Dots, camera, mirror. Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fate2012/15544805688/
Business 2.0, Sustainability

A (financially) sustainable internet of things (pt. 2)

I “grew up on the internet” during an era when open source and ideas like the Creative Commons were just the “way things were done”. There were often warnings from key influencers like Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer, Doc Searls and others about the threats impending on this ethos and our rights as citizens of the internet. I hold these values pretty dear to my heart.

So I’m finding it challenging to reconcile the conundrum relating to internet of things business models that revolve around the data collected.

While the IoT ideas I am experimenting with may never come to market (I did say “early experiments” in my last post, right?), I am thinking about business models etc. If, as I’ve argued previously, the return on investment rationale doesn’t stack up for energy monitoring devices in an apartment/small-space living context, one thought is that it would be advantageous to cross-subsidise the costs through other means. For example, to provide the device at close to cost (or less than cost, possibly even free) and generating revenue through “other means.” Those other means are likely to involve some way of leveraging the data you have collected. Continue reading

Business 2.0

Google reconsidering China

This is unexpected, positive news from Google (via Web Directions South):

have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The full article hints at the reasons for the change in perspective.

As someone who is committed to a free and open internet, and also was worked with Amnesty International Australia on their “Uncensor” campaign in the lead-up to the 2007 Olympics, I am very heartened and inspired by Google’s decision.

It is also good to know that Google is actively campaigning in Australia to stop the censoring of internet access here.

Social media & networking

Big moves in social media tech

There’s been two big announcements in the world of the social media technology in the past few days.

Google Social Graph API

First came the announcement from Google of the Social Graph API. Ajaxian have a quick code example of what can be done from a technology perspective, and Joshua Porter has two posts looking at the benefits and potential dangers of the API, incl. reference to an excellent (though slightly alarmist, I feel) post from Danah Boyd on the risks, esp. to young people.

I’m on the fence with regards to the dangers. On the one hand I agree with the notion that this information is already public, so shouldn’t be an issue.

But where this argument falls down is that it’s not always obvious when data will be made public – in the past I’ve inadvertently exposed both my mobile number and home address publicly online without realising it – a tool like this may make it easier for unscrupulous individuals to mess with us.

MySpace developer platform

Right on cue, MySpace release the details of their developer API – covered well by Ajaxian.

As the article notes, what’s especially interesting about the API is that they are using the OpenSocial API (which has also just been updated), supported by Google, Ning, Bebo, Plaxo and Six Apart.

I’ve yet to dig into the details of either system, but both announcements are likely to change the social media landscape significantly in the coming months…