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March 30, 2005


Little controversy is developing over at Wordpress.  Can't comment on the whole deal without first understanding Matt's position on this.  At the core of this is the  issue related to transparency and how that relates to tip-jar model of open source project funding.

I hope this doesn't slashdotted.  We need less emotions on this issue. Wordpress is a Linux of the blogging world and we need to make sure that it doesnt get tainted with this little issue.

March 30, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Death spiral might be irreversible

As somebody said good technology changes the user. My bloglines experience is something like that. It gives you a perfect platform to do a quick opinion comparison. Not just between the two bloggers but also across cultures. In one quick glance you can analyze how media is evolving differently in China, India and here in US.  Reading Jay Rosen's posts where he quotes Philip Meyer :

"If we are to preserve journalism and its social-service functions, maybe we would be wise not to focus too much on traditional media. The death spiral might be irreversible."

Post is worth reading, it tells you where this all important institution of media is headed and how at the fundamental level its getting challenged.  As Jarvis puts it instead of being a one-way pipe its fast becoming an open pool. And it's not just the mainstream media which is under lets-rediscover-our-business-model mode here, everybody who ever did any kind of PR or go-to-market campaign will have to rethink their strategy going forward.  Readership is shifting. Readers are  writers as well - no matter how their grammar and indentation sucks - they are here to stay !

If you compare this fast developing concept of grassroot journalism with what's happening in the emerging nations then you will realize how deep the disconnect is.  Over there the mainstream media was always about keeping the power equation intact - formalizing the status quo at the participant level while debating the change and state of the nation. It provided at some level the Rolodex and at some level necessary plug to promote political and business masters.  Power corrupts and in many emerging countries where the Internet-penetration is lacking it was left to the mainstream media to decide what to push and what to filter.

Thanks to digital revolution all that is changing. What is not changing fast enough is the viability of new business models around grassroot journalism (or blog-journalism or standalone journalism !).  Emerging countries need this new movement to take off.  Hopefully we will see viable models to emerge so that this form of journalism can flourish where its needed most.

March 30, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Think Week

He is a geek:

Four days into this Think Week, Mr. Gates had read 56 papers, working 18 hours straight some days. His record is 112 papers. "I don't know if I'll catch my record, but I'll certainly do 100," he said. Among the unread papers: "10 Crazy Ideas to Shake Up Microsoft."

I guess it does require so much of synthesis if you have lot to protect and at the same time have lot of passion for your business.

March 29, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Get used to this ?

You may not like this but our privacy is as vulnerable as some laptop lying in the server room begging for intruder's attention. This is lame, UC Berkeley will get lot of flak for this.

Rishi - I hope your Haas adventure wont cost you your identity !

Few years back I made this bet with a close friend that ours is a last generation to actively enjoy privacy. Frightening as it may sound but we may be very close to achieving that longtail distribution model of our privacy. So get used to the idea of strangers from all exotic places - Vegas, Florida, Nigeria, Hungary and Bangalore  discussing the price to put on your ssn.

March 28, 2005 in Silicon Valley | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2005

Developments in the content world

Digital content on both supply and demand side is going through lot of changes. Open media fans have launched Ourmedia.org.  This throws new possibilities in terms of how you can produce derivative work, more power to the remixing culture.

Keeping content distribution democratic and out of the conntrol of those who have deep pockets is  another matter.  Mark Cuban has decided to finance the legal case on behalf of Grokster in its fight against MGM. Mark's simple theory for getting into the content play :

When content went digital, the floodgates opened. Content could be delivered digitally in thousands of different ways, and the number of methods for distribution would only expand over time. To me this meant the power of the gatekeepers would diminish and the power of independent content creators and owners would increase. With the explosion of the internet and then broadband, not only did households explode with digital content replay devices, but more importantly, consumers became comfortable with the concept of what digital was and what it meant to them. From CDs to DVDs to cellphones to email to cameras to HDTVs, in all cases the move to digital represented an improvement in quality, availability, flexibility, mobility and more. Just as I knew that digital in TV would lead to an explosion in the acceptance of HDTV over time, which is why we started HDNet and HDNet Movies (www.hd.net) the same acceptance would change how consumers bought and used any and all content.

Very interesting point he made about Maverick being a content play -

I then added the Dallas Mavericks as a content play with digital implications.

Sports will be a good quality source of content for many years (Think Gladiator model !).  His main point though is about how significant this Grokster Vs MGM case is.

Unless Grokster loses to MGM in front of the Supreme Court. If Grokster loses, technological innovation might not die, but it will have such a significant price tag associated with it, it will be the domain of the big corporations only.
This isnt the big content companies against the technology companies. This is the big content companies, against me.

Sweeping precedent which can come out of this case is what worries everybody in the technology industry. That alone is a big reason why this should be carefully deliberated.

March 27, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2005

Xen and the art of causing MS-heartburn

Not easily to give into all the projections of MS-killer  and death of all proprietary software.  I am skeptical of any general statements about the potential or consequences of open source software. As always reality is buried in the details and segments.   Software world is a complex system and like any complex system it has evolving equilibrium points.  Between those equilibrium points one sees many game-changing possibilities.

One such possibility relates to the business goal of server  consolidation and scaling. That's where this open source virtualization software comes in - Xen. You will hear a lot about this.  This is what it does (via Zdnet - Gartner ) :

In March 2005, Intel announced the introduction of its Vanderpool hardware virtualization technology. This technology gives Xen the ability to support any operating system. Xen is small, with only 50,000 lines of code. This simplicity and its open-source license bode well for security and stability. Its availability will drive innovation across computing platforms. The product could become as common as the PC BIOS is today. XenSource s goal is to provide services and support to help companies implement Xen-based systems. The ubiquity of Xen drives this business model, so the open-source zero-revenue model becomes a benefit rather than a cost. XenSource has backing and support form Intel; IBM; HP, AMD and others

Same Gartner report mentions three  challenges this technology has to solve before its widely adopted -

  • technology can insert into target platforms without compromising performance, reliability or supportability
  • ecosystem of technology providers that plug into the Xen environment, enhancing platforms without changing one bit of the system image that runs in the platform partitions
  • Challenge from Microsoft.

Precisely to solve these challenges Xensource (commercial arm of the Xen creators) has managed to get Kleiner Perkins and Sevin Rosen on board.  In the mid-to-long term VMWare (and now EMC) should worry about this. In the short term this alone will expand the market for virtualization and may spawn new set of system level applications.   More stories on Xen is available here , here,   and download from here.

On a lighter note, staying on top of the open source buzz is like waiting for some shoe to drop. Which is happening one every day (or week depending on what you are counting - libraries or packages).

Probably both proprietary and open source world is working towards some equilibrium. How long it will take to reach there is anybody's guess.

March 26, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 25, 2005

Happy Holi

Happy Holi to everybody.  Using the new way to refer to images. I searched on Flickr for the tag holi and found this beautiful work.  (I hope Parag  wont mind my referring to this image)

holi art, originally uploaded by tutu.

Well as they say don't mind it's holi !

Here is a little intro to this festival of colors.  [Via IndianExpress ] Holi is marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality.

March 25, 2005 in Random Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

Movement to the middle

David Berlind over  at Zdnet quotes Microsoft's open shared-source honcho Matusow on Microsoft's movement-to- the- middle strategy:

The difference for us is that we felt very strongly that we knew that parts of our strategy were not going to meet open source and what the whole world was going to call open source. So instead of getting into a semantactical battle every other day, call it shared source and say "Look, we re not going to make decisions every day that the open source community is going to agree with." And truth to tell is that's not the most important issue. What's most important is that customers are having their needs met, partners are having opportunity built to go and spin off new businesses and build a greater ecosystem around the windows technologies, academics can do the work that they want to do, hobbyists can get to the interesting technologies. That's what matters to me. Not whether I can call it open or not.

Like it or not but this is where giants will eventually move.  They will create an over-arching blueprint license (license will become an engagement strategy to control platform) to create an eco-system. Sun's CDDL and Microsoft's Shared-Source program is nothing but an attempt to lay the foundation for having their own say in the open source movement. It will be interesting to see how far they will succeed and how other big software vendors formulate their own "proprietary" open source strategy. 

It will require many lawyers and many creative marketing gurus to craft a compelling firewall around their current revenue stream.

March 24, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

Loving flickr for these reasons

You got to love this.

Its amazing what all you can do with flickr.

March 23, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Get patents to get respect

With due respect to Rodney Dangerfield.

Steven on Eweek quotes Darl McBride on the analogy between software patent issue and the  nuclear MAD-based (mutually assured destruction) tacit rule.

If I stretch this analogy further then what this tells me is that countries like North Korea,  Pakistan, India, Israel among others must continue their nuclear arsenal build up if they have to get any reasonable respect from those who have pocket ful of these weapons.   Comparing these countries to open source startups is just plain stupid but since the analogy has already been made between the open source patents controversy with the MAD rule I might as well get some fun out of it.

Point is software patents are bad. But you need to have it if you want to get some Rodney Dangerfield type of respect. In the courtroom when two parties are going to clash with their lawyers you better have your hand in your pocket with your own bunch of 2mm Pinfire USPTO cartridges otherwise you are toast.

It makes legal sense to tweak that little cookie  to the left to get that patently obvious patent but go ahead anyways to get that. Its better to get some respect in this world !  Right ?

Wrong. This thing got to stop.  We don't need MAD type arrangement to get respect in this world or to throttle innovation.

Does this mean all big companies are going to treat startups the way Condi is treating North Korea? Probably. We are just waiting for some big proprietary software  company CEO to blame non-Linux OS component for the misssed quarterly numbers, then the next round of legal issues will gain momentum.  Call them post-SCO legal issues.

March 23, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack