Saturday, July 14, 2007

Intel joins the OLPC movement

Perhaps in a belated reply, Intel has decided to come clean on allegations of itself and Microsoft working in tandem to destroy the $100 Laptop per child mission – you will remember Intel launched the Classmate, a more expensive OLPC-type product.

However, now Intel has announced that it has joined the OLPC board, alongside the likes of Google and other ‘noble-minded’ tech majors.

Although, at this time it is not clear whether Intel chips will go inside the OLPC (at present AMD is supplying the chips), but there are chances that the servers used to back up the OLPCs might have Intel technology inside them.

Moreover, the two competing laptops, OLPC's XO and Intel's Classmate can even share software.

For a noble cause, cooperation often wins over competition.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Top 20 most significant E-Commerce developments of the last 10 years

Not satisfied with the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA)’s recently released list of ‘Top 10 most significant E-Commerce developments of the last 10 years’, I added some of my own:

1. Google (Sept. 1998)
2. Broadband Penetration of US Internet Users Reaches 50 percent (June 2004)
3. eBay Auctions (Launched Sept. 1997)
4. (IPO May 1997)
5. Google Ad Words (2000)
6. Open Standards (HTML 4.0 released - 1997)
7. WiFi (802.11 launched - 1997)
8. User-Generated Content – Blogs, Youtube, Flickr, social networking
9. iTunes (2001)
10. BlackBerry (1999)

My additions:
11. Craigslist
12. Legal downloaded music – iTunes
13. P2P – Napster, Kazaa, Skype (VoIP)
14. Spammers and Scammers
15. Online Identities and Identity theft
16. Aggregators: Google news
17. Bookmarking and Voting:, Digg
18. The Bubble of 2000 and the impending bubble
19. Wikipedia (although the SIIA’s list includes UGC, Wikipedia deserves a special, separate mention
20. Mobile Networks

What are your choices?

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The 14-year Copyright solution

On the legal side, there are two main problems with this information - patents and copyrights. In both cases there is... too much of everything, which is bad for creativity so necessary in the information and entertainment businesses.

More than individuals, it is big corporations who would like to enjoy benefits of almost eternal (as it seems now) copyright, paying their overpaid and under-worked staffers in comfort for as long as they can, long after the creator of the original work is dead.

Now, Cambridge University PhD candidate Rufus Pollock has used economics formulas to calculate the optimal level of copyright- finding that 14 years is the maximum term for granting copyright status.

Although, it is impossible that legislators (lobbied by corporations) would go in for this optimal level, it isn’t hard to point out entities that would like this to never happen – Walt Disney Corp., for example, is famous for having ‘forced’ into existence the Copyright Term Extension Act (also called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act) that made it possible for Disney to extend copyright on its brands such as Mickey Mouse for more time to come.

In short, the 14year copyright means hell for Copyright life-termers.

On the other hand there are publishers who are up in arms against Google’s Print project, which is digitizing mostly out-of-print books. In this case Publishers are protesting because without protest there is no fun, is there?

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Google: search Company or Ad Company? The debate ensues

The debate over Google’s responsibilities as a search company and as a n advertising company, took a legal turn yesterday when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided to take legal action against Google over the way Google sells and displays sponsored links.

Although, the case points out that lay users (aka noobies, a big source of adsense clickers) are confused by sponsored links over search results, more importantly, the case also throws light upon the practice of duplicity in Adwords, when a company brings out adwords in name of its competitor – think Coke buying Pepsi adwords – user clicks Pepsi ad link and is taken to Coke’s site.

Now Google might reply that it is hard for it to ascertain an adword buyer’s authencity as most of the Adwords service is self-service, Google may increasingly find itself responding complaints.

With bigger status, come great responsibilities.

Bottomline: sooner or later, Google ought to change the way it operates if it is to become the world’s biggest advertising company too.

This may be a landmark case.

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Where the newspapers went wrong

Bashing the newspapers is favorite pastime for many of us bloggers. So here it goes again. This time, Howard Owens lists out 8 mistakes the newspapers made which left them under-prepared for the onslaught of the digital publishing revolution.

Here is a summary:

1. Slow to embrace blogging
2. Slow towards a webified Classifieds business
3. Failure to protect profitable ad categories such as real estate and cars.
4. Failing to invest in search
5. Not giving value to users who wanted to join the so-far one-way editor-led conversation.
6. Not investing any profit from online operations back into promoting and developing online operations including paying citizen reporters.
7. User-unfriendly news web sites.

8. Not being imaginative about mobile content.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Problems with modern media: Stealth advertising as news

Stealth advertising covers a gamut of advertising outside of regular ad blocks during programming – commercial messages disguised as regular programming. Researchers at the University of Oregon did a content analysis of evening newscasts across the United States and found that 90% of the newscasts contained ‘at least 1 instance per newscast of stealth advertising’.

Robert Lipsyte writes in the USAToday that the four F’s – Food, Fashion, Fitness and Finances are masquerading as news, eating into space in the mainstream media (and elsewhere) meant for useful information.

The A-listers-Federated Media- Microsoft’s people ready controversy illustrates that this trend is moving online as well.

This is the age of pseudo news. There is too much of media. There are too many journalists chasing frivolous stories to pay for their salaries...there are many problems with modern media.

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