Bloglines’ Blog Search

WSJ writes:

Blog search engines have existed for years as a way to conduct keyword searches among the vast array of content from professionals, pundits and couch potatoes. A blog search is ideal for searching product reviews, the fallout from news events and celebrity gossip because it can take the pulse of what people are talking about during a small window of time. A search on Ask.com’s standard Web search engine for Palm’s Treo 600, for instance, pulls up links to the official Palm Treo site and those of other merchants. But in Ask.com’s new blog search, most of the top results are reviews and help pages featuring advice such as where to buy batteries for the device.

Ask.com uses its search technology and the popularity of feeds in Bloglines to help rank the results, which users can filter by posts, feeds and news and sort by relevance, most recent and popularity. The site also lets searchers easily subscribe to the feeds and blogs featured in the results in Bloglines and other feed readers offered by companies like Yahoo and Google through drop-down menus.

Rethinking Email

The Register writes:

Email in its current form will never, ever, ever be spam-free. It will never be virus-phishing-scam free. It will cost companies and individuals billions of dollars (http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3350891) in theft, criminal activity, and the reality of spam will grow from the 50-70 per cent it is today to 90 per cent of all traffic. Email will continue to harm millions of people through banking scams, identity theft, viruses, and more. Email will never be secure, because it was never designed to be secure.

The only solution is to start from scratch. Develop a new email system and make it secure. Use existing, proven technologies and a few new and novel ideas starting with the latest encoding mechanisms, a reliable hashing algorithm, fast compression, strong encryption and signatures. Build an electronic identity. Encode, hash, encrypt, compress, sign, and provide a novel way to share keys when needed, for example. I don’t know how this will all turn out, but perhaps yEnc, MD5, AES, H.264, and GPG are some potential technologies that could be used together. A new transport protocol would need to be flexible enough that any of these technologies could be replaced, transparently to the user, as better and stronger options become available. It would need to be seamless for the client no more messy GPG or other stop-gap solutions that few people actually use. Secure email should be a mandatory “secure bundle” of email that is safe for sending a credit card number to a business or someone I know.

Discovery vs Consumption

David Beisel writes:

discovery has been traditionally most effective when it is directly integrated into the consumption workflow. See traditional radio as the perfect example consumption is discovering, as playlists include new music in the linear format. But increasingly users have more choice to consume what they want, not what others put in front of them.

Anecdotally again, Ive found most of the new content Ive consumed (regardless of type) in the past year or two has been through some type of word of mouth. Its obvious that discovery will increasingly include a social component to it, and technology will aid in that process. Weve seen a lot of progress in the last year with respect to news and blogs, with tools that effectively personalize or prioritize the discovery of new content (sources).

I wonder, though, with the disruption of media towards digital formats, if the discovery becomes detached from consumption method, and if consumers will be increasingly frustrated about finding what they want to consume. As content producers scramble to find the right distribution outlet for their content, are they mindful of how consumers will discover it, wherever it is?

A comment on Lifeblog:

My take is that the next wave of the Web will be in the form of aggregators and services, which will increase the energy of finding something new or unexpected. We have some separate standing services, like Pandora or digg, but the real kick will happen when, as David says, the discovery is in line with the consumption.

That’s where I think aggregators will come in. Aggregators will be able to have their finger on multiple pulses and be able to make things rise to the top, to the attention of the user, in line with normal use.

Abundance

Fred Wilson writes:

In the physical world scarcity is what leads to value.

In the digital world abundance is what leads to value.

There is no such thing as scarcity in digital goods. They can be replicated instantly and as many times as you want without losing quality.

This has led many who grew up in the world where scarcity was the measure of value to conclude that digitatization equals value deflation.

But I believe the exact opposite happens. You must embrace what digital offers. The ability to rapidly replicate is the way to create value in the digital world.

MTV and Mobile Content

The New York Times writes:

By the most optimistic counts, there are only about 3 million people out of the almost 200 million cellphone users in the United States who now watch video on their phones. Other analysts say the number of those who watch regularly is much lower, which leads them to ask whether people really want another version of television, one they can literally take anywhere. Judging by what is happening in other parts of the world, where the mobile-television experiment is well under way, the more pertinent questions are: What are they going to want to watch? Will it be regular live television, redirected to their phones? Or typical television fare, edited and re-packaged to suit a screen smaller than a business card? It might end up being neither, but instead a new amalgam that feels little like traditional television and more like the increasingly video-dominated Web like computer games, like the kind of shaggy user-generated video and mashed-up video clips that began as novelties for people killing time in their cubicles but are now on their way to becoming big business.

MTV’s international channels have been providing cellphone entertainment, mostly repackaged TV clips, for almost a year. In fact, MTV claims to be the world’s largest mobile-content provider. When the demand for cellular television materializes in the United States, people like Sirulnick say that it is likely to be most intense among the generation of young people that has never known a world without wireless, for whom a cellphone is not just a phone but an entertainment center, a dating service, a scrapbook, a virtual hangout and a fashion statement in other words, MTV’s core viewers, the network’s to keep or lose.

TECH TALK: Education and Reservation: Other Comments

Shekhar Gupta had a scathing attack in the Indian Express. In an article entitled My seat, mai baap, he wrote:

A total of 4,000 seats in all our IITs, just around 1,500 in all our IIMs, a mere 50 MBBS seats per year in AIIMS, a ridiculous total of 235 for graduate diploma and post-graduates put together at the National Institute for Design, only 480 students at National Law School, and so on. That is why todays spectacle of a mere three to four per cent of all eligible applicants making it to these institutions, of 90-percenters failing to find decent courses in Delhi University colleges, is todays equivalent of the pre-1991 fifteen-year wait for scooters, gas connections, telephones. The anger you see on the streets of your cities, the bitterness that motivates normally pampered and softie medical students to endure hunger strikes to rival Medha Patkars, comes out of this frustration.

An MP can still give you a coupon or a letter for admitting your child to a Kendriya Vidayalaya. Please go and stand outside the HRD ministers house next month and you will find hordes of ordinary people waiting for help in getting their children some reasonable education unmindful of the signboard that firmly tells those seeking Kendriya Vidayala admissions not to crowd the entrance.
Why would the minister now use a part of his hoard (particularly after the education cess) to build a couple of hundred more Kendriya and Narvodaya Vidyalayas, to expand and build new IITs and IIMs? He wont because he will then lose the power of the coupon and the quota. And his bureaucrats wont allow it because this is by far the most important area of our economy they can still fully control. The power of keeping an IIM director waiting for weeks for his joint secretarys clearance to attend a prestigious foreign conference is heady. More institutions, more seats, private investments all add up to the loss of that power.

This is the last but perhaps the most destructive relic of the licence quota raj. The quota crisis, and the fortuitous arrival of higher education on the political centrestage is in many ways similar to the other crisis that led to India mortgaging its gold to escape payment defaults. Finance Minister Manmohan Singh managed to convert that crisis into an opportunity that changed our lives. Can he similarly in todays crisis in higher education do the same for our children? Surely, this situation is no less daunting in its risks and complexities. But the rewards of expansion, opening up, private investment, genuine administrative and intellectual freedoms in a society that lays such a premium on education and scholarship will be no less significant.

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar wrote in the Times of India:

We need to experiment with new, fairer systems. Let me suggest one. The government spends Rs 110,000 crore a year on education. Let Rs 10,000 crore of this be channelled through business federations like the CII and Ficci to run quality schools with 80% reservation for lower castes and tribals.

Technical assistance can come from Delhi Public School, which has already created a chain of quality schools in India and abroad.

Within five years, let us create two quality schools in every district headquarters. In the next five years, let us cover every tehsil headquarters, and give scholarships to needy students for school for college.

This will create a meritorious society only slowly. Not even quality schools will give poor geniuses the advantages enjoyed by the elite: highly educated parents, access to books and media, contacts and connections.

Tomorrow: Other Comments (continued)

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