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November, 2007:

Print is back?

Not that it was ever gone, people often still like to read off the computer whether it be a newspaper, magazine, book or whitepaper (anyone try reading an entire research report online?, it is tough). And a patent filed in 1996 2006 [thanks to Bill at seobythesea for the correction] may not tell us one way or the other. But it is very interesting that Google has some very intriguing ideas for the space. Covered in Google Magazine?. My personal favorite for comprehensive coverage is from Dave Harry in his post, It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Google Personalized Publishing!

Anyway, think people have to get interested when you mix online/offline with content personalization and personalized advertising. As there have been some headway in the area for the Google engine hitting radio, the potential of redefining the level of control for users to get the content they want and the opportunity for advertisers to reach them is not too far of a stretch. It also ties back to the business Google is continuing to try to generate in the print ad business. And most interestings in my opinion, it does bring up a new twist to how print subscriptions and online business can emerge. The learnings that can be distilled in the online world and the rate learnings can occur (where all of the hype around Facebook is merited) could become a true disrupter.

As Greg Merkle joked today, “Time to go increase your toner supplies.” So as the holiday season is coming up, I’m sure HP would be ecstatic to have you add printer cartridges to your stocking stuffer list.

Social Impact of Search?

Jeremie Miller, founder of Jabber and now CTO at Search Wikia, made an interesting statement during our panel conversation at Defrag.

“Search is going to have the same transforming approach on society as the printing press.”

This is interesting on a couple of levels. First, is it true? Sure search is one of the biggest enabling technology developments in recent memory and right now, probably the most important on the web thus far (short of the web itself). But is it having a societal impact? Second, if so, how big of an effect is it having?

Jeremie expanded on his comment with an example of children looking at the first page of search results and that often that is exactly what they distill as the facts or information around that topic. On first blush, this doesn’t seem logical but after considering this comment further, perhaps it is true.

The highest portion of link clicks happen on the first set of Google search results (can’t remember where I read this but it certainly makes sense from any usability angle I can think of). So knowing that, it is viable to think that people’s views of a given topic can be gleaned in a summary view just by that minute set of information on a given topic. And when you are searching within a particular information vertical, such as news, one’s natural inclination is to glean a sense of a topic by a quick review of the headlines. Does this always give you the complete picture? I have to say often ‘no’. Do a search at Google News for ‘global warming‘ as one polar example.

Anyway, interesting issue to think about as we head into a new week. It was one of the issues brought up at the conference that I wanted to be sure I touched on here. Would certainly be interested in others thoughts and any examples that you have where a set of search results gives a clear but incomplete view of a topic.

Defragging the Defrag Coverage

DefragThere has been some fantastic coverage of the Defrag conference and I have a great set of notes that I was planning on blogging. So instead of being repetitive, I reviewed the inputs of others and wanted to provide a digest of what I think is some of the solid coverage. I may touch specifically on some of concepts of Defrag, just not in this post. Here are some of the hightlights:

  • Five Themes of DefragSean Ammirati, who writes for Read/WriteWeb, provides a good set of themes that are consistent with my notes from the meetings. Really shows the diverse of set of complex topics that were covered at the conference. My opinion is that the topics covered are all in-depth conference-worthy topics in and of themselves.
  • Kevin Marks Discusses OpenSocial – Sean, covers Kevin’s session which you can imagine was quite popular due to the OpenSocial announcement that week.
  • Zawodry refines the Defrag focus – touches on Jeremy Zawodry’s, of Yahoo! Developer Network, talk. I found his presentation interesting as it discussed the Yahoo! web service direction and I had no idea that Yahoo!’s number two web service is called “term extractor”.
  • How to Hit the Enterprise Bullseye – Andrew McAfee wrote a great post regarding the sphere of influence where Enterprise 2.0 solutions can touch within a company. His review of strong, weak, potential and none networks was very insightful and he also touched on how E 2.0 tools can apply. If I had known he was going to write this solid of a post regarding his talk I could have saved some carpal tunnel taking so many notes.
  • Graeme Thickins – Graeme wins my personal award for extent of coverage of the event. Here is the list:
  • Defrag, Information Underload – Paul Kedrosky, a blog I follow a lot is a passionate and fantastic moderator. Tht said, I didn’t really agree with a lot of the “information underload” tone in the panel conversation and I am trying to put some thoughts together on it. Suffice it to say, there is a big information overload problem right now.
  • Dan Farber @ ZDNet – Dan was in attendance at Defrag and obviously covered the event as thoroughly as usual. Here are four of his posts from the event:

And of course, if you want some of the most thorough thinking of the items covered at the conference, particular for the lead-up, there is no better place than the Defrag blog itself. Eric Norlin did a great job putting the conference together, brought a very interesting, insightful group of thought leaders together to talk passionately about where the web is going, what we need to be thinking about and why it matters. Great stuff.

The Enterprise Outlook is Cloudy

During Defrag, I found myself in an interesting conversation with Jerry Michalski and Andrew McAfee regarding the future of the enterprise. I posited that eventually “the enterprise firewall will fall.” Let’s just say there wasn’t resounding agreement and not enough time to truly deep dive into the very difficult and multi-faceted topic.

Let me clarify my position: In the future, the “cloud” will emerge to an extent where to the laymen in an organization, it will be challenging if not impossible to understand where the enterprise ends (what is behind the firewall) and the cloud begins (what is beyond the firewall). This does not mean corporate data will be public for all to see, some sort of enterprise information security will remain but it WILL be much more open than it is today. Thus, whether the enterprise information and feature-set is behind the firewall or in front can become a non-issue as the technology permits. Furthermore, I just do not see how IT constituents can stop it short of blocking internet access completely.

What is interesting is those reading this will probably polarize to two camps, “wow, you are out of your mind, IT will never stand for that” OR “wow, you didn’t make much of a leap, that is obvious”. In fact, for the latter camp, I would tend to agree, it is happening already. Jerry Zawodny, of the Yahoo! Developer Network, commented that Term Extraction is the second most popular web service on their network. I’m sure all of the data submitted to the web service by users is readily available consumer information and not protected corporate data of any kind.

Enterprise users are using GMail for email (cloud). Sales people are using SaaS offering for CRM and it is gaining even more traction with the emergence of AppExchange (cloud). Thousands of enterprise users have their profiles and are collaborating on Facebook (cloud). Amazon S3 is there and start-ups being leveraged by enterprise uses are using it (cloud). And sites like Swivel are offering private environments (cloud). This is a short, non-comprehensive list.

Thus, it doesn’t even take a lot of vision to make the leap that this is going to happen with even more and more frequency. And even if the earliest adoption of 2.0 type tools like Socialtext‘s wiki software, Connectbeam‘s enterprise bookmarking solution and Attensa‘s RSS enterprise software is taking place behind the firewall, my sense is that it is still a factor driven by information security concerns, not anti-cloud sentiment.

Ultimately, information and capabilities will exist in the cloud, and most likely there will be more in the cloud than behind the firewall. My sense the nimble organizations will react to this and learn how to make most effective use of the crowd. Only the most sensitive of information will sit behind the firewall in the long term. And of course, it is paramount that the technology providers continue to assure CIOs that information security and software reliability is in their SaaS offerings.

At Defrag Conference!

People say that you know in first few minutes when you are interviewing someone whether it is someone it is you want to continue the dialog with.  I think the same goes for conferences:  You pretty much know in the first hour whether it was worth the trip.

We are entering our third session and can tell you that Defrag is definitely worth it.  I’ll give it a final score later but right now I am very engaged in the discussion and the people here, interesting folks from all angles of the industry(s).

I hope to post some about the discussions as well later on as well. I’m sure there is plenty of live blogging going on.  Sitting here next to Jeff Nolan who is doing some live twittering…