July 18, 2005

Apple leading the way

As Longhorn gets more and more delayed, Apple is really taking advantage of that by introducing some cool apps for all the new hot trends. After nailing down the music market they are aiming to extend iTunes to the video market.  Starting from podcasting support they will no doubt go all the way to make vlog look good on iTunes.

So what's next ? Going to Apple store to rent out Sundance movies ! Or may be on-demand download of hard to find movies !

Apple1

I think this lead by Apple has very important implication for the developers  market.  Developers market will eventually become a three way contest.  Split along  -

Superior aesthetics       (Mac platform)
Superior convenience  (Windows)
Superior economics      (Open source)

It will be hard to avoid any of the three platforms but aesthetics will come around to differentiate every developer's innovation. Importance of aesthetics will grow suddenly, more so in the highly commoditized IT landscape.

So my advice to developers- dont just pass on ipod and iTunes by saying its all about music and video ! Time to include audio and video in your good old  enterprise app is now ! Atleast start thinking about it.

If I have to borrow developer's jargon then I would say Apple is successfully transforming the basic data type of the development from text to rich media (sound and video). Implications will be significant.

July 18, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 17, 2005

Whitney's Legacy

Story of Eli Whitney is very relevant in our times. Times of intellectual property debates, patent controversies and general concerns related to piracy.

Whitney's greatest contribution to American industry was the development and implementation of the American System of manufacturing and the assembly line, which he was the first to use when producing muskets for the U.S. Government. Whitney's concepts were later exploited by Henry Ford and others in manufacturing.

There exists question today over whether the cotton gin, which Whitney received a patent for on March 14, 1794, and its constituent elements should rightly be attributed to Eli Whitney; some contend that Catherine Littlefield Greene should be credited with the invention of the cotton gin, or at least its conception. It is known that she associated with Eli Whitney (along with other historical figures such as George and Martha Washington). Some historians believe that this invention allowed for the African slavery system in the Southern United States to become more sustainable at a critical point in its development.

Born in Westborough, Massachusetts, he was graduated from Yale College in 1792. While his ideas were innovative and useful, they were so easy to understand and reproduce that the concepts and designs were readily duplicated by others. Whitney's company that produced cotton gins went out of business in 1797.

He never patented his later inventions, one of which was a milling machine

Doron S. Ben-Atar, associate professor at Fordham University draws upon  Eli Whitney's story to drive home new findings regarding the evolution of intellectual property issues in US.

His central thesis captured in the book will remind everybody of other country - which apparently is following US but in a more secretive (and some would say more methodical way) way in exploiting the interpretations of intellectual property. That country is  China.

In Doron's word -

This book focuses on the role policies relating to intellectual property played in promoting the appropriation of smuggled technology which led to the emergence of the United States as the premier industrial power in the world. I study the evolution of the American approach to the problem of the relations between intenational boundaries and intellectual property from the colonial period to the age of Jackson. I examine the role of federal and state governments in that transformation and study the contradictory (some would even call it hypocritical) American policy. Officially, the young republic pioneered a new criterion of intellectual property that set the highest possible standards for such claims - worldwide originality and novelty. At the same time, through a variety of measures, the government endorsed and supported the violation of intellectual property of European states and individuals. The United States emerged as the world's industrial leader by illicitly appropriating mechanical and scientific innovations from Europe.

This issue needs to be understood at three levels - individual ownership(and later on corporate) of intellectual property, protection and interpretation within national jurisdiction and finally in the increasingly flat world protection  and interpretation across national boundaries.

Have we come full circle and finally met Eli Whitney in acknowledging the futility of patenting any technology?  In this world of fast innovation and fast replication - next generation Eli Whitney's will not be motivated to go to the patent office.

National level issues are well understood.  It's the global protection which is raising new concerns.  In a short history of the very idea of intellectual property - its only 200 yrs old ! - countries will be driven by their social-economic compass to interpret the property rights.  Be it providing cheap AIDS drugs to Africa or China proposing new technology standards to bypass patent regime, every country will use their domestic agenda to build new rules to either flout or to respect the ip issues. Near evangelical adoption of Open source in developing world is another aspect of this same phenomena.

Countries at the receiving end will definitely be quoting from Doron's work.

This issue will be here for some more time.

July 17, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Open source components on the rise

Evans Data research suggesting a sharp increase in  open source share in the overall component mix (as preferred by developers).

While 38.1 percent said they used OSS modules in their applications in Spring of 2001, in the most recent survey, 56.2 percent said they had.

Looks like cost is not an issue any more !

July 17, 2005 in Open source | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2005

Redesigning the American High School

C-SPAN is running a live show hosted by National Governors Association. It's about fixing the education system world over and specifically US.

Dilip Thakore just finished his mildly suck-up speech. No new data points but lot of passionate pleas.  He made it a point to convey his painful 2-ocean crossing journey to make it to this esteemed conference (which was supposed to by and for the likes of Arnold-The-Kalifornian).

No Child Left Behind is a new tool and new reason for schmooz-fest. I dont see any new experiments or real concrete findings but the rehash of same old concern. No conference on No Child Left Behind without The Flatman !

Tune in now , as the Flatman Begins !

July 16, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 15, 2005

What happened ?

Paul Krugman lamenting over  state of the nation and specifically  Rove -

it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?

Make sure you check the wikipeadia article on Karl Rove.   

July 15, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 14, 2005

Primary education - fix this first !

Rajesh points to the education system crisis as it exists in the primary sector in India. Though much is written about the vast pool of engineering graduates but  picture at the primary level is embarassing and shameful !

According to Rajesh :

375 million. That is the number of Indians in the 6-19 age group. As they grow up and enter the workforce, they are bound together by one need - education. And by all accounts, they aren't getting enough of it. In an article, Business Week (Jan 31, 2005) called India "a nation of dropouts." The facts bear out the stark reality. "While 96% of India's children enroll in primary school, by the age of 10 about 40% have dropped out, says the education department. Just over a third of high school students graduate."

Educating India's young is a problem that needs immediate attention. Every year, we are closing the window to a better life for tens of millions of Indians. At the same time, it is not an easy problem to solve. India has a million schools. Most of them are in rural areas and government-run. Teachers and teaching leave much to be desired across most of them. Unless we come up with innovative, radical solutions quickly, we will be squandering India's greatest asset.

On a related note I asked Atanu on  how to make people attend to a crisis  by constantly 
emphasizing that problem as a crisis.  His suggestion :

Awareness of important issues requires two things: one, information, and two, the capacity to internalize the information and become aware of the issue, which could then lead to some sort of action related to the issue

Can this capacity be increased by some intervention ?

In a deterministic society its very hard to attend to one problem at the expense of others but I think in some social contexts attending to one problem by treating as a calamity will result in  better results overall  versus giving a piecemeal solution to many problems.

Primary education is a disaster in India and I don't see any sign of that improving dramatically.  Country is enjoying some attention at the top level but the basic seeds which make any society strong and responsible are not getting proper education.

I believe corporate sector should step in here and have a ownership model where certain tax exemptions will be tied to their contributions at the primary education level and not just at the vocational course level.  Some form of social rebate model can be introduced which companies can avail by owning the resource welfare of  primary schools.

It's no brainer to extend the theory this  segment once educated will have better sensibilities towards future global issues such environment and energy !

July 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 13, 2005

Ruby Vs J2EE

Aaron Rustad wrote a pretty good white paper comparing Ruby on Rails with J2EE framework. Those who care to follow programmer productivity metrics and enterprise frameworks will do themselves a favor by reading this.

Ruby's claim of being 10 times more productive than other framework may be better left for performance  debates but there is no doubt about it's capability to provide  faster development cycle and simplicity. Some popular apps written with Rails include Basecamp, 43Things,  and I am sure there are many more in the works right now.

July 13, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2005

Real estate job growth

NYT has interesting data points on jobs related to the real estate  sector. 

Encompassing everything from land surveyors to general contractors to loan officers, the sprawling sector has added 700,000 jobs to the nation's payrolls over the last four years..

Combined, the rest of the economy has lost nearly 400,000 jobs over the same span, which stretches back to the start of the most recent recession, in 2001.

Residential housing now makes up 16 percent, or $1.9 trillion, of the gross domestic product and is the economy's largest single sector, slightly bigger than the industries and services that supply health care, according to Economy.com

This shows how much more this real estate market can grow in India where its at around 7% of the GDP ! As Indian society moves towards ownership culture there will be significant ecosystem build-up around real estate.

Whereas here in the local market, don't expect any help for the first time buyer either as the lobby has it's reach all the way to the top:

The economic growth of the real estate industrial complex has only added to its longstanding political clout. The housing and construction industries gave $167 million to campaigns during the 2004 election cycle, more than the agribusiness, defense, energy and computer industries put together, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington

July 10, 2005 in Silicon Valley | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 08, 2005

Who is going to make money ?

Rebecca Henderson answers this question in this MIT video clip :

If you are in the business of making "boxes" -- say, to play downloaded music, or to compute data-you are facing a dilemma Customers are no longer seeking the best designed product, but "a total system experience." Whether the business involves bicycles or cell phones, medical or financial services, the future in an interconnected world is about selling parts of interconnected systems. So firms must "think about controlling architecture or influencing the architecture of the system and building the best products within it."

The challenge will be to seize on the right strategy for competing in a world where a common telecommunications backbone connects devices and people everywhere. If your systems don't dovetail with the architecture of this telecom backbone, you might face "sudden death" when the market for your product tips toward a different standard. Henderson suggests that organizations are more likely to survive if they embrace public open standards such as Linux, and abandon proprietary software. She advocates "soft standards," where companies design systems compatible with current and future public standards but at the same time offer customers performance and functionality tailored to their needs

Many people claim that they know how to make money in this web2.0 world but it's hard to say at this point.  It's in a very early phase right now,  it will be a different picture once the standards dust settles.

July 8, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 06, 2005

Follow the MacHeads

Looks like Mac users are really driving the RSS adoption, as per Brian Livingstone's research:

  • Bloglines* -- 19.49%;
  • NetNewsWire -- 10.07%;
  • iTunes -- 9.53%;
  • Firefox Live Bookmarks -- 7.25%;
  • iPodder -- 7.17%;
  • Also brief mention that overall blog count has reached a 10million mark !

    July 6, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)