Envisioning a Leapfrogged World

WorldChanging (Vinay Gupta) outlines “what a ‘Leapfrogged’ world might look like, one in which smart use was made of available technologies. In a sense, this Leapfrogged World is already around us, it’s just very heavily mixed in with both the traditional-technologies world and the direct-copy-of-worst-practices world.”

Leapfrogging… is the idea that countries without basic infrastructure like universal telecommunications can go directly to the best, most fitting solutions without having labor through the developmental struggle of telegraph, manually-switched telephony, direct-dial, brick-sized cell phones, analog cell phones, 3G digital. They just hop straight to 3G, piggybacking off the enormous human and capital investements it took to get there.

Leapfrogging is said to be a great equalizing force because the rich nations have already paid the price of developing these technologies, competition among companies in those nations keeps the technologies cheap, and the world’s poor gets the benefits. The poster-child for Leapfrogging is the the cellphone.

If you question the value of the consumer society, please remember that the only reason that the peasants in China have cell phones is because the people in LA demanded them (and were willing and able to pay) them 20 years ago!

Reinventing Online Calendaring

Jeremy Zawodny outlines his wishlist:

I’ve often wished for a web-based calendar that didn’t suck but they all seem to. I want something that:

* plugs nicely into my e-mail client (Thunderbird)
* has busy search capabilities, invites, and other scheduling aids
* syncs with modern hand-held devices and mobile phones
* does resource scheduling (conference rooms, summer houses, whatever)
* handles conflict resolution and notification
* sends reminders and alerts
* sports a sane permission system
* produces RSS feeds
* provides vCal support
* is presented with a modern, slick DHTML interface
* good Web Service APIs

Tagging

Salon writes about “the Web’s newest game, lets you see what other people are reading and thinking.”

Tagging has the potential to spread beyond just a few creative Web sites. Users of Google’s Gmail can add “labels” to their e-mail messages — the equivalent of tags for e-mail. Matthew MacLaurin, a program manager in the social computing group at Microsoft Research, thinks that tags are the future for computer desktop organization: “I personally believe that, over time, tags will rival, if not replace, folders as a primary way that users create organization … Eventually it will be more like folder names — unnoticed and absolutely essential.”

There’s something brilliantly lazy about tags. You don’t have to look up categories that your information fits into, predetermined by a Web designer. You just tack whatever comes to mind onto whatever you are doing, and move on to the next thing.

“Humans like to group stuff by whatever is convenient. That’s the revolution that’s going on here,” says Anselm Hook, 37, who lives on a farm in Scappoose, Ore., where he wrote the code for Books We Like, a book recommendation site that uses tagging. “Tags let people do things by voluntary organization, not what a scientist says or what some organization has done to classify things. It’s a much more folksy, grass-roots application.”

The Non-Hierarchical Web

David Galbraith writes:

It seems like a small thing, but day after day I can’t help thinking that there is a distinct pattern to the business model of things such as the Associated Press going more and more down the route of using open syndication rather than traditional distribution partners.

Wikipedia vs. Brittanica
Writer Branded Blogs vs. Media Brands
Tags vs. Taxonomies
Slashdot vs. Peer Review
Metacritic vs. Critic

What all these things do is place ordinary people or individual nuggets of information as nodes in a non-hierarchical web rather than a series of disconnected pyramid hierarchies.

The way the web looks to the end user, the way it looks to publishers and the way it works in terms of money flow are starting to look the same as the underlying technology – a non hierarchical web.

And the really interesting thing about webs, is that is how the real word works – things that look like hierarchies, like species taxonomies are in fact snapshot renderings of a non-hierarchical web.

David Weinberger has more about taxonomies and tags.

Digital Lifestyle Aggregator

[via Marc Canter] Barb Dybwad writes:

I am still hooked on Marc Canters concept of the Digital Lifestyle Aggregator. Think of it as a local node that lets us have the best of both worlds: the awesome informative and communicative power of the distributed internet, and the centralization/aggregation of those bits of information created by, or most relevant to, an individual person.

So now I want my DLA to have both a front end and a back end – a public and private view. The public view will contains all of the data bits I want to be social:

* my bookmarks (an aggregate collection of del.icio.us, Furl, Spurl, and any future -url that may come into being)
* my public photos (an aggregate of my Flickr photos and well, no other service is worth mentioning, really ;))
* my blogs (an aggregate of The Unofficial Apple Weblog, this blog, my businesss blog, my personal blog, all of my photoblogs, and all the future blogs)
* posts I have made on other blogs (see sidebar on this blog for a woefully incomplete list of conversations)
* posts that I have made in message boards (trickier)
* some sort of aggregate of my media collection, media tastes and/or media recommendations (pull in last.fm, musicmobs.com, Netflixs social component, All Consuming, when will the itunes Music Store get a comprehensive social component? etc.)
* public calendar, commentable. I want to broadcast where Ill be, recommend events to others, and I want them to be able to recommend events to me.
* extra-blog conversation interface: my blogs are driven by my own posts, but I want a way for my friends/colleagues to be able to initiate messages and questions for me, as well: publically and privately. A sort of email/message board hybrid.
* An aggregate of my aggregates: syndicate my blogroll(s) for others to enjoy, and be able to leave local comments on. They can participate in any discussion on the external blog too, of course, but it would be cool to have the option to start up a more localized discussion on the post, as well.

On the private site of the DLA, I want aggregated everything that is relevant to interacting with my digital life: a centralized dashboard of sorts. It would include things like:

* Interface to bank accounts, credit card accounts, other online bill payments
* interface to all memberships and subscription services: Netflix, iTunes Music Store, etc.
* Interface to my cell phone plans (I am on Sprint and Cingular now on two different phones): how many minutes Ive used, how many remain, how many MMS/SMS messages Ive sent on Cingular because theyre annoyingly stingy about that.
* Interface to Gmail and to pop mail accounts via webmail
* Interface to any online orders Ive placed and their status (not processed, shipped, FedEx tracking #s, etc.)
* Interface to all 8 gazillion social networking services of which I am a member or user
* Drag and drop interface to post to Flickr
* Blog posting interface to all blogs
* Interface to my also imaginary AI bot agents who have been diligently scraping the web according to provided search terms and concepts (may as well shoot for the moon here, right? :))
* A del.icio.us-style note-taking application that functions almost exactly the same way except: a) notes are not tied to URLs, they can just be freeform thoughts and b) each note has a public/private flag

TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Advertising and Innovations (Part 2)

Dave Morgan writes on Sell-Side Advertising: Advertisers would create large pools of ads designed to deliver measurable performance. They would tag those ads with relevant targeting and performance metrics, such as offer, target audience, target context, desired results, timing, desired volume, and price. After selecting appropriate ads and “registering” them with the advertisers, publishers would distribute and target these ads on their sites, leveraging proprietary data about their audience and site to maximize ad performance. Ads that worked well would get more volume; those that didn’t would be pulled. In this model, the publisher becomes the marketing service company. It would not only know the true value of its audience to marketers, it would control and own it.

Christopher Carfi: It is only a matter of time before the flatness of the web becomes mirrored in how people use their local systems, and maybe even in how those systems are organized. With a solid desktop search engine, why should I bother to put things in folders anymore? I can put everything in one place, and the search engine will find it for me. My job just got easierI no longer think of my machine as a separate entity from the Internet. It just happens to be the nearest nodeOf course, this only works well for things that are easily indexable. The images that are fairly flying from camera phones will still need to be indexed, as will the podcasts and the videos and all the other “rich media” out there. That is, until someone figures out a cost-effective way to automatically extract and index metadata from these types or artifacts.

There is perhaps no other area that is seeing as much excitement and innovation as Search. Rarely a week goes by without some announcement by the majors or the arrival of yet another Google-killer. Take a look at some of the recent launches and extensions: MSN Search has launched its new, revamped search engine with its home-grown technology to provide answers rather than results, Y!Q from Yahoo offers contextual search and Amazons A9 has launched a yellow pages search engine with street photos of millions of businesses. Google also launched a small-business version of its enterprise search appliance. Meanwhile, action on video, local and the desktop search fronts continues. Companies like Gurunet (Answers.com), Blinkx, PubSub, Feedster and Technorati are focused on niches in the search space.

So, everyone seems to be running hard to just stay in place. But are they running the right race?

Tomorrow: Whats Changing

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