Fragmentation, Android, Facebook, Crowdsourcing news roundup

May 11, 2010 in Technology

wpid-crowdsourcing-2010-05-11-09-22.jpgMy pre-breakfast news and blog browsing stumbled over a couple of developing trends. Here is a rundown and my thoughts on them.

Fragmentation, Linux, Android
Matt Asay writes “Fragmenting Linux is not the way to beat Apple.”
In this commentary piece Matt draws a comparison between today’s mobile Linux environment and the Unix wars of the 80-ies, and argues that Motorola, Google, HP, Intel, Nokia and others should look at the Linux server playbook. There companies like Red Hat, Canonical, Texas Instruments, IBM and Oracle are “working furiously to build a great core and then competing in the packaging, hardware, etc.”

Matt points out that the fragmentation could resolve itself and see Android dominating the market. Which wouldn’t be dissimilar to those Unix wars from which AIX, Solaris and HP-UX emerged as the main market players (albeit in that case fighting over a shrinking market share against Windows NT).

I agree with Matt that one wonders how many operating system variants these smart phone and other mobile devices really need. Seems like a lot of engineering investment that now can’t be used to compete against iPhone or Blackberry or Windows Mobile.

There is a difference though between the server market and the mobile market that is important here. On the server side each of the companies has direct access to the customer: the stack is already owned. The fight in the mobile market, especially since the introduction of the iPhone, is about who has access to the consumer and who owns the stack. For many years the manufacturers had to be content with a provider role to the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone who owned the relationship with the consumers, the users of the devices. Each of these companies are since working to own more of the software and hardware stack to gain leverage versus the service providers in who can access the consumer: and thus the need to each to have their own OS.

Brian Prentice’s blog entry is wonderful if only for its title: “Android – The best laid open source plans of mice and Google.”
He raises very interesting points on how recent patent saber rattling will impact IP risk assessment in open source projects, how their communities are organized and operate. It deserves a separate blog entry in response. I think though that the likes of Black Duck Software are, ehh, intrigued by the developments.

Android fragmentation really seems the coffee corner discussion topic of the day with more blog writing by Fabrizio Capobianco and GigaOM.

Facebook
Facebook has its own share of press spotlight with senators writing them letters. The topic of this attention: their continuing changing management of users’ privacy.

While I am a heavy user of Facebook and I like how it helps me stay in touch with friends, I am a bit tired of the seemingly weekly changes to the privacy policy. The Like button, the ads’ access to my profile, the sharing of my content with other applications and websites. Every week there appears to be a need to go in to my account settings and making sure I still like what others can find out about me.

Perhaps what irks me the most is that most of these changes are opt-out instead of opt-in. As a community manager myself, I strongly believe you should not expose your inhabitants this way.

The Technically Incorrect blog explores that “delete facebook account” is becoming a top search on Google.

Crowdsourcing
This leads me to the last topic of this post. Social Times posted a great interview with Chelsa Bocci of Kiva where she talks about the value of Facebook and crowdsourcing to the charity. I am a great fan of Kiva and how it allows me to lend support directly to people of my choosing.

By providing direct access to the loan profiles volunteers help edit, review and translate together with the launch of lending teams greatly increases Kiva’s reach from its 40 or so employees.

Chelsa characterizes Kiva as social investment and thus social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter are valuable. However, she alos notes that Facebook and Twitter have greatly improved the brand awareness but that is not yet clear if these social tools have increased the number of lenders. In other words it is hard to establish a conversion rate.

And with respect to our previous topic she also touches on the flip-side of Facebook’s Like-button changes: it’s value to organizations like Kiva.

Kiva.org also loans to the US

Jun 18, 2009 in Life

kiva-logo1.gifFor those unfamiliar with Kiva: Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. It is the world’s first person to person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. I wrote about Kiva before: http://blog.onno.com/?p=74. You should join.

Recently Kiva added the US as a region from where requests for loans can be submitted. I noticed this when I checked into the website a while ago. It surprised me. Upfront this country didn’t appear to me as a target for an organization like Kiva. In Kiva I am a member of the Lotus team. There a discussion started on the merits of this event. This blog entry attempts to capture my thoughts.

Of the eight loans I am currently participating in seven are to the continent of Africa and one to Asia (Cambodia). For entirely subjective reasons I focus on Africa. I feel that this continent almost as a whole is severely challenged in joining in the world economy, provide prosperity to its inhabitants. As said this is entirely subjective, you may well argue otherwise and I may well not have rational, logical arguments to counter you. I am mainly including this here for personal context.

As is correctly mentioned in our team’s discussion, all of us decide for ourselves who we loan to. Thus the short answer to the issue of US loans is: “well then, if you don’t like it don’t put your money there.”

But for me that is not the whole answer.

While I certainly decide for myself who to loan to, I do feel that the course that Kiva itself takes does have influence on how effective and appropriate my, admittedly small, contributions are within that larger scheme. I don’t want to deny that any fellow inhabitant of the US is deserving of support for personal initiative. But it does seem to me that there are many more avenues available to that person than, in my context, a farmer in Cameroon. I do realize that I am in the higher sections of the economy and so I may have more options to pursue my initiatives than average but still almost all of us will have collateral in one form of another that can be used towards securing more traditional funding for our initiatives than are accessible to that farmer in Cameroon.

I just took a quick glance at some of the request for loans from the US. I see amounts of $7450, $10000, $5750 and $9000. I can’t help but grinch when thinking what impact Kiva can have with those amounts in third world countries.

The question for me is does including the US open up the reach of Kiva, bringing in new lenders that otherwise may not have joined? And these having joined will they then also loan to initiatives in third world countries? I don’t know. I hope that the Kiva organization does have the spill-over effect in mind and is strategizing to make it happen as much as possible and evangelize to these loaners the other regions of the world.

At the same time I do not want to dictate to anyone who to or where they should loan to. To me that freedom is one of the key characteristics that caused me to join Kiva. At the same time I am uncertain about the necessity of Kiva’s involvement to microfinance US initiatives. So perhaps my conclusion and advice to Kiva is: tread carefully.

All this notwithstanding. Kiva is a fabulous initiative and you should join us. You can make loans of as small as $25. I know of no other effort where you get to decide where exactly and to whom exactly your contribution, all of your contribution, goes. I joined about a year ago. I have made, or rather participated in, 8 loans so far. Two of them have been repaid and I re-contributed those funds to other loan requests. It will give you great philosophical satisfaction to participate. If you have questions please email me: onno@onno.com.

Kiva

Jul 02, 2008 in Life

kiva-logo.gifYesterday I signed up at Kiva.org and today I made my first loans.

Kiva works on the basis of micropayments and allows you as the lender to loan directly to an entrepreneur you choose to help lift them out of poverty. On their web site you can browse profiles of farmers, small shop owners, crafts workers, teachers, etc etc. All of the money you loan goes to the person you selected. Many of the loans these persons request are very small in Western appreciation but go very far for them in ability to improve their own lives, their families and their villages. You contribute to a portion of the overall loan (say $50 to a loan of $1000). What I like about this system is the personality of it, that I can contribute to several projects. In the profiles the entrepreneur also specifies the duration of the requested loan and so over that period she or he will pay you back. You can then withdraw that amount or re-loan it to another project.

Today I contributed to:

kiva1.jpg Cecilia Munyang in Cameroon.

kiva2.jpg Dora Yeboah in Ghana.

kiva3.jpg Amisse Mahomed Rai in Mozambique.

It would greatly please me if you browsed over to Kiva.org and checked it out yourself, and better still, joined up and start to sponsor your own favorite projects. Just a few dollars, or euros, go a long way.

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