Telecom Upheaval

WSJ writes about the threat posed to traditional telcos by Google’s plans to offer free WiFi in San Francisco:

By offering consumers free service, Google could pressure traditional providers to slash fees for Internet access, a growing source of telecom revenue — when they don’t have Google’s advertising revenue to make up the difference, and have large, extensive networks for transmitting voice and data to maintain.

Google’s proposal to use wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, technology would cost far less than a traditional network. It also would give Google a direct pipeline into consumers’ homes — long the big edge for telephone and cable companies.

Wi-Fi enables very fast wireless Internet access by essentially spraying an existing connection out for several hundred feet with wireless antennas. It can bypass the valuable last-mile connections of local telephone and cable companies to homes and businesses and instead allow users to connect to the alternative network of a fiber or long-distance provider.

Can we do something similar in India?

Run Like Mad is New Model

Phil Wainewright writes about a talk given by Google’s Adam Bosworth and quotes: “Software is not about intelligent design, it’s about intelligent reaction. It’s about figuring out what works for people which will change over time, as costs go down, as mobile VoIP phones suddenly become pervasive the things that we need to do for you will not be the same as the things we needed to do for you before a laptop was the standard operating piece of equipment for everybody, which was not the same as when you installed enormous disks that were 100k disks. You have to learn and you have to change with the times. You have to follow your customers in real-time.”

Web-based Office Will Happen

So says Richard MacManus: “The time for the web-based office will come, mark my words. When broadband is ubiquitous, web functionality is richer, issues of security and reliability have been put to rest, and most importantly of all – when Corporates are ready to make the jump. It may be 5-10 years down the track, it may be longer.”

Long Tail of Software

Chris Andersen writes:

The old commercial software model was, like so many others, largely hit-driven. Software companies developed bloated one-size-fits-all software applications for big markets, and then left the customizing of that software to IT consultants or the users themselves. As Joe put it, “the traditional focus has been on dozens of markets of millions instead of millions of markets of dozens.”

Now that’s changing. Joe [Kraus] started the new model with Jotspot, which focuses on the “millions of markets of dozens” by using the Wiki approach to let individuals build custom apps easily. Salesforce’s AppExchange takes that one step further by creating a marketplace of such small, niche applications (everything from market research to health care management) that run on the hosted Salesforce platform. And others, such as SAP, are preparing to launch similar aggregators of Long Tail software based on their own platforms.

Wikibooks writes:

If you found yourself needing an old biology textbook and couldn’t locate your battered copy from college, you’d have a few options.

You could go to a university bookstore and snag a used copy; you could drop a few dollars on a new one at; or you could track down some old college chums and ask for their copies.

But if Jimmy Wales and his colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation have anything to say about it, you could have another way to go–the Wikibooks project. It’s their attempt to create a comprehensive, kindergarten-to-college curriculum of textbooks that are free and freely distributable, based on an open-source development model.

Created in the same mold as the Wikipedia project–the open-source encyclopedia that lets anyone create or edit an article and that now has nearly 747,000 entries in English alone–Wikibooks is still in its earliest stages.

TECH TALK: Web 2.0: The Past Year

The Web 2.0 meme was coined by Tim OReilly and John Battelle who first organised a conference in 2004. In an interview to preview this years conference, here is what they had to say (recorded and partially transcripted by Information Week):

…he wrote, “Web 1.0, content created by someone else,” “Web 2.0 content created by the user.” [the architecture of consumption vs. the architecture of creation]
…the secret of success on the Web appeared to be harnessing the users…
…people don’t usually think of Google as a user-participation company…
…users build the relevance into Google…in some sense Google is a collective-intelligence application…
…and that leads you to another principle…the long tail, which has gotten a lot of press since Chris Anderson introduced that term…
…in Web 1.0, everyone was trying to build walled gardens…increasingly you’re seeing sites that are prospering by creating open fields…

Here is an overview of last years conference. This is what I wrote in the introduction to that series:
The next Web has been creeping upon us. Through the hiatus of the past few years, entrepreneurs and once-maligned Internet dotcoms have been working to put together a new Web around us. It has many elements which were mostly unheard of a few years ago web services, RSS, blogs, wikis, social software, and the like. It is about machines interacting with other machines to make a better experience for us. Underlying this new Web is commodity hardware and open-source software and a lot of innovation, which goes by the name of lightweight business models. The Web is becoming a platform.

Much has changed in the past year. The use of Ajax popularized by Googles Gmail and the innovative Google Maps interface brought the possibilities of the emerging technologies to the forefront. In parallel, the popularity of blogs has amplified the culture of participation. Who would have thought a couple years ago that something like Wikipedia could have been possible? Or that we would take photos and share them with others through a site like Flickr? Or that Google, from its humble origins as a search engine built on algorithms that measured page relevance based on incoming links, would become the worlds largest media company by market capitalisation and be in a position to threaten the reign of Microsoft, the dominant software company of the past two decades? Change is in the air. There is palpable excitement. There is something new being created. For some, it is like 1995 all over again. So, what really is this Web 2.0 thing?

Tomorrow: Tim OReillys Views

Continue reading TECH TALK: Web 2.0: The Past Year