Talk: Technology Trends

Last week, I had the opportunity to give a talk at NECTEC (National Electronics and Computer Technology Center) during my one week visit to Thailand. When I visit other countries, I always find an opportunity to talk to a tech crowd. This one was fun. I was tracing some of the short/medium/long term trends in technology and their impact on learning, teaching, collaboration and how we work. I will cover some of those topics in future blogs.

This was a great group of about 20 people. Most of them (I got a few biz cards) seemed to be Ph.Ds and some of them got their post graduate degrees from USA. A few of them were working in Computational Linguistics. We were brainstorming some ideas on natural language parsing issues of non-English languages like Thai.

I think, at a certain level, all software people are alike. They seem to have similar interests and seem to get excited by very similar things. It may be fun to explore Social Networking for Software Developers, internationally.

The presentation itself was just a placeholder. It was just a means of starting a dialog. I was more interested in talking about the application and impact of these trends than the trends themselves.

Early Adopters

I went to an eLearning meet a few years ago in Cupertino. I never met any one in the group before and there were some interesting discussion on learning tools. Towards the end I asked them whether any of them blog. The strong reaction, I got, surprised me. “Blogs are for people who do not have anything else to do” said one person. “Who wants to watch pictures of cats and dogs and read people’s rantings” said another. I was not sure what to expect, but these pre-conceived notions gave me all the signals I wanted. I never went back to their monthly meetings.

Why am I recounting this story now? I was reminded of it when I started reading Why Journalists should use Twitter a couple of days ago.

I recently mentioned to a colleague of mine, who also is a freelance journalist, that I’m researching an article about Twitter. “I hope you really trash this service”, was his answer. “This is nothing else than verbal diarrhoea.”

The early adopters are a fascinating bunch. These are the people who are active on Twitter, sign up for several product betas, try almost every product as time permits, read Technorati/Techmeme/ Reddit/ Digg,/eHub/ Slashdot and countless blogs. They remind  me of the robot in the Short Circuit movie that keeps asking for “Input” and devours vast amounts of information.

These are great people to follow on Twitter, blogs and other forums. If you are start-up, these are your little angels. They will tell you whether your product/serviec sucks, give you great suggestions for improvements and if they like your product will tell everyone who may listen to them.

I still have not figured out what motivates early adopters. Is it because they have a high Curiosity Quotient? Or is it because they have a compulsion to make the world a bit better? Or is it something else? These people are one my sources of inspiration.

LinkLog: What Kind of Software Would People Actually Pay For?

A great blog post and a discussion thread on reddit. Some snippets (read the blog for a very insightful discussion):

  • Software that re-defines a category (Google and Amazon come to mind)
  • Software that saves businesses (and individuals) money (figuring out the benefits to your customer)
  • Software that helps business earn more money (making it compelling)
  • Piggyback off where people are already spending tons of money (choosing your marketplace)
  • Become easier to choose and you become harder to leave (by building and managing excellence)
  • shrink a market or disrupt your competitors
  • Get bold initial customers who will take the risk and are willing to share their experiences.
  • You don’t have to be the guru of an industry; you can often make a huge difference by bringing a computational perspective to the domain (think how you can apply technology to solve real problems)
  • Find out what they have to do but hate doing and find a way to simplify or automate it.

This is the kind of blog post that I would book mark and read several times, think about it, find more similar ones. It will also be a nice exercise to keep this list some where and grow it based on actual experiences of successful products. Peter Christensen’s articulates so well some of the things I kind of know but never really reflected a lot about.

I think blogs are the best knowledge sharing network you can think of especially If you are lucky to discover ones like Peter’s.

Invitation to Python Developers from Guido

Thanks to @reddit here is the invitiation (dated May 1, 2008)

I'm inviting the Python developer community to try out the tool on the
web for code reviews. I've added a few code reviews already, but I'm
hoping that more developers will upload at least one patch for review
and invite a reviewer to try it out.

To try it out, go here:

    http://codereview.appspot.com