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Better to be safe than Sony October 17, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Hardware, Internet.
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The last few weeks have featured one technology disaster story after another and two of the big ones involved Sony – no stranger to controversy after their Playstation network was hacked earlier this year and the personal payment details of about 77m users were compromised.

Even worse, none of the data was encrypted – a basic error for a company with so much personal data.

Their latest woes surround the recall of around 1.6m televisions because of a fire risk, more of a smoking set than smoking gun. The incidents are clearly not connected, but it is causing immense damage to the brand itself, once the very measure of global quality and expertise in electronic products.

And if Sony are feeling the heat then think of how the executive team of Research in Motion are feeling. The makers of the Blackberry smartphones are recoiling from the pain of tens of millions of their users losing all Internet access (including email) for several days last week.

Blackberry has been suffering for the past few years anyway. The traditional corporate users have been switching to iPhone and Android handsets and the brand has failed to resonate as ‘cool’ with the young. Couple this gentle descent with the recent outage and they might be facing a tailspin – certainly in confidence if not in actual user numbers yet.

Most users – personal or corporate – are locked into contracts, but at the contract expiry they are free to explore other options and this could be extremely damaging for the company in a year or so.

The old expression about capitalism coined by Marx was that ‘creative destruction’ ensures that older ways of doing things get destroyed by the new. We always expect new innovative companies to come along and shake up the world of technology, but when the giants of technology start shaking the ground through their own mistakes and errors many would suggest that they deserve to suffer.
Broken TV


What is Web 3.0? July 22, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Internet, Outsourcing, Software.
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The Internet continues to evolve at a frenetic pace. Back in the nineties, having a website meant little more than a series of static pages that used hyper-links to allow the reader to click between pages.

Web 2.0 changed all that. Websites became based on dynamic data, so different readers might see different pages, based on their own profile. Your Facebook profile is a good example – endlessly changing whenever you update it or load new content such as photos. It became normal for readers to also become contributors.

Now the tech world is talking of Web 3.0, even as many in the enterprise are yet to fully take advantage of the dynamic information flow of Web 2.0.

But Web 3.0 is not really here just yet. It revolves around how information can be better linked through concepts such as the semantic web. In short, there will be a point at which the systems are publishing information automatically and tagging or linking the data to existing information. Like Web 2.0, but with the computers doing much of the publishing and linking for us.

The clear advantages of this are obvious. We are drowning in a sea of information at present. Just search Google for ‘John Smith’ and hundreds of millions of possible results come up. If your own name is ‘John Smith’ and the search system had some way of linking data that relates to the correct ‘John Smith’ then search suddenly becomes far more intelligent.

Given the amount of content now being created it is becoming essential for the systems to help connect the dots. For example, the video site YouTube gets 35 hours of new video uploaded by users every single minute. How can we make sense of this vast sea of data if it has no context?

The downside of relying on the technology is that machines make mistakes. Only time will tell how laws designed for a previous era might handle cases related to an automated system linking millions of pieces of data, where some of those links are erroneous and create a knock-on effect that invalidates other data.

It’s a problem we have yet to encounter, but this world is just around the corner not decades away.