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Archive for November, 2008


Website Inflation??

   Posted by: wkossen    in Uncategorized

You might think that title is pretty strange. It’s a new concept as far as I can tell. But it’s true. Let me elaborate a bit…

Getting a website used to be pretty hard. Back in the nineties you would have one or two megabytes of storage on some spooky ftp-server where you could – if you were the tech-savvy type – upload some HTML files and call that a website. Ad some animated gifs and you’re pretty hot. That was then… Now the story is quite different. If you want a website, getting one is simple, low-tech and low-effort (if you want it to be). This also means that the number of websites has grown dramatically. The amount of content has risen to an extend that it’s getting very hard to find what you’re looking for, especially since search engines do not necessarily work any differently than they did in the nineties. A one-keyword search will most probably get you nowhere at all…

The reason there are many websites is obvious. Basically the cost (both in $ as in effort and knowledge) has gone way down. Website inflation is what I call that. It has become overly cheap and simple to put some content online. In the nineties you would be kinda special if you had a website, now you must provide excellent content to be anywhere near special. Content quality must go up, so the value of content as a whole has been dropping steadily. More inflation….

In a previous post I suggested one solution that takes on this problem at it’s cause. If we just want to eradicate the symptoms we would need much better search engines. Engines that understand what we need, use semantics, and better algorithms of prioritizing results. We need Google 2.0. For now we will have to deal with the information overload and consequent website inflation…


Office XML just became Open..

   Posted by: wkossen    in Uncategorized

It happened. Maybe I should say, it finally happened. The Microsoft Office Open XML format has been accepted by ISO as a true Open Standard. You can even get it for free here. This means that this file format has now the same open status as the allready open format ODF, used in Openoffice.org and Sun Staroffice. Let’s see if this is a good thing…

First of all let’s look at the perspective of Microsoft. It’s good to no longer loose against ODF because OpenXML wasn’t open. This means that Microsoft – or rather it’s file formats for it’s Office platform – can now better compete against ODF and the accompanying office-products. It also means that a lot of other developers might start developing tools around this format. Interesting things would be converters between different formats and generators for MSOffice-compatible files. This would help the Microsoft Office user as compatibility issues would be less a problem.

On the other hand, this might be not so good for Microsoft since it’s now much easier to build quality support for the Microsoft Office fileformats in competing Office products. This means that migration becomes less of a hassle and the vendor-lock-in that Microsoft held for over a decade is more or less lost. Just note that a migration means a lot more than just fileformat-incompatibility and conversion issues… It’s still not easy to do!

For the general public this is generally a good thing. It means choice and choice is good. This also applies to corporations and non-profit institutions.

Now what does this mean for the competitors. This is not very clear yet. On the one hand it is now possible to create better compatibility with Microsoft’s File Formats which serves their customers well. On the other hand Microsoft has a competitive advantage (or less of a disadvantage) when it comes to the openness of their platform and fileformats. The future will have to teach us what the outcome will be…

I know that a lot of people have been trying hard to stop the process of standardization of OpenXML. They clearly lost their fight. They now need to move on and accept defeat and start to retake some positions in this new reality. In the end one should wonder if it’s such a bad thing that fileformats that were proprietary now become open. Wether this harms any competition, we will know soon enough. At least it’s interesting to follow the events closely…


Information Overload, The Solution?

   Posted by: wkossen    in Uncategorized

Don’t you agree? There is too much information. Too many websites, too many documents and way to much e-mail. There is just too much information. You know why? There are three simple reasons for this.

1. Information is free to produce,

2. information is hard to get rid of,

3. information is easily copied multiple times.

That’s all there is to it. The solution is allready there in my list. If we want less information we should produce less, copy less and delete more. That’s all. Now that’s easier said than done. Just note that with every character I type in this blog I’m adding information to the pile. Where will it stop?

The real solution is the Document Economy. This is a new concept and I will explain it here. Since information overload makes useing information more tedious and therefor more expensive, the presence of information itself is in fact expensive. So adding to the pile should cost something. That something could then also be earned by removing information from the pile, purging, deleting stuff of plain NOT publishing a document. Let’s asume we create a separate economy based on document credits. Everyone starts with a few credits. He or she can earn credits by cleaning up, and must pay credits for every e-mail, document, blog-item or copy of preexisting information etc. No credits? No new documents. This way step one is taken, an incentive to clean up and also an incentive to not produce more.

The second step would be rewarding information value. The value of a document or e-mail is not that easy to determine. On the internet, websites like Digg.com give you an indication of the value of a webpage. This could be a way to ‘earn’ credits. If you are able to produce good content, you get rewards, which allows you to create more. If you produce lousy content, you just run out of credits and have to ’shut up’. simple ayh?

The third step would be to introduce a very natural proces called decay. If you leave some organic waste lying around, it will slowly disappear all by itself (helped by the odd fungus or bacteria…). Ashes to ashes so to speak. If we were to introduce that concept to our fileservers, mailboxes and the internet, this auto-purge would clean up stuff pretty fast. Naturally we should ‘protect’ good old content….

A few things have to still be resolved. How about document-credit-banking, how about loans, how about marketing of documents, how about ads (note that displaying ads allready costs some credits today!), how about regulations and law, how about taxing of credits, how about environmental law when it comes to polluting the internet, mailboxes or fileservers with document-crap? Should we in fact introduce a pay-per-view system? well, we’ll figure that out later….

I hope you liked this post, don’t hesitate to comment…