Web 3.0: Every Major Franchise on the Internet is up for Grabs

Listening  to the podcast by Mark Pincus and Bing Gordon of Zynga. Here is the amazing part that shows up during the Q&A. They also talk about  Social ROI, Ghetto Testing and Golden Mechanics and Internet Treasures

We are at the beginning of the third business plan of the internet.

  • User buying s for stuff
  • Often digital only and virtual
  • Services found on the apps anywhere
  • Breadcrumbs you will stumble upon them
  • Every major franchise on the internet is up for grabs
  • Going from web pages to widgets and apps

InfoTools Survey Results

Yesterday, I gave a talk on InfoTools: Beyond Search at TiE Chennai. The slides of the presention are here. I think it went well, but I think, if I had cut down the slides and talk and gave more demos, it would have gone even better. Perhaps next time.

Before starting the talk, I requested people to give me (written) answers to three questions:

  1. What are your information needs?
  2. What are your problems with information?
  3. What tools do you use to manage information?

The questions, perhaps were a bit vague. I realized that after going through the answers. They varied in their level of granularity (specific vs generic problems) and the definition of information itself. But here they are (slightly modified to reduce redundancy).

Here is what I got from the survey:

What are your information needs?

  1. Potential customer info
  2. Right info at the right time (whenever I need it)
  3. To structure, unstructured web data
  4. Technology and Process to manage large newspaper portal
  5. Should be current, relevant (to my context. Should lead to (help?) actual decisions
  6. I need reference (information) of various consultants relating to start of business viz cost, web, management etc.
  7. Need for current information
  8. Need (to handle?) information from multiple sources and formats
  9. Collating information from multiple sources
  10. Information about competition
  11. About marketability and segments
  12. Company address information
  13. Company finance (annual reports)
  14. Executives within the company
  15. Trade details, products, services etc.
  16. Sales leads
  17. Knowledge enhancement
  18. Learning about old friends/acquaintances/family
  19. To learn to grow personally & business
  20. Needs to be local search for providers near to me (for ex: a photo copier shop near to my house)
  21. Technical solutions (day to day) for career and personal growth
  22. My business is providing information based services, package with recommendations. So need for information varies.
  23. Various technologies in market
  24. Information about market situation
  25. About stock/companies performance
  26. Details/support to solve issues
  27. Products available in the market for specifics(?)
  28. Focused News
  29. Similar business entity info
  30. Public info of competitor
  31. At a business level – market feelers about demand, ease of vendor options availability
  32. At an execution/implementation level – latent trends in tech
  33. Updated knowledge
  34. Price information about products etc.
  35. Information about technology
  36. Looking for acquiring an IT company. Need info on the industry they are in (macro) and more about that company (micro)
  37. Collect, compile for pattern understanding, plan for target customer
  38. Top IT temp staffing companies in India
  39. Total temp staff in IT in India
  40. How do I know the customer needs
  41. Scholarly articles on business entrepreneurship
  42. Product information, addresses from www
  43. Collecting/harvesting data from websites and collating, cleansing and delivering to clients
  44. Where is the resource for information?
  45. Where info is available, how to get data stream into our database
  46. How cost effective, credible, valuable is the data
  47. Accessibility
  48. About companies wanting to enter India -setup operations, joint ventures
  49. Companies in India wanting to enter other geographies
  50. Consultants from outside India needing partners in India
  51. Relevant, accurate data (specific to the task at hand)
  52. Info about prospective customers
  53. Info about vendors
  54. Info about current market
  55. Info about latest technology

Here are my list of information requirements (I took the survey along with others)

  1. Leads
  2. Trends
  3. Best practices

What are your problems with information?

  1. Locating the right data at the right time
  2. At times info overload
  3. Unable to get the right (specific) information
  4. Sometimes get caught into loads of data, making it difficult to sift through
  5. Credibility, cost and accessibility
  6. Frequent website updates
  7. Different formats of information
  8. Gettting data from complex templates and grouping into finite categories
  9. Precision, very difficult to get objective information
  10. Currency of data
  11. Comprehensiveness of data
  12. Need continuous monitoring
  13. Information overload and in such case, synthesizing & assimilating that information in a reasonable time frame is difficult
  14. Old data, not accurate
  15. Too much info
  16. Not easily accessible
  17. Irrelevant info
  18. Filter out the actual/real info from a large pool of junk data
  19. Do not have a scope to interact with peers in similar industries
  20. Direct actionable information takes several searches, navigation
  21. How to localize information (assume how to get local information) and get reliable info
  22. How to segregate info from the web
  23. Difficult to put together
  24. If put together, not sure whether it is the updated info
  25. If updated (up to date?) not sure about the integrity of the data source
  26. Availability (sources), Reliability (sources)
  27. Aggregation of data in a presentable manner
  28. Too much information
  29. Unable to identify precise locations quickly
  30. Quality of inputs not high (always)
  31. Too large varied and different
  32. Formats (word, pdf, excel etc. ), hard copies, books, magazines
  33. Difficult to authenticate, collate and organize based on requirement
  34. I like websearch engines but I strongly believe that these search engines are at a nascent stage. I just don’t need a site coming up in my search because it is in wikipedia or yahoo
  35. Inappropriate not timely
  36. Have to go through lots of notes/documents/pages to get a single piece of information
  37. Validating the information
  38. Storing and organizing information
  39. Time
  40. Where to see (sources?)
  41. Not a centralized reporting
  42. Assimilation requires a lot of pre-formatting
  43. Effective and speed search by everyone not followed
  44. Not sure what to look for, where to look for and how to get it
  45. Vast, use software to target timely, quick, on realtime
  46. Not able to source the information in the web
  47. We develop products based on blogs and emails. This is not enough.
  48. Too much info
  49. Info with noise

My List

  1. Signal vs noise
  2. Reliability
  3. Authenticity

What tools do you use?

  1. Blog, forums
  2. Google, web search
  3. Search engines
  4. Reliable third parties
  5. Friends
  6. Regular expressions
  7. Use bookmarking tools like delicious, share with team
  8. Knowledge repositories (wikipedia
  9. Books (online/printed)
  10. Inhouse tools to capture through automation
  11. Infosource – www, infoanalysis – spreadsheets
  12. Search engines to identify information
  13. Customized perl/php/vb.net programs to manage
  14. Scrape information from the web and manage it
  15. Search engines
  16. Networking sites (LinkedIn etc)
  17. Forums
  18. Email
  19. My brain power, word/excel
  20. justdial and few others provide localized service over phone but it is not so accurate
  21. Justdial
  22. Hakia
  23. None
  24. Excel/Computer/Notebooks
  25. Peer discussions
  26. IE Favorites (browser bookmarks)
  27. Bing
  28. Primary Research
  29. Internet, newspapers, meeting – software modules
  30. spreadsheet, email
  31. Internet, libraries
  32. Getting logic from other tools and using our own tools or languages
  33. Perl, regex
  34. Paid portals
  35. LinkedIn
  36. Spoke
  37. Ecademy
  38. Xing
  39. My memory (sigh)

What I use:

  1. Social bookmarks (delicious, stumble upon)
  2. Twitter Search
  3. Facebook groups
  4. LinkedIn Groups and Answers
  5. Custom search
  6. Blog/Feed Search
  7. Twine
  8. Semantic Search engines
  9. InfoMinder
  10. InfoStreams (feed aggregator/search)
  11. InfoPortals (just started)
  12. Tag clouds (generated)
  13. Concept Mapping tools
  14. OpenCalais
  15. Zemanta
  16. Wikis

This is a small sample (about 40+ people who attended my talk). But you can see some patterns. I think we have a long way to go beyond search.

NASSCOM Product Conclave – Best and Worst


  1. The audience (their enthusiasm, energy and participation)
  2. The conversations in the hallways
  3. The team that put together the whole event (the vision, the untiring efforts and the ever smiling faces)
  4. Some of the outstanding speakers and panelists
  5. The balance of content and conversations
  6. Social media support and the idea of posting all videos online
  7. Everything @guykawasaki, Ashish and @naeem


  1. Panel moderators who talk too much and take over the audience question time
  2. The so 1.0 style of the conference – no unconference track (unsessions are not unconference), no lightening talks
  3. No structured ways for audience to interact  – No BOFs

Some Suggestions for future conferences (none except 2 are new ideas)

1. A parallel un-conference track in the after-noons

2. A tag cloud of what audience want (people simply tweet @iwant-at-npc a-list-of-topics) to harness the collective intelligence of the crowd.

3. Some kind of BOFs


Add your own in comments or just tweet them.

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LinkLog: Web A Platform For Humanity

Tim Berners-Lee at Web 2.0 Summit

“Technology shouldn’t tell you what’s right and what’s wrong,” Berners-Lee said. “The rule of law applies on the Web. It’s a platform for humanity.”

If you want it everywhere, give it away.

Consider content as app. Thanks to HTML 5, which Berners-Lee calls a competing platform more than a content standard, Web pages can turn into widgets, and some apps won’t be distinguishable from Web pages.

Learning: A Few Quotes

I was listening to an  Interview with Jerry Michalski on OEB News portal.  Jerry thinks that there are some chances for innovation in  business models in  Learning. Here are some quotes from the interview:

We are going to relearn how to learn.

Anybody can be a teacher (including students) since you learn better when you teach someone.

Tuittering (he probably said Twittering but I thought this word may be more fun to use), shepherding, mentoring and coaching instead of teaching may be huge opportunity.

Jerry convincingly talks about how our conventional concept of schools and learning is ready for a big overhaul. The most provoking statement I heard in this interview is

There is no such thing as teaching

You cannot really teach people. They have to learn. Shifting the emphasis from teaching to learning is good. It makes you, the learner in charge of how you learn. Listen to the podcast inteview. It is less than 15 minutes.

Life Long Learning for Keeping Engineers at the Fore

From “Two Score and More: A Lifetime of Learning for Keeping Engineers at the Fore”

I suggest the Lifelong Learning Imperative truly is a grand challenge.

Here’s why: The scope is not only ambitious, it is bold. It encompasses engineers at all ages; it embraces engineering at all stages.

It’s also a good time to consider the difference between “being an engineer” and “becoming an engineer” – and the ways that lifelong learning can make a difference in the lives of individual engineers, in the innovative and competitive capacity of our economy, and in the vibrancy of the profession of engineering.


My journey began when I heard a podcast on how Science is drowning in data on Real Science and how Scientists are turning to Cloud Computing to solve some of the problems. This took me to the research funded by NSF (about 5 million dollars to 14 Universities) on a wide variety of problems from Data Analytics to Visualization.

If you want to take a little peek into the future and some of the problems concerning nations, it is good to track organizations like NSF. What do they fund? Why do they fund it? What were the results? What happened to the technology built, lessons learned? Is there an opportunity to use these as a base for a business? Or simply as research data?

Topics That Keep You Up All Night

Some of the most memorable events in life all have one thing in common – Topics that keep you up all night.

  • Discussing books and various other incidents with family till wee hours into dawn
  • New Year eve celebrations that go into early morning where you sit with a bunch of friends and never notice the passage of time
  • Design discussions that go on for days and take over everything in life. The normal daily routines are not even noticed when you are engrossed in something deep, interacting with your close friends and finishing each others’ sentences.
  • Coding till dawn and not even noticing it. Suddenly looking up and seeing the faint rays of Sun and saying to yourself  “holy s**t, it is already morning”.

I think this is flow in some form. In each one of these events (and more), the time and other aspects of your life seem to vanish into a blur leaving you with a sense of immense satisfaction and a welcome fatigue afterwards.


Inspired by this post

Mike Fletcher: Debating ’til Dawn: Topics to Keep You Up All Night

LinkLog: Automated Sentiment Analysis

From Five Myths About Automatic Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis using natural language processing. Yes, it is done by a machine and no, it’s not 100 % accurate. The industry estimates that it’s at 70 – 80%. We are very open about that and recommend that it be used as an overview.

It would take hours to manually review the same amount and one still wouldn’t have an overall sense of the percentage positive vs negative.

LinkLog: Bottom-up Learning

Learning from the Bottom Up  from Chief Learning Officer

Just as open source software represents both a threat and an opportunity for established high-tech companies, open source education will have a major impact on corporate learning strategies.

Participatory learning begins from the premise that new technologies are changing how people of all ages learn, play, socialize, exercise judgment, and engage in civic life. Learning environments — peers, family, and social institutions (such as schools, community centers, libraries, museums, even the playground, and so on) — are changing as well.

I Love Aardvark

Yesterday, Anand, one of my friends, pinged me. He asked me to try out Aardvark. You can help a lot by being there, he said. I was curious and so I signed up. I found that there were already 8 of my Facebook friends on the network, people I respect.

Today I spent some time checking it out. It is an amazing application. I think after Twitter, this is one of the most imaginative and useful applications I have seen.

This is how it works:

1. You sign up here.

2. Specify a  few topics in which you have expertise and willing to share it with others

3. You also specify an IM app that you would like to use with the service.

4. You can start adding friends and your perception of their expertise (using tags).

You can start posing questions to Aardvark service using your favorite IM client. You get back answers in a few minutes. I tried a few questions and even had one question sent to me.  So far, the service rocks. I am really thrilled about its potential as a distributed knowledge management system. There are lots of other features (I am just trying a few out). Check it out here. From their blog:

But there’s another side to the real-time web phenomenon that we here at Aardvark think is even more powerful than this, a change of paradigm that is even more fundamental.

What really matters is the increased accessibility of people online, not just information online.