John Doerr on Various Webs

News.com writes about statements made by Google board member and investor John Doerr:

Doerr said he thought of the next phases of Internet development in terms of the scientific theory known as string theory, which posits that there are seven parallel universes. The “near” Web represents the PC; the “far” Web stands for television; the “here” Web represents mobile devices; the “business to business” Web for XML, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and other backend technologies; and the “weird” Web is for 3D experiences or virtual worlds that could be developed. Doerr said he had yet to come up with the seventh.

One area for growing business interest would be targeted services for the explosive “near” Web, such as social services and tracking services, Doerr said.

Jeremy Zawodny has more.

Simple Home Security

News.com has an article by Jon Oltsik of Enterprise Strategy Group:

With data speeds increasing and monthly charges now within range of most family budgets, you should expect a sharp increase in Internet usage across a range of devices from PCs and telephones to stereos and refrigerators. But that will inevitably invite more attacks from worms, viruses, Trojan horses and malicious hackers.

Here’s the problem. As more bandwidth and devices connect to the Internet, the home network starts to get complex. Suddenly, you need security software on every device in the house. You have to manage configuration changes, patch vulnerabilities, filter content and download the latest antivirus signatures all over the house. Soon, dad has taken on a new role as the family security administrator. If the old man lacks these skills or ignores routine tasks, every system is at risk.

I don’t know about you, but I barely have enough time to hang out with my kids, keep up with the bills, walk the dog and mow the lawn. I don’t want to fill my precious few moments of personal time with maintaining residential firewall rules or deleting spyware.

What’s needed is a simple home security service with two dominant features:

  • The security service must not require any security knowledge. Upon installation, the security service asks me a few simple questions (in English, mind you), and then configures itself to my needs. It is dynamic in that it continues to maintain my security, even as threats change.

  • All I have to do to preserve my security protection is pay a monthly bill. My estimate is that this service would cost between $5 and $15 per month.

  • Wal-Mart and IT

    Infomation Week offers insights:

    The nucleus of the IT infrastructure, [CIO Linda] Dillman presides over is a single, centralized, 423-terabyte Teradata system that churns data from 1,387 discount stores, 1,615 Supercenters, 542 Sam’s Clubs, and 75 Neighborhood Markets in the United States, plus 1,520 more stores worldwide. “That’s key to how we can leverage what we do into the future,” says Dan Phillips. The VP of operations, data warehousing, databases, large systems, and communications led the IT effort when Wal-Mart opened its first international unit, a Sam’s Club store in Polanco, a suburb of Mexico City, and was a critical player in the company’s decision in 1995 to bring together all its businesses under a common IT system for distribution, replenishment, and so on. “The common system, centrally managed, is our competitive advantage at Wal-Mart,” enabling the same data set for both buyers and suppliers, he says.

    Wal-Mart in the 1990s tried having IT executives report to the business, a “well-intentioned” but not well-executed experiment, Phillips says. “We lost touch with what was going on in [the IT group] and with being able to leverage the synergies of being able to do everything for everyone.”

    Key to Wal-Mart’s development efforts today is its build-it-once-for-all-systems mentality. That means build it for both domestic and global operations–the retailer’s growing international presence encompasses operations in nine countries and Puerto Rico, including the most recent acquisitions of Brazil’s Bompreco in March . “When you’re writing the code, you automate, enhance, and change processes globally,” says Tony Puckett, VP of international systems. As Wal-Mart learns from its experiences in new countries–about Brazil’s complex tax structure, for instance–“we bring back the structure into our core system and that becomes a tool we have in the future,” he says.

    Today, Wal-Mart captures all the day’s sales and product data across its global operations on an hourly basis. Database queries can start running as soon as data is available. That ability comes in handy, particularly on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when Wal-Mart buyers start watching what’s happening in stores at 6 a.m. on the East Coast, then use that data to make decisions in real time that can affect the big day’s sales. Wal-Mart once used its data prowess on a Black Friday to query sales of a PC advertised in a circular; when execs found out it wasn’t selling well, they called stores and discovered the reason was that customers thought they had to pay separately for the system and monitor. So store clerks quickly put the two boxes together and spelled out the pay-one-price deal in a sign. “We’ve done a lot of work for performance and availability, and making sure the data is current,” Phillips says.

    Organising Our Photo Archive

    Wired has an article by David Weinberger on the challenge we will all face in organising the photos htat we will take with our digital cameras:

    Digital cameras already capture critical data points at the moment the shutter clicks. Most models record – in the image file itself – not only the date and time a photo was taken but also the focal length, the aperture setting, and whether the flash fired. These tidbits can provide clues about whether the photo was taken indoors or out, during the day or at night, focusing on something close up or far away. Scanty metadata, but potentially helpful.

    But why limit the possibilities to what today’s cameras can do? The image file format most cameras use includes fields for longitude and latitude, in anticipation of the day when global positioning systems are built in. That day could be soon. Cell phones already gather some positioning information, and by the end of 2005 all new cell phones in the US will be locatable to within 500 feet or so. Establish a Bluetooth wireless connection between phone and camera and the camera will know where it is. Web sites already exist that use GPS data to let you upload photos pegged to spots on maps, and a Stanford research project compares photos with shots of known locations, automatically annotating snaps with information about where they were taken.

    Combine location data with a database that knows about places and public events and you can pinpoint pictures of Aunt Rose at the international volleyball semifinals. Link that with her personal calendar and you can differentiate between shots taken at the volleyball tournament and those shot at her 61st birthday beach party later the same day.

    But there’s even more metadata waiting to be gathered without lifting a finger. Presumably the most important pictures are the ones viewed, printed, or emailed most often. When it comes to searching for photos, that information can play the same role as the number of links to a Web page in Google’s ranking algorithms.

    Since the introduction of the Kodak Brownie more than 100 years ago, we’ve thought of photos as shiny paper rectangles stacked in shoe boxes or pasted to dusty albums, to be hauled out when we’re feeling sentimental. But the connected world in which we live suggests a different approach. Private snaps are migrating to the Web as well as to closed social networks such as Flickr, where they potentially belong as much to their subjects as the person wielding the camera. If your family members could browse through your photos whenever they wanted, you wouldn’t have to tag the photos featuring Aunt Rose, because she could do it herself. So could her children. Or crazy Uncle Fred, who has too much time on his hands.

    And this may be the key to the future of photo management: Rather than locking pictures away, we’ll make them public. Technology will imbue our images with a broader, deeper sense of shared memory. Our ways of finding photos will change – and with them, our ways of remembering.

    Personal Web

    Adam Rifkin estimates the size of the personal web, and writes: “Personal Webs with recommender systems that take into account what I like to read and write, and what people I trust like to read and write, is the only way to make sure those 21 Gigabytes count.”

    Yahoo’s launch of its personal search is interesting. Chris Sherman writes:

    The new My Yahoo Search is well implemented and easy to use, but doesn’t offer compelling reasons to use it unless you’re looking for what amounts to an enhanced bookmark utility that’s tied to Yahoo search results. It’s great to see companies like Yahoo and Ask Jeeves taking baby steps toward true personalization of search results. And I fully expect to see more robust features and enhancements to personal search from both search engines, probably in the very near future.

    But for now, my reaction is “that’s nice,” as I continue my daily use of personal web managers like search engine independent, industrial strength Furl.

    TECH TALK: The Network Computer: Google OS/PC/Browser

    Rich Skrenta wrote about Googles platform shortly after the launch of its Gmail service in April:

    Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It’s running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It’s looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application.

    While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.

    This computer is running the world’s top search engine, a social networking service, a shopping price comparison engine, a new email service, and a local search/yellow pages engine. What will they do next with the world’s biggest computer and most advanced operating system?

    Jason Kottke added: [Googles] real target is Windows. Who needs Windows when anyone can have free unlimited access to the world’s fastest computer running the smartest operating system? Mobile devices don’t need big, bloated OSes…they’ll be perfect platforms for accessing the GooOS. Using Gnome and Linux as a starting point, Google should design an OS for desktop computers that’s modified to use the GooOS and sell it right alongside Windows ($200) at CompUSA for $10/apiece (available free online of course). Google Office (Goffice?) will be built in, with all your data stored locally, backed up remotely, and available to whomever it needs to be (SubEthaEdit-style collaboration on Word/Excel/PowerPoint-esque documents is only the beginning). Email, shopping, games, music, news, personal publishing, etc.; all the stuff that people use their computers for, it’s all there.

    Headshifts Lee wrote: The concept of a Google OS is a more fundamental danger to the Windows cash cow that Microsoft is based upon. A distributed system powered by Google’s computing and search power, but which is run through a browser and Web services, could simply render Windows obsolete.

    Of late, there has been a lot of speculation about Google and the possibility that it may be creating its own browser. Googles goal would be to create its own alternative to counter the integration that Microsofts Longhorn would offer between desktop computing and the Internet. Google is in an excellent position given its dominance in search to create alternative computing platforms. Business Week also argued that Google should be in the browser bizThe move would be key in helping the outfit expand beyond search, tie its many offerings together, and hold off Microsoft.

    Morgan Stanleys Mary Meeker wrote in a recent report on Google: Particularly, with the launch of Gmail, we became intrigued at the possibility that Google could create a distributed computing model layered over user-generated content. Right now users can have 1GB of webmail storagebut with potentially tens of thousands of servers, and commensurately cheap storage space, we wonder about the possibility of Google providing a thin application desktop that resides on the browser, where users could jot brief notes (GWord?), do basic calculations (GExcel?), and of course, search. The April 2004 registration of gbrowser.com by Google could lend some credibility to this line of thinking. Ultimately, we believe the company could have a significant opportunity ahead of it in Search / Find / Obtain well beyond the Google.com domain.

    Monday: Browser as Network Computer?

    Continue reading