Private RSS Feeds

From Silverorange: “Weve been experimenting with security options for RSS feeds for our intranet product. However, we found that there werent many resources or guidelines for how encryption or authentification should be handled (either in feeds or in readers/aggregators). I did some testing and came up with the following results for HTTPS/SSL encryption and HTTP Authentification in various RSS readers…”

Roland Tango: “I see two futures: one where everybody has their own domain and own SSL certificate (not likely IMHO) or another world where a secure solution that is less lightweight is prevalent. The present situation where RSS feeds are not secure and not encrypted in some way is a temporary one in my opinion.”

Private RSS feeds are going to be quite important as RSS becomes one of the primary ways of publishing information. Publishers may want to restrict access to their feeds – this is where private RSS feeds come in.

Googzilla Browser

OK, yes, its not the best of phrases! But that is the concept behind what Anil Dash suggests to Google – to contribue to the Mozilla project for its own long-term benefit.

If the goal is now organizing and presenting information instead of just being the best search engine, then a browser client focused on information retrieval, search, and management is a great first step. And I’d give them better than even odds at being able to grow that application into a full microcontent client if they were so inclined.

What would be the business model? My mind tells me that a free, open-source browser with built-in hooks to Google services and APIs would be good enough to push increased usage of Google’s revenue-generating services and advertising. Microsoft has publicly conceded that they’re going for Google’s market, and Yahoo threw more than a billion and a half dollars at the Google problem earlier this week. Against those challenges, I’d say the onus is on Google to embrace and extend with a free product that’s better than anything the competition can offer: That’s what works.

So, a Google browser, based on Mozilla.

WiFi and the Phone

David Kirkpatrick (Fortune) writes that “as Wi-Fi grows to envelop cities, ‘Voice over Hot Spots’ could replace cell servicesand their profits.”

Scott Rafer, chairman of WiFinder, also consults extensively with wired and wireless telcos, especially in Europe. His most striking view: what he calls “Voice over Hot Spot” could eventually suck most of the profits out of the cell phone industry. He reconfirmed my own impression that the combination of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with Wi-Fi hot spot technology is likely to be transformative.

To travel down the Rafer trail you have to rid yourself of the notion that offering hot spots will be, in general, a terrific business. “Think of Wi-Fi like air conditioning,” he says. “You don’t make money off it, but it seems to be most everywhere.” That’s the world we’re headed for, he believes.

“This is a pure Clayton Christensen moment,” Rafer says. “It’s classic ‘Innovator’s Dilemma’ stuff. VoIP from hot spots works very well. This is the problem for the carriers. And it’s worst for them in Europe, because of a practice there called ‘calling party pays.’ Receivers of wireless calls don’t pay. So if you’ve got a Wi-Fi phone, you’ve got free inbound ubiquity. Then if you just walk to a Wi-Fi hot spot to make all your expensive long-distance outbound calls, you’ve hit the carriers where margins are now highest.” Rafer doesn’t think Wi-Fi will end up taking a huge volume of wireless callsat least not anytime soon, but it will nonetheless hurt the existing businesses. “It’s just another mediocre Internet technology that is disrupting the pricing power of more complete, but proprietary, technologies,” he writes in a follow-up e-mail.

Down the road, he sees a convergence of instant messaging and Internet voice calling: “I will go to my directory and hit ‘David Kirkpatrick,’ and it will ask, ‘Is this a real-time voice call or are you just trying to send a message?’ And the software will check not only if you’re available but if you’re available to me.”

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Linux needs a Killer App

John Dvorak (PC Magazine) asks what can cause a Linux tipping point and writes:

I had been trying to figure out what might create a consumer rush to Linux, but for some reason, I had not considered the obvious: the development of the must-have critical application. This means an end-user killer application that runs on Linux only.

A few Linux mavens think a single-platform killer app is not important, but they are simply wrong. The success of the Apple II, for example, was directly tied to the development of VisiCalc for that machine. Lotus 1-2-3 was directly responsible for the success of the IBM PC. Look at all the failed platforms of the past. NorthStar, for example, a small maker in the 1970’s, had both a superior operating system and a BASIC language that was far better than Microsoft BASIC. But there was no killer app for the platform, and it eventually died.

So, what can be the killer app that runs only on Linux? Digital Dashboard? Info Aggregator? A Microcontent Client? Chandler (a PIM)?

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A Distributed, Human-edited Blogsearch

Gary Lawrence Murphy writes:

The trick is to make it painlessly easy to rank your personal aggregated RSS items. Either explicitly or through your actions, you give it a weight, maybe by re-ordering and pruning your aggregated list, maybe by some side-bar metric slider control (need some R&D), whatever. Then your new RSS (plural) is picked up by friends who (in varying degrees, perhaps also statistically tracked and rated) respect your ability to sift the web — they’d link to your RSS, and in a recursive RSS fashion, they’d also be rating you and exporting their RSS list of recommenders. Since each input has a rank, the aggregator making sense of it all could do a far better job of weeding the chaff and rounding up the usual suspects.

If you play nice (include the namespace for item ranking), then we have the makings of a real-time human-edited relevance and reputation ranked search engine across blogspace.

Making it so easy people would actually do the rankings, aye there’s the rub. It has to be as easy and convenient as adding a bookmark.

Ray Lane on Real-Time Enterprises

From a Tech interview: “I’ve been talking about real-time enterprises for five or six years now and that still has not occurred. And it’s not occurring with Web services. Why doesn’t computing process work the way that you, the user, want it to work? The biggest obstacle to changing anything in your company is computers. A lot could be done above the ERP (enterprise resource planning) layer to build composite applications better and offer better user access. A lot of what I’ll be doing is around finding a better process for integrating data and more intelligence. I’ve got a lot of data, but no freaking idea what it’s doing.”

TECH TALK: Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship

It is a fascinating time to be a part of the world of technology. There are many new areas opening up. There are new markets waiting to be discovered. There are new technologies emerging out of the woodwork. Every entrepreneur tries to build a company in his own image, doing what he is good at. I have identified a few key ideas which work as the framework around which Id like to do my venture. This is what I will share in this weeks columns.

For the past 30+ months, I have shared through these columns my views on what the future portends, much of it based on my reading, thinking and day-to-day experiences being an entrepreneur. Success has been limited, but that has not impacted the dream. If anything, the vision has got wider in its scope. I see each failure as a stepping stone to inevitable success. (Optimism is the second name of entrepreneurship!)

Over the past year, my own thinking has been enriched by the numerous talks that Ive had with many people and the many email interactions Ive had with those who have written in through my weblog. The one thing I have learnt is that being open with ones thinking is perhaps one of the best things an entrepreneur can do in this age. It is a connected world, and a world in which smarter people abound. Their feedback is what can embellish the concept. But they will only reflect and amplify the light that is shone. Darkness needs no mirror.

So, this week, Ill give a peek into my thoughts (and dilemmas). This is my thinking at a point of time – now. Time changes, thinking evolves as it has over the years. But I think it is worth sharing. I for one have believed that ideas get richer when distributed and open-sourced. No one can replicate the identical thinking that an individual has gone through in fact, if an idea were that simple, it is not worth creating a business around.

Personally, I have been looking at and working in four areas: SMEs, RSS, OSS and Rurals. Each is an interesting entrepreneurial opportunity. Each is a world waiting to be built. Here is a one-liner for each of them: SMEs affordable computing solutions and connections for growth, built around the 5KPC ecosystem, Open-Source Software development and support services for Linux and OpenOffice from India, RSS microcontent refinery and the publish-subscribe web, Rurals transforming rural India. I have written about most of these ideas in previous columns. Much of what I share in terms of my thinking and the challenges faced in entrepreneurial activity comes from my earlier efforts in IndiaWorld, and my recent attempts to get these ideas off the ground.

Tomorrow: Part 2