Wiki Model

The New York Times writes:

Mr. Herrick is hardly the only entrepreneur inspired by the efficiency and low cost of what has become known as the wiki model. Although Wikipedia is operated by a nonprofit foundation, ideas for advertising-based wiki sites are beginning to take their place alongside blogs and social networking sites as a staple of Silicon Valley business plans.

In addition to Wikia, a site devoted to topics judged too esoteric for the online encyclopedia, there is ShopWiki, for product reviews, and Wikitravel, for tourism advice. Several start-ups allow users to operate their own wiki sites.

Blogs and Community

[via Vinu] Nancy White writes: “We have identified three forms of blog based community, the single blog centric, topic centric and community centric. Now lets look at the implications for those thinking about designing and nurturing blog based communities. Can they help us strategically?”

Paul Graham Interview

Excerpts from a Techcrunch interview:

What I tell founders is not to sweat the business model too much at first. The most important task at first is to build something people want. If you dont do that, it wont matter how clever your business model is.

Of course you have to have a business model eventually. But experience so far suggests that figuring out how to make money from something popular is a lot easier than making something popular.

I get a lot of criticism for telling founders to focus first on making something great, instead of worrying about how to make money. And yet that is exactly what Google did. And Apple, for that matter. Youd think examples like that would be enough to convince people.

Social Widgets

Fred Wilson writes:

People don’t want to link to media like audio and video (and photos), they want to run it right there on their own pages. They want to be the TV station, the radio station, the newspaper.

But we can also learn that the easier it is to add something the better. My gold standard is the MySpace music player. If you have the MySpace music player on your page and you find some music you like, you simply click “add” and its on your page.

Reliance’s Oil Refinery

WSJ writes:

On India’s northwest coast near Pakistan, Mr. Ambani is building the world’s largest refinery complex. When it’s finished, he plans to load 40% of the fuel it turns out onto huge tankers for a 9,000-mile trip to America.

Behind this is a shift in the economics of the refinery business.

The pay scale and certain economies, such as using the original engineering plans from the first refinery, are intended to keep the construction cost low. The project is supposed to cost just $10,300 per barrel of refining capacity, about a third lower than the estimated cost of building the two big refineries planned for Saudi Arabia.

About 80% of the gasoline and other products the refinery turns out will go to the U.S. and Europe. At today’s rates, shipping to the U.S. will cost roughly $6 a barrel, a sum easily absorbed by the current high profit margins for refining.

TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: Characteristics (Part 2)

More Mobile-centric, less PC-centric: I believe that mobiles are what will accelerate the emergence of the N3 Web both for content creation and consumption. Mobiles are with us all the time, and thus can be used both for creation (taking pictures, recording podcasts) and distribution (think subscribers). RSS can be the underlying carrier for this. The same can be accomplished via PCs and in fact is already happening. In the context of emerging markets, mobiles will take centre-stage.

More Push, less Pull: The Reference Web is all about pulling information in a request-reply mechanism. The Incremental Web is about delivering the right information at the right time to the right device. Thus, I can get an SMS alert when a stock price crosses a threshold or when Tendulkar comes out to bat. Sending the same info to a PC or asking people to keep reloading the page is simply not practical.

Distributed, Bottom-up Publishing: The N3 Web is about empowering each one of us to publish because we have the tools to do so. Since much of this web is non-existent, the only way it will get created rapidly is with mass publishing.

User in control: With RSS, the user is in control. There is no question of any spam. If a user is not interesting in continuing the relationship, the user can simply unsubscribe to the RSS feed of the source.

RSS Aggregator Use: The N3 Web will be consumed in two primary ways via alerts delivered to mobiles or PCs, and via an RSS Aggregator. The aggregator tracks what subscriptions users have, and what has been read by a user.

Ping Server, not Crawler: From an infrastructure standpoint, the web page crawlers get replaced by ping servers. Whenever there is new content published, the source pings a server which can then go fetch the new content and then notify users.

The post by Bill Burnham also elaborates on the infrastructure needed:

1. Ping Servers: Most blogs and an increasing number of other sites now send special pings to so called Ping Servers every time they publish new content. The ping servers do things such as cue crawlers at a search engine to re-index a site or provide a summarized list of recently published information to other web sites. Because ping servers are the first to know about newly published content, they are critical to enabling the real-time nature of Persistent Search.

2. RSS: RSS feeds can be used both to feed raw information into Persistent Search platforms (in a similar fashion to what GoogleBase does) as well as to take processed queries out. RSS is a polling based mechanism so it does not provide real time notification, but it is good enough in most cases.

3. Stored Queries: Stored queries are simply search queries that are saved for future use. Ideally, the stored query is constantly running in the background and it flags any new piece of content that meets the search criteria.
Two related concepts which will help us understand the N3 Web better are microcontent and microformats.

Tomorrow: Microcontent and Microformats

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