A Blog Worth Reading

From @sharads tweet, I discovered JP’s blog. I would like to share a couple of snippets from his About This Blog page.

I believe that Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s Law and Gilder’s Law have created an environment where it is finally possible to demonstrate the value of information technology in simple terms rather than by complex inferences and abstract arguments.

I believe that simplicity and convenience are important, and that we have to learn to respect human time.

I believe we need to discuss these things and find ways of getting them right. And I have a fervent hope that through this blog, I can keep the conversations going and learn from them.

I agree  – we do need to discuss these things and find ways of getting them right.

Day Dreaming About Voice Web

IBM Next Five in Five” is a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.

New technology will change how people create, build and interact with information and e-commerce websites – using speech instead of text. We know this can happen because the technology is available, but we also know it can happen because it must. In places like India, where the spoken word is more prominent than the written word in education, government and culture, “talking” to the Web is leapfrogging all other interfaces, and the mobile phone is outpacing the PC.

Here is the list from the IBM’s article.

  • Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
  • You will have a crystal ball for your health
  • You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back
  • You will have your own digital shopping assistants
  • Forgetting will become a distant memory

One of my favorite hobbies is to pick one or more of these and try to figure out what we need to get there. It is a good way to dream about the near future and try to see where the gaps are and do some intermediate predictions.

Here are some random, incomplete thoughts for the Voice Web. There are several starting points depending on where you interests lie.

  • It has to be a layer on Web 1.0 and 2.0 (since a lot of useful content is already there).
  • Web 2.0 layer may be a better starting point since some of the underlying technologies – rest based APIs, social interfaces, mashup tools  are already available.
  • Some of the semantic technologies may help in providing some contextual structure and meta data over existing content. This may be an alternate starting point (using Freebase/dbpedia/Open Calais).
  • Voice recognition is one starting point. Many of the mobile providers already have something in this space but they are not perfect yet. Voice commands on our cell phones have limited context. There can be a bunch of innovations there.
  • Voice output is another starting point. This is an easier problem than voice recognition if the input (web content) and output (voice) are of the same language. This is another good starting point.
  • If the voice input and output are different languages (instructions originally written in English translated to a Tamil farmer, for example), we have some more chances of innovation. I am not talking about the babelfish style translation but a couple of steps above that.
  • From a device point of view, hands free operation of the cell phone may work better. These require innovation in both audio input and output technologies and miniaturization.
  • Obviously integrating search into this equation is one of the steps. There are some early attempts at doing this from Google. Not sure how well they work. But here are a few more opportunites. Layering voice search over meta search.

I can go on. But you get the drift. One cool way to capture all this (and the collective intelligence) is through some kind of voice annotated mind map (which in itself is another innovation waiting to happen). Your thoughts?

Resources: Technology Podcasts and Videos

I am always on the lookout for good podcasts to listen to. Here is an opportunity to listen to thought leaders in the tech industry.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Interviews with Innovators by Jon Udel from ITConversations Network. ITConversations also hosts some interesting podcasts on Social Innovation and other interesting topics.

Talking with Talis is one of my more recent discoveries. In their own words, it is:

conversations with thought-leaders at the interface between Web 2.0, Libraries, and the Semantic Web…

Inside Silicon Valley from PodTech News is another one of my favorites. I became aware of PodTech when Robert Scoble moved there from Microsoft.

ScobleShow is another one of my favorite ones. Since Scoble is no longer at PodTech, I wonder whether this series will continue.

Channel 10 is a great source that covers products and innovations at Microsoft.  I have watched some really grate videos and podcasts there.

Google Engineering Edu and other Google tech talk videos is one of the best sources of technology information. Google often invites thought leaders, developers, language designers to their campus. They make these videos available free.

A talk a day is my motto. A technology or Science podcast or an audiobook is a great companion when I take my walks or sweat it out on my treadmill.

The Best of 2007 and Predictions/Trends 2008

I think it is the time of the year when people come up with the Best of <Current Year-1> and the Trends/Predictions <Current Year>. I like reading those. I gather them for a few weeks (as they arrive in my email and blog readers) and keep updating this blog entry.

Seventy Best Lifehacks of 2007

(lifehacks is one my favorite blogs). This provide Happy reading into several days of the new year.

  • Networking and Communication,
  • Writing and Studying
  • Productivity, Creativity and Motivation
  • Leadership, Work and Money
  • Body and Mind
  • Software and Technology
  • Family, Home and Life
  • Success

PC World – The 25 most Innovative Products of 2007

Includes iPhone, Microsoft popfly and Facebook API.

Google Zeitgeist 2007

In compiling the 2007 Year-End Zeitgeist, we studied the aggregation of billions of search queries people conducted on Google. We should note that no individual searcher’s information was made available to us. Except where noted, all of these search terms are most popular for Google.com in the U.S.

Fastest raising – iphone, badoo, facebook, dailymotion, webkinz …

ExtremeTech’s 10 best technology trends of 2007

Gaming, storage, displays and more.

SD Times – Best Blogs of 2007

Businesses and individuals use blogs to disseminate information and share their perspectives. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, people are frequently turning to blogs for information as part of their personal media mix.

US Tech Trends for 2008

Mobile video conferencing, virtual currencies, Semantic Web, location based mobile services and interactive TV.

Predictions for Google Next Year

Includes Knols, YouTube, Android.

12 Predictions for Enterprise Web 2.0 in 2008

Winners in Tech

From Bill Gates on Innovation:

Bill does make the good argument that the winners in tech are rarely the ones who come up with the new idea, but rather the ones who bring it to market properly.

Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, it just brought it mainstream. Microsoft didn’t invent the graphical OS, it just brought forward the first one compatible with everyone’s old software. YouTube didn’t invent internet video, it was just the first one to package it with an easy embeddable player and a great community. The winners aren’t the ones who do something first, but the ones who did it right for the market and the users.

We can go on with these examples. Google did not invent the Search Engine. They just did a better job of ranking results, scaling the service, providing great response and finally innovating on a business model to make tons of money. These are innovations too. Different kind of innovations than technical innovations.

The full transcript (an entertaining and informative read) is here.

Open Social – The Next Big Leap Forward?

Marc Andreessen certainly thinks so. How can you fight a name like that? It is an API for building social networking containers and applications. From Marc’s Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web

In a nutshell, Open Social is an open web API that can be supported by two kinds of developers:

  • “Containers” — social networking systems like Ning, Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, and Friendster, and…
  • “Apps” — applications that want to be embedded within containers — for example, the kinds of applications built by iLike, Flixster, Rockyou, and Slide.

That is cool. It can expand the platform for social networking applications, sparked by Facebook’s API. While reading Marc’s blog, I also noticed that Ning has over 100,000 social networks (not applications, but actually networks). That is amazing.

The next few months will be very very interesting since the industry pundits all agree that it is a great idea.

Open Social Web

Google Open Social: The Third Place

Google to Out Open Facebook

Google Transforms into… from Dare

Code as Data

An extension to the Google Site Map to allow your public code to be searched. This is a cool idea. It is taking the philosophy of distributed data one step further. In this case we are treating Code As Data for the purposes of Search. It is just a little innovation that makes it easy for Code search engines to locate code.

From Code Search Site Map:

We’ve heard from a number of site owners who want to make sure their public source code is searchable via Google Code Search. To help with that, we extended the Sitemap Protocol to support code files. This makes it possible to specify all the code files on your site, as well as the programming language and software license for each file.

To get started, check out the new Code Search tags for Sitemaps. For complete software packages that are archives (.tar, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, or .zip), you can create a packagemap file to describe all the individual code files in each package.

The benefits go beyond Google Code Search. The concept can be used behind the firewall for enterprises to share code and detect duplicate code inside an enterprise as well.

Combining Code Search with AIML may be used to produce an interactive code finder for open source.