Skip to content

No Sleep Till Syndicate

Drop by the Syndicate Conference next week. We will have a table top and I will be moderating a panel on the branding benefits of RSS.

No word on the jump suit.

At ad:tech NYC

If you are in NYC come visit us at ad:tech tomorrow or drop by their web site and see why this guy is so excited. ad:tech RSS

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and …

I am gazing into the future this week at the steamy Web 2.0 conference. Despite Alan Greenspan rehearsing for his role as McDuff, the mood is very upbeat. A run down of the trends.

Ajax Apps – wow they have gotten good! They have moved beyond responsiveness to include other desktop attributes like support for keyboard shortcuts and file save reminders. They are also taking advantage of the ease of integration of web services making these services “fully-Web 2.0.” Yeah, dude.

A particularly outstanding example is Zimbra. Think Exchange with every conceivable web service hyperlinked/mashed into your email, as bubble help. Dates bring up your calendar, tracking number go check their delivery status, and of course addresses bring up Google maps. If it works, I want it.

Identity/Attention – The Attention Trust demoed their Attention Recorder, a plug in to Firefox that captures your click stream. The hope is that companies build applications that will provide value to end-users in exchange for the stream. SXIP might be on to something by tying identity to a real world problem with sxore, a distributed identity system to combat blog spam.

Investors. The VCs are out in force despite other pressing business in San Francisco this week. While they are aggressively turning over every rock, they are complaining about Web 2.0 companies being undefensible businesses with small market opportunities.

So are we in for Trouble? Tragically, we will have to wait for Web 2.0 Act II.

Kurzweil is the One

I attended Ray Kurzweil’s talk on Thursday night at SAP’s silicon valley reception center – a beautiful place with horrible acoustics and flickering brown-out lighting conditions. I was reminded of Frank Lloyd Wright’s quip that one can tell the architectural significance of a building by the number of buckets required when it rains. Good to be ERP

Kurzweil laid out the thesis of his new book, The Singularity is Near. Using 88 slides, most featuring that favorite of professorial obfuscating visuals, the logarithmic chart, he outlined significant events in technology and human evolution, both straight diagonal lines. His point being that change is accelerating, not just in technology, but in human evolution. The next leaps in human evolution will be the understanding of the human body as an information system, and miniaturization technology that allows nano-implants. Extrapolating from this thesis he sees the following developments.

By 2010 Computers disappear into wearable devices, images are written directly to our retina and we interact with computers through virtual personalities.

By 2029 the human brain will be reverse engineered. Humans will have millions of nano-neural implants in their brains. The result is an “intimate merger” of human and machine intelligence and the ability to reprogram our biochemistry to enable extremely long life.

By 2045 we will have reached the singularity, where we are more machine than man.

Sounds good to me, but the timing seems just a bit fast. 2010 for computers to miniaturize and be able to write to you retina – so that’s in Service Pack 2 to Windows Vista? Yes, there are exponential progressions all around us and humans are poorly designed to notice them. However, capital sources, governments and other large organizations are not on an exponential change curve. As one person in audience asked – why did it take 7 years to get to the moon in the 60’s but NASA just announced plans to get back to the moon, in 13 years. Kurzweil’s response was that just because it can happen, does not mean it will. It is a matter of focus and resources.

With significant ideas, criticism is just a drop in the bucket.

The Gnomedex XPerience

At my second GnomeDex today and the feeling is euphoric. Microsoft announced broad support for RSS in IE 7.0 and Longhorn. Excellent coverage here.

This is not a small announcement. Note that every analyst and every major technology and business publication had been briefed. Their demo and presentation was very slick and thoroughly rehearsed. They were prepared for questions.

Microsoft demo's easy RSS feed subscription in IE 7.0

My guess on the announcement – Longhorn needs a value proposition beyond a faster UI for people to upgrade. And RSS is a great value proposition. Prepare to be saturated with Longhorn advertising stressing RSS benefits next summer. It started today with their positioning on the evolution of Windows – Browse, Search, Subscribe!

The announcement has this, blogger and RSS start-up heavy, crowd feeling very happy. And not only is Microsoft behind the conference in providing a big announcement, but they are heavy financial supporters – “Microsoft Presents GnomeDex 5.0.”

Last Fall the conference was fun, but it was held at the dim and seedy Harrahs’ Lake Tahoe. Today the conference is at the pristine Bell Harbor convention center. Tonight’s party is at the brand new Seattle Public Library. The money is starting to flow in RSS.

Stanford e-Day 2005

On Saturday I was a panelist at the Stanford Engineering School’s annual e-Day conference. Having neither attended Stanford, nor graduated in Engineering, it seemed an unusual lapse of quality control.

The conference was keynoted by Jeff Raikes who runs Office for Microsoft and is by far the best communicator I have ever seen from Redmond. Granted this is not a very high hurdle, but he may have missed his calling in politics. The guy is a combination of aw-shucks Midwestern humility with an obvious keen mind and strong presence – the guy is devastating.

He talked to the standard issue Microsoft Presentation (one word per slide) and discussed the vision for the forthcoming Office 12:
“Remove corporate boundaries” – Groove operating through the firewall.
“Connect information and people” – Search
“Broad control” – Document DRM
“Business Applications” – Play nice with ERP/CRM applications
“Software services” – Live Meeting
“Unified Communications” – He gave an example of being able to take phone calls when he is on IM. Not sure if he realizes a million people were doing that while he was talking.

They are moving in this direction as Microsoft chose to “Expand the view of the Opportunity.” As such Office is no longer about productivity applications, but about “enhancing the productivity of those who do information work.”

I don’t know. For the first time I had to give serious thought about whether to buy Office with my new PC. I did, because of Outlook. But I find myself using OpenOffice more than Word as it has a great HTML editor and every document can be turned into a PDF. And it’s free. Their grip is tenuous. And the fact that he never mentioned RSS when his goal is “enhancing the productivity of those who do information work,” is stunning.
The irrepressible Jeff Kleck moderates at Stanford e-Day.
Moving on to our panel, Jeff Kleck did a stellar job of keeping it conversational and fun, complete with Nerf rockets to shoot at audience members who asked bad questions. While we were supposed to talk about “Managing Next-Generation Information Technologies and Services,” the discussion quickly veered to entrepreneurship and software business models. But not before someone asked me about the relative benefits of XML vs. relational database as a data model – a question I am uniquely unqualified to answer as a Finance major.

At the conclusion a member of the Stanford engineering department presented me with a token as I do not have an affiliation with Stanford. It was a School of Engineering drink coaster.

Well, it’s not an honorary doctorate, but I will get plenty of mileage out of this with the development team.

Bright Lights, Bad Business Model

Walking up Broadway on my way back from dinner, I noticed a crowd of people cheering under bright lights in the middle of Times Square. AudioSlave was blasting. Being a fan of the Jimmy Kimmel Show, particularly the concert series, I guessed it was a live simulcast and went over to join the fun. The picture below is the camera man dancing to the music while operating the steady cam.

Part of the concert series is the ability to buy the live performances. It was a good song and a nice “only in New York” moment, so why not?

Because to get the music, you must download Sony’s soundstage software. I don’t know what that will do to my computer, and Sony is not telling as there is not even a FAQ on the site. Even better the music is DRMed to death – it only comes in Sony’s proprietary file format which only plays in SoundStage or Sony’s iPod knock-off.

I would have happily paid my $0.99. I would have paid $10. But if you want to install your spyware on my PC and give me a crippled product, no thanks.

Earlier in the Day I had listened to Scoble discuss a major value point for RSS – he is happy to have relationships with companies, but it must be on his terms. I could not agree more.