Saturday, July 30, 2005

Social Networking: Where The Internet Comes Down From The Clouds

I think social networking the internet way is even younger than the internet, and has more places to go, many more. The metaphor that comes to my mind is that of a tornedo touchdown. The internet is the tornedo. When you use it for social networking purposes, it is a touchdown. The results can be positively "devastating."

Look at I have some history with this site. My early enthuse for Dean got me to the site. And I got hooked. Dean moved on, I stayed on. So imagine my utter surprise when I bumped into the CEO of MeetUp, mid-westerner Scott, close to my age, who has since invited me to his office, not long after I moved into the city. I met this guy at a MeetUp. To me it was like I ended up at some party where I met a Hollywood star, something akin to it. And he is so self-effacing in presence. I guess he is one of those never-lose-your-cool, big-picture visionaries. I mean, what did I expect him or someone like him to be? Obnoxious? Look, I got the big idea! The guy is MIT Innovator Of The Year. He hosts the Tech meetup in the city.

I have told him, eBay is people meet stuff, MeetUp is people meet people. MeetUp could potentially end up the Yahoo of social networking. It is like you grow big, early, fast, then you go public. And you grow bigger. Then you conduct a lot of smart buys, like a frog eats up dragonflies.

The quicksilver market that the internet is, it is not guaranteed MeetUp or any other one site will get there. But MeetUp has the broadness that few other social networking sites have. For one, it has this definite offline component. Social networking sites that are all screen time and no face time have something fundamental lacking. But then there are some that are doing quite well. Look at these three that took up a lot of my time today: Flickr | 43Things | Delicious.

Flickr is a good example. Curiously Scott had something that was earlier than Flickr, and quite like it, but I guess Flickr is smoother in operation, sexier, and so it got bought up by Yahoo and made two people very rich very quick.

There is this another, Speed dating, I think it is such a cool concept. I went to one, if I did not get a second date does not mean my enthusiasm for the concept is any lesser! But my point is it is another of those tornedo touchdown concepts.

I think MeetUp's future lies in attempting to become the Yahoo of social networking.

And then there are a whole bunch of Friendster type companies.

In short, there are all these great ideas that started out as great companies that still have a lot of people, especially investors, people who count a little more than the rest of us, believing in them, but the breakthrough has yet to happen. One obvious criterion therefore is those who will patiently stick it out will stand a chance.

But more important than that might be the quality of a rabid hunger for rapid expansion. It is a race in time. If you do it almost as good, but are about a year late, that might be a little too late.

Since I made my trip to Scott's office, I have played with the idea of getting involved in some way. I couldn't afford to do it full time, not to get a job, because I have these ideas that I am cultivating. There is the IC idea, there is the online marketing idea, and there is the political involvement to do with Nepal. Maybe I can consult for them.

I do not pretend to be an engineer, although I have a pretty good intuitive feel for concepts in physics. But my strength is group dynamics. I think the winner social networking site will tackle the challenge from the High Touch end rather than the High Tech end, although tech is very important, after all what you are offering is a site. A web service.

I think, for MeetUp, the key is to further decentralize. To make localization more possible. Used to be there was this one golden day someone had chosen when people on one topic met all over the country. Now local Organizers can monkey with the meeting dates. That is good. What would further localization look like? It goes from the city to the group. From the group to the individual.

Broadly speaking.

Internet based social networking is a young market. It will likely see many upheavals. There will be pendulum swings from common sense to sophistication and penetration and back.

What can I say, all the best Scott.

Social network - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wait a minute. Guess what I found out this very minute: Scott has been profiled by my former rival Rediff! Now I know why we Chaitime people lost: we never discovered Scott!

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Thursday, July 21, 2005


I just bumped into the word. A search for the term on Google News brought forth only seven results.

Wi-Mesh extends the reach of Wi-Fi. So the expansion is coming from both ends.

In The News

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Superfast Cable Broadband And The Rest Of The Daily Soup

  • A jump from the current 2 MB to 100 MB as early as next year is highly desirable. There is no way to go but up. Personally I would like to follow World Cup Soccer games online. For one, I don't own a television set. Two, I don't want to own a television set. There is this double whammy of speeds going up and the prices going down. Connectivity prices need to go the hardware and the software route: down, down, down. The competition sizzles up. There is DSL (1.5-3), cable (4-16) and fiber (30). When you cut prices, you gain market share, like DSL companies have shown; when you raise speeds, there is a similar effect. Municipalities geting into the fiber network business is another pop up. Why wait for the market to seep it in! This Louisiana victory goes against the current of other defeats where the big companies bullied the small and not so small towns.
  • A 10 year old Pakistani is in news for getting Microsoft certified. She got to meet Bill Gates, an experience she describes as "second only to visiting Disneyland." Gates' got company and competition, both. Another curiosity: bike powered internet in Uganda. Wow.
  • Like WiMax has been moving towards standardization and mainstreaming, so has broadband over powerlines.
  • Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken are both podcasting. Looks like both have arrived. Podcasting needs to go video. So media pyramids come down like in tetris games. I personally am waiting for Evan Williams of the fame to release his Odeo. I am into audio but not podcasting yet. To tell you the truth, I prefer text, but audio and video components embellish the offering. Here are some more interesting talkers than Lim or Frank. And this Mark Cuban foray into blogosphere search.
  • iPod for movies anyone? The need is sure there. That darling of a company Skype is off into video phones.
  • With all this talk of text, audio and video, I keep thinking, why are not more of these people working harder on MathML?
  • Looks like Amazon is already searching inside hundreds of thousands of books before Google.
  • HTML to microformats. From computers talk to humans to computers talk to computers. This is on a Wharton site, by the way. XML, XHTML, RDF, iCalendar, vCard.
  • Microsoft feels the jitters. Used to be Sun sued Microsoft. Now it is Microsoft is suing Google. Looks like Google has managed to create a more exciting work environment. It is an innovation at the corporate level, it is a group dynamics thing. In another industry, Citi also shed some.
  • There is this news about China's 9% economic growth, apparently a slowdown. That reminds me. The Chinese leadership has been buying hundreds of billions of dollars in American debt, money that goes to pay for tax cuts for America's richest. Such a distortion. That money should be going to China's poor, into human capital and infrastructure and small business investments. Good reason why the Chinese should ditch their communist party monopoly on political power. These bigwigs there are on this big ego trip at the expense of doing good by their own people.
  • That brings me to FDI, China and Taiwan. Apparently China gets most of its Foreign Direct Investment from Taiwan, but look at its saber rattling on Taiwan. Such a disjunk between economics and politics there too.
  • China's insisting it will not float its currency. That is a high mark to currency stability. And a pointer to monetary unions. Currency fluctuations: what economic good are they?
  • This article on the global economy paints a somber picture. Productivity growth might not lead to higher wages if there is not a total emphasis on continual education and training.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Into the Nitty Gritty Of WiMax

The whole point of the internet has been to open things up but, paradoxically, the way people have so far accessed that same internet has been a closed system. WiMax promises to bring openness to the access point itself.

The whole idea of old companies getting washed away, and new companies coming to occupy center stage, old industries disappearing and new ones emerging, old markets evaporating off and new markets getting created, old jobs getting lost and new ones created, that whole churn is an essential vitality of the market mechanism. Change is inevitable, change is desirable. As to what change, and how much, it is ultimately for the customer to decide in a marketplace that is not otherwise distorted. Daring entrepreneurs and dedicated public servants in political offices have the option to forge new partnerships to make sure the consumer is made supreme and stays supreme. There is that futuristic, visionary crown that every cutting edge company wears, and in that zone it is more about ideas and less about the heat of the immediate market, but ultimately that heat has to be faced.

WiMax, in essence, is a challenge to the market mechanism and democracy itself. Will the public servants be there for the public? That question is going to loom large in a very basic way. Because WiMax turns internet access into "roads." At that point it is no longer Cable TV, but more like public television. There will still be alternative ways to access the internet, and niche markets where the private sector runs the show and makes money, but the mainstream way of people coming online is surefootedly headed into the public domain.

Once that achievement is made, it will be a fundamental departure, not only in a major collective boost in productivity, but in many other ways. Society speeds up. Social progress speeds up. It truly is one global village at that point.

Intel has said WiMax is the biggest thing to happen to the internet since the internet itself. I buy into that assertion.

Ubiquitous broadband redefines home, work and school, three of the fundamental social institutions. The ramifications are many. Lifelong education, for one, like an uncut umbilical chord, at that point can be taken for granted.

If the impact on the American scene is to be astounding, that at the global scale is to be mind-blowing. The vision of connecting every human mind to the web stands to be realized. That internet access will be like having invented money for the first time and introduced into the social domain: then it takes a life of its own, and becomes a permanent fixture of the mental landscape, like a mountain, or an island, or a cockroach. We no longer think of it as our creation, but very much a gem of the natural landscape.

At that point, internet acces is like plumbing. The interest is in the water: the plumbing should stay out of sight.

WiMax News | WiMaxxed | WiMaxWorld | BWIA News | Latest WiMax News | MuniWireless |
| Daily Wireless | WNN | Mobile Mesh | Wireless Unleashed | Google | WiMaxBlog |

  1. Cooperative Disruption And Great Firms Failing: The Jolt From A Wireless Revolution S Wanczyk - View as HTML - Web Search
  2. Highly Available Location-based Services in Mobile Environments
    P Ibach, M Horbank - View as HTML - Web Search
  3. EE359–Wireless Communications Term Project–Autumn 2003
    MA Vuong - View as HTML - Web Search
  4. A Dual-Mode GPS Real-Time Kinematic System for Seamless Ultrahigh-Precision Positioning and …
    D Kim, RB Langley - View as HTML - Cited by 2 - Web Search
  5. Fred’s Encyclopedia of RF and Microwave Technology
    I Microsystems, AM Reference - View as HTML - Web Search
  6. Throughput Measurements and Models of Public IEEE 802.11 b Wireless Local Area Networks, and …
    PTS Rappaport, J Chen - View as HTML - Web Search
  7. Advances in Wireless Networking Standards
    RB Marks - View as HTML - Cited by 3 - Web Search
  8. Government/Industry Interactions IN THE Global Standards System
    RE Hebner - View as HTML - Web Search
  9. Radio Revolution
    K Werbach - View as HTML - Web Search
  10. IEEE Standard 802.16: A Technical Overview of the WirelessMAN™ Air Interface for Broadband …
    M Opportunities - View as HTML - Cited by 18 - Web Search
  11. Link Adaptation Algorithm and Metric for IEEE Standard 802.16
    S Ramachandran - View as HTML - Web Search
  12. The Mobile Memex
    RM Vaandrager - View as HTML - Web Search

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The WiMax Appeal

The WiMax appeal is that it is broadband, and it is wireless, and it can be "spread" over a large area like that of a city, and hence is the only take-you-online-fast technology that can be the internet parallel of what we have in the form of roads for our cars. At the WiMax level, broadband internet can be passed on to the municipality.

It is a young technology, sure. There are all sorts of naysayers. There will be fits and starts, but ultimately it will prevail. Because the vision is so clear: wireless broadband over a large area. The component bits and pieces will be ongoing work. Refinements will be made. But there is no doubting the basic thrust of it all.

Curiously the biggest challenge is not that the technology might not emerge or might not live up to the "hype," but that entreched, rival, old technologies and their corporate patrons might play dirty. The tussle is political. If the market mechanism is driven by consumers, as it should, WiMax will prevail nevertheless.

WiMax Forum

In The News (Google News: WiMax)
  • Why would you use WiMax indoors?, UK .... the ebb and flow of WiMax enthusiasm .... a WiMax AP could provide "real" QoS in the home, for things like video and VoIP ..... WiMax LAN chipsets in volume could reach prices near those of 802.11
  • Indoor WiMax LANs proposed .... WiMax could have another role - replacing 802.11a on the LAN.
  • Alvarion Rides the WiMAX Wave BusinessWeek ..... WiMAX, a wireless-broadband technology targeted for the metropolitan area network (MAN) .... "disruptive technology" ..... covering distances in excess of 30 miles at a theoretical shared data rate of up to 75 megabits (Mbps), may actually live up to its billing .... the 802.11 wireless local area network (LAN) standard..... WiMAX, short for worldwide interoperability for microwave access ..... Intel .. has been a major supporter of the technology ..... coming standardization process ..... ubiquitous coverage to rival that of cellular networks...... Alvarion was the clear leader in the broadband wireless access equipment market, with a 31% share, as of March, 2005 ..... Alvarion as best positioned to benefit from our forecast of widespread adoption of WiMAX wireless technology ..... as the industry moves toward WiMAX....
  • PDA News - WiMax testing, WiMax threatens monopolies, Satellite ... .... fully standard-compliant hardware to reach the market around the end of the year .... WiMax is hyped as being the ultimate next-generation solution for wide-area networking ..... WiMax threatens the unregulated duopoly of existing telecom providers. Cable and telephone companies .... Sprint complained to the FCC that to allow WiMax to exist would essentially destroy radio communication as we know it. Nor are they the only players--WiMax would threaten both landline and mobile phone providers, and provide a double-threat to companies like Sprint and Verizon ..... Verizon, Time Warner, and others allied against it ..... Intel, LG, Samsung, and Lucent all backing WiMax .... a corporate war ..... the Community Broadband Act of 2005, sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), which guarantees the right of municipalities to create their own broadband networks...... PanAmSat claims that they've developed a system to offer live broadcast video over WiMax, via satellite ....less benefit to it than a pure fiber or terrestrial-WiMax solution.... could bring benefits to very underdeveloped areas such as mountainous regions
  • WiMAX Team-Up PC Magazine got a boost in mid-June, as Nokia and Intel announced plans to accelerate its deployment...... already has momentum in South Korea. The WiMAX IEEE 802.16e proposed standard is to be ratified later this year
  • ADAPTIX Demonstrates Early Pre-WiMAX Mobile System; System-Level ... Business Wire (press release), CA .... the promise of mobile WiMAX is fast approaching -- it's no longer just a futuristic new technology we simply talk about ..... at throughput of up to 2.5 Mbps traveling at vehicular speeds through the coverage area..... multi-megabit speeds
  • WiMax certification process launched Tom's Hardware Guide First WiMax products are expect to hit the market at the end of this year...... Nortel, Microsoft, Disney, Logitech, Cisco, AT&T, AudioCodes, Kencast, Ixia and Skype, showcasing their products and services..... 3G wireless carriers can look at this technology as a tool to offer the equivalent of fixed line services and potentially lower cost data services .....WiMax services are expected to offer a Bandwidth of about 75 Mbit per second and a range of about 31 miles. Commercial services are expected to be become available in 2006. ... first WiMax product may become available as early as late this year.
  • WiMAX Gets Closer To Reality Digital Connect News (subscription)
  • Emerging WiMax technology takes aim at fast-moving target Seattle Times high-speed and high-bandwidth ..... download a large digital file, make a phone call and watch a movie all at the same time ..... encourage compatibility of equipment across vendors to drive costs down..... the systems are real .... By contrast, Wi-Fi is more like a megaphone, where the person closest to the source gets the best service...... how close and legitimate WiMax is .... Some companies have started selling equipment, calling it the precursor to WiMax or pre-WiMax. .... revenues are expected to hit between $2 billion and $5 billion by 2009. Today, pre-WiMax is generating about $500 million in equipment sales....... sending doctors an X-ray of a patient in an ambulance before arriving at the hospital or public-utility crews downloading maps while on the road ..... "Mobility is the future. Anywhere, anytime, any device"
  • RemotePipes Joins WiMax Forum Unstrung RemotePipes, a leading provider of global roaming Internet access solutions, today announced that it joined the WiMAX Forum™ .... standards-based, interoperable products that drive price and performance levels not achievable by proprietary approaches ..... across global markets deliver economical broadband data, voice, and video services to both residential and business customers .....
  • RemotePipes, Inc. Joins WiMAX Forum to Collaborate on 802.16 ... Canada NewsWire (press release)
  • WiMax Router To Launch Early Next Year in Korea Wireless IQ (subscription), NY ... its main AAA platform will be Diameter based instead of RADIUS
  • LIVE VIDEO TO HANDHELDS AV Interactive, UK WiMAX Forum Plenary, on July 12 and 13 in Vancouver, Canada ....By providing wireless broadband access, emergency personnel such as firefighters and police officers can be in immediate contact with the crisis situation..... WiMAX technology will be incorporated in notebook computers and smartphones in 2006, allowing for urban areas and cities to become "MetroZones" for portable outdoor broadband wireless access.
  • Satellite-delivered WiMAX the Next Big Thing? Linux News Intel ... when it first began promoting the technology in September of last year. ....
  • Live Video Streaming at WiMAX Forum
  • PanAmSat in mobile satellite tie-up Telecom Paper (subscription)
  • Cellular Operators Engaging with WiMAX Telecoms Korea (Subscription), South Korea
  • WiMAX Pie in the Wireless Sky PC Magazine I want WiMAX to work. But the delays, confusion, and bickering, and the fact that the duo-polies are rolling out WiMAX, make me think that this may be another technological dead end..... Intel .. WiMAX is "the most important thing since the Internet itself." .... it won't be Intel's flag-waving that will make or break WiMAX, but the vested interests in the United States: the phone and cable companies..... You'll witness the WiMAX initiative being spearheaded by the telcos so they can test-market it and find that either it doesn't work or that nobody wants it. If they can't do that, they'll market WiMAX as an inferior or expensive alternative to cable and DSL, and throw down as many delays and roadblocks as possible. Both entities will lower their prices and jack up their DSL and cable speeds to price any upstarts out of the market.
  • Covad Plots 'Pre-WiMax' Service Light Reading Sprint recently said that it plans to launch WiMax services in 2007 ....
  • A Flower Grows in WiMax Unstrung 3G systems typically use one channel to send and one to recieve, whereas WiMax is a multipath technology. But like all radio networks, WiMax will still subject to interference, range, and capacity problems.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Google Again

I might as well rename this the Google blog. Where do they keep coming up with these new ideas? I think it is that all their worker bees are required to spend a day a week thinking up new ideas. Maybe that is the trick not emulated elsewhere. Like their click through text ads. It is turning the ad industry upside down.

Now Google is in news investing into a broadband over power lines company. Once something like that happens, Google stands to conquer the world. With universal broadband, the entire humanity is one mind. One big mind. One huge mind. Each particular human mind is but a neuron then.

You can't have internet access without electric power. And so marry the two. The electric power and broadband. Now that is revolution, it was not Lenin's 1917.

Plus, broadband is not one thing. It is a spectrum. There is really slow broadband like in the US, and a really fast one like in Korea. The electric line broaband is much faster than even the one in Korea. Now that would be broadband.

Google's got the vision. Kudos. Looks great from the angle of the end user.

Okay Google, now integrate MathML to Blogger. That is one gaping hole. And it is not even difficult. The know-how is already there. It just has not emerged a priority.

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

The $100 Computer

Wow, it is happening.

My current business involvement is at the level of group dynamics, which I fancy to be at a whole different level from things like software, even biotech. Those are down there!

A few years back I was trying to launch a series of companies, which was at the level of software. I must admit I have toyed with the idea of an Internet Computer. IC. Like the PC succeeded the mainframes, the ICs would succeed the PC.

But it is already happening. And I am happy for it. The Indian $100 computer.

This is a big deal. One difference is it is not totally tied with the internet. It still does a bunch of offline stuff. Which is good. For the Indian context.

My vision was more of like a computer that is always online, and there is nothing to be done offline. You have Linux that supports Firefox, and that is all there is to it. And then you scale back to the hardware level and get rid of all the extra bells and whistles.

I am surprised Larry Ellison is not jumping on the idea bandwagon. The guy was trying to push something called a Network Computer back in 1995. It did not take off, but I think his vision, slightly modified, has oomph.

If you have ICs, all the data crunching happens on servers. And that is the only way Oracle could fathom taking over Microsoft.

But the thing about the computer industry is, it is a great marketplace. It is truly hard to predict winners. The situation stays fluid and rightly so.

I mean, if you are a dot com company, your competition is only a quick click or a quick Google search away. You sink and swim fast. But then you can also come back fast when you sink. If you keep working, and keep offering the very best you might have to offer.

I don't think the IC vision is going to be anything dramatic. The PC itself will likely morph beyond recognition.

There was Steve Jobs with his bells and whistles recently. He was boasting you can get weather reports on your PC with Apple's new operating system, and I am thinking, why would I want to do that? I already have been doing that online. Well, maybe not me, because I am not much of a weather person, but I mean, that option has been online for ages now. That is when I realized the PC is not going too far from here.

The online world is the new western frontier, and worldwide too.

No, it is not outsourcing. That term is so racist. People who realize Indians are no longer just subsistence farmers, they get thrown off balance. What is happening is new jobs are being created in India. Trade is a good thing. Just because that trade happens online and is worldwide does not make it suddenly bad.

Go India!

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Google Video Has Hit The Docks

I am aware of how often the Google name has cropped up at this blog, but there is a method to the madness. Google stock price is now where the Microsoft stock price was in the late 1980s: you ain't seen nothing yet. Gates himself has said Google is the first company to be directly challenging Microsoft. It is almost a generational change. Microsoft in Eisenhower or Bush Sr., Google is Kennedy or Clinton. Something of that sort. And now Google has been in news for its video display and 3D maps. In the previous generation, there was a lot of vaporware. Google on the other hand surprises you. They don't tell you what they are working on, and boom, they have something new to offer. They are a software company like Microsoft. Yahoo is more a content and aggregate company. But Yahoo is pretty cool too. At the least it will keep Google on its toes.

My recommendation on Google stocks: buy and stick to it for a decade. It will keep splitting. They are going to keep innovating until the PC as we know it is a goner.

The split thing, that is what happened to Microsoft.

What Google needs to work on is MathML for Blogger. As it is, you can do text, audio, and now video. Soon there will be money transfer. That leaves one big gaping hole: MathML. Or its equivalent. One should have the option to insert mathematical equations at Blogger. That is one big amiss. I emailed them about it. I am sure some others are having the same thoughts. But I have not seen the idea discussed publicly at any Google forum.

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