Fon

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Fon seems to be getting a lot of attention, what with the $22 million funding it received from Google & Sequoia among others. Instead of depending on municipal governments to get towns WiFi-ed, I like the grassroots level approach that Fon is taking in spreading WiFi. While I do wish Fon success, questions are being asked on why/how would anyone share their broadband accees, it being not-so-easy to install/use & most of all, it being at the mercy of ISPs & telcos. But Google betting on them (Google has its own interest in popularising free braodband) makes Fon a good bet. Let’s see how they fair.
More at Mark Evans blog.

Differences between podcasting and MSM

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Loic lists the differences between podcasting and radio or TV. Actually its all the advantages of podcasts over MSM that he lists there. A good example of the power of podcasting is of Loic himself conducting various interviews from the World Economic Forum recently. And with ‘podcast’ being the word of the year 2005, we are yet to realise the full power of podcasts.
That said, it would do good to list some disadvantages & difficulties also. (I’m not a regular podcast listener, meaning I don’t subscribe to podcasts yet & I just listen to whatever I think is interesting. I don’t own a iPod & listen to podcasts in my laptop).
# Many podcasts are amateurish (blogs like this are too!) & the sound quality is often bad. If the podcast is conducted over phone, the quality detoriates even further.

# Many of the regular podcasters, for content’s sake, just ramble on prolonging the podcast.

# If I download a 45 minute podcast, it occupies around 20 MB & deleting the old podcasts becomes a chore.

# If I want to save some important podcasts, I find it difficult to retrace them. Should I rename them in such a way to reflect what the subject is about? Should there be folders where I store similar podcasts? Hmm, I can use del.icio.us to tag my favorites (but I’ll have to go back again to the site to find the URL) or use Odeo, I suppose. (aint clear whether I can store my favorites there)

# How do I comment on a podcast? It can be through blog comment/trackback but again I should know the URL. If I have my own podcast & if I comment on another’s podcast, how does the feedback loop work, the conversation happen? (Loic’s point 7 on interactivity answers this but still I think it is inadequate)

Overbrain: Or can the web be “intelligent”?

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I happened to read an editorial in Febrauray issue of Digit magazine the crux of which was “how can the web be intelligent”. And more importantly, the article started of with a familiar example – “Customers who bought this also bought” section in Amazon.com. When I first chanced upon Amazon a couple of years ago, I was drawn to this feature like how . It was a great place for book recommendations, and in many cases it worked out fine for me.

Back then the web wasn’t run by people, like it’s today. There weren’t any web-apps developer or a personal database which is, well, more personal than a website like Amazon. Then slowly blogs and tagging evolved. And to the relief of a lot of people, web-apps can be created in no time. It seems almost true that the internet contains information about anything under the stars.
Which presents the most important problem of Information Overload. A couple of months back, I entered a search query concerning something and got a zilch response. But a few days back, I accidentally stumbled upon what I was looking for. My joy knew no bounds on hitting the jackpot accidentally. But it also made me crib for it had been there all along and I’d wasted a good three months in searching. Not that my search skills are that bad, (even if I enter the same query now, I get no results). They are not what they have to be.

Let’s assume this hypothetical case. I’m looking for information on a particular group who will be performing at the local theatre. I enter their name, I get no results. Not even “are you looking for” suggestion. I tend to feel that their company isn’t adjusting too well to the internet boom. Later on, I almost accidentally stumble upon the group’s blog, and going through their archives, I come to know that they’ve indeed been existing in the virtual world for a long time, that my search query should have landed me here by all means. What happened to me was nearly similar to this situation.

This calls for a need to orgainze content better. The article from “Digit” calls for a “People who visited this website also visited the following other website(s)” method. This is okay as a next step to better search. Like Del.ico.us. But given the number of websites and tag clouds, it is testing the limits of exhaustion on the readers part. Whether an algorithm can handle this or human intervention is required at all stages, only the researches can answer. As a person who searches the web for information almost everyday I’ll get a sense of absolute satisfaction only when I enter a search query like, “Is tomorrow a Friday”, and get a reply, “Yes, TGIF”.

Edited to Add:

(1) In fact I was thinking of Thandora when I wrote this.

(2) TGIF means “Thank Goodness it’s Friday”, which, for most people, is a relief.

Less is More, But people expect more..

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For some people, less is sufficient, less has less confusion, less feels lighter and less is more-than-enough. I agree and for good reason: they’ve been trained to think that way. May be they advocate pareto’s 80-20 rule, just do the 20 percent – the less is more.

But most people want more, they need the extra one feature which may not wanted by most – they really want the long tail of features. The ‘more’ should not spoil the experience they had with ‘less’. Should not complicate the user experience introducing the more. What they really want is More features at the experience of Less – they expect more..

This drives to analogize with the classic example of longtail; Wal-mart and other major retailers don’t carry less popular albums (they carry less, the top 20 percent). The Rhapsody demand, however, keeps going. The rare songs find an audience, there are people looking for more. But impossible for vendors like Wal-mart whose physical inventory business model just restricts, to offer the more.

Zoho..expect more..