Crowd Clout

[via Thejo] TrendWatching writes:

The power of groups, the clout that crowds can exercise to get what they want, is nothing new. What is new, however, is the dizzying ease with which likeminded, action-ready citizens and consumers can now go online and connect, group and ultimately exert influence on a global scale. Call it group power, call it CROWD CLOUT:

CROWD CLOUT: Online grouping of citizens/consumers for a specific cause, be it political, civic or commercial, aimed at everything from bringing down politicians to forcing suppliers to fork over discounts.

Supercomputing

The New York Times writes about a new machine being introduced by Andy Bechtolsteim of Sun:

At a high-performance computing conference in Dresden, Germany, he plans to introduce his newest machine: a supercomputer to be named the Sun Constellation System that will compete for the title as the worlds fastest when installation is complete this year.

A lot of these high-end systems are superego machines, he said, referring to the industry practice of competing for the ranking of the worlds fastest computing mcahine based on a single type of mathematical calculation. Indeed, some of the fastest supercomputers slow to a crawl when they are given types of problems that require the movement of significant amounts of data between processors.

Mr. Bechtolsheim thought he had found a solution to that problem by modifying an industry standard data switch, making it possible for any of the 13,000-plus Advanced Micro Devices Barcelona microprocessors to communicate with each other more than 10 times as fast as with existing switches.

Social Sites and Class Divide

BBC writes:

Fans of MySpace and Facebook are divided by much more than which music they like, suggests a study.

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college.

By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education.

In India, a teenager I know put it thus: “South Mumbai uses Facebook, North Mumbai uses Orkut.”

Foxmarks

TechCrunch writes:

Mitch Kapor likes to solve problems. In the 80s, he was the guy behind Lotus 1-2-3, the first killer app for computers. More recently he decided to tackle a a simpler problem – synchronizing Firefox bookmarks across multiple computers. His popular Firefox plugin, Foxmarks, has been downloaded 700,000 times and has 350,000 active users.

All those users create some very well organized bookmark data. Unlike Del.icio.us, where people throw thousands of bookmarks for later reference, users tend to have fewer, but more important, bookmarks linked directly from their browser. And they spend more time properly annotating those bookmarks, Kapor says. So far, Foxmarks is tracking 250 million bookmarks, from 20 million unique URLs.

Mobile Video

Michael Mace writes: “I think there’s a role for mobile video, but considering the limits on user interest, and the huge technical and business challenges, it’s not going to be the great horizontal application that drives the mobile data market. At best, it’ll be a nice add-on for entertainment-focused users who want video in addition to their MP3s and games.”

TECH TALK: Apple iPhone: Competition and Need

Walter Mossberg wrote about two alternatives Blackberry’s Curve and the Nokia N95.

The new BlackBerry Curve 8300, sold by AT&T, is sort of a cross between the maker’s low-end consumer-oriented Pearl and its larger, more traditional models like the 8800 series. It costs $199 after rebate, with a two-year contract.

The Nokia N95…[which costs $749]….lacks a full keyboard, physical or virtual and its email is primitive, but that’s not its main purpose. This device is the best combination of a camera and a phone I’ve ever tested, and includes a long list of other media features.

For $749, you could buy the Curve and a very nice digital camera. But the N95 is for photo enthusiasts who want an all-in-one device. The Curve is a more mainstream smart phone that aims for a balance of features at a low price.

Paul Kedrosky wrote in April why he thinks we need the iPhone:

Mobile browers are awful. The Treo isn’t bad, and it’s the best of the above three, but the Samsung and Blackberrry browsers should be outlawed. They are that bad. They are so bad that Blackberry users’ opinions about mobile services, mobile startups, etc. should be summarily dismissed.
iPhone: Browser is reputedly very good.

Touch screens rule. Once you’ve gone touch you’ll never go back. Treo has it, Blackberry doesn’t, and it drives me nuts. Trying to use a thumb wheel to touch a specific screen element is like dancing about architecture. It’s briefly mildly entertaining, but ultimately stupid.
iPhone: Touchscreen. ‘Nuff said.

Big screens rule. The Samsung screen is teensy and irritating. The Blackberry and Treo screens are bigger and better, but I want more. I hate having online real estate so crunched. It feels so … 640×480.
iPhone: Big, bright mofo screen.

Information Week writes about the browsing experience:

Forget the fact that the ultra-high-speed surfing shown on the first crop of iPhone TV commercials is a crock. Forget, too, that the main technical impediment to fast smartphone browsing isn’t software — it’s the carrier networks. (Many of the carriers are putting higher-speed networks in place, though for the iPhone only AT&T is of concern.)

Where Jobs has it right is that we all want an alternative to the excruciatingly slow loads we have to deal with today, on our BlackBerrys and other smartphones. Jobs is correct in implicitly recognizing that lighter, WAP-style Web pages aren’t really what users want. They don’t deliver complete enough content, nor do they do enough of an end-around to the slow-loading issue to matter.

So, notwithstanding all my iPhone bashing, Jobs’s vision that browsing on your mobile device should be no different than it is on your PC is absolutely on target.

Tomorrow: Industry Impact

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