Economist IT Survey

The Economist’s survey are a must-read. The latest issues has a survey on IT:

This survey [examines] how much grey the IT industry (and their leaders’ hair) has already acquired. The first three chapters are about technological shifts, and how value is moving from the technology itself to how it is applied. Many of the wares that made the IT industry’s fortunes in the installation period are becoming a commodity. To overcome this problem, hardware vendors are developing new software that allows networks of machines to act as one, in effect turning computing into a utility. But the IT industry’s most profitable layer will be services of all kinds, such as software delivered as an online service, or even business consulting.

The second half of this survey looks at institutional learning, which has caused the value created by the IT industry to be increasingly captured by its customers. For the first time in its history, the IT industry is widely adopting open standards. Equally important, buyers are starting to spend their IT budgets more wisely. Meanwhile, the industry’s relationship with government is becoming closer.

Summarises Ludwig Siegele: “So far, information technology has thrived on exponentials. Now it has to get back to earth.”

As for me, I am more optimistic than ever on the potential for technology to make a difference to people – but we have to search out the new markets. This is the vision of Emergic: take emerging technologies and apply them to emerging enterprises in the world’s emerging markets. These are the next 90% of users, and they haven’t been tapped. This is where technology can make an even bigger impact – simply because the alternatives are fewer. The competition is “nonconsumption”. So, look beyond the world’s developed (mature) markets, and you’ll see another world beckoning. This is the next frontier.

One Year of Blogging

Today, I complete a year of blogging. The year has seen a total of 1767 posts in the past 365 days for an average of almost 5 posts daily. Blogging has now become an integral part of my daily life. Even though I have been writing the Tech Talk column daily Mon-Fri for over two-and-a-half-years, it was the blog which has helped diversify my reading and writing, and put me in touch with a lot of new people and ideas.

The on thing I try and do is to blog daily. This is one lesson I have learnt from publishing on the Internet: it has to become a habit in people’s lives – for both the writer and the reader. This is perhaps the one secret to blogging – whatever you do, whever you do, make sure you post daily.

Here are links to a few posts I had done about my blog in the past year (no point repeating myself):
Why and How I Blog (so much)
2 Years of Tech Talk
My First Post

The blog now is for me an extension of my memory – almost everything I have read (and found interesting) and thought in the past year is here. The one thing I want to now add is an “Outline/Personal Directory” which can categorise the posts not by time, but in a taxonomy so that there is a wider context available to the ideas that I am working on. Am hoping to do this soon. This will be the first step towards building the Memex, as I’ve been writing. The other thing I want to do is to get myself a new design!

The hardest part about blogging is making a beginning. It took me many months before I started. I wanted to be sure that I’ll be able to write, and perhaps more importantly, that I’ll be honest and transparent on the weblog – will write what I think. I owe that to the blogging community which has helped shape my thinking by their act of sharing ideas. The blog is thus a small way of saying thanks to them, and making my contribution in the space. So, if you are reading this blog, make a start – blog. First for yourself – it will help you clarify your own thinking and create a “mirror world” of what we are seeing around, and second, for all the other bloggers whom you read – its a way of saying thanks to all of them! May our tribe increase.

Visual Basic usage slipping quotes a study by market researcher Evans Data which said that “52 percent of software developers surveyed use Visual Basic today, but that 43 percent of them plan to move to other languages, including Java and C#, a Java-like language developed by Microsoft.”

“As they leave Visual Basic 6.0 behind, developers are choosing languages that help them work more easily with emerging technologies such as wireless and Web services development,” Esther Schindler, senior analyst at Evans Data, said.

Citing data from market researcher Gartner, Microsoft said there are about 3 million Visual Basic developers.

Socio-Cognitive Grid

Veer points to this note: “A socio-cognitive grid is a complex system offering an environment that people can use for the successful and efficient execution of their everyday activities. Much like an electrical grid that provides the power for electrical devices to operate, a socio-cognitive grid provides cognitive and social resources that people can access on electronic devices in support of common activities such as shopping and socialising. Cognitive resources are needed when people engage in complex cognitive activities such as navigation, remembering and problem solving. Social resources are needed when people are engaged in social activities such as interacting with other members of a local community or finding recommendations for local restaurants.” This is what I see the Memex as.

Blog TextAd Service

Will Pate’s Wish:

Webloggers need a generic, network wide textad service. Google’s content targeted advertising would be great, but they’re only available for the few that receive more than 20 million page views a month. This leaves most bloggers out in the cold.

There are many services that offer the ability to sell texads to potential advertisers, but with an endlessly growing number of weblogs how can the average blogger find advertisers that are willing to bet money on the metaphorical one grain of sand on the beach? The only service that currently offers network wide ad publishing is w3matter, without keyword specific content or a specific focus on bloggers.

As this vision lies beyond my current capabilities, I propose the following to the codesmiths, the better connected, the innovators and the entrepreneurs of the web is this: Build a network wide ad system, with keyword served ads, targeted to serve bloggers.

It is something we have been thinking as part of BlogStreet. Will write more on this a little later. Have been thinking of a concept called “Mirror Blog”. Need to get a demo ready and then talk about it.

TECH TALK: Constructing the Memex: Google, Blogger and Memex (Part 2)

Steven Johnson, the author of Emergence, then picked up the Google-Blogger story in an article in Slate:

Google has not yet ventured into managing the information and surfing history of individual users. If Google went in this direction with the Blogger acquisition, it would hearken back to one of the seminal documents of the computing age: Vannevar Bush’s As We May Think essay, which envisioned a new tool to augment human memory. Bush’s imaginary device, called the Memex, would help manage the ever-accelerating explosion of information in the world.

Bush imagined the Memex as a machine of connected documents that from one angle looks a great deal like the modern, Web-enabled computer. But in one crucial respect, Bush’s vision differed from today’s Web: He placed great importance on the trails created as the user moved through information space, assuming that a record of those trails would be of great use in amplifying the signal of human memory. In many ways, our networked computers have wildly exceeded Bush’s vision, but our trail-recording tools are still woefully undernourished.

By acquiring Blogger, Google gets access to the user base, thousands of individuals who are already sold on the premise of storing their Web actions for posterity. How might Google’s tools improve the existing Blogger technology?

One feature might work like this: Each time I search for something on Google, a list of URLs is generated. When I click on one of those URLs, the page I’ve selected is automatically blogged for me: storing for posterity the text and location of the document. If I were an exhibitionist sort, I could choose to publish this list to the world, but more likely I’d keep it as a private archive, visible only to me. It would be a kind of outsourced memory, but one capable of making new connections on its own. Google could easily generate a list of all the pages that linked to the pages in my archive, or notify me if a page I discovered two years ago suddenly grew popular. I’d have the option of searching just my personal archive, instead of the entire Webor searching the archive’s extended family: both the pages I’ve surfed through, and the Web sites that link to those pages.

This idea of personalized link collections, augmented by software, is straight from the pages of “As We May Think: “Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear,” Bush predicted, “ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.”
Google is the encyclopedia of the connected age, and bloggers are the trailblazers. If Google simply uses Blogger to update its database more rapidly, it won’t change the Web experience as we know it in any profound way. But a genuine trailblazing device would be a way of preservingand wideningthe paths that our lives have carved through information space.

A story that began more than half a century ago, long before the era of information technology as we know it now, with Vannevar Bushs article on the Memex is reaching its climax. The problems related to information overload that Bush outlined are even more in evidence now tan ever before. And yet, for the first time, there are also solutions in sight. The question is: do we wait for Google to construct the Memex? Or, can we lots of us build it in an emergent fashion?

Next Week: Constructing the Memex (continued)

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