The Economist writes:

THE rise of the web transformed hypertextwhich allows readers to click on a word in one document and be transported to anotherfrom an obscure concept in computer science to a familiar, everyday technology. Might hypervideowhich lets viewers click on a moving image to call up a related clipbe on the verge of a similar transformation? This nascent development, also called video-hyperlinking, makes it easy to link together segments of online video in novel ways. Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen, a video blogger (or vlogger) based in Aalborg, Denmark, who likes to video-hyperlink clips on his website, says the technology is a vlogger’s dream.

Hyperlinking video involves the use of object-tracking software to make filmed objects, such as cars, clickable as they move around. Viewers can then click on items of interest in a video to watch a related clip; after it has played, the original video resumes where it left off. To inform viewers that a video is hyperlinked, editors can add highlights to moving images, use beeps as audible cues, or display still images from hyperlinked videos next to the clip that is currently playing.

Outsourcing IT

Nicholas Carr writes: “Back when electric utilites first emerged, it was the smaller companies who led the way in hooking up to the shared grid. The prospect of avoiding big capital expenses and high labor costs, and all the associated headaches of owning a lot of specialized technology, outweighed the risks involved in moving to a new supply model. The same thing’s happening with IT today. Big companies, with lots of capital and lots of legacy systems, may be able to justify building their own internel IT utilities – they can gain considerable economies of scale on their own – but the equation’s very different for SMBs. As Berlind suggests, SMBs today would be well advised to approach their IT requirements – both hardware and software – with the assumption that they should be buying services, not assets. Sure, there’ll be plenty of exceptions, but that should be the going-in assumption. If IT isn’t your business, get out of the IT business.”

Declare Victory Early and Often

Paul Kedrosky writes:

I’ve been meaning to mention this for some time, but one of my favorite competitive strategies is simply declaring victory. Too many companies in new-ish markets wait too long to do this, and by then someone else may actually be the victor, making your claim more than a little hollow.

But many markets are tippy — they want there to be a market leader — so you can self-servingly help things along by declaring your firm to be the chosen one. It simplifies things, reduces risk, and eliminates uncertainty, thus driving a new stage of market growth.

So, when in doubt, declare victory. Early and often — and loudly.

Podcasting and Mobiles

Veer Bothra writes:

If podcasting has to become mainstream in India, mobile has to be the dominant device of creation and consumption. There aren’t that many PCs, iPods or portable MP3 players in India. But there is a slew of mobiles with memory cards, GPRS and MP3 players.

Mobiles of today have enough storage to act as a podcasting device, if not yet as a replacement of iPod. MMC / MiniSD cards of 500 MB capacity are available at around Rs 700 and a 1 GB card would cost around Rs 1300 or so.

But how will a user download podcasts onto the mobile? If its via the PC than the reach will be limited, since only about 10-15 million people have access to a PC at work or a home. Others will have to do it through internet cafes and hope that they allow transfer of podcasts through data cables.

Beyond Search

Esther Dyson writes:

Google indexes words and phrases, and then uses the presence of those words plus popularity (the number of webmasters links to a particular page) to determine the ranking of the results a list of pages where the search terms appear. In fact, Googles search algorithms do a little more than that fooling around with synonyms, eliminating stop words, possibly noting some metadata (authors and dates, for example) and other undisclosed tuning but it is concerned with words, not meanings. And all it indexes or analyzes is text on the Web; it knows nothing about anything that is not in words, on the Web.

The future lies in moving beyond both those constraints. One is going beyond the Web, into real life and other media, such as television and films (and advertising); more on that later.

The other is expanding search (and other capabilities) to the meanings of those words on the Web: that is, to concepts, story lines, relationships verbs, not nouns.

TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: Future of Feeds

Feeds are at the heart of the New Web, and an RSS Aggregator is the best way to consume feeds. So far, the focus has been on private RSS aggregators where users read their subscribed feeds. There is also a need for public RSS aggregators which can showcase a collection feeds. [Topix.net is an example of a public RSS aggregator.]

The same basic idea of feeds can also be used to track topics across keywords by setting up alerts in the form of search words or phrases. With structured data, this can also be used to set up prospective (persistent) search. So, for example, you receive an alert when a stock price crosses a certain threshold.

The New Web can be used to track our specific interests or what friends and family members are doing, provided everyone publishes. Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of publishing with blogging tools like MovableType and WordPress. Of late, this has extended to the creation of multimedia (images, audio and video) publishing. Mobile phones are helping accelerate the creation and consumption of user-generated content. Wrapped around feeds, this content can now be easily subscribed to and consumed in near real-time by those interested.

A lot of our life is about the new things. We would like to know what is on TV now. We would like to know the sales happening in our neighbourhood. We would like to see photos of our nephews and nieces as they grow up. So far, one has had to depend on either broadcast media or on other mechanisms of communication to know about the new content. Peer production combined with feeds can now make this much easier. This will lead to the creation of niche communities joined together by either a family bond or a common interest.

One of the innovations that will be needed around feeds is to support restricted access. This way, I can restrict the distribution of the content that I am creating. As Niall Kennedy wrote recently: Some syndication feeds are not meant to be displayed for the world to see. Our everyday lives contain private and confidential data we wouldn’t want anyone else to see, and especially not search…Examples of private feeds intended for 1:1 communication include bank balances, e-mail notifications, project status, and the latest bids on that big contract.

Facebook users may have been surprised to see their actions distributed to their friends via feeds. In a short while from now, it will be commonplace. The New Web is, quite literally, at hand!

Tomorrow: The Near Web

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