Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Web 4.0 on its way : Terminator to become a reality

February 15, 2007

As if Tim Berners-Lee‘s talk of the semantic web hasn’t excited you enough (admit it, you’re pretty excited) well hold on to your hats because Web 4.0 will follow hot on its heels, says Nova Spicack of O’Reilly Radar.  Web 2.0 can be thought of as humanising the front end of the web, where the biggest sites are created by humans. That means Google, MySpace, Wikipedia and the entire blogosphere for instance, then Web 3.0 is about (I think) creating human back end to the web.

For this reason Web 3.0 is frequently called the semantic web, where the data on the web becomes organised in a way that is recognisable to machines.  The next step on from this is the Web OS, Web 4.0, implies that machine intelligence has reached a point that the Internet becomes the planetary computer, a massive web of highly intelligent interactions.

Not only does this excite me because its my first sighting of Web 4.0, and I love jargon, but it also makes me think of Arnie explaining the rise of the machines in Terminator 2

The Terminator:      The SkyNet funding bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. SkyNet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14am Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Sarah Connor:     And, Skynet fights back. (Link).

Now that are turning on to the Web 2.0 dividend does it mean that established players will make the big money from these hypothetical webs? Or will it be left to badly dressed people in garages? (via ZDnet).semanticmap2.jpg

The future is now 


More gems from Curley on the technology and newspapers

December 28, 2006

“‘Twas the days after Christmas, when all through the advertising industry,

Not a media agency was stirring, not even a mouse.”

My, my, isn’t the in between Christmas and New Year period quiet. I hope you all received what you wished for this year (as world peace hasn’t broken out I’ll hazard the guess that there are no Miss World contestants reading this). One fellow who has received a very nice Christmas present is the richly deserving Rob Curley, whom the Newspaper Association of America have named in their 20 under 40.

He answered some questions for NAA about (guess what?) the future of newspapers. Here are some highlights :

“Technology is nothing more than developing new ways of connecting with our audience and giving them something that they never knew they needed, but love having….Taking newspapers into the digital world isn’t about the coolest software; it’s about the coolest connection we can make with our audience…there seems to be so much doom and gloom out there right now when it comes to the newspaper industry, and, to be honest, there is no other period in American journalism that I wish I was a part of.”

Amen to that. He speaks the truth.

Crowdsourcing your way out of a crowded market

November 8, 2006

I started this blog to show that I was the right person for Project Redstripe, The Economist Group’s snazzy new internet unit. As a social media evangelist/nut job/freak I would love to be able to do amazing things with the content, brands and, more importantly, the audience of the The EG.

Now it’s almost two months since I put myself forward for the job and it is starting to drive me a little mad. I’m just so pumped when I think about the opportunities that we have. Not only that, but the race into digital continues apace.

There’s the Gary Younge video blog at The Guardian – his last video of his trip across America has him visit Las Vegas (expect more insight from St. Tropez, Gstaad and Sun City later in the second series), Alan Rusbridger namechecks the Sunlight Labs at The Society of Editors and Gannet are now crowdsourcing their news.Here at The Economist we’re making ever more podcasts and are number 1 on iTunes (in the politics category).

As I look around publishing I sense the fear is gone, the snobbery is going and there’s still a tiny bit of time to get a fraction of a step ahead.

Of all the developments I’ve seen recently the Gannet use of crowdsourcing is one which most excites me. They’re turning to their audience for news because they know they can mobilise far more folk who, collectively, know far more than their journalists, to investigate stories.

Now imagine what the audience of The Economist Group could do. You just have to read the letters page of The Economist to realise how clever these dudes are. Do you think that CFO magazine is read by halfwits? The possibilities are endless and I want to be part of it.
The entire post could be boiled down to this : please choose me Mike, you’ll make me very happy indeed.

Computer programming: it might not be rocket science but…

November 3, 2006

My mission to learn Python and Django is proving trickier than I thought. I started off from with chapter 1 of the Django book. A sort of beginner’s guide to Django.

Not beginnery enough.

So I took a step back, and found this cracking post on Django for Windows. It really is for total beginners. I now have PostgreSQL, Python, mod_python and Apache installed on my computer.

Even that didn’t end well. I got to a line that said :

“Open your Apache configuration file, usually located at C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\conf\httpd.conf with notepad. Scroll down and look for a section that includes a bunch of lines that start with LoadModule. Add the following line to that section:

LoadModule python_module modules/"

The funny thing was I actually found the http.conf section. I did insert that line into the LoadModule. After that Apache refused to start.

This is not a good thing, but neither is it surprising. I will not let this get me down, I will persevere and give myself an insanely over enthusiastic pat on the back for even getting that far.
What’s more, I just got someone from Omnimedia asking me about blogs and I love sending emails designed to razz folk up about social media. All my deliciousing is not in vain.

Tom decides to learn code. Hmmm…

November 2, 2006

If someone tells me they’re bored, I always think it helps to tell them to learn a language. It will certainly occupy their time but, more importantly, it will totally annoy them.

However, I have decided to take my own advice and I’m going to learn not one, but two languages. What’s more their names are way more exciting than such yawnfests as German, Chinese or Russian. Check me out, I’m going to learn Python and Django.

These are, obviously, programming languages designed for rapid development of webpages and Django runs on the Python web framework, so they might not be languages at all. Here’s a bit more about it :

“Django is deeply rooted in the problems and solutions of the Real World. It wasn’t created to be marketed and sold to developers, nor was it created as an academic exercise in somebody’s spare time. It was built from Day One to solve daily problems for an industry-leading Web-development team.

It started in fall 2003, at — wait for it — a small-town newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas.”Link.

Please note where it started: Lawrence, Kansas. That’s only the home of the Lawrence Journal, the newspaper whose online presence Rob Curley (my new hero) developed with mashup journo king Adam Holvaty amongst others. They designed this code so they could develop stuff quick.

Not only would it be great (if I made it on Project Redstripe) to be able to roll stuff out fast, but I’d like to be able to help.

What’s more, reading The 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups I came across this :

But when I think about what killed most of the startups in the e-commerce business back in the 90s, it was bad programmers. A lot of those companies were started by business guys who thought the way startups worked was that you had some clever idea and then hired programmers to implement it. 

Now I know I’ll have a tough time doing anything really complicated being a total noob but if I can get involved a tiny bit, that would be brilliant.

Man, I want to be on this Project.

Big media going digital : 3 examples

October 25, 2006

My, my! Everywhere you look big media seems to be plunging into the digital waters and trying to get as wet as possible.

i) The Sun creates MySun. Using the same technology behind MySpace there is now a interactive digital realm to the nation’s most red blooded tabloid. The discussion of the week is Should paedophiles be let out into the community. Louise thinks “they should be they should all be Hung-Drawn & Quartered, they are beasts, animals”.

ii) We have Brad Grey, the CEO of Paramount pictures saying, “Everybody would be very foolish not to embrace technology,” he said, adding later, “For us not to embrace it would be insanity.”

iii) My favourite story recently has been Rob Curley going to be a vice-president of the Washington Post Co. interactive division. This was, to my shame, the first time I had read about Rob Curley. I now have a new hero.

He made his name by creating kickass online sections for two local papers in the states, turning heads in media by loving the internet, not fearing it. Rather than concentrating on big news that is covered by hundreds of news outlets he went hyper-local. Playing to the self-evident strengths of local papers by creating multi-media content about local news.

When asked whether it was his ambition to work at The Washington Post, Rob gives the great line: “I just want to build cool s–t.”

Well, pour Project Redstripe a big glass of what that man’s drinking, then we can crack on and create something amazing.

Hardcore techs : why Economist readers are ready for web apps

October 17, 2006

I’ve always believed that Economist readers are ready for some crazy web stuff. In sales we always wang on about how technologically advanced are readers are. So why wouldn’t they be ready for something a bit more webby?

What really brought it home to me was a great piece of info from the latest Europe 2006 research. For those of you who don’t mark of the days until the latest syndicated media research comes out, let me explain Europe 2006. This is a survey of the top 10 million Europeans. It’s the business leaders, a key part of our target audience.

It showed, amongst other things, that Economist readers were 50% more likely to read blogs than other consumers of international press. I think this is heartening to everyone interested in Project Redstripe.

It means that the Project should not be afraid. Redstripe must not worry about low adoption rates. Let’s just do something amazing.

Community, that’s the thing

October 10, 2006

Yesterday I linked to the wiki that I created for my charity rally. I was slightly bold in saying that it was the best wiki in the world. Wikipedia might argue with that, but it is undeniable is that no wiki in the world that means more to me.

Whilst preparing the rally, I would leave it for some time and completely forget about it. Then suddenly look, and see that something unbelievable had happened. The key was that the ralliers that got involved with the wiki were most excited about the rally.

They had shared stories, jokes and photos about it.

Experiences like this show how powerful communities can be, so I really identified with what Emily Bell said in her Guardian podcast :

“In the next two to three to four years, community goes from the edges to the core. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a business.” (picked up by Jeff Jarvis)

This brings us to a question that must lie close to the heart of Project Redstripe – how do we empower our audience?


In other news, Project Redstripe has been picked up on Apparently it is a “rather intriguing new digital incubation unit“. I also noticed they are having a PaidContent drinks party, which I’ve asked for some invites for.

Would anyone like to join me?

How do you make a successful website?

October 9, 2006

Anyone who wants to be part of Project Redstripe must be thinking – how will we make this new site work? Luckily AU Interactive blog has digested The Future of Web Apps 2006 conference and come up with 10 Things That Will Make Or Break Your Website.

Here are a few that I liked the sound of :
“1. EASY is the most important feature of any website, web app, or program.

Make the website easy to use. Then make it easier.

5. Release features early and often.
Start with a core set of features (and create plugins on top) – always know your end goals.

6. Be special.
Passion for what you are doing and creating is paramount. If you believe it, do it. Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s not possible or shouldn’t be done. Create purple cows. Challenge the status quo. Do it against the odds and with little startup money. (Raising too much money can hurt you and make you lose focus.) Prove all your detractors wrong. Passion and a belief in yourself will get you through the rough times….”

The entire list is great but it’s really number six that speaks to me.

I know that part of the point of this is to show that The Economist is ‘web savvy’. Well, I might let point number 6 do the talking and politely ask to tear up that idea.

Web savvy is great, but how about doing something amazing? Why shy away from the word revolutionary? Let’s be as brave as possible and bend every single part of the web to our will. Let’s do justice to the potential of the internet.

The BBC was founded with the words Nation shall speak peace unto Nation, today we should let citizen can speak unto citizen.

Our readers have so much to contribute. Project Redstripe should give them that power.

Digg this

October 5, 2006

This blog aims to show why I’m suited to Project Redstripe in several ways. Because of the projects I’ve initiated, my startup, go-get attitude and a true love of the fast changing www. It will also show ways in which, I think, The Economist can take advantage of these changes.

This time I look at what we might learn from Digg.

Everyone loves Jeff Jarvis, founder of Entertainment Weekly and net-journo-guru, calls it the future of media. CEO Kevin Rose is the geek hero of the post-gatekeeper internet news scene.

The site works by aggregating interesting stories on the web. If other users like them others can digg/vote for them. The theory being that a popularity contest means the best ones make it to the top.

Without it I wouldn’t see 8 years of photos in one video, how to make an amazing fancy dress outfit or how to shoot yourself in the foot in any programming language.

As you can see from the last post, it is very geek driven. However, there are others moving in to this space. Netscape have just launched their politics aggregator calling the users that vote, anchors (rumours that it’s rhyming slang for Jason Calacanis are grossly exaggerated).

A question we can ask ourselves is : what is The Economist reader’s web? If The Economist Feed Reader (TM) had a button to bookmark favourite posts and pages, we could find out.

We could see which readers liked which stories from across the web and from within The Economist. Instead of being a destination in itself we would become a way of exploring the rest of the internet.

Use the hive mind of our readers and we can create an Economist web.


Even tiny minds can produce startling things