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Is Big Data in reality only a hyperbole?

Posted in Big Data, Semantic Media and Web, Semantic Web by Manas Ganguly on September 29, 2013

The World Economic Forum (WEF) calls it “the new oil” and “a new asset class”. The vast loads of data have been likened to transformative innovations like the steam locomotive, electricity grids, steel, air-conditioning and the radio.

Big Data

There were 30 billion gigabytes of video, e-mails, Web transactions and business-to-business analytics in 2005. The total is expected to reach more than 20 times that figure in 2013, according to Cisco. Cisco estimates that in 2012, some 2 trillion minutes of video alone traversed the internet every month.

What is sometimes referred to as the internet’s first wave — from the 1990s until around 2005 — brought completely new services like e-mail, the Web, online search and eventually broadband. The next one – connected the world into social grids giving people identity and voice. For its next act, the industry has pinned its hopes, and its colossal public relations machine, on the power of Big Data itself to supercharge the economy. Some call it Web 3.0, some call it Big Data.

Is Big Data pure hyperbole….

There is just one tiny problem: the economy is, at best, in the doldrums and has stayed there during the latest surge in Web traffic. The rate of productivity growth, whose steady rise from the 1970s well into the 2000s has been credited to earlier phases in the computer and internet revolutions, has actually fallen. The overall economic trends are complex, but an argument could be made that the slowdown began around 2005 — just when Big Data began to make its appearance.

All that promise of Big Data or even Social web hasn’t exactly fired the economic engines of the world as they were expected to. The promise is real – so why would such a disturbing trend start building – One theory holds that the Big Data industry is thriving more by cannibalising existing businesses than by creating fundamentally new opportunities. Online companies often eat up traditional advertising, media, music and retailing businesses, said Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the University of Minnesota. “One falls, one rises — it’s pretty clear the digital kind is a substitute to the physical kind,” he said. “So it would be crazy to count the whole rise in digital as a net addition to the economy.”

… or are these early days?

Other economists believe that Big Data’s economic punch is just a few years away, as engineers trained in data manipulation make their way through college and as data-driven start-ups begin hiring. And, of course, the recession could be masking the impact of the data revolution in ways economists don’t yet grasp. Still, some suspect that in the end our current framework for understanding Big Data and “the cloud” could be a mirage.

There is no disputing that a wide spectrum of businesses are now using huge amounts of data as part of their everyday business.

Josh Marks (CEO masFlight) helps airlines use enormous data sets to reduce fuel consumption and improve overall performance.Although his first mission is to help clients compete with other airlines for customers, Marks believes that efficiencies like those his company is chasing should eventually expand the global economy. For now, though, he acknowledges that most of the raw data flowing across the Web has limited economic value: far more useful is specialised data in the hands of analysts with a deep understanding of specific industries.

Some economists argue that it is often difficult to estimate the true value of new technologies, and that Big Data may already be delivering benefits that are uncounted in official economic statistics.

Also, infrastructure investments often take years to pay off in a big way, said Shane Greenstein, economist at Northwestern University. He cited high-speed internet connections laid down in the late 1990s that have driven profits only recently. But he noted that in contrast to internet’s first wave, which created services like the Web and e-mail, the impact of the second wave — the Big Data revolution — is harder to discern above the noise of broader economic activity.

… reproduced from Will big data prove to be an economic big dud?

The “Like” economy and Google

Posted in Internet and Search, Semantic Media and Web by Manas Ganguly on April 15, 2012

Internet in general has stood for one philosophy: Creative destruction of standards (Brittanica for instance) and the wisdom of crowds (Wikipedia amongst others).However, Google has been one constant through out last decade of Internet which can hence be referred to as largely iconoclastic.

Google with its venerated search algorithim and its links has reigned supreme throughout the last decade of Internet. But now, as we go from a Web 2.0 to a Web 3.0 economy, even the once invulnerable Google might be in trouble. With real identities generating enormous amounts of data, the linked and sponsored economy of Internet is now migrating to the “like” economy… or +1 as Google would have it.

The dramatic shift from traditional search to social media was underlined last week in a speech by Tanya Corduroy the London Guardian’s director for digital development. Eighteen months ago, Corduroy revealed, search made up 40% of the Guardian’s traffic and social only made up 2%. Last month, however, she acknowledged a “seismic shift” in the Guardian’s referral traffic, with Facebook driving more traffic than Google and making up more than 30% of the newspaper’s referrals.

In the wake of Facebook and Twitter dominated social spaces, Google hasn’t quite been just the spectator. In fact, Google now has 4 products that it has tried to rope in the “social” space – Buzz, wave, Google+ and now Search plus your world (SPYW). Each of these are evolution of how Google is trying to make the shift from the search algorithim to the social and collective criteria. Google has also made headway into 170 million customers through the G+ (as against 900 million in Facebook), but the fact that the average user spends a total of 3.3 minutes on Google+ is testimony of the fact that Google still has some distnace to cover.

The concern here is that in trying to catch up with “social” Google seems to be violating its own matra of “Do no evil”. Google’s announcement this January, that it intended to consolidate personal data across its different products and services — from Gmail to YouTube to Google + to SPYW to Google maps to traditional search – had one concerned technology writer suggest that Google will now know more about us than our wives.

As a fact, Google is as evil or as bonafide as any other company or organzation in this world, but there is a good reason to fear Google’s bloodlust for user data across it properties.Afterall, Google’s business model remains primarily the sale of advertising around its free consumer products. Thus, Google’s desire to intimately know us is primarily driven by its core business objective of — one way or the other – selling that knowledge to advertisers.

This threat was laid out chillingly by the Center for Digital Democracy in a complaint about its new privacy policy to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC): “In particular, Google fails to inform its users that the new privacy regime is based on its own business imperatives: To address competition from Facebook, to grow its capacity to finely profile and target through audience buying; to collect, integrate, and utilize a user’s information in order to expand its social media, social search, and mobile marketing activities …”. A number of governments and other citizen agancies are increasingly wary of Google. Antitrust litigations against Google is on the rise. FCC, WhiteHouse, EU have taken exception to Google’s privacy policies.

While its still early, 2012 looks to be the year when Google fortunes could begin to wane.With a global outburst against its privacy policies, anti-trust litigations piling up and decline in public trust, Google looks far from dominating the “like” economy like the way it dominated the “link” economy.

An infographic explaining the evolution and changes in Google’s search algorthim over time. Such tweaks and changes have helped Google stay ahead in the Linked internet economy.

Image Ckurtesy: Outrider

Web 3.0 is here! (And we don’t see it yet!)

Posted in Uncategorized by Manas Ganguly on December 11, 2011

Web 3.0 is here in earnest except that many understand it yet much less seeing it. The equation is akin to the discovery of Web 2.0 which happened in 2006-2008 although it had started earlier in 2002-04 era. Many people did not realize what Web 2.0 was until they were at the height of it. However in all earnestness, capabilities of the Social Web had already been set out years before the peak.

In a very similar manner, Web 3.0 powered by semantic and meta-data is establishing its roots thick and fast and the current businesses are oblivious to its disruptive capabilities. As Internet outgrows search, Semantic is the new key for information search, personalization and delivery all rolled up into a contextual format. A few are investing into understanding and preparation for the onslaught of Web3.0 (Schema.Org by Yahoo, Google and Facebook for instance) and the technologies there-of (HTML5). Also known as Semantic web, the technology promises to transform the web into an ultimately connected experience in which a machine has as much awareness of the content as a human.This is equally if not more significant to the social revolution of web 2.0.

The evolution of Web3.0 is contingent on the technology pervasiveness on three fronts: Use Case, Technology and User Experience.Here is how Semantic Web/Web 3.0 is impacting the three fronts:

Use Cases, Technology evolution and a better user experience- These are the three cornerstones for technology impact and reach. Web 3.0 already qualifies overwhelmingly on this count and its only a case of crossing the chasm sooner or later on Geoffrey Moore’s Timing to market entry paradigm.

Putting it all together, the potential is there for a much larger wave of technological and cultural innovation now, than at the beginning of Web 2.0. Not only is this significant enough to be compared to Web 2.0; its bigger!

Also read
Semantic Web: Internet beyond Search and Social
Semantic Media: Future Happening
Defining the Semantic Web

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Semantic Media: Future Happening

Posted in Semantic Media and Web by Manas Ganguly on May 26, 2011

Continued from an earlier post on Defining Semantic Web.

Mobile marketing as is and would still be the tip of a greater phenomenon that at this point of time, i would call Semantic Marketing Media, an extension of the concept Semantic Web, or Web 3.0, which is currently a nascent and “in concept phenomena”.

Mobile Marketing is a larger concept in comparison to Mobile advertisements and Mobile promotions. While both Mobile advertisements and Promotions are deal based, the key for the success of Mobile Marketing will be engaging the consumers and powering branded experiences around user journeys. User Journeys could at this point be defined as Consumer initiated transactions between himself and the company to satisfy any of the following needs: Discovery, Awareness, Experience, Engagement, Context, Transaction, Conversations and Profiles. This is defined as Semantic Media. The ability of mobiles to power such experiences are critical to context and profile based user targeting. The convergence of devices and platforms and technologies enable a whole system of technologies which can target relevant users contextually and enable them to talk to the brand, transact with the brand at different touch-points and in different locational contexts as well as different platforms.

Semantic Media would be the Media 4.0 after Mass Media, Internet Democracy and Social Media. The Internet Democracy and Social Media would also be Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 contemporaries. Semantic Media will be the contemporary of the “Internet of Things”, Web 3.0 thereby getting its name: Semantic i.e Metadata aware Media.

Continued here

Defining the Semantic Web

Posted in Semantic Media and Web by Manas Ganguly on May 22, 2011

Semantic Web was defined by Tim Berners-Lee, the father of World Wide Web. He defines the Semantic Web as “a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines.” It extends the network of hyperlinked human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they are related to each other, enabling automated agents to access the Web more intelligently and perform tasks on behalf of users. Many of the technologies proposed by the Semantic Web already exist and are used in various contexts, particularly those dealing with information that encompasses a limited and defined domain, and where sharing data is a common necessity.

The main purpose of the Semantic Web is driving the evolution of the current Web by allowing users to use it to its full potential, thus allowing them to find, share, and combine information more easily. However, machines cannot accomplish all of these tasks without human direction, because web pages are designed to be read by people, not machines. The semantic web is a vision of information that can be interpreted by machines, so machines can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web. The Semantic Web is regarded as an integrator across different content, information applications and systems

Tim Berners-Lee on Semantic Web
I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.

Graphic:The Evolution of Web

Semantic Web in daily usage is referred to as Web 3.0 to express the third generation capabilities of Web in categorizing, indexing and sorting information. With proliferation of data networks prompting a healthy data habit delivered through multiple platforms (Social platforms, Web, TV, Mobiles, Applications and more) and devices ( Smartphones, Feature Phones, Smart TVs, MIDs, Gaming Consoles, Tablets), Web 3.0 will be a great experience generator for customized and relevant consumer experiences.

The ability of the web to analyze meta data will be great for profile focussed, context relevant ads being served. Thus the key features of Semantic Media would be
1. Me-onomy: User is the brand.
2. Active and always on
3. Context and profile aware
4. Presence across platforms and device categories

Semantic Media with its Meta data and WWW-language capabilities could have various interpretation from Web 3.0, Marketing 4.0, Advertisement 3.0, Engagement 3.0, Entertainment 3.0 and more. Semantic Media thus is future that is waiting to happen. Currently in its nascent concept stage, Semantic Media will see threshold by 2015 and go through the roof by 2020.

To be continued

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Semantic Web: The Future is here!

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on April 7, 2011

Web 2.0 interposes the social domain over Web 1.0 (Plain internet: email, websites and others). It seeks to profile a consumer basis different demographic indices and make “intelligent” recommendations.

Web 3.0 will interpose lot of other things (loosely defined as context) along with Web 2.0. One important dimension that will be added to Web 3.0 is mobility and “active” nature. Active means that the Web reaches out to me basis contextually profiled information (As against “passive” where users access internet). Applications that transcend across TV, Web, Mobile, Car Screen and more will be the feature of Web 3.0 also called Semantic web. The focus in Web 3.0 will shift from data and information indexing to personal profiles and context. Thus while Web 1.0 was a well indexed library of resources, Web 2.0 is social indexing of information and resources, Web 3.0 or Semantic Web will be an “intelligent web” that learns and profiles the user and then steps up relevant information to the user as per the context.

Context here will be decided by a combination of engines: Location Based Engines,HTML5, LAYAR, Recommendations, Profiling, Scanners, Sensors and a host of other engines which will personalize the web according to user behaviour.

Computing in its next avatar will be more about media consumption. I would call it “my Media, everywhere”. Thats where Applications, Cloud Computing, High speed networks, NUIs (Like Kinect) and APIs will hold the sway. Thus the future is Semantic web, always on, always connected, always aware of the context and hence user-relevant at all times.

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