zondag 30 oktober 2005

Breaking the web wide open

Not much to add to what Marc Canter has to say... I agree.
If you'd like to understand what all this talk about openness really means, read it and click on the links he presents. It's that easy;-)

"Today's incumbents will have to adapt to the new openness of the Web 2.0. If they stick to their proprietary standards, code, and content, they'll become the new walled gardens—places users visit briefly to retrieve data and content from enclosed data silos, but not where users "live." The incumbents' revenue models will have to change. Instead of "owning" their users, users will know they own themselves, and will expect a return on their valuable identity and attention. Instead of being locked into incompatible media formats, users will expect easy access to digital content across many platforms."

Independent brand blogs

Weblogs are becoming more important in the context of managing brands. More brand blogs are indeed appearing, however, they are not run by the companies that own these brands... Which is one of the reasons some of them are so succesful.

"Consumers are skeptical of things told to them by companies," Mr. Kozinets said. Most consumers are searching for unbiased opinions, a niche that blogs can fill. A testimonial from one blogger can speak directly to readers in a way advertising does not."

A world controlled by us

There's an interesting discussion going on who owns and profits from the wisdom of the crowd. Jeff Jarvis has a long post that touches upon most of the interesting themes, a must read...

"This is no longer a centralized world, a world controlled by those institutions. This is a decentralized world, a world controlled by us. And if you try to take control away from us, you will lose. It used to be that you could take control away from us and we had nowhere to go. But in this post-scarcity world, we can always go somewhere else for content or information or service. There’s always another news story, always another email service, always another search engine. Thus my first law, once again: Give us control and we will use it. Don’t and you will lose us."

Advertising's opportunities

Very interesting to read about how Google's advertising business is evolving.

"Google isn't quite pursuing that sort of deal, but it is trying to have big retailers link their inventory systems directly to its advertising auction. That way, a toy store chain, for example, could respond to a search for dolls with an ad for either Barbies or Bratz, depending on which were overstocked in the store near the user's home. "Most retailers only advertise 5 percent of their products," said Tim Armstrong, Google's vice president for ad sales. "We can let them advertise all of them."

Intellectueel eigendom kost mensenlevens

Ik heb al eerder aangegeven dat ik niet geloof in intellectueel eigendom en dat ik denk dat het patent- en auteursrechtsysteem afgeschaft zou moeten worden. Het is achterhaald en remt innovatie nu eerder dan dat het deze bevordert, zowel op het culturele als industriële vlak. Om nog maar niet te spreken over de vele idiote voorbeelden van patenten op software zoals deze in de VS vergeven en geëxploiteerd worden. De enige vorm van intellectueel eigendom waar dit alles misschien (nog) niet voor geldt is het merkenrecht.

Het voorbeeld dat altijd als tegenargument gebruikt wordt is dat van de farmaceutische industrie. Waarom zouden zij miljarden investeren in de ontwikkeling van nieuwe geneesmiddelen wanneer deze vervolgens vrijelijk door ieder ander bedrijf (na)gemaakt kunnen worden? Goede vraag, en er is inderdaad geen eenvoudig antwoord op. Maar ik denk echt dat we als samenleving (op globaal niveau) andere instrumenten hebben om innovatie in een dergelijke industrie te stimuleren. Waarom zou een organisatie als de Verenigde Naties, namens ons als wereldbevolking, niet de pijngebieden in kaart kunnen brengen en de noodzakelijke financiering kunnen verstrekken om onderzoek en ontwikkeling te doen? Om daarna eventuele innovaties te publiceren en ze patentvrij te laten exploiteren door een ieder die er een markt voor ziet. Concurrentie, altijd goed om innovatie te bevorderen, zou in zo'n (financierings)model zeker niet hoeven te ontbreken. Laat voorbeelden als de X-Prize, Darpa's Grand Challenge, het 'betaalde-pitch-model', universitair onderzoek, 'beauty-contests', etc. ons wat dat betreft inspireren.

En waarom zouden we dan gelijk niet de lessen en methodieken uit de open source wereld meenemen in een dergelijk systeem om verdere innovatie te stimuleren en waar mogelijk beschikbaar te maken voor anderen zodat er op doorontwikkeld kan worden?

Het geven van een monopolie om voor een bepaalde periode beschermd winst te kunnen maken en daarmee tegelijkertijd innovatie te remmen kan toch serieus niet de beste oplossing zijn in de wereld van vandaag? Dat kost zelfs levens.

"In fact, it's been said for years that, especially in developing nations, it's often important to ignore intellectual property issues from developed nations in order to protect citizens. Of course, the counter argument is that none of these drugs would have been developed in the first place if there weren't these patent laws around. While that may be debatable, it is true that the cost of developing these drugs often requires a high expected payout at the end. So what are ways to align these two issues? How can companies expect to get paid for saving lives -- and still make the products affordable enough that they actually can save lives?"

Intellectual property is costing lives

I've said before that I don't believe in the concept of intellectual property and that I think existing patent and copyright systems should be removed. They no longer make economic sense and are blocking, instead of stimulating, innovation. Both in the cultural and industrial parts of society. With the many ridiculous cases of granting software patents in the US as a perfect example. The only form of intellectual property that probably (still) makes sense is trademarks.

An example that is always being used as a counter argument in this case is the pharmaceutical industry. Why would they still invest billions in the development of new drugs when anyone is allowed to copy these innovations and market them? A good question for which there is no easy answer. But I do think that as a society (on a global level) we have alternative means to stimulate innovation in these kinds of industries. Why should a new form of public-private cooperation involving an organization like the United Nations, on behalf of all of us, not be able to map all problem areas (lack of innovation due to high economic risks) and provide necessary funding for research and development? Innovations should be published and allowed to be used, patent free, by anyone who thinks there is a market for them. Competition, always a good driver for innovation, should definitely have a place in such a (financing) model. Let examples like X-Prize, Darpa's Grand Challenge, the 'paid-pitch-model', scientific research, 'beauty-contests', etcetera, inspire us.

And, at the same time, why not integrate the lessons and methods from the succesful open source communities in such a system in order to make sure innovations are being made accessible so that they can be further build upon?

Granting monopolies for a certain period of time in order to protect profits, with the risk of slowing down innovation, can not seriously be the best possible answer in today's world. It's even costing lives.

"In fact, it's been said for years that, especially in developing nations, it's often important to ignore intellectual property issues from developed nations in order to protect citizens. Of course, the counter argument is that none of these drugs would have been developed in the first place if there weren't these patent laws around. While that may be debatable, it is true that the cost of developing these drugs often requires a high expected payout at the end. So what are ways to align these two issues? How can companies expect to get paid for saving lives -- and still make the products affordable enough that they actually can save lives?"

Amateurs versus experts

Techdirt's Mike explains why amateurs are (or can be) so important alongside experts. He responds to Nicholas Carr's critisism on the Web 2.0 hype where Carr uses Wikipedia as a perfect example to make his point.

"While it's absolutely true that experts are important -- hell, we've based our entire business on that very concept -- what Carr and others agreeing with him seem to be (conveniently) forgetting is that amateurs and experts are not mutually exclusive. Combined, they actually create a much better solution. The experts are still necessary and useful, but the amateurs help bring out more info and raise new and important questions and ideas. The amateurs aren't "taking down" the experts -- they're just making them even more necessary. The problem is that too many experts are frightened of these amateurs, rather than looking at ways to embrace and encourage the amateurs in a productive way. Embracing the amateurs opens up new and exciting possibilities for the experts -- it lets them turn that amateur content into something much more useful and valuable than either the experts or the amateurs could have done alone."

Internet TV's future

Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove and former CTO of Macromedia, lays down his vision on how internet TV will come of age. The details on his company are a bit vague so I won't (yet) comment on that.

"This will be a world where content can flow freely over the open Internet, in a manner that is geographically—and thus carrier and operator—independent. In much the same way a consumer finds and uses any Web site, at any end-point in the world, they will discover, use, and self-program video and television across the vast ocean that is the Internet, unfettered by walled gardens and closed networks. Just as consumers flocked to the Internet despite the hiccups of dial-up modems and clunky Web pages, they will flock to this new medium that empowers them in ways that no single company or industry can replicate."

zaterdag 29 oktober 2005

Eccky has launched

Eleven months ago I wrote about Eccky when we presented the concept to the outside world for the first time. Last wednesday we launched Eccky officially, Poynter's Monique Van Dusseldorp writes about it.

"That's where the ingenuity of the thing comes into play: The Eccky chatbot can respond to chat lines with some 45,000 different answers around 3,500 recognized topics. The first 10,000 users that bought an Eccky generated 15 million chats during the six days of the game, and bought 250,000 different virtual articles. The chatbot in fact does such a good job in understanding the natural-language lines it receives that many of its young players never realize it is not a person they are spending time with. (Eccky is scheduled for an international launch in 2006, but already can chat in English now.)"

Programming your ears

I guess we are still somewhere in the stone ages when it comes to bionics, which makes it even more interesting to read about the latest innovations.

"The implant was embedded in my head; it wasn't some flawed hearing aid I could just send back. But it was a computer. Which meant that, at least in theory, its effectiveness was limited only by the ingenuity of software engineers. As researchers learn more about how the ear works, they continually revise cochlear implant software. Users await new releases with all the anticipation of Apple zealots lining up for the latest Mac OS."

Je oren programmeren

Voor wat betreft bionics zijn we waarschijnlijk nog in het het stenen tijdperk, maar dat maakt het lezen over de laatste innovaties alleen maar interessanter.

"The implant was embedded in my head; it wasn't some flawed hearing aid I could just send back. But it was a computer. Which meant that, at least in theory, its effectiveness was limited only by the ingenuity of software engineers. As researchers learn more about how the ear works, they continually revise cochlear implant software. Users await new releases with all the anticipation of Apple zealots lining up for the latest Mac OS."

Outsourcing the teacher

Teachers in India are tutoring American students. It's great that online teaching is becoming a reality, but it also shows the inevitable shift of economic power in the world. Whereby India holds a huge advantage over the Chinese, they happen to speak English...

"The chitchat ends quickly and a geometry worksheet pops up on Princeton's computer screen. Teacher and pupil speak to one another, type messages and use digital "pencils" to work on problems, highlight graphs and erase mistakes. Princeton scrawls on something that looks like a hyped-up mouse pad and it shows up on Namitha's screen. He can also use a scanner to send copies of assignments or textbook pages he needs help understanding."

Living a Second Life

Two insightful articles on Second Life, one in The New York Times and one on the BBC News website. They both take a look at the economic and social drivers of why people are spending so much time living a 'second life'.

"Although many people keep in touch with their real-world loved ones in virtual worlds, some find relationships that develop in the opposite direction. Ms. McKenzie not long ago met a man in Second Life, lthen met him in real life and is now married to him. The couple were married in South Dakota, and plan to have another ceremony online. Although worlds like Second Life can be useful for staying in touch or even for forming new relationships, for most people they are simply a casual getaway. "I like meeting new people, but this is strictly a game for me," a member whose avatar is named Gina Fatale said of Second Life. "Plus, in Second Life I look better."

De leraar outsourcen

Leraren in India geven online (bij)les aan Amerikaanse studenten. Los van het feit dat het al mooi is dat dit (online lesgeven) kan, is het wat mij betreft ook symptomatisch voor de onafwendbare verschuiving van de economische macht in de wereld. Waarbij India een groot voordeel heeft ten opzicht van China, ze spreken er Engels...

"The chitchat ends quickly and a geometry worksheet pops up on Princeton's computer screen. Teacher and pupil speak to one another, type messages and use digital "pencils" to work on problems, highlight graphs and erase mistakes. Princeton scrawls on something that looks like a hyped-up mouse pad and it shows up on Namitha's screen. He can also use a scanner to send copies of assignments or textbook pages he needs help understanding."

Het leven van een Second Life

Twee interessante artikelen over Second Life, eentje in The New York Times en eentje op de BBC News website. Beide kijken vanuit economische en sociale perspectieven naar wat mensen motiveert om zoveel tijd te besteden aan het leven van een tweede leven.

"Although many people keep in touch with their real-world loved ones in virtual worlds, some find relationships that develop in the opposite direction. Ms. McKenzie not long ago met a man in Second Life, lthen met him in real life and is now married to him. The couple were married in South Dakota, and plan to have another ceremony online. Although worlds like Second Life can be useful for staying in touch or even for forming new relationships, for most people they are simply a casual getaway. "I like meeting new people, but this is strictly a game for me," a member whose avatar is named Gina Fatale said of Second Life. "Plus, in Second Life I look better."

zondag 23 oktober 2005

The rise of prediction markets

There's something fascinating about the (potential) of prediction markets. And I'm really curious to know about the results of Google's experiment with them.

"In the near future, prediction and decision markets are likely to extend their reach. At the University of Iowa, which created the Iowa Electronic Markets, researchers are developing a prediction market designed to forecast flu outbreaks, and their counterparts at the University of Miami have organized the Hurricane Futures Market, where you can place bets on where the spit will hit the fan. Corporations so far have tended to focus on relatively low-value projects like predicting the next quarter's sales. Google, for example, has been conducting an internal market to predict project-completion and product-launch dates. But given the market system's track record, corporations are about to move to bet-the-ranch-type decisions. "We're about to have a Cambrian explosion of the technology," says Servan- Schreiber."

IPTV versus TV over IP

When IPTV is mentioned, often what is meant is TV over IP. These are different things (or at least different approaches), Om Malik explains.

"Now compare this with Television over IP, or broadband video. Television over IP, on the other hand is the high quality streaming video, that is made available over the fast pipes, without a set-top box. This is a (comparatively) fairly low cost, and perhaps a simpler model. This simplicity is one of the reasons, it might actually gain traction in the market."

De opkomst van de voorspellingsmarkt

Voorspellingsmarkten hebben iets fascinerends en ik ben dan ook erg benieuwd naar de resultaten van de experimenten die Google nu doet.

"In the near future, prediction and decision markets are likely to extend their reach. At the University of Iowa, which created the Iowa Electronic Markets, researchers are developing a prediction market designed to forecast flu outbreaks, and their counterparts at the University of Miami have organized the Hurricane Futures Market, where you can place bets on where the spit will hit the fan. Corporations so far have tended to focus on relatively low-value projects like predicting the next quarter's sales. Google, for example, has been conducting an internal market to predict project-completion and product-launch dates. But given the market system's track record, corporations are about to move to bet-the-ranch-type decisions. "We're about to have a Cambrian explosion of the technology," says Servan- Schreiber."

Voice 2.0

With all this talk about Web 2.0 you easily forget that the possibilities of the most 'natural' interface to the web's content and services, voice, is developing fast and in inspiring ways. Here's an interesting post from Alec Saunders on what he calls Voice 2.0.

"The merger of talk with the web is the foundation of Voice 2.0. When Skype launched, and the price of minutes dropped to zero, social barriers to calling strangers disappeared, driving voice usage higher again. The merger of talk and the web is leading to web based conferencing, push to talk, application sharing, voice enabled e-commerce, and a multitude of other applications, all of which are driving voice usage higher. In the process this merger is redefining the staples of business — customer service, sales, and marketing — and impacting all of our lives as we move from the standard work day to 24/7 availability."

IPTV versus TV over IP

Wanneer IPTV ter sprake komt dan wordt daar meestal TV over IP mee bedoeld. Het zijn namelijk verschillende dingen (of op z'n minst verschillende benaderingen), Om Malik legt dat nog eens uit.

"Now compare this with Television over IP, or broadband video. Television over IP, on the other hand is the high quality streaming video, that is made available over the fast pipes, without a set-top box. This is a (comparatively) fairly low cost, and perhaps a simpler model. This simplicity is one of the reasons, it might actually gain traction in the market."

Spraak 2.0

Door al dat gepraat over Web 2.0 zou je bijna vergeten dat de mogelijkheden van de meest 'natuurlijke' toegang tot de diensten en content op het web, spraak, zich erg snel ontwikkelt. Dit is een interessant manifesto van Alec Saunders over wat hij Voice 2.0 noemt.

"The merger of talk with the web is the foundation of Voice 2.0. When Skype launched, and the price of minutes dropped to zero, social barriers to calling strangers disappeared, driving voice usage higher again. The merger of talk and the web is leading to web based conferencing, push to talk, application sharing, voice enabled e-commerce, and a multitude of other applications, all of which are driving voice usage higher. In the process this merger is redefining the staples of business — customer service, sales, and marketing — and impacting all of our lives as we move from the standard work day to 24/7 availability."

woensdag 19 oktober 2005

Web 2.0 freeriders(?)

Gelukkig is Nicholas Carr altijd scherp wanneer het gevaar van 'group-thinking' dreigt. Na zijn spraakmakende essay "IT Doesn’t Matter" heeft hij het nu gemunt op de Web 2.0 volgelingen. Om Malik reageert en quote daarbij Jeff Nolan:

"I wondered out loud, if this culture of participation was seemingly help build businesses on our collective backs. So if we tag, bookmark or share, and help del.icio.us or Technorati or Yahoo become better commercial entities, aren’t we seemingly commoditizing our most valuable asset - time. We become the outsourced workforce, the collective, though it is still unclear what is the pay-off. While we may (or may not) gain something from the collective efforts, the odds are whatever “the collective efforts” are, they are going to boost the economic value of those entities. Will they share in their upside? Not likely!"

Zeker de moeite waard om over deze vragen na te denken wanneer je afhankelijk bent van het 'collectief'...

dinsdag 18 oktober 2005

Web 2.0 freeriders(?)

Fortunately we can always count on Nicholas Carr to wake up a group-thinking crowd. After "IT Doesn’t Matter" he's now aiming for all Web 2.0 believers. Om Malik comments on it and quotes Jeff Nolan:

"I wondered out loud, if this culture of participation was seemingly help build businesses on our collective backs. So if we tag, bookmark or share, and help del.icio.us or Technorati or Yahoo become better commercial entities, aren’t we seemingly commoditizing our most valuable asset - time. We become the outsourced workforce, the collective, though it is still unclear what is the pay-off. While we may (or may not) gain something from the collective efforts, the odds are whatever “the collective efforts” are, they are going to boost the economic value of those entities. Will they share in their upside? Not likely!"

Worth thinking about if you're depending on the 'collective'.

Krant wordt gedrukte weblog

Al bijna een jaar houden we bij Media Republic voor het Eccky-project een weblog bij. Al eerder was duidelijk dat journalisten zo'n weblog als een ideale bron van informatie zien, een soort van dynamisch persbericht, maar over het algemeen werden artikelen over Eccky wel aangevuld met een interview of op z'n minst een paar vragen via email. Gister werd op de voorpagina van Het Parool een artikel over Eccky aangekondigd dat echter volledig gebaseerd was op de weblog. Helaas werden daarbij door de journalist een aantal zaken verkeerd geïnterpreteerd, een korte check bij ons had dat makkelijk kunnen voorkomen. Maar het verschil tussen werkmethodes van journalisten en de meeste bloggers is kennelijk aan het verdwijnen. De krant wordt steeds meer een gedrukte weblog...;-)

Geen cyberspace meer

Leuke quote...

"My personal theory is this: when the only way to use a computer was to sit still and look through a little window (the screen) into a virtual space, the cyberspace metaphor worked best for us. But with cell phones, PDAs and geographical applications such as store-finders and the proposed "taxi" key for cell phones (which simply summons the nearest cab when you press it), we're no longer staring through a window into cyberspace. The window's been broken, and the cyber world has spilled out into our own space."

Nieuw soort borst implantatie...

Niet zo ongeloofwaardig als je misschien zou denken...;-)

"Researchers at BT Laboratories say that within 15 years, women will be able to store MP3 players and their music collection in breast implants. "One boob could hold an MP3 player and the other the person's whole music collection," apparently. The implants would transmit sound and be controlled over Bluetooth, and could also work with sensors to detect heart murmurs, blood pressure increases, diabetes and breast cancer."

zondag 16 oktober 2005

Breast implants

Not as unlikely as you might think...;-)

"Researchers at BT Laboratories say that within 15 years, women will be able to store MP3 players and their music collection in breast implants. "One boob could hold an MP3 player and the other the person's whole music collection," apparently. The implants would transmit sound and be controlled over Bluetooth, and could also work with sensors to detect heart murmurs, blood pressure increases, diabetes and breast cancer."

Beyond browser and windows

Second Life is a favorite topic of mine since such a virtual world (or Metaverse) in 3D offers a lot of interesting possibilities. Second Life's 'problem' however is its business model. Second Life's creator Linden Labs does have an 'open' philosophy, but it's still, as Joi Ito says it, a for profit company controlling the platform (although that might change, reed comment 22). Joi points at Croquet, which has been under development for a while now, as an (Web 3.0...) example of how this could work differently in the future. Croquet is not just a 3D virtual gaming world, in essence it's an open source operating system. In this post I won't elaborate on what that means exactly, but one of the founders is Alan Kay who developed the 'windowing user interface' and he is also the man behind this oneliner: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

"Croquet was built to answer a simple question. "If we were to create a new operating system and user interface knowing what we know today, how far could we go?" Further, what kinds of decisions would we make that we might have been unable to even consider 20 or 30 years ago, when the current operating systems were first created? We decided that it was time for an existence proof that innovation could still continue and succeed on the PC. We felt that the very definition of the PC and its role needed to be shifted from a single-user closed system to a next generation broadband communication device."

Na de browser en windows

Ik schrijf hier wel vaker over Second Life aangezien een dergelijke virtuele wereld (of Metaverse) in 3D vele interessante mogelijkheden met zich meebrengt. Het probleem van Second Life, en de meeste andere persistente 3D werelden, is echter het business model van de organisaties verantwoordelijk voor de exploitatie van deze werelden. Nou is de filosofie van Second Life maker Linden Labs vrij 'open', het blijft zoals Joi Ito het ook zegt een op winst gericht bedrijf dat een gesloten platform controleert (al lijkt daar verandering in te komen, zie comment 22). Joi wijst op het al een tijdje in ontwikkeling zijnde Croquet als een (Web 3.0...) voorbeeld van hoe dit in de nabije toekomst beter zou kunnen werken. Croquet is niet zomaar een 3D wereld in spelvorm, in essentie is het zelfs een open source besturingssysteem. Het gaat wat ver om hier uit te leggen wat ze daar exact mee bedoelen, maar de initiator ervan is Alan Kay, de man die de 'windowing user interface' ontwierp en ook befaamd werd vanwege deze uitspraak: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

"Croquet was built to answer a simple question. "If we were to create a new operating system and user interface knowing what we know today, how far could we go?" Further, what kinds of decisions would we make that we might have been unable to even consider 20 or 30 years ago, when the current operating systems were first created? We decided that it was time for an existence proof that innovation could still continue and succeed on the PC. We felt that the very definition of the PC and its role needed to be shifted from a single-user closed system to a next generation broadband communication device."

No more cyberspace

Nice observation...

"My personal theory is this: when the only way to use a computer was to sit still and look through a little window (the screen) into a virtual space, the cyberspace metaphor worked best for us. But with cell phones, PDAs and geographical applications such as store-finders and the proposed "taxi" key for cell phones (which simply summons the nearest cab when you press it), we're no longer staring through a window into cyberspace. The window's been broken, and the cyber world has spilled out into our own space."

zaterdag 15 oktober 2005

Newspaper of the future

I've started using Memeorandum this week, and I have to say it indeed delivers on its promise... It gets me back to viewing webpages instead of merely scrolling through RSS-feeds. The funny things is that I'm already relying less on RSS-feeds for the latest tech news because Memeorandum combines headlines and analysis in real-time.

"Memeorandum is a way to track blog conversations relating to political or tech issues (Gabe can and probably will add additional verticals in the future) in a highly effective manner. When you go to the site you see what is being talked about the most in the blogsphere at that moment. The most highly linked articles appear at the top and in bigger font sizes. Less popular items are below. Super-popular items eventually are pushed down as newer popular stuff goes up."

Krant van de toekomst

Deze week ben ik begonnen met het gebruiken van Memeorandum, ik moet zeggen dat het inderdaad zo goed is als ze zeggen...;-) Ik ben nu weer webpagina's aan het bezoeken in plaats van alleen maar door RSS-feeds te scrollen. Het grappige is ook dat ik meteen al minder 'afhankelijk' ben geworden van RSS-feeds voor het laatste nieuws omdat Memeorandum headlines en analyse in real-time combineert.

"Memeorandum is a way to track blog conversations relating to political or tech issues (Gabe can and probably will add additional verticals in the future) in a highly effective manner. When you go to the site you see what is being talked about the most in the blogsphere at that moment. The most highly linked articles appear at the top and in bigger font sizes. Less popular items are below. Super-popular items eventually are pushed down as newer popular stuff goes up."

Go trusted through social networking

Craigslist has an intriguing advice on their their new scam warning page:

"We've found that one of the best ways to avoid this problem is to keep all transactions local -- whenever possible, don't do business with anyone who is not in your local area."

I think this really shows the potential of social networking services since they could provide a certain level of trust through social relations. Hyves offers a marketplace for its members, it's a good example of what can be expected from other services as well.

Vertrouwde transacties via social networking

Craigslist heeft een intrigerend advies staan op hun website over fraude:

"We've found that one of the best ways to avoid this problem is to keep all transactions local -- whenever possible, don't do business with anyone who is not in your local area."

Dit is een duidelijk voorbeeld van de potentie van 'social netwoking' diensten aangezien zij een bepaald niveau van vertrouwen kunnen bieden door inzicht te geven in sociale relaties. Hyves heeft een marktplaats voor haar leden, dit is een goed voorbeeld hiervan en het zou me verbazen indien er niet snel meerdere zullen volgen.

woensdag 12 oktober 2005

Wat is nou Web 2.0?

Ik sluit me graag aan bij Dave Winer's definitie van Web 2.0, "Web 2.0 is a marketing concept used by venture capitalists and conference promoters to try to call another bubble into existence", maar Tim O'Reilly doet z'n best om er iets meer inhoud aan te geven...

"Web 2.0, according to conference sponsor Tim O'Reilly, is an "architecture of participation" -- a constellation made up of links between web applications that rival desktop applications, the blog publishing revolution and self-service advertising. This architecture is based on social software where users generate content, rather than simply consume it, and on open programming interfaces that let developers add to a web service or get at data. It is an arena where the web rather than the desktop is the dominant platform, and organization appears spontaneously through the actions of the group, for example, in the creation of folksonomies created through tagging."

dinsdag 11 oktober 2005

Een idee kan geen eigendom zijn

Het huidige patent systeem werke goed in het verleden, en het was economisch zinvol, maar nu niet meer. Hervorming is denk ik ook niet de oplossing zolang het niet echt radicaal is. Ik zou er zelfs voor willen pleiten om het patent-systeem helemaal af te schaffen, eigenaar zijn van een idee zou wat mij betreft niet mogelijk moeten zijn. Er zijn ook andere manieren om als maatschappij innovatie te stimuleren wanneer de economische risico's groot zijn. Het geven van een monopolie is toch niet de enige oplossing? Het is uberhaupt zelden een goede oplossing...

"Some intellectuals say that the more such rights are expanded, the less good the public reaps, a benefit that government's protection of innovation once intended. And now some companies are starting to agree, arguing that the race for rights and royalties can actually harm competition."

Support en open source

Dit behoeft geen verder toelichting denk ik.

"He (Microsoft's Steve Ballmer) was also interesting about the future of the corporation when confronted with open source. Corporations offer consistency over time and user support, Ballmer argued.

Several members of the audience disagreed: "Have you ever tried to call Dell or Apple or Microsoft for a problem you have? No, you go to online forums to look up what other users recommend."

zondag 9 oktober 2005

What is Web 2.0?

I like Dave Winer's definition of Web 2.0, "Web 2.0 is a marketing concept used by venture capitalists and conference promoters to try to call another bubble into existence", but Tim O'Reilly tries to give it a bit more meaning...

"Web 2.0, according to conference sponsor Tim O'Reilly, is an "architecture of participation" -- a constellation made up of links between web applications that rival desktop applications, the blog publishing revolution and self-service advertising. This architecture is based on social software where users generate content, rather than simply consume it, and on open programming interfaces that let developers add to a web service or get at data. It is an arena where the web rather than the desktop is the dominant platform, and organization appears spontaneously through the actions of the group, for example, in the creation of folksonomies created through tagging."

Support and open source

No further comments needed I think.

"He (Microsoft's Steve Ballmer) was also interesting about the future of the corporation when confronted with open source. Corporations offer consistency over time and user support, Ballmer argued.

Several members of the audience disagreed: "Have you ever tried to call Dell or Apple or Microsoft for a problem you have? No, you go to online forums to look up what other users recommend."

Discussie over de publieke omroep

Zit nu Buitenhof te kijken en erger me aan de discussie over de publieke omroep die morgen ook in de Tweede Kamer zal plaatsvinden. Een sterk alternatief zijn, informerend, en een platform zijn voor maatschappelijke discussie. Dit zijn de 'argumenten' die gebruikt worden om te rechtvaardigen dat we daar met z'n allen EUR 700 miljoen in stoppen. Wat zou er verdwijnen zonder publieke omroep? Ik zie het echt niet. Sterker nog, ik denk dat de vele functies die toegedicht worden aan de publieke omroep inmiddels beter ingevuld worden door vele 'plekken' op het web. En dat zal alleen maar sterker worden. Tijd om de zaak te liquideren of te privatiseren. Kan me niet voorstellen dat we geen betere bestemming kunnen vinden voor dat geld.

No ownership of ideas

The current patent-systems were workable in a distant past, they also made economic sense, but not anymore. I'm not sure that 'reform' is what's required as long as it is not radical. I would even argue for removing the patent-system alltogether, owning an idea should not be possible in my opinion. There are other ways to let society stimulate innovation when high economic risks are involved. Why should granting monopolies be the only way? Monopolies are hardly ever the right answer.

"Some intellectuals say that the more such rights are expanded, the less good the public reaps, a benefit that government's protection of innovation once intended. And now some companies are starting to agree, arguing that the race for rights and royalties can actually harm competition."

zaterdag 8 oktober 2005

eBay's Skype strategy

When eBay announced their bid for Skype I did not understand their reasoning. Not from a strategic perspective, and neither from a financial perspective. The latter doubt remains, but for the first one I finally found an interesting rationale.

"I suspect that eBay’s ambition is to become the mediator of 800-number style interactions between consumers and merchants. The www.ebay.com web site is their text distribution channel, and Skype is the audio one. Each will have different sets of merchants, buyers and transaction structures. So don’t look for “eBay” functionality to appear in Skype, because they’re addressing strategically similar but functionally different needs."

Nondisappointing robots

Ever since I started working on the Eccky project my interest in robotic research has increased. Wired has a nice article on a human-robot research project at the Early Childhood Education Center, a preschool attached to UC San Diego. They (the Machine Perception Lab) are trying to make the world's first nondisappointing robot. Eccky has been live now for around 6 weeks, and based on the feedback we receive I can tell that in the end it's not about the physical aspects of the robot. Making it move and appear more human-like is nice, but it's not what makes a successful robot. Creating an emotional connection by (perceived) intelligent interaction is way more important. Our approach for the Eccky chatbot, combined with the enormous amounts of continuous feedback allowing us to improve it, could very well become the first nondisappointing robot. At least that's what our users are telling us. And that's even without adding any physical elements...

"But Movellan also sees this daily routine as part of an odyssey to create the world's first nondisappointing robot. Try as we might, we can't stop measuring bots against the ridiculously high standards that Hollywood has set in our minds. We expect them to be able to follow us around the house, picking up after us, chattering with us like C-3PO, reading our emotions with the accuracy, if not the intent, of HAL. While robots have proved indispensable in narrow kinds of work, like assembly lines, when it comes to interactions with unpredictable, flesh-and-blood humans, they have yet to deliver on the promise of more lifelike responses. That's why Movellan and his team have enlisted this young group of chaos specialists. The researchers videotape each session and use the footage to tweak the bots' software."

Het strategisch belang van Skype voor eBay

Toen eBay aankondigde Skype te kopen snapte ik dat niet vanuit een strategisch perspectief, maar ook niet vanuit een financieel perspectief. Die laatste twijfel blijf ik houden, maar voor de eerste heb ik nu eindelijk een interessante rationale gevonden.

"I suspect that eBay’s ambition is to become the mediator of 800-number style interactions between consumers and merchants. The www.ebay.com web site is their text distribution channel, and Skype is the audio one. Each will have different sets of merchants, buyers and transaction structures. So don’t look for “eBay” functionality to appear in Skype, because they’re addressing strategically similar but functionally different needs."

Niet-teleurstellende robots

Sinds ik met Eccky bezig ben volg ik de ontwikkelingen in het onderzoek naar robots met veel interesse. Wired heeft een leuk artikel over een mens-robot onderzoeksproject aan de Early Childhood Education Center, een school gerelateerd aan de UC San Diego. Ze (het Machine Perception Lab) proberen daar 's werelds eerste niet-teleurstellende robot te ontwikkelen. Eccky is nu 6 weken live en op basis van de feedback die wij krijgen kan ik stellen dat het uiteindelijk niet gaat om het zo menselijk mogelijk maken van de fysiek van een robot. Het maken van een emotionele connectie door (gepercipieerde) intelligente interactie is veel belangrijker. Onze aanpak voor de Eccky chatbot, in combinatie met de enorme hoeveelheid continue feedback waarmee we deze beter maken, zou zomaar eens de eerste niet-teleurstellende robot kunnen zijn. Althans, dat is wat veel van onze gebruikers ons nu al vertellen. En dan moeten we daar straks nog fysieke elementen aan toegevoegen...;-)

"But Movellan also sees this daily routine as part of an odyssey to create the world's first nondisappointing robot. Try as we might, we can't stop measuring bots against the ridiculously high standards that Hollywood has set in our minds. We expect them to be able to follow us around the house, picking up after us, chattering with us like C-3PO, reading our emotions with the accuracy, if not the intent, of HAL. While robots have proved indispensable in narrow kinds of work, like assembly lines, when it comes to interactions with unpredictable, flesh-and-blood humans, they have yet to deliver on the promise of more lifelike responses. That's why Movellan and his team have enlisted this young group of chaos specialists. The researchers videotape each session and use the footage to tweak the bots' software."

The ubiquitous city

I don't think we need to build a complete new city, like New Songdo in Korea, in order to able to experiment with new technology facilitating everyday life, but cultural differences will definitely be a barrier for similar innovation in the US and Europe. It will take a while before ignorance and politics will be overcome....

"In the West, ubiquitous computing is a controversial idea that raises privacy concerns and the specter of a surveillance society. (They'll know whether I recycled my Coke bottle?!) But in Asia the concept is viewed as an opportunity to show off technological prowess and attract foreign investment."

De U-stad

Ik denk niet dat we, net als New Songdo in Korea, een hele nieuwe stad hoeven te bouwen om te kunnen experimenteren met nieuwe technologie die het dagelijks leven kan facilitiren en verrijken, maar culturele verschillen zijn zeker een drempel voor innovatie in de VS en Europa. En het zal nog wel even duren voordat naiviteit, onwetendheid en politieke onwil overwonnen zijn...

"In the West, ubiquitous computing is a controversial idea that raises privacy concerns and the specter of a surveillance society. (They'll know whether I recycled my Coke bottle?!) But in Asia the concept is viewed as an opportunity to show off technological prowess and attract foreign investment."

vrijdag 7 oktober 2005

Some thoughts on Ning

Ning has launched. I really like the idea behind Ning and TechCrunch does a good job in writing down my thoughts..;-)

"The reason why I’m excited about it is simple: allowing people to build cool new stuff that they normally wouldn’t (empowering the users) is one of the best things you can do on the Web 2.0 space. If you think about it, back when blogging started it was also about allowing people to do things they weren’t able to before - publish content online. This is it, all over again, but instead of blogs, you get to build cool apps."

However, I do see some problems with the way Ning implemented the platform idea. Basically it will work best for people with good ideas but no resources. I guess that will be their primary user group. There's lots of potential there and if they succeed I'm sure we will see some very nice applications and services. But if you are a developer with some basic skills and experience, it's already becoming so easy to transform a dream into a working application using webservices etc. With that comes the advantage of still being in control over all possible revenue sources. Which is not the case when developing on the Ning platform:

"The Sidebar reserves 225 pixels in width on every app running on a free account. At this point, it is not optional. Our hope is that users find the services useful and developers look at the Sidebar as providing features they would have to otherwise build themselves. It is also where we plan to run advertising in the future, which is the reason its presence is more of a rule than a suggestion."

Another problem I have with Ning's platform is that it's not very easy to detach an application from it. Understandable from Ning's perspective, but I would have liked to see that shared services like registration, tagging, navigation and search would be open source as well. Not in order to change it while you are using Ning's platform, but to make it easier to leave Ning once you've outgrown the 'playground' to use their own words. If Ning doesn't change this I'm sure it won't take long before we will start to see 'Ning migration services' appearing... Ning's business model should not be based on a lock-in, but on good value-adding services.

Wat gedachten over Ning

Emerce schrijft vandaag over Ning, Tjeerd noemt het een 'een soort meta platform voor het ontwikkelen, bedenken en finetunen van diensten' zoals Amazon's 43things, eBay en del.icio.us..

De gedachte achter Ning is erg goed, TechCrunch verwoordt het zo:

"The reason why I’m excited about it is simple: allowing people to build cool new stuff that they normally wouldn’t (empowering the users) is one of the best things you can do on the Web 2.0 space. If you think about it, back when blogging started it was also about allowing people to do things they weren’t able to before - publish content online. This is it, all over again, but instead of blogs, you get to build cool apps."

Toch heb ik een paar bedenkingen met betrekking tot deze platform gedachte. Hij werkt namelijk vooral voor mensen met goede ideeen maar een gebrek aan mogelijkheden. Dat is dan ook meteen de uiteindelijke doelgroep van Ning in mijn ogen. Voor een beetje developer wordt het namelijk al steeds makkelijker om de bouwstenen zelf te verzamelen (o.a. via webservices) en een goed idee om te zetten in een werkende applicatie en dienst. Het voordeel is dat je dan ook alle mogelijke inkomstenbronnen in eigen hand houdt. Want:

"The Sidebar reserves 225 pixels in width on every app running on a free account. At this point, it is not optional. Our hope is that users find the services useful and developers look at the Sidebar as providing features they would have to otherwise build themselves. It is also where we plan to run advertising in the future, which is the reason its presence is more of a rule than a suggestion."

Een ander 'probleem' met het Ning platform is dat het lastig is om een applicatie van Ning 'los te trekken' als het ware. Vanuit het perspectief van Ning misschien wel logisch, maar ik had liever gezien dat ook gedeelde diensten als registratie, tagging, navigatie en search open source zouden zijn. Niet om het te kunnen veranderen wanneer alles op het Ning platform draait, maar wel wanneer je de 'speeltuin' ontgroeid bent en 'volwassen wilt worden' om in hun eigen terminologie te blijven... Als Ning dit niet zelf gaat veranderen dan ben ik bang dat er zeer snel een partij zal opstaan die 'Ning-migratie diensten' gaat aanbieden...

woensdag 5 oktober 2005

Enter the World of Warcraft

Joi Ito has been playing World of Warcraft for a while now. It's interesting to read his experiences if you would like to know more about the dynamics of such a game, and also to understand a bit more about the interaction between the real and virtual world. From both a social and a psychological perspective... He keeps on blogging his adventures, it's worth a read. And not because it's just a fun game... Joi also started a Second Life, "a home for retired Warcraft players", which is also my favorite virtual (but not unreal) world.

"It was my first raid so most of my energy was spent figuring out exactly what the hell I was supposed to be doing, but the whole mission was organized in a somewhat dysfunctional military way with teams and squad leaders. I have no idea whether I was running with a bunch of 13 year olds or professional soldiers (the game has many of both) but the raid channel chat was a bit noisy. What was disturbing was the hateful and some of the over-the-top role playing. Other members of the raid were clearly disturbed as well. I imagined a bunch of leaderless young soldiers raping and pillaging some village. I felt a bit dirty afterwards."

Leer de World of Warcraft begrijpen

Joi Ito speelt al een tijdje World of Warcraft, net als 4 miljoen anderen. Interessant om zijn ervaringen te lezen, zeker als je de dynamiek van zo'n soort game beter wilt begrijpen. Maar ook de interactie tussen een virtuele en de echte wereld, zowel vanuit een sociaal als een psychologisch perspectief. Hij blijft z'n avonturen bloggen, zeker de moeite waard om te lezen. En niet alleen omdat het een leuk spelletje is... Joi is tevens een tweede leven in Second Life gestart, "a home for retired Warcraft players", mijn favoriete virtuele (maar niet onechte) wereld.

"It was my first raid so most of my energy was spent figuring out exactly what the hell I was supposed to be doing, but the whole mission was organized in a somewhat dysfunctional military way with teams and squad leaders. I have no idea whether I was running with a bunch of 13 year olds or professional soldiers (the game has many of both) but the raid channel chat was a bit noisy. What was disturbing was the hateful and some of the over-the-top role playing. Other members of the raid were clearly disturbed as well. I imagined a bunch of leaderless young soldiers raping and pillaging some village. I felt a bit dirty afterwards."

dinsdag 4 oktober 2005

'Future TV' value chain

I guess most will agree that the future of TV is on demand. We see whatever we want to see whenever we want to see it. The New York Times discusses a couple of the initiatives in this area, but fails to answer an important question. What will the value chain of this industry look like in a couple of years and where does this leave Open Media Network, Blinkx and all the others? I can't imagine we're going towards a future where we have many online channels to choose from, each with their own website, UI, etc. In the end I hope there will be a single gateway to all content. But that would mean the revenue models (advertising based) discussed in the article probably won't work since they require control over the user experience. Anyway, we'll see....

"A handful of new Internet companies have recently introduced Web sites that aim to sift through millions of online video clips and instantly splice them together according to the viewer's stated or implied tastes. Right now, that includes a fairly meager selection of mainstream media selections - and, yes, you sometimes have to watch it through a subpar Internet connection. But more network-quality shows are coming online, and Webcasting technology is fast improving to the point where you can now catch glimpses of what TV could look like in the not-too-distant future."

Toekomstige waardeketen voor 'TV'

Ik denk dat iedereen het er wel over eens is dat de toekomst van wat we nu TV noemen een 'on-demand' toekomst zal zijn. The New York Times kijkt naar een aantal initiatieven op dit gebied, maar wat mij betreft wordt een belangrijke vraag onbeantwoord gelaten. Hoe gaat de waardeketen van deze industrie er uit zien en waar laat dat spelers als Open Media Network en Blinkx? Ik kan me moeilijk voorstellen dat we toegaan naar een toekomst waarbij we alsnog uit verschillende online kanalen zullen moeten kiezen, ieder met hun eigen website etc. Ik hoop straks 1 toegangspoort te hebben naar alle content. Maar wat betekent dat voor de inkomstenmodellen, allen op reclame gebaseerd, zoals besproken in het artikel? Die zijn afhankelijk van het hebben van de controle over het laatste onderdeel van de gebruikerservaring, de user interface. Maar goed, we zullen zien...

"A handful of new Internet companies have recently introduced Web sites that aim to sift through millions of online video clips and instantly splice them together according to the viewer's stated or implied tastes. Right now, that includes a fairly meager selection of mainstream media selections - and, yes, you sometimes have to watch it through a subpar Internet connection. But more network-quality shows are coming online, and Webcasting technology is fast improving to the point where you can now catch glimpses of what TV could look like in the not-too-distant future."