What The World Did Not Learn From Twitter

140 characters. Enforcing a limit like that on what you can say, enforces thought, efficiency and better communication for a much stronger impact than a verbose equivalent. That is one thing we did not learn from Twitter – why can’t we apply that to so many other communications and domains? For example, reviews, feedbacks, sales calls, marketing messages, product overviews …. why have we not shortened all these things?

Constraints breed innovation. That it applies to communication is (now) a no-brainer. We had written about this before – The One Understated Benefit Of Twitter’s 140-Characters Limit.

And yes, we could have said all of this in 140 characters :-)

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Wait A Minute. Apple Has No Data

We spotted this statement today (we could not locate the link – apologies) – ‘Apple Has No Data’ and it registered immediately. Partly because in the relative scheme of things, this statement is so true. In a world that tracks what you see, click, like and buy, being the tech giant it is, Apple has no data. Not even in Music – Spotify knows your music preferences more than Apple does, probably.

Data is the currency of the future. If that is true, it is time for Apple to maybe move some of its resources into some huge data collection effort (disguised, like everyone else, as some social stuff or something like that). Crucial junctures demand big decisions. Remember Why Calling Steve Jobs ‘Lucky’ Would Be A Sin?

Wake Up, Apple. People are using your devices to send data to everyone else’s servers. Those bits are the dollars of the future. Maybe that is what Wall Street is telling you: “Wait A Minute. Apple Has No Data”

(Image Source: Norebbo)

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Meet India’s Uber: Autowale.in

What cabs are to the US, auto-rickshaws are to India. So India’s Uber is definitely not Uber – it is Autowale.in.

“As citizens that relied on finding an auto-rickshaw on time, locating a driver that was willing to take them to their destination without having to argue over fares especially during the night or non-peak times, they learned there were thousands of dissatisfied commuters that like themselves faced problems with getting a rickshaw when they needed one.

On researching the situation further and conducting some in-depth surveys, they not only found what annoys customers the most but also learnt the auto-rickshaw drivers were unhappy about not being able to find enough customers, find stability in their earnings and more.

Turning a problem into an opportunity Mukesh and Janardhan set to work brain storming on how they could use technology, communications, IT systems and services that could bridge the gap between commuters and rickshaw drivers.

Meet India’s Uber: Autowale.in

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Paul Graham Vs Albert Einstein

Paul Graham:

“Empirically, the way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things. Want to dominate microcomputer software? Start by writing a Basic interpreter for a machine with a few thousand users. Want to make the universal web site? Start by building a site for Harvard undergrads to stalk one another.

Empirically, it’s not just for other people that you need to start small. You need to for your own sake. Neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg knew at first how big their companies were going to get. All they knew was that they were onto something. Maybe it’s a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it’s going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you’ll get it wrong.”

Summary: Find the tiny thing that turns into the giant idea. Find the dinosaur egg (Source)

Albert Einstein:

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.” —Albert Einstein (Source)

‘Building a site for Harvard undergrads to stalk one another’ does not fit Einstein’s description, obviously.

Maybe research and business are two different things, after all?

(Image Credit: Choosetoawaken)

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A New Heuristic For Startup Ideas

We have discussed about heuristics for startup ideas earlier – we spotted a new heuristic today.

Sometimes, you will see that users of some popular product/service are “inventing” new uses for existing features, to help them achieve something that they need. When that happens, it is a clear indication that a product/service that does just that “newly invented” piece potentially has a solid number of users right off the gate.

Let us take some examples: real time status updates – users were trying to use offline messages in messenger services – “stepping out for lunch” – an indication that a real time status update service was needed (the company that solved that would be worth a cool 10 billion dollars tomorrow). Foursquare and check-ins are another example.

We do have two examples that are open right now – Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) is probably a good standalone service. And the fact that Pinterest is used to pin things that are not really pinnable – there are many services waiting to be tapped there.

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Make a Mental Model of Your Domain

As you spend more time in any given vertical, your mind forms a model of how things work in your vertical. This is extremely valuable – nothing can really substitute this model. It has so many unquantifiable elements, that it is mathematically not possible to replicate the model even with the most comprehensive set of inputs.

Make a conscious effort to develop and nurture this model. Over time, it would turn into an intelligent information processing engine with solid predictive capabilities – something that you can use to test your hypotheses and concepts. It would tell you where the inefficiencies are, and what solutions could possibly work.

The most successful people in any domain are not competing with each other. Their models are competing with each other. If you think about it, that is why ‘The Daily’ failed. The models need to be nurtured and adapted, in real-time if you are in the information domain.

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The New Normal: A probabilistic data-driven life

Here is a trend we cannot run away from – very soon most of our decisions would be data driven. If you think that is already the case, you are mistaken. Today, data plays an important role in our decisions, but does not drive our decisions. And most data is incomplete in multiple ways and our gut feel fills in for all the inaccuracies and gaps. But that is changing – and very rapidly as well. Fairly soon, the smartphone and the data that it could bring up would drive our decisions.

That famous example of deciding between which route to pick on the way back from office – decisions like that would soon be decided by “what is the probability that if I pick Route A, I would reach faster” rather than by your gut feel, or incomplete traffic data. That’s the new world. Get used to it.

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Serendipity Is A Trillion Dollar Idea

Jason Calacanis has a very inspiring interview of Brian Wong (founder of Kiip.me) that is a good watch – check it out if you haven’t already.

When describing the exact ‘moment’ when he got the idea to capture ‘moments’ in smartphone games, Brian makes a reference to Dan Ariely’s wonderful book Predictably Irrational – and the whole idea of how humans respond favorably to incentives with an element of serendipity built-in.

There are many examples already of how this specific behavioral pattern has been tapped into – Stumbleupon comes to mind. But that is just the tip of the iceberg – remember the spark created by ChatRoulette? That is another example. Kiip.me is an obvious example as well – there is a part of the human mind that responds very favorably to Serendipity. It is an idea that is centuries old – but is just getting killed in this age of big data.

In the early days of the Internet, people spent hours chatting with strangers in online chatrooms – they were exhibiting behavior that sounded unreasonable – it was essentially just a proof of this peculiar behavioral pattern. While there have been many attempts to tap into this, this is an area that has not been explored thoroughly yet.

Serendipity is a trillion dollar idea. And by definition, it will remain a huge opportunity forever.

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It’s The Year 2200

It’s The Year 2200. That guy in a hoodie – well, that’s the guy everyone calls ‘The New Zuckerberg’ – he is the root for ThoughtStream {deb97e15-v47c-449f-b1b0-4d55247d153k}, which, at an acceleration of 20k streams per millisecond squared, is on its way to be the youngest ThoughStream to be part of CoreStreams. Wow. In just a month after birth!

No – wait. Don’t try blinking. Blinking at spots on screens/walls/doors is in the past – as an interface technology, that one is nearing its death now. Remember – we used to touch (yes, that’s right – touch, with our fingers, really!) screens to interface with superphones (yes, that’s what they were called back in 2100. Turns out, centuries back, the ‘phone’ was a voice -only device). Crazy days those, MarsConnect was so slow, you had to ‘touch’ your superphone, and then wait for more than a minute to see someone! My grandmother says that there were these things called ‘apps’ those days, and .. can you believe it – none of them could understand anything other than voice and touch! To top it all, they tried these funny things called gestures – that required you to – can you believe this – move parts of your body to communicate with machines!

I agree with you – the pace of human-machine interface improvements has been stunning, specifically this last five years. I mean, can you believe that thought-driven interfaces started appearing only in 2195? Who would have thought back then, that blink would be gone in five years? In fact, TheOracle (funny, it was called Google or something like that until some 50 years back) introduced ThoughtSearch only two years back.

I know what you are thinking. I have no answer for that. If you find out, let me know.

(Readers, in case you know the answer, let us know – we are thinking “The Only Thing that Has Not Changed In The Last 194 Years Is The UI For Hacker News. When Will It Change?”)

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Seriously, Shouldn’t Facebook Be Paying Us?

In a meeting with financial analysts a few years back, then Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked a very simple (given the audience) question: “Why should I see advertisements on Google” for which he responded with this: “See – all the services that you use for free – we need to pay for those servers and the people who maintain those – so we show you ads” – someone must have followed that up with a discussion on gross margins and cutting down ads in half to improve user experience but luckily for Eric, nobody went there.

Facebook is on a roll these days – just look at their numbers. But here is a simple question for Facebook: agreed, you give us all that wonderful, fast, efficient ways to connect and share, but given the fact that we are the product that you are selling – shouldn’t you be paying us some share of all those millions? Think about it this way: Wikipedia doesn’t make a killing using my content – although they could – I see them ask for Money once in a while – agreed, my content on Facebook is not useful to the world and hence it is not an apples to apples comparison, but what is being sold – what brings people to Facebook – is actually people’s own content.

Google helps us search for needles in a haystack. We don’t mind being the product. But there are a zillion ways for us to connect and share stuff – Shouldn’t Facebook Be Paying Us for choosing their bar?

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