coLinux = Linux + Windows

Cooperative Linux “is the first working free and open source method for optimally running Linux on Microsoft Windows natively. More generally, Cooperative Linux (short-named coLinux) is a port of the Linux kernel that allows it to run cooperatively alongside another operating system on a single machine. For instance, it allows one to freely run Linux on Windows 2000/XP, without using a commercial PC virtualization software such as VMware, in a way which is much more optimal than using any general purpose PC virtualization software.” Looks interesting!

Wikipedia and Collaboration

Dan Gillmor discusses how Wikipedia shows the powers of co-operation as it reaches the landmark of 200,000 entries:

Wikipedia, an encyclopedia created and operated by volunteers, is one of the most fascinating developments of the Digital Age. In just over three years of existence, it has become a valuable resource and an example of how the grass roots in today’s interconnected world can do extraordinary things.

Wikipedia is based on a kind of software called Wiki. A Wiki allows any user to edit any page. It keeps track of every change. Anyone can follow the changes in detail.

A Wiki engenders a community when it works correctly. And a community that has the right tools can take care of itself.

The Wikipedia articles tend to be neutral in tone, and when the topic is controversial, they will explain the varying viewpoints in addition to offering the basic facts. When anyone can edit what you’ve just posted, such fairness becomes essential.

a Wiki draws strength from its volunteers who catch and fix every act of online vandalism. When the bad guys learn that someone will repair their damage within minutes, and therefore prevent the damage from being visible to the world, they tend to give up and move along to more vulnerable places.

I still marvel at how these wide-open Wiki communities, which seem at first glance to be so open to abuse, turn out to be so resilient. They work because everyone can do his or her part. The model won’t work in every endeavor, but it succeeds brilliantly in this case, at least so far.

One lesson is deceptively simple. When you remove the barriers to changing things, you also remove the barriers to fixing what’s broken.

Continue reading

Howard Dean’s Edge Tools

[via Smart Mobs] Civic Actions has an article on how Howard Dean’s site uses three decentralised tools for community building. “The Dean process drives one to the edges, creating a decentralized network topology.”

Blog: The blog is an edge tool because it enables anyone to post a comment without restrictions. When new blog entries come up, hundreds of posts follow immediately, facilitating side conversations with people interested in the topic or the candidate. This connects anyone to anyone and gives people a sense of partnership with the campaign and the candidate.

Get Local (Events): The tool is an edge tool because it enables anyone to create an event for the campaign, or RSVP to another event (both without restrictions). It enables someone to very quickly find events in their physical space. It enables one to email members of the group who have RSVP’d to the event. It shows light all the way to the “edge” of the network.

Dean Link (People): Dean Link is an edge tool because it enables anyone to find other supporters within their geographic proximity. People can list themselves, with a picture and personal interests, and anyone can search by ZIP code to find others in their neighborhood. The tool also shows the friends of each person, so one can browse through the social network of volunteers. This could be extremely valuable during the GOTV effort, because peer-pressure could be applied to central “connectors” asking them to personally call their friends.

Some good inputs for my forthcoming Tech Talk series on “Technology and the Indian Elections.”

Slashdot Moderation

For many of us for whom Slashdot is a must-visit site, its bottom-up, emergent moderation system is its highlight. Cliff Lampe and Paul Resnick have a paper on the Slashdot moderation system. From the abstract: “Can a system of distributed moderation quickly and consistently separate high and low quality comments in an online conversation? Analysis of the site suggests that the answer is a qualified yes, but that important challenges remain for designers of such systems. Thousands of users act as moderators. Final scores for comments are reasonably dispersed and the community generally agrees that moderations are fair. On the other hand, much of a conversation can pass before the best and worst comments are identified. Of those moderations that were judged unfair, only about half were subsequently counterbalanced by a moderation in the other direction. And comments with low scores, not at top-level, or posted late in a conversation were more likely to be overlooked by moderators.”

From the conclusion:

Slashdot provides an existence proof that the basic idea of distributed moderation is sound. There is widespread participation. There seems to be a broad, though not perfect consensus about which comments deserve to be moderated up or down. Comment scores are dispersed so that they offer some information of potential value to readers.

Closer analysis, however, revealed that it often takes a long time for especially good comments to be identified. We also found that incorrect moderations were often not reversed, and that later comments, comments not at top-level, and
comments with low starting scores, did not get the same treatment from moderators as other comments did. These findings highlight tensions among timeliness, accuracy, limiting the influence of individual moderators, and minimizing the effort required of individual moderators. We believe any system of distributed moderation will eventually have to make tradeoffs among these goals. There is still room, however, for design advances that require only modestly more moderator effort to produce far more timely and accurate moderation overall.

Computing Trends

A nice summary by Brad Pransky on what to expect in the near future:

Form Factor: There have been some wonderful developments in the ever-shrinking PC platform and I believe this is going to be the year it has a strong impact on the marketplace.

Home Enterprise: It denotes the same kind of network usage and requirements for the home and SOHO user that we find in the corporate enterprise. We believe the next 12 to 16 months is going to be a major breakout period for the home network, media center and related appliances and equipment. For several years there was a running battle as to what would be the dominant technology model in the home; the PC or the TV. Well, the war’s over and the winner is.the screen.

Wireless Technology: Wireless is another aspect that will explode in the home space. As the technology matures and transmission of both data and video streams becomes more realistic, connection of virtually everything will be commonplace. And yes, there is even the possibility that the dreaded ‘internet appliance’ will once more rear its head. This time however, it will be a nicely networked device with a small LCD screen or interface to the TV, and will actually have a practical function.

Storage, Storage and More Storage: we will need to see more products of the NAS (network attached storage) and SAN (it’s cousin, storage attached networks) varieties along with the software and services to manage them. This is going to mean better directory services and data mining capability for the corporate enterprise and more effective organizational tools for the consumer market.

Apple’s iPoD Strategy believes that Apple’s iPod reflects a new found realism and openness:

The company has long held the philosophy that its software and hardware should be tied almost exclusively to the Macintosh computer for both quality and profit. But it is developing and marketing the iPod with uncharacteristic openness to work with Microsoft’s Windows software and other technologies.

Like archrival Microsoft and other technology leaders, Apple has identified the digitization of home entertainment as a primary engine for growth–and, in its particular case, as an opportunity to reclaim the glory of its early years. However, while it envisions the Mac at the center of a network that encompasses music, videos, photography and other media, Apple is entering foreign territory in expanding its product lines with the iPod and other devices.

[Apple] finds itself at a critical crossroads: It must decide whether to follow the historically proprietary approach of the Macintosh computer or the more flexible business strategy of its successful digital music player.

Apple may have a unique chance to avoid a similar fate, if it can figure out how to turn the allegiance of the iPod generation into abiding affection for a broader range of products. Many consumers increasingly associate the company’s brand more with the digital music player than with the 20-year-old Macintosh brand.

Business Week has a cover story on Apple:

Just as the Mac revolutionized the computer industry, Apple is once again in the business of changing the world. This time, it’s the world of music. Its diminutive iPod, which can store 10,000 songs in a device smaller than a deck of cards, is the most radical change in how people listen to music since Sony Corp. introduced the Walkman in 1979. Then there’s Apple’s online music store, iTunes. It was established only after Jobs became the first person to persuade all the major record labels to make their music available — legally — on one Web site. Since late April, 30 million songs have been downloaded from Apple’s store, and the trend may one day spell the end of the compact disk.

For years, Jobs’s perfectionist approach to product development has been experienced only by Mac users. But now, massive changes are roiling the worlds of entertainment, computing, and communications, giving him a broader stage. Increasingly, content — that magical lifeblood of movie studios, record labels, and publishers — is being transformed into digital form. At the same time, the Internet and wireless networks are evolving to deliver those bits almost anywhere, at speeds never before possible. Couple all that with disk drives, semiconductors, and high-resolution displays that are growing ever smaller and more powerful, and technology is liberating entertainment from its past. How we watch movies, look at photos, listen to music, even read a book promises to change profoundly in the next decade.

No one may have a better chance to make order out of this chaos — and then profit from it — than Jobs. He bridges the marketplace: He has a hand in the worlds of computing, music, and movies to see how they’re evolving. He has the track record with consumers: His string of hits includes the original Mac, the candy-colored iMac, and the iPod. He has the pieces: Apple not only has a combination of software and hardware skills unique in the PC business, it also has strong product design and one of the world’s best-known brands. And he has the silver tongue: When the record companies had dug in their heels against the Net in Napster-induced terror, it was Jobs who persuaded all the major labels to put their music on iTunes.

TECH TALK: Rethinking Search: What Others Say

Before we go ahead, here are a few quotes from various publications which give an overview of the action in the Search space:

Business Week: Google has decided that its customers should gather information through inputs of text search terms by using more or less the same simple interface to search for news, things to buy, or any other topic. That’s a small but important distinction. Google assumes that customers are smart enough to learn to search with words rather than with the graphical and pull-down menus used by most of its competitorsTaken to its logical extension of providing an interface for every popular service or sector on the Web, Google becomes the omnipresent middleman and a clear and present danger to just about any company that relies on the Internet for commerce. Which, increasingly, is every company in the developed world.

Wall Street Journal: Yahoo wants to combine personalization and customization features to extend the usefulness of searches In the future, Yahoo officials say, searches could become much more personalized. They could be tailored to return results that reflect users’ past Web-surfing behavior, for example, or preferences or interests they list in a profile… Yahoo has long let users customize its site in a number of ways, such as setting up pages to track selections of favorite stocks. A recent page for the Indiana Pacers Web page, for example, highlighted an upcoming game against the Memphis Grizzlies. In addition to the date and time, the page included links for users to add the event to their calendar and to buy tickets. Similar combinations could be blended with conventional search, to help deliver consumers to the pages of advertisers or merchant partners.

Search Engine Watch: Last year at this time there was really no such thing as local search. Fast forward twelve months and local is one of the hottest topics in search Why local? The answer, as one might expect, is revenue-or more precisely, potential revenue. When you add up the number of all the paid search advertisers in the world right now, the total is approximately 380,000. Yet, there is substantial overlap among the advertisers of the different paid search networks. (It’s rare a company that uses Google but not Overture and vice versa.) So, as a rough estimate, the figure is probably closer to 250,000 paid search advertisers on a global basisBy contrast, the U.S. alone has about 10 million small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and there may be as many as 30 million more such businesses in developed countries around the world. In the U.S., most of those SMEs, the bulk of which have fewer than nine employees, conduct the majority of their business within 50 miles of their locations.

WSJ: Google is holding exercises on Amazon’s borders with its Froogle retailing engine. Amazon, too, has made moves beyond its core retailing business: The company increasingly acts as a guide to third-party stores in categories such as sporting goods and toys, and is developing an e-commerce search service. Meanwhile, eBay relies on search to help users find just about anything anyone would like to buy — and its popularity and PayPal payments unit put it in a strong position should it get an expansionist itch. Then there’s InterActiveCorp, which is a top provider of searches for airline tickets, hotel reservations and the like, but may want to establish a stronger position in everyday searchesYahoo, Google, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, InterActiveCorp: They arrived from different starting points, and have different strengths, but all may be combatants in the new round of search wars.

Jeremy Zawodny: Search often leads to transactions. The search engine companies want a cut of those transactions–just like Amazon or eBay get. Think of them as search services for a minute. Expect to see a lot of work going into vertical search markets: cars, real estate, electronics, hotels, vacation deals, etc. And expect to see the existing big search players aggressively [re]positioning themselves as the place to go to search for products and services, not just information.

Tomorrow: What Others Say (continued)

Continue reading