user. The vision… one business number & one voice mail. Nokia’s involvement with key players like OnRelay, Avaya, IBM, and Cisco will be key as devices converge and morph into wireless IP phones and WLAN technology enables mobile VoIP.

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Europe,Innovation & Future

Stephen Wildstrom writes, despite Europe having everything to be a hotbed of high-tech innovation: a highly educated workforce, great universities, a solid legal system, and advanced financial market - it is anything but. The Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the region is home to only 143 of the world's top 1,000 software companies. Excluding Britain and Israel, just 88 are found in continental Europe. European tech entrepreneurs and investors, are working in hopes of producing a white paper laying out an agenda for a European "innovation ecosystem." The fundamental problem seems to be a culture that fails to reward risk-taking.
Europe has a long history of successful invention, but a weak history of turning those inventions into innovations,that makes money or saves money. The people needs to have the courage to be different.There was general agreement that changing a culture deeply suspicious of the values that foster entrepreneurship - ambition, the willingness to stand out and be different, a desire to challenge the established order, even a bit of greed - will be hard to come by. The crushing defeat of the proposed European constitution in referendums in France and the Netherlands was universally viewed as evidence of the resistance to change. One view expressed is that U.S. regulatory climate has become more hostile to startups and the compliance requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley Act alone will cost small, publicly traded companies $4 million a year, and this might encourage many startups to look to the London Stock Exchange's AIM market over the Nasdaq.

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Web Transforming The Reading Habits

Compared with a generation ago, the world is better able to read. The top 35 nations have 99 percent or better literacy. In advanced nations, computers and the Internet are changing the way people read. It is now clear that the younger generation prefer the net to the printed media for reading general news. Thus far, search engines and hyperlinks, those underlined words or phrases that when clicked take you to a new Web page, have turned the online literary voyage into a kind of U-pick island-hop. Far more is in store, says CSMonitor.Excerpts with edits and comments:
Like in the case of "Hamlet"- a student of the play would read the play probably all the way through, and then search out separate commentaries and analyses. When Hamletworks.org gets completed, the site will help visitors comb through several editions of the play, along with 300 years of commentaries by a slew of scholars. Readers can click to commentaries linked to each line of text in the nearly 3,500-line play. In future,through this site any reader can find nearly all the known scholarship brought together in a cohesive way that printed books cannot.The reading experience online -should be better than on paper. Techniques like PARC’s ScentHighlights highlights whole sections of text it determines you should pay special attention to, as well as other words or phrases that it predicts you'll be interested in are offering the kind of reading that's above and beyond what paper can offer.Stanford University research group is taking a different approach in hopes of making reading on mobile phones faster and easier. Analysts expect mobile phones to evolve into a multipurpose "third screen," along with televisions and computers displaying both pictures and text. But the small screen size has made reading cumbersome, as users scroll through tiny screen after screen.To solve that, BuddyBuzz, a project of a small group within the Stanford Persuasive Technology Laboratory, flashes text to the viewer a word at a time.Users who sign up can download news from Reuters and CNET, from several popular Internet bloggers. Users can also feed their own texts into the website and have them sent to their mobile phone, or offer their content to other BuddyBuzz users.Neither ScentHighlights nor BuddyBuzz is commercially available, though a free test version of the latter is available at the BuddyBuzz website.

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RSS Getting Mainstream :Microsoft Joins The RSS Party

True to its style of entering late but casting the net wide – Microsoft announces support fot RSS. The technology makes it convenient for Web users to keep tabs on their favorite blogs, news feeds, columnists, and video by signing up to have updates automatically zapped to their PCs or mobile devices.Microsoft, which has largely been on the sidelines as RSS gained in popularity, announced plans to bake RSS technology into Longhorn. Microsoft's mere presence in the market will do one thing that all the other companies combined haven't been able to achieve yet: It will make RSS mainstream technology.

Michael Gartenberg, vice-president and research director at Jupiter Research, estimates that about 10% of U.S. Web surfers use RSS readers, software designed to view feeds from Web sites. "This is the type of thing that will bring it into the mainstream," Gartenberg says. "It's going to change behavior, and it's going to do it very quickly." Microsoft is going after the RSS market in a very un-Microsoft-like way - it's making its RSS technology available for free using the so-called Creative Commons license. Before Microsoft brings out the new technology with Longhorn, it'll make RSS feeds readable from inside its widely used Internet Explorer browser. Would it be just the readers – no – RSS centric applications could be the next.A husband, for example, could not only track his wife's wish list on Amazon using RSS but he could also sort through the list and find all the books under $30, or everything related to gardening. All Amazon would need to do is tap into the code that Microsoft would make available in Longhorn.Scobleizer points to this view from the Longhorn & RSS team from Microsoft – key thing to watch here is the news about new RSS extension to be released into creative commons. Microsoft says it wants to make RSS better because it's so powerful.Providing developers new extensions to RSS is significant in many ways. RSS is becoming mainstream and the big players are getting involved. Ignoring RSS could result missing out major opportunities.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

The Emerging Aphrodisiac Of Attention!!

Nathan Torkington blogs about Linda Stone'e recent speech at Supernova 2005. In 1997 Linda coined the phrase "continuous partial attention". Linda says, for almost two decades, continuous partial attention has been a way of life to cope and keep up with responsibilities and relationships. We've stretched our attention bandwidth to upper limits. We think that if tech has a lot of bandwidth then we do, too. With continuous partial attention we keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges. Continuous partial attention is motivated by a desire not to miss opportunities. We want to ensure our place as a live node on the network, we feel alive when we're connected. To be busy and to be connected is to be alive. We've been working to maximize opportunities and contacts in our life. So much social networking, so little time. Speed, agility, and connectivity at top of mind. Marketers humming that tune for two decades now. Now we're over-stimulated, over-wound, unfulfilled.
A consequence of email culture is that we don't make decisions: send emails around. We're shifting into a new cycle, new set of behaviours and motivations. Attention is dynamic, and there are sociocultural influences that push us to pay attention one way or another. Linda sees twenty year cycles in the tension between collective and individual, and our tendency to take set of beliefs to extreme then it fails us and we seek the opposite.
1945-1965: organization/institution center of gravity:Lucy paid full attention to phone conversations, Seinfeld does not. Belief that by serving insitution of (marriage|employer|community) we'd leave happy and well-ordered lives. Marketing, command-and-control lifestyle, parents and authority figures, all fit in. Service to institution would bring us satisfaction. We paid full-focus attention to that which served the institution: family, community, marriage.
1965-1985: me and self-expression: Self and self-expression new center of gravity. Trusted ourselves, entrepreneurial. Apple, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines. Marketers said we have our power to be our best. We paid attention to that which created personal opportunities. Willing to fragment attention if it enhanced our opportunity. Multitasking was an adaptive. Our sense of committment dropped: rising divorce rate, 3 companies/career, etc. Became narcissistic and lonely, reached out for network.
1985-2005: Network center of gravity: Trust network intelligence. Scan for opportunity. Continuous partial attention is a post-multitasking adaptive behaviour. ADD is a dysfunctional variant of continuous partial attention. Continuous partial attention isn't motivated by productivity; it's motivated by being connected. Now we long for a quality of life that comes in meaningful connections to friends, colleagues, family that we experience with full-focus attention on relationships, etc.
Linda is quite optimistic when she concludes that the next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus, where experiencing this engaged attention is to feel alive. Trusted filters, trusted protectors, trusted concierge, human or technical, removing distractions and managing boundaries, filtering signal from noise, enabling meaningful connections, that make us feel secure, are the opportunity for the next generation. Opportunity will be the tools and technologies to take our power back. This may need other convergent forces - sociological and economical to operate in alignement with this technological adavance.

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Mankind's Its What I Do!!

Dave Pollard writes,"We are hard wired, like every other creature on Earth, to strive to know what we're doing here, our purpose, the meaning of our existence, to instinctively figure out what we need to do to survive and how to do it well. What we do, how we make a living, is more than just a job, it's an essential part of the definition of who we are. In business the name for this dangerous concept is Distinctive Competency, which means the one specific thing you do better than anyone else. Most of us spend most of our lives looking for it, and many never find it, content to do an average, replaceable job, brainwashed by the political manipulators and economic elites into believing we're just commodities, like the products we're induced to buy. If we all realized that we have a distinctive competency, the consequences for our self-esteem, for our perceived value in the workplace, for the entire social and political and economic system, would be enormous, earth-shaking. Perhaps it's possible that it could bring such extraordinary meaning to each of us, to our lives, that it could be the catalyst for global peace and harmony, for an end to violence and hatred and envy and greed and inequity. Because what possible reason would there then be for us to fight among ourselves, or with nature's other creatures, if we knew that no one else could fill our role, our place, our destiny? That we have no competition for what we do best, and that others are no threat to us, or us to them. That we have a purpose, and nothing to prevent us from realizing it, fulfilling it. Is that so crazy?


Del-icio.us, Collaborative filtering, Synthesized feeds& Long Tail!!

John Udell finds some interesting patterns while attempting collaborative filtering of his del.ic.ous bookmarks. He says that 6550 del.icio.us folks share common bookmarks.with him. John demonstrates that his link affinity with that population displays the now-familiar long tail!!: John sniffs that a recommendation engine is lurking in there somewhere, and he is trying to get at it and has built what he calls as a two stroke engine like prototype. First, it captures the set of del.icio.us users on the steep part of the curve - the ones with whom I have the most link affinity. Then it reads all their RSS feeds, coalesces the links, and applies another filter to select just the links above a threshold of commonality.
The two thresholds -- personal affinity and link commonality – would be the key – and as a first step John has synthesized a recommendation feed,he believes that this may be a promising way to identify an implicit community of interest and tap into its emergent group mind. Truly interesting – Del-icio.us, Collaborative filtering, Synthesized feeds and Long tail.

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Technology Investments : Wireless, Teleco,India Dominate!!

John Dvorak spots while tracking over $1 billion of deals as of June 22, three things prominent in the funding: optical, wireless broadband and India. Out of 86 deals,at least 20 had something to do with wireless technology in some way or other- radio circuitry, LAN's, and mobile/cellular start-ups are all trying to find ways to do things cheaper, generally to sell a lot of chips. India cropped up eight times- while a couple of the listings were indeed pure technology investments, most were infrastructure investments to get better high-speed access into India. The Indian deals seemed to be more about rigging India for high-speed access to the rest of the world than anything else so that the movement of American jobs offshore can continue at a rapid pace.Offshoring companies are intent on getting large corporations to outsource their back offices to India. This means a push to move all kinds of manual tasks to India by somehow deconstructing the functionality within the corporate business process by segmenting tasks. It's the emerging new science of business process analysis that will eventually move as much of the general office work to India as possible. John writes, The U.S. Patent Office has actually encouraged this development by allowing companies to patent a business process. It did this by highlighting not only the possibility that you can do this, but by emphasizing its importance .From a criticism of business. it has now become a benefit. The key to making all this work is cheap efficient international telecommunications. They're needed so that the corporate network runs as efficiently in any Indian city as it does in any other US city and the communication cost between Indian city to any US city should be cheaper. Rest of what he writes is anyway populist writing.


Louis Monier : Search Engines As Generic Pattern Recognition Engines

Louis Monier,the well known technical wizard behind Altavista, now working for eBay is headed to Google. In a discussion with John Battelle, he shares some interesting insights about his future plans and more importantly about possible advances in the search engine industry. Excerpts with edits & comments:

Louis on why he is leaving eBay: the new search engine inside eBay is working well ; it's perfectly adapted to eBay's needs and is in the same league as Google in query volume. The main reason to leave is that eBay does not absorb innovation at the pace he enjoys , and its focus is narrower than Google. So rather than chewing on variations of e-commerce for the next few years, he is very tempted to play with radically new stuff: satellites images, machine translation, ways to extract knowledge from giant bodies of data ... eBay replaced the search back-end a couple of years ago with home-grown code, and it has been performing very well. The only user-visible difference is that any change (price, new item, ended item,...) is reflected in the search and browse pages in real time. So it was not a traumatic user-interface change, just a better back-end. The most interesting problem in search is to think of it as a dialog rather than a one-shot thing: enter query, get ten links back. The search engine needs to do its part to keep the dialog going and that he is fascinated by the many ways we can extract real knowledge from billions of tidbits, whether they'd be Web pages, queries, links, reviews, social networks... We have a few tools today, mostly statistics to isolate repeating data from the noise, but we will eventually go much further. What we need are generic pattern recognition engines. Higly creative and restlessness with status quo and clarity of thought about where the future is headed - amazing - no doubt prize catch for Google. Someone wrote recently that eBay may find it difficut to attract and retain talent moving forward..Well we are indeed beginning to see these..

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Airline Seats As Personalised Offices!!

Technology that transforms airline seats into personalized in-flight offices will be available shortly, including even a personalized air conditioning system in the pipeline that will allow passengers to breathe fresh air and adjust the temperature around their seat. Chatting on a cell phone, surfing the Net from a laptop and watching video-on-demand will soon all become part of the standard flying experience, even in economy class. Ericsson has developed an airborne version of its cell-phone system. Airplane-compatible cell-phone technology has been around for years, "but now that it is in the mass market, the price of everything has come down. It was simply a matter of making the base station more rugged and shock-resistant." The system Ericsson has designed allows flight crews to block calls, during a sleeping period on a long flight, for example, or during take-off and landing. Besides using their cell phones, passengers will be able use back-of-the seat screens to surf the Internet, select video and audio programming on demand, read the in-flight magazine or even a book, shop duty-free, and choose their on-board meals.
The main innovation of the system is the video and audio on demand. Viewing screens are also getting bigger. Similar in concept to an interactive website, passengers can click on maps to check not only where the aircraft is at any given moment, but what the points of interest are on the ground - or even under the water - beneath them. Transoceanic flights could provide information on the location of sunken ships and undersea mountain ranges. Still at the prototype stage, the ventilated seat, is a movable curved headrest supplies humidified, fresh outside air into the breathing zone. There is also a button on the armrest that can vary the temperature above or below the ambient cabin temperature. The system is said to decrease by a factor of 20 the chances of catching colds and other diseases on an aircraft.Paradise on earth - nay air!!.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

On Best Bloggers

Paul Kedrosky writes ,"The bloggers liked best were people who spent most of their time doing other things than blog". They find a few minutes for blogging here and there between doing other things, and still find time to get stuff out there on a daily basis, but they don't spend the bulk of their time blogging.
My Take: I totally agree - that while regular scheduled updates brings in a discipline and provides comfort for regular readers - blogging is supposed to be spontaneous, and is supposed to be based on reflected thinking - in this internet age - this adds new dimension & complexity - So i do not subscribe to the view that there should be an update for the sake of update every morning - and more than that I despise being called a blogger( no offence meant though) - I also blog - but I am what I am -in professional and personal life and what one chooses to blog about in many ways revolves around both personal and professional lives - so blogger looks too generic a term - with millions of blogs around - representing varied interests from entertainment, finance, investments ,politics, technology etc.. it is not fair to call CEO's and rookies together as mere bloggers just because they leverage a common technology framework.

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The Automobile Sector & DDSN!!

Concrete Covina points to key highlights of the Auto Manufacturing conference in Birmingham, Alabama last week & points to raising customer expectations:
- BMW says, their production process enables buyers to "change" an order as little as 4 days before their car starts production...
- Gaudiano says 71% of vehicles produced at the BMW Spartenburg, S.C. plant are for a specific buyer...
- That only luxury car buyers care about "built-to-order" and are willing to pay for it...
- Obstacles in the way before build-to-order hits nonluxury nameplates were 1) the US Supplier make-a-car-system is not structured that way 2) theoretically consumers are more interested in price and firm delivery dates than custom ordering and 3) US Dealerships want inventory on the lot and ready to sell at the point of sale.
- Honda's Odyssey minivan takes 14 days from order to delivery.
My Take: The demand driven - Build-to-order customer expectation is the result of the personal computer industry's ability to give the customer exactly what they want, quickly.As can be seen, this is coming to the auto industry and coming fast , not just for the obvious benefits but also this brings in a new cost structure in the industry – more beneficial and can become another key competitive differentiator.The dell model or the model followed by pioneers in the consumer electronics sector sets the trend. The demand driven supply chain will become the defacto model. As in every other major supply chain related the successful product delivery within DDSN requires orchestration across demand, product, and supply management.This means completely turning the entire design of systems inside out and looking at aligning & binding all the processes and technologies from the customer’s point of view, cascading backwards from the customer interface where actual purchase happens. From a technology perspective an entirely new enteprise architecture with service oriented architecture solutions may become a preferred option for scalability and being seen as fail safe for future. .
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In Life, You’ve Got To Find What You Love : Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs recent speech at Stanford is doing the rounds in the internet – I liked his speech for his candor, sincerity and real wisdom: Excerpts with edts:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Speaking on another important event in life, Steve says, "It turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life". During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love.

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CRM, Customers, Haystack : A New Perspective

Christopher Carfi writes,"Business is all about really putting the customer in charge".Tools should help customers take a significant steps, that allow them to explicitly define and state the types of relationships they want with their service providers. Most significantly, it should give a customer the power to navigate profiles of individuals in an organization and choose with whom they want to work, as well the ability to be matched with individuals within the selling organization based on similarity of their backgrounds and interests. The tool is called "Haystack". He thinks that with so-called "Customer Relationship Management" systems so far is that, well, they don't really focus that much on the customer. Under the rubric of "CRM," there have been three primary classes of systems: sales force automation, customer service and call center automation, and marketing automation. All of these look at the world from the seller's point of view. And all of them focus on how the vendor can crank more customers through a particular process in a given unit of time. They don't necessarily help to truly build relationships between individuals. In fact, they are more likely to commodify it.
An increasing body of data & research suggest that building this kind of "enterprise social network" has measurable benefit for both customers and vendors alike. Some key findings suggest that internal similarity [perceptions, attitudes, and values] can increase a business buyer’s willingness to trust a salesperson and follow the salesperson’s guidance, and therefore, increase the industrial salesperson’s effectiveness. In contrast, the literature also indicates that, under most circumstances, observable similarity [physical attributes and behavior] will exert a negligible influence on a business buyer’s perceptions or a salesperson’s effectiveness. Thus, the key finding is that it is more important for buyers and sellers to 'think alike' than 'look alike'."
The tool – Haystack is aimed the enterprise, that take this idea of creating real relationships between individuals and providing a means for customers to explicitly state their case, and determine with whom they want to do business at a real, interpersonal, non-synthetic level. The toll presupposes good amount of customer involvement and may find it a little less important in its absence.!!

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Avalanche : Long Way To Go, But!!

Kevin Schofield writing on Avalanche highlights that one of the potential problems with P2P distribution systems is the "last byte" problem. If your scheme is to break up the original file into smaller pieces and distribute them around, that means that recipients need to do the reverse: identify at least one copy of each of the N pieces, potentially spread across N machines, download them all, and stictch them back together. If N-1 of those machines are fast and responsive, but one is under heavy load or has a bad network connection, then you're not done until that one slow machine finishes sending its piece of the file. Further, if one of the pieces suffers from data corruption, then the end result will be corrupted. The researchers on the Avalanche project are working on ways to avoid the "last byte" problem, and to provide some error-checking ability. Somewhat independently, but equally important, they are looking at how to support the notion of "authorized" content, which could be an official, verifiable patch to a piece of software, or a way to protect the intellectual property rights of content creators. Last week the researchers described these broad parameters of their research, and drilled down more on the network protocol work. They also released a research paper that went into more detail on their algorithm and in order to evaluate the efficiency of their algorithm,provided benchmark comparisons they had done to the most established P2P distribution system out there today: BitTorrent.
Content owners should have the ability to protect their content in appropriate ways (they may choose not to use that ability), and if we can create technologies that combine the best network efficiencies of P2P networks with ways to appropriately protect content, great things could happen. Bram Cohen Avalanche is vaporware. It isn't a product which you can use or test with, it's a bunch of proposed algorithms. There isn't even a fleshed out network protocol. The 'experiments' they've done are simulations. It's a bad idea to give much weight to simulations, especially of something so hairy as real-world internet behavior. BitTorrent in a way which is useful. One thing badly missing from this paper is back-of-the-envelope calculations about all of the work necessary to implement error correction. Potential problems are on the wire overhead, CPU usage, memory usage, and disk access time. Particularly worrisome for their proposed scheme is disk access. If the size of the file being transferred is greater than the size of memory, their entire system could easily get bogged down doing disk seeks and reads, since it needs to do constant recombinations of the entire file to build the pieces to be sent over the wire Looking at history Microsoft always starts late - comes with an inferior product/idea, slowly enters market - by all means increase market share and get to dominate - it owuld not be per se bad for the P2P industry should Microsoft begin to focus there.
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Contacless Pay Cards :Technology Finding New Ways

(Via Forbes)Quicker. More secure. More fun. Stores, credit card companies and banks are giving consumers new ways to pay in the latest evolution of cashless payments. Credit cards with "blink" technology that lets users wave their cards near a computer reader instead of having to swipe them through a device have been introduced. Cards never leave customers' hands. Visa, MasterCard and American Express all have been exploring so-called contactless. And companies using biometrics like BioPay and Pay By Touch are signing up customers who want to use their fingerprints to access checking accounts. The risk is minimal since most missing cards are reported quickly, banks and credit card companies pick up on unusual card use that can signal a stolen card, and thieves typically don't use stolen cards for small buys. Tens of millions of cards with contactless technology may be available by next year. "In 2015, the magnetic stripe will be a piece of history”.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Shifting Gears : A Perspective!!

Matt Blumberg - the CEO of Return Path – has a well thought out post on “Shifting Gears.".All or nothing” or "everything in moderation." - These two approaches to life seem diametrically opposed.Being a successful entrepreneur requires approaches, each at different times, and more important, the ability to shift gears between the two and be clear about the shift to yourself and to others. There are periods of time when you need to be in "all or nothing mode." Push extremes. Demand more from your team. Drop lots of the items on your to-do list and grow a singular focus on The One Big Thing. Don't go for a light jog - train for a marathon.
Then there are periods of time when you're in execution mode. The path has been defined.Things are working. Put the "life" back in your "work-life" balance. A marathon? Are you nuts? Just run 3 miles a day and stay in shape. Any organization - needs to be able to shift gears between the two modes. An organization that never goes through extreme periods is in grave danger of stagnating. No one in an exciting company ever has "business as usual" emblazoned on their to-do list 365 days a year.Organizations tend to take their biggest leaps forward when there's an extreme situation, an all-hands on deck, a crisis. The trick to getting this duality right is to make sure you are clear to yourself, and when necessary to others, about when you're shifting gears. If you're forcing people in the organization to focus on The One Big Thing, make sure you recognize the changes that forces in their goals, their deliverables, and their external commitments and give them the flexibility they need to succeed.

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Consolidation(CRM)- Yes, Consolidation(Content Management) -No!!

Hummingbird's, acquisition of RedDotmay not represent long awaited evidence of industry "consolidation". Tony Byrne writes,with the acquistion its just one corporate entitity less - but Hummingbird, like most acquirors, is leaving in place all the RedDot staff and offices, and most importantly - retaining all RedDot's products and adds established products almost never go away – they just find new owners. Surely one of the major stories of this decade has been the expansion of product choices for technology buyers in the information-management space, along with the inability of any major supplier to figure out an effective roll-up strategy of weaker competitors. Among the products tracked by Cmswatch.com, nearly all are at least 5 years old and boast large enough customer bases to keep them going for some time even in a renewed recession. So unless a volcano explodes somewhere, mass extinctions may not happen for the rest of this decade. Chris Selland on the other hand feels that There's no mistaking it: The CRM market is consolidating and that consolidation is not merely happening, it's accelerating.
My Take: I am not too sure - what holds true for content management should apply to CRM space or what seems to be happening in CRM space should happen to CM space as well - how are these different(except that theoratically CRM may call for more integration with enteprise systems( please assess closely how may CRM systems are closely coupled with the enteprise systems like ERP) - both became popular during the dot com era - they have similarly many players operating, same pressures and pleasure zones exist for both players , both spaces are increasignly seeing the platform players moving agressively - these can't exhibit different trends!!

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Technology, Collaboration, Innovation, Future Society

Ross Mayfield writes about Thomas Malone’s recent talk on collaborative technologies. This talk is quite similar to the IT conversation talk that I heard from IT Conversations, a few months back. Excerpts with edits and comments:
We are in the early stages of an increase in human freedom in business, an important a change in business as the change of democracy for governments. The reason is it is now possible to have the economic benefits for very large organizations and at the same time have the human benefits of very small organizations: freedom flexibility and creativity. Lower communication costs mean many people have enough information to make decisions for themselves. what drives these changes is what people want. People use their freedom to get more of what they want. Example: Wikipedia. The big picture vision is a world where everyone in the world is given access to the world's knowledge. This motivates people. The second reason is it is a lot of fun. Nupedia was too much work and not much fun. This story illustrates human freedom (anyone can be an editor and make any change) coupled with global scale (drawing upon a global pool of experts with results made globally available). Second example: eBay. Again, the combination of freedom and scale. Creating the right infrastructure and community has let the eBay community generate significant value for themselves and the community.
Thomas Malone predicts, this will become more common as this is the next logical step in the common pattern in the evolution of human organizations. Societies organized first as Bands (Decentralized, Unconnected), then Kingdoms (Centralized), then Democracies (Decentralized, Connected). communication costs is the most explanatory factor. This same pattern is repeating itself now, on a faster time scale, in business. From Small, local businesses to Large, centralized corporations to Empowerment, Outsourcing and Networked organizations. In our increasingly knowledge based an innovation driven economy, the critical factors for business success are the same benefits of decentralized decision making. (*decentralization enables economies of span and scope which provides a sustainable innovative edge*)
All this means a new management style - From "command and control" to "coordinate and cultivate." *Paradox of standards: sometimes rigid standards in one part of the organization can enable much more flexibility and decentralization in other parts of the system.* For example, the internet and IP protocol. In a business, if you can figure out the right area to apply standards (quality, financial controls, etc.) and give people lots more freedom in other areas, you can be more confident about the effects. *Paradox of power: the best way to gain power is to give it away. Some of the most important innovations in the coming decades will not be new technologies. They'll be be new ways of originating work that are made possible by these new technologies. What matters in business is what you do with IT. Another level in the technology stack that is an organizational layer. One of the most imporant messages of the talk is there will be innovations in the technology layers, some of the most important will be at the organizational layer

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DRM Proponent Hurt By Bad DRM Implementation!!

Michael Gartenberg writes,about his frustration in not being able to get support from Microsoft and how he had to circumvent things to get the solution that he wanted. ichael writes,"while I'm still waiting for MSFT support to help me get back into the content I purchased for MS Reader (so far two emails and a rather fun 45 minute session with MS Tech support by phone, which is totally clueless about Reader. I was sent to Office support, Windows Activation and even though I kept telling them that there's no product activation code for Windows, my words fell on deaf ears). I finally took matters into my own hands. With a little help from a lovely free program called Amber LIT conversion, I was able to take all my MSFT .lit files and convert them to unprotected .PDF files for Tablet viewing and Word files that converted easily to eReader format. Took about a minute for each book. The program works with protected .LIT files but needs to be run on a machine with an activated and valid MS Reader. Since my old computer did have Reader on it, the process was a snap. This doesn't excuse MSFT". While DRM is a necessary evil, the notion of not being able to de-activate an older machine with a limited number of installs is user hostile at worst. Good case study for firms on HOW NOT TO IMPLEMENT DRM solutions. This raises the point whether this should be seen as DRM violation and suggests perhaps that this would be a wrong case to pursue given the fact the vendor did not support despite asking for technical support.

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