Communicontent

Russell Beattie writes:

I think that there *will* be a killer app for the mobile phone, but one that works with its underlying essence of communication. And this is where communicontent comes in.

Communicontent to me, is a byproduct of communication where traditional content is magically created. As a corollary, the forms of communication that can best be expressed as content almost naturally become communicontent. See this weblog? This is communicontent. I used to drive my friends on mailing lists crazy by writing all these long, in-depth emails. Now I just write all the same thoughts in my weblog instead. The only difference is that the viewers aren’t restricted. I’m still just communicating my personal thoughts. It’s communication, but because it’s been captured in a fixed state to be found later, it’s also content.

This is more than just the famous “user generated content.” If I take a picture (content I’ve generated) it doesn’t really matter until I decide I want to send that picture to someone. Then it becomes something different. The act of communicating that piece of content makes it more special. In practical terms, it simply adds more meta-data at the very minimum: a title, a description, a place, etc. But it also gives it an inherent value as well: I think this is important enough to send, therefore you may want to think it’s important enough to take time to look at.

TV2ME

Bob Cringely writes about Ken Schaffer’s project:

Schaffer’s system, called TV2ME, is for the moment strictly a point-to-point solution, so you can watch YOUR TV in another city or country, but you can’t necessarily share that signal with anyone else. Yeah, right.

The current system, which costs $4,500-$6,500 (remember, this is a guy who sold $4400 microphones), is a Dell PC with a custom video capture board that you have to hook up at your house or whatever place it is where you want to capture local TV. So this is not for the faint of heart or the faint of wallet. But if you have an apartment in Moscow, as Schaffer does, it’s easy. The Moscow Dell is connected to the local cable system (actually wireless cable in Schaffer’s part of Moscow), and can be controlled over the Internet from any computer with a broadband connection anywhere in the world. Most of Schaffer’s early customers are notebook-toting rock stars who don’t want to miss their favorite soccer matches while on tour. For fixed installations, he’ll rig up IR remote controls and big screens, but many customers also watch TV over WiFi at Starbucks.

If all of this seems too far from your personal experience, let’s think about it in different terms. That $4,400 Schaffer wireless microphone is now mass-produced for $300. If all the brains of Schaffer’s video capture board (that’s where the secret sauce is stored) were reduced to an ASIC, TV2ME could be a $100 product, and probably will be at some point.

But what blew me away this week when I saw a demo of TV2ME in Schaffer’s cluttered New York apartment was the quality of the image. Sending live TV over the Internet is a very difficult thing to do, especially over distances like that from Moscow to New York. There are live TV feeds from Moscow available today, and they look terrible no matter how much bandwidth you have. But Schaffer’s feed, running at an average of 384 kilobits-per-second, looks like TV. When you change channels to any of the 60 or so on the Moscow cable system, it takes about 10 seconds to rebuffer, and then you have TV. Amazing!

The Technology Buyer’s Manifesto

Troy Angrignon writes a letter to technology companies: “We have been hanging out with each other for quite a while now, years actually. And like any good relationship, sometimes one has to say things in a way that are so clear, so unequivocal, that their meaning can not possibly be misinterpreted. And it hurts to hear words spoken so bluntly but sometimes it is necessary. Now is one of those times. Please accept the following sometimes harsh words in the spirit in which they are intended – the opener in an honest, bright-light-of-day discussion about how our relationship has been these many years past and how it must change in the future in order for me to continue partnering with you.”

Enterprise Service Bus

[via Phil Wainewright] Bob Sutor writes: “An ESB is something you build for your enterprise or organization to give you the connection architecture you need to meet your IT and business goals. It can be built incrementally from multiple products and it needs to support the performance, reliability, and range of protocols that real, non-toy infrastructures require. If you have enterprise messaging products in place now or are about to install them, you have an ESB and a strong basis for future expansion and use of developing standards.”

India’s Century?

Indra Sharma writes about the various positives, including large talent pool, high potential demand, emerging player in the commodity markets, huge number of quality private entrepreneurs and world class manufacturing management practices and managerial excellence. He adds: “India will be a prominent player in the global economy. However, many things are to be improved. Infrastructure of roads, ports, power, telecom must become world class. Man made administrative hurdles and red tapes must go. Labour productivity must be allowed to grow near world level. All that will be necessary for a country moving towards strong and sustainable growth to get a palce in super power club and a nation that becomes recognized and respected globally.”

TECH TALK: CommPuting Grid: Recent Developments

Grid computing is about sharing processing power. The lead story in the Business section of one of the recent issues (October 7, 2004) of The Economist provides an update on the efforts to create a computer the size of the world.

The stated goal of grid computing is to create a worldwide network of computers interconnected so well and so fast that they act as one. Yet most of the time, this over-hyped catchphrase is used to describe rather mundane improvements that allow companies to manage their workload more flexibly by tapping into idle time on their computers. At a meeting on computing in high-energy physics held in late September in Interlaken, Switzerland, physicists and engineers reviewed progress towards an altogether more ambitious type of computing grid, which aims to create a truly seamless system.

Physicists’ demand for computing power is being spurred by the flood of data that will pour out of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the next-generation particle smasher due to start operation in 2007 at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva. This machine will produce some 15 petabytes (millions of billions of bytes) of data a year…Some 100,000 of today’s fastest personal computerswith accompanying bits and bobs such as tape and disk storage and high-speed networking equipmentwill be needed to analyse all this data.

The decision to build a distributed computing system to deal with this deluge of data predates the hype about grid technology and is purely pragmatic: it would be difficult to fund the necessary computational power and storage capacity if it were concentrated on one site. If, on the other hand, the computations are distributed among the hundreds of institutes worldwide that are involved in the LHC, each institute can tap into national or regional funding sources to raise cash, spreading the pain.

The vision of a single grid, in the same sense that most users perceive a single web, remains a long way off.

Not all problems are best solved using the distributed clusters that underpin grids. True supercomputers are irreplaceable for some scientific problems, such as weather forecasting, where many processors must communicate frequently with one another. At the other extreme, scavenging spare computer power from personal computers on the internet is proving an increasingly effective approach for problems that can be split into a large number of small, independent parts. SETI@home, a screensaver which was the first and remains the best-known of these programs, uses idle time to analyse radio signals, looking for messages from aliens. For now, SETI@home is still the largest of these projects, although a new general-purpose platform called BOINC has been launched to tackle more diverse problems.

Dan Farber wrote in the September 2004 issue of Release 1.0: To date, grid computing has been used to coordinate computing resources from multiple owners to handle a single large scientific task, such as the SETI@Home project, which harnesses 5 million PCs to search for deep-space radio signals from extraterrestrials, or IBMs Butterfly.net, which uses a grid for a multiplayer game network. Grid.org, a website for large-scale research projects powered by Austin-based United Devices grid computing solution, harnesses 2.5 million systems in more than 225 countries to deliver in excess of 150 teraflops of power to applications. Using grid.org, the Anthrax Research Project screened 3.57 billion molecules for suitability as a treatment for advanced-stage anthrax in 24 days. The screening would have taken years using conventional methods…The next phase for grid computing is to apply grid computing and IT automation concepts broadly as a framework for administering commercial enterprise IT infrastructure.

Monday: Recent Developments (continued)

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