Social Networking for Bookworms

WSJ writes about LibraryThing.com:

Creating a personal catalog is time consuming but also surprisingly easy. After signing up for a free account — only a username and password are required, with no personal information or email necessary — members can enter the ISBN numbers, author names or titles from their books. The LibraryThing search engine, which is connected to Amazon.com, the Library of Congress and 45 other libraries around the world, returns likely matches.

A click adds each book to a personal virtual library, along with the title’s complete card-catalog information and a thumbnail of the cover art, when available. Personal catalogs can be sorted by author or title — or even viewed graphically as a colorful collection of book covers.

Why the US Leads in Tech

Sramana Mitra blogs about a talk given by Geoffrey Moore, who identified three reasons:

* Silicon Valley is very good at failing. Failing fast. Learning from failures. Using that learning to do new and different things. In any other place in the world, you get one chance, and if you fail, that carries a stigma for life, and you never get a second chance. Very powerful advantage.
* The US still has the best higher education system. Great universities.
* The US still has the most mature and best organized capital market.

These three, Geoff thought, could still help maintain the US lead.

On the negative side, he thought that the US has become very lazy. Weve had such a cushy life for so long, and during the boom years, things just became goofy. Faced with hungrier competition, this can become the defining factor for this century.

Italy’s Postepay

Business Week writes:

[The] “Postepay” card, accepted by the Visa Electron network, is a prepaid, rechargeable Visa or MasterCard that is rapidly becoming the credit card surrogate of choice for Italians without plastic, credit ratings, or even bank accounts.

It’s not just for ATM withdrawals or store purchases, either. Postepay has also become a cornerstone of Italian e-commerce.

Fon’s WiFi Plans

BBC News writes:

A Spanish firm is to sell subsidised routers as part of a plan to turn domestic wi-fi networks into public hotspots.

Fon will sell wi-fi routers, which allow people to surf the net wirelessly, for $5 (2.75).

The company, which has financial backing from Google and Skype, aims to create public wi-fi networks street by street across the US and Europe.

“Wi-fi is universal in cities, but access isn’t,” said Juergen Urbanski.

Can we do something similar in India?

NComputing’s Thin Client

Business Week writes:

NComputing’s gizmothis one, the unsexily named L100 modelonce attached to a mouse, keyboard, and monitor, can be used to tap into a PC somewhere else, across the room or across the continent, at a far lower cost than owning a PC yourself. Dukker’s cost is less than $50 per user, vs. $250 for a cut-rate desktop PC. And if volumes rise as he hopes, that price could fall below $10. “Pretty soon, we’ll have reached the point that the hardware is essentially free,” says Dukker.

Despite having no real sales or marketing effort, NComputing has sold more than 100,000 units since 2004, and is on pace to sell nearly that many in the remainder of the year. Most are going to small companies and school districts in places like Brazil, Thailand, and Ghana. But interest is picking up with U.S. schools as well.

TECH TALK: Video on the Internet: New Media (Part 4)

At heart, the Internet is shifting from text to video. An article last September in the New York Times highlighted this:

[Yahoos ] Mr. Semel and others are finding that the long-promised convergence of television and computers is happening not by way of elaborate systems created by cable companies, but from the bottom up as video clips on the Internet become easier to use and more interesting. Already, video search engines, run by Yahoo and others, have indexed more than one million clips, and only now are the big media outlets like Viacom and Time Warner moving to put some of their quality video online.

“The basis for content on the Internet is now shifting from text to video,” said Michael J. Wolf, a partner at McKinsey & Company. “This allows advertisers to take advantage of the kind of branding advertising they are used to on television.”

Mr. Semel thinks that his approach combining content and technology could well make Yahoo the place people go first when they decide what to watch, as well as where to surf.

“You are not going to have 1,000 channels, you will have an unlimited number of channels,” Mr. Semel said. “So you aren’t going to use a clicker to change channels.”

Newsweek wrote in a story on the future of entertainment last September:

Just as all politics is local, all news and entertainment is now personal — in the digital age, users can manipulate media to do what they want, when they want. Thanks to high-speed broadband pipes and peer-to-peer technology that puts more computing power in the hands of individuals, it’s become much easier to create and manipulate media online. In this new world, consumers, as much as creators, are in control.

Secondly, the Internet changes the timeline of entertainment production, broadcast and consumption. Instead of a movie opening on the big screen, then trickling down to television, video and the Internet, it can appear in all formats at once, as 2929 Entertainment plans to do with new Steven Soderbergh releases. At the same time, in a world of digital choice, people can ignore your offerings, but they can also keep watching, reading or listening forever. That concept, famously dubbed the “Long Tail” by Wired editor Chris Anderson, also changes the entire economic model of entertainment, creating hugely successful niche products over longer periods of time.

Esther Dyson write in Release 1.0 last year: IP TV is not WebTV redux. It is a set of Web-based software and services that allows video content stored on any server to be delivered to any device located anywhere, including the TV in the living room. The point is not to surf the Web from your TV, though consumers may choose to do so. Its also not to download video to a PC something that millions do today. The IP TV audience will get video content delivered over the Net to the device of their choosing and anytime they want. Theyll rely on Web-based directory services, program guides and utilities to establish personal preferences and to explore content marketplaces for good stuff to watch. More than that, some members of the audience will participate in the production, editing and remixing of that content Perhaps the most important difference between the two models is that on network TV, the lions share of the content is produced and distributed by established media concerns, whose main concern is to create shows that will become popular enough to sell mass advertising around. On networked TV, anyone with a video camera, a piece of inexpensive (or free) video-editing software and an Internet connection can make and distribute content.”

Video on the Internet is a fascinating space. As we begin our journey into understanding what is happening, we will start with a guided tour from one of the experts.

Next Week: Video on the Internet (continued)

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