WEB 3.0 : The new frontier

I am an avid googler and swear by the Wikipedia, but a few days ago I was let down big time by the Google. I was to go to Ooty and was searching for suitable accommodation over there. Can you believe google gave me some 8470 results, out of which I read the first 20 but still couldn't get what I wanted.

Anyways, I decided that these kinda queries should be answered in person and no google should be given the authority to dictate the beds in which I sleep in. However, all the while I was driving to Ooty, one thought kept troubling me. Why can't someone dig all the wealth of information in the blogs and user reviews out there and provide me with a simple choice of no more than 10 hotels/homestays each in a different price range and with the maximum number of favorable reviews in their range?

This question is the ultimate frontier for Internet searching. Providing relevant search results have been the nightmare for all the search algorithm writers for over two decades now. Since the birth of the Internet, people have been collecting data on the cloud. How nice it would be to go through this huge amount of data and come back with the most relevant piece of information.

All this and some more spiked me to do some more googling on such searching and voila! I came up with a new jargon "WEB 3.0". Well, not actually new, I had heard a lot about semantic and vertical searching and have dirtied my hands trying web page - scraping but had never given a serious thought to this so called "natural language searching".

Now, lets take the most basic question : What is, or rather will be, WEB 3.0? Everybody has got his own opinion about what it will be, I also have mine. For me, WEB 3.0 will be a paradigm shift from what we know of the Internet as of today. I mean, 10 years down the line there won't be any website as we see today. What will be is a huge repository of data, which will be essentially user and community generated and we will be able to access the data in whatever format we like and we won't need a conventional computer to do that (anyways PCs will have shrunk to the size of a laser device mounted on our ears which can project images on any surface or play sounds from their ear buds). This data will be rendered in whatever format we like using our previous preferences and could be changed whenever we want to. Hmmm! Quite futuristic huh. Wait for another 10 years sweetheart.

But before we leap 10 years in the time warp, lets think if we can do anything about what we have here today. Maybe, maybe not. Lets break this huge insurmountable problem into somewhat smaller and manageable issues. As we know most of the searches in future will be like :

a. I want to go to a happy place.
b. I would like to read a sad, romantic story.
c. I would like to have delicious, Chinese, home cooked food.

Now all these questions today are answered by searching for keywords from the existing pages. However, we are talking about a search in which the search engine crawls all through the blogs and forums and other community sites and get the reactions of people for the various options possible and then show the results. Whew! That's a huge requirement in itself. Now let us break this into a further smaller problems.

The biggest issue here is how does the search engine understand the emotions portrayed by the web page? Most of the searches can be made easy if the pages can be ranked according to their EQ. To answer this let me ask another question: How do we gauge the emotional state of something we read? Simple! By looking at the keywords which our parents and teachers taught us to identify with certain emotions. Similarly if we keep a data base where in the search engine can refer to and find out the number of sad or happy keywords, then it can gauge the overall emotional state of the page.

So one problem solved. Similarly I will try to tackle different issues as and when I get time and in the end we will have the model of a basic WEB 3.0 search engine.

Oracle Buys Sun

Finally the beleaguered Sun Microsystems has got a suitor. Oracle Corp. has inked a deal to buy struggling server vendor Sun Microsystems for $9.50 per share, representing a 42.0% premium to Sun's closing price of $6.69 on Friday afternoon. This deal is worth $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt.

What does it mean to us as a consumer? Now Oracle will own Sun's Solaris operating system, Java programming language, and servers and storage hardware systems businesses. Integrating its enterprise software products with now added server and Solaris OS it can provide a off-the-shelf ready-to-use product which you can buy, bring to your office, plugin to your network and voila! you are all set to start your applications on your server. These are exciting propositions. Oracle will be the only company with products like this, though IBM has its products on the same lines but the software products of Oracle have a greater demand.

Oracle is predicting that it will generate $2.0 billion in profits for Sun two years after signing the deal, which is expected to be sealed this summer. So it seems to be a very exciting buy after all. Looks like Larry Ellison is going to enhance his riches manifolds. He has taken a bold decision and only time will tell whether it is going to pay.

The Pirate Bay is pirated

Hmmmm... so a Napster happened to the Pirate Bay, though in a new country and by a new Judge. The defendants Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundstrom were all sentenced to one year in jail each and a fine to the tune of $3,620,000 is to be paid by them to the prosecutors. The plaintiffs had demanded over 100 million Crowns as damages!!

Now, coming back to the issue of Piracy, I really don't take sides. I am of the notion that every man who works hard has a right to his creation and sell it at a price he deems to be right. But what about the obscene amounts these entertainment industry guys charge us. Why should I pay for the 20 millions some jackass named Brad Pitt charges these studios? Or for that matter the 20 Crores Akshay Kumar makes for one single movie. Am I as a spectator at fault if I can't shell out the Rs 250 my local friendly PVR charges me for one show? Why won't I go for a cheaper(or shud I say free) version on the Pirate bay, Mininova, Demonoid or Torrentbox? Only if the shows were at a reasonable rate like Rs 50 or perhaps lower than that I would obviously go and watch the movie on a 75 mm screen and not on my measly 17" PC Screen.

Lets take a hypothetical scenario : Movies are available for 1$ each for download from the net, using the same technologies. Will you then go for a pirated version? I won't!! The cost of any ones conscience is always more than a dollar. This is simple economics and I don't know why these guys don't understand this. Why bleed billions of Dollars to new technologies when you can actually earn millions from it? Instead of being steadfast on not lowering the prices, these studio bosses should acknowledge the advent of technologies and smartasses who use them (or abuse them depending on which side you are on) and understand the new demand and supply conditions. Gone are the days when you can only watch new movies in the theater or wait it to be at least 3-4 months older so that your favorite TV channel broadcasts it. With the faster than light broadband speeds the movies are passed on the net even before you can properly spell the cast's names.

The studio bosses should go in for differential pricing, the first three days should be at a premium of not more than $10. Then after the first weekend the prices should come down to $1. They don't have to maintain any servers or the huge bandwidth required by using the P2P distribution systems. All they need to do is to give a authenticated torrent tracker file for a dollar. And they also save money on printing discs and transportation. I sincerely believe this would be a highly profitable model.

And if they don't heed to it then no Pirate Bay can save them. Everyday the technology and browsing speed is increasing in scope. We will have hundreds of new sites giving away these so-called copyrighted stuff for free on the net and they can't sue everyone. Already there are sites which promise IP cloaking for P2P connections. And surprise surprise... Pirate Bay is still up and running. Looks like they are not ruffled. They have safely moved their servers to Netherlands!!

Someone needs to tell them to take a long hard thought at this age old saying "Lets make friends and not enemies".