Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Twenty-Twenty on the future

Apologies for being away from this space for so long. It has been a warm, busy summer with our exciting project at Sonopia taking shape into something that may just outgrow - by a significant measure - some of my initial expectations. The vision and tenacity of the people involved is a source of continued inspiration. As anyone working in start-ups will surely grant me, the ability to stay the course and plow ahead is as important to the entrepreneur and his team as it is to the farmer and his crops.
Speaking of outgrowing, let me draw your attention to this study by Rand Corporation designated to define the technologies and applications available to man-kind 14 years from now (thanks to Paul for pointing this out)

The paper discusses technology from a macro-economic perspective. From scanning the summary we learn;

Highlights of technology that will be available to us in 2020;
Personalized medicine and therapies
Genetic modification of insects to control pests and disease vectors
Computational (or "in-silico") drug discovery and testing
Targeted drug delivery through molecular recognition
Biomimetic and function-restoring implants
Rapid bioassays using bionanotechnologies
Embedded sensors and computational devices in commercial goods
Nanostructured materials with enhanced properties
Small and efficient portable power systems
Mass-producible organic electronics, including solar cells
Smart fabrics and textiles
Pervasive undetectable cameras and sophisticated sensor networks
Large, searchable databases containing detailed personal and medical data
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking of commercial products and individuals
Widespread bundled information and communications technologies, including wireless Internet connectivity
Quantum-based cryptographic systems for secure information transfer.

These technologies are then suggested to have an impact on life as follow;
1. Cheap solar energy
2. Rural wireless communications
3. Communication devices for ubiquitous information access anywhere, anytime
4. Genetically modified (GM) crops
5. Rapid bioassays
6. Filters and catalysts for water purification and decontamination;
7. Targeted drug delivery
8. Cheap autonomous housing
9. Green manufacturing
10. Ubiquitous RFID tagging of commercial products and individuals
11. Hybrid vehicles
12. Pervasive sensors
13. Tissue engineering
14. Improved diagnostic and surgical methods
15. Wearable computers
16. Quantum cryptography

Without yawing over it, allow me to bring your attention to item 3) - and proclaim that the Wireless Revolution is well under way. Seamless communication across devices, platforms, mediums .. how about across languages, mind-patterns, gesticulations - maybe even time? What appear today, as a dream, tomorrow is yesterdays news - or in the words of George Bernard Shaw "You see things and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were, and I say, 'Why not?'" For many in the industry it is crossing the chasm between tomorrows reality and todays facts that constitute the challenge. Dreaming does not pay for the mortgage .. but it doesn't hurt to see things around the corner and find joy in the fact that my childhoods science fiction dreams will come true within my own lifespan.
Scary, if you think about it..

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Click here to .. touch my tra-la-la

Leave it to the lads at Springwise to spring this one on us. The first truly adult social networking virtual reality multi-player game is about to launch. The game is called Naughty America and is launched by Safe Escape Studios. While I will let our friends at IGN review the project (slated for launch 'later this summer') it can only be described as straight-forward adultfriendfinder meets habbo hotel and if anyone remembers the old Leisure Suit Larry games, which have come a long way since Sierra - ever the visionary - launched the effort in the 80's, you are not too far off.

We are talking the baby-steps of actual interactive one-on-one (or one-on-many) virtual adult experience and I must admit the intro is not entirely un-impressive. The look and feel of the site seem catered to the male prototypical fantasy around what virtual sex is supposed to be like. This statement is well supported by the trailer just released. Whether this will fly with the different rights groups is almost irrelevant. This is the natural evolution from letter to email to IM'ing to SMS to social sites to interactive sites to complete virtual lives (insert the word XXX, dirty, lewd or risque in front of each communication format if you care).

I am thumbs up on this effort as it would happen at some point - and this does not seem to be a bad first stab at it. Now it is just a matter of time before creative people start playing around here. First you will have your virtual prostitutes - the classic shot of the middle-aged lady reading her sunday paper and answering 900-number calls (for non-US readers; the moan-phone line) becomes a bit scarier when ANYONE can become anyone. Remember MySpace is already having problems in this area. Second you will have the online sweatshops - before these preominantly asian kids were earning coin in a virtual slaying game - now they will earn hard cash in an even older (albeit still virtual) business - one that in its physical manifestation has already taken its toll on many youngsters in that area of the world. It is not currently obvious whether Safe Escape have included the ability to trade coin and initiate a virtual economy in their first launch, however this should again be considered a natural evolution. How SecondLife and other outfits look at this will be interesting to find out. These companies have managed to gain significant success by being early and providing a good product .. but that doesn't always bring you first over the finish line.

See you on the other side ..

Thursday, June 29, 2006

MySpace Review & Ruperts Two Cents

It is late here in New York, but Spencer Reiss of Wired just posted his lenghty thoughts on News Corp, Mr. Murdoch, MySpace and a few personal commentaries from the media mogul himself. I recommend you will find the time to read it.

While reviewing the article I thought of a position I applied for at News Corp. For your amusement I have excerpted some of this application as I find it fitting for this particular discussion.

Late add: Om Malik on Ross Levinsohn from FOX and his Interactive venture in Business 2.0.
Even Later add: Robert Young - our favourite Social Networking specialist on Social Media.


"To properly prepare for the future NEWS Corp require a strategic vision of the 21st century based on confluence of information across platforms, technologies, groups, borders and mediums. As the digital divide disappears and the next generation takes over innovation and consumerism and start dictating their demands to the information provider, NEWS Corp have to take a pro-active stand in the sea of change. To adopt and adapt is no longer just smart business, but vital to survival. The consumer is no longer content with getting what she wants - now she also dictates how, when and where she wants it. The increased demands on the content provider must be met and optimally anticipated - thus creating a pull effect based on known trends instead of a rush to meet changing demands. Thankfully, technology is an ally of companies willing to embrace change and has provided us with ever expanding tools of meeting and exceeding expectations. Most important of these are the internet and wireless / mobile technologies. Never has it been easier to categorize, itemize and customize information for the individual, the group or indeed the globe at large. And with emerging ideas this individualization becomes even more attractive as consumers are enabled to cherry-pick their experience from start to finish, individually selecting the content they desire, the method of digestion (delivery) and the time and place of consumption. It becomes the chief task of the provider to have the content available - and available to fit any of the requirements the consumer has as outlined in above.
The other side of individualization then is content creation. User Generated Content (UGC) has been a buzzword for months in many consumer-facing industries, but uptake has been limited to blogs and myspace web-site creation. A majority of consumers are simply not interested in spending their already limited time resources on creating amateur poetry, videos, commentary and such. That doesn't mean that UGC won't exist. As was witnessed in the blogosphere, technology has become an enabler of personal commentary, a tool for the subjective generation to be heard. For the media company this must be viewed as an opportunity to direct/control yet another source of information to be provided to the eager public. Never before has it been easier and less costly to publish content - as a media company NEWS Corp shall seek to control this flow through its existing channels while aggressively creating new channels to meet expectations and spur innovation instead of curbing it.
To properly harness this opportunity - and to pro-actively address the rising technological challenges NEWS Corp needs a VP of Digital Media & Wireless - complimentary to the call of FOX Interactive Media and FOX Mobile Entertainment and working closely with same, this position is established to enable the company to communicate across platforms, entities and borders to align a common path to success by utilizing emerging technologies; namely in internet and wireless/mobile - the latter being a medium where the true potential is just being spotted through the mist of ring-tones and other low-hanging fruits. The wireless medium will - if handled correctly - become the information channel of the next generation - challenges with screen-size, bandwidth and content-compatibility are being addressed at this very moment and will shortly no longer be barriers for a truly mobile life-style. The revenue opportunities - cross-promotional abilities and marketing aspects will lend significant power to NEWS Corp and allow pushing itself to the very top of information distribution / management. The core of the position would be to lead change - to embrace new opportunities and communicate/implement them throughout the organization. Through a global perspective this position will assemble and enhance the best strategies and technologies currently available and invite innovators to assist in paving the way for the optimal consumer experience.
With location-based services, mobile micro payments, mobile communities, the instant accessibility and flow of free information combined with total individuality, the future of technology in the hands of the knowledgeable media organization is the most powerful tool you will have next to human creativity.
NEWS Corp - because of its pro-active stance in technological application and its incredible foresight into new opportunities as directed by Mr. Murdoch himself and supported by a world-class team of innovators and executors - is not just at the forefront of the media landscape, but due to ability has the responsibility to pursue, engage and indeed instigate the change that by many industries is feared and viewed with petty suspicion."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The $$$$ Telecom Fraud .. no not that one, the other one ..

A very interesting analysis from a very dissatisfied telecom analyst..
Who said telecommunications was a boring business? We really don't need to go that far back to look at some fun numbers related to telco.. and how the authorities actually tried to and in some cases did something about it .. in other cases the defendants continued to prosper.
Now - as the Times finally pull off the silk-glove they show how the telco's are in danger of billion dollar suits - not for faulty reporting or unrealistic promises - but for passing on private information to the government.
We may need to call the Wolfman to come clean the back of our car before we drive on..

Woe for the MVNO

An indepth article from the WSJ last week outlines some of the key problems faced by the new entrants in the wireless space. Lack of interest appear to be a significant stumbling block, and as TechDirt points out - it is not enough to come up with something new and different in the mobile space. The ill-fated "3" venture under Li Ka Shing - that historically has done quite well in the wireless space - is still hemorrhaging cash. 3 as you may recall was scheduled to revolutionize the mobile industry with streaming video, music, video-messaging, live TV and all the other amazing things that the techies dreamt up and the consumer forgot about right after he finished reading the press release.
Similarly the argument is that the current 3G MVNOs in the US space are in trouble as they grossly overestimated the consumers interest in such services - as well as his interest in parting with significant coin to use them. Admittedly none of the companies mentioned in the article have been in business for more than a year - and it can take a long time to build a successful telecom company - a veeery long time if you're running on someone elses money. Question is - if we can't learn from the Europeans .. who can we learn from? The Koreans? I wonder how Dayton's Helio is doing these days .. the MySpace deal hasn't been marketed to heavily since the predator effect was touted on every morning show in America.
But hey - if it was that easy - everybody would be doing it..

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Following up on an on-going topic in this forum, the dutch business 3.0-tracker has made a very in depth article on the effect and impact active customer interaction can have with companies, their products and their way of doing business. Aligning these comments with the fascinating Myspacevertising concept by Robert Young in GigaOM this Sunday you get a fascinating outlook on the world of customer-made or participated content. For starters I hope our friends at Ogilvy, WPP and surely some young start-ups are watching and putting extra fuel in the wagon for the next race.
In a separate followup the sister-company describes the next logical step in the virtual world when American Apparel launched their Second Life store.

Late comment -Bambi Francisco add her thoughts about the virality of online video ads.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lord of the Online Identity - One Tool to Rule them All ..

The web is indeed an abundant source of information - and the quality of this information is rising as we get better at using the power of search tools and understand what fits our interests.
My biggest consistent problem is storing the information - making it useful to myself and to people of like mind. We've previously discussed web 2.0 and the focus on personalizing content - a better way to share information and discoveries than sending out an email everytime I stumble on a cool site. In comes the blog - but as a human my interests far superceed the blogosphere. I could not possibly update this here forum on my love for 70s psychedelic rock anymore than I can pester restaurant-owning Italians pals with the latest from the tech world.
So how can I be myself, enjoy my interests, share my thoughts and discoveries with the appropriate parties and risk little in terms of wrongful information-sharing, wasted energy in distribution and communication or time management constraints (the number 1 issue for most today)?

It is time for the web to empower the human being. It is time for me to gather all my different outlets and inlets and feed them into one powerful aggregator and re-distributor. One tool that not only holds all of my information as well as anyone I am connected with, but has set rules for how each connection interacts / is 'plugged in' to me - what information is shared - which experiences are joint and which are separate. One tool to create me ..
Once I am created I can allow the tool to run my online life - it already knows what I want and how I want it - it also knows what to share with mom .. and what to share with the programmer friend. Oh - and whenever I sign up for yet another network I simply provide my tool handle and all information and connections are populated automatically. The idea though is for the tool itself to become the most powerful network operator I'll ever need.

Finally I am free .. to be me ..

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Virtual World - Where Art Thou..

Tim O'Reilly has a very interesting discussion on the new Google Earth and what it is potentially becoming. In simple terms.. and with a little free extrapolation - we are looking at the creation of something mindbogglingly interesting. Google seem to be stepping away from merely amassing the worlds information and making it available to us all - they are now creating a world where you and I can add our own information. The implications are limited for the non-visionary, however if you add a touch of foresight - and look at how habbohotel and its many companions are starting to interest people - then add user generated content, throw in a mix of yelp, myspace, dodgeball (last one already google-owned) and maybe a little mobile community as well .. and you have a fully integrated on-line existence in the real world .. we will have marketing and advertising, products and services (millions of real dollars are changing hands in virtual worlds already), love and war, rich and poor - everything we know in our daily lives .. well, except this one lives on googles servers.

But hey - in the long run, that's where we'll all end up anyway. And then Googles charter will be complete.

... wake up, Neo ...