« November 2004 | Main | January 2005 »

December 31, 2004

Recommendation leads to commerce

Chris Anderson expanding on the Long Tail concept:

I think narrow-focus blogs and other microsites with high trust amongst their readers will be an essential compliment to recommendations within commerce sites. The first can create demand from scratch by interjecting recommendations into an otherwise interesting stream of content; the second steers it once a consumer is already in buying mode.  Both are great at encouraging consumers to explore down the Tail with confidence, pulling diamonds from the rough, wheat from chaff and signal from noise.

Subtle recommendation is what will link A-list blogger's content to the commerce.  I am already seeing some bloggers with good traffic doing not-so-subtle favors.  Though I don't see how anybody can avoid this development

December 31, 2004 in Emerging Technologies, Enterprise software, social computing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Top Media Ideas Of 2004

Jay Rosen on PressThink has a good summary of new ideas which will change media as we know it.

1. The Legacy Media.
2. He said, she said, we said.
3. What the printing press did to the Catholic Church the blogging press does to the media church.
4. Open Source Journalism, or: "My readers know more than I do."
5. News turns from a lecture to a conversation.
6. "Content will be more important than its container."
7. 'What once was good--or good enough--no longer is."
8. "The victory of affinity over geography."
9. The Pajamahadeen.
10. The Reality-Based Community.

Read the whole essay. Its very informative if you are new to media intricacies like me. If this year was important for media then next year we will see this blog-driven change reaching Enterprise world. Some of the points will read like this:

             4. "Business of business: Customers knows more than I do."
              6. "Conversations will be more important than the PR droppings."
              8. "Victory of honesty over spinning."
             10. The Trust-based enterprise.

Nobody should complain , world is getting a better place. More power to those who give more power to consumers !

December 31, 2004 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2004

Prediction Time

It's that time of the year when every hack  (or a geek like me who has found an easy publishing tool !)  will serve his bits acting as if he just had a lunch with Nostradamus.

Predicting the near-term technology future is tempting. If you are a careful follower of blogosphere's  echo chamber threads  and know that we all smoke from the same weed (credits to Om Malik for stating this loudly), then predictions are going to be sideways variations of  the known trends.

There will be normal vendor moves in reaction to the broader technology cycles and there will be nuts rolling out applications from their garages not knowing how to make money but surely they will cause lot of heart burns in the top tech 100 and joy in the long tail market. There will be more new memes. (Is this a coincidence that meme is pronounced like dream) .

Though I will need a place to cover from all the blogs which are going to talk about Apple, iPod, Skype, Google, Blogging, RSS,  Podcasting. Not that I dont like reading about all this but too much of the samething makes echo chamber very boring. 

So here is my suggestion for all pundits out there. Go get a copy of Nassim Nicholas's book - Fooled By Randomness.  That will sober down all the trend-chasers as well. My suggestion is do all the chasing after reading this book. You will be doing yourself a big favor.

In the words of one reviewer:

We are built to see patterns, to find causes for things, and to believe in our own rationality. We cannot help doing it. The attraction of Taleb's book is that he is very well aware of this. He knows nothing he says can dispel the illusions created by randomness, and that he is as susceptible to them as anyone. His only advantage is that he is aware of the failing, and can try to play tricks on himself to circumvent it - by denying himself access to junk information, for example. The book's short but excellent final section deals with this Zen-like problem of trying to break oneself out of a mould of thinking that cannot be broken, even though one recognises its shortcomings.

Once you finish that book then you can come back to the fun game :)  of placing bets.  Having put the disclaimer of "game" right there I am free to place my slot machine bets. Here they are :-

  1. Google will buy a big non-technology company for their information assets.
  2. Microsoft will open source their application suite - Navision or Great Plains , causing big shake in the Linux market as well as in enterprise software world.
  3. Big game changing deal will be signed by Chinese communications equipment company (OK this was easy)
  4. Starbucks floor panners will add kinko type services to serve latte-sipping free agents as this market keeps growing. Small meeting room with a presentation screen is a logical addition. Pricing will be bundled with wifi/latte/backup/presentation/music download. There will be podcast DJs hosting coffee parties in those rooms.
  5. 90% of the software startups getting funded will either have hosted offering or will have dual
    licensing (supporting open source from the get go). Other 10% will be serving niche markets.
    Atlast one major Indian SI firm will buck the trend and spin off a product based company, stock market will punish them for taking unnecessary risk and will boot the CEO. But eventually this will start a broader trend of "productized" services companies.
  6. Leading companies will start mining blogs and thus paving the way for eventual replacement of pricey industry analysts. Bloggers wont get a dime from this.  Eventually this dollar will go to the likes of Yahoo and Google.
  7. Microsoft will announce an attractive package to counter Google's adsense offering,  marketing promotion which will make many bloggers jump ship and move to MSN Spaces. Microsoft will subsidize this service to get many more subscribers to their search service and other MSN properties.
  8. There will be more lawsuits involving bloggers
  9. Cisco, Oracle , Intel and other big company's marketing folks will search for an in-house answer to the Scoble phenomena. 

This is like a tired slot machine ritual which can go on and on.  OK I am done here,  I will go and  join my other friends who are probably paying poker in some other casino.

Update:  Will collect all signals and undercurrents which come close to what I predicted.

This one for point 4.  Starbucks definitely need to work on more power outlets.

December 30, 2004 in Random Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is Flickr a game?

Over there at Giant Ant's blog I  found this interesting analysis of Flickr. 

I’ve been trying for a week or so to figure out what flickr is. I mean I know it’s a photo sharing site, but what makes it so damn interesting? Then, last night, I finally figured it out: flickr is a MMORPG.

Read the whole analysis. Its a good one.  I like Flickr and never get tired of admiring their whole take on the community interface design.

December 30, 2004 in Emerging Technologies, social computing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2004

There is lot more to do

Overall toll count keeps climbing and to make things bad we have this real danger of  epidemic spreading all over the place. This calamity is without any parallel and we will be discovering heart wrenching stories for many months.  In times like these one wonders what more we can do ?

Donating money is the easy and the necessary part, real challenge lies in channelizing efforts on the gigantic scale and bringing help to folks who need that right NOW.  Help will be needed on many levels and good Samaritans who are volunteering help will be needing emotional strength as well. I had the opportunity of joining one such mission back in 1991, when big earthquake in the hilly area of  Northern India killed close to 700 people. While volunteering the rescue operation I learned few lessons at that time -

  • Keep your journalistic instincts in check.  Not everything is a story, there are real human issues involved. Close your camera and the laptop, lift that boulder  or the rock and you can still save few lives.
  • Don't be an onlooker. This is a generic Indian malaise, where anything bad happening in a social context invites thousands of onlookers. If you are not helping solve the problem then don't stand there.
  • Keep your agenda in check. I saw sickening acts in the name of religion.  Desperate people will do anything to get shelter and food, don't exploit that.
  • Politicians and celebrities  stay away from the scene during the early days. I saw temporary helipads made so that some big gun can land at the right scene.  Resources can be better deployed to move around critical services - food, shelter, emotional  and medical assistance.
  • Let critical resources take priority in moving around - don't jam telephones, don't clog airports, train stations and other transit points.  Critical service providers will be using these resources during these times.

At the personal level its frustrating to know your own limitations. People need help right now and I can only sit and write about it.  On the bright side,  there are positive signs that the world is fast becoming a better  place to live-in. We can  clearly see that PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.

Bloggers are showing the way by consolidating information and disseminating at  a never seen before pace.  We need similar innovation in fund collection as well. Why can't  government agencies accept paypal and credit card payments ?


December 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2004

Tsunami blog: please link to them

Sumit pointed me to this blog , which is designed to aggregate all developing links/news about the tragic event.  Smart mob at his best. Great work guys.

Please link to this so that folks who want to help know how to do that. Also use the listed phone numbers to inquire about the rescue operations.

As always in a tragedy of this proportion there are  individual stories which force you to wonder about our fragile existence.

December 27, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (76) | TrackBack

Lawyers as part of your engineering team

Dan Bricklin on open source based development and legal processes getting increasingly overlapped:

You can't put your head in the sand and say "we won't use Open Source." The question for developers is not just how to be involved in an Open Source development project, but also how do you be a part of a normal, for-profit business and deal with the Open Source issues. You have to learn that your lawyer is your friend, that the lawyer is a part of the development team the same way that the Quality Assurance person or the Usability person is part of the team. The same way your compiler gives you warning messages about syntax, you are going to get warning messages from your lawyer and you are going to need to say "let us figure out together how to interface these two products without violating the licenses". This is a new part of development and developers need to be trained about this.

This is a new reality and not many companies realize this. You will see many more deals falling apart,  more inefficiency during the component selection and product launch delays due to this yawning gap between engineers (who spent their nights hanging out on sourceforge) and product manager's understanding of open source licensing.

We at Apptility are going to focus on solving this problem. Team has come up with a quick  version of open source license browser which will be deployed on apptility.net very shortly.

December 27, 2004 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Numbers keep rising

Second morning and the toll figure just keep rising.  Along with that the stories of what could have prevented this.  Pankaj points to the link about alerting system - which could have helped if it was there.  Numbers keep rising and it is heart wrenching.  Natural disasters are bad and what it really rubs it is the rapidly increasing casualty figure.

One theory which again points to our legendary lack of imagination in the Indian sub-continent is absence of alerting system on Indian Ocean. It seems Pacific Ocean had this since 60s. With gazillion dollars going into remote sensing satellite couldn't they have alerted this one hour early and in the process saving thousands of lives.

Bangalore team: Take a day off and help those who really need your help. There are plenty of aid agencies collecting the donations (quick Google will help on that). Please be generous.

Others this is the time.  Most of those who were affected belong to the coastal areas and part of fishing community.

December 27, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 26, 2004

Natural disaster

My prayers go out to the family members of those who died during this tragedy. Earthquake combined with tsunami wreaked havoc in many nations.

Spread over the 1600 miles, and it all happened in less than 2 hours !

Can better sensing and alert technique reduce the damage in the future ?

December 26, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 25, 2004


As part of the ongoing effort to clean up and get my acts together on this blog, I finally updated the blogroll today. It was a 10 minutes job but it took me quite some time !

Thanks to all the folks whose blogs I have been reading, I must say I learned a lot from all of you. Most of these folks  I don't know and sure they don't know me either.  Still we are connected in a weird way.

My good friend Mehul introduced me to this whole blogging rage back in the middle of 2003.  I was sufficiently intrigued at that time.  Initially I was mostly reading Rajesh Jain's blog, and became a big fan of his tenacity and discipline.  Hats off to you Rajesh. 

Eventually circle expanded and now I can say proudly that I made lot of friends through blogging. Many of them I eventually met face to face.  Tomorrow I am meeting Pankaj again, this time to see if we can cook up something for India using cellphone and TV, and in the process help make non-knowledge workers more money (remember all the good things go to those who are bound to the broadband and a keyboard !).

Now blogging is  part of our life, so much so that we also decided to add our own little contribution to this whole social computing phenomena. Stay tuned for more on that.

December 25, 2004 in Random Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack