IBM SmartCamp KickStart London, 5th October 2012

If you are interested in Smart cities, here is another event in London early October. I may be attending and happy to speak.

IBM SmartCamp KickStart London, 5th October 2012

What is SmartCamp?
SmartCamp is an exclusive global program bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and experienced mentors who want to build a Smarter Planet. SmartCamp provides access to world-class advisors plus a direct route to seed and venture capital.
What is Smarter Planet?
We are now moving into a world where we’re getting to an Internet of things and devices and increasing instrumentation. We have an overwhelming amount of data that companies have to deal with. And that’s another reality in a smart world – the need for new insight, new analytics, new intelligence to deal with this explosion of data. That’s another angle in a smart world where IBM can help companies.

IDC Global Entrepreneur & SmartCamps Review.pdf




anniversary of matthias Rust’s flight ..

Today is the anniversary of Matthias Rust’s flight. Amazing how one person can make a difference.


Governments and Standards


The UK government has launched a consultation on Open Standards. Having been involved for more than a decade in discussions around ‘Open’ – mainly from a Telco perspective – my views are more complex. Here, I elaborate them. Firstly, since Oct 2011, I have had an ethics statement HERE which gives you an idea of my views and ethos. You should read them to understand more about me.


I am addressing this consultation narrowly from the perspective of two specific questions based on my experience:

a)      Should governments get in the business of mandating specific standards – (Open or not)?

b)      Should such a definition exclude Telecoms from the scope (i.e. create an artificial dichotomy separating web standards and non web standards)


Here are seven reasons elaborating my thinking

a)      Listening to people no matter how they choose to communicate:The UK government consultation admits that there is no specific definition of Open standards – but still seeks to create some form of selection process/ hierarchy for standards. I like the idea of Open standards and understand their benefits – but the libertarian in me does not agree to governments mandating specific standards – because the primary function of governments is to ‘listen to people’ in the many languages that people may choose to communicate. In other words, whatever the intentions, if a government mandates that they will use a specific standard (open standard or not) – they send the message that they will choose to selectively listen to people based on that standard. This goes contrary to the primary function of government –to engage and to interact with people. Thus, governments cannot tell people what standards to use when they communicate with them. If you extrapolate this to its natural extreme, this gets worse in case of a national emergency – ex the Japanese tsunami – when it is vital for governments to engage and listen.  So, a government cannot say in that case that it will choose to engage only through Open standards.

b)      Exclusion of telecoms in a post PC world: By many standards, we are already close to a ‘post PC’ world and to a world dominated by mobile devices. Recently, the usability guru Jakob Nielsen caused a controversy by his advice related to mobile. The OECD has published a long set of guidelines for m-government. It focusses on services. Ultimately, citizens will benefit from responsive governments. M-Government – Mobile Technologies for Responsive Governments and Connected Societies. So, in this context, it is perplexing to see why the Open standards consultation specifically excludes mobile. In the world of mobile, the standards ecosystem is much more complex and the world of standards and IPR coexists.

c)      Ignoring the boundaries between Open standards and open source: The boundaries between Open standards and open source are now more complex. Open standards and Open source are both designed to create a level playing field for players and to essentially shift innovation to higher levels. Originally, the two worlds of Open source and open standards were separate. Today, the two are more interconnected. For instance, the apache license incorporates IPR. Open source licenses have implications for standards.

d)     Governments should not get into the politics of Open standards: Open standards have a certain commercial / political maneuverings behind the scenes.  The old ‘transmission systems and light bulbs’ analogy is often used i.e. in the initial stages, there were many types of transmission systems. Over time, they harmonized – then innovation shifted to creating types of light bulbs – i.e. to higher levels of the stack. Thus, one man’s ‘open standard’ is another man’s business model. We see this with content vs. devices – i.e. device makers want content to be free so that people buy more devices etc. These commercial dynamics play out over and over again in different domains. However, it is not the remit of governments to choose sides one way or the other in this regard.

e)      Good intentions – wrong motivations: Governments have the best intentions – but the wrong motivations. For example, recently I heard a government official say that the biggest motivation for ‘Open data’ was ‘cost reduction’. In other words, the idea was supposedly – all these developers were going to create applications for citizens and save the government money .. I had some news for him .. Good developers are in very high demand. They are probably building iPhone apps – and making a lot of money! Why would they want to ‘work’ on Open data applications for free? This did not make any sense to me. Thus, ‘Open data’ is a noble intention – getting people to work for free is not ..

f)       Embedding:  What happens if a closed standard document is embedded in an open standard document? Many such hybrid use cases exist because the meaning of a ‘document’ has changed.


g)      Hardware is becoming like software and cannot be separated: Just like the dichotomy between documents and telecoms is contrived, the differentiation between software and hardware is blurring. Here are three examples

1)      Hardware acceleration for JavaScript is the next frontier in the browser wars.

2)       In a curious twist of treating hardware like software (perpetual beta), the Raspberry Pi team did not seek CE marking — a certification that ensures the manufacturer has complied with European regulations – because it believed the single-board computer was not a “finished end product” and did not require the certification.   $35 Raspberry Pi Linux PC delayed once

3)      We now have open source hardware – of which I am a fan – such as Arduino

h)      Be like the USA/CIA – be pragmatic: U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors. Presumably, the ‘toolkit’ includes whatever works (twitter,facebook,GSM etc) – no artificial dichotomies/hierarchies here.

So, to conclude:

a)     The consultation is overly simplified. It is not possible to separate ‘software and telecoms’ and also ‘software and hardware’.

b)      Governments are not in the business of setting standards – they are in the business of engaging with people.  I like the idea of Open standards and understand their benefits – but the libertarian in me does not agree to governments mandating specific standards – because the primary function of governments is to ‘listen to people’ in the many languages that people may choose to communicate.

c)       Similarly, governments need to appreciate the politics of open standards – it is not a simplistic ‘motherhood and apple pie’ discussion

d)      Many forms of licensing, mix of open source and open standards with permissive licensing like Apache will co-exist

There is wonderful statement attributed to Napoleon – where Napoleon says: ‘All my generals are ready and able to fight the LAST war’. This discussion reminds me of that statement. We ignore the forthcoming complexity by focusing attention on past ecosystems.



Vintage Steve Jobs – very insightful .. and transhumanist – amplifying human ability

“Man is a toolmaker, has the ability to make a tool to amplify the amount of inherent ability that he has…what we are doing is building tools that amplify a human ability…the industrial revolution was an amplification of a human ability, sweat…What we are working towards now is the ability to amplify another human ability and we are just starting to get glimmerings of where it is going to go.”

‎”… founded on one princpiple … one person, one computer … one to one relationship …”

- Steve Jobs (1980)

Apps for smart cities site live – Intelligent places + Data + Mobile apps + Community + Services = City as a platform

Only one week to go .. free for developers

 Apps for Smart cities

The strapline says it all -

Intelligent places + Data + Mobile apps + Community + Services = City as a platform

apps for smart cities


Technology predictions/trends 2012






Pdf download HERE 

I am an outsider to the Telecoms industry. Even today, the ethos of ‘OpenGardens’ and its implications are alien to many in the industry. However, the transformation of whole industries – and indeed whole economies – continues rapidly as the Web and the Mobile ecosystems converge. And this is the domain I have monitored over the last decade …

So, where will the combined ecosystem evolve in 2012?

Having worked with governments, global companies and start-ups to understand the changing value proposition over the years, here are some of my thoughts. I hope you find them useful for your work

Before that, some background to my analysis:

-       I do not conduct a ‘survey/collated results’ because I believe that the industry is aligned to the status quo. To see truly disruptive changes, you have to look at uncomfortable questions from an NPOV (neutral point of view) perspective which the industry often ignores

-       With the rise of the iPhone, prediction for a given year has become easier. The iPhone has simply taken existing technologies and integrated them very well at a device level to provide the customer with a great user experience. For example, consider Siri. Siri is powered by Nuance technology which has been around for a while but was not integrated well by any of the handset vendors (prior to Siri). So, by that logic, what will the latest version of the iPhone bring later in 2012? Cnet has a good set of features and probabilities of deployment. By this token, the winners are Biometrics, NFC and LTE and I broadly agree with this. This means, when Apple will deploy these features, the rest of the industry will take notice and deploy the same technology it as is happening with Siri- like features on Android

-       Hence, the real question is: Who else could orchestrate the ecosystem effectively like the iPhone managed to do by involving both developers and consumers? The two candidates I can think of are: Microsoft who has been getting some great reviews for their windows phones and Amazon with strategies like Kindle fire and  of course Google with Android.

-  My analysis is not purely ‘mobile’ related. It covers related areas ex tech policy

-  Finally, any prediction has to be considered within the focus (and limitations!) of the author. So, I am emphasising areas like Open systems, Mobile, Smart cities, tech policy and others which I am familiar with.

2011 trends which will play out in greater detail

Some trends which we saw in 2011 will continue to play out in 2012

  • The patent wars worsen
  • Hybrid apps with HTML5 will be the norm
  • We will see the rebirth of the music business with the spotify model
  • More ‘springs’ motivated by the Arab spring – all driven by social media
  • Privacy
  • Operator consolidation
  • NFC – more for interactions than for transactions because the secure element discussion is yet to be resolved at a mass market level. Transactions need credentials to be stored on the device in a ‘secure element’ which can be accessed by third parties. There are three ways to do this – the SIM card, secure memory or embedded within the chipset.  These three techniques do not have a common API for third party developers albeit some efforts are under way in that direction through the Sim alliance open API). Hence, NFC will be first used for interactions(tap on a product to get extra information etc – and over time, some of those interactions will be transactions)
  • Augmented reality is making some great strides as Hilel’s blog shows

So, here are my top predictions/trends for 2012:

1)       What if you called a bandwidth crunch and no one came? AKA have you ever seen a bandwidth crunch in Boise Idaho?

 2)       The decline, fall and potential rebirth of SMS in a world dominated by Smart phones

 3)       Will we see a compromise on SOPA?

 4)       Why Facebook will make an impact beyond advertising in 2012

 5) and the business model of unbundling the set top box: I have been tracking the rise of for some time .. and it could be truly disruptive. Gigaom explains the context and says that the set-top box could be a stealth weapon. Unbundling – decoupling the set-top box could be a powerful concept.  It is also relatively easy for other providers/countries to also do the same i.e. decouple the set top box from the network and provide connectivity services by including Nano cells/femtocells etc

6)       The perfect storm driving the uptake of Smart cities : Relating to my work on the advisory board of the Word Smart Capital Initiative  - Amsterdam, in the recession, many local governments all over the world will adopt the idea of smart cities. Smart cities reflect ‘Internet of things’ in action. There are three drivers to Smart cities: the Smart home, the smart building and mobile devices. However, the biggest driver for Smart cities could well be Smart data and the enabling of people to ‘add intelligence’ to locations and objects –ex the tweeting cat door , the live blogging catAdruiono etc.  This is a perfect storm of many elements: Cheap sensors , open source hardware and software, Sensors in mobile devices, networked homes and most importantly, Open data. For instance, the European Commission has launched an open data strategy  and here in the UK, professor Nigel Shadbolt will lead an “Open Data Institute” with Tim Berners-Lee.  This is the perfect storm driving Smart cities. See my presentation at the Oxford University on Apps for Smart cities

7)       Tech policy issues impact mainstream computing because they effect both cloud computing and the Internet:  Cloud computing is everywhere – but the technology is not the only issue now for CIOS. SOPA, the Patriot act and other regulations are now taking center stage. Privacy, identity and cybersecurity dominated tech policy headlines coming.  The U.S. government’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace addressed key issues around creating an “identity ecosystem online.”, the eG8 showed that online innovation and freedom of expression still need strong defenders. We covered this in the policy bloggers network – Fostering trust in the Cloud in the face of law enforcement access to data and IGF – Nairobi : voices from the blogosphere and beyond

8)       Social media ‘inside’ like ‘Intel inside’ – TV finally becomes a ‘social’ platform: Social media is fast becoming ‘embedded’ i.e. ‘Social media inside’ (just like Intel inside ). The value of Social media is not in itself but rather as a component of other services. This will have the greatest impact on TV this year. Already, we can login via facebook or twitter, we can logon using spotify on virgin (i.e. listen to spotify on virgin media) etc. Social media recommendations via TV,  co-viewing apps (tablet apps used to watch with TV) etc all are becoming mainstream. A year ago. Western Europe suffered its first Q1 drop  in TV sales ever and now Smartphones, tablets are edging out television sets on buyers list-Accenture. So, this year, TV will finally become a social platform – despite some resistance from the traditional TV purists.

9)        Transhumanism: I have been interested in transhumanism like many in the technology industry specifically my latest book  - Meditation in the age of facebook and twitter – this trend of ‘augmenting human capability through technology’ is being picked up by more mainstream companies – IBM says mind reading is no longer a science


Here are some of the events I am speaking at in Jan and the near future: If you are there, happy to meet up:

-      Attending as an observer/invitee Driving the Digital single market – House of Lords – Westminster

-       Speaking at The Digital media forum Dubai – the first event of its kind in the middle east bringing together media, mobility and technology – Jan 25, 26

-       Keynote at “Exclusive Mobile VIP-Night” – Central Munich. An invite only event of leading innovators in the Munich area where I discuss some of the predictions for 2012. If you are interested in getting an invite, please email Frank Stepan at [email protected]

-    keynote at    Consciousness, media and technology conference in London co-organised by my good friend Dr Ornella Corazza

-    The transatlantic policy network event in Washington

-       Finally, as of this week, I have been invited to be on the Scientific Advisory Board member for the BIT Annual world conference at Dalian – China (known for its technology and IT industry research) and I am looking forward to attending and speaking at this event

Image source:  The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the North America’s oldest publication – famous in the US for its (not necessarily accurate) long-range weather predictions.


As usual, comments and feedback welcome

Kind rgds

Ajit ajit.jaokar at 

Pdf download HERE 

My presentation at forumoxford – Apps for smart cities

If you have an interesting idea for an app for Smart cities, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at for the Apps for smart cities event Amsterdam – 28 to 30 march

Beautiful Apple commercial that never aired – Here’s to the crazy ones ..

Steve Jobs – Design is not how things looks but rather how things work

Saw this video at @rww – its excellent and in 2 mins gives a very insightful view: Steve Jobs – Design is not how things looks but rather how things work

RIP Steve jobs

Steve Jobs Inspirational Quotes
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