Thursday, 24 December 2009
The article has caused quite a stir in the internet firmament with skeptics saying that it's very disingenuous: that Google only opens up some technologies and that, as a listed company, it is obliged to try to dominate and maximize profits through 'closed' strategies, even if it uses 'open' tactics.
Yet, the article does address these points directly: Google's fundamental assumption is that the Internet has a long way to go in terms of growth, and rather than trying to cordon off sections of it, their approach is to facilititate the overall expansion of it and simultaneously create offerings that are compelling not through their market dominance (a la Microsoft Office), but through their cohesion with virtually any other products, and their empowerment of the user. Their rationale for keeping search algorithms and advert creation closed is consistent with that philosophy: to open them up risks people 'gaming' the systems, and not only eroding their value, but also putting personal privacy at risk. To this latter point, Rosenberg also dodges contradicting Eric Schmidt's comment that "only people with something to hid should worry about privacy". Google are not champions of users' privacy, but they are champions of user control - it is up to us to control our privacy.
On the one hand it all seems simply sensible to me, but in this age of short term quarterly stock market results intermingled with 'on message' platitudes to sustainability, and nanny states 'protecting' us from ourselves with health & safety and Legislation for Dummies, it reads like a revolutionary philosophy. Google are trying to build an information ecosystem. Now that's sustainability.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Video refereeing would never really work in football: there would potentially be too many stoppages, or the griping would switch from 'whether it was a foul' to 'whether the ref should have used the video ref'. In rugby it works because the ref only really uses it for try scoring, which can be a messy affair (bodies piling over, or a touchline tackle). In football, the goal is usually much more clear cut: ball over line and in net.
Maybe the solution is multiple referees, like American football. Or maybe simply more powers to the linesmen to advise on referee decisions. Or maybe just more powers to the ref to impose player discipline and command respect. Adversarial team sports are not democracies (unlike boxing, diving or gymnastics), with good reason: fundamentally it's about subjective judgement and timely decision-making.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
It's an interesting proposition, if only from the conceptual sense of having the full spectrum of realtime voice and video to IM to status updates and wall postings to messages and email to bookmarks and recommendations to games and apps, all under the same account, and available from most devices. Tantalisingly close to a fully converged communications platform: no more phone numbers or email addresses, just your name and a whole bunch of privacy settings to ensure that, while you're available anywhere, anyhow, it's only to the right people.
Skype already offers many of those things (I only found out recently that it did games), as does Facebook, of course. In fact, on reflection, the overlap looks so obvious - why doesn't one buy the other? Skype could do a nice client integration with Facebook. Both have their own walled gardens (skype audio/video technology is proprietary; Facebook owns any data you put on there). Seems like a perfect match.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
...will allow any page on the web to have all the features of a Facebook
Page – users will be able to become a Fan of the page, it will show up on that
user’s profile and in search results, and that page will be able to publish
stories to the stream of its fans.
Oh my god. So every page on the web can draw a Facebook fan base. They're burying Digg and bringing a peer recommendation engine to the whole web in one swoop. This is potentially huge: akin to Google Adwords, but based on your friends' opinions, rather than some clever algorthm related to the content you're reading or searching for.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
I was chatting to a Trinidadian the other day, recently moved to Barbados, who was lamenting the violence in Trinidad and Jamaica. He had recently been caught running a stop sign here in Barbados, and found his initial irritation at the pettiness of Barbadian crime prevention give way to an acknowledgement that Bajans sweat the small social stuff because they can and always have. He described a chat with a Jamaican police commissioner where he asked why so many motorbike riders rode without helmets, when the law stated that they must wear them. The commissioner replied that, with 1500 murders a year to deal with in Kingston alone, bike helmet wearing was a pretty low priority.
Jacobson's article highlights the mad contrast of a nanny state that made it success on catering to the whims of its society finding itself unable to cope with the whimsical society it fostered. "Whatever happened to common decency?" is cliched, even by international cliche standards, but it seems to be an increasingly important question to ask in British society. Look to your little former colony: Barbados. Where decency is still common.
Russians getting annoyed with Estonians, Iranians taking to the streets after dodgy elections, Somalian pirates taking on whatever seems to float past, be it yacht or frigate... As we evolve from full-on war to information (media) activism, it seems that both unconsciously and deliberately, most countries are trying to find their global niche. It's no longer enough to have a jostle with the neighbors. As a nation you have to join a pack or risk being picked off or marginalised by one of the other packs.
To me, 'Great' Britain is still a historical term, but that's not to demean it: Britain was the first to industrialise and to globalise. Followers may have perfected it, but there's still an advantage to having done it first, that Milliband does touch on: the relationships and connections that span the globe. In corporate terms, Britain created the market, and while there are now bigger players in that market, they all know who to turn to for guidance about the market.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
It's like something out of a thriller, except thrillers about such geeky topics never seem to catch the imagination: either too dull for the layman, or too glamourising & simplistic for the geeks.
This is a medieval age of information: there is a vast difference between the haves and have-nots, with all the myths, mysticism, superstition, and intrigues of that era. So where (or what) is our Shakespeare?
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009
It's really quite fast. The XP Home that was factory installed on the netbook was ok. I installed XP Pro on it for work, and it slowed a fair bit, especially with security software too. Still tolerable, though - it only slowed when I was flitting between apps that were each working (ie. XP's no multi-threading).
Windows 7 is fast, even on a netbook. It boots, with domain user login, in under a minute. I've had no pauses when flitting between apps. The Aero preview screens work and move sweetly. It sleeps and wakes in under 10 seconds. It feels light and breezy, but also robust, diagnosing some network connectivity issues very well.
Better than Apple OS X? In terms of usability its just about on par, but OS X just looks more stylish and is usually in a more stylish box with naturally better integration. The startling feat that Microsoft have done is to make this work so well on a non-native, non-'certified' machine.
I hate to say it, but: bravo guys. At the end of the age of the desktop OS, Microsoft have created one excellent last hurrah.
Friday, 21 August 2009
In my opinion it's simply the business manifestation of an old software industry dilemma: is software a product or a service? The answer is: it depends on what you're paying for. As software products have become increasingly commoditised, so software services, with the help of the internet, have become better guarantors of cashflow than clunky product release cycles.
Friday, 3 July 2009
"I will never forget Steve Nicol's arrival in October 1981. Until then, the three Scots already at Anfield, Al, Graeme and me, had been pretty well able to look after ourselves. We had built up an understanding that the Scots were the master race. We would quote historical facts to the English players to prove it. Some of the most important inventions and discoveries in the world came from from Scots, like television, the telephone, penicillin, the steam engine and tarmac. Their names are part of history - John Logie Baird, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming, James Watt. Not to mention those other wonders of the world, golf and whisky... Everything we had built up, he destroyed in 10 minutes." (Kenny Dalglish on his fellow Scotsman)
Saturday, 20 June 2009
But then I think... if that's the waste caused by 62 trillion spam emails, what about all those facebook hours, and myspace hours and inane IM messaging hours, and the 'solicited' crap chain emails and jokes? How much CO2 do they burn? Aren't they just as wasteful as spam email? I guess the best excuse is that if you weren't on facebook, you'd be burning carbon much faster with your car, but that seems a bit fatuous.
In the age of smart machines and a network that can analyse everything about itself, perhaps ISPs should track and charge carbon offsets for internet users. They'd be only too eager to revert to usage-based fees, and it might make users think twice about what they use the internet for, even if we're just talking pennies.