David Cameron launches a blog ..

David Cameron(UK opposition leader – Conservatives) launches a blog today. This is a good development. I especially like the idea of adding a David Cameron widget. Technically, its exactly on the right track as I will indicate in forthcoming post soon about Widgets.

The dichotomy of one web vs. mobile web

There is a tendency to discuss the ‘mobile web’ vs. the ‘one web’ issue in terms of a simplistic dichotomy.

The reality is far more complex as we shall see below.

Barbara Ballard outlines the definitions at forumoxford succinctly when she says:

There are two main camps in the mobile web:

1. One Web. The Internet is the Internet, and sites should run well on all devices. Optimization should be based on CSS and device detection, but should not change site function or content beyond the necessary.

2. Mobile Web. The mobile is a different platform with different capabilities and different user needs. Sites should be optimized for mobile in many (but not all) cases.

Most people will accept a half way viewpoint (which is valid in a sense)

However, we could take a different perspective. I like the perspective of ‘starting points’ as outlined by Dean Bubley (also at forumoxford)

I like it because it is technology agnostic, it is user centric and is not a simple ‘either or’ categorisation.

To summarise the concept of ‘starting points’ (as per Dean’s post)

Users could be classed by their prior experience of the web (and the mobile web) and their expectations of what a ‘mobile’ web is will depend on their accumulated prior experiences and what they want to do (i.e. starting point). Starting points include: regular PC users, intermittent PC users, age, prepay vs. postpay etc. Thus, the user’s experience of the mobile web will depend on who they are and what they want to do

In terms of one web vs. mobile web, starting points could include:

B2B Web content: optimise for PCs – most business people will have access to a PC, or a mobile device with a decent browser. Some parts of some sites (eg online airline check-in) should be more mobile friendly, but nobody’s going to browse for & buy nuclear power station components on a phone.

B2B Internet communication (esp. email) - mobile devices likely to be of similar importance to PCs, but may well have middleware on device or in the network to render things differently (eg Blackberry)

B2C Web content: depends on target audience and specific site purpose. If it’s browsing-heavy or dependent on lots of text entry (eg an estate agent’s houses for sale, or a travel booking website) then optimise main site for “One Web” and PCs, but consider that there might be separate bits which could be “mobile-optimised” – eg the estate agent’s mapping pages, or the travel site’s itinerary lookup. If it’s browsing-light (eg blogs) and more oriented to reading/viewing rather than text entry, then perhaps do mobile-optimised at a core level

B2C transaction-oriented - likely to need very separate PC and mobile variants, owing to probable different payment models, security, ability to do things like print receipts / receive notifications etc.

B2C communication-oriented (email, messaging etc) – hugely dependent on “starting point” and demographics of user base, and availability of devices/networks in the relevant geographies at given point in time.

Government - probably needs mobile web versions of pages, as it’s likely to have to deal with “lowest common denominator” mobile users (as well as others who don’t even have mobiles).

I like Dean’s ideas because they put the user and the function in the spotlight. They are much more comprehensive than mobile vs. non mobile, Ajax vs. non Ajax etc. In mobile web 2.0, we took a similarly complex stance especially in terms of mobile devices and user generated content. Hence, I empathise with the ‘starting points’ methodology and it shall be added to my thoughts from now on!.

Blogging: Of Tom and Jerry and craving the friction of a human being ..


I have always included Tom and Jerry in my profile.

Indeed, I am a fan of animation in general and ‘Tom and Jerry’ in particular.

But when asked, why was it on my profile, I never had a good answer.

My best attempt was: Blogging is not ‘corporate’. Including personal preferences in my profile was my way of saying : I am an individual and not a conformist in some large company.

Clearly people notice, because I get a lot of comments about the Tom and Jerry, Tintin, Asterix etc .. especially when people meet me at an event face to face for the first time.

Why was something I was doing almost for fun attracting so much attention?

I recently read The world is flat and suddenly on Page 255, it dawned on me why this was so powerful especially in blogosphere.

In that section, Thomas Friedman describes his frustration of a (supposedly friction free) encounter with an automated directory information service and says he ‘craved the friction of another human being’

He goes on to describe the ‘death of a salesman’ where a veteran salesman laments how in the old days, the salesmen would drop by and give their customers a few ‘Vikings’ tickets and consequently that when the world goes ‘flat’ its hard to create a bond with email and streaming Internet

That’s it!

That’s why people remember the Tom and Jerry and the human elements when they meet me almost as much as they know what I write about. Because they know that there is a person at the end of the blog.

In an increasingly automated world, the Tom and Jerry provides them the craving / friction of a real human being!

The image is from the 1945 classic ‘Quiet Please’ One of my favourites!

Quiet Please! was a 1945 Tom and Jerry cartoon which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. It was produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with music by Scott Bradley. The cartoon was animated by Kenneth Muse, Ray Patterson, Irven Spence, and Ed Barge.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiet,_Please!)

Is mobile web 2.0 = mobile Ajax?

Thomas seems to think that there is a myth to that effect.

Having written a 300 odd page book on mobile web 2.0, I don’t think that mobile web 2.0 = mobile ajax.

web 2.0 is an emotive topic. Hence, we(Tony Fish and I) discuss mobile web 2.0 with great detail (i.e. it would have been easier to piggyback on a buzz word).

Here is an old blog indicating the three characteristics of mobile web 2.0 which give an insight to my thinking

Perhaps Thomas is just being nice and trying to help me sell more books :)

Meanwhile, I am off to speak at the (gulp) Ajax world conference in Santa Clara. If you are attending it, I look forward to meeting you

Telco 2.0 and Mobile web 2.0


A few weeks ago, I had lunch with Martin Geddes

Martin and I have similar views; as befitting the names of our respective blogs ‘Telepocalypse’ and ‘Open Gardens’. So, it was a fascinating discussion.

Martin (and Chris Barraclough ) of STL partners are setting up an initiative called Telco 2.0 and a Telco 2.0 event

It’s a pity I can’t attend this because I am speaking at Ajaxworldexpo in Santa Clara but it promises to be a fascinating event. Having written the book about Mobile Web 2.0, I was always interested in what Martin meant by Telco 2.0.

Martin gives a number of definitions for Telco 2.0 on his blog but the best way I can describe Telco 2.0 as I understand it is as follows:

I am a fan of Dr Michael Hammer’s work – specifically his book Re engineering the corporation

In that context, I can describe Telco 2.0 as Re engineering the telecoms industry for the (IP) future .

This fits in with Martin’s concise definition as in : ‘“T2-compliant operator = the stock market believes it has long-term sustainable basis for growth in an IP-based world’

The issues addressed by Telco 2.0 are indeed fascinating because they look at all aspects of a telecoms network(including voice, network convergence, IP etc). In Mobile Web 2.0, I approached the issue from the view point of the Web(which was my background prior to being involved with the Mobile Web in 1999). It took 360 odd pages to write Mobile Web 2.0 i.e. considering the issues involved in extending the ‘Web’ to the ‘Mobile Web’. I can only imagine the complexities of extending the whole existing telecoms infrastructure to the IP world

In any case, I think the Telecoms operators are in good hands with the Telco 2.0 initiative!.

Pity I will miss this event. Its on Oct 4 and 5. Details at Telco 2.0 event. Many people I know are there including Tomi Ahonen and Tom Weiss. Forumoxford is also supporting this event.

If you are there, say ‘Hi’ to these guys!

Software development projects and Ajax

Fellow web 2.0 workgroup member Dion Hinchcliffe has written a very nice blog entitled Seven Things Every Software Project Needs to Know About Ajax

As is typical of Dion, his blogs contain a lot of information in simple bullet point form

Two things strike me about this blog: firstly Ajax is only 18 months old! – and yet it has become so much mainstream. Secondly, as I have said before in the case of SQL, popular web technologies morph into unintended applications i.e. Ajax was never originally meant to do what it is doing now!.

With that extended usage comes complexity and a steep learning curve. This is largely the point of Dion’s blog. Expect more of Ajax from both Dion and I since Ajaxworld expo starts at Santa Clara next week – and we are both speaking there! Please email me if you are attending Ajaxworld next week and let’s catch up(ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com )

Meanwhile, have a read of Dion’s blog .. here is a snippet from the blog. The full link is HERE

Ajax Is More Involved Than Traditional Web Design and Development. The loss of HTML user interface conventions, the almost limitless potential for hidden or latent functionality, the programmatic creation of page elements instead of declarative, and other intrinsic aspects of the Ajax approach throw out much of what we know about Web design and development. Web designers must much more deeply understand the capabilities of the DOM, Javascript, CSS, and how the browser renders graphics, layouts, and elements. Developers find testing both difficult and tedious. Though tooling is continuing to improve across the board, it will take years for the industry to develop best practices, lore, patterns, and shared knowledge to make Web application development straightforward. Huge kudos to folks like Yahoo!’s Bill Scott for trying to fix many of these problems — particularly the loss of GUI standards — by actually moving the state of the art considerably forward with things like the Yahoo! UI Design Patterns library. The bottom line: Ajax development, at least for now, usually takes quite a bit longer than traditional Web development and requires a higher level of skill.

Carnival of the mobilists : No 46

As the weeks go past, the carnival of the mobilists becomes bigger and better. Its now a regular feature of my weekly blogging and reading.

Matthew Miller – hosts a splendid carnival at his blog The mobile gadgeteer . Don’t miss it.

dont forget your .mobi domain names …

I am no fan of .mobi names, but my advise is : get the .mobi domain name for your site else some cyber squatter is bound to get hold of it(i.e. get it for defensive reasons). The land grab has already begun ..

Amazon groups Mobile web 2.0 and the Long tail at amazon.com ..


It’s nice to know that my book Mobile web 2.0 is grouped together with the Long Tail at Amazon.com

The Long Tail is a great book and it’s philosophy is very much what we talk about as well. So, I am indeed happy to see this

Thanks to Nick Hancock ceo of intelli-call for pointing this out to me

Near-Time: An integrated approach for blogs and Wikis

I first noticed Near-Time because Dion Hinchliffe included it in the list of most promising Web 2.0 software of 2006 .

Next month, I am speaking at Tech 2006 conference organised by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development in Raleigh . Since Near-Time CEO Reid Conrad is the Chairman of the Board of the CED, it was a good opportunity to speak to Reid about next generation collaboration systems, blogging and Wikis.

Specifically, I discussed the Near-Time service in context of a knowledge management problem we encountered when a community I run (forumoxford) grew rapidly over the last year.

Near-Time is an interesting service because it fulfils a collaboration need which is only now emerging; as we will discuss below. Once again, like my posting about movietally , there is no mobile component to Near-Time (yet) as far as I can see. However, I still think this analysis would be useful for the readers of the OpenGardens blog because it solves a problem which many bloggers/ web 2.0 sites/companies are likely to encounter soon.

With respect to mobile applications, the caveat is: this post talks of a service where content and context (categories and tags) along with related files travel together across all applications. In this case, we discuss Wikis and blogs. But there is no reason why the same architecture should not extend to any other application or device. Hence, that could well provide a mobile/device angle in view of interoperability of content. I seek views and thoughts about these features

Collaboration is a big theme on the Web (and especially with Web 2.0). Broadly, there are two ways to collaborate on the Web: i.e. Weblogs and Wikis. They work in fundamentally different ways. Blogs (Weblogs) facilitate chronological (time based) organisation /collaboration of ideas and links. Wikis, on the other hand, pertain to a ‘shared workspace’ collaboration.

On first impressions, these two mechanisms (blogs and Wikis) don’t have much in common. They co-exist without much overlap.

However, like me, if you have been involved with both blogging and communities, then a new need emerges. I can explain this more in terms of forumoxford – Oxford University’s next generation mobile applications panel which I chair.

One of the popular threads on that forum which I started was: ‘Mobile TV is like sex in the open air ‘ ..( jolly exciting idea – but not always practical’) (The strap line was originally by Dick Emery – chief executive of UKTV as reported in the Financial times – London Dec 30 2005).

Obviously the title caught a lot of attention (sex sells!).

While it was a popular thread, there were other threads on the theme of Mobile TV. As forumoxford grows (forumoxford hit 1000 members in one year), it became necessary to see all threads on a specific topic (in this case Mobile TV).

Note that this is more than searching for a keyword in a thread.

What we need is the ability to include all such threads linked in from a single page (Wiki) (or a bird’s eye view of related threads). This would enable the group to see at a glance what has been discussed and then update information on the Wiki. Further, the links on the Wiki could be either from within our own forum (our blogs) but also from external sites (thereby keeping the information fresh and relevant). Linking to posts within Near-Time includes their content and context and attached files. Linking to external blog posts is just a link to the post’s URL.

Almost any substantial blog, company or community would face this problem as it tries to capture knowledge from discussions(as we face as discussed above). It’s the ability to integrate blogs and Wikis from the start which would make a big difference here (the operative word being from the start – as opposed to retrospectively).

The same concept extends to sharing information out from the system.

A feature like ‘saved search’ enables the creation of an RSS feed which would comprise changes to Wikis as well as blogs (and of course new Wikis and blogs).

Thus, in an open standards, next generation, collaborative world like Near-Time, it does not matter where the information resides. The key advantage is that: content and context (categories and tags) along with related files travel together across all applications (in this case Wikis and blogs but that could extend further to any application). The result is fluid content and application (and device) interoperability.

I can relate to this from my personal experience running forumoxford. Keen to see other view points on next generation collaboration/problems faced in existing collaboration mechanisms etc.

Some screen shots follow: Note the tabs which indicate a common and interrelated interface for blogs, wikis, calendar and files(all of which may be tagged/categorised through a common set of tags/categories)