The 3 stages of online existence

Here at Reboot Matt Jones just showed the newest version of Dopplr, the straightforward travel tracking, serendipity provoking service he launched with a couple of buddies. When discussing the eternal feature vs application debate any web entrepreneur is facing, he shared his vision that “Dopplr is a feature of a very large application, the Internet”.

For a totally inexplicable reason this made me think of the following: the lifespan of a newly launched online application knows 3 stages:

• the first mover stage, where the product is the only one to do something. Think Blogger in 1999, Digg in 2004, coComment in 2006, Twitter or Dopplr in 2007. At that stage it gathers all the early adopters crowd and builds a strategic advantage.

• the clone stage, where similar services start showing up all around the web. It used to take months before the clones would show up, but these days with 1) the increasing simplicity of the new services 2) the increasing maturity of technologies, it seems clones need less and less time to show up. After all Assaf took his domain name 4 hours after Scoble put coComment in orbit, and released co.mments in only a few weeks. These day Twitter clones were out 5-7 days after the father of crapublication came out.

• the free for all stage, where doing what a company does is as hard as getting a host and unzipping an open source package. This is what happened to Blogger the day WordPress came out. Same for Digg. Competing with them is as easy as installing the free Pligg. That’s the ultimate stage, when what a company does can basically be replicated by anybody in a few minutes.

A few thoughts:
• companies are going through this cycle faster and faster. Competition is getting more and more intense.
• success factors are the brand, the user interface, the design, and the number of users joining the community.
• I believe there is room for much more than one winner. Even more with localization. After all, even Google can not rule all the markets on the planet (see South Korea)
• technology’s role has changed. It is a commodity now. Its role is simply (!) to NOT get in the way of users. Ideally it should go unnoticed.

I closed my Xing account

I just deleted my account on Xing, and some more services will soon follow. No message to the fine Xing people (I know and appreciate many of them), no hard feelings, not trying to do a big headline or statement. It is just that I am do not really need this as I am not looking for a job, as most of the people I know are mostly using a competing service, and as my (old school) way of developing my business is to ping people, then visit them to share a plate of Octopus Sashimi.

I think 90% of the social networks I am participating in are totally useless in terms of actually adding value to my daily activities, so I probably need to close a few more accounts.

Subscription based computer

The Zombu has made a bit of noise in the global news last week, the least you could expect from a device marketed as a 99$ computer (in reality it’s more around 250$).

It is an interesting concept, a cheap computer reduced to the minimum (processor, USB ports, a bit of memory), using online resources like Amazon S3 for storage. Unfortunately this last detail probably makes it unusable in developing countries (few cable or ADSL in Africa) and probably a bit slow when working with large documents or pictures. Upload is so painful with our asynchronous connections.

While this computer still looks a bit too complicated and less sexy than a mac mini, there are more and more strong signs that the price of owning a computer will be dramatically reduced in the coming months, between the 100$ latop, india’s 47$ machine and this box.

Women in computer science

I caught quite a lot of heat when I organized a women and/in technologies panel at LIFT06 to raise questions about the fact that women seem to be fleeing the decision/building side of technology, while at the same time they now account for more than 50% of the online population. I still think it was a pertinent discussion to start even if the form could be debated.

Tim O’Reilly is also wondering what is wrong with women and computer science, and it looks like things have not moved forward much.

The roots of the problem seem to be somewhere deep in our educational system, so the patches will need a couple of decades to have some effect. Patience?

Rocketboom is not making enough money

Steve Rubel points that the world’s most famous video blog is realizing that advertising alone won’t sustain its future growth and I wonder if these guys are 1) simply too early on the market 2) suffering from having totally unreliable metrics to work with. As I wrote earlier, views are inflated and can’t be taken seriously.

Advertisers kind of have a double leap of faith to do with video blogs, first getting out of the comfort zone of working with the good ol’ TV folks, then having no real way of measuring the number of eyeballs they are reaching.

There is an urgent need for statistical standards to measure internet traffic, and finally have numbers that can be trusted and compared. It is time for the W3C step up? Is there already something in that field?

LIFT and the T̩l̩vision Suisse romande Рthe Swiss national TV Рare happy to invite you to their second debate (in French)

LIFT et la TSR organisent un débat sur l’arrivée des robots dans notre quotidien.

La Suisse romande compte plusieurs spécialistes mondiaux en robotique et intelligence artificielle. Les objets intelligents et robotisés sont de plus en plus présents dans notre quotidien. Comment ces chercheurs voient-ils l’avenir d’un monde qui compte désormais avec ces robots?

Quand: Le débat a lieu le mardi 29 mai à 18 heures.

Ou: TSR, salle Michel Soutter (entrée TSR), 20 quai Ernest-Ansermet, 1205 Genève.

Inscriptions: débat gratuit et ouvert à tous mais inscription obligatoire sur le site TSR.

Les invités
• Le débat est animé par Bernard Rappaz, rédacteur en chef de TSR Multimédia. Ses invités:
Frédéric Kaplan. Chercheur en intelligence artificielle. Après avoir travaillé pour Sony à l‘élaboration du robot Aibo, il dirige une équipe de l’EPFL spécialisée dans le domaine du mobilier interactif.
Auke Jan Ijspeert. Il dirige le Biologically Inspired Robotics Group (“Groupe d‘étude sur les Robots inspirés par la biologie”) à l’EPFL. Ses domaines de prédilection: l‘étude des robots “intelligents” pour mieux comprendre le comportement animal et l‘étude des animaux pour créer de nouveaux types de robots.
Daniela Cerqui: anthropologue à l’Université de Lausanne, Daniela s’intéresse aux bouleversements sociaux et culturels dus au rapprochements de plus en plus intimes des technologies dans le corps humain. Une partie de son travail a concerné l’implant de puces, en collaborant aux recherches de Kevin Warwick, qui s’implanta la première puce dans le corps humain.

Pour plus d’informations: www.nouvo.ch/debat

Age-verification in Google Korea

The Internet has penetrated life in Korea perhaps more than it has in many other countries and brought citizens numerous benefits but also problems (note: I already mentionned cyberviolence on this blog).

In response, the Korean government has discussed regulating certain aspects of online life and has even blocked access to some Web sites […]

Google “users will have to enter their name and national resident registration number, which will be checked against a database to verify the user — or at least the person whose data has been entered — is old enough”.

Link

Two comments:

• isn’t this going to generate an amazing amount of identity theft?

• the original title of this report is “Google Korea to censor search results” which is completely abusive (is a government responsible of censorship because it does not allow citizens below 18 to watch porn?) and shows that slowly but surely the “Google is evil” angle is selling more paper.

Bon apétit

I finally tried Korean Sashimi, and it’s surprisingly… good!

Here is how it looks when they bring the plate to the table. It doesn’t move at all until the waitress spreads some lemon juice all over the tentacles… Then this!

India’s 47$ laptop

Having rejected Nicholas Negroponte’s offer of $100 laptops for schoolchildren, HRD ministry’s idea to make laptops at $10 is firmly taking shape with two designs already in and public sector undertaking Semiconductor Complex evincing interest to be a part of the project.

So far, the cost of one laptop, after factoring in labour charges, is coming to $47 but the ministry feels the price will come down dramatically considering the fact that the demand would be for one million laptops. “The cost is encouraging and we are hopeful it would come down to $10.”

Link