Adam Bosworth Interview

Phil Wainewright distills out the important points from an interview with Adam Bosworth :

On widening the market for J2EE tools Bosworth says: “I would argue that there were really only about 500,000 people who could effectively use J2EE before Workshop … And I believe we truly have made it possible for the corporate developer, the applications developer to play in that and that means there’s more like 5 million people.” He then goes on to say that’s probably half the total number of programmers in the world, which he notes is an order of magnitude less than “about 100 million people who I think can use complex abstract tools meaning build really complex spreadsheets, do Visio, use Access at all.” BEA is not targeting them, he says. So BEA is taking the opposite approach from Charles Simonyi’s Intentional Software, which I described in my last posting, Not as intended. BEA aims to make complex programming more accessible to the 10 million, whereas Intentional aims to automate it so that the 100 million can take advantage of it without having to learn program.

On the browser vs Windows he points out how easy people find it to use the browser “because it’s so self-evident what to do.” Not only is it harder to learn all the widgets in Windows, it’s also harder to maintain. “Software’s gotten better at being adaptive and self-modifying, but that cuts both ways,” he says. “I’m sick of applying my upgrades on Windows every night. And it makes me nervous that the software on my PC is constantly changing.” In his mind, the case against a traditional Windows-style thick client is settled; no one wants it: “I think in general we still want to say an app is just something you point to with a URL.” But that in turn, he goes on to say, means we want more from our browsers, including support for disconnected working.

Vision for Blogging Tools

Ahead of BloggerCon, Dave Winer asks: “What’s next in writing tools for weblogs? If you could influence people who are making the tools, what feature or features would you want? Think as big as you like, or as detailed as you like. What bug is most in your way. Ramble, please. Is there one thing you’d kill for? Or perhaps you’re satisfied with the tools as they are. I hope your comments are on the record so I can assemble a quote sheet as the beginning of a conversation that I hope will yield better tools for all of us.”

Already, there are 114 comments on the site! There’s also an interesting discussion underway on Robert Scoble’s post.

Tom Peters on Outsourcing

Tom Peters has “16 Hard Truths”. Among them:

1. “Off-shoring” will continue; the tide cannot be reversed.

2. Service jobs are a bigger issue than manufacturing jobs, by an order of magnitude.

3. The automation of business processes is as big a phenomenon in job shrinkage as off-shoring.

7. The wholesale, increasingly upscale entry of 2.5 billion people (China, India) into the global economy at an accelerating rate is virtually unfathomable. Unfathomable = Unpredictable, exceptional challenges, amazing opportunities.

11. Job creation is entrepreneurially led, especially by the small fraction of “start-ups” that become growth companies (Microsoft, Amgen, FedEx et al.); hence entrepreneurial incentives including low capital-gains taxes and high R&D supports are a top priority.

12. Primary and secondary education must be reformed, in particular to underscore creativity and innovation — the mainstays of high-value added products and services. Children should be nurtured on risk-taking, with a low expectation of corporate cosseting.

16. All economic progression is a matter of moving up the “value-added chain.” (This is not “management speak”: Think farm to factory to R&D lab.) The good news: Technology change is so vigorous for the foreseeable future that those who can “seize the moment” have lots of room to play.

Adds John Robb: “[Tom’s] conclusion: we need to train many, many more creative, risk-taking entrepreneurs. That will require a massive shift in how we educate our youth. The only reliable indicator of whether you will be an entrepreneur: you are the son or daughter of an entrepreneur. If that skillset can’t be transferred more generally, most people will be left behind.”

Wired Google Guide

Wired has a collection of articles on Google. “Today Google’s a library, an almanac, a settler of bets. It’s a parlor game, a dating service, a shopping mall. It’s a Microsoft rival. It’s a verb. At more than 200 million requests a day, it is, by far, the world’s biggest search engine. And now, on the eve of a very public stock offering, it’s cast as savior, a harbinger of rebirth in the Valley. How can it be so many things? It’s Goooooooooogle.”
One of the sections deals with Google’s primary revenue source – advertising:

At the heart of the new Google is AdWords, a self-service ad server that uses relevance-ranking algorithms similar to the ones that make the search engine so effective. Advertisers tell Google how much they want to spend, then “buy” pertinent keywords. When users type in a matching term, the ad appears near the search results under the heading “Sponsored Links.” Each time a user clicks on the ad, Google subtracts the cost-per-click from the advertiser’s account. When the account’s daily budget is met, Google stops displaying the ad.

So far the system has proven easy to use and remarkably effective. Roughly 15 percent of ads displayed adjacent to Google searches (at the company’s own Web site and on Google-powered sites like Yahoo! and AOL) result in clickthroughs – more than 10 times the click rate of the average banner ad. These clickthroughs are the golden leads of online commerce. One Dow Chemical business group reported 25 percent of its traffic comes through Google. Designer Hospital Gowns, a health care industry Web site, boosted sales 20 percent in six months.

AdWords has worked so well that last year Google began offering the system to other sites as a way for them to provide targeted ads. The new service, AdSense, places ads on Web sites of all stripes, from ABC.com and The New York Times on the Web to quirky blogs like Bananathing!

Pinpoint targeting has always been the goal for advertising, but has been unattainable for a couple of reasons. First, content providers have rarely been able to deliver to marketers enough well-described and narrowly focused consumers. Second, even when marketers get the perfect audience, they rarely have targeted ads; it costs too much to make multiple variations for micro-audiences. AdSense strips away these barriers.

Using Google’s relevance-scoring algorithms, AdSense determines ad placement by analyzing the content of Web pages. The system delivers advertisers to the right niche publishers – and vice versa – automatically. What’s more, it allows those advertisers to customize their ads for free. And because Google has a vast inventory to choose from, there’s almost always a well-targeted ad to serve. No human has to intuit what’s going to work for what audience; the stats pick the best match.

Web Advertising Comeback

WSJ writes:

Web ads, not long ago a wasteland of over-hyped expectations, are making a comeback. After rushing to advertise online in the 1990s, many companies wound up disappointed and dropped Internet ads altogether. Today, some are coming back, lured by an improving economy, lower rates and better technologies for tracking potential customers.

Online ad spending climbed 20% last year to $7.2 billion. Yahoo Inc.’s ad revenue surged 84% last year. Analysts estimate revenues were up threefold at the closely held search titan Google, which doesn’t disclose results. Forrester Research Inc., a market-research firm, estimates Web-ad spending will grow as much as 23% in 2004.

Many advertisers have figured out how to use techniques that only the Web can offer — including ways that let them capture names and data of consumers, measure results of Internet-ad campaigns and track the paths of consumers from the ads they view to the date and place of purchase.

The article has an extensive case study on Mitsubishi.

TECH TALK: As India Develops: A Tutorial on Development

The India of today is still largely agriculture-driven, in that a majority of its people are dependent on agriculture. How can India develop? We need to understand the process of development, and in the case of India, also rural India and poverty. These are complex topics the stuff that economists thrive on. But an understanding of the basics of development and the realities of India are important if we are going to understand the opportunities that will be created as India develops, and the role we can play in Indias development.

I present here a brief tutorial on development. Our guide is Atanu Dey. Besides being the driver for Deeshaa (in which I am also a participant), Atanu has a background in technology and development economics. More importantly, his latticework of mental models makes understanding of even the most complex topics easy. Atanu and I found each other via the Internet, through Reuben. Over the past six months, Atanu has been in India working to put together a venture to help transform rural India.

I have sourced Atanus writings from his weblog on Development.

Atanu takes us through the process of development: Before the Information Age was the Industrial Age. Policy was then focused on ways to make the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Among the various models (such as export-led growth, import-substitution industrialization, and others) there was one that was called ‘agricultural demand led industrialization’, or ADLI, which was pioneered by Irma Adelman. ADLI recognized that cost-reducing technological change increased agricultural productivity and thus increased rural incomes. Increased rural incomes provided a demand boost for manufactured goods both for consumption as well as for use in agricultural production. The increased demand for domestically manufactured goods raised wages which in turn were spent on the consumption of agricultural output. On the labor side of the market, as agricultural productivity increased, labor shifted from the agricultural sector to the manufacturing sector. Thus the industrialization of the population was achieved at pace with the labor transition and was based on increased agricultural productivity attained through the use of appropriate technology.

Irma Adelmans views on development are elaborated in a paper entitled Development History and its Implications for Development Theory: An Editorial, co-authored with Cynthia Taft Morris.

Atanu elaborates on the link between agriculture and development in the Indian context:

What does “moving away from an agricultural economy” mean? If by ‘agricultural economy’ one means an economy that is mainly agricultural, then clearly India’s being an agricultural economy is problematic. The reason is that India is a very large country population wise, compared to a country such as New Zealand. NZ can be an agricultural country and yet be developed because its production and consequent exports are sufficient to earn it a decent national income. India cannot be a developed nation and continue to be agricultural because it can never earn enough from agricultural exports to make a decent living. To illustrate this point, let’s do some arithmetic.

Let us assume that for a country to be developed, its per capita income must be $10,000 per year. Currently, India’s per capita annual income is about 5% of that, or about a 20th of the income required to be a developed nation. Our agricultural production accounts for about a quarter of our GDP. So for agriculture alone to raise India’s GDP to that of a developed country level, Indian agricultural production will have to increase 80 fold at least. Now of this 80 fold increase, we can only consume perhaps twice as much food as we currently produce and consume. So the rest of the humongous output will have to be exported. If one tries to export even a 10th of that amount, the world prices will crash close enough to zero that it will not be worth even picking the produce from the fields.

This is not the case with NZ because a couple of million people have to export only so much to get a decent income. Their exports do not affect their terms of trade so adversely that they become impoverished. A 1000 million people who wish to depend solely on their agricultural incomes to become developed cannot ever hope to do so because there is a limit to how much food humans can consume.

For India to develop, there is no way other than moving away from agriculture. By that I don’t mean that we give up agriculture or reduce our production. I only mean that instead of 66 percent of our labor force being in agriculture, we have to steadily reduce that to something like 10 or 20 percent at most in the medium term and to single digit percentages in the long term. When labor does make that transition, then the released labor has to be absorbed in manufacturing and services sectors. This is a natural progression, come to think of it.

Natural because first we need food. Then we need non-food stuff such as clothes and shelter and vehicles and roads and books and computers and shoes and ships and sealing wax etc. All that stuff has to be manufactured. Once we have food and manufactured stuff, we need services such as education and dentistry and dancing and musicals and movies and psychiatry and what nots. This entire edifice is built upon the agricultural sector because without it producing food, no manufacturing nor services would occur. Of course, if we got super good in manufacturing, we could export that and buy food. Or if we got super good in services (BPO or what have you), we could export that and buy food and manufactures. The trouble is that India has a very huge population. And therefore if we ever specialize (that is do only one thing), then we would be forced to produce in such great quantities to export the stuff that the world price of that (food, manufactures, services) will crash and we will not be able to survive.

The bottom line is this: A large economy has to be largely self-sufficient. It has to produce food, manufactures, and services domestically and it has to consume most of what it produces domestically as well. Only small economies can afford to specialize and survive through trade.

Tomorrow: A Tutorial on Development (continued)

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