Internet’s Future

[via The Pondering Primate] Red Herring writes:

If Mr. Cerf and about two dozen other pundits Red Herring interviewed about the future of the Internet are right, in 10 years time the barriers between our bodies and the Internet will blur as will those between the real world and virtual reality.

Automakers, for instance, might conceivably post their parts catalogs in the virtual world of Second Life, a pixilated 3D online blend of MySpace, eBay, and renaissance fair crossed with a Star Trek convention. Second Life participantswho own the rights to whatever intellectual property they create onlinewill make money both by using the catalog to design their own cars in cyberspace and by selling their online designs back to the manufacturers, says Danish economist and tech entrepreneur Nikolaj Nyholm.

Todays devices will disappear. Electronics will instead be embedded in our environment, woven into our clothing, and written directly to our retinas from eyeglasses and contact lenses, predicts inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil. Devices will no longer be spokes on the Internetthey will be the nodes themselves, he says.

Danny Sullivan on Search

Danny Sullivan writes about his ten years writing on search engines:

Ten years on, I remain as fascinated with search engines as ever. I’ve been fortunate to help chronicle the birth of an entirely new advertising medium. Equally important has been the birth of an entirely new way for people to seek out information.

I knew search engines were important when I decided to write about them. The journalist in me could see they were a good story, especially when you realized that under the hood, they weren’t doing things like crawling as often as people widely believed. But a study by Keen in 2001 especially resonated with me. Search engines (as a whole — we weren’t Google obsessed yet then) were the single most likely way people would seek information.

The study was small, but the findings were still stunning. In only about five years, search engines had ousted things like friends, family, books, magazines, libraries and other perfectly good resources for seeking answers.

Some of this was bad. I’d personally watched people when doing search training spending ages trying to find a phone number, when a call to telephone information would have found much faster. Old but still useful search strategies were abandoned in favor of the magic search box.

Lots of this is good. Search engines remain amazing tools that get us the right answers quickly in many circumstances.

Feature Fatigue

Om Malik argues for simplicity:

University of Marylands Robert H. Smith School of Business researchers Roland Rust and Rebecca Hamilton just finished a study on a phenomenon they describe as feature fatigue the frustration that occurs when consumers are overwhelmed and confused by the number of features on their electronic devices and other gadgets. As part of their research, the duo found that though initially consumers attracted to feature packed products, they are soon confused by it all, and this can lead to dissatisfaction with the product and the company that manufactures it. Or as Jason Fried likes to say, less is more dude.

Simpler is better despite popular wisdom and a marketplace ingrained in the creation of products that are ever smaller, faster and more feature laden, said Roland Rust, Our research showed that consumers will be initially attracted to the mobile phone that does everything for example, but once they get it home they become frustrated, Rust said. Companies can actually make more money in the long run by making products that are simpler than what customers think they want. The smarter strategy is to design simple, dedicated devices like the iPod, that do one thing very well, to build long-term satisfaction and profitable customer relationships.

Eric Schmidt Talk

VC Confidential has a summary of the key points made by the Google CEO at a talk recently:

— We live in a world of continuous distraction and multi-tasking. Just look at kids doing IM, watching video, talking to friends while doing homework. It will only get worse.
— People’s attention is the most important asset for marketers (similar in theme of the AttentionTrust initiative).
— The key to getting people’s attention is targetted advertising instead of untargetted. He asked how many people read the paper this morning or watched TV. Could they recall any ads they saw?
— Society is trying to block untargetted ads with Tivo, spam filters, Do Not call lists and such.
— Social communities will become more and more core to interactions and marketing on the web.

Online Advertising

WSJ writes that the industry giants are embracing Internet advertising.

After years of cautiously experimenting with Web marketing, powerhouse advertisers like General Mills Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. are cranking up online spending and increasing the range of brands they promote on the Web. General Mills, maker of Cheerios and Betty Crocker baking mixes, expects to nearly double online-ad spending in the current fiscal year. Kraft, home of Jell-O and Kool-Aid, plans to double its number of online-ad campaigns in 2006 and to increase the number of brands it advertises on the Internet by at least half.

The shift underlines the Internet’s threat to traditional media such as television and print magazines. It suggests that the boom in Internet advertising that has already fueled rapid revenue growth in recent years at Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and other companies could continue as still other groups of more traditional advertisers step up online spending.

TECH TALK: Father to Son: You and Me

Dear Abhishek,

You and I have an interesting relationship. I guess the real father-son bonding will take time. But I think youve figured out that I am your father at least youve started to say Pa-pa at times, though a little prodding is required. It doesnt come as naturally as Ma-Ma.

Leaving the syllables aside, we have a good time in the morning after you wake up. I take you into the toy room and we play there. My toy selection is rather poor I seem to buy the things Id like to play with rather than what you can play with! So, every morning now, I put together the Lego blocks and make new things (perhaps, reliving my own childhood), as you scamper around playing with the ball or trying to turn the pages of a book. It is quite obvious that you can manage fairly well on your own. That is, until I sit with my laptop.

That is when you decide that it is something which you just need to have. In spite of all my efforts to teach you to be gentle with the keyboard, you seem quite bent on attacking it. I had to stick back on one of the keys that you ripped out the other day. Luckily, it was just the [ key one that I dont need to use often! I even got you your own small computer but you are smart enough to figure out that its not the real thing.

This is still better than the situation a few months ago when you targeted my mobile phone. For what? Putting it in your mouth and licking it. And then throwing it to the ground when done. (Luckily, Nokia builds very sturdy phones!) Now, youve learnt to play with the keys on the mobile and even dial people. I dont know if you realise that it is your photo I have as the wallpaper.

We go to the temple every day (with your mother) after we are both done with breakfast. You love eating the rice that your mother uses as part of her worship at the temple. And you know she doesnt like it. So, you grab it, run away, and put it in your mouth, and then look at her with that mischievous smile. Its now become a game we both enjoy. Whats a few grains of rice between buddies?

Sometimes, I wonder what you understand and know. Or how you learn. Or what you are thinking. If only I could get a little peek into your little mind. But then thats the charm, I guess. Every so often, youll surprise me with what you can do. I look forward to coming home every evening and seeing a little different, a little unpredictable kid. And, you never let me down!

Over the past year, Ive learnt to use the mobile phone a lot. When you fall asleep at night, I have to sit next to you so your mother can attend to other work. Its a darkened room and your mother does not allow me to use the computer. So, Ive learnt to use my Internet-enabled Nokia 6630 a lot. I have read news, poems, and books on it as I have sat next to you. And in the process got innumerable ideas on what to do with the mobile!

It is probably an understatement to say that youve changed my life. When you are away (or I am travelling), I miss you a lot. The mobile has become a photo album. I have seen your photos since birth innumerable times. And I cannot get enough of you. You came to us with great difficulty and after a long time. That is why perhaps I now treasure the moments with you so much more.

Tomorrow: Another Birthday

Continue reading