Scholarship Opportunities – Four Year PhD Studentship in Web Science at the University of Southampton

I think this is very interesting and fits in the ethos of the OpenGardens vision and in the evolution of the Web

When Larry Page took over as CEO of Google, he said – Business Telegraph Jan 21 2011

We are just at the tip of the iceberg in understanding how the Internet will change our lives in the future. Google co-founder Larry Page is to take regain full control of the internet phenomenon he created as a student in 1996. Mr Page said “If you think about the next five years of what your online life will be like, we are only just [getting] started.”

Thus, the opportunities which will open up to students expert in the Internet are very promising and the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Southampton is offering 10 full studentships for its combined MSC and PhD courses. The Web Science DTC is part of an international network of Web Science research centres, and its 4 year PhD in Web Science will equip students to become leaders in the emerging Digital Economy and comes with opportunities to work with their wide range of industry sponsors.

Interestingly, this is not “just” computer science, the objective is to bring the best sociologists, mathematicians, lawyers, healthcare professionals etc etc. studying how the web impacts on their own discipline – a truly interdisciplinary approach.
I believe that this course could be interesting because people undertaking this type of study, are going to be a couple of steps ahead of the competition, within in their field, with this type of background under their belt.

And in the current climate of increasing tuition fees, the best thing about it – its not only free, they pay you to do it(ie its a scholarship).

You can apply now for one of the 10 scholarships. Application deadline is 31st March 2011.

Enquiries to Scholarship Opportunities – Four Year PhD Studentship in Web Science at the University of Southampton .

To find out more email: [email protected]

Is 2011 the year of the Mobile Web apps?

By Ajit Jaokar – futuretext and Nick Allott of nquiring minds

With January almost over now and conferences like Mobile World Congress and CTIA upon us, here is a thought.

In the age of Mobile applications, will 2011 will the year of the Mobile Web apps?

In this document, we outline the reasons why and welcome your comments.

Some initial terminology,

  • We refer to apps on specific technologies like iPhone, Android, Blackberry as native apps and we call apps using web technologies as ‘Web apps’ (more on this below)
  • By Mobile Web, we also include widgets – not just browsing.
  • By Web technologies, we mean w3c technologies but more importantly for our discussion, there are a set of emerging web technologies on the horizon such as – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads (source Mozilla)

Native apps vs Web apps

Native apps have four key advantages:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue model (appstores)
  • Device APIs and
  • User experience

In contrast, for the purposes of our analysis we consider a web based application environment as:

A development environment using well understood, standardised web based technologies for creation of fully fledged applications.

We shall use the following working definition for web based applications:

•          Applications that can run when not connected to the web

•          Applications that can be packaged and distributed, again without assumed connection to the web

•          Application which can make full use of the device capabilities and APIs available on the device

•          Applications that can take full control of the devices UI – and are not rendered with the pre-configured chrome of another application.

•          Applications which can effectively run background processes and present a good user experience to the end user.

•          Applications which insulate the inherent risks of API access with robust security model

Many companies are already developing these models and indeed existing web technologies like HTML4 can also be used to create useful apps

Web technologies have some key advantages for applications:

IPR unencumbered: First and foremost, the specifications on which the web is based are designed to be unencumbered by IPR. This has two immediate positive commercial knock on effects. Firstly, it removes the immediate and absolute requirement to pay licensing fees to proprietary technology owners. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it does not bestow any core strategic advantage onto any single company.

Synergies between Open Source and the Web: A partial consequence of the lack of essential IPR on the core technology is that it is easier to create open source assets for. Or, perhaps, it is easier to state the inverse for the Web: it is very difficult to create an viable open source project for technologies on which there is known IPR that may be asserted (simply because there is then an implied liability). It is no accident then that the web ecosystem have been influenced, if not entirely dominated by open source projects such as Mozilla, Webkit and Apache

The Web as a platform: The existence of this public, usable assets, proves a boon to commerce, in that they may be picked up and used by people interested in using the technology, thereby reducing development costs, reducing maintenance costs, and freeing up technical and commercial resource to focus on more differentiation areas, with respect to their competitors. The Web then becomes a platform fulfilling the vision of Web 2.0

Public roadmap: Unlike a proprietary product, the web technology space, whether it is innovating within the W3C forum itself, or within one of the co-dependent open source projects, is fully transparent. This meant the roadmaps, over a reasonable time frame, are fully product. When dealing with device companies (whether mobile, pc, automotive, or home media), their commercial planning horizons are a considerable way out. A public transparent roadmap is clearly a positive thing from this perspective.

Low technical barriers to entry: It is a fact that web programming is easier to get into than more typical native application programming (that typically requires C, C++ or Java skills). Learning basic declarative HTML tag representation, upon which you can slowly build with easily experimental Javacript programming, gives a much softer entry into the programming world. Further, HTML and Javascript as interpreted languages, mean that for a new developer to get started all they need is a working web browser and a text editor. Contrast this with the complex compiler tool chains required to get native development environments up and running.

Although, you could debate that beyond a particular level of sophistication (when you start using complex Javascript libraries, object-orientated techniques and asynchronous programming)whether these differences still exist,  web based technologies mean that instead of being “thrown in the deep end”, you can paddle around in the shallows and immerse yourself slowly, and at you own pace, to the more esoteric programming depths.

Large skills base: The corollary of the above point is that there is a larger skills base for web programmers than native developers. It is hard to find definitive figures to back this statement up, but it would be conservative to estimate that HTML/javascript programmers outnumber Objective C programmers by at least a factor of 10

Large asset base: The near ubiquity of the web, the fact that almost every corporation and organisation has a website, and increasingly now, even individuals means there is massive amounts of content “out there”. To support this content, and strong ecosystem of tools and development applications has emerged (both proprietary tools and open source). The net effect of this, is that any developer looking to create web application content is well supported

Quick to develop for – and faster time to market: Another implication of the simpler technology, and tools base, is that typically web based content can be developed quicker than native content. This has important, valuable time to market implications for application developers and device manufacturers

Easy to deploy: Finally, to complement the development issue, web content typically needs only hosting on a website and is generally instantly downloadable and executable. Although, this process does not obviate the need to do testing on the web application content, it does typically mean that both initial deployment cycle, and subsequent maintenance updates can be issued more efficiently and fluidly than their native application counterparts.

Against these advantages, we have some drawbacks for web application development frameworks

Slow progress on roadmap and new features: One of the inevitable disadvantages of taking technical innovation and feature development out of the hands of a few people in a single company, is that decision making slows down. Consensus is a powerful force, in terms of garnering full industry support around a direction, but can be painfully slow to arrive at.

Remnants of fragmentation: Web technology is infinitely less fragmented than the disparate native development technologies, however, this does not mean that things are perfect. From and application developers perspective, the idiosyncrasies of the browser or runtime base they are using can unleash a myriad of minute problems that need addressing on a case by case basis. The four principle rendering technologies, (Webikit, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft), whilst all ostensably supporting HTML, have minor difference in the detail of the implementation. These discrepancies fall into two main types

Bugs/lack of consistency in the support of older, legacy technologies such as HTML4

Differences in timing of implementation of the newer and more innovative features

Slow performance: Finally, it is important to understand that Web technology, to date is an interpreted technology. That means the code is expressed in human readable text and that the browser engine, must process this real-time whilst it is executing. (Contrast this with compiled technologies which pre-process the code from the human readable form into a machine efficient representation, optimised for performance.) This means that, web technologies are almost always slower than native development technologies.

Moore’s law, has meant that for a majority of applications, the difference in performance is irrelevant. There are subclass of application, however, those typically requiring high performance and good graphics, such as games, that are currently outside of the web application performance threshold.

But things are changing. The increased use of Just in time JavaScript compilation technologies and the new webgl technologies will make even this distinction narrow in the medium term.

Two resources for tracking these implementation inconsistencies are: quirksmode and Acid3 tests

Evolution of the Web and it’s implications for mobile devices

What does this mean going forward?

When I (Ajit) first spoke about the principles of Mobile Web 2.0, I used to jokingly say that it should be ‘Web Mobile 2.0’ i.e. the web dominates since it often evolves faster than mobile and has a wider reach than mobile

So, if we take a holistic view, then we can see that the evolution of the Web will also impact Mobile and that’s why the idea of web apps is relevant

Here is how these ideas could evolve:

1)  HTML5 is gaining critical mass. There are still some gaps – and development is ahead of the standard but there is industry alignment around HTML5. HTML5 provides both the user experience and the APIs

2)  Chrome labsMozilla labsEricsson labs and Webinos are now driving the evolution of the Web

3)  Since froyo onwards, it has been possible to create a bridge between Chrome and Android to transfer content. Mozilla has similar initiatives through firefox sync. Thus, content could span the Web and Mobile

4) A set of technologies(source Mozilla) are on the horizon – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads

5)  Serverside Javasript engines like node.jsJaxer and jquery also help spread javascript to the server. This helps the Web since Javascript is a core component of the Web

6)  The apache foundation is also bridging the gaps with initiatives like apache extras

8 )  Initiatives like webinos will fulfil key gaps in Web technologies

9) We are seeing many players some unlikely ones like Skype make a push for the Web next year Skype make a push for the Web next year

Hybrid solutions

Currently, we are seeing the deployment of Hybrid solutions i.e. solutions that use Web technologies for development and can deploy to more than one native platforms for instance Phonegap, worklight and Rhomobile are examples of this trend. Also, we are seeing  encapsulated widgets i.e. apps that are wrapped around web technologies and also companies like Alibro which enable deployment using web technologies even to legacy devices. Thus, the boundaries gaps continue to blur between Web apps and Native apps

Emerging domains

There are many areas in which the Web is evolving: Here are some

1)      hardware acceleration for javascript optimization

2)      Identity and session management are missing on the web. Webinos and other initiatives could provide this

3)      The continued evolution of HTML5 even when it is imperfect Microsoft Offers Unfinished HTML5 Features in Internet Explorer 9 for Developers Only

4)      Social gaming especially facebook games which are based on web technologies

5)      Video and the limitations of video content – for instance YouTube still uses Flash as opposed to HTML5

6)      Connected TV is an important domain ex at CES Opera announced initiatives for connected TVs Opera for connected TVs and so did Access CES – ACCESS Connected TV solutions

7)      Features like two factor authentication Google two factor authentication for the web(and for mobile web)

8 )      Finger friendly web sites(touch based input) and Augmented reality for the web

9)       Mobile javascript libraries like  jQuery, The Dojo Toolkit although many are not yet optimised to mobile and many more The top 10 JavaScript libraries that compete against jQuery

The silent revolution – Vision of web apps

The vision of Web apps will be a silent revolution.Web apps will coexist with native apps.

From the development and design side, developers will write apps that run on many platforms including web apps. From a user perspective, users will see native apps and web apps together. Nokia has done this for a long time including in current versions of Ovi by mixing web run time widgets with regular apps on the home screen of the ovi store and we could view it as below


So, to conclude:

1) The Web is not governed by any entity and that makes it both ubiquitous but slower than proprietary technologies but Web apps are catching up very fast as we discuss above and there will be interim steps with companies like Phonegap and others that use web technologies but deploy on multiple app platforms

2) Both web and apps will coexist

3) Web and open source will provide mutual synergies(chrome, apache, webinos etc)

4) Note that outside of the Web, IPR will still be important in the Telecoms industry – ex in Devices and networks. Standardization is also a complex, multi-faceted process, so our discussion on Standards and Open source is relevant to Web standards

Any comments welcome


We would like to acknowledge contributions from forumoxford members especially Robin Jewsbury, C Enrique Ortiz,  Zigurd MednieksMartin WilsonAlex KerrWilliam VolkHenry Sinn

Ajit is speaking at the following conferences

CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando

CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando

M-days – at Messe Frankfurt

ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

Mobile World Congress – BarcelonaWAC apps at Mobile World Congress 2011

Speaking at the Humanity+ UK conference in London on Sat Jan 29

The Humanity+ UK 2011 conference, being held at London’s Conway Hall on Saturday 29th January, is an opportunity to meet some of the most interesting futurist thinkers in the UK -  to listen to their ideas, hear about the progress of their projects, ask them questions, and debate with them.

The principal theme of the conference is “Making a human difference”.

The speakers have been announced as follows (in alphabetical order by first name):

  • Ajit Jaokar – Meditation as a transhumanist technology;
  • Dr Amnon Eden – Scientific notions of Technological Singularity;
  • Dr Anders Sandberg – The future of ideas on machine intelligence;
  • Anna Salamon – Survival in the margins of the singularity?
  • Dr Aubrey de Grey – Approaching the human longevity escape velocity;
  • David Pearce – What is empathetic superintelligence?
  • David Wood – Five key questions for futurists;
  • Dean Bubley – Session chairman;
  • Professor Kevin Warwick – Human Enhancement: A Practical Guide;
  • Luke Robert Mason – Traversing the Transhuman: Bridging the Gap Between Biology and Technology Through Art;
  • Dr Marios Kyriazis – Achieving human biological immortality;
  • Michael A. Woodley – How clever-sillies might thwart the singularity;
  • Pieter Bonte – Estranging ourselves from nature: from existential principle to transhuman practice;
  • Rachel Armstrong – Living megacities: the forthcoming habitat of synthetic biologies;
  • Richard Osborne – The next steps to the solar system;
  • Tom Michael – Evidence based cognitive enhancement: a neuropsychological perspective.

See for more details.  The agenda for the day is at

To cover the costs of hiring the main rooms in Conway Hall for an entire day, there will be a small entry fee for attendees.  This is described at the page – which links in turn to an EventBrite page.

Examples of the kinds of questions that will be explored during the day:

  1. Setting aside hype, what are the realistic scenarios for progress with emerging technologies that have the potential to make us all smarter, stronger, healthier, longer-lived, kinder, more fulfilled, and more sociable?
  2. What are the most serious risks (“existential risks”) facing humanity over the next few decades, and what is the role of technology in both worsening and solving these risks?
  3. What are the implications of rapidly changing technology for what it means to be human?
  4. What are the pros and cons of aspiring to a “Humanity+” phase of evolution, with powers and experiences as far above those of present humans as human experience exceeds that of pre-human apes?
  5. If people want to become involved in activism supporting Humanity+, what are the best steps they can take?

iPad and Media Tablets: what are the key trends and issues

In the next couple of months, I am speaking/chairing two conferences – both related to tablets. CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando and ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

The objective of this post is to isolate the key issues around Media tablets for these events.

If you would like to speak/sponsor/attend these events, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at

Like the iPhone, the iPad has also created it’s own ecosystem. But the iPad is not the only game in town. Specifically we have a lot of devices deployed around Android Honeycomb especially at many tablets were launched at CES. Blackberry and Windows7 also have their own Tablet deployments

In many ways, Tablets represent the ‘Post PC’ phase – and we are soon going to manage three devices: the PC, Tablet and Mobile device. For many, including me, the Tablet is likely to be a content consumption device and depending on the tablet size, the device is not likely to be ‘mobile’.

Thus, a media tablet should have three key features:

1) It must have the form factor of a tablet which includes touch input, always on etc

2) Media tablets are optimized towards content consumption(browsing, video, books, magazines etc). Some like the Amazon Kindle are optimized towards specific content types such as books

3) Media tablets have an appstore

So, here is a list of key trends and issues. Please let me know if I have missed any

Overall Market perspective (analyst / statistics)


Content types (entertainment, games, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, academic publications, Textbooks, music, comics, Blogs)
What do customers pay for
Revenue shares and compensations, subscription
Content rights
Global distribution of content on Tablets
Content conversion

Business models

Digital first – print second model
Free vs paid


Android tablets
RIM playbook


Adobe Air
Android Honeycomb


Apple, Samsung, LG, Dell, HP, RIM, Motorola, Sharp, Acer, HTC, Asus, Archos, Lenovo, Toshiba, Nokia, Sony, MST

Design and Development

Insights from best selling ipad apps
Designing Tablet Apps best practice
User interface
Publishing to multiple platforms
Production systems
Customer analytics
Standards – EPUB vs others
IPR, Copyright and Licensing
Context for Tablet apps
Community for Tablet apps
Customer behavior on Tablets


Marketing and viral promotion
Community created books (social books)
Venture capital
European lessons vs USA
Tablet apps for blogs
Discovery of content

That’s it. Have I forgotten anything?

If you would like to speak/sponsor/attend these events, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at

Bubble Ball game – iPhone and innovation – 14 year old’s game tops iTunes chart ahead of facebook, angry birds etc

LOVE this!

Bubble Ball game – iPhone and innovation – 14 year old’s game tops iTunes chart ahead of facebook, angry birds etc

Source BBC

A game designed by a 14-year-old boy has topped the iTunes worldwide free app charts, ahead of the likes of Facebook and Skype.

Robert Nay, from Utah in the USA, created Bubble Ball, a “physics puzzle game” for Apple devices.

He learned how to code the game from a library book, after a friend’s dad suggested he try to make an app.
Bubble Ball The game is based around trying to get a bubble into a goal

On Wednesday (19 January), Bubble Ball had been downloaded two million times, according to Robert’s figures.

It was also ahead of the free version of hit game Angry Birds.

“I think it’s pretty cool cos I never thought my game would do that well,” Robert told ABC News.

“My friend’s dad suggested I try making an iPhone app and I thought, ‘Why not, that’d be pretty cool,’ so I checked out a book from the library.

“When I saw that it was number one for the free apps, I was astonished.”

He also says he plans to make more games, but his next project is “a secret”.

NquiringMinds MD Nick Allott’s new book – published by futuretext

I have known Nick Allott for many years now and learnt a great deal from his insights. Hence, I am very pleased to announce that NquiringMinds MD Nick Allott will be to be published by FutureText.

This book will draw on Nick and Ajit’s first hand experience of the history of web applications, and will try to explain to the
uninitiated, exactly what these innovations are, and outline some of the potential impacts of this upcoming technologies.

It shall examine HTML5 and the new W3C supported widget technologies, and try to put these in the context of the commercial initiatives of Google, Mozilla and Nokia etc. It will also look at the impact of Open Source Initiatives such as Webkit, Mozilla and more recently Webinos and examine how the worlds of standards and Open Source are colliding.

Most importantly it will take a strategic view: and examine the question: Is this new wave or web technologies going to have the same seismic impact on business as the last one?

Nick Allott is the founder of NquiringMinds Ltd, which delivers strategic and technical consultancy to internet and mobile companies and research institutes. Complimenting this research NquiringMinds incubates and develops high impact products.

Nick has influenced the mobile industry as the CTO of OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform Ltd) and Interim CTO for WAC (Wholesale Application Community Ltd), where he helped shape and deliver over 40+ industry papers including the Universal Charging Solution. Nick has been at the forefront of the new wave of Web based applications, he created the Open Source
BONDI initiative, managed the initial WAC Waikiki releases, helped define and raise funding for the Webinos Initiative and was integral to the creation of the W3C Device APIs and Policy Working Group.

Nicks primary expertise is the definition and delivery of high technology, disruptive products. He was Strategy Director and CTO for the VC invested fastmobile, later acquired by RIM, which delivered push email, push to talk and instant messaging solutions for mobile. And before that Nick was Technical Director for Motorola’s European Internet division. Nick has had
a number of other executive and consultancy positions with companies as diverse as Shell, Pearson Group, Dorling Kindersley and Neural Computer Sciences, and consequently has a breadth of industry experience encompassing, Mobile and Web, Security, Multimedia and Gaming, Data Warehousing and Data Mining, Manufacturing and Engineering.

Nick has a Joint Honours Degree in Computer and Cognitive Science from Nottingham University, and PhD in Artificial Intelligence, specialising in Computation Linguistics and Knowledge Representation. Nick is a Fellow of the Institute of Analysts and Programmers, a Member of the British Computer Society, has been published in scientific and mainstream media and is a regular speaker at international conferences on mobile and high technology issues.

WAC Developer day at MWC – WAC, Widgets and Worldwide distribution -

I will be a part of the WAC developer day at MWC. The registration and agenda are HERE. If you are there, happy to speak/meet

Could the facebook app be responsible for high phone bills?

I am surprised by the default options of the facebook app on blackberry
- Sync with photos
- Check every hour
- Check for new facebook updates etc etc.

Imagine syncing all photos from your contacts when roaminng!

Or if a new facebook update is pushed to you when you are roaming.

There does not appear to be a way to prevent these updates. I have shut off all faceboook updates now. But I can see why this could cause high bills for people.

We need apps that are ‘bearer aware’ and fb fails to do this!

There is no option to prevent it from updating when roaming. (there is an option to prevent all data when roaming but thats not what I want. Ex I want to browse the web but I don’t want to receive facebook updates and update latest pictures of all my facebook friends or get the latest update from facebook)

Image source : Blackberry cool


Dean Bubley has a nice post on this subject as well to which I agree. See Why developers need to take responsibility and create more network-aware applications

Conferences I am speaking/ attending ..

CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando

CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando

M-days – at Messe Frankfurt

ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

Mobile World Congress – Barcelona

MCTA 2001 – Berlin

Humanity+ UK – London

online banners and mobile phone interactivity – this is unique ..

Truly unique and innovative ..

Gol Airlines – Mobile Check in from AlmapBBDO Internet on Vimeo.