Why are you going to CEBIT to talk of Open Mobile?

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Why are you going to CEBIT to talk of Open Mobile?

My (extremely tech savvy) five year old wanted to know – Why I am going to CEBIT/Hanover to talk aboiut Open Mobile ..

He continued .. Ofcourse the Mobile is open ..

I was interested to see what he will say next .. Needs some reading of my blog perhaps OpenGardens ?

But then he continued .. Well .. you can just open the cover .. take out the battery etc etc ..

So, its already an Open mobile? yes? :)

The Image is a classic :) Source wrtassoc (A blog I love and recommend!)

How the Wikipedia reputation engine works and why Wikipedia should not allow anonymous edits

Recently, I wrote about Wikipedia and it’s blacklisting of Read write web. I have been interested in Reputation systems and hence it was a good opportunity to look at the Wikipedia reputation system. Specifically, the practice of using anonymous editors in Wikipedia is a concern – and I explain why below

Most people appreciate that Wikipedia is a ‘point in time’ snapshot of i.e. Wikipedia pages are constantly changing and hence any reference to a Wikipedia page can be only meaningful when it is quoted at a point in time i.e. against a certain date.

However, the inner workings of Wikipedia are more interesting

• Specifically, for me the questions:

• Who are Wikipedia editors?

• How are they selected?

• What are their competencies?

• What are their functions?

Why should they be anonymous?

We all know that anyone can change Wikipedia (that’s the whole point of a wiki). So, what is the function of these special ‘editors’ who can blacklist someone? And that too anonymously?

Here is what I found ..

Wikipedia is not a democracy

Wikipedia is not an experiment in democracy or any other political system. Its primary but not exclusive method of determining consensus is through editing and discussion, not voting. Although editors occasionally use straw polls in an attempt to test for consensus, polls or surveys sometimes impede rather than assist discussion. They should be used with caution, and are no more binding than any other consensus decision. Elections and votes are endorsed in some scenarios, such as when electing the Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee.

So, this leads me to question .. What is consensus in Wikipedia parlance?

Consensus is part of a range of policies on how editors work with others, and part of the Fourth pillar of Wikipedia code of conduct. Editors typically reach a consensus as a natural and inherent product of wiki-editing; generally someone makes a change or addition to a page, and then everyone who reads the page has an opportunity to leave the page as it is or change it.

And further

“Consensus” among a small number of editors can never override the community consensus that is presented in Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines; instead, consensus is the main tool for enforcing these standards. The focus of every dispute should be determining how best to comply with the relevant policies and guidelines. Editors have reached consensus when they agree that they have appropriately applied Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, not when they personally like the outcome.

So, the goal seems to be to appropriately apply (wikipedia’s policies and guidelines)( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Policies_and_guidelines)

So, it all boils down to the ability to apply wikipedia’s policies and guidelines by the editors

Who determines these polices?

Again from wikipedia guidelines page

Policy change comes from three sources:

1. Documenting actual good practices and seeking consensus that the documentation truly reflects them.

2. Proposing a change in practice and seeking consensus for implementation of that change.

3. Declarations from Jimmy Wales, the Board, or the Developers, particularly for copyright, legal issues, or server load.

To be an editor, you have to be a wikipedian – you have to understand the Etiquette with the goal of getting consensus in view of the editing policy which may involve some discussions and arbitration based on a way to resolve disputes

So far so good ..

Now it gets interesting .. the NY times says(emphasis mine)

The bulk of the writing and editing on Wikipedia is done by a geographically diffuse group of 1,000 or so regulars, many of whom are administrators on the site.

“A lot of people think of Wikipedia as being 10 million people, each adding one sentence,” Mr. Wales said. “But really the vast majority of work is done by this small core community.”

The administrators are all volunteers, most of them in their 20′s. They are in constant communication — in real-time online chats, on “talk” pages connected to each entry and via Internet mailing lists. The volunteers share the job of watching for vandalism, or what Mr. Wales called “drive-by nonsense.” Customized software — written by volunteers — also monitors changes to articles.

1000 people are administrators ..


a) Who are these administrators?

b) And how transparent is this ‘administrator communication’

c) If anyone can edit BUT some editors are administrators – then clearly some are more equal than others?

d) Can anyone be an administrator?

We get some clues from wikipedia administrators Guide to requests for adminship


On the English Wikipedia, there are no official requirements to becoming a Wikipedia administrator. Anyone can apply regardless of their Wikipedia experience. However, while adminship is oriented towards community trust and confidence (rather than checklists and edit counts), considerable experience is usually expected, and each editor will have their own way to personally assess their confidence in a particular candidate’s readiness.

Before requesting or accepting a nomination, candidates should generally be active and regular Wikipedia contributors for at least several months, be familiar with the procedures and practices of Wikipedia, respect and understand its policies, and have gained the general trust of the community.

If at this point you are interested in requesting adminship, you should first read the guide to requests for adminship and the nomination instructions. If you feel that you are ready to apply, you may add your nomination to the Wikipedia:Requests for adminship (“RFA”) page, according to the aforementioned instructions.

A discussion (not a vote, sometimes called a !vote from the computer science symbol for negation) will then take place among fellow editors about whether you should become an administrator.

After seven days, a bureaucrat will determine if there is consensus to give you admin status. This is sometimes difficult to ascertain, and is not a numerical measurement, but as a general descriptive rule of thumb most of those above ~80% approval pass, most of those below ~70% fail, and the area between is gray.

Although multiple user accounts are allowed on Wikipedia in general, only one account of a given person should have administrative tools. The sole exceptions are by agreement of Arbcom or the community.

The reality is that adminship is oriented to communal trust and confidence, not percentages and numbers, and each user will have their own way to assess candidates’ readiness for the role. While anybody can apply, a review of failed RfAs will quickly show that members of the community have many unwritten expectations.

Common areas where users may have expectations will usually be those that show:

1. breadth and duration of wiki-experience;

2. appropriate approach and conduct as a community member (quality of interaction and ability to work with others); and

3. understanding of the Wikipedia ethos and its most important norms and policies (their “spirit” and intent, and that you understand the norms administrators must follow).

Evidence of any concerns may also be raised and questions asked, for reassurance whether they will present concerns in future, and any other signs of helpfulness or work undertaken in the community will be seen positively.


In other words, these people are NOT experts in any field(or they don't have to be). They DO have to be experts on understanding and enforcing Wikipedia policy

While all of the above was a revelation to me – and we may agree or not with the above – the REAL problem is these administrators can be anonymous. Which was the crux of the problem RRW faced.

So .. why is anonymous administrators such a problem?

The reason, in my view has to do with context i.e. you can never trust anonymous administrators unless you know their complete context

Let me explain .. I tried to find the most trustworthy / respected individual I could find and thought of Vinton Cerf – the person most often called “person most often called ‘the father of the Internet’.” Vinton Cerf is truly highly respected doing great work since the 1970s.

In Sep 2005 – he joined Google. This is also great .. BUT my point is – from Sep 2005 onwards – any statement he makes must also be taken in light of Google employee No XYZ. Not that it makes him any less trustworthy – but knowing the context is indeed important for an analysis of any view point – however great

In that context .. I don’t see any reason why wikipedia editors should remain anonymous

Other than that, the above has been interesting for me .. Since I mistakenly thought that wikipedia editors are subject matter experts – it turns out that they are (wikipedia) policy experts(as I understand it).

This means – they can create useful documents where information already exists about a subject but may well struggle if it does not (or is unclear). Also, if only 1000 people can do this – then wikipedia can be emulated .. and nor is it exactly wisdom of the crowds – more like wisdom of a 1000 people(who are by definition do NOT have to be wise in their field of expertise)

But my real(and only) concern is anonymous editors. Rest is all interesting and OK by me

Any comments welcome

Book review: Beyond 3G -Bringing Networks, Terminals and the Web Together: LTE, WiMAX, IMS, 4G Devices and the Mobile Web 2.0 (Hardcover) – By Martin Sauter

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Martin Sauter and I have been working on a new course at Oxford University on LTE services. In that context, I have been reading Martin’s excellent book recently published called Beyond 3G -Bringing Networks, Terminals and the Web Together: LTE, WiMAX, IMS, 4G Devices and the Mobile Web 2.0 (Hardcover)

If you have been following this blog and my thinking, you know my views that the future of Mobility and wireless is bright – but it is also more complex. Specifically, beyond 3G we are likely to see a decoupling of networks and services. However, ironically we will also see a deep integration between networks, devices, services originating from the Web and social networking.

In that context, this book is very interesting since it explores the evolution of networks and its impact on the wider ecosystem

The book starts off with Network evolution and then covers Network architectures, Capacity and usage scenarios, Voice over wireless, Operating systems, Devices and Services.

Martin covers the topics in great depth mainly from a network perspective (beyond 3G) perspective – but still keeps the book very readable.

It was a pleasure to meet Martin at Mobile World Congress Barcelona and he kindly autographed my copy which had scribbles right through to the end :)

I recommend this book. It’s well worth buying .. since it’s an excellent reference resource

Future technologies conference .. at University of Oxford ..

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Now in it’s third year running .. chaired by me and Tomi Ahonen – this conference has become an annual intellectual pilgrimage for many showcasing cutting edge innovation. Would be great if you can attend. It is also the week of my LTE course which I conduct at Oxford(alongwith Martin Sauter) see previous blog.

We will announce a lot more details over the next few days. Sign up now at forumoxford future technologies conference and keep a lookout for more speakers

LTE services course at Oxford University

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I am happy to announce that on April 20 and 21st, I and Martin Sauter will be conducting a 2 day course on LTE Services at the University of Oxford

Here’s the agenda:

* New services based on enhanced capacity of the network

* IP based business models

* Rich voice applications

* New role of devices to handle rich content and social networks

* Social networks based on rich content like video

* Services unique to LTE and the core network

* Greater role for user generated content and for rich media

* Unified communications and beyond 3G networks

* Fixed mobile integration – leveraging enhanced networks and learning from past mistakes

* Integrated networks and connecting back to home networks

* Network elements: Femtocells vs Wi-Fi in the home gateway and services based on these elements

* Wireless sensor networks at home and their role and opportunity in an overall beyond 3G network

It will be a pleasure to work with Martin – and I have followed his work and blog with great interest over the years. We’ve also put together a questionnaire on LTE services to get more feedback. If you have a minute and are interested, we’d be happy to get your feedback. We’ll share the result with those who leave their e-mail address and of course with all course participants. Needless to say that all responses are treated confidentially.

So, please sign up at the Oxford University web site and we look forward to seeing you there.

How twitter could be a threat to Google – Real time search vs historical search

This is an insightful article O’Brien: How Twitter could be a threat to Google and I totally agree with it. Read Write Web had a similar post Sorry Google – you missed the real time web and Twitter Finally Integrates Its Real-Time Search Engine

I had also said before a while ago(in another context) i.e. P2P – How can telecoms industry counter Google? By making the biggest strength of Google to be it’s biggest weakness – it’s data centres.

P2P may be Google’s biggest weakness and an Operator’s biggest asset

In that sense, I find the O Brein article very interesting indeed.

In fact, the motto posted on Twitter’s search page (http://search.twitter.com) says, “See what’s happening — right now.” And many people do exactly that. During a live event or amid breaking news, a growing number of people are turning to Twitter search to follow the conversations among its users.

The Operative word being ‘Right now’ and ‘Real time’

Thats some thing Google cannot do – and may struggle to do because it depends so much on data being indexed (and real time data has a different characteristic and cannot be indexed)

And the article goes on to add more to imply that ‘non real time search’ may be boring and may have a lower premium

I’ve used Summize, and now Twitter search, on almost a daily basis over the past year, without even really thinking about how much I relied on it. It was only some recent, random conversations back in January that crystallized how important Twitter search had become to me — and to Twitter itself.

For instance, search could point to a solution to Twitter’s business model problem. In public, founder Ev Williams has dropped hints that the company is trying to find interesting ways to mine its treasure trove of data to create some kind of services that might be valuable enough to entice businesses to actually pay to use them.

Certainly Google has shown that search data can be a powerhouse when linked to related advertising. So perhaps Twitter search will allow that company to produce some new kind of advertising that is more immediate and time-sensitive, related to products people might need RIGHT NOW!

We’ll see. The emergence of real-time search also certainly says a lot about us, and how our increasingly wired society is becoming ever more hyperkinetic. In this world, compared with Twitter, Google suddenly begins to feel old and plodding. Its search results might be minutes, hours, or even days old. Yawn!

I agree overall to the thoughts above and I believe that Real time web and Real time search are ones to watch

UK Government appears to recommend Ingres over Oracle …

UK government backs open source

On the face of it, this sounds good news ..

But like many things – I don’t think people understand the issues

The BBC article refers to two Open source comments

Simon Phipps, chief open source officer for Sun Microsystems, said the UK government’s stance was part of a “global wave” of take up for open source in governments.


Steve Shine, Ingres says Open source can help avoid many of the hidden costs of proprietary software

I have already said before the misconceptions of open source governance and open source licensing model Open is the new closed? – Bringing transparency to Open source by separating Open source licensing models and Open source governance models ..

Let us consider the mention of Ingres in the context of Open source above ..

A long time ago .. I used to work for PeopleSoft which is now Oracle corporation . Prior to mobile, I have worked extensively on databases(especially Oracle) and also data warehouses.

So, databases are familiar to me ..

Hence, I was surprised to see Ingres now calling itself an Open source company information management company ..

Was it the same Ingres which used to be around so many years ago? (at that time the race was between Oracle, Sybase, Informix and Ingres)

Over the years – Oracle won! By a wide margin!

In fact, I did not know that Ingres still existed :) until I read this article

Yet – by calling itself ‘Open source’ a once forgotten company tries to be ‘cool’!

Worse – in my view – the UK government seems to mandate that Ingres(because it is supposedly Open source) is better than Oracle(which is not)

Anyone who knows anything about database business knows that the critical factor is not open source – but the data itself(protection, reliability, etc etc)

These factors seem to be ignored and ‘Open source’ seems to be the key criteria for inclusion

I have said before .. that there are politics of Open source .. and while Open source has its place within any ecosystem – governments and regulatory bodies should not mandate Open source or open standards one way or the other. Microsoft vs. the EU: Can we legislate to force a company to use Web standards ..

That’s a key line to cross .. and it would appear to me that companies who have not been commercially successful(like Ingres) are now claiming product superiority over those that have(like Oracle) only by claiming to be ‘Open source’ – a factor that has only limited value in the broad scheme of things within a database context

Disclaimer: I have no commercial relationship with Oracle

Condolences to David Cameron

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Condolences to David Cameron on the death of his son Ivan Cameron -

Image BBC

Positions at truecar.com (LA based)

Trying to help since in today’s economic climate, this might just be a welcome message for many people.

truecar is looking to fill a slew of roles at TrueCar, http://www.truecar.com (all are LA based):

* VP Data Analytics

* VP Product Management

* Director Marketing and Sales

* Director Software Engineering

* Manager, Data Analytics

* Flash Developer

* Senior Developer

* Director, QA

All are further described and listed at http://truecar.com/release/hiring.html.

Pls dont contact me – contact truecar directly through links above

Congratulations Slumdog Millionaire ..

Congrats to slumdog millionaire. Mumbai is the city of my birth and after the recent terrorist incidents, its great to see the city win on a global stage with this movie.

Also, a good day for India as a whole and also the UK (Slumdog is a British film) and also for Kate Winslett.

So, this has been a good night for India, UK and Mumbai!