Contribution Economy

David Kirkpatrick writes in Fortune:

The economy is changingand in ways that can’t easily be measured by conventional economic indicators like wages, prices, or savings levels. Ever since the Internet started to connect everyone to everyone else all the time, people from around the world can more easily contribute energy, ideas, and knowledge to joint projects. Some of the more familiar examples of these collaborative efforts include blogs, open-source software, podcasts, and even the nonprofit online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

When users chip in on projectscommercial or otherwisethe experience improves for everybody. I call this phenomenon the contribution economy. This is how it works: If a blogger posts a thought about something in the news, another blogger can add his or her own comment. Or when someoneanyone!modifies a listing on Wikipedia, value is created that benefits everyone.

Bill Joy on PCs and Mobiles

Technology Review has an essay by Bill Joy:

Nearly 50 years ago, J. C. R. Licklider imagined computers as a communications device. When we look at today’s smart mobile devices, the BlackBerries and the Treos and the Nokia Communicators, we underestimate their importance. Their capabilities are relatively limited. Compared to phones, they’re big and bulky, but compared to notebook computers, they have frustratingly small screens and keyboards. Few people have them. They don’t really feel like our most personal computers.

But I think they are. The power of such devices will grow rapidly, as did the power of the PC. And they will become intensely personal, because they will be able to do more for you than anything that is as portable. They will thus naturally become the focus of improvements in connectivity and communication.

Much as the Google query you make from your home runs on machines located elsewhere, software run on behalf of your pocket PC could reside in remote server farms, on computers you time-share with others–but that you don’t have to maintain.

Does this mean that desktop PCs as we know them will disappear? I’m not suggesting that. Rather, I think, we will find that these larger computers with keyboards become less personal, become shared devices. In my household, many of us have accounts on several different computers, which share our personal information among them. None of these is “my” computer, yet all are, when they need to be. The individual machines are becoming access points to my presence on the network.

Your smart phone will benefit greatly from the next 100-fold improvement bestowed by Moore’s Law. It can acquire more sensors, becoming a personal medical scanner, tricorder, translator, recorder, and interpreter. There are many worthy dreams for such devices!

Supernova 2005

Knowledge@Wharton has a round-up with a series of articles:

Coming Soon…A Single, Global, Collaborative Virtual IT World (Phew!)
Explosive forces of technology are driving computing from a centralized model to a decentralized one, from the center to the edge. These forces, which demand new systems and business models, represent both threat and opportunity, according to participants at the recent Supernova conference in San Francisco.

Why Practically Everyone Is in Dogged Pursuit of the Long Tail
Marketers often focus on blockbuster products. In doing so, they are guided by the old 80-20 rule, which holds that 80% of sales come from 20% of a company’s product inventory. In the online world, however, the rules are different, according to Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, who spoke about the phenomenon of the “long tail” at the recent Supernova conference in San Francisco. On the Internet, millions of products in as many niche markets can be sold to consumers, dramatically transforming notions of what constitutes success.

What’s the Next Big Thing on the Web? It May Be a Small, Simple Thing — Microformats
Ever since the world wide web exploded in the mid-1990s, attempts have been made to extend its basic presentation format to create a richer, more meaningful network of information. Most efforts, however, have gained little traction. These initiatives have been bogged down by complexity and over-ambitious goals. Now, a grassroots movement has emerged that seeks to attach intelligent data to Web pages by using simple extensions of the standard HTML tags currently used for web formatting. These so-called “microformats” may change the way the web works, according to participants at the recent Supernova conference in San Francisco.

New Technology: Who’s in Charge?
Is technology a blessing or a curse — or both? While technology enables individuals to receive and send more and more information faster, it can also create a continuous barrage of new tasks that can overwhelm users. This paradox results in behavior that a speaker at the recent Supernova conference described as “continuous partial attention” — a phenomenon in which people keep “one major item in focus while scanning our surroundings to see if anything else important needs our attention. It is motivated by a desire not to miss opportunities. We want to ensure our place as a live node on the network.”