OpenOffice Writer and MS-Word

Linux Journal has an article that compares the two word processors and concludes that “what matters is that Ooo (OpenOffice.org) Writer allows me to work efficiently and without constant awareness of the software–statements I haven’t been able to make about any other word processor in over twenty years of word processing. In my book, Ooo Writer isn’t a replacement for anything. It’s my software of choice.” Mine, too!

Weblogs and Mass Amateurisation

Tom Coates writes:

it’s not just publishing or journalism that are going through a process of mass amateurisation at the moment. In fact over the last fifteen years or so pretty much all media creation has started to be deprofessionalised. We only have to look around us to see that this is the case – as individually created media content that originated on the internet has started to infect mass media. Hard-rocking poorly-animated kittens that once roamed e-mail newsletters are now showing up in adverts and credit-sequences, pop-songs written on home computers are reaching the top of the charts, weblog commentators in Iraq are getting columns in the national and international newspapers, music is being hybridised and spliced in the home for competitions on national radio stations. The whole of the mainstream media has started to look towards an undercurrent of individual amateur creation because of the creativity that’s bubbling up from this previously unknown swathe of humanity. Mass-amateurisation is EVERYWHERE.

The weblog is the homepage that we wear…[The] flexibility of publishing creates a fluid and living form of self-representation, the ‘homepage (as a place)’ has become the ‘weblog (as a person)’ that can articulate a voice. And when there are a multiplicity of voices in space, then the possibility arises of conversations. And where there is conversation there is the sharing of information. And conversation about what? Well everything from music and movies and animation and medical information. Weblogs are becoming the bridge between the individual and the community in cyberspace – a place where one can self-publicise and self-describe but also learn, debate and engage in community. In other words, weblogs are not only a representative sample of mass amateurisation, they’re becoming enmeshed in the very structures of information-retrival, community interaction and media distibution themselves. Weblogs are now facilitators of mass amateurisation. They’re almost becoming one of its architectures…

At the centre of all of this amateurisation is likely to be the weblog or something very much like it – far from them most flashy or obvious of the technologies we’ll be using, but a place around which we can connect with our interest groups, learn new skills and distribute our creations.

Asian OS

News.com reports:

Three North Asian countries (China, Japan and South Korea) are closer to signing a deal to codevelop an open-source operating system to replace Microsoft Windows, according to a Japanese news report.

The move to jointly develop a server operating system that’s based on Linux began in March with a meeting in Thailand of more than 100 software engineers from the three countries.

The group included representatives from universities and from regional companies like Sharp and Toshiba.

Where is India when such meetings happen? After all, we are perhaps best positioned to supply the programming talent to do it.

Micropayments and Free Content

Clay Shirky writes: “What is interesting is the way the failure of micropayments, both past and future, illustrates the depth and importance of putting publishing tools in the hands of individuals. In the face of a force this large, user-pays schemes can’t simply be restored through minor tinkering with payment systems, because they don’t address the cause of that change — a huge increase the power and reach of the individual creator.”

I would tend to agree with Shirky when he says:

The fact that digital content can be distributed for no additional cost does not explain the huge number of creative people who make their work available for free. After all, they are still investing their time without being paid back. Why?

The answer is simple: creators are not publishers, and putting the power to publish directly into their hands does not make them publishers. It makes them artists with printing presses. This matters because creative people crave attention in a way publishers do not. Prior to the internet, this didn’t make much difference. The expense of publishing and distributing printed material is too great for it to be given away freely and in unlimited quantities — even vanity press books come with a price tag. Now, however, a single individual can serve an audience in the hundreds of thousands, as a hobby, with nary a publisher in sight.

The decision a creator must make, according to Shirky, is between fame and fortune. Blogs are showing that a lot many are opting for fame. People have always had voices, it is only now that they can make themselves heard.

Radixs to Run ‘Em All

News.com writes about Singapore-based Radixs, which says it has “created created an operating system that can run programs that are written for Windows, Linux and Palm.”

The MXI OS apparently allows a computer to run programs that are written for the Windows, Linux or Palm operating systems. Radixs asserts that MXI performs a sophisticated form of emulation that enables the nonnative program to perform as smoothly and quickly as it would on its native OS.

Radixs asserts, MXI is itself an operating system, not a “virtual environment” within a mainstream operating system. In addition, the company said, MXI allows programs that are written for several other platforms to be run within it, rather than just one.

Radixs’ focus seems to be on mobile services. Am wondering if we can use it in our thin client-thick server context.

TECH TALK: The Next Billion: From Where?

I read this on Kevin Werbachs weblog: According to a Reuters report, there will be half a billion mobile phone handsets sold next year. That includes 100 million camera phones and 30 million smartphones. Stop and think about those numbers for a bit. The line which made me think from the report was this: The total number of mobile phone users will approach 1.4 billion individuals worldwide in 2004.

That indeed made me stop and think. I began to wonder: what would it take for us to get to those many PC users. The corresponding figures for the PC industry are about 150 million new PCs being sold each year and about 500 million users. What would it take for us to get to the next billion PC users? This is what this series is about.

The underlying assumption I am making is that the computer is a productivity enhancer, and it should be available for every worker in every enterprise of the world, and also every family. The computer has been the most important invention of the past quarter century, and yet its benefits have not percolated beyond the top of the pyramid.

First question: who are these billion users? Where are they going to come from? To answer this, first consider where the current users come from. Todays computer users are mainly comprised of: almost all individuals, large companies and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the developed markets, along with a small fraction of the same in the worlds emerging markets (think Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa). The bulk of the individuals and employees in the emerging markets are without computers at this point of time. These are the next market.

By my estimate, there are about 30-40 million SMEs in the emerging markets, employing more than half a billion people who need access to information and communications. Few among this segment have adopted information technology at the core of their business. In addition, among the individuals, there are about 4 billion people in the worlds emerging markets, consisting of about 600-700 million families. Again, only about 10-20% of this segment has probably need penetrated with computers. Here too, there are about half a billion families which need a computer. How can we get a computer to each family that does not have a computer?

So, that is our challenge: getting 30-40 million SMEs to buy an average of 10-15 computers and 500 million families to buy a single computer. Both of these segments are in the worlds emerging markets. Given that this is the Internet age, it also need to be networked. In other words, our vision is: a connected computer for every employee and every family.

For the computer industry to get to these billion users, it will need to re-think many things, including the affordability (cost) of computers, the technology architecture, the way applications are developed and distributed.

Tomorrow: Todays PC Industry