Saturday, March 27, 2010

Social Networking - the future

From an article on Google Buzz by Robert Scobie - this is an answer about malleable social graphs and if Facebook will sink other crowd gathering networks...

I worked on a social graph application in 1999 which attempted to form groups on one hand and published professional reviews (usually very acidic) on the other. It used an analogical search function (which these applications seem to lack) and would be the key to being mallible. Not being a share holder I will not say what it was but the sharing of places to go, and the resultant conflict between masses of people with banal interest (think of crowds who attend a popular sport event - temporary - simple reasons for attachment) and the small groups of specialised interest have very different algorithms. Map location is not the first 2D associative array.

A malleable graph must work on a variable number of dimensions and FB may have the best chance of gathering enough interesting things about your trails of interest to suggest things to do - but if that is their plan - to become a social mind - then it may work better if everyone uses the same platform.

For example today I don't really feel like going to a 3 hour film but I do not yet realise that. If I go and wander the shops I may be interested in Sushi restaurants and if I can see my friends will gather at a pub, I would like to be invited, rather than informed? So the app needs to know not just what I may do, but be oriented at making connections to those nearby. But if my friends all wanted to see a 3 hour movie, I may not prefer to join them for lunch. That human behaviour is just a little hard to predict. But it is nice to be informed.

The trouble with business focused apps is they attempt to sell to advertisers rather than people.

I think opportunities like this may well work better on FB where people randomly express themselves in a fairly banal way. Buzz may well work better for discussions like this. Opening up new ideas and connections. Being invited to in depth discussion seminars with luminaries - that would not work against a social graph that did not reveal the inner workings of one's mind. Buzz works for people who think, Twitter does also, but very on the web, link-wise - but is "followers" an inaccurate term?

These location based apps and FB fail in one respect as it is not about desire (advertising). It is about reaction and incidence (information).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Technology Revolution

It is bearing down upon us with ever increasing speed, the post information revolution will change the way we think, we act and indeed the way we breathe.

Like most of the technology revolutions, this one is creeping up on us all, gently. It will encroach upon our lives like a vine, obviating any need for replaceable human tasks and supplanting the need for the mundane with the pursuits of the individual mind.

Meantime the world worries about climate change and the real costs of energy. A trend to real worker efficiency will see the internet used in more extraordinary ways more commonly. The "remote operation" will become commonplace to fix mechanisms using internet controlled robots. Governance does not require presence either.

It is the humans who work together who require presence but costs of operating the business will be greatly reduced by enhanced ability to conduct meetings without it.

There is always a dark side to evolutionary robotics as conveyed in sci-fi movies where invitably we believe the machine will generate logic. Science fiction often precedes invention. AI has come a long way, but an artificial "will" has not yet been programmed.

Programming is in itself a wonderful thing - being able to create software is a passion. Customers look at you for your "web design" but the real beauty is under the bonnet. Strive always to write a better engine.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ready for the Big time?

I notice websites being mentioned on twitter or a local newspaper, getting more than 20 simultaneous users - then becoming unavailable to anyone else!

These sites have not considered scaling in their design or are badly hosted.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NZ Govt plans for optic fiber questions by big telcos

The new National Party run government of New Zealand have a very unusual policy of investing 1 billion dollars in our network infrastructure. The big telcos are questioning the governments intent saying that it would provide for a whole new industry of problems to solve, like optical modems in every home? And how will homes deal with 100 Gigbytes of bandwidth? Of course except when downloading huge files, they will barely touch the sides. It is excessive and the socialist move by a conservative party - by investing in technical highways seems horribly misdirected. Education will do far more long term good. Unless there are inventions we have not been told about yet. Like being able to transmit experience, learning and skills over broadband. Now that would make the Governments investment worth it.

See Stuff NZ article

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Friday, February 6, 2009

The value of high speed broadband

The value of high speed broadband can not be understated. That is if you are a movie producer, TV producer or any kind of business who sees an advantage in the zero cost penetrative medium - when the web is used intelligently, it gets an audience, an accumulative audience. But it is also hyper competitive - what works today may not tomorrow - and it is really the human talent behind the evolution of websites that work that really is the basis of what the internet is capable of delivering. High tech high profile internet "busts" sound terrible until you realise that there are still some who commission software projects like the latest snake oil - but a quality software project may take the work of a team of ten programmers which when subjected to the realities of the market may get absorbed into a larger unit due to business consolidation displacing others in the process. And thus the market gets to produce less product focused on a market need, and diversifies as individuals are able to make their own mark. The value of readily available high speed broadband appears to be simply video delivery. The value of video delivery is in teaching and it does not require the internet to be a replacement television network. The value of all this online video is, as a form of knowledge, limited. It is linear (you have to watch it all) and it is atextual (meaning it requires simple tags to create links to it, these tend to be a combination of targeted generics basically pitching every similar business against each other if they could spark/fake up enough "relevance" that the search engines can be seen to take notice. Search engine or whatever comes next to tell us what to watch - success in this realm has to do with connectivity, sure, but it has far far more to do with software. That is why international giants like YouTube exist - they are not ahead in upload and delivery technology - but they do have an audience. Just how committed that audience is, well it depends on the nature of the content. It is not riveting. I followed (for a while) three of the leading channels on YouTube, they are good and entertaining to watch. But do I want to go back?

More important, do I want to watch them again? How about fostering the development of content, like the BBC does. The deal with the TV license has given some of the most extraordinary documentaries for the world to see (for a fee, online, or from your local DVD hire). It has provided capital and now there is a library that new audience will want to see for years to come.

The main value of high speed broadband is to foster our citizen led film industry. We produced Peter Jackson. Now with a video camera in every ten year old's hands - someone will produce a zero budget master piece.

Companies who compete internationally are benefit by reliable predictable broadband availability. But to broadcast to the world, we must decrease the cost of international bandwidth or the massive increase in internal bandwidth will bottleneck our international bandwidth. Think, how does the motorway work when you jam more cars onto it? What if we increase maximum available bandwidth to every downloading teenager - that does not auger well for the availability of international bandwidth. There must be provision for that first. We are slow on the internet internationally, but locally we have a service that is adequate if the software is written to deal with a crowd rather than one, maybe two simultaneous users.

That is the problem. The new government is about to spend 1 billion on broadband availability. Great, spend half on international bandwidth and then train sofware professionals who can write software that scales successfully. And New Zealand will discover a new industry.

It is worth considering more carefully than a chant for "more bandwidth!" - it is really at a point where we are not efficiently using what we have.

See also:

LA Times

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Web Advertising Model

There has been much written about the web as a medium for advertisers. It seems to me that the prevailing tide does not support the theory of trickle down profits from mere numbers boasted about on some web assets. I am not saying that it does not work, it does in a whisper - village - kind of way. But image based impactual advertising requires a new breed of intellect if it is to survive the move of intellectual stimulation from magazines, newspapers, televisions and onto the web as a common medium for all. Why should we? 3G receivers allow us individual access to thousands of video shops of content. So content has a value? Hello?

Content has always had a value. Getting people to pay for it is not really a problem. The most rapacious pirates in the world do not sail about Somalia, but are most likely teenagers doing it because it is a bit of a lark and they do not have much pocket money, but still want to be in on the latest Spiderman movie. Policing the web against piracy may not be the answer. But in this phenomena lies the solution to advertisers.

In this blog and on sfsw.net in 2009 an exploration of how to make the web a most profitable place for the advertiser is part of the agenda. The first thing I feel is important is to ignore social networking as a medium for advertising. What?

Did I just say that? Yes. There is no point advertising when the product is self indulgence. Good art incorporates "the other" and advertising is dependent upon it.

If you watch Robert de Niro prattle on about his shopping trip, it may also be fundamentally a bad vehicle to plaster an advert upon.

It is a question of what is the web good at? It is good at demanding that users fill in forms to a collective hiss. It is good at delivering and organising content and allows the full intellect of conceptually brilliant artisans who write software to create machines that do work for us. Not idle chores so much as systems. From the thousands of advertising systems - The Google's model has been most successful. It is so much more than advertising, though.

Targetted content is only a part of the picture. Video has its limits, it tends to be singular in idea delivery (takes much time)- whereas the web provides multiple paths into everything. Images do so much. But what do we want the web to do for us? It is great at selling software. It is brilliant at distributing music. It is getting quite good at being a super convenient video store. But what is it best at?

Come back to this blog, this deserves expansion in a future posting.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Modes of Software

The world is changing its dynamics and nowhere is this more apparent than in computer language use and infusion into the fabric of the world. And its about to take another leap.



EarthMine is like GoogleEarth with its phototags - criticised as some kind of invasion of "privacy" - a charge to which Google said that there is no real privacy left to protect when it comes to whats there - but now it goes a level further. The EarthMine is a 3D map of every coordinate in a city. (Of course it is not being updated live, maps tend not to be).

Being able to realistically model and make changes to a city's infrastructure by 3D mapping every building, street and eventually things like cabling would make city management vastly more sophisticated.

Such new objects require a different approach to programming. We already have "object orientated" languages that allow the complex interrelationship of "models" of things like business relationships and even friendship. Web 2.0 is really a bunch of programmers seeing that another layer of logic is required for us to have a "smoother" web experience.

Web 2.0 is not a technology. It is a range of technologies that together allow a "smooth interaction" - some of these are in fact just animations to lull our senses but users respond well to that, so it is factually a part of communication. Modern javascript libraries like jQuery are a treat for programmers as they package into an integratable form things like slow fades and movement decay (so the programmer can just worry about what they want to achieve). Compartmentalisation allows relationships to be discrete. It is essential that interactions between elements are understood and controlled.

Now we have new "environments" for friendship, first "ecommerce" and then "social networking" evolved new software techniques and spawned new languages. Learning new languages is not difficult but sometimes the differences are subtle.

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