Monday, January 21, 2008

Computing in the Cloud at Princeton U

I participated on a Panel at Princeton University last week, as part of the "Computing in the Cloud" workshop, hosted by the Center for Information Technology Policy. Definitely a valuable experience for me... I met great people and learned from other panelists and participants. The panel I was on - moderated by Andrea LaPaugh and called "What's Next", included Reihan Salam and Jesse Robbins - both of whom are great story tellers and brought completely different perspectives to the subject.

Overall, panelists and attendees of the workshop conveyed a general net positive attitude, balanced with useful caution regarding privacy and security, with strong hope that Cloud Computing (should I be capitalizing that?) will bring increased transparency to such things as government collected information. As in most areas of new technology ("new" is a relative term), there are some valuable pessimistic views which keep people like me - call me a pragmatic optimist - deeply appreciating the skills of security and legal specialists who act as the sherpas (lower-case 's') in their respective mountain ranges (or jungles). I personally still have a strong view that "I trust the cloud more than my laptop" - to sum it up as simply as I can. You can watch the video of our specific panel (that one alone is 90 minutes - and all the others are also posted thanks to the UChannel). I also thought it might be useful to post the notes I put together before the panel, to organize some of my thoughts (opinions) about Cloud Computing...
(click here for the whole post, including my pre-panel notes)
My notes used at the panel:
  • Computing in the Cloud - "software and data being served from the web" - will continue to grow and will be the norm. The benefits for vendors and customers simply outweigh the risks
    • Software distribution is an obvious win. Ridding the distribution process of physical delivery gives:
      • higher margin for the vendors
      • lower prices for the customers
      • better service for customers - bug fixes, security issues, new features can all be delivered to customers faster, since there's less motivation to batch these up into the next costly snail-mailing.
      • better products - similar to the above, this gives good developers the ability to respond to user feedback and deliver improvements continuously.
      • happier developers (working remotely and getting quick feedback from real users)

    • NOTE: I have an XO from OLPC (OLP2C - one laptop per 2 children, soon to be OLP3C, once the little one notices)... that further convinced me, seeing how this super-light technology gave me basically everything I needed since all I needed was the browser (notwithstanding the slow speed or issues with that specific browser)

  • Some are still betting on desktop-to-cloud synch products - like SoonR bought by Cisco (mobile access to your desktop).

  • I've learned to really hate explicit SAVING of my desktop stuff... Somehow, easy autosaving came along with the web products I use.

  • Capitalism will drive "good" products (doing the right thing if people demand it)...with companies meeting the needs of other companies and individual customers... INCLUDING all the new challenges
    • privacy, security, safety
    • relevance, integration, convenience

  • Collaboration will be an expected feature
    • so much of what we create is intended to share...
    • existing products and services take on new value with collaboration...
    • Creating content TOGETHER, reviewing expenses TOGETHER, planning projects TOGETHER

  • MICRO-INNOVATION will grow fast as it becomes more achievable - can you say "Gadgets!" ?
    • Platforms, tools, delivery
    • "pay-as-you-go" Operations and commerce
    • Commoditized services make operating a micro-innovation more viable... for example, legal agreements, support, etc.

  • CONTENT value with further differentiate:
    • Original, creative, popular content gets market-driven value assigned, while repetitive, derivative content gets super-commoditized

  • Simpler integration / commerce / delivery will give better channels to creative talent, allowing them to:
    • easily syndicate
    • easily gain attribution (back to their service/site)
    • easily monetize
    • gain celebrity status (e.g. Youtube publishers)

  • Collaboration brings new productivity - and new issues.... (see "issues" section)

  • INTEGRATION between services will increase...
    • Integration can be more seamless, bringing customers to even the smallest granular service.
    • Access to customers / markets
    • Micro-Innovation becomes profitable - with canned legal process, pre-defined service delivery and support, etc...
    • GADGETS become a platform not only for micro-innovation, but for integration of services.
    • Web Services finally become a reality.

  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for web services and data will become more important, but they will be simplified, standardized and improved - driven by the Service Integration Supply Chain (below) and the need for simplified "service commerce" (the buying/selling of services).

  • A new "service-integration-supply-chain" exists and will expand:

    > Containers for gadgets > platform for gadget development > gadget types (content free) > content-relevant gadget instances

  • Collaboration and aggregation of services will result in derivative (sometimes larger) products/services

  • Do-It-Yourself web creation tools will be improved - to meet new(ish) demand.
    • the tools are too disparate and hard to find, and still hard to use

  • Great Development tools - still an opportunity, since new components are available for integration (and new methods)... supporting micro-development and distribution

  • Great User-Interaction design (UX) still wins
    • Usability and designs really do improve applications and the web overall

  • Semantic Web-like Structure for much more interesting products
    • we used to cal it a "data model"
    • Great contribution products (community tagging) will drive this...

  • Ubiquitous Identification - let me be me wherever i go... without worry.... (OpenID?)

  • Increase in Premium Services model - advertising has been over-used by non-relevant publishers
    - Maybe even a Premium "absolutely private" web

ISSUES LIKELY TO OCCUR - which, themselves, drive opportunities...
  • Ownership and control of Content:
    • Collaboration:
      • who owns that document which 3 people collaborated to create?
      • 3 people collaborate - 1 leaves and "shuts off access"...

    • Integration:
      • Content from one source being used in another service - how to split value?
      • example: 1 company publishes data - 2 others use it as a basis to create their own service - who's the owner? Who gets the revenue?
      • similar issues as those in traditional media - e.g. actors or writers demanding part of the revenue stream of syndication...

Note: These were just my notes that I used for the panel, since the format included each panelist giving a 10-15 minute no-slides discussion of their views. Nothing Google in here - just some semi-random personal views and not organized into a standalone presentation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sarcasm can ruin a kid's vocabulary

(First of all - Happy New Year to those of you who haven't heard that useless greeting enough already - I know, none of you)...

Over the break, I had a few interesting revelations... well... one... well... maybe not interesting, but, revealing, if nothing else...
My 4 year old asked me something about something (huh?) - I can't remember actually what it was - but it was something like "Hey Dad! " (which I'm sure he repeated 7 times before being convinced that he had my undivided attention) - "look at this thing I made! Isn't it cool?"... which I replied: "Yeah - that's great!!"
(here's the semi-interesting part...)
He said: "What does that mean?"
JR: "What does what mean?"
4yr-old: "great"
JR: "great? You know what 'great' means! ... don't you?"
4yr-old: " " (stare at daddy until he realizes that you thought you knew what it meant until now)
JR: "great - you know, 'GREAT!' - like 'That's really great!' - it means really really really super good!"
4yr-old: "Oh, yeah... 'great'!... that's great!"

Then I realized... He had heard the word 'great' lots of times... from me, and others... but in a very different context... like, when he spills milk all over the table and floor, and I say 'Oh, that's great'... or when we miss his brother's school bus, and I say 'oh great'...
You get the idea...
great = 'not so great' in the bizarro world of sarcasm where adults find minimal humor in the context of something not so great and kids who are learning their native language find confusion and reverse meanings for everyday words.
My seven year-old, on the other hand, loves sarcasm - and is likely half the source of his brother's confusion...

It might kill the effect to add "That was sarcasm - I actually mean the opposite of what I just said" to the end of every sarcastic comment I make at home - so maybe I'll just stop....