Strategies for a discontinuous future.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The NYT has an article about nostalgia for Japanese toys, like Transformers. This opinion is fueled by the analysts, and, as usual, it's dead wrong:

"..."There's definitely a nostalgia wave going on," said Christina Charasse, a senior account manager for toys at the NPD Group. "It's the multitude of characters that works" for the Japanese toy makers".

It's not about nostalgia, but about the fact that that was the last generation of toys that had deep meaning behind them, and so kids loved them. Now, the meaning has been sucked out of toys by beancounters, who are focused on providing simulations of real toys at the lowest price possible.

If you contrast Transformers twenty years ago with what they've become now, you'll understand what I mean - there is no depth, emotion, or feeling behind the characters anymore. More than anything, kids want toys that love them - not disposable toys bought under cost from Wal-Mart.

-- umair // 4:34 PM //


The Alphaville Herald makes the Beeb. The Herald is a blog about how the Sims Online is a rather nasty place to be. Innovative stuff - worth a look.

-- umair // 7:00 AM //


Location-based services are hitting the mass market. Here's a nice read about them.

-- umair // 6:58 AM //


Luck as cognitive biases.

-- umair // 6:57 AM //


Here's one of the few decent articles I've read about outsourcing in a long time.

-- umair // 6:57 AM //


Simulation economy

Building houses outside Las Vegas that simulate Europe. As the costs of simulation drop, it will increasingly target the mass market.

"..According to the fable spun by the resort's marketing department, MonteLago grew organically over the centuries, from a quaint fishing village to an elegant Tuscan estate with its own winery and bell tower. "It's not supposed to look designed, but that it just happened," said Tom Jacobson, the resort's vice president for development".

-- umair // 6:54 AM //

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The GoogleWeb, pt 2

Why are there no public search engines? We've got public libraries, but no public search engines. To be sure, the analogy isn't a strict one - the point I'm trying to make is that maybe the Web needs a public search engine with public APIs to become a truly public institution - because the private sector always has an incentive to privatize and capture any rents available. Like Google's doing.

If the Web is a public resource, then it will always be of limited value without a public search engine - because the aggregate value created is bounded by the efficacy and accessibility of the search mechanism.

Google's crippled APIs mean that a huge, huge part of the Web's potential value has become a deadweight loss to society - that loss is the difference between what people could do with public APIs to build cool things, versus the limitations on building those things private search engines will always impose. That's why we need a public search engine.

-- umair // 8:57 AM //


The GoogleWeb

In all this talk of Google becoming 'evil', the larger point's been missed: Google has become the web. The web was supposed to be a viral infrastructure for instantaneous comunication; instead, Google's become most people's infrastructure for the web itself. In effect, Google's become a monopolist and monopsonist - of links. But here's a problem I've been thinking about recently:

Google made headlines when it exposed APIs. But they're seriously crippled, and are largely irrelevant for almost anything serious - because it wants to keep control of it's most critical resource: ownership of the web itself. And there are no real competitors with decent APIs exposed - here's a stab at a list.

That's fine, but if there are some smart techies out there, they'll take aim directly at this massive strategic gap. Anybody that builds a halfway decent search engine with exposed APIs is going to have a huge impact - because they'll open up ownership of the web itself.

Can it be done? I never saw what was revolutionary about PageRank, and I don't see what's so tough about this. Yeah, it could be costly, etc, etc - but I think it's worth a shot.

-- umair // 8:32 AM //




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