The Accountants View of Web 2.0

Written somewhere between Sydney and Singapore… posted in Singapore

A case of serendipity – I came across a copy of the May edition of In the Black, CPA Australia‘s magazine for accountants, that just happened to have a feature on Web 2.0; or as they put it “Make money out of the internet this time around“.

It was interesting to read an accountants perspective on Web 2.0 – I even picked up a new concept, “inventory bubble“. Basically what this means is that the some of the success of auction sites like eBay is effectively based on traders buying from other traders rather than actually selling something to the final consumer. The net result I suppose is a bit like a pyramid scheme?

However, despite this warning overall there is a suggestion – and thinking here about the classic Gartner S-shaped hype curve – that the this time around the basis of the Web 2.0 business models (or at least those people investing in them) are a lot more mature than we saw in 2000. There is also a point made that many of the viable or successful Internet business models have nothing to do with Web 2.0. So, the bottom line is just good common sense: forget the hype, is the fundamental business model sound?

PS Wollongong-based Nik Cubrilovic (See Omnidrive) also gets a mention.

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Waiting at Sydney

Currently waiting to board my flight to Singapore at Sydney Airport for the masterclass I’m running there on Monday and Tuesday.

Do you know what I hate most about flying… being offline! Actually, Singapore Airlines do now offer inflight wifi internet access, but its hardly priced for the masses (just yet). If it ever gets fast enough I wonder what it will do to the inflight entertainment?

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to come up with some good words to describe the third dimension of collaboration:

  • Hyper-Dialogue vs Dialogue?
  • Networked vs Linear?
  • Bounded (Closed) vs Unbounded (Open)?
  • Consensus Building vs Chaotic?
  • Crowds vs Groups/Teams

Hmm. Maybe I can come up with something better in the next eight hours or so I’m in the air.

PS If you’re attending my masterclass tomorrow, I’m very much looking forward to meeting you!

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Mistrusting Skype users

Highlighting the ongoing tension between IT departments and Web 2.0 technologies being used inside the firewall, Chris Nerney on The Datamation IT Blog points to concerns reported about Skype from enterprise IT departments:

“…Skype hasn’t had as much luck is in the corporate sector. One of the main reasons for this, according to an article on CNET News.com, is inadequate username authentication for business customers. In other words, a lot of IT managers would like a better idea of who is connecting to their networks… CNET points out, IT managers are concerned that in-house users are unable to “authenticate the identity of the people they are communicating with.” One authentication technique being considered by Skype is a “ring of trust,” in which users are identified by a certification authority. That sounds like a hard sell to an IT manager running a large enterprise containing sensitive data.

On the otherhand an earlier article in CSO magazine, responding to a research reporting claiming to debunk the Skype hype, comments

“…there is any longer a mystery about [Skype‘s] risks, which have been well debated elsewhere. A number of companies have even started selling products that set out to stop the application from running at all.”

So at the moment there is no middle group: either we block it or just run with it and stop worrying about the risks. Perhaps, as Nerney suggests at the end of his post, this is a golden oppourtunity for a Web 2.0 startup to solve the problem and keep everyone happy.

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Amazing ASIMO

A little off topic, but I have to say that Australian sci-tech TV show Beyond Tomorrow did a really good job tonight of explaining why Honda‘s ASIMO robot represents such an innovation. ASIMO has been developing over the last twenty years and the goal is that one day “ASIMO may serve as another set of eyes, ears, hands and legs for all kinds of people in need. Someday ASIMO might help with important tasks like assisting the elderly or a person confined to a bed or a wheelchair. ASIMO might also perform certain tasks that are dangerous to humans, such as fighting fires or cleaning up toxic spills.”

Watching ASIMO in action, particulary walking and running, has to be seen to be believed!

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That ol’Time Shifting Argument?

I get Nick Carr’s point and the complaint about Jon Udell showing people how to download an MP3 file version of an MP3 stream from a US public radio site, but isn’t this just about time shifting (the same issue as recording free-to-air TV or radio) only more confusing for the consumer?

In this particular case we are given a choice between a free stream “anytime” or buy a copy so you can listen “anytime”. The Website in question, for a US show called This American Life, also promotes the downloadable versions you can purchase as “high quality downloads” suggesting that its a different product anyway.

In addition, on the This American Life site they also say “Why you can’t download our MP3 Files: Allowing download of those files would require us to PAY contributors for each download, as we do when we sell a CD or a show on Audible. Doing this would be an administrative nightmare, and we can’t afford it.

So they themselves would rather stream because this way they don’t have the administrative overhead of paying their contributors!

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Wallpaper – the future of digital music art?

Aside from issues of digital rights management, Charles Arthur in the Guardian newspaper writes about an issue I’ve often wondered about too – what happens to album cover art in a world of digital downloads? He asks “Whatever happened to those big ‘gatefold’ sleeves on double albums, where you had two feet of space to go mad? What about the photo booklet inserts that The Who used on Quadrophenia, telling a story to accompany the double album through dozens of wordless 11- by 11-inch black-and-white photos?

I had assumed that perhaps, like books, people would still occasionally desire something tangible to represent their favourite artist (or author) and that they would live on as luxuries at least. But wandering across the MC Lars (aka Mr anthem of the MP3 generation, “Download this song“) website the other day I noticed that album cover art of a sort still lives on in digital form – AIM buddy icons and mobilephone (cellphone) wallpaper. Not quite the same perhaps, but at least there are signs that art for the musical masses will live on.

I wonder what other innovations we will see in this area?

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The 3rd Dimension of Collaboration

I just had one of those strange moments – often rare when you reside in a distant part of the southern hemisphere – where I’m conversing indirectly with another blogger, in this case JP Rangaswami about my last post.

I wonder, is it time to expand our classic two dimensions of collaboration (synchronous and asynchronous) to include a third? I’m not sure what to call this new dimension, but two suitable computer geek terms to position its two extremes might be serial and parallel. The blogosphere at its best is when we are talking at the same time, but to each other at the same time…

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