Read/Write Web has a post on what to expect:

We see 3 scenarios for a GoogleOS:

* A web based desktop (i.e. operating system)
* A full featured Linux distribution
* A lightweight Linux distro and/or BIOS

The Promise of the Internet

The Economist’s The World In 2007 has a column by Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

The past few years have taught us that business models based on controlling consumers or content dont work. Betting against the net is foolish because youre betting against human ingenuity and creativity.

In 2007 well witness the increasing dominance of open internet standards. As web access via mobile phones grows, these standards will sweep aside the proprietary protocols promoted by individual companies striving for technical monopoly. Todays desktop software will be overtaken by internet-based services that enable users to choose the document formats, search tools and editing capability that best suit their needs.

Metadata and Folksonomy

Elaine Peterson writes:

The choice to use folksonomy for organizing information on the Internet is not a simple, straightforward decision, but one with important underlying philosophical issues. Although folksonomy advocates are beginning to correct some linguistic and cultural variations when applying tags, inconsistencies within the folksonomic classification scheme will always persist. There are no right or wrong classification terms in a folksonomic world, and the system can break down when applied to databases of journal articles or dissertations. Folksonomists are confusing cataloging structure with personal opinions and subsequent social bookmarking. These are not the same thing, and they need to be separated.

A traditional classification scheme based on Aristotelian categories yields search results that are more exact. Traditional cataloging can be more time consuming, and is by definition more limiting, but it does result in consistency within its scheme. Folksonomy allows for disparate opinions and the display of multicultural views; however, in the networked world of information retrieval, a display of all views can also lead to a breakdown of the system.

David Weinberger has a counterpoint.

TECH TALK: 15 Years as an Entrepreneur: 1991-94

Almost exactly 15 years ago, in November 1991, I walked into my manager’s cabin at NYNEX and told him of my desire to quit and return to India. I had been at NYNEX just over two years. I was following a script decided before I went to the US for my MS. My father had then told me: Finish your MS in 9 months, work 2 years, and then come back. He had done exactly the same in the mid-60s when he went to the US. I was leaving NYNEX not to take up another job, but to embark on the path to being an entrepreneur. And so it was that in early December 1991, at age 24, I quit the only company I have worked for and started out on the road to entrepreneurship.

Fifteen years is a long time. And yet, there are times when it feels like only yesterday. Much of this period is a blur of ups and downs, but some memories stand out. It has been an exhilarating journey. There have been plenty of missteps and mistakes that I have made during this period. There have also been a few right things. When I look back to that decision in 1991 and the subsequent set of decisions and actions, what stands out is the richness of life’s variety. In this Tech Talk series, I will share some of these experiences and also look ahead.

Let’s start at the beginning. The decision to set out on my own was always quite clear to me. I had seen my father in a similar avatar. He had tried multiple things in his life as an entrepreneur some ideas worked, others did not. But he never stopped learning and trying. For me, there was no other way I’d have wanted to live my life. It was also quite clear to me when I was in the US that I would be an entrepreneur in India. Staying back in the US was not an option. So, a few months after I quit NYNEX, I was back in India with a friend and partner to set up a software products company with big ambitions.

Little went right for the next couple of years. We tried various things from multimedia databases to electronic parts catalogs to image processing software for metallurgists and doctors. We even tried our hand at making multimedia presentations for companies to make ends meet. It was a downward spiral we were on. Looking back at that period, I cannot think of too many things we did right. Yet, it wasn’t that obvious then. I thought I could do no wrong. I thought of myself as the person with the Midas touch. An IIT education complemented with higher studies in the US and a work stint at a premier telecom company what better background could one ask for? But as an entrepreneur and manager, the skills to build a sustainable profitable business were just not there. It was failure after failure and finally, in late 1994, I took a decision to switch tracks. Life could not go on the way it was. The business had to die. A new business had to created.

Tomorrow: 1994-99

Paul Saffo Talk

Mike McCall writes about a talk by Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future:

At the heart of his framework is that our world is moving from one of nation-states to one of city-states. Rather than the future being one of the US versus China, it is going to be Silicon Valley vs Beijing or Chicago vs. Paris. Each dominant city will define its region. With the globalization of trade and the impact of the internet, people will identify both with the culture established by their city/region as well as with global, cross-border influences/factors such as Islam. With the flattening of the world, Chicago is no longer vying with US cities like New York for influence, commerce and jobs, but other major cities in the world.

He defined three specific flavors of capitalism: American capitalism (emphasizes the individual), European (capitalism that focuses on community and preserves continuity) and Asian capitalism (Confucian capitalism that emphasizes networks and the extended family). The US has to realize it is not the only model. Americans (or other foreigners) get rolled in Asia if they don’t have or realize the role of extended networks. Global network models listen to regional voices and tie it all together. There will be new forms of failure and capitalism forming in the coming 20 years, which we will need to be aware of and to monitor.

The New Microsoft

Business Week writes in a cover story:

Maybe the point is that Microsoft needs to find its un-Vista. Several of them, in fact. The software giant is entering perhaps the greatest upheaval in its 30-year history. New business models are emerging–from low-cost “open-source” software to advertising-supported Web services–that threaten Microsoft’s core business like never before. For investors to care about the company, it needs to find new growth markets. Its $44.3 billion in annual sales are puttering along at an 11% growth pace. Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover.

Reigniting growth will require a cultural shift at a company that has long shaped its strategy around maintaining its Windows operating system and Office word-processing and spreadsheet monopolies. That calls for a new breed of leaders who can push the company in directions it hasn’t gone before. “Things are different from the desktop world that most of the Microsoft guys grew up in,” says Michael A. Cusumano, a management professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has written extensively about the company.

Mobile as Tracker

The New York Times writes:

Now, as more of the handsets are equipped to use the Global Positioning System, the satellite-based navigation network, we are on the verge of enjoying services made possible only when information is matched automatically to location. Maps on our phones will always know where we are. Our children cant go missing. Movie listings will always be for the closest theaters; restaurant suggestions, organized by proximity. We will even have the option of choosing free cellphone service if we agree to accept ads focused on nearby businesses.

None of this entails anything exotic. The technology has been ready for a while, but not the customers. Prospective benefits have seemed paltry when placed against privacy concerns. Who will have access to our location information present and past? Can carriers assure us that their systems are impervious to threats from stalkers and other malicious intruders or neglectful employees or from government snoops without search warrants? Contemplating worst-case scenarios, our hands holding these very mobile devices have been frozen, hesitant to turn the location beacon on. Are we finally ready to flip the switch?

Widgets for Marketing

WSJ writes:

Ms. Powell and many other marketers see sponsoring widgets as a promising route to consumers because they integrate advertising onto the Web page. It is a more-relevant approach than banner advertising, she says, and less annoying than video ads that take over the screen. Widgets are also one of the only ways marketers can get inside MySpace pages because the popular News Corp. social-networking site doesn’t sell advertising on individual members’ pages.

Most types of widgets also offer the marketers the chance to monitor eyeballs, because a user’s click on one of these live features can be counted as easily as a click on a banner ad.

“I don’t believe in banner advertising,” Ms. Powell says. “It’s important to create content that speaks to different audience segments where they are.”

Enterprise 2.0

Andrew McAfee writes:

I met yesterday with David Deal, Ray Velez, and Amy Vickers from Avenue A | Razorfish, a 1000 person, $190 million interactive services firm headquartered in Seattle. AARF helps clients with digital marketing and advertising, with their customer-facing websites, and also with their Intranets and Extranets.

What I found most interesting about the company was its own Intranet. To hear David, Ray, and Amy tell it, the company’s traditional static Intranet — the place where an employee would go to look up benefits information or peruse the latest press releases — still exists, but has been marginalized by a suite of Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Personal Recommendation Engines

Fortune writes:

Recommender systems like are sprouting on the Web like mushrooms after a hard rain. Dozens of companies have unveiled recommenders recently to introduce consumers to Web sites, TV shows, other people – whatever they can think of.

The idea isn’t new, of course. In a time of impersonal big-box stores and self-checkout stations, independent shopkeepers compete by doing this sort of thing every day.

Yahoo Stories

WSJ broke the story about an internal Yahoo memo: “An internal document by Brad Garlinghouse, a Yahoo senior vice president, says Yahoo is spreading its resources too thinly, like peanut butter on a slice of bread.”

NYTimes had more on Yahoo. Eric Jackson wrote an open letter to the Yahoo founders.

Forbes Fictional 15

A nice, somewhat-funny story from Forbes on the assumed riches of fictional people:

The rich may be different than you and me–but not nearly as different as the characters that comprise the Forbes Fictional 15, our annual listing of fiction’s very wealthiest. This year’s selection includes a duck, a wizard, a Nigerian prince and even a plumber. Aggregate (fictional) net worth? $111 billion.

The biggest change to this year’s list comes at the very top. For the first time in the Fictional 15’s history, Santa Claus has been unseated from the number-one spot, replaced by defense contractor Oliver ”Daddy” Warbucks.

Richie Rich is at No. 4 and Mr. Monopoly at No. 6.


Jeremy Wagstaff recommends as a “more personal way to search the web.”

It happens through a service that allows users to recommend Web sites to others who then “stumble upon” them according to their interest. Think of StumbleUpon as a community of foodies passing suggestions to each other about which restaurant to visit. If I find a Web site — a restaurant in my analogy — that I like, I’ll make a note of it, tag it with a category or two (history, film, railways) and post it to my StumbleUpon collection of bookmarks so others can find it. When I’m browsing (going out for dinner) and I need some suggestions, I’ll click on a button marked ‘Stumble!’ in the special toolbar that StumbleUpon installs on my browser and be taken off to a page selected by another member of the community; the choice is random, but narrowed down by my interests. This is itself a useful guide, since I’m leveraging the shared interests of thousands of other people.

TECH TALK: Cyworld: India

Danah Boyd recently put forth a definition of a social networking site:

A “social network site” is a category of websites with profiles, semi-persistent public commentary on the profile, and a traversable publicly articulated social network displayed in relation to the profile.

To clarify:

1.Profile. A profile includes an identifiable handle (either the person’s name or nick), information about that person (e.g. age, sex, location, interests, etc.). Most profiles also include a photograph and information about last login. Profiles have unique URLs that can be visited directly.

2.Traversable, publicly articulated social network. Participants have the ability to list other profiles as “friends” or “contacts” or some equivalent. This generates a social network graph which may be directed (“attention network” type of social network where friendship does not have to be confirmed) or undirected (where the other person must accept friendship). This articulated social network is displayed on an individual’s profile for all other users to view. Each node contains a link to the profile of the other person so that individuals can traverse the network through friends of friends of friends….

3.Semi-persistent public comments. Participants can leave comments (or testimonials, guestbook messages, etc.) on others’ profiles for everyone to see. These comments are semi-persistent in that they are not ephemeral but they may disappear over some period of time or upon removal. These comments are typically reverse-chronological in display. Because of these comments, profiles are a combination of an individuals’ self-expression and what others say about that individual.

The definition is relevant in the Indian context. Social Networking sites in India are starting to happen. Google’s Orkut has the early advantage, but there are many others which have been launched or are in the pipeline. One factor that needs to be taken into account in India is that PC and Internet usage, though high in numbers, is not free and always available. Much of the Internet access happens from cybercafes for which users have to pay by the minute. This tends to limit the potential of social networking via a computer.

In India, I think mobiles will have to be the primary device for social networking because they are with us all the time. But mobiles too have their inherent limitations. Data networks are still quite expensive to use. Getting applications on phones is hard. SMS and voice are the only two universal interaction modes available on all phones. The challenge and opportunity lies in leveraging the mobile as a social networking platform keeping in mind the future. Phones are becoming multimedia computers, data networks will become more affordable, and the mobile internet will become much more of a reality. Japan and South Korea have demonstrated early successes in combining mobiles and social networking. India too can do the same in the next 12-18 months. In that context, we have to more to learn from a Cyworld than a MySpace or a Facebook. Keeping in mind Danah Boyd’s definition and translating it for India is what will create India’s Cyworld. The jigsaw puzzle is waiting to be solved.

Continue reading

Augmented Reality

Technology Review writes:

A Nokia research project could one day make it easier to navigate the real world by superimposing virtual information on an image of your surroundings. The new software, called Mobile Augmented Reality Applications (MARA), is designed to identify objects viewed on the screen of a camera phone.

The Nokia research team has demonstrated a prototype phone equipped with MARA software and the appropriate hardware: a global positioning system (GPS), an accelerometer, and a compass. The souped-up phone is able to identify restaurants, hotels, and landmarks and provide Web links and basic information about these objects on the phone’s screen. In addition, says David Murphy, an engineer at Nokia Research Center, in Helsinki, Finland, who works on the project, the system can also be used to find nearby friends who have phones with GPS and the appropriate software.

Buddy Stats

[via Thejo] Fred Stutzman writes:

I came across a Harris Interactive poll entitled Friendship in the Age of Social Networking Websites that contained an interesting statistic – the average number of friends teens keep on respective buddy lists.

The poll found that teen have an average of 52 friends on the IM buddy list, 38 friends entered in their cell phone – but they have 75 friends in SNS. The poll also found a 75% of teens use SNS.

Enterprise RSS

InfoWorld writes:

RSS (really simple syndication) is a favored XML format for individuals to get information from sources such as news sites and blogs. In fact, a recent Pew Internet Foundation survey found nearly one in three individuals consumes RSS feeds. But for enterprises, the most telling response was that 63 percent of these RSS users subscribe to work-related feeds.

That latter finding shouldnt surprise IT managers. After all, RSS readers are easy to install and use. This technology does a fine job helping workers cut through irrelevant information that floods portals, enterprise search results, and e-mail. But as RSSs popularity rises, so do risks. For example, precious network bandwidth is consumed when many employees update the same feed. Plus, there are security risks associated with accessing inappropriate feeds.

To get around these issues and give more employees the benefit of RSS, organizations are adopting enterprise RSS solutions. I tested three hot products in this burgeoning area: Attensa Feed Server, NewsGator Enterprise Server, and KnowNow 3 Enterprise Syndication Solution.


[via Vinu] Engadget writes:

The folks at GridNetworks, working in conjunction with content providers, are confident that they could get the CDN portion of the above scenario to well under 400 Terabytes. And, even more importantly, by pushing the data to the end-user grid in advance they would be able to lower the peak bandwidth requirements by at least another order of magnitude. The result is an extreme cost savings for the content providers.

Why does that matter to you? That’s simple. It means more content. You see — there are vast libraries of content sitting in vaults blocked by (among other things) delivery costs. It stands to reason that if an episode of “It’s Like, You Know” costs 50 cents to deliver, it’s got to sell for more than 50 cents, and, as great as the show was, few people are going to pay more than 50 cents to watch an episode. If, however, you can cut those delivery costs down to 5 or 10 cents, there’s a whole new market to be had.

Lenovo CEO Interview

Excerpts from a WSJ interview with Bill Amelio:

WSJ: There are a lot of rumors out there that Lenovo is working on a $100 PC. What’s the story?

Mr. Amelio: We’re not there yet, but we’ve just announced a program in India and China with Microsoft and Intel that allows people to get access to a PC for somewhere between $100 and $150. The strategy goes like this: We take a fully functioning PC, and we drop the cost in half. The bank picks up one half, and the customer picks up the other half. Then the customer buys computer cards, just like you buy phone cards. You can buy a card for, say, 10 hours of computing. Over time, you essentially buy back the computer from the bank by buying computer cards. This opens up computing to people who would never be able to afford it otherwise.

WSJ: How do Lenovo’s marketing strategies differ around the world?

Mr. Amelio: In India, we work with Bollywood actors and do key product placements on game shows. Outside of the U.S., soccer is very popular, so we hired Ronaldinho to do ads for us. In the U.S., we’re working with the NBA [the National Basketball Association]. Another way is through the Olympics, which have broad appeal around the world. We’re doing some interesting stuff with blogs, too — check out the Design Matters blog on