Internet in 2016

WSJ writes about Esther Dyson’s views:

The Internet will have become more ubiquitous but less visible. It will still exist as PCs and monitors, but it will also be all around us in other devices: everything from buses and luggage transmitting their locations so they can be tracked, to friends and children signaling their presence anytime you might want to reach them. Rather than being a separate virtual world, the Internet will encompass the physical world as well; most things will have Internet identities available remotely as well as a physical presence available only if you are nearby.

For most people and applications, the biggest issue will be not search but filtering: So much will be knowable, but what do you want to know. People will initially be overwhelmed with choices, but vendors — competing vendors, I hope, rather than monopolies or governments — will make default choices for individuals.

eBooks Future

Michael Mace writes:

1. The traditional publishing business is incredibly inefficient. It absorbs most of the dollars paid for a book before they get to its creator. That reduces our favorite authors’ incentive to write more books. Consolidation and other changes in publishing are limiting the availability of books and short stories. Ebooks could theoretically solve all of these problems.

2. People have been predicting the imminent takeoff of a mass market for ebooks since the late 1970s. It didn’t happen then, and it’s not happening now.

3. Unlike emusic, there are major structural barriers to the broad adoption of ebooks. The problem is not just technological. The most important barrier is a chicken and egg situation: People won’t buy an ebook reader until there are millions of ebooks available for it, but there won’t be lots of ebooks available for an ebook reader until it has millions of users.

4. Until we break that logjam, the mass market for ebooks will never develop.

Texting vs Calling

Tomi Ahonen writes:

Almost two thirds of the world’s mobile phone users are already active users of SMS text messaging – at 1.4 billion users (63% of 2.2 billion mobile phone users in the world today, May 2006) SMS text messaging is the most used data service on the planet, over twice the size of the second most popular data service – plain old e-mail, used only by 668 million people on the planet (and those 668 million people maintain 1.2 billion e-mail mailboxes, according to internet measurement specialists, Radicati). And for those into dollar numbers, SMS text messaging was worth 75 billion dollars of annual revenues in 2005 – thats about as much as total music sales, total hollywood box office revenues, and total videogaming software revenues – combined.

We’ve seen this kind of addictive behaviour in various Asian countries – the world’s leading countries for SMS use are the Philippines (averaging 15 text messages per day across all mobile phone users), with Singapore second, and South Korea third. In Europe the leading countries are Norway and Ireland, both averaging about 4 text messages per person per day. But now an “average” European country, the UK, shows the same trend.

Wi-Fi Challenges

Business Week writes:

Demand for Wi-Fi is certainly rising, but the pace is showing signs of slowdown, if only temporarily. Global unit shipments of Wi-Fi access points and routers grew 53% last year, to 47.35 million, but they will only rise 22% in 2006, estimates consultancy ABI Research. Why the speed bumps? For starters, some corporate buyers are putting off Wi-Fi equipment purchases before the introduction of a new Wi-Fi standard. But that standard itself is facing delays. What’s more, rival technologies are gaining popularity, while plans to blanket cities with low-cost or free Wi-Fi are hitting snags amid concerns over security and service quality.

The new standard, 802.11n, is stumbling before it gets out the gate.

Blogging in China writes:

Blogging is booming in China with the number of bloggers expected to hit 60 million by the end of this year.

China is the world’s second-largest Internet market after the United States with more than 110 million users. A survey by Chinese search engine put the current number of blog, or Web log, sites at 36.82 million which are kept by 16 million people, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

A recent report by the Internet Society of China showed nine percent of bloggers write every day, 29 percent write once to three times a week, while 35 percent write four to six times a week, Xinhua said.

TECH TALK: Fooled by Randomness: The Person

Here is how Nassim Nicholas Taleb (NNT) describes himself and his interests on his website: NNT is only interested in one single topic, chance (particularly extreme & rare events); but it falls at the intersection of philosophy/epistemology (skepticism; knowledge about the dynamics of history; inferential claims), philosophy/ethics (stoicism facing random events; theories of nonhedonic happiness), mathematics (probability, statistical physics), social science/finance (opacity & incomplete information; why economists have no clue but think that they know a lot), and cognitive science (how we are fooled by randomness). He mainly derives his intuitions from a 2-decade long and intense practice of derivatives trading (nondull activities with plenty of randomness). The ideas are expressed in literary form in the trilogy: Fooled by Randomness (2001, 2004, 17 languages, confusion of luck & skills), The Black Swan (2006, epistemology/philosophy of history, history explained by large deviations),& Chance and the Logic of Happiness (c. 2007, ethics/ stoicism, nonhedonic happiness). Only the first book in the trilogy has been published.

This is the Wikipedia entry on Taleb:

Taleb now focuses on being a student of the philosophy of randomness and the role of uncertainty in science and society. When he was primarily a trader, he developed an investment method which sought to profit from unusual and unpredictable random events, which he called “black swans”. His reasoning was that traders lose much more money from a market crash than they gain from even years of steady gains; and so he did not worry if his portfolio lost money steadily, as long as that portfolio positioned him to profit greatly from an extremely large deviation (either a crash or an unexpected jump upwards).
It is important to note that “black swans” may also be fortunate rare events and not just negative or catastrophic events.

Taleb believes that most people ignore “black swans” because we are more comfortable seeing the world as something structured, ordinary, and comprehensible. Taleb calls this blindness the Platonic fallacy, and argues that it leads to three distortions:
1) Narrative fallacy. Creating a story post-hoc so that an event will seem to have a cause.
2) Ludic fallacy. Believing that the structured randomness found in games resembles the unstructured randomness found in life. Taleb faults random walk models and other inspirations of modern probability theory for this inadequacy.
3) Statistical regress fallacy. Believing that the probability of future events is predictable by examining occurrences of past events.

Here is an excerpt from the book (page 103, paperback) which describes Talebs trading philosophy:

The best description of my lifelong business in the market is skewed bets, that is, I try to benefit from rare events, events that do not tend to repeat themselves frequently, but, accordingly, present a large payoff when they occur. I try to make money infrequently, as infrequently, as possible, simply because I believe that rare events are not fairly valued, and that rarer the event, the more undervalued it will be in price.

Thinking about that made me think about what I am doing, but more on that a little later.

Tomorrow: The Philosophy

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