A Digital Life

[via Shiv] Scientific American writes about “new systems may allow people to record everything they see and hear–and even things they cannot sense–and to store all these data in a personal digital archive.”

Digital memories can do more than simply assist the recollection of past events, conversations and projects. Portable sensors can take readings of things that are not even perceived by humans, such as oxygen levels in the blood or the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Computers can then scan these data to identify patterns: for instance, they might determine which environmental conditions worsen a child’s asthma. Sensors can also log the three billion or so heartbeats in a person’s lifetime, along with other physiological indicators, and warn of a possible heart attack. This information would allow doctors to spot irregularities early, providing warnings before an illness becomes serious. Your physician would have access to a detailed, ongoing health record, and you would no longer have to rack your brain to answer questions such as “When did you first feel this way?

In a sense, the era of digital memories is inevitable. Even those who recoil at our vision will have vastly more storage on their computers in the coming years and will expect software to help them more and more in utilizing it. Although some may be frightened at the prospect of ubiquitous recording, for us the excitement far outweighs the fear. Digital memories will yield benefits in a wide spectrum of areas, providing treasure troves of information about how people think and feel. By constantly monitoring the health of their patients, future doctors may develop better treatments for heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. Scientists will be able to get a glimpse into the thought processes of their predecessors, and future historians will be able to examine the past in unprecedented detail. The opportunities are restricted only by our ability to imagine them.

Google Apps

The New York Times writes:

On Thursday, Google, the Internet search giant, will unveil a package of communications and productivity software aimed at businesses, which overwhelmingly rely on Microsoft products for those functions.

The package, called Google Apps, combines two sets of previously available software bundles. One included programs for e-mail, instant messaging, calendars and Web page creation; the other, called Docs and Spreadsheets, included programs to read and edit documents created with Microsoft Word and Excel, the mainstays of Microsoft Office, an $11 billion annual franchise.

The e-mail and messaging package, which is based on products like Gmail, Googles e-mail service, has been available in a free trial since August and is supported by advertising. It has been used by thousands of businesses, educational institutions and other organizations, Google said.

Why Good Strategies Fail

AlwaysOn has an interview with Michael Raynor about his book “The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (and What To Do About It).”

The same strategies that have the highest probability of extreme success also have the highest probability of extreme failure. In other words, everything we know about the linkage between strategy and success is true, but dangerously incomplete. Vision, commitment, focus…these are all in fact the defining elements of successful strategies, but they are also systematically connected with some of the greatest strategic disasters.

For example, Apples strategy sometimes works great, and sometimes fails miserably. Its not that Apple sometimes forgets what makes for greatness. Its that what makes for greatness also exposes you to catastrophe. The same goes for Sony.

The New Music Industry

GigaOM has a post by Raghav Gupta of Brightcove: “We have an industry transforming itself before our very eyes. If you would have told someone in 1999 that, 5 years later, Apple would become one of the most powerful companies in the music business, they would have thought you crazy. The overall market will be bigger than it is today but spread out over more entities. The music industry of 2012 will be markedly different than the one we have today with new winners and losers. One things for sure we will all be consuming more music.”

Mobile Web

Ajit Jaokar quotes from a Tim Berners Lee keynote at 3GSM:

Web 2.0 community Web sites, eBay, and Flickr are possible because the Web standards, in turn, were widely implemented in an interoperable way, before those innovations. The same for the wikis, like Wikipedia, and blogs, and so on. The Web is a huge platform for innovation because of those standards. Any new genre of communication, any new social networking idea, immediately can gain the value of unexpected re-use by people across the world.

There is a very important difference in attitude between a foundation technology and well let’s call it a ceiling technology. A foundation technology is designed to enable innovation, to be the base which will support other even more powerful things to come. A ceiling technology is not. It is designed to provide a value, and for its provider to cash in and cash out. Proprietary music download systems are ceiling technologies to the extent that the technologists design to be also being the only store in town, rather than creating an open market. Though putting a lid on further innovation, they are still providing a service, and making sure they profit from it.

Ceiling technologies are the end of the road for innovation.

When you want to make a foundation technology, you need to look ahead. You need to put aside the short term return on investment questions and look at the long term.

TECH TALK: Demo 2007: Demo-ing, Proto.in

How to give a great demo? Here is advice from Chris Shipley that all of us should keep in mind:

Keep the mean time to demo brief. You had a brilliant idea for a product. You saw a compelling market need. All of that is context for the demonstration, you are certain. Sure, the back story can be interesting, but give the history context by showing the product first. Keep your introduction brief. If you can, skip it all together. Once you have the audience engaged with your product, youll have license to share a lot more detail.

Demonstrate use cases, not feature sets. You packed a lot of features into your product. Yet, sadly, few people buy products for the features, they buy them for the functionality. Remember the old line: people dont buy drills, they buy holes. Demonstrate what your product does, not how it does it.

Focus on results first, process second. Its in our nature to show Step 2 after Step 1, and before Step 3. The sequential process, though, doesnt always make for the most compelling demonstration. If the result is whats exciting about your product, show it first, capture the audiences attention, then tell them how you did it.

Forget the architecture. Youve designed your product to work elegantly in a multi-tier, integrated data structure, supporting a variety of end-point devices. And no one in the audience cares. That carefully drawn architecture slide, even when projected on a 12-foot screen, is an eye chart to the audience and confuses more than it clarifies. Skip it and stick to showing the product.


India had its first Demo-like event, Proto.in, in late Jaunary in Chennai. While we still have a long way to go, this is a good start. Indian companies need platforms to showcase the innovative work that’s happening. Hopefully, we will also see Demo itself come to India in the next couple years. With a growing domestic user base, there are now plenty of opportunities for companies to create solutions focused on the market within.

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