Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing’

Bloggers, mind control and the death of newspapers (the Internet imagined in 1965)

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Calder invites us to have a giggle, but really it’s not a bad list at all, and compared with the (cough) ‘futurists’ who have come and gone since, Calder and the participants did a good job. Alvin Toffler was repackaging these ideas, particularly mass amateurisation, many years later. As are thousands of Web 2.0 consultants today.

Read more at The Register

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Google's vanity OS is Microsoft's dream

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

No one will be happier than Microsoft about Google’s vanity venture to market computers with a Google-brand OS. It gives us the illusion of competition without seriously troubling either business, although both will obligingly huff and puff about how serious they are about this new, phoney OS war. Since both of these giants are permanently in trouble with antitrust regulators – they’re at different stages of IBM-style thirty years legal epics – that’s just the ticket for them both.

Google’s failure to dent the Microsoft monopoly will simply notch up another failure for Linux (whose fans are quite happy to work for The Man, as long as it’s not the Man from Redmond) – and it’ll do nothing for consumers. How so? Because the computing problems we’ll have tomorrow will still be the same ones we have today.

…Read more at The Register

Rescuing Nokia's Ovi: a plan

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Ovi means door in Finnish

It must be frustrating to sketch out a long-term technology roadmap in great depth, and see it come to fruition… only to goof on your own execution. But to do so repeatedly – as Nokia has – points to something seriously wrong.

Nokia spent more than a decade preparing for Tuesday this week, when it finally launched its own worldwide, all-phones application store. It correctly anticipated a software market for smartphones back in the mid-1990s, when it was choosing the technology to fulfill this vision.

That was just one of the bets that came good. Leafing through old copies of WiReD magazine from the dot.com era, filled with gushing praise for Enron, Global Crossing, and er, Zippies, I was struck by the quality of the foresight in a cover feature about Nokia. (Have a look for yourself.) WAP didn’t work out, but I was struck by particularly Leningrad Cowboy Mato Valtonen’s assessment that “mobile is the Internet with billing built in”.

“The managers responsible for putting together the Ovi Store should be put on Nokia’s naughty step – and left there for the Finnish winter”

And so Nokia has been encouraging users to download applications for users. My ancient 6310i wants me to download applications. Every Nokia since has wanted me to, too. Seven years ago, the first Series 60 phone (the 7650) put the Apps client on the top level menu, next to Contacts and Messaging.

The problem is today, it’s Apple and BlackBerry who have the thriving third party smartphone software markets. For six months, punters have been bombarded with iPhone ads showing what you can do with third-party apps. And yes, it’s like Palm all over again, but they’re very effective. So if Apple’s store is the model, then what on earth is Ovi?
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Unravelling the history behind Google's Trojan Horse

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

When people buy software – buy it in seriously large amounts – it isn’t just today’s binary they’re choosing. They’re buying what they think is a bit of the future – they’re buying a piece of risk insurance. This explains why very mature and well-proven systems often lose out to the Newest Kid on the Block. It also explains the enduring effectiveness of FUD and Vapourware.

And it’s not just software. From TP monitors, to minicomputers, to Novell Netware, recent history is full of examples of perfectly splendid systems being thrown out and replaced with something that doesn’t live up to the billing – and perhaps never will. Which sounds wacky, but that choice is being made on the rational calculation that the software or hardware of choice today won’t be made or supported, or the standards that bind the parts of the system together will become obsolete. (Which leads to the same thing.)

Sometimes a brave company bucks the trend. Most famously Microsoft refused to “eat its own dog food”, and stood firm against the move to client/server computing running PC or Unix-based databases like Microsoft SQL Server, instead insisting that its mission-critical accounts department ran on, er, an IBM AS/400 mini.

But by and large, the strategy works very well for companies that trumpet a “paradigm shift”, or “new era in computing”, and convince people that they own a secret part of the future – one that no one else can yet see. It worked for Microsoft, and Google hopes it will work for it, too. The Chrome browser today is little more than a piece of demoware, but it’s not just about “today”, is it?

Before we see what Google is hoping to achieve with Chrome, let’s take a look at a precedent from history that I find quite spooky.

Old-timers may excuse this brief wallow in nostalgia.
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The Big Switch by Nick Carr

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Nick Carr’s weblog is one of the rarest things on the web: intelligent technology criticism that you’d actually want to read for pleasure. He’s an elegant writer with a waspish wit, and I’ve a special reason for seeing him prosper.

Back in 2002 I was living in San Francisco, a city that was in the depths of recession, when I first noticed the stirrings of the next wave of hype. Hope springs eternal, they say, and the Bay Area’s unemployed web monkeys, technology prophets, and a gaggle of marketing and marketing consultants – who had all been having a jolly good time until quite recently – began to figure out how to construct the next bandwagon.

The result is another web mania gripping the media. This one isn’t quite like it’s predecessor, however.

For a start, it’s much more limited in scope. It’s rhetorical, rather than economic. While the original dot.com bubble will always be remembered one of the biggest losses of wealth in human history, prompting ordinary investors to plunge their life savings into worthless stocks, the new web hype has been a much more modest affair. This time the asset bubble is property, not technology, and most internet users have simply carried on as before, happy to swap dial-up for broadband in the quest for idle chatter, free music and porn.

The “Web 2.0″ affliction of has so far only infected the media and political classes, with isolated outbreaks in marketing and the social sciences. (Naturally, you’d expect something created by ad consultants to hit ad consultants hard, but I didn’t expect the London media to fall for it the hardest.) But where it strikes, it seems to take over the unfortunate victim’s entire brain; and that’s still a lot of people with public policy influence. The zombie symptoms of the virus we all know today: gibbering about “new democracy”, “wise crowds”, and the rational faculties of a three year-old.

For three years I found myself the only journalist chronicling such phenomena as the new democracy that wasn’t, or the paradigm-shifting business revolution that couldn’t make money, or the global intelligence that was easily outwitted by trinket salesmen, or the encyclopedia that destroyed Universities. This was the Dawn of a New Punditocracy.

I fortunately had lots of help from readers, who’ve coined many of the pithiest descriptions of the web bubble. Lots and lots of help. The Reg readership includes a lot of people who implement technology, and then have to keep the systems running – and the distaste is quite visceral. (Most of you have rumbled quite early on that this web hype was presentation layer people trying solve system level problems, all the while hiding behind a lot of New Age marketing guff).

Pointing this out made me hugely unpopular with a small number of people (who’d figured out that these tools and processes could so easily game the media, promote their agenda) who naturally resented the lid being lifted. But this all-sweeping utopianism needed many more hands to pry apart. For the past two years, Nick Carr’s RoughType blog has done that job with style to spare.

[read the full review at The Register here...]