Music Reborn

Wired writes:

Dragged down by its own bulk and ripped apart by the rebellious energy of the file-sharing revolution, the recording industry hit rock bottom. That was three years ago. Today, signs of renewal are everywhere: amazing technologies, smart business models, even ingtones as hit singles. The best part? An explosion of creativity from artists and fans alike. Rock on.

Segway 2.0

Business Week writes:

In predicting the future of technology, the hardest part might not be envisioning what can be invented, but determining what will be needed. There’s an awful lot of amazing technology in the personal transporter, which is powered by computer-controlled electric motors that automatically keep the machine in balance in response to bumps in the road and the rider’s movements. Still, when it comes to clean, inexpensive, one-person transportation, for many people a bike does just fine. Disabled users swear by the Segway, and police departments have adopted it, but that doesn’t make the personal transporter the game changer Kamen imagined. Thousands have sold, but not nearly as many as Segway hoped for.

“I look at the technology,” says Norrod, “and ask, ‘Where else can it be used?”‘ Norrod’s approach is what you can think of as “future agnostic.” In his view, Segway needn’t define a whole new urban ecology or replace the car. It can put its technology into anything that moves. That means unmanned vehicles with potential military or industrial uses, or multiperson vehicles that use Segway’s computers and electric engines to glide smoothly over obstacles. And Norrod thinks Segway’s efficient electric motors could be central to a new generation of hybrid cars (yes, cars). Segway has already built a four-wheeled, multiperson prototype. “If people want four wheels,” says Norrod, “I should give ’em four wheels.”

Facebook Improved

Liz Gannes writes:

Sometimes Mark Zuckerberg and his crew of big-picture thinkers try too hard to separate themselves, calling a blogging tool notes or adding a company blog without a feed. But other times they seem to really get it for instance, todays new features: news feeds that show, chronologically, your friends most recent activities across the site, and your own most recent activities across the site. In 30 seconds, I can find out what my family, my college friends, my current friends, and even some of my work contacts have been doing. If I think my own mini-feed has too much information in it, I can adjust it item-by-item to leave no trace.

Hyperscope 1.0

Richard MacManus writes:

Brad Neuberg has announced the release of HyperScope 1.0, a Web app based on tech legend Douglas Engelbart’s 1968 NLS/Augment (oNLine System). Engelbart and team have been working on Hyperscope since March this year, in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Its aim is to rebuild portions of Douglas Engelbart’s NLS system on the web, using current Web technologies such as AJAX and DHTML.

HyperScope is described as “a high-performance thought processor that enables you to navigate, view, and link to documents in sophisticated ways.” This is seen as the first (renewed) step towards Doug Engelbart’s larger vision for an Open Hyperdocument System – only this time round it’ll be based on Web technologies.

Who Writes Wikipedia

Aaron Swartz writes:

When you put it all together, the story become clear: an outsider makes one edit to add a chunk of information, then insiders make several edits tweaking and reformatting it. In addition, insiders rack up thousands of edits doing things like changing the name of a category across the entire site — the kind of thing only insiders deeply care about. As a result, insiders account for the vast majority of the edits. But it’s the outsiders who provide nearly all of the content.

And when you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Writing an encyclopedia is hard. To do anywhere near a decent job, you have to know a great deal of information about an incredibly wide variety of subjects. Writing so much text is difficult, but doing all the background research seems impossible.

On the other hand, everyone has a bunch of obscure things that, for one reason or another, they’ve come to know well. So they share them, clicking the edit link and adding a paragraph or two to Wikipedia. At the same time, a small number of people have become particularly involved in Wikipedia itself, learning its policies and special syntax, and spending their time tweaking the contributions of everybody else.

TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: Microcontent and Microformats (Part 2)

A related discussion is around Microformats. Knowledge@Wharton had this to say in a July 2006 article:

When someone views information on a web page about an upcoming concert, why can’t he instantly add it to his personal calendar? Or when a person’s contact information is displayed, why can’t it be added to a contact list or cell phone directory with a single click? Sites like LinkedIn and Friendster let their users explore social networks, but the users have to enter the information about the people they know at each web site. Those who have a personal web site or a web log (or “blog”) probably already link to many of the people they know. Why can’t a search tool automatically build a social network from those links?

A grassroots movement has emerged that seeks to attach intelligent data to web pages by using simple extensions of the standard tags currently used for web formatting — HTML (or XHTML, its more formally structured cousin). These so-called “microformats” may change the way the web works.

Pingerati offers a concise definition: Microformats are tiny bits of markup in web pages that label contacts, events, reviews, addresses, geo-locations, and other commonly published chunks of information. Microformats are often published on blogs and in feeds, but are increasingly published on other types of web pages as well such as event databases, social network profiles, reviews sites, and contact information pages.

Tantek elik, senior technologist at Technorati, said in an interview in the same K@W article:

We’ve taken a lot of the really tough problems in the past — [such as] how to publish structured information in a way that’s presentable to humans as well as something that machines can read — and we’ve said, “What’s the simplest possible way that a [web] publisher can do that today — on today’s web — with simple XHTML?”

That’s what microformats do. They are intended to focus on the human side. We ask, “How can we make this information adapt to people’s behaviors currently? And how can we keep things as simple as possible, so that the effort required by publishers is minimal?”

Now, what happens as a result of that? Our belief is that — by offering a solution which provides better exposure to publishers, better indexing in search engines, better opportunities to get found, blogged and linked — that they will take that small extra step of adding this little microformat markup to their content. This is in direct contrast to a lot of other solutions which say — “Oh, here’s a new language we want you to learn.” Or, “Here’s a new language we want you to learn and now you need to output these additional files on your server.” It’s a hassle. We’ve lowered the barrier to entry.

Tomorrow: Microcontent and Microformats (continued)

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