India and GE

WSJ writes about GE’s role in India’s outsourcing boom:

India today earns more than $17 billion from corporations world-wide seeking low-cost overseas talent to do everything from write software to collect debts to design semiconductors. GE in large measure stoked the phenomenon, playing an unheralded role as the Johnny Appleseed of India Inc. and reaping billions in savings for itself along the way.

GE’s technology partnership with India came amid the country’s economic opening, which began in 1991 when New Delhi began systematically dismantling tariff and export controls. Indian executives say early investments by GE in India gave their technology and business service sectors crucial credibility and cash when other companies still viewed the country as a risky backwater. Moreover, exposure to Mr. Welch’s culture of cost-cutting and efficiency taught them business skills they are now using to compete globally, often against U.S. firms.

Community Blogging

Stephen Downes posts his “talk from the Northern Voice conference, February 19, 2005, Vancouver. An analysis of community as it emerges in blogging: how it is formed, how it should reshape the blogosphere, and how it can be implemented (quite easily) technologically. And along the way, deflating a few pet concepts of the blogerati, such as the value of the long tail and the utility of tagging.”

Our New World

Doc Searls writes: “The networked market where we live now is one in which the demand side also has the power to supply. With its long-tail, what we used to call consumers become the largest source of producers. We’ve been seeing this for years with free software and open source, and are now seeing it with blogging and podcasting. This new market condition, with its abundance of producing consumers, is one where relationships will matter as much as authority (a factor Google highlights with PageRank), attention (a factor Steve Gillmor, David Sifry and others will bring to the fore with attention.xml), syndication and enclosure (both of which Dave Winer has been driving with RSS), and identity (which a whole gaggle of folks are driving).”

Beyond Client/Server

Always-On Network quotes Network World president and editorial director John Gallant:

I think that opportunities around the new data center will be the most intriguing and lucrative for the coming years. By new data center, I mean the evolving infrastructure that will help companies reduce complexity and provide better support for new services-oriented applications. For three specific examples, I would focus on new models of computing that provide for greater virtualization of the compute resourceeither new hardware models like that of Azul Systems [which envisions using Java-based application servers to tap into a pool of on-demand compute power] or new software that provides a layer of virtualization, such as the model being proposed by Cassatt Corp. [which aims to help companies make better use of their existing Windows/Linux computing and storage infrastructure by providing a layer of softwarecalled Collagethat knits everything together into an on-demand environment, with no retrofitting required for existing systems]. Second, I would focus on more intelligent networking gear that provides a great level of inherent security and better support for distributed applications. Third, I would focus on management tools that provide a more holistic view of this new computing environment.

‘Prepare for the most significant change in our industry since the beginning of the Internet boom.’ We’re moving beyond client-server into a new computing future that is not entirely clear. We’re trying to virtualize the infrastructure and streamline it, and we’re building a new generation of apps that strain the client-server model. Vendors have various names for this new computing environmentdynamic, adaptive, on-demandand you’ll have to understand how your strategic partners will (and won’t ) take you into this new environment and how new, innovative companies can help. Be prepared for major changes in the vendor landscape as a result. These changes offer opportunityas long as you don’t get locked into a limited vision of the future.

Mobile Phones Future

Always-On has some forward-looking statements:

Gerry Purdy: (Dr. Purdy is a principal analyst for MobileTrax and a venture consultant with Diamondhead Ventures.) Let’s talk about the dynamics of the content market and how they’re going to change over the next few years. A few years out, fall of 2007: If you were using a mobile device, what would we be talking about that would be substantially different from today? In the dynamics or the content or the way things work, popularity.

Fabrice Grinda: (Mr. Grinda is CEO of Zingy.) Just in these four categories my ringtone would be a video club, whatever you see on MTV. My wallpaper rings would probably be one category. On the messaging side I would be sending video mails to my girlfriend instead of sending her a text SMS. I would have geolocalized information. And we’d have broadband access on our devices. So we’d be a big mobile Amazon of mobile media selling all these different product categories. It would be a lot more sophisticated. What will happen is by then independent brands, be it ourselves, Walt Disney, or other large brands would probably control a larger portion of this than they do today where the carrier execs are controlling most of the distribution.

Larry Shapiro: (Mr. Shapiro is executive vice president for North American mobile, Walt Disney Internet Group.) As you look toward the new handsets, new screens, different chip sets, the next generation of games is Game Boy Advance quality. We’re right around the corner from Game Boy Advance quality. One of the interesting things that comes about is you don’t know who is going to win, but it is a battle of the Titans, if you will, because you will have Sony and Nintendo with their handheld devices and in that whole games universe, and you’ll have all these carriers and device manufacturersthe Samsungs and Nokias of the world. And in the handheld gaming area the potential for an all-out brutal world. It will be interesting. I have no idea what is going to happen in terms of because you are already holding a phone and it’s at a great price, and you can upgrade it every year, and all that kind of stuff, whether your phone makes the notion of having a handheld game device as important to youbecause the quality on your phone is going to be at that level by next Christmas.

Michel Wendell: (Mr. Wendell is a general partner with Nexit Ventures.) I think three to five years from now still the entertainment and self-expression and so forth will probably be the biggest market. One of the markets that will have grown to be clearly noticeable at that point is a more utilitarian use of the phone. Pay for your metro ticket; order your fast food meal; do a bunch of stuff that we are starting to use the internet for. We’re using the internet or our PCs for it today because that’s the only way it works, but it’s not like that is our choice. Usually those kinds of things you need to do specifically at a certain point in a certain place.

Tim Bray Interview

ACM Queue has an interview with Tim Bray, who “founded a visualization software company called Antarctica Systems. He joined Sun Microsystems in 2004 as director of Web technologies.” Tim talks about what he’s currently doing:

I should talk a little bit about syndication because thats really where a large proportion of my energies are going. Clearly, if you look at RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and you look at the growth rates and adoption curves, it looks a whole lot like what we saw on the Web in 93 and 94. There are currently more than 3 million syndication feeds. Theyre growing at the rate of approximately 14,000 per day. There are on the order of 300,000 new posts per day, and those curves all have that same shape that we were looking at 10 years ago.

This is hot stuff. People are using it. Clearly this is a new model of communicating information that has some sort of a sweet spot in the spectrum of communications. We dont know what it is yet because were just getting into this. But clearly, people like it.

Two issues have come out of this. One is the whole notion of the spectrum of communication. If I wish to interact with somebody, I have a lot of choices: I can sit down in a room with that person, like I am with you; or I can talk over the phone or, increasingly, over videophone; or I can chat on IRC (Internet Relay Chat); or I can send an e-mail, post to my blog, or work on paper.

The incremental cost of a small or medium quantum of communication is about the same in all of themits about zero. So, were faced with a choice about how were going to deal out our communications across this menu of media. It should be fun to watch.

In any case, the world of RSS has been kind of wild and woolly and prone to flaming and bad behavior, and partly as a result, there are a lot of versions and none of them is specified that well. So Im co-chairing an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) working group that is publishing a protocol under the name Atom that tries to capture all of the prior art in this stage and might provide a good basis for winding down the syndication wars. I think its going to have an impact.

TECH TALK: The Future of Search: Information Dashboards

As we have discussed, Search is an excellent interface for the Reference Web. What then is the interface for the Incremental Web? Todays RSS Aggregators are a good start but their limitations become all too apparent as the list of subscriptions grows.

The challenge is to manage this flow of events through the subscriptions. There are projects like AttentionXML which promise to provide a solution to this problem. My belief is that we will need to fundamentally rethink of the interface itself and not just the underlying technology. This is because we consume different information sources differently.

For example, on my aggregator, I may have maybe 20 A-List feeds feeds which I want to see with all the new items outlined somewhat like Samachar. I may then have another 100-200 B-List feeds which I want to see on-demand or via a river of news style aggregator. Other feeds may be single-item feeds the closing stock market index, or the cricket scores, or the weather. In addition, I may have subscribed to a number of tags from a multitude of different sources.

In essence, as RSS becomes the de facto standard for syndicating information, how the information is consumed will need to be controlled by the user. This is where the Information Dashboard will come in. It will need to give the user the flexibility to package collections of RSS feeds for viewing for different experiences these could be based on the device I am using (I may want a smaller subset of feeds on the mobile), or time of the day (I may want a different view in the evening as compared to the morning).

Going ahead, Search will evolve along many dimensions personalised search, vertical search, local search, and more. But the real reason for search is because there is so much information. Once subscriptions start becoming popular, there will be a need for a new interface for this Web which is built around our lives combining the Incremental, Archived and Community Webs. This is where the next innovation in computing will happen. This is the future of Search not directly in the field of search, but in addressing the root of the problem of information overload. This is where Information Dashboards will thrive built around events, subscriptions, tags and discovery, built with cutting-edge software innovations, available to us on the devices of our choice, and focused around optimizing our Attention. The idea by itself may not be revolutionary. But, like search, the difference will be in how it is executed and most importantly, the User Interface.

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