My favourite transhumanist star trek episode – errand of mercy

What is your favourite star trek episode?

There are many discussions on favourite star trek episodes but my favourite episode (even when I first saw it as a child), is Errand of Mercy, an episode which has particular resonance in times of conflict.

Errand of mercy is about a placid, docile race of people (called Organians) which captain kirk and Mr spock attempt to sway towards their side when at war with the Klingons. The Organians are frustratingly placid .. but it turns out that they are not humanoid but have evolved far beyond the body to be pure energy.

This transhumanist vision of ultimate human evolution as pure energy was appealing to me even as a child and remains an interest with meditation as a transhumanist technology

image source: trekmovie

webinos – the vision explained in a simple video

I have been a part of the Webinos consortium and this simple video encapsulates a (very complex) vision. Feedback welcome

Note that the significance of webinos lies using the WEB (widgets) for interconnecting platforms

Book – Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by captain Chesley Sullenberger

I highly recommend this book  ..

Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by captain Chesley Sullenberger

This is the biography of the pilot who landed the plane on the hudson river with no loss of life.

It is more about the man himself and his ethos rather than the incident which is also covered ..

Since watching that incident, I have been always interested in the mindset, upbringing and rationale of Captain Sullenberger.

I know someone who decommissioned nuclear reactors and also read about a submarine pilot. ie these jobs require a very specific temperatement which we could all learn from ..

Amazon has some amazing reviews about Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by captain Chesley Sullenberger which give you a lot more about this book ..

but it is truly inspiring ..

ha ha Google adsense thinks my blog is about gardening ..

I was curious to see the below!! Started in 2005, with about 1700 posts and widely recognised in telecoms as the opposite of ‘walled gardens’ (which has nothing to do with ‘gardening’), Google adsense displays the below :) these guys should ask for a refund from Google! and adsense should know better by now :)

Zeewe – the world’s first third party HTML5 appstore?

I was chairing Mobile Web and Mobile apps yesterday at CTIA and we had a presentation/panel about a new (maybe even the first?) HTML5 appstore called Zeewe from Fabricio Bloisi CEO of the Brazilian company Movile.  Although I was very tied up due to the chairman role at Mobile Web and Apps, I am always interested in the evolution of HTML5.

What exactly is an ‘HTML5 appstore’?

Essentially, it is a way to package and deploy rich web apps and create a commercial ecosystem around it through a billing provider.

‘HTML5’ is a moving goal post as well know but at least some of the components are stable  and they apply to apps – for instance richer UI, offline storage etc. To that, if you add billing, you create an ecosystem aka a web based appstore.

All the pieces exist but have not been put together  coherently before and this could also apply to both feature phones and smart phones on any device which has a mobile browser

Hence, the strategy is interesting

In 2 weeks of the beta version, the Zeewe store already reached 100,000 visitors – of which 10,000 installed and used the Apps daily. Billing is done through the micropayment provider Mozca

Zeewe is currently available on iPhone, iPad, Android and iPod

I like the focus on HTML5 rather than the current third party appstores which combine many technologies

I will follow this in more detail when I get back online after CTIA

History is on the side of people of Libya because ideas and networks know no boundaries

I always wanted to do this post ..  It is also a part of a forthcoming book .. Comments welcome

History is on the side of people of Libya because ideas and networks know no boundaries. Which means Gadaffi and others like him can never win no matter how many military gains they make .. Here’s why …

Hierarchies and networks

What exactly is a network? And why are networks so special?

Networks are all around us. But their effects are less well because  in our daily lives, we are used to hierarchies; for example, in the organization of offices and institutions, we still see hierarchical structures. Hierarchies are the opposite of networks. While hierarchies will not be replaced by networks in all cases, but  already, through the Internet, we are seeing networks assert their strength in many aspects of Life. Networks have a subtle but disruptive impact. Global warming is a good example of a network level change. Here, by ‘network level change’, we mean that events leading to global warming are interconnected, but their impact is felt only over a long period of time and is felt separately from the change that triggers it. For instance, you cannot know by how much exactly the ozone layer will change for every plastic bag that you fail to recycle, but most people would agree that the environment is impacted  for every such plastic bag that ends up on the ocean floor.

On first impression, networks are not special in any way. A network is simply a collection of links between units (also called nodes). Networks exist at multiple levels: global, societal (country), group (office), and individual.

Every unit within a network can be seen as a closed system. Closed systems interact in predetermined ways.

When a network connects more than two closed systems, their interaction is no longer predetermined.

This could be seen as ‘opening up’ the system. The system has now gone from a closed system to an open system. Open systems interact in unknown, radical ways. All closed systems have a natural propensity to find new connections which cause them to ‘open up’.

What happens when networks open up and how do networks evolve?

But what happens when systems open up? That is, how do networks evolve? This is a complex question.

You can study the propensity of a system to change in two ways: as a biological system or as a mathematical system. From a biological perspective, a system evolves to survive and to grow. First there is an initial interaction. From that interaction comes variation―the system changes and adapts. Over time, there is selection and retention―the best qualities are adopted and retained. This approach is basically along the lines of Darwin’s natural selection theories.

From a mathematical perspective, networks evolve by creating order out of chaos. How does order appear in a network? Without going into the mathematics, all parts of the system appear to communicate with all other parts purely by local interactions.

In general, a system comprises a set of interacting or independent entities that form an integrated whole.[1] When we speak of a system, we also define a boundary―the external context within which the system exists. Entities within a system interact with one another (within the boundaries of the system) but can also interact with entities from outside the system’s boundaries. An open system[2] continuously interacts with its environment. In doing so, it evolves and grows based on external input. In contrast, a closed system does not get external feedback and does not evolve. Breakdown of hierarchies are related to networks and open systems, which lead to connections, and more connections lead to more social interactions and to a “step change” in the body of knowledge.

Clustering: More than connecting friends – An amplification of ideas

When left to themselves, networks have a tendency to “cluster” because two elements connected to a common third element are more likely to establish links among themselves, leading to clusters. This leads to phenomena like six degrees of separation. “Six degrees of separation…refers to the idea that everyone is [at most] six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of ‘a friend of a friend’ statements can be made…to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.”[3] Thus, networks can potentially connect friends, and these human factors offer a bigger reason for the success of social networks.

But networks do more than ‘connecting friends’, networks propagate and amplify ideas. Places that lie at the crossroads are a hub of new ideas simply because they ‘connect people’.  Consider the case of the ancient mummies found in the Tarim Basin. The Tarim Basin[4] is located in the far western region of China. Surrounded by inhospitable mountains and deserts, the Tarim basin is a vast, arid micro-continent and may have been one of the last places in Asia to be inhabited because its aridity required that technology for water transport and storage be developed before people could live there. However, ancient DNA from mummies found there suggests that a culturally rich and interrelated population of Western, Eurasian, and Asian people had lived here since the early Bronze Age. If this region was so arid and inhospitable, why did people choose to live there, intermingle and thrive in such a hostile environment? Despite its bleakness, the proximity of the Tarim basin to the ancient Silk Road was the main reason for its cultural development. Thus, living at a crossroads is good for the creation of new ideas no matter how hostile  the surroundings.

With networks, we no longer need geographical hubs – we have social hubs and these social hubs are far more fluid, dynamic, global and disruptive to control by dictators like Gadaffi

So, why are networks important?

Simply because networks lead to Open systems. Open Systems lead to a breakdown of hierarchy and this impacts society broadly.  In a world in which hierarchies break down, we see  a phase of creative destruction which manifests itself in the liberalization of society.

The liberalization of society – The cultural impact of networks and social networks

The rise of networks and the liberalization of society go together. As networks proliferate, society becomes more liberal. Because ideas and networks know no boundaries and they have a tendency to open up closed ecosystems, their effects are global. The flow of information and connections breaks down hierarchies and questions the blind following of authority. As connections are formed globally and contradictory views are shared and discussed, we will question many forms of authority and structure in society that we have taken for granted in the past for instance, governance, religion, Identity(to which groups we affiliate ourselves and the creation of a global identity) and spirituality. Thus, networks have a disruptive effect. They topple existing frameworks most of which are based on existing hierarchies . In many cases, existing frameworks and hierarchies are often a result of an older power struggle that has played out, and the results of which are now  maintained often through force. Networks disrupt that status quo.

In this sense, networks can be good for humanity and we will see networks bring about even more creative destruction in future. The relationship is symbiotic. The more we use networks and grow, the more the network is enriched.

Dictators and guns will go the way of the Dodo ..

Why this matters – The creation of a global Identity

Why this matters? – I would very much urge you to listen to this brief, poignant recording from ‘Sara’ in Libya. Most people in free societies can relate to this young woman …  and that’s why liberalization of societies and evolution of networks matter at a human level. – We’re not living like humans I would even go so far as to say that the empathy and support at individual levels through social networks is far more significant than that from governments and that over time, as we relate to people like Sara and networks connect us, a new global Identity will emerge ..

With no colonels!

Image source: The rebel flag of Libya and also  Step by step: make your own flag to support a free Libya!

The ideas in this post are a part of a forthcoming book. Comments welcome


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_system_(systems_theory)

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarim_Basin

Begun the mobile commerce wars have – RIM and operators clash over m-payments data ..

Report: RIM and operators clash over m-payment data

The shape of things to come and as Yoda would say: Begun the mobile commerce wars have :) !!

I live the statement from the Bell Canada ..

However, Almis Ledas, a VP of Mobility Corporate Development at Bell Canada, said that “we expect some closed operating-system vendors will probably try to build into the handset. RIM and Apple fall into that
category.”

Interesting Operators are now calling RIM and Apple closed!!  :)

as per link above
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that RIM is “locking horns” with
operators over control of data related to m-commerce services, in what
was described as “an example of the battles erupting as smartphones
evolve into electronic wallets.” The issue is centred on the
“credentials” which would normally be held in the magnetic strip or
chip of a credit card, which would be used to link to customer
accounts when a purchase is made. According to the report, the
operators want to encrypt and store the data in the SIM card, while
RIM wants the credential stored in a secure part of the handset. The
reason for the conflict is clear: if the data is stored in the SIM
card, it can be transferred seamlessly between devices, whereas if it
is stored in the handset, customers are tied to a specific device –
shifting the balance of power between operator and handset maker.

Also see an excellent blog from CEO on this issue Mobility 2011: The Year of NFC


Mobile World Congress – Ten under the radar trends you may have missed ..

A bit delayed but I hope this post about Mobile World Congress will highlight some trends I see in the industry but not widely reported yet

Here are ten hidden trends at the Mobile World Congress IMHO. Many of these ideas come to me in meetings and discussions with people and companies and where possible, I have tried to include names. Some of these may be blogs in the future which I will try and link here

At MWC, there is always so much to do and as with a few times previously, I was a speaker at MWC chairing the panel on the future of WAC , which was excellent.

Image – courtesy of @Katrin Jordan with thanks

1)    Will enterprise appstores avoid the fate of enterprise 2.0? This idea came to me speaking with Mobileiron. I have been somewhat familiar with the Enterprise 2.0 paradigm but in my view, E20 never realised it’s full potential due to the cultural issues. The technology was there(Enterprise blogs, Enterprise Wikis and other collaboration tools) but the culture of sharing and transparency was missing from most organizations. Thus, we saw implementations of software like Socialtext but I am not sure how many companies are really using Enterprise collaboration to it’s full potential (considering that many of the functions of  E20 can also be done by other means such as Lotus Notes). Now, we see enterprise appstores, which was the product / service for Mobile Iron and once again I see a familiar pattern. Employees want to create and share their own apps. Can they? Or will corporate culture stifle communications? Can this extend to mobile and can mobile be truly used within the enterprise as it is in the consumer space? Maybe a separate follow on blog

2)  Transparent DPI (deep packet inspection) – I thought of this in discussions with tekelec. DPI is deemed to be ‘bad’ but many in the industry are implementing DPI techniques in one way or the other. Would more transparency help here? Probably the subject of another blog

3) Tablet virtualization: The Viewsonic ViewPad 10 Pro runs virtualized Android on top of Windows. This was not their ‘latest’ model and the Viewsonic person did not emphasise virtualization as much but the idea is fascinating ie the ability to run virtualised Android on top of Windows and what it could mean for the ecosystems (ex Android Marketplace)

4) The home cloud, HQME, DLNA, tablets, connected TV  etc – now a separate blog HQME – and the future of mobile content delivered at home

5)  Network APIs: We have been speaking about network APIs for a while, but finally, as Victor Hugo says, its an idea whose time has come. This was one of the topics of my discussion on the panel I chaired on the future of WAC. For more about my views on this topic see Could facebook be responsible for high roaming bills

6) The ‘baggage/anti-premium’ of B2B – Back in the dying days of the dotcom era, everyone was keen to be seen a ‘B2B’ and not ‘B2C’. Today, with Apple, there is a reversal especially if you are able to execute a consumer strategy. So much so, that a relatively pure B2B player like Cisco on Feb. 10 shed 15% of its market value and During the Internet bubble Cisco was briefly the world’s most valuable company, but now it and Microsoft together have a market cap about equal to that of Apple. Which is bizarre in a sense! As a corollary, I think that developers are the most important differentiator ie the ability to create an ecosystem. Ex Cisco has made investments in set top boxes and connected TVs but today, the main players in this space to watch are the consumer tech companies like Apple TV and Google TV and even to some extent Skype(considering Skype is integrated into Samsung and LG TV sets since CES last year) but Cisco is seen as B2B .. I think that’s a wider trend and a wakeup call for the industry. Hardware and software are commodities. The ability to create a platform and to get consumer mindshare matters more. This follows a second curious trend specific to mobile ie mobile is the ONLY  technology that has moved from consumer space to enterprise space. (everything else flows the other way round – ex computing in general so far).

7)  Emerging market business models may be very different from mature markets: I was invited to an event hosted by Huawei devices about their latest tablet launches. There, we had a joint presentation from Huawei, Qualcomm and the leading Filipino Operator Smart The Smart spokesman discussed a model for the Smart netphone(which BTW is the first WAC phone) where ALL email headers would be free to read BUT if you opened the email , you would pay (same also applied to chat ie headlines are free but you pay to open). This is VERY unusual and very unlikely to work in the West  so I watch this space with interest to see how it evolves

8)  The app is not an experience – This was a part of my second panel I spoke on about Mobile apps .. and the insight was ‘apps could be chained together to create an overall experience’ instead of seeing each app as a ‘throwaway’ concept in itself. This is an interesting idea and may have some merits in future

9)  Finally, there could be a case for convergence of TRADE SHOWS! As usual, MWC was a great event and topped 60,000 attendees which is fantastic. But CTIA (in Orlando next week) is very close to SXSW. A tweet from Jeb Brilliant shows the story succinctly .. RT @jebbrilliant: So who’s going to CTIA next week? Anybody? Or did you all go to SXSW instead?

The shows CES, MWC, SWSX,  CTIA and even CEBIT have the same players and the same sponsors .. As the technologies converge, will tradeshows? In that context I was especially happy to see MWC top 60,000 attendees which means that the show has successfully evolved beyond its Telco roots which is critical as mobile becomes pervasive.

10) Webinos: I have been a part of the Webinos consortium and webinos delivered a  draft report on state-of-the-art technologies, open source ecosystems, IPR and governance models. Lots of very useful information on the webinos site which you should download(its all free)

Finally, I was privileged to be invited for my good friend Martin Sauter’s latest book launch From GSM to LTE: An Introduction to Mobile Networks and Mobile Broadband [Hardcover] which as usual I recommend!

Two more concluding thoughts, for the first time, I saw a whole set of smaller Chinese companies, which was nice to see in terms of expanding the ecosystem

And the Droid was everywhere!!

So, I hope you found the analysis useful. Any comments welcome ..

Royal Wootton Bassett

Loyal Wootton Bassett to become Royal Wootton Bassett. Wiltshire town gains rare title in recognition of its honouring of fallen service personnel returning to Britain. No matter what your political views, I think respect for our soldiers is a good thing ..

HQME – and the future of mobile content delivered at home


Gigaom recently had a post about HQME called The Dream of Mobile Content Delivered at HQME. I believe commercially pragmatic innovation occurs in context of ecosystems and the home ecosystem is poised for innovation in a number of ways. Hence, HQME has been on my radar.

Firstly, before we discuss HQME, here is some context ..

The ‘home’ Cloud

In parallel to the much hyped Cloud computing trend, there is another, less vocal movement which I can best describe as ‘keeping content with you, especially in the home’. Cory Doctrow discussed the tradoff between memory and the network and said in  : Not every cloud has a silver lining

It’s inconceivable to me that network access will ever overtake CPU or hard-drive for cost, reliability and performance. Today, you can buy a terabyte of storage for £57. Unless you’re recording hundreds of hours’ worth of telly, you’d be hard-pressed to fill such a drive.

In other words, not all content will be in the cloud at all times.

Video and the impact on the network

Network bandwidth issues have been well publicised and LTE is only part of the solution but not the ultimate solution because the network can scale only so much both for cost and for performance

Thus, networks continue to struggle with news that (via CNN) ATT will soon cap its DSL bandwidth at 150G per month, which is bad news for Netflix . As the CNN article says – Nielsen recently estimated the typical customer is streaming around 11 hours of video from Netflix’s website per month. However, Nielsen’s data is based on PC and laptop usage only and doesn’t include any streams accessed via iPads, Roku set-top boxes, Blu-ray players or any of the other 250 devices Netflix’s streaming service is now available on. These devices have arguably been the biggest driver for the company’s online video growth, and they’re likely to also have a significant impact on many people’s bandwidth consumption.

Furthermore, people have an unlimited capability to communicate digitally .. SMS has demonstrated that trend very well.  So will video (if you consider ‘social media video content’ i.e. video created by users).

Finally, there is the case of http streaming

Apple has proposed HTTP streaming feature as IETF standard to overcome the limitations of the Real time streaming protocol. Even Adobe, which supported its proprietary RTMP protocol finally seems to be supporting http streaming. Thus, considering the above arguments, we have other parallel trends which are gathering pace for storage of content within the home especially NAS – network attached storage and DLNA in conjunction with NAS. All of the above implies that there will be a parallel move to store and deliver content from the home. With the coming of tablets, this need will increase even more.

Which brings us to HQME

HQME

HQME is a standard created by Sandisk, Sony, Softbank, Orange and others to deliver content to handsets via Wi-Fi. While it has always been possible to deliver content to mobile devices via WiFi, HQME adds elements like predictive (intelligent) caching, DRM and others. Ultimately, this is expected to lead to a greater level of experience which could translate to some form of SLA for delivering content over WiFi

So, HQME is interesting because:

-              It could provide a greater experience

-              Tablets could lead to greater content consumption over WiFi

-              Network issues, which have been well publicised

-              Overall momentum in the home ecosystem

-              The momentum of http streaming

Still early days but interesting to see how this ecosystem develops