Attention Stream Control

The Economist writes:

eth Goldstein, a serial entrepreneur based in San Francisco, believes that the personal information contained in users’ click trails, online chats and transactions is something they ought to take hold of and sell themselves, generating direct payback. Attention is a valuable resource, and we’re getting to the point where it can be parsed in real time, he says. So he has co-founded a new venture called AttentionTrust.

This type of grassroots self-marketing is also the idea behind GestureBank, another anonymised data-aggregation tool started by Steve Gillmor, an American technology commentator. Users will be able to make a hell of a lot of money, Mr Gillmor predicts, by deciding which aspects of their behavioural data go into a central pool. He imagines such services will initially take hold among bloggers, who love analysing how many readers they have, who they are, and how their readership compares with that of other bloggers. Before long, he hopes, advertisers will follow with their chequebooks.

Audio Interview by Vijay Rana

Vijay Rana has done with an audio interview me about Novatium and the network computer.

No! it is not a dream. It’s now a reality for 400 poor families in Chennai. A company called Novatium has introduced this unique concept in computing where all the computing, multimedia and Internet applications are set up on a remote server. This NetPC has no conventional processor and no hard-disc. It is connected to a remote server through a cable operator or phone company. You can connect to this server by paying a monthly fee like you now pay for Internet service provider or the cable operator. Recently, the Newsweek Magazine profiled the cofounder of NetPc, Rajesh Jain: “This formula may just change the way the average person thinks of computing.” Comparing the NetPC with the $100 laptop of MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte, the Newsweek wrote, “if the winning formula turns out to be Jain’s, or something like it, it could kill the PC altogether. Here in this exclusive interview Jain unveils his vision of a PC for everyone in India.

Metaweb’s Freebase

The New York Times writes:

A new company founded by a longtime technologist is setting out to create a vast public database intended to be read by computers rather than people, paving the way for a more automated Internet in which machines will routinely share information.

[Danny Hills] says his latest effort, to be announced Friday, will help develop a realm frequently described as the semantic Web a set of services that will give rise to software agents that automate many functions now performed manually in front of a Web browser.

Founders at Work Book

Paul Kedrosky writes:

I’m often asked what single book I’d recommend startup founders read. Until now, I didn’t have a good answer, but now I do: the recently-released “Founders at Work” is great. It is the best read for startup CEOs (now and future) I have come across in ages.

Mind you, the book is no strategy tome, nor a motivational text, nor even a guide to getting money out of adrift VCs. Instead it’s just painfully honest revelations, some good, some bad, and all in interview form, from the founders/creators of companies/products like Adobe, Apple, Flickr, Gmail, Hotmail, Paypal, Excite, and so on.

I could choose from myriad examples, but I’d rather you just read it. The “I quit” moments; the struggle to find what you’re really going to do after the thing that you started to do doesn’t work; the predictable battles with VCs (and the dish from some founders about a few famous VCs); and on and on, all of these are the reasons to buy the book.

TECH TALK: Good Books: The Strategy Paradox (Part 2)

Here is what the description of The Strategy Paradox says (via Amazon):

A compelling vision. Bold leadership. Decisive action. Unfortunately, these prerequisites of success are almost always the ingredients of failure, too. In fact, most managers seeking to maximize their chances for glory are often unwittingly setting themselves up for ruin. The sad truth is that most companies have left their futures almost entirely to chance, and dont even realize it. The reason? Managers feel they must make choices with far-reaching consequences today, but must base those choices on assumptions about a future they cannot predict. It is this collision between commitment and uncertainty that creates THE STRATEGY PARADOX.

This paradox sets up a ubiquitous but little-understood tradeoff. Because managers feel they must base their strategies on assumptions about an unknown future, the more ambitious of them hope their guesses will be right or that they can somehow adapt to the turbulence that will arise. In fact, only a small number of lucky daredevils prosper, while many more unfortunate, but no less capable managers find themselves at the helms of sinking ships. Realizing this, even if only intuitively, most managers shy away from the bold commitments that success seems to demand, choosing instead timid, unremarkable strategies, sacrificing any chance at greatness for a better chance at mere survival.

Michael E. Raynor, coauthor of the bestselling The Innovator’s Solution, explains how leaders can break this tradeoff and achieve results historically reserved for the fortunate few even as they reduce the risks they must accept in the pursuit of success. In the cutthroat world of competitive strategy, this is as close as you can come to getting something for nothing.

Drawing on leading-edge scholarship and extensive original research, Raynors revolutionary principle of Requisite Uncertainty yields a clutch of critical, counter-intuitive findings. Among them:

— The Board should not evaluate the CEO based on the companys performance, but instead on the firms strategic risk profile
— The CEO should not drive results, but manage uncertainty
— Business unit leaders should not focus on execution, but on making strategic choices
— Line managers should not worry about strategic risk, but devote themselves to delivering on commitments

With detailed case studies of success and failure at Sony, Microsoft, Vivendi Universal, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T and other major companies in industries from financial services to energy, Raynor presents a concrete framework for strategic action that allows companies to seize todays opportunities while simultaneously preparing for tomorrows promise.

Tomorrow: The Strategy Paradox (continued)

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