Innovation Sandbox

CK Prahalad writes:

In countries like India, with 700 million bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers at varying levels of income, the need for innovations that meet these criteria is now becoming obvious. The seemingly impossible demand of a hitherto unserved customer base a $20 hotel room in an environment of $250 to $300 hotels, or a cookstove for use by an impoverished villager became, in this case, a specification for starting the innovation process.

This approach could be called an innovation sandbox because it involves fairly complex, free-form exploration and even playful experimentation (the sand, with its flowing, shifting boundaries) within extremely fixed specified constraints (the walls, straight and rigid, that box in the sand). The value of this approach is keenly felt at the bottom-of-the-pyramid market, but any industry, in any locale, can generate similar breakthroughs by creating a similar context for itself. In India, several such breakthroughs are taking place now, in a global industry that is otherwise plagued by high costs, stultified traditions, a variety of regulators, a perennially dissatisfied customer base, and a reputation as an exceptionally difficult venue for business innovation. That industry is health care.

The Power of Groups

Tom Evslin writes:

Everyone always told me that networking is a good thing. But Im a nerd; I didnt really believe that until I made the spreadsheet to prove it. Now Im convinced. Specifically, if you want the rank of your blog to climb towards the left end of the long tail, you want to find a way to join a group of other bloggers who are advantaging each other in some way. But the lesson has implications far beyond blogs.

To start with the conclusion: if a subset of blogs were to organize themselves into a network and they were the only such network in the blogosphere (aint gonna happen!) and if they each favored each other only slightly in terms of links, in the absence of other factors (also aint gonna happen!), those blogs would rise directly to the top of the blogosphere.

Newspapers and Online

Tom Mohr writes:

The low rumble of shifting ground is palpable. Not only is the shift towards online; it is, in tandem, a shift away from print. Not dramatic yet, perhapsbut clear. And the impacts continue to ripple. As I write, the newspapers of the former Knight Ridder are soon to be parts of nine different companies. Tribune Co. faces a boardroom battle which challenges its very survival as an intact firm. Wall Street analysts have cooled on the industrys prospects. Academics in journalism schools despair the future of the craft in a post-newspaper world.

I believe newspapers social purposethe building of civil society in cities and towns across America through the daily output of good journalismis worth fighting for. Securing the future of the industrys social purpose requires securing its financial future.

Sony and PS3

Wired writes:

The PS3 is much more than a game box. Kutaragi likes to say it’s actually a computer, one that’s designed to lie at the center of the networked home, serving up films, navigating the Internet, doing nearly everything a PC can do, and delivering jaw-dropping videogames besides. The new console relies on two extremely ambitious yet untested technologies. At its core is a highly sophisticated microchip that can cruise at teraflop speeds (equal to the fastest supercomputers of less than a decade ago) and that might someday revolutionize home electronics. Also built into the machine is Sony’s new Blu-ray hi-def disc player, which is proudly incompatible with a rival format from Toshiba — and which represents a bold, some would say reckless, attempt to control the multibillion-dollar market in next-generation video discs.

Sky Dayton’s Ventures

Business Week writes about the Earthlink founder:

Now 35 with three kids, the guy who once took meetings in sandals is back with a new mantra: wireless. Dayton heads two companies that are making high-risk bids to harness the radio waves. As chairman of one eCompanies venture, Boingo Wireless, he intends to build the nation’s largest operator of Wi-Fi hotspots, linking travelers at airports and hotels to the Internet. He’s also CEO of Helio, a telephone operation he has imported from South Korea. Helio, which was launched in May, targets the under-30 crowd with superslick phones that surf the Web. They give users the ability to buy games and videos and share them with friends, including uploading them to a MySpace page.

The big idea behind both ventures is to use wireless technologies to connect folks who are constantly on the go, whether they’re clubbing or jet-hopping.

TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: Microcontent and Microformats (Part 3)

Here are a few more comments on microcontent and microformats to help deepen our understanding.

Arnaud Leene: With the advent of Internet, publishing has become accessible to everyone. People have been creating and gathering content and made this content available to everyone in the world. Where web-pages and -sites as MacroContent. MacroContent enfolds MicroContent…People realise that it is not just thoughts that they are publishing, but reviews, comments on other blog-entries, announcement of events, recipes, interesting sites, records of a golf run, books they keep, images they have taken, places they have been to, etc, etc. Items contain links to other Items, Items have structure. We are moving to Structured MicroContent.

Richard MacManus:

Microcontent design involves: microchunking your content, taking advantage of open standards, employing microformats, letting users subscribe to all kinds of RSS feeds, freeing your content via APIs and other means, designing for re-use of information, monetizing it, and more.

Structured Blogging is a set of formats and plugins that enable blogs to publish different kinds of information – like events, reviews and classified ads – in a ‘structured’ format, so that aggregators can pick up the data from all over the Web.

Its that re-use of blog content via aggregation that will be where the real value lies in Structured Blogging. As of writing there are no Structured Blogging aggregators available, but a hint at the value that it could provide in future is the independent company edgeio — which was launched in February 2006. Sellers can get their data listed on edgeios website, simply by posting an item to sell on their own weblog and tagging it listings. Buyers are able to search and find goods and services at the edgeio website. How it works is that edgeio aggregates goods and services data by scanning over 25 million RSS feeds, looking for the tag “listings”.

Alex Bosworth:

The idea of Microformats is a cool concept for the web, involving adding simple markup to html to highlight metadata about the displayed content. But like any standard, without a killer application microformats are under-utilized. The problem is a classic bootstrapping dilemma. Why should I add markup if there is no application that uses the markup? Why should I code an application that parses markup if there is no content that includes it? The solution lies on small leaps of faith by both sides.

Fortunately, Microformats make marking up data really easy, so making a committment to Microformats on the content side is as simple as appending a string. And parsing Microformats isn’t harder than parsing anything else in XML/HTML (or RSS). The key is just small easy steps to make these formats matter.

Dion Hinchcliffe: Information is often the most useful in bite-sized pieces. Storing information in convenient, tidy bundles sometimes called microcontent is still uncommon but this is changing quickly. Indeed, Web 2.0 trends will only increase the popularity of microformats that support discrete bits of lightly formatted information. This is one reason why Web 2.0 concepts strongly encourage small pieces, loosely joined: Monolithic specifications generally make for information that’s trapped inert behind large, hard to consume, and brittle walls of formatting. Microformats seek to add just enough structure to make the information easy to create and use as well as eminently repurposable.

For the N3 Web, we can think of microcontent as having the following characteristics: incremental (with the same repeating structure), having a permalink, and syndicatable (available via RSS or an equivalent format).

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