Massively Scalable Blog Community

Pito Salas has an interesting idea for a service:

– Support millions of blogs and tens of millions of readers
– Be suitable for both a public (open) semi-closed (“extranet”) or closed (internal) blog
– Include a dialable set of editorial tools to allow a customer to have the appropriate degree of editorial control and approval
– Because of the scale it would also include a hierachical system of moderation including peer-moderation.
– Be totally self-service, requiring no client software installation; it would be totally cross platform.
– Be standards compliant to allow full interoperability with the rest of the blog software world (i.e. linking, trackback, commenting, syndication, etc.)

It would be interesting to see how this would work in India. The elections are there next year. Imagine if we had a blog per constituency, wherein people could write about their issues and the candidates could address them on their blogs. Yes, this would cater only to a small fraction of people, but it will at least widen the involvement of the citizenry in matters pertaining to their future.

Social Networking Sites

Barron’s chimes in:

Social-networking sites are popping up like search portals and community sites did during the late ‘Nineties. The similarity is enough to give you the creeps, considering how the dot-com nightmare played out. But that may be a knee-jerk reaction. A close look at this latest trend shows that its potential for harnessing the power of personal connections and changing consumer behavior is very real.

One such start-up is Tribe.net, a seven-week-old site (yes, seven weeks) that emphasizes hiring and employment. The premise is that most job leads and hirings actually are facilitated by personal contact. Users of Tribe.net pass job leads to one another and even put in good words for their cyberfriends with employers. Most other job sites, by contrast, are little more than bulletin boards.

“This medium lends itself well to employment and hiring,” says founder Mark Pincus.

To understand Tribe.net, it helps to understand Friendster, the big Kahuna of social networking. While Friendster has attracted stellar traffic and even stronger buzz, it is essentially a dating service that is free of charge. Thus, its business model isn’t exactly clear, but that hasn’t scared off potential suitors or investors, which in and of itself is a bit scary. Some venture capitalists and investment bankers suggest that, because of its lack of a stand-alone business model, Friendster would make an excellent acquisition for any of the major search engines.

Social-networking companies could prove menacing to many of the paid-search businesses whose stocks have been soaring off of the charts. Pincus, who is also an investor in Friendster, contends that the dating service could be putting a chink in the armor of Barry Diller’s InterActive. Paid memberships for InterActive’s Match.com failed to increase from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year, according to the company’s second quarter earnings release.

InterActive’s Monster.com also is potentially vulnerable to social-networking job sites.

Ralph Terkowitz, chief technology officer of The Washington Post, agrees. “Tribe creates the potential for the next-generation classified business,” says Terkowitz, whose company is a Tribe investor.

The point about social networks providing potential competition to classifieds is interesting. There are many times when I have thought about having access to a network where we could advertise at a low cost for specific things: for example, programmers and support engineers, and old computers. An ad in the Times of India classifieds section in Mumbai will cost about Rs 4,000 (USD 85). Being able to selectively spread the word among a smaller, known group may be quite useful.

Global Attention Profiles

Writes Heath Row: “Ethan Zuckerman is working on a project that tracks global media attention. He maps what countries newspapers and media outlets such as the Washington Post are paying attention to, color coding them to indicate how ‘hot’ they are. He’s been tracking global media attention since late June.”

More on the project: “GAP – the Global Attention Profiles project – tracks the attention that selected news media outlets pay to different nations of the world. A set of automated programs performs 1700 web searches every day to determine what nations news media outlets are paying the most attention to and presents this information in table and map form. GAP also correlates media attention to different development statistics, including national GDP and population. GAP maps of media attention include maps of the relationship between attention and GDP or population.”

Pico-cells

Peter Cochrane writes about pice-cells being the future of mobile communications:

With conventional mobile telephone networks the cells generally span 3 to 25km, which turns out to be adequate for the density of handsets in most city, town and rural locations. But as the number of mobile devices proliferates we will need individual radio cells for the human body, inside the car, room, home, office, building, hotel, campus, street, village, town and so on.

A multitude of small digital radio units costing $50 screwed to the side of every house and office building connected to a PC, hundreds of cars and trucks carrying a similar capability, and every laptop, PC and PDA, all wireless-enabled, will see the emergence of a new form of mobile network. And in a curious, and counterintuitive, twist such networks will also demand more fixed optical fibre to cope with the clustering of people and devices.

What is required to achieve all of this? Only the allocation of spare frequency space, power limiting specifications to keep radio operation safe and interference free, and some really smart self-organising software.

Most of this technology is either available to buy today or currently under trial. Data rates in excess of 11Mbps look increasingly likely and the overall throughput surprisingly increases with the addition of more and more moving elements. As one community after another powers up, such networks will grow across complete geographic regions and an internet without the need for any formal network authority will be with us. Every few hours each element can check to see if it is still optimised relative to the overall net growth and in the event of an individual unit failing, traffic will automatically re-route and the net reconfigure to take account of the missing node.

Email Client Idea

Steven Johnson has an idea: “It would be a huge help to me if my email software would automatically organize incoming messages based on 1) whether I’ve responded to the sender before, and 2) on average how quickly I’ve responded to the sender in the past. So what I imagine is a kind of fuzzy inbox: a message from a complete stranger would stay in my inbox for a week, before getting bounced to the archives. A message from someone I once responded to would stay for two weeks, while a message from a regular correspondent wouldn’t leave the inbox until I removed it myself. Effectively, what I want are filters based on the history of my email interaction with specific people: prioritize mail from people I always respond to immediately; demote mail from people I ignore. Has anybody seen software that will do this?”

Business Week on Wipro’s Premji

Wipro and its CEO Azim Premji feature on the cover of the Asian edition of Business Week.

Premji seems focused on just one goal: even more success. Wipro has grown from a small producer of cooking oil founded by his father in 1945 to a colossus by Indian standards: 23,000 employees, $902 million in revenues, and $170 million in profits for the fiscal year ended in March. Sales have increased by an average of 25% a year and earnings by 52% annually over the past four years.

Premji isn’t slowing down, either. Just a few years ago, Wipro did software coding and systems maintenance. Now it’s expanding into more ambitious areas such as high-end research, and helping customers design their IT systems. Consulting today represents 7% of Wipro’s revenues, up from zero two years ago. The firm has added 8,000 new employees in the past year, expanding its call-center services and beefing up software expertise in health care, retail, and energy. Premji has bought three companies, and he’s extending his global reach, especially to countries in the Middle East, where U.S. outfits are less welcome these days.

His goal is to turn Wipro into one of the Top 10 IT-service companies in the world.

TECH TALK: SMEs and Technology: Recent Developments

Take a look at some of the recent developments in the context of solutions for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Cisco Systems introduced less-expensive versions of its Internet phone software and services, as the company broadens its push into the small-business market. One of the new products, CallManager Express, costs between $750 and $2,800 and is meant for businesses that have fewer than 100 employees. Cisco also debuted software called Unity Express, which creates voice mail and an automated attendant. The product costs $3,000. Ten system “blueprints” help companies assemble the pieces, the company said. The new Cisco equipment and blueprints are an attempt to interest small businesses in voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a cheaper form of dialing that uses the Internet. [News.com, October 2]

Siebel Systems and IBM are unveiling a hosted software product in an effort to grab some of the IT dollars small and midsize businesses are spending. The product, called Siebel CRM OnDemand, is an attempt to sell customer relationship management systems via the Web rather than through traditional software licensing. The companies are hoping that corporate clients in need of CRM applications would rather access applications online than by going through the lengthy process of licensing and deployment. The software will cost $70 a month per customer. Start-ups such as Salesforce.com have reported success in selling similar services and claim to have signed up some of Siebel’s customers. Oracle has also touted its outsourcing software as one of its fastest-growing businesses [News.com, October 2]

Microsoft will start selling a simplified bundle of its Windows Server operating system and Microsoft Exchange e-mail software. Ayala said both Microsoft’s internal sales force and resellers will have their compensation tied to their ability to sell the bundle, which is called Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. [News.com, October 1]

Dell said its new PowerEdge 400 SC server would come with preinstalled Windows Small Business Server 2003 software and would cost around $1,000.
[News.com, September 22]

Hewlett-Packard plans to pump $750 million into a new “Smart Office” initiative to market its computers, printers and services to small and medium-sized businesses. [InfoWorld, September 18]

Network Associates Inc.’s Sniffer Technologies division last week launched network and security-management tools for small and midsize businesses. The Netasyst Network Analyzer, a stripped-down version of Sniffer’s protocol analyzers, supports the most common network topologies those businesses use, including 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11 wireless LANs. [Information Week, September 1]

[South Koreas small businesses] can buy access to the computer network and basic business-management programs for an average of $15 to $25 per month. More robust software for bigger companies costs $75. The computerization agency has put together customized packages of software for 22 business lines, including real estate brokers, eyeglass shops, beauty parlors, sports clubs, and restaurants. Programs for an additional 36 business types are being developed. [Business Week, August 26]

Internet security firm Check Point is targeting medium-sized companies with a firewall/VPN package designed for organisations with up to 500 employees. Check Point Express includes firewall, VPN, network and application attack protection combined with multi-site, centralised management functions. The package is designed to be easy to purchase, install and manage. [The Register, August 20]

Tomorrow: Recent Developments (continued)

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