Wired 40

Wired lists “masters of innovation, technology, and strategic vision – 40 companies that are reshaping the global economy.”

The top 10: Google, Nokia, Yahoo, IBM, Cemex, eBay, Amazon, Microsoft, Vodafone and GlaxoSmithKline.

The surprise? Cemex at No. 5. Here’s what Wired writes: “CEO Lorenzo Zambrano has made Cemex a case study in transforming a hopelessly low tech enterprise into a model of info-age efficiency. He did it by understanding that cement needs technology. It dries a few hours after it’s mixed, so GPS-equipped Cemex trucks make deliveries within 20 minutes. And because it’s costly to transport, tight management of production, inventory, and distribution pays. To that end, the Mexican company’s IT system coordinates operations in 33 countries, allowing managers to identify best practices in far-flung plants. It also helps Cemex quickly fold in new ventures like Arkio, which ships materials to construction sites in Mexico within 48 hours. In the slow-mo building trade, that’s about as just-in-time as it gets.”

On Seeing An Interesting Website

When I came across an interesting website in the past, I’d do one of various things: try and remember the site, bookmark it (problem, sice I use at least 3 different computers at home and work), email the link to myself and then file it away somewhere.

Now, I look for the RSS feed and add it to my Info Aggregator subscriptions. Takes a few seconds, and I don’t have to worry about the site again. All the updates get delivered into my mailbox. Of course, the problem is what if the site doesn’t have an RSS feed. That is the other point. Most of the new and interesting sites I am coming across are blogs and have RSS feeds. If not, I try and generate one through BlogStreet’s RSS Generator.

Now that I am so steeped in this, I cannot imagine doing things differently. Am able to handle a significantly higher quantum of information without spending any more time. I can feel technology making me more productive.

Adobe Acrobat’s history

SJ Mercury News traces the 10 years of Adobe Acrobat, which is now the biggest earner for Adobe.

Acrobat is the growth engine…In the process, Acrobat is transforming Adobe from a maker of digital palettes and canvasses into a master of digital communication.

From the early days when he tacked up fliers to “sort of sell it within the organization,” Warnock, the gray-bearded intellectual, was Acrobat’s biggest supporter. In its earliest stages he called the project “Camelot,” because it envisioned a perfect world where the incompatibilities of digital documents vanished; in a 1991 memo describing the project Warnock declared that “if this problem can be solved, then the fundamental way people work will change.”

So after years of development, on June 15, 1993, Adobe launched Acrobat 1.0. But the fundamental way people worked didn’t change right then. Acrobat looked like a dud, and Warnock was puzzled.

“I thought the world would immediately get it,” he recalls. “I thought that once people figured out that they could distribute documents across a great variety of computers, it would be the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Continue reading Adobe Acrobat’s history

TECH TALK: The PubSubWeb: The Information Ecosystem

In all the focus on weblogs, one of the important aspects about the mass-market publishing revolution is being missed out. The real value lies in the RSS being produced that the actual blogs. Blogs are just one form of publishing information which happen to be focused on an individual or a community. There is a lot of other information out there which needs publishing and distribution. That is still hard, and this is what the PubSubWeb makes easy.

Consider the information ecosystem to consist of information producers and information consumers. The producers would like tools to make publishing and distribution easier, while the consumers would like to have tools which make receiving and subscribing to information easier. Currently, producers put up information on websites and then use email for notification, or search engine advertising and optimisation to attract users. Similarly, consumers either have bookmarks of specific websites they visit often or subscribe to mailing lists or newsletters from sites to know what is new, or use search engines to locate information.

This ad hoc approach is not scalable, with the result that most people restrict their website visitations to a handful of websites. Even for these sites, one has to visit most of these sites periodically for finding out what is new. There has to be a better way to distribute and access information.

There is a class of information that has the following four attributes:

  • It is frequently updated (as opposed to being static)
  • It needs to be repeatedly distributed to a continuously interested set of entities (as opposed to one-off, need-based access)
  • Access to it is incremental (as opposed to getting a complete web page)
  • There is a need for push – near-real-time delivery or notification (as opposed to demand-driven pull)

    Weblogs are a good example of content that satisfies all the four criteria. There is a lot of other information that can be seen to satisfy these criteria it is only that we havent thought of information like that because we did not have the capabilities to meet these needs. Examples of this type of information include stock quotes, cricket (or other sports) scores, flight arrival and departure information, weather, news headlines. Within the enterprise too, there is a lot of such information inventory levels and sales status are two examples. On a personal level too, there is plenty of such information for example, alerts for meetings, and events taking place in my neighbourhood (discount offers from shops, seminars).

    In fact, much of the information overload problem comes in because we end up getting information that we dont really need to get if only we could be guaranteed that when exceptional events happen, we can be notified near instantaneously. In essence, there is a gap between the information producers and consumers for information that meets the four criteria mentioned above. The solution is to establish an information stream between the information producer (publisher) and the information consumer (subscriber). This is at the heart of the PubSubWeb.

    Tomorrow: Microcontent and Events

    Continue reading TECH TALK: The PubSubWeb: The Information Ecosystem