Data Emergence

Robin Good has a fascinating post on personal knowledge mapping, with a goal “to define, draft and invent tools and approaches that would facilitate a tacit knowledge creation/sharing mechanisms while not adding extra layers of work and responsibility to every knowledge worker in the organization.” A quote from Snell:

Any Web site should become nothing more than a set of raw data feeds while knowledge workers would be provided with a personal software tool that would allow to:

1) maintain a database of personal information.
2) selectively share that data with anybody I choose.
3) autodiscover new sources of content.
4) completely control how I view and interact with the content sources I’ve chosen.

Social Capital as Credit

Ross Mayfield writes:

Social capital, or aggregate (connected) reputation, is a form of credit. Some formal transactions can be supported by social capital. Informal transactions are rarely underpinned by financial credit or legal agreement and instead rely entirely social capital. We all have our internal calculators keeping tacit track of who is wronging and righting, the health of the relationships and adjusting our actuarial tables according to experience.

Sometimes a service arises to make a portion of this explicit, such as Ebays or Slashdots reputation system. Scaled reputation systems to date are, in fact, subjective proxies a set of localized decisions that result in a visible emergent pattern the pattern itself being open to interpretation. But if there is enough social agreement to play the rating game, they decrease transaction risk and increase liquidity. Not just for those with better ratings, but for the network or market as a whole.

Using social capital to underpin transactions is an iterative approach. It only works if there will be future transactions and each occurs within the context of a social network. Game theory holds the best strategy is to trust but verify with each iteration. This presents greater risk up front, but builds trust and reputation with each iteration, so over time transaction risks and costs decrease.

In absence of formal credit, social capital is the norm. Micro-markets, more traditional cultures and third world countries practically run on social capital as a result.

The point is you cant monetize social capital in aggregate, because it operates at a micro-scale. You can foster social capital for the value of its emergent patterns and what it enables: the flow and production of other tangible and intangible assets. The value of social capital is local, but its impact is global.

Interesting points. Maybe what we need is a Google for social capital. Just as Google provides a common interface for documents on the Web, we need a common interface to search for the online reputation for a person – through the blog, comments on other blogs, Amazon reviews, eBay record, Slashdot posts.

Cult of the Lone Coder

On Malik has a nice post on “programmers who refuse to climb the corporate ladder; or kowtow to the whims and fancies of venture capitalists. An increasing number of talented coders are setting up shop on their own, developing niche products for under served markets and making a decent living…Many of these folks work in anonymity. The business press is unlikely to write about them; the technology trades are too busy focusing on products from the big corporations. But these people are worthy of our gratitude and deserve the publicity because they produce they produce useful software.”

Much of the blogosphere and the tools that have emerged is about the lone coders (and the lone writers).

Useful Mobile Apps

[via Smart Mobs] Ericsson presented awards to four applications for “on services that add value, create convenience and make daily life and work easier and more effective”.

  • Best Mobile Enterprise: LocatioNet with its real-time fleet management services that combine and enhance current location-based features, such as maps.

  • Best Mobile Entertainment: Media Republic with TV soap stories in a format accessible to mobile handsets.

  • Best Mobile Gaming: Synergenix Interactive AB with three-dimensional rally games for use between mobile handsets from different vendors.

  • Best Information Application: NewBay Software with an application that makes it possible to create, update and transfer personal web diaries, so called ‘blogs’, from a PC to a mobile handset and vice versa.

  • RSS in 2004

    Come December and it is the season for predictions for the next year. Steve Gillmor on RSS:

    RSS information routers will emerge in 2004 with the following characteristics:

  • Persistent storage of XHTML full-text/graphics/audio/video of RSS feeds
  • XPATH search across local and Net stores
  • Self-forming and reordering subscriptions lists based on the aggregated priorities of user-chosen domain experts
  • Use of IM notification for post notification to aggregate affinity groups and active conversations
  • Integration of Hydra-like collaborative tools for multi-author conference transcripts
  • Videoconferencing routing and broadcast/recording tools
  • Integration of speech recognition and real-time indexing to allow quoting of linear audio and video streams
  • Mesh networked peer-to-peer synchronization engine for item propagation across shared spaces on multiple clients, including phones; iPods; and eventually Longhorn PDAs (circa 2006).

    Armed with these tools, new industries will emerge in rapid succession:

  • Metadata-driven directories that dynamically create RSS feeds based on affinity
  • Virtual conferences
  • IM/RSS presence networks for rich collaboration and e-mail replacement
  • Content-generation tools based on small, routable XHTML objects
  • A DRM network with enough creative and hardware support to blunt the Microsoft/RIAA DRM threat to peer-to-peer port hijacking.
  • Continue reading

    Steve Ballmer Interview

    Excerpts from a Business Week interview:

    [Linux is] a weirdo competitor. There is no company behind it. You don’t know exactly who builds it. It’s free. I prefer to say: “Look, what we have here is a small price disadvantage.” It’s the first time we’ve had a price disadvantage.

    Most analysts think the price of Windows to our hardware customers, people like Dell Inc., is about 50 bucks. If you stop and think about it, most people are going to own their PCs for four years. So do we offer $12 a year of value where you can run tremendously more applications, it’s tremendously easier to take care of? It’s $12 a year when people are spending $90 to $100 a month on cell-phone bills, and we’re talking about saving you hours and hours of time. I think it’s a pretty good value proposition, myself.

    [On the threat to US jobs from India and China]: People focus oftentimes on the labor rate differential. But the thing that’s most troubling is the graduation rate of technical graduates. The U.S. is No. 3 now in the world and falling quickly behind No. 1 and No. 2 [China and India] in terms of computer-science graduates. In the U.S., we have fewer computer-science graduates today than we did five years ago. The bigger issue is what kinds of things do we need to do to encourage more American kids.

    TECH TALK: My Mental Model: SMEs and India

    Recently, Tech Talk completed three years. That is, more than 750 daily columns of about 500 words each. For me, the Tech Talk columns have been a constant feature of a weekly writing schedule (normally Sunday mornings). It has instilled a discipline of reading, researching, thinking and writing. For this Tech Talk series, I thought it would be a good idea to some of the key concepts that shape my current writing, thinking and business life.

    Much of my writing has centred around two topics: the first deals with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the other with India. The two questions addressed: how can SMEs grow, and how can we build the new India? Over time, the second topic has become more specialised for India to be transformed, it is important to consider how rural India can be developed. At one level, both the challenges seem very different and far removed from each other. But if one starts thinking conceptually about the two issues, there are a lot of similarities, as we shall see later.

    I first started thinking about the SME problem more than two-and-a-half years ago. At that time, I was keen to create a low-cost eBusiness suite for SMEs, which could be made available for the equivalent of a few hundred rupees per person per month. I could relate to at least some of the problems faced by SMEs because I had been running just such an enterprise for many years. As I looked at SMEs more closely, I realised that the more fundamental problems that needed to be addressed were two: how to get total cost of ownership of computing low enough that they could use computers, and how to help them grow their business enough so that they could make the investments in technology. These are the twin traps of technology and marketing that we needed to get SMEs out of.

    And thus, I embarked on a journey where the components of the solution have come together over a period of time. What I had thought was a simple, software problem (which could be solved by using open-source software) turned out to have many layers in it and is much more complex. The solution did not lie in just providing cheap software (after all, SMEs could as easily pirate what is currently available and thus get the software for zero cost). It was also not about only trying to provide cheaper computers (refurbished PCs). The problem needed to be thought from a much wider perspective. There were many elements of the value chain that all needed to come together for example, user education, distribution, support, financing also needed to be addressed.

    I also think a lot about India, and how it is changing. Our generation has been fortunate enough to witness a near miracle in the past decade. From an isolated, self-contained mass of a billion people, we are now being spoken of as one of the two biggest markets of the world, with China. Our people, long seen as a liability, are now being seen as our biggest strengths. As China becomes the manufacturing capital of the world, India is being thought of as the services destination. As incomes rise, the landscape in urban India is changing. The heady mix of better roads (even some expressways!), malls, brands and cheap credit are fuelling a consumer spending boom in a growing part of urban India. More importantly, the mindset of people was changing to a belief that tomorrow will definitely be better than today. The government still has its mysterious, illogical policies which hold some sectors back, but that is now becoming less so. Just one indicator of this transformation: India will add more phone users this year than in the first five decades after Independence in 1947.

    Tomorrow: The Rural India Conundrum