Day Dreaming About Voice Web

IBM Next Five in Five” is a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.

New technology will change how people create, build and interact with information and e-commerce websites – using speech instead of text. We know this can happen because the technology is available, but we also know it can happen because it must. In places like India, where the spoken word is more prominent than the written word in education, government and culture, “talking” to the Web is leapfrogging all other interfaces, and the mobile phone is outpacing the PC.

Here is the list from the IBM’s article.

  • Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
  • You will have a crystal ball for your health
  • You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back
  • You will have your own digital shopping assistants
  • Forgetting will become a distant memory

One of my favorite hobbies is to pick one or more of these and try to figure out what we need to get there. It is a good way to dream about the near future and try to see where the gaps are and do some intermediate predictions.

Here are some random, incomplete thoughts for the Voice Web. There are several starting points depending on where you interests lie.

  • It has to be a layer on Web 1.0 and 2.0 (since a lot of useful content is already there).
  • Web 2.0 layer may be a better starting point since some of the underlying technologies – rest based APIs, social interfaces, mashup tools  are already available.
  • Some of the semantic technologies may help in providing some contextual structure and meta data over existing content. This may be an alternate starting point (using Freebase/dbpedia/Open Calais).
  • Voice recognition is one starting point. Many of the mobile providers already have something in this space but they are not perfect yet. Voice commands on our cell phones have limited context. There can be a bunch of innovations there.
  • Voice output is another starting point. This is an easier problem than voice recognition if the input (web content) and output (voice) are of the same language. This is another good starting point.
  • If the voice input and output are different languages (instructions originally written in English translated to a Tamil farmer, for example), we have some more chances of innovation. I am not talking about the babelfish style translation but a couple of steps above that.
  • From a device point of view, hands free operation of the cell phone may work better. These require innovation in both audio input and output technologies and miniaturization.
  • Obviously integrating search into this equation is one of the steps. There are some early attempts at doing this from Google. Not sure how well they work. But here are a few more opportunites. Layering voice search over meta search.

I can go on. But you get the drift. One cool way to capture all this (and the collective intelligence) is through some kind of voice annotated mind map (which in itself is another innovation waiting to happen). Your thoughts?

LinkLog: Python

From TopicMinder Alerts:Python

  1. Sun, Microsoft Boost IDEs
  2. Pydap 2.9.9.dev1
  3. huTools 0.34a-r4292
  4. BIP 0.1a
  5. sourcecodegen 0.4
  6. Are Computer Languages Irrelevant?
  7. Are Computer Languages Irrelevant?
  8. Alex Blewitt: The rise and fall of OSGi and JSR277 (respectively)
  9. Sun, Microsoft Boost IDEs
  10. Ultimate Game Design: Building Game Worlds
  11. Senior C++ Entwickler
  12. Best Coder Software (P) Limited – Software Engineer/Web Developer/Designer
  13. M Ranjith Nair , New Jobs matching your Profile
  14. The case for Scala
  15. WORK – Web Object Records
  16. Use unittest
  17. Database roundup
  18. The 1CAnything Goes 1D Pattern
  19. How to dynamically load Python code
  20. Interview: Damien Katz Relaxing on CouchDB
  21. Core JSP By Damon Hougland and Aaron Tavistock – Part1
  22. Practical Prototype and – Part2
  23. Walker’s alias method for random objects with different probablities (Python)
  24. Simple lock-queue via Memcached (Python)
  25. Dependency resolver (Python)
  26. Dependency resolver (Python)
  27. Case insensitive filename on *nix systems – return the correct case filename (Python)
  28. A real lockfile implementation (Python)
  29. Caching Singleton class (subclassable) (Python)
  30. Login Logger (Python)

LinkLog: Technology Trends

From TopicMinder alerts: Tech Trends

  1. Relational Modeling? Not as we know it! This topic deserves a post of its own. I have been reading up a bunch of stuff on flexible database design, using semantic technologies to ease schema evolution and a bunch of other interesting ideas.
  2. 1CThe distributed social web 1D
  3. Semantic Microblogging
  4. A lightweight ontology for annotating offerings on the Web
  5. A Scalable, Transactional Data Store for Web 2.0 Services
  6. Speaking the Language of the Brain (Video – Building a scientific base for the human mind)

LinkLog: Cloud Computing

Here are alerts from TopicMinder on Cloud Computing

  1. How I’m Moving My Data Center into The Cloud
  2. IBM to offer cloud computing services for enterprises
  3. Who’s Getting ROI from Cloud Computing Now
  4. What Gartner Didn’t Say About Client Virtualization
  5. Is your head in the clouds?
  6. Windows Azure: Why Microsoft Better Get it Right
  7. How to Explain Cloud Computing to Your CFO
  8. Ray Ozzie’s dream of connectivity
  9. Microsoft Azure Services Platform: Opening Up Cloud Computing
  10. Q&A: Nicholas Carr on ‘The Big Switch’ to Cloud Computing
  11. Windows clouds are rolling in
  12. Capacity planning and the cloud
  13. Comparing clusters, grids and clouds
  14. Microsoft Further Embraces Cloud Computing With Online SharePoint, Exchange
  15. Announces Open Source CloudBase at 1st International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo
  16. Cloud Computing Will See Developers Soar to New Heights
  17. Salesforce to offer cloud computing in India
  18. Cloud Computing Survey: IT Leaders See Big Promise, Have Big Security Questions
  19. The Clouds Can Do Mathematics

Thanksgiving 2008

It is Thanksgiving day. I have a lot to be thankful of.  I can’t imagine my life without any of these.

  • The Internet – For giving me a way to earn a living
  • Browsers and plugins (I spend more time of my life in this app than with my family)
  • Email – My second most heavily used app
  • Blogging Tools – This is how I make all my new friends and have conversations
  • Micro-blogs like Twitter – My major source of news
  • Scripting Languages like Python – How I still (after 30 years) keep in touch with programming
  • Wikis – How I share knowledge both inside our company and outside
  • Social Networks like Facebook  – Another way to keep in touch with extended family and friends
  • Ning – How I set up and participate in many social networks
  • Cell Phones – My constant companions for calling, communicating and reading
  • Podcasts – Make the time on my treadmill a pleasure and keep me informed
  • Skype/Gtalk – How I get almost all my work done with colleagues in different parts of the world
  • delicious – A social bookmarking tool that serves as my memory to cool resources
  • YouTube and Other Videos – a bigger source of entertainment and education than TV
  • The Tech and Startup Communities – That give me the oxygen I need to survive
  • Bloggers – My virtual teachers
  • My Students and Colleagues – They accelerate my learning by sharing
  • My family, friends and colleagues – They make life worth living

LinkLog: Intel Parallel Tools

Just found out about Intel Parallel Studio. Signed up. Looks cool. Hopefully kickstart innovation in multi-core apps. They just need to add a couple of multi-core challenges.

Kind of disappointed that the language support is only for C/C++ but hopefully other languages will catch up soon.

You may also want to check out Go Parallel.

Trends: Aggregating Search Data to Predict Trends

This blew me away. I have used Google trends once in a while. But Google Flu Trends describes a really innovative application of search data and trends to predict the spreading of Flu in USA. Watch the animation as well.


Each week, millions of users around the world search for online health information. As you might expect, there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches during allergy season, and more sunburn-related searches during the summer. You can explore all of these phenomena using Google Trends. But can search query trends provide an accurate, reliable model of real-world phenomena?

We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for “flu” is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and discovered that some search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States.

If you can do this with search data from one search engine, imagine what you can do with actions that follow search (even though most of that may not be available to Google and other search engines). What if all the searches and clicks are anonymized into statistical data and consolidated into one global (open) linked data?

  1. Percolation of News? (tracking news items search and clicks on news articles)
  2. Spread of product/service awareness? (searches following advertisements in different medias)
  3. Trends in economic activity from distributed data instead of just looking at the major market indicators?

I would certainly love to know when the economic activity is stabilizing or up trending so that I can get some leading indicators.

It is interesting to note that this analysis is from Does that mean other non-profits can get access to this data?

TopicMinder: A Custom RSS Feed Generator

What is TopicMinder?

Topic Minder is a service for keeping track of various topics on the web. Every day the service scours thousands of web feeds, gathers information, indexes the content and makes it available to you as custom alerts. Topic Minder is:

  1. More powerful and customizable than Google, Yahoo Alerts
  2. More powerful than any RSS Reader (using custom filters with powerful queries)
  3. As easy to use as a search engine (actually easier with pre-defined topics)

With Topic Minder, you choose from a variety of pre-defined topics or define your own custom searches. As we gather information that matches your interests, we will compile them into one simple list of links, remove duplicates and send you an email a day.

It is in limited beta now. If you are interested in signing up, send me an email at dorait (at) imorph(dot)com with subject “topicminder beta”.

Michael Chrichton

Andromeda Strain and Terminal man were my introduction to a class of science fiction called future history. And when I learned that Michael Chrichton was in his early twenties when he wrote these books, I was simply blown away. This morning, I learned that he passed away at the young age of 66.

Farewell my friend. The world lost not only a great story teller, but a big visionary and a source of inspiration.