Widgets

Newsweek asks if 2007 will be the year of the Widget.

If you sit in front of a computer at work, chances are there are certain Web sites that you monitor throughout the day, every dayto check e-mail, weather, stock portfolios or sports stats. But, thanks to widgets, taking multiple steps to track down headlines in one place and then check your e-mail in another may seem woefully outdated this time next year. These mini-applicationsalso called gadgetsare simple bits of code, easily dragged onto a desktop or pasted into a personal page, where they are constantly updated with whatever information you want. Its the exact opposite of what the Web used to be, explains Om Malik, a tech journalist and founding editor of gigaom.com. Last month Malik and Niall Kennedy, another tech blogger, organized and hosted Widgets Livean entire sold-out conference devoted to the topic (in, where else?, San Francisco). Widgets, he says, bring the Web to you. Think of it as tech jewelrybling for your blog; ice for your desktop.

If 2006 was all about social networks, user-generated content and YouTube, then its a fair bet that 2007 will be about further personalizing life online.

VRM, CRM and DRM

VRM is vendor relationship management. CRM is customer relationship management. DRM is digital rights management. Doc Searls writes:

We need social systems that are supported technically. For example, it might be easy to steal produce from a grocery store or to tale money from tip jar at a coffee shop; but most customers don’t do that. Why? Yes, it’s illegal, but so is “stealing” music by copying it without authorization. The other reason people don’t steal in physical places is that the market itself has clear structures some physical, some social that are supported by technology. When we’re in a grocery store or a coffee shop, we are playing a role as a customer that comprises a kind of relationship with the vendor. The physical and technical structure of a store shapes what we do there and how we do it, together. We are still lacking that structure in cyberspace in the market’s commons as well as in stores.

We need to create technologies that support practices, which in turn support social conventions, which in turn support markets that grow around everybody’s participation. VRM is a means toward all those ends. By starting with the customer, it doesn’t turn the old power pyramids upside down, or bottom-up. It turns the role of the customer inside out. It gives customers power to engage. Power to provide values other than cash.

New Search Engines

The New York Times writes about the search for the next Google:

Powerset is hardly alone. Even as Google continues to outmaneuver its main search rivals, Yahoo and Microsoft, plenty of newcomers with names like hakia, ChaCha and Snap are trying to beat the company at its own game. And Wikia Inc., a company started by a founder of Wikipedia, plans to develop a search engine that, like the popular Web-based encyclopedia, would be built by a community of programmers and users.

These ambitious quests reflect the renewed optimism sweeping technology centers like Silicon Valley and fueling a nascent Internet boom. It also shows how much the new Internet economy resembles a planetary system where everything and everyone orbits around search in general, and around Google in particular.

There is way too much obsession with search, as if it were the end of the world, said Esther Dyson, a well-known technology investor and forecaster. Google equals money equals search equals search advertising; it all gets combined as if this is the last great business model.

Social Media

Steve Rubel writes:

In 2006 all media went social. Pretty much every newspaper, TV network and publication has wholeheartedly embraced these technologies. Newspapers have comments, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis and other forms of two-way communications. TV networks have a presence in Second Life and more. The lines have blurred. Even some of the marketers themselves are producing content that could be called “media.”

The changes in communications go deeper, however. The media formerly called mainstream also communicates in a far more conversational tone that it did before — one we use.

So as we roll into 2007, it’s fair to say that “social media” as a separate entity is dead. This will only accelerate as individual publishers add employees and build networks of sites that compete with the big boys. Need proof? Look at what Om Malik and Michael Arrington accomplished this year.

There’s no point in differentiating any more. The story that Dan Gillmor chronicled in his landmark 2004 book We the Media has only accelerated. We are all one and it’s silly to classify us into two different species.

TECH TALK: The Best of 2006: 6. Mobile Web

Even as mobiles become computers, the mobile web experience leaves a lot to be desired. What will bring the breadth and depth of the web to the mobile? This is an important question, especially seen from the perspective of users in emerging markets for whom the mobile is likely to be the first and primary web access device.

Ajit Jaokar has been outlining what the Mobile Web 2.0 should be:

I see web 2.0 as the Intelligent web or harnessing collective intelligence
Mobile web 2.0 extends the principle of harnessing collective intelligence to restricted devices.

The seemingly simple idea of extending web 2.0 to mobile web 2.0 has many facets for instance :

a) What is a restricted device?
b) What are the implications of extending the web to restricted devices?
c) As devices become creators and not mere consumers of information what categories of intelligence can be captured/harnessed from restricted devices?
d) What is the impact for services as devices start using the web as a massive information repository and the PC as a local cache where services can be configured?

Thus, the characteristics(distinguishing principles) of mobile web 2.0 are:
a) Harnessing collective intelligence through restricted devices i.e. a two way flow where people carrying devices become reporters rather than mere consumers
b) Driven by the web backbone but not necessarily based on the web protocols end to end
c)Use of the PC as a local cache/configuration mechanism where the service will be selected and configured

Another way to look at this idea is to consider what is NOT mobile Web 2.0. Broadcast content generated by the media industry which users are passively expected to consume: is not mobile Web 2.0. That includes most ringtones, most games, movie clips etc.

More posts by Ajit can be found here.

Tomorrow: Bottom of Pyramid Innovation

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