Saturday Feb 28, 2009

The Three Forces of the Long Tail and the Classic Market

Chris Anderson's study of The Long Tail identifies three economic forces that the modern computing technologies, the Internet and the Web have helped unleash: (1) Improvements in tools of production of content and goods. (2) Improvements in tools of distribution. (3) Reductions in search costs through improvements in search technologies. (When we speak of "search technologies," we should understand them to mean any method of search, including the physical search, which is the "classic" search technology.)

These three forces join and orchestrate a move, in the consumption curve, from "hits" to "niches".

The argument is that this increases overall economic value. It does, indeed, for some firms and large numbers of consumers that engage in related "modern" search-and-consume activities on the Net. However, the classic market economy does not improve and will suffer, without a fast enough replacement in all niches and certainly in "hits" which provide the batteries for the classic market. Unless we reformulate the classic consumption game in new innovative ways, through innovations in general logistics of moving people and goods, I remain skpetical whether the replacement rate will be sufficient to outpace the overal reduction in consumption due to the diminishing physical search habits.

Thursday Jan 29, 2009

Wikipedia on Sun | MySQL Servers

Wikimedia Foundation is expanding Wikipedia to multimedia with Sun Open Storage Solution and MySQL Database:

Wikipedia receives between 25,000 and 60,000 page requests per second, depending on the time of day. Wikimedia needed to update its infrastructure to handle this huge volume of traffic and ensure that its systems were reliable, highly available, and easily scalable. It also wanted to expand its upload file limit from 20 MB to 100 MB to accommodate rich media (audio and video) content, but before it could do that it needed to expand its storage capacity.

It is great to see that how the most important non-profit content provider on the web grows and it is great to be part of that growth.

Wikipedia should be the subject of extensive studies in various fields of sociology, economics and information systems: social knowledge, open-source, open-content, markets, information economics and open-scoeity.

Sunday Sep 21, 2008

Social Networks and Security

Social networks pose interesting new problems for security experts. Erica Naone's article ("Turning Social Networks Against Users") explores some of these problems. Naone includes a brief discussion of some research involving a malicious third party application for Facebook.

The problem rests in open access to the computing platform of the social networking web sites. Furthermore, "social factors also play an important role...because social networks foster an atmosphere of trust that is easy to exploit."

Attacks could be more complex than those already used for secruity research focused on social networks. "An attacker could build a legitimate application, wait until a large number of users have installed it, then make the application 'go bad' by updating it with malicious code."

Perhaps, some social networking sites will make it a requirement that all third party applications implemented for their network be made available openly (open, buildable source).

Thursday Aug 07, 2008

Fast Strategy Introduction

Published by O'Reilly, Amy Shuen's Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business Thinking and Strategics Behind Successful Web 2.0 Implementations gives a fast, well-written introduction to the strategy, economics and business of Web 2.0 companies—all based on cases that should be familiar to the reader. 

Sunday Jun 15, 2008

Opinions and Social Pressure

Solomon E. Asch's "Opinions and Social Pressure" (Scientific American, Vol 193, No. 5, 1955) was probably one of the best papers I read during an organizational behavior class I took at Haas School of Business during my studies there. (Barry M. Staw has published the paper in his Psychological Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. The 2nd edition had the paper, and I'm sure Professor Staw has kept it for his 3rd edition. )

A BBC radio program gives very good summary of the paper and Asch's other research on social pressure and conformity.

The following video (posted on Youtube) presents a summary sense of one of Asch's conformity experiments:

Friday Aug 17, 2007

Mobile Social Networks

Elsewhere, I point to a report on mobile social networks.

Saturday Mar 17, 2007

Axiomatization of Transactions -- A Fable for Relational Algebra

David Hilbert had a program for axiomatizing science, in particular, and all the rest of thought, in general:

David Hilbert, Axiomatisches Denken, Math. Ann., 78 (1918) pp. 405– 415. English translation in: William Ewald (ed.), From Kant to Hilbert: A Source Book in Mathematics, Oxford 1996

Hilbert's program of axiomatization faced challenges even in mathematics, as Jan Brouwer unfolded his approach to doing mathematics

What were axioms? Axioms were simply a set of consistent statements written in a language composed of symbols representing variables, constants and relationships. "Models" were then constructed to give meaning to the symbols in a manner consistent with the Axioms. In this sense, "natural numbers" composed a model for some arithmetic axioms, say the Peano Arithmetic Axioms. However, models were rarely "minimal" to the axioms unless constructed from the axioms in particular ways, all of which produced isomorphic models of a certain kind. Not all models of the same axioms were equivalent or isomorphic. So, a theory of models had to be developed to explore the relationship among models.

In the world of business and economics, and in the social milieu of transactions, digitization of these transactions, i.e. the tendency towards demarcating sharp boundaries for transactions, led to the axiomatization of "rules" governing these transactions while at the same time managerial hierarchies built continuity into vertical integrations of such transactions within large organizations.

As the number of transactions vertically integrated within an organization increased in proportion to the volume of business activities, the managerial hierarchy faced  growing coordination challenges. However, axiomatization of many "business processes" (read "out-of-market transactions") had already begun to work its magic to make the managerial hierarchies independent of particular men or women. What was needed was a mechanics to propagate the axioms through individual transactions.

The mechanics was relational algebra and the machine that operated according to its principles was the relational database. The rest is history -- of modern business enterprises' use of IT technologies.

Thursday Dec 08, 2005

Communities of Practice, Learning, Meaning, and Identity

I've begun reading Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity.

I ran into this book while reading John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's Social Life of Information, about which I've written here earlier. I've always been interested in how social groupings and organizations learn, evolve, prosper and survive, how we learn and work, and how we come to be who we are as individuals.

Wenger's book would be a good start for whoever wants to explore these topics. Wenger is also deeply interested in building the conceptual framework that will help with the design of organizations, artifacts and processes.

Wenger's ambitious enterprise suits the practitioner as much as it stimulates the theoretician. As the book plate says, the material "is presented with all the breadth, depth, and rigor necessary to address such a complex and yet profoundly human topic."





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