zaterdag 31 mei 2003

Business 2.0

Don't Believe the Hype About Strategy

The best way to build a company for the future is to cut back on meetings and get to work. There I sit, at yet another board meeting, listening to an executive drone on about sales strategy and product strategy as he points to slick overheads filled with analyses of potential markets and buzzwords about competitive positioning. Then it dawns on me -- almost no one in the room, including the person talking, has visited a customer or, for that matter, even used the company's product in their own work. Unable to contain myself, I blurt out, "How about this for a sales strategy: Instead of sitting around talking about customers, why not call on them? Why not try to sell to them and, at the same time, find out what they want so we can improve?"

Under almost all conditions, fast learners are going to outperform even the most brilliant planners.

vrijdag 30 mei 2003

The Economist

Prime clicking time

At last, internet advertising that works but does not annoy. Surfing the web, like the waters, is supposed to be a smooth and speedy experience. But these days, it is more a case of dodging obstacles: advertising windows pop up all over the screen. In reaction, many computer users have installed programs to block the ads. AOL, the leading online service, is distributing software that lets its 35m subscribers suppress pesky pop-ups (except its own, of course). Fortunately, this irritating online marketing could be the last gasp of a doomed attempt to advertise on the web in basically the same way as print. A less annoying alternative has been found that is more effective than banner ads, which are now mostly ignored by surfers. These are simple, text-based ads that are directly linked to what people are doing online.

The third era starts here

The programmable web will fundamentally change how we use information stored on the internet. Jack Schofield explains how. Google doesn't own the web, according to its director of technology, Craig Silverstein. The competition is just a click away. Thousands of programmers are now devoting their own time to developing things that could change that. What used to be a search engine is turning into a platform for applications. Of course, it's not just Google that is changing. Amazon and eBay are doing the same thing, but much more seriously. As a result, some people think that the web is now entering its third era. After static web pages and dynamic web pages, we are now developing what some are calling "the programmable web," though whether it is still the web remains open to doubt.

woensdag 28 mei 2003

Online music on verge of revolution

A generation from now, historians may look back at 2003 as a year that redefined popular music. Although the significance of Apple Computer's recently announced iTunes music service is debatable, it underscores an undeniable trend toward bringing digital music to the masses. This three-day special report examines myriad elements of the music universe that were unthinkable only a few years ago.

zondag 25 mei 2003

Business Week

Yahoo! Act Two

After leading a gritty turnaround, CEO Terry Semel is thinking big. So is the competition. When Terry S. Semel walked into the Sunnyvale (Calif.) headquarters of Yahoo! (YHOO ) Inc. for his first day as chief executive on May 1, 2001, he faced an unenviable task. Ad sales at the Internet icon were plummeting, and the new CEO was replacing the well-liked Timothy Koogle, who had been pushed aside by the company's board. Worse, leery employees quickly saw that Semel, a retired Hollywood exec, didn't know Internet technology and looked stiffly out of place at Yahoo's playful, egalitarian headquarters. Would this guy tour the Valley in the purple Yahoo car, as Koogle did, or play a Yahoo kazoo? Fat chance. And instead of bunking in nearby Atherton or Palo Alto, like other Silicon Valley execs, he rode off every evening in a chauffeured SUV to a luxury suite at San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel.

"If We Run Out of Batteries, This War is Screwed."

It's early April, days before the fall of Baghdad, and a convoy of trucks from the 11th Signal Brigade is rolling through southern Iraq. The mission: establish a digital beachhead in central Iraq. Without this advance node and a handful like it, the Army's Third Infantry Division cannot receive the precise targeting information it needs to fight its way into the capital. About 9 am, soldiers in the convoy see something that fills them with dread: four dead sheep by the side of the dusty road. Within a mile, they spot two more and quickly pull the convoy to a halt. What many had feared since arriving in the Middle East now looks to be a reality: chemical attack. The convoy leader does two things, one in keeping with well-established military protocol and one entirely new. First, he makes a lot of noise. He lets out three long blasts on the horn - the low tech signal for a chemical attack. Then, after donning his own protective gear, he turns to a computer terminal bolted to the dash of his vehicle.

zaterdag 24 mei 2003


A Matrix in every medium

Anime, video games, movies: The synergistic storytelling frenzy of the Wachowski brothers is like nothing we've seen before. Four years of waiting are finally over for "Matrix" fans. This Thursday will mark the simultaneous release of "The Matrix Reloaded," the first of two sequels set to hit movie screens this year, and "Enter the Matrix," a companion video game. The second wave will arrive on June 3, with the release of a DVD titled "The Animatrix," containing a series of nine animated film shorts set in the world of the Matrix. The DVD of "Reloaded" is expected to follow in late October, clearing the way for the release of "The Matrix Revolutions," the third and final installment of the "Matrix" saga, in early November.

Make cheats, not war

The US army's foray into violent PC games has been hailed a success. But, says David McCandless, it didn't allow for one thing - cheaters. Christopher has been killed in action many times: 305 to be exact. But his most recent death was the last straw. Defending an Alaskan pipeline from terrorist attack, he and his nine-man squad came under fire from a sniper who picked them off, one by one, in just under a minute. "We were lying on the ground, prone, in thick fog," he says. "There's no way he should have been able to shoot us, let alone see us. He must've been cheating."

woensdag 21 mei 2003

USA Today

Sound technology turns the way you hear on its ear

Rarely is an invention so unique, so visceral and so simple that in 15 seconds most people who experience it realize it could alter everyday life. But that's what happens to just about anyone who steps out to the back parking lot of American Technology Corp. (ATC) here for a demonstration of its invention called HyperSonic Sound (HSS). Essentially, HSS for the first time does for sound what the laser did for light � intensely focuses and channels it so it can travel great distances without dispersing. In the demo, a technician points a speaker the size of a cereal box at someone standing 100 yards away. Amid the din of the nearby freeway, the technician plays a recording of ice cubes clinking into a glass.

dinsdag 20 mei 2003

The New York Times

Business Is Toying With a Web Tool

Is there a role for wikis in the workplace? The wiki, a quirky software technology that has been kicking around the Web since the mid-90's, is starting to gain respectability. But will the business world embrace a tool that until recently has been used mainly by techies and Internet free spirits? A wiki � the Hawaiian word for fast � is similar to a Web log in that the software makes it extremely easy for anyone to publish on the Internet. But unlike a Web log, which is typically the work of a single author making diary-style entries in chronological order, a wiki is the collective work of many authors.

A new brand of journalism is taking root in South Korea

Lee Bong-Ryul has a day job as an engineer at a semiconductor company. In his spare time, he's helping to shape tomorrow's journalism. Lee is an active ``citizen-reporter'' for OhmyNews, an online news service. Only 4 years old, the publication has already shaken up the South Korean journalism and political establishments while attracting an enormous audience. OhmyNews is transforming the 20th century's journalism-as-lecture model, where organizations tell the audience what the news is and the audience either buys it or doesn't, into something vastly more bottom-up, interactive and democratic.

maandag 19 mei 2003

Growing up wired

In the coming weeks, the first wave in a generation of teens unlike any other will graduate from Silicon Valley high schools: The vast majority of them will remember an adolescence lived to an astonishing degree on the Internet. These teens, some of whom have been online nearly a decade, are among the Internet's first natives, at home in the wired world to a degree their parents may never wholly understand.

zaterdag 17 mei 2003

Washington Post

Middle Schoolers, Letting Their Fingers Do the Talking

A shy 10-year-old girl who has trouble talking face-to-face with other kids has dozens of online friends and spends hours every day sending them instant messages. A 10-year-old boy communicates with his cousins across the country through regular IMs, never even considering a phone call. An 11-year-old girl, looking for a friend to take to the movies, goes first to the computer to see who's free, and only later -- reluctantly -- agrees to pick up the phone to find someone. Parents of children this age say they have been waiting for their preteens to talk over the phone line and buzz away, but it's not happening and it looks as if it may not happen at all. The land line, it seems, is just so last century.
The New York Times

Film Rentals, Downloaded to Your PC

Decades ago, a Mad magazine cartoonist, Dave Berg, offered a vision of how the Soviet Union might win the cold war. Here in America, a never-ending succession of labor-saving devices - escalators, cars, remote controls and so on - had already created the most sedentary society on earth. All the Soviets had to do was wait until we evolved into living Weebles, complete with tippy, round bases and vestigial leg sprouts. Then they would just knock us over with the butts of their rifles.

How cell phones are changing our social habits

We're ruder. We're later. We're more spontaneous, less hamstrung by geography and at least semi-willing to accept rules of conduct created by children. Mobile phones may be smaller than ever, but they're changing us in big ways. Context, a Baltimore company that uses anthropologists to study consumer trends, says as much in its latest study of cell phone users, a report called ``The Mobiles.''

vrijdag 9 mei 2003

Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet

Customer-owned Networks: ZapMail and the Telecommunications Industry

To understand what's going to happen to the telephone companies this year thanks to WiFi (otherwise known as 802.11b) and Voice over IP (VoIP) you only need to know one story: ZapMail. The story goes like this. In 1984, flush from the success of their overnight delivery business, Federal Express announced a new service called ZapMail, which guaranteed document delivery in 2 hours. They built this service not by replacing their planes with rockets, but with fax machines. This was CEO Fred Smith's next big idea after the original delivery business. Putting a fax machine in every FedEx office would radically reconfigure the center of their network, thus slashing costs: toner would replace jet fuel, bike messenger's hourly rates would replace pilot's salaries, and so on. With a much less expensive network, FedEx could attract customers with a discount on regular delivery rates, but with the dramatically lower costs, profit margins would be huge compared to actually moving packages point to point. Lower prices, higher margins, and to top it all off, the customer would get their documents in 2 hours instead of 24. What's not to love? Abject failure was not to love, as it turned out. Two years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, FedEx pulled the plug on ZapMail, allowing it to vanish without a trace. And the story of ZapMail's collapse holds a crucial lesson for the telephone companies today.

donderdag 8 mei 2003


Blogger: Catch Me If You Can

A mysterious weblog purporting to be the journal of an anonymous heiress on the run from her wealthy family appears to be a hoax. But the site and offline elements supporting it are so elaborate and so well executed that many bloggers suspect the whole thing just might be true. The Flight Risk weblog tells the incredible story of Isabella V., a wealthy young woman who claims she went into hiding in early March to avoid an arranged marriage.

Your TV is watching you

Advertisers want to use new technology to monitor your every click -- and prevent you from tuning out their ads. And don't even think of trying to escape. Several years ago, Predictive Networks, a software company based in Cambridge, Mass., set out to determine what it could tell about a person based on how he or she used a television remote control.

woensdag 7 mei 2003

Business 2.0

Online Advertising After the Bust

If you think today's Web ads are in your face, wait until tomorrow's barge in. In 2001, when I was an editor for, I proposed a column on why Web advertising didn't work. My boss approved the column, but by the time I'd written it, had gone under, in part because it hadn't taken in enough advertising. Usability experts have been heralding the uselessness of online ads since at least April 1997, when Jakob Nielsen wrote -- and gave evidence showing -- that only the top 0.01 percent of websites could take in enough advertising to make a business of it. "Banner blindness" was what worried online advertising agencies back then. It's six years later, we've seen boom and bust, yet one thing has not changed: Advertising is still the overwhelming source of revenue for many sites, even profitable ones like the highbrow and lowbrow Drudge Report.

zondag 4 mei 2003

Business 2.0

How to Make Money on the Net

The second Internet boom is quietly taking shape -- and this one looks like it's going to last. Here's how six innovative businesses learned from the past and have begun to make the Web work for them. When Wells Fargo (WFC) was a startup, broadband meant 5 mph. That was the average speed of the Wells Fargo stagecoaches that carried bullion and financial documents between the boomtown of San Francisco and cities to the east. The system had its problems -- bandwidth was limited by the need to replace the horses every 12 miles, and then as now, online security was an issue. (Hackers today, bad guys with six-shooters back then.) But the stagecoach beat shipping by sea, which took upwards of six months. Mail delivery from St. Louis to San Francisco in less than four weeks? That was revolutionary technology.

zaterdag 3 mei 2003

Business Week

The E-Biz Surprise

It wasn't all hype. For companies as well as consumers, e-commerce is hotter than ever. Since mid-2000, when the stock market slump began turning dot-coms into dot-goners, the popular perception of the Internet has spiraled ever downward. By last year, Internet bankers and analysts, those onetime masters of the business universe, were targets of government investigations. A book titled dot.con, deriding the Net as "the greatest story ever sold," became a best-seller. One academic even claimed that porn, gambling, drug-dealing, and the like comprised more than 70% of e-commerce. The bold and transforming vision of the Net, it seemed, had dissolved into a digital dud.

donderdag 1 mei 2003

Wall Street Journal

If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here's How to Set It Straight

Basil Iwanyk is not a neo-Nazi. Lukas Karlsson isn't a shadowy stalker. David S. Cohen is not Korean. But all of them live with a machine that seems intent on giving them such labels. It's their TiVo, the digital videorecorder that records some programs it just assumes its owner will like, based on shows the viewer has chosen to record. A phone call the machine makes to TiVo, Inc., in San Jose, Calif., once a day provides key information. As these men learned, when TiVo thinks it has you pegged, there's just one way to change its "mind": outfox it.
The Christian Science Monitor

Hard drives make inroads into rural India

Molly Ninan is about the last person on earth you'd expect to have a handheld computer. A field nurse in this rural Indian village, she sets out on foot every day to monitor the basic medical needs of roughly 7,000 residents of an area rife with poverty and illiteracy. But in this hamlet 25 miles south of New Delhi, Ms. Ninan is using state-of-the-art technology to track patient medical histories, immunization and natal-care needs, and education and literacy levels. As she does, she joins a major government undertaking to develop useful technologies for common people in India's countryside which could serve as models for the whole developing world.