News Everywhere

Jeff Jarvis makes an excellent point about how the times have changed: “We have now reached the point where we could be assured that when a big news event happened, witnesses would be online with accounts of it in a matter of minutes. News was never like that. But now, that’s the way it is.”

The New York Times adds: “The technology that turns any random bystander into a ‘portable, mobile, cinematography unit’ is especially exciting for television, which depends on pictures, said Robert J. Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University.”

Mobiles as Thin Clients

Computerworld writes in the context of Nokia’s decision to use WebCore for its phone browser: “Think of a mobile handset as the quintessential thin client. Its underpowered processor and poor storage make it a lousy choice as an application platform. As the front-end UI to an application hosted elsewhere, however, it can be more than adequate. It can even excel. Consider, too, that much of the enterprise market has already chosen the Web as its application-delivery platform of choice. Those Web apps are tailor-made for thin-client access. So, to capture that market, all Nokia needed was a Web browser — albeit one robust and feature-rich enough to deliver the same functionality users have come to expect from desktop PCs.”

Broadband in US

The New York Times has a commentary by Dan Mitchell on the US lag in broadband infrastructure:

The Bush administration’s policies, or lack thereof, have since allowed Asia – Japan in particular – to not only catch up in the development and expansion of broadband and mobile phone technology, but to roundly pound us into the dirt. “The lag,” Thomas Bleha diplomatically asserts, “is arguably the result of the Bush administration’s failure to make a priority of developing these networks.”

Japan instituted what used to be called an industrial policy, which provided incentives for expanding broadband and wireless technology to the masses. The United States, meanwhile, has done essentially nothing. Japan is now well ahead of us in the percentage of homes with broadband. And their broadband on average is about half the price and 16 times the speed of ours.

Japan is even further ahead in mobile telephony. “U.S. mobile phone service remains awful by European, let alone Japanese, standards,” writes Mr. Bleha, who served as a Foreign Service officer in Japan for eight years and has a forthcoming book on the subject.

Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries are poised to leap ahead of the United States in any number of areas: teleconferencing, telecommuting, remote medical services, distance education, multimedia entertainment.

Wonder what Dan would have to say if he came to India where a few kilobits per second (256 Kbps on paper) is being pushed as broadband!

India has an amazing opportunity to be at the forefront — if only we can get our broadband infrastructure right.

Importance of RSS

Kevin Hale writes:

The reason we give feeds so much of our face-time is because they give us exactly what we need to know from the voices we want to hear from as soon as it happens. For those of us that have adopted RSS feeds, gone are the days of wasting time making the rounds through over 100 bookmarks just to see who might have said something new. Gone are the days of waiting for the few obsessive compulsive bloggers who actually did that to post their findings so the rest of us could stay informed. Subscription makes it easy. Subscription makes it efficient. Even though broadband technology is getting faster, the pace of information development is forcing internet surfers to skip the eye-candy for the luxury of skimming.

Thanks to services like del.icio.us, Technorati and Digg.com, people are spending a lot less time actively searching and more time passively reading whats being updated in their readers.

HailStorm: Second Look

Mark Lucovsky writes:

As I look back on HailStorm, and try to distill it into some of its core concepts, I come up with the following list:

* Network Centric, Extensible Data Model, for Everyday Data
* Data Decoupled from Applications
* Anytime, Anyplace, and from Any Device Access
* Identity Centric Data Access

HailStorm was based on an XML data model. The system defined several core data types (calendar events, address book entries, bookmarks, profiles, etc.). Each core type had a set of required elements and attributes, and allowed for arbitrary extensions in both the element and attribute dimension, as long as those extensions are defined within a unique XML namespace. HailStorm had the notion of an “address” type which defined a set of base properties associated with an address. Anyone could easily extend an address by including arbitrary, well formed XML from an arbitrary namespace. The data model was simple to use, simple to extend, and simple to process. There was no need to buy proprietary tools to crack, parse, manipulate, re-transmit, or re-purpose any type.

Looking at HailStorm through this facet, there are clear similarities between it, and RSS 2.0 and Atom. These two core systems are very powerful. Their ease of use, their simple extensibility, their inherent network centricity have unleashed many clever and useful applications.

TECH TALK: South Korea’s IT839: The Context

Business Weeks story provides the context for the South Korean plan:

In the past decade, the country has invested billions of dollars to make itself the world’s most wired — and wireless — nation. Today some three-quarters of South Korean households have broadband Internet hookups. Of the population of 48 million, 80% carries a mobile phone — that’s virtually everyone over the age of 12. Many of these phones are equipped with cutting-edge technology allowing the users to take photos, surf the Net, and listen to music.

But other nations are narrowing the gap. So the government has launched a program designed to propel Korea ahead of the pack. It’s called “IT839” — shorthand for the eight services, three infrastructure projects, and nine new or upgraded devices the country’s tech wizards have decided to focus on over the next five years. The effort is expected to cost the government and private industry as much as $70 billion by 2010.

What distinguishes South Korea’s effort is the intense cooperation between the IT industry and the government — in sharp contrast with the U.S., where the government devotes few resources to the development of broadband and wireless technologies. Indeed, the soul of many of Korea’s machines is not in the laboratories of Samsung Electronics Inc. or mobile operator SK Telecom, but at the state-run Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in Daejon, 170 km south of Seoul.

ETRIs website outlines its objective actualizing the worlds best IT and R&D institution of the 21st century. Business Week quotes ETRI President Yim Chu Hwan: “Our role is to help develop basic and core technology and make it a new global standard. Then new products will be developed by companies in the private sector.”

Understanding what South Korea is building will give us a glimpse of what we can expect in the future. And this is the reason why their ideas on IT839 are important. Lee Goldberg writes:

[South Koreas] IT839 Strategy lays out a roadmap for both developing South Korean technological infrastructure, and for building an electronics manufacturing capability that will power the country’s economy for decades to come. And in contrast to many Western countries which are experiencing strong downward pressure on the wages of their workers, raising the per-capita income of South Koreans to US $20 k is an integral part of the stated goals of their ambitious, but realistic plan.

The IT839 [technologies]will serve as “growth engines” to fuel a regenerative cycle of investments, returns, and rising income[It provides] a solid roadmap for using the country’s existing academic, technical, and social resources in a focused, and well-targeted manner to move its electronic industry beyond its current focus on commodity memory chips and low-end consumer goods into a dominant role in several critical electronics markets.

The importance of South Koreas IT839 strategy is that is is about building not just a R&D testbed but also a path to commercialise emerging technologies. We have already seen the emergence of South Korean companies like Samsung and LG in the consumer electronics and mobiles space powered on the strength of a cutting-edge domestic market. In this context, understanding IT839 is important to get a view into what are the opportunities in tomorrows world.

Tomorrow: The Plan