Social Shopping

The New York Times writes:

Sites like ThisNext and a handful of services like, and are spearheading a new category of e-commerce called “social shopping,” that tries to combine two favorite online activities: shopping and social networking. These sites are hoping to ride the MySpace wave by gathering people in one place to swap shopping ideas. And like MySpace, the sites are designed for both browsing and blogging, with some shopping-related technology twists included.

Social shopping is just the latest solution to a chronic problem for online retailers and shoppers: many shoppers arent sure what to buy, but they know they wont find it on the sites of mainstream retailers like Macys, Amazon or Wal-Mart.

The 80-19-1 Rule

Brad Feld writes:

Ive had plenty of experience observing this at Judys Book, working with several new content companies that Ive invested in, and closely following the discussion that made the rounds about the 1% rule as it applies to Digg (e.g. 1% of the Digg users generate most of the Diggs resulting in Jason Calacanis offering to pay these 1% of Digg users to bookmark for Netscape.)

[The 19%] is the golden segment. If you can figure out how to engage these folks, you win. If you dont, youll have a site driven merely by the 1%, which ultimately wont scale. While theoretically the law of large numbers should apply (e.g. as N (= number of users) gets big enough, life is good), I hypothesize that if you dont figure out how to engage this 19%, you wont drive growth in N that will get you big enough to have the law of large numbers effect deliver you to happiness. Theres a virtuous cycle here the 1% disproportionately seeds the activity of the site, the 80% consume content, and the 19% sit on the fence. If you can get the 19% to engage, this drives more vibrant content, which increases reach, which increases N, which means the activity driven by the 1% and 19% increases, which drives more content, etc.

Surfacing Mobile Content

WSJ writes:

“Things can be buried in menus, hard to find, hard to use — it’s one of our big challenges,” says Jim Ryan, vice president of consumer data services for Cingular, a joint venture of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp.

Search technologies hold great promise for improving the content-discovery process on cellphones. Already, consumers can find search bars from Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and other companies to search the mobile Web. Users also can type in text messages to numbers operated by some major search engines to look up local information. For example, you can find the local weather report or a nearby pizza joint by texting a message to “GOOGL” — say, “weather” plus Brooklyn area code 11217 for conditions in the New York City borough. Some carriers also offer built-in search tools to mine their content offerings. Cingular, for example, lets users search downloadable content on its MediaNet platform through a service powered by InfoSpace Inc.

Microsoft’s School System

CNN writes:

After three years of planning, the Microsoft Corp.-designed “School of the Future” opened its doors Thursday, a gleaming white modern facility looking out of place amid rows of ramshackle homes in a working-class West Philadelphia neighborhood.

The school is being touted as unlike any in the world, with not only a high-tech building — students have digital lockers and teachers use interactive “smart boards” — but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft’s management techniques.

Sorting Resumes

Joel Spolsky writes:

Our policy at Fog Creek, then, has three parts:

1. We try to be selective about how we advertise our jobs, so as to limit the amount of noise in the resume pile.
2. We certainly dont hire based on resumes; we only screen out based on resumes to reduce the number of people whom we have to interview.
3. In order to sort the remaining resumes to decide what order to interview people, we use a strictly objective system of reviewing and scoring them, so at least we are being fair and consistent in our interpretation of that very weak signal that comes from resumes.

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

Ramesh Jains second post discusses Events in more detail.

The term event means different events to different people. The meaning of event depends on the context and the granularity used in that context. There is inherent ambiguity associated with the term event as seen from its multiple usages.

Wikipedia ( ) defines it as

An event is something that takes placean occurrence and arbitrary point in time. The term also refers to a significant occurrence or happening, or a social gathering or activity.

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are as confusing as the regular usage of the term is. Events are indeed different in different contexts. A wedding is an event, so is the wedding reception, and the cake-cutting. Also the first meeting of the bride and groom is as much an event as the birth of the bride, and the wedding of her parents, and so on. And yes the world cup Soccer final between Italy and France was an event and so is my grandsons first kick in his backyard. My pressing the key to type the next word is an event and so will be the posting of this article and then comes the event of your reading this post and then reading this part and thinking that I am being silly! Theoretically even my moving finger to a specific key is an event. So events depend on context and take place at different granularities or resolutions.

Events are combined in many different ways to define events. And these combinations may again be combined with other events to define yet another set of events. So this process of definition of events continues. These definitions are clearly determined by an application.

On the other side an event is the result of one or more past events, which were in turn results of other events and so on. Similarly, an event may result, maybe in combination with other events, in multiple events, which in turn may result in many other events. So this process of creation of events is a process that has been going on and will continue in future.

But, how do we define an event? What can be considered an event and what can not be. If all these things are events then how can we capture that in our computing systems or can we? On first thought it appears that this is a confusing situation!

But this situation is not new. Objects are equally confusing. Objects could be physical things or a concepts. Also objects could also exist at many resolutions. Once again Wikipedia ( ) clearly shows how confusing it could be. So, I am an object, so is the shirt I am wearing, and the buttons on the shirt. I will not get into details of this you get the idea.

We know that concept of objects have played a key role in the development of computer science. Object-oriented programming and object-oriented design concepts have dominated computer science for more than a decade. And this has been a powerful paradigm. Once again, Wikipedia gives a good definition of objects in the context of computer science:

a language mechanism for binding data with methods that operate on that data.

See how nicely any reference to any physical or conceptual or any other kind of objects that we use in our regular language is avoided and an elegant new functional definition is provided here. Objects become a mechanism for binding data with methods that operate on that data.

Can we do a similar thing to events?

Tomorrow: EventWeb (continued)

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