Microcontent and Metadata trends

Joi Ito has a very nice summarisation of the emerging world. Key trends:
– Context instead of content
– Networked consumer electronics devices will make PCs less relevant
– New open standards for micro-content and metadata
– Multimedia

His take on the cutting edge: “Audio blogging (Audblog), mobile picture blogging with location information (Tokyo Tidbits), personal information and information about your friends in web pages (FOAF), machine readable copyright notices allowing micro-content aggregation and sharing (Creative Commons), Amazon book information and affiliate information embedded in blogging tools ( TypePad ), convergence of email and micro-content syndication (Newsgator), searching for micro-content based on context (Technorati)”.

It is a good view of the trends that we are seeing around us. There’s plenty of new things happening for us entrepreneurs to be looking at. We have two initiatives in areas mentioned above: Info Aggregator (convergence of email and micro-content syndication) and BlogStreet (blog search and neighbourhood analysis).

Open-Source Development

HBS Working Knowledge has an interview with Siobhn O’Mahony who discusses her research on foundations formed around three projects: Debian, GNOME and Apache. Some excerpts:

The hacker culture prizes autonomy and self-determination. Eric Raymond defines hackers as those who love programming for the sake of doing it, for the sake of obsessively solving a problem. Thus, hackers who contribute to the open source community are often intrinsically motivated.

[The] emphasis on demonstration of capabilities is even more critical in the open source community. One earns the respect of peers by demonstrating skills and making valuable contributions of code to a project.

Associated with these values is an embrace of informality and distaste for “administrivia”for this too can take away from the pure joy of programming.


Steven Johnson points out three:

1. All Shopping, All the Time. If you’re searching for something that can be sold online, Google’s top results skew very heavily toward stores, and away from general information.

2. Skewed Synonyms. Search for “apple” on Google, and you have to troll through a couple pages of results before you get anything not directly related to Apple Computerand it’s a page promoting a public TV show called Newton’s Apple.

3. Book Learning. Google is beginning to have a subtle, but noticeable effect on research. More and more scholarly publications are putting up their issues in PDF format, which Google indexes as though they were traditional Web pages. But almost no one is publishing entire books online in PDF form. So, when you’re doing research online, Google is implicitly pushing you toward information stored in articles and away from information stored in books.

Johnson’s point: “We’re wrong to think of Google as a pure reference source. It’s closer to a collectively authored op-ed pagefilled with bias, polemics, and a skewed sense of proportionthan an encyclopedia.”

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Directory Services in Linux

David HM Spector writes: “With all of the incredible strides that Linux has made from the smallest embedded devices to the some of the largest supercomputers ever made, there is one piece of its complete adoption in the enterprise that’s still missing–a not so little piece still to be done: integration and interoperability with Active Directory (AD).”

There’s also a nice overview of the importance of a directory:

An enterprise directory is a repository of concrete and metadata objects which describe the relationships between all of the objects in a computational ecosystem. Examples of concrete data objects include usernames, passwords, computer names, printer names, IP addresses, home directories, and so on. In general, these are objects you can see, touch, or manipulate directly.

The other set of objects managed by a directory are almost all “metadata”–literally “data about data.” Metadata objects don’t have any meaning unto themselves. Some aggregate concrete objects. Others describe relationships: to a concrete object, to a concrete object’s attributes, or to other metadata objects. Examples of directory metadata objects include groups of users or groups of computers, organizational units such as the marketing department, access control lists, password expiration times, computer configurations, software configurations, application license keys and end-users rights identifiers, print queue descriptions, campus locations, office/cubicle numbers, phone number data, and even relationships between enterprise applications that need to talk to each other.

A fully developed directory service contains enough information to allow an IT staff to manage totally an infrastructure from the infrastructure’s configuration to the day-to-day operational data needed for simple tasks: from allowing users to print to the right printers to complex tasks like holding credentials and data transformation rules used by applications. It must also allow for the delegation of roles and responsibilities so that interns can’t destroy enterprise databases or modify accounts but senior sysadmins aren’t clearing paper jams from print queues either.

TECH TALK: Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship (Part 3)

See today and tomorrow from multiple angles. Or in other words, dont be blindsided. Too often, we get all wrapped up in an artificial world that we create, and stop seeing the world around. That is why it is so important to expose ones ideas and oneself to the outside world. Let people criticise. That is what we want. Because their perspectives are different they see the world differently. That is exactly the test that the idea has to stand. This is where blogs can come in useful. By sharing ones ideas on the web, one is able to bridge the distance between people. I have learnt a lot reading the weblogs of others people whom I have never met, but whose perspectives have helped shape much of my thinking. This needs an openness of thought to accept other critical viewpoints and take the learnings from them to enrich the core.

Build a theoretical base for the ideas. Many times, the easy thing to do is to just jump in. Leaping into the pool is important without doing that, one cannot learn to swim. But it is useful to know some basics and theory first. This way, one makes fewer mistakes and learns faster. If the theoretical base for the idea is not sound, then there is no amount of smart execution which will make it go right. So, it is important to define the world of tomorrow that one wants to create through a series of statements which follow from one another.

Create a viral marketing element. This is because I hate to spend money on marketing. Id love it if an existing set of users can tell the other non-users about what my product. Maybe it is a mentality bred more on focusing on technology than marketing, or maybe it is that I have tried mass marketing (read: a few ads in newspapers) every once in a while. Or maybe, it is just that I think there are better uses of money. Not to say that viral marketing will work every time. It takes time. Besides, the product has to be really good to ensure that people will tell the others. I saw that with Samachar.com and Khel.com during my IndiaWorld days we built up all our traffic without spending any money on advertising. It was all word-of-mouth. Id much rather focus on creating a good product and letting it travel the network. And, guess what, the network travel time is reducing thanks to email.

Make the product / service a daily utility. Maybe I am in love with the word utility. I like to use it in many places for example, SME Tech Utility. But there is more to it. The point to think is how we can make the solution that we are providing critical to the life or business of the customer, so much so that it becomes a daily habit. That is why I update my weblog daily. I want it to become part of the daily routine of people. That is why we updated IndiaWorld with new content every day even when there were very few people accessing it. That is why we wanted to make Samachar.com as the home page for non-resident Indians. This is what I want to do with the new ideas make it a daily habit for people.

Tomorrow: Part 4

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