Keyword-Search Advertising

Fortune writes about the amazingly relevant advertising that we are seeing on sites like Google as do we search:

Relevance is more important than style. We’re turning to the Internet more and more in the ordinary course of our lives. Whether I’m researching a person or a company, finding the distance between Phoenix and Santa Fe for next week’s vacation, seeking a movie review, buying a book, or learning about bird watching, I turn to Google first, then move out. The marketer that can reach me with a relevant message while I’m searching will win.

This is a revolution that is being driven by the small advertisers more than the big ones.

Reading 10,000 Weblogs

Anil Dash gives a glimpse of a possible future:

In 2 or 3 years, many of us will be reading 10,000 weblogs. It’s a hard statement to justify literally unless you factor in how sofware and platforms are going to evolve.

I do think that a smart system that knows the people I trust (maybe the same list of 100 that I use now) will be able to follow the network out to the people they trust, and when you get two generations out, you’re easily past 10,000 blogs.

So get the posts from people I care about, plus the relevant comments from the 10,000 people who are within 2 degrees of my blog, and you’ve got my personal MetaFilter, with posts just by people I’m interested in, and comments from only the people who are either trusted by them or me. Only I think I’ll read it in a client like NetNewsWire or NewsGator, not the web browser.

Anil captures very well what I’ve been thinking about but haven’t articulated. A mix of microcontent, blogs, RSS, neighbourhood analysis and content recommendation engines will create the Memex, with persoanlised views and trails.

Digital Identity

Ends and Means are the two worlds (customer-centric on one side, and large enterprises and government on the other hand) described by Jamie Lewis in the context of digital identity:

The Net must accommodate more than one form of digital identity. Identity is contextual. It has many aspects. Customer-centrism is only one aspect of the digital identity infrastructure we need. So, it stands to reason that the identity infrastructure will be polycentric: flexible, dynamic and capable of pivoting and changing according to the context. We need both the individual, customer-centric identity that Doc asked for and the tools that allow enterprises to do what we, as customers, want them to do, which is play by the rules. And well get the government identities whether we like it or not. Always choose the best tool for the job, and let go of the fantasy that well have one ring to rule them all.

Vivato

Business 2.0 writes about Vivato, which is “Vivato is developing innovative Wi-Fi switches that increase the range and security of Wi-Fi networking technology, making it more attractive for both service providers and networking companies.”

Unlike current Wi-Fi hotspots, which broadcast Internet access to a range of 300 feet, Vivato’s switches concentrate energy into several direct streams, increasing the range of Wi-Fi to several kilometers while allowing more users to access the stream simultaneously. “By transmitting in multiple frequency bands, we often see a 10x increase in range, sometimes in excess of several kilometers,” explains Vivato CEO Ken Biba. The increased range and capacity offered by Vivato’s switches makes them ideal for service providers and hotspot operators.

The big opportunity in emerging markets is to use a solution like Vivato’s for rural connectivity – linking up villages with WiFi. The costs will need to come down to about USD 200-300 (Rs 10-15,000) per village.

TECH TALK: Transforming Rural India: TeleInfoCentre (Part 3)

The User Interface is an area which has tremendous scope of improvement. Todays interfaces (both Windows and the Linux Desktops of KDE and GNOME) follow similar approaches using files, directories, menus and icons. Little has changed in the user interface arena over the past decade. For the villagers and especially the younger generation, one could learn from the success of video games and create richer and more interactive interfaces, which are more far intuitive to use for those with very limited exposure to computers.

The clients should also support multimedia with the use of webcams and microphones for recording and playback of audio and video. This is important in the context of the villagers because they may not easily adapt to the largely text-driven world that we exist in today. Using multimedia also gets over the language and usability barriers. It is what Prof. Ramesh Jain terms as folk computing.

In addition, over time, the thin clients should be able to accept voice input also this will entail leveraging innovations in speech recognition. To a small extent, we are already seeing this happen in cellphones in India, with an increasing array of interactive voice services.

As far as possible, the TeleInfoCentre should be able to work in the offline mode that is, its dependence on Internet connectivity should be minimal. The server should mirror key applications and relevant data, making it possible for the clients to work without the need for an Internet connection. In fact, even the assumption that a TeleInfoCentre may have a few hours of Internet connectivity daily could be far-fetched. This makes the application development challenging, but it becomes an important pre-requisite given the realities of Rural India.

The offline mode entails updating through CD (or an alternate such device eg. USB Memory Key). A CD will get written daily at the village TeleInfoCentre which has the days emails and requests which cannot be served locally. This CD would then be sent by courier or through the postal system to the next level in the hierarchy, which is likely to have better Net connectivity. Similarly, a CD from there would bring updates to the village.

Over time, solutions like WiFi will solve the wide area network (WAN) connectivity bottleneck. The advantage of WiFi is that it used open spectrum in the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands. The specifications are outlined in the IEEE 802.11 standards, which specify operating speeds of 11-54 Mbps. The computer industry, led by Intel, is rapidly adopting WiFi as a wireless LAN standard, driving down incremental costs to near-zero. Companies like Vivato are also working to extend the range of WiFi beyond a few hundred metres. While WiFi may not be a reality today in India, it is definitely going to be a workable and affordable solution within the next 18-24 months.

In fact, in India, Media Lab Asia has tested WiFi solutions which work over 20-30 kms (line-of-sight, with directional antennae on towers). Another solution which is being tested is DakNet, where a mobile van goes from village to village and offers connectivity while it is there. But these solutions are still in the R&D stage. Todays reality entails serious consideration of offline usage.

Next Week: Transforming Rural India (continued)

Continue reading