Monday, September 29, 2008

The Blog Anniversary is coming

About two years ago, at October 1st, 2006, I had my first post at Thinking Space. At that time, I was just thinking of a casual place that might allow me to throw a few random thoughts of my research irregularly. I had not thought to build a site that would one day have consistently hundreds of readers everyday from all over the world (and the number is still growing dramatically). Be honest, it was just a little bit more than a dream for a nobody with no fame, no money, and no any sponsorship at all, and we know that there are thousands of this type of new blog sites created every day!

As what I did at the last year, I will post an anniversary special at the blog anniversary day. It is both of a thank-you note for my readers and a memo for myself. If anybody (actually mainly myself) wants to look for what Thinking Space has discussed and thought before, the anniversary posts are the best place to start searching. They categorize nearly all the posts in the past year and the posts are recorded with a brief summary of content.

Unlike the last year, however, this year's anniversary post will be a mini-series with three installments.

(1) Thank you note, including special thanks to a list of news and blog sites and individual bloggers that have brought me resources of thinking. I would recommend this list of sites and bloggers to all of the Thinking Space readers because they are really good and you can learn much from their writing just as I have learned.

(2) Particular share of three selected posts at Thinking Space, two are the most popular posts voted by the readers like you (based on the visiting status records) and the last one is picked by the author, i.e., me.

(3) Summary of the posts in the past year.

The second-year anniversary post has been scheduled on early morning at October 1st. Thank you and wish it could be a good gift of innovative thoughts for every one of you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New generation business demands new DNA

Due to the spread of financial crisis at Wall Street, more people start to rethink the intrinsic problem in the present business infrastructure. In a recent Harvard Business Publishing post, Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, appealed to "building a better kind of business" that would challenge the rot he saw at the heart of the institutions of business.

Among the five steps of resolution Haque recommended, I am particularly interested in his third suggestion (which mentioned by himself to be the "simplest, and most fundamental step"): understanding that next-generation businesses are built on new DNA, or new ways to organize and manage economic activities.

Haque believed the reason behind the institutional flux to be that "the centuries-old institutions of orthodox capitalism cannot support the transition to a hyperconnected global economy." Therefore, a tactical adjustment of the present financial policy might not be enough to really solve the problem. By contrast, Haque asked for a strategical revision of business fundamentals.

Unquestionably bold the claim is, I do agree to his words about "bringing new DNA to a table." This is what we need to do now.

What is the new DNA?

In his article, Haque, however, has not clearly explained what the new DNA of new business is. He mentioned the demand as well as the functions the new DNA must hold in order to "addresses the rot which pervades the economy at every level." But there is no explicit interpretation of the new DNA itself.

Certainly to define such a new DNA is not easy. I would also not pretend to knowing the answer. However, from a Web researcher's point of view (since many business people including Haque believe that Internet is the future of economy), I would like to share a few of my viewpoints.

I believe the new DNA would be mind asset. The crisis happening at Wall Street right now is rooted by the fundamental of capitalist economy. By nature, capital is near-sighted and selfish. As long as the economy is still built upon capital transaction, there is no way to really overcome the problem occurred today at Wall Street. The only possible solution is to revise the fundamental. By saying that I do not mean communism. By contrast, I expect the rise of mind asset and a new form of human society (harmonious society?).

Mind asset, as the name suggests, is property of human thoughts. The term is contrast to capital asset, which is property of all kinds of products and services.

About four months ago, before this financial crisis I have discussed a vision on the rise of mind asset when sharing with Adam Lindemann, CEO of Imindi. This vision is a reasonable derivation by my theory of Web evolution.

Web evolution is essentially a gradual increment of quality of Web resources. Meanwhile, Web resource is the basic presentation form of modern mind asset. Therefore, the eventual formation of modern mind asset is an inevitable consequence of Web evolution. Since mind product (in contrast to capital product) is the essential asset type of input and output of the postmodern industry, saying the Web industry (or Internet industry), mind asset would replace capital asset being the basis of the coming new economy.

To understand why mind asset being the new DNA can overcome the fundamental problem in the capitalist economy, we need to learn another subtle difference between capital and mind. In essence, capital is mass/energy while mind is information. As we discussed earlier, mass/energy cannot compute itself unless it consumes while information may compute by itself without consuming extra energy.

Now back to the current financial crisis at Wall Street. The crisis happens because the greedy Wall Street bankers tried to let capital compute itself to produce more wealth without literally consuming any real-world mass/energy. Fundamentally this thought contradicts to the computational nature of mass/energy. Therefore, this financial behavior itself is a bubble to burst from its beginning. It only matters when (but not whether) the financial crisis would come.

On the contrary, in theory information may indeed compute by itself without consuming any real-world mass/energy. Therefore, by replacing capital asset with mind asset we may eventually solve (or at least greatly eliminate) the future financial crisis when it is in reality impossible to get ride of the financial business at all (and nor might we remove greed from human's heart).

Referenced resources:

Modern management and creativity

At a recent Harvard Business Publishing post, Professor Teresa Amabile asked an interesting question: is management the enemy of creativity? Teresa argued that it was the bureaucracy in management that caused the gradual loss of creativity in big corporations. Therefore, a major revision of modern management must be up to the calendar.

I, however, have a different thought of this issue. I think that by nature management is to control, in contrast to encourage, creation.

As Ralf Lippold mentioned in his comment. "What makes CREATIVITY often so dangerous ... is that CREATIVITY always means leaving the traditional and known paths ..." Though as a thinker I am a definite advocate of creativity, I earnestly support this comment. Creativity many times is synonymous to danger. A company is not living in dream, but in reality. Therefore, stability of its execution is generally the most critical demand. The primary goal of management is to support this stability instead of breaking the stability, though inevitably it also causes bureaucracy.

Innovation or creativity is another story. Controversially, I believe that it is small companies instead of big companies that must have strong research departments. For big companies, what they need is actually a department of venture investment other than a department of research. In my view, such a distinction is the right balance between management and creativity. Small companies are light management, heavy creativity. Big companies are heavy management, light creativity. At the same time, big companies use its stability to protect and foster the growth of real creativity in a broad base of small companies. This infrastructure would eventually maximize the protection of creativity and at the same time would guarantee the stability of our society.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Marketing strategy in social networks

In a 2-minute yBC video clip, Anastasia Goodstein, a Gen-Y book author and the founder of Ypulse, shared how corporate campaigns might have missed their mark on marketing the social networks. I am impressed by her observation that opaque marketing is not the right way to explore business opportunities in online social networks.

By Goodstein, quite a few present retail firms try to hire online young ambassadors to spread their positive buzz over varied social networks such as Facebook. Instead of regular salary, the retailers give the young ambassadors free stuffs as gift. The retailers, however, advise their young agents not to disclose the gifts they received. The retailers ask their young ambassadors pretending to be objective volunteers who happen to like the services or product instead of being "paid" salespersons. The policy seems smart, while indeed, however, it is a miss of the mark on what social networks are.

Here are some thoughts that Goodstein did not explicitly say in her short speech while I want to extend the speech a little bit.

Social networking is to connect people with various "expertise". A social network is where one helps everyone else and everyone else helps her. To help each other, in social networks people look for a member's strengths but not the amateur comments. This is why the strategy executed by the retailers is wrong.

In short, objective volunteers are not necessarily experts (and most regularly they are not), even if their names are on the list of one's friends. This is where the whole problem is sitting. A person wants to seek professional suggestions in contrast to unprofessional buzz through her social network. Therefore, if the young ambassadors are known competing to be the official service/product representative and receiving free stuffs from the service/product providers are the proof of their expertise, their recommendation and comments would immediately become more valuable than the others among the friends.

Note that there is a subtle issue of trust inside social networks. In a social network, by default there is already existence of certain degree of trustworthy between declared friends. Hence being "professional" or not is a more crucial issue than the issue of trust since the latter one already has been reached. If I have two varied recommendation of services from two friends, I will certainly pick the service recommended by the friend who I believe is more expertise on the related domain. I trust both of my friends; but when trustworthy is not longer an issue, I choose the expert's suggestion.

Now the error the mentioned retailers made has been clear. These retailers are addressing the issue of trust instead of expertise. In real life we have learned that many salespersons are not trustworthy. Hence the retailers want their young ambassadors to be looked like trustworthy. What they missed is that the issue of trustworthy has already been automatically solved by default in the social network. The young ambassadors, no matter whom they are, are already quite trustworthy among their friends (or otherwise they should not have been friends at the first place). What the retailers really need to invest following is to train the young ambassadors so that they looks like professional in front of their friends. That is the miss of the mark!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

yourBusinessChannel, the Web 2.0 marketing

yourBusinessChannel is a site to offer expert business development advice for entrepreneurs. The site claims to be the world's best collection of high quality online TV shows featuring business legends. Through, its online TV channel, some of the biggest and best respected names in business may give people free but serious guidance on almost every aspect of business. In short, I would tell the site being where the traditional marketing meets Web 2.0.

youBusinessChannel intends to build an online society of marketing experts and entrepreneurs. When entrepreneurs look for advises to expand their product market, yBC brings a team of marketing experts onto the table for help. At the same time, yBC provides an additional (and probably becoming more and more important with time) channel for marketing experts to broadcast themselves into varied rapidly growing business sectors. It is a win-win strategy and the business model is a typical Web 2.0 marketing.

Invited by Jacqui Gray, the Editorial Research Manager at yourBusinessChannel, and Andre Dent, the Global Syndication Manager, I have agreed to be one of the broadcast partners of yBC. Hence from time to time, I may post a few commentary on some of its shows here at Thinking Space. Certainly, however, my selected shows as well as my comments must be Web-related.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


By Kevin Kelly,

Technology is a type of thinking. ... However what technology ultimately offers is far greater that some more bad and some more good. In the sum it offers increased possibilities and choices. And this is why we gravitate to it so.

Technology is a type of thinking. So may Thinking Space be renamed as "Technology Space"? Sounds not bad, isn't it?

In fact, technology is a type of productive thinking. An essence of technology is to produce. Good or bad, technology produces. More production eventually leads to more choices and then more possibilities, which is thus the beauty.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Teach your kids what is happening at Wall Street now

I just read a post by Jason Kolb. It is fantastic. I guess every father or mother could use it as a textbook to teach their kids about money and what is happening at Wall Street now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama: are you living in the real human world?

Although in personal feeling I am pro-Obama, I am quite disappointed on the most recently revealed list of science advisors Obama selected. I want to ask him a question: Mr. candidate, are you living in the real human world now?

Four out of the five advisors are life scientists and the rest one is astrophysicist. Hey! Is the situation of the present United States so optimistic that we should focus so heavily on intangible future?

Certainly I am not questioning the qualification of these selected advisors. They are great scientists and unquestionably every one of them deserves to have this honor. The question is, however, what does Obama think when he selected this group of primary advisors.

Just on this Monday, Lehman Brothers, a long-history global financial-services firm declared bankrupt. Then it was AIG and we still don't know the future yet. Let's watch a little bit farther, oil price remains high and energy saving has become a critical research issue. Then it is the globalization. How can US companies survive better in this more and more "flat" world? We are standing at the door of information industrial revolution.

Discarding all of these very crucial challenges that United States cannot avoid to face in the immediate future, Obama selected a group of life scientists plus one astrophysicist to advise the science policy. Am I blind or does he deaf?

What Obama does need immediately, if he would become the president, is a group of advisors consisting of nuclear energy scientists, renewable energy scientists, information and Web scientists, and then probably some life scientists. By such a group, his administration might be able to lead a pragmatic scientific research plan to guide US science and technology into the new era. With the present group, I have to ask the question again, Mr. candidate, are you now living in the real human world?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Improve Human Intelligence: the opposite to Artificial Intelligence

My newest post at Internet Evolution has been online. Essentially, it is a rethinking of artificial intelligence, a debating topic for decades.

Thinking Space readers may have seen that I have blogged about Imindi, a new startup company, heavily in these few weeks. I am particularly interested in this company because it represents so many great new thoughts that I can hardly see from any other Web companies at this moment. Imindi service is built on a brand new vision of World Wide Web and its potential extension is broad. At this new post, I mainly focuses on one philosophy behind the Imindi service, i.e., to improve human beings because of computers instead of to improve computers because of human beings.

Be interested, you may watch the original article at here. Or do not have much time, watch the imindi graphs below then. ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Facebook Paradox: real social or unreal social

Today a post at TechCrunch blog caught my eye. From an official Facebook business letter to one user, it said that Facebook "expect accounts to reflect mainly real-world contacts" in contrast to "mainly internet-only contacts." Wait a minute, is Facebook an online community or an offline community?

I think the letter reflects the paradoxical thoughts among Facebook executives. In short, they are expecting to clone the real social network among real people onto an unreal world. What a mess of thinking!

Facebook, if you think yourself is real, please also respect the internet-only friendship be real too. Otherwise, isn't Facebook an internet-only platform of social networks?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lessons for start-up companies, learned from TC50

These are the lessons I summarized by attending the TC50 conference. At the meantime, Adam Lindemann, CEO of Imindi, has written a well Imindi graph of his experience.

To save time, in this post I only publish my thoughts in Imindi graphs. By clicking "Summary by Yihong" you may watch my thoughts. Moreover, by clicking "Summary by Adam" and then "The Event," readers may see all the thoughts written by Adam Lindemann in his post without the need of browsing away from my site. The mind graph has automatically connected my thoughts to Adam's existing thoughts.

I have spent about 15 minutes to publish my thoughts using Imindi graphs. If I had written a normal blog post that had organized all the thoughts into article, it would have taken me at least an hour and the main points would not have been so clear as it is now. By the way, have I mentioned the connection of my thoughts to Adam's thoughts?

The Imindi private beta will open in two weeks!

I just received a message from Adam Lindemann, the CEO and a co-founder of Imindi, that the Imindi private beta will start letting people in within two weeks. So if you have sent request to try this service, please be patient for a while.

Imindi has received over 2500 requests after its not-good opening speech at the TC50 stage. I think this number of requests itself tells something. After such a negative evaluation from the judges, many regular Web users like you and me still trust in this brilliant innovation.

What may I tell Imindi at this moment? She is the newborn ugly duckling. Many people are just laughing at how ugly looking she is. But the ones with truly insightful eyes know that she is not a duck, but a swan, among the most beautiful and elegant!

By the way, you may register to be a beta tester through the Imindi Web site.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

imindi (2): what indeed is imindi?

Now let's forget the nonsense made by Mark Cuban but focus ourselves onto the main issue---why is imindi brilliant? Is imindi an unrealistic dream, or is it a service that have no financial future in near term, or is it something else?

I, probably more than anybody else in this world (even including possibly the two co-founders themselves at some sense), might be able to answer these questions. Unlike the two co-founders who in some sense have been over-occupied by their intuition, I may interpret the power and reality of the service from a much more objective viewpoint. So let me start to explain my view over this fantastic revolution.

(1) imindi is about embodying thinking.

Many people get afraid of this statement. "Get into your head", it looks like a dangerous term. Indeed, however, it is not frightening at all. For people still doubt of it, please watch the following question:

are you afraid of blogging?

Blogging, one of the most popular Web services ever, is indeed about embodying human thinking---turning authors' thoughts into blog posts. If people are not afraid of blogging, why should they be afraid of authoring a few thoughts using imindi?

If it is said "Imindi wants to get into your head," isn't blogging already getting into your head at a very profound level? What on earth can another service dig into people's mind deeper than blogging?

(2) imindi is similar to mini-blogging.

However, imindi is not a traditional style blogging. If we have to compare, the imindi service is closer to mini-blogging. imindi is a compact new way of authoring thoughts.

In this busy and extremely information overloading age, Twitter has demonstrated the power of mini-blogging by saving people time and triggering active thinking because users have to encode their thoughts within 140 characters. While quite a few skeptics questioned (some still are questioning) whether it could be successful, the popularity of Twitter until now shows the success of mini-blogging.

In similar, imindi restricts any thought unit to be specified into no more than FIVE words. Unlike Twitter, however, imindi allows users to describe a thought into a graph containing multiple thought units in contrast to a sentence of statement or question. With some simple graphical display of thoughts, imindi has at least identical power of knowledge expression as what mini-blogging can express.

(3) imindi saves time and help recording thoughts.

Does imindi cost investing more time as Mark Cuban accused? Not at all.

Suppose one has a thought in mind and wants to share it. Option 1 is to write a blog post about it, and Option 2 is to scratch a brief outline of the thoughts. Which option would cost less time?

For ones with just a little bit experience of writing, they may conclude almost immediately that Option 1 must cost more time than Option 2. It is indeed fairly sophisticated and time-consuming to convert a few main points to be a fluent article; every writer knows it.

Moreover, unexperienced writers often lose their points when writing articles because the processing of producing articles from a few thoughts is just non-trivial. Blogging is a hard work. Good blogging requires professional training of writing. Even with all of that, blogging is still a time-consuming job.

On the other hand, poor skill of writing does not equal to poor thoughts. Many people have great thoughts but they cannot deliver the thoughts since they cannot write well. At the same time, it would be much easier for them to just list a few main points of their thought since it does not require the technique of writing sentences and paragraphs.

Writing a list of main points of a thought is, however, exactly what imindi is asking. So, at least to those hundreds of millions of bloggers all over the world, imindi must cost them less time to express thoughts than writing blog posts.

Moreover, for billions of people who are not blogging, isn't it very much likey that a decent percentage of these people might join the force of thought contribution since imindi has now freed them from the requirement of high skill writing?

Are we excited now? Indeed, we are just warmed up. Some revolution is about to start.

(4) imindi automatically connects similar embodied thoughts.

This is the first revolution imindi brings to the world.

There is a breathtaking beauty in imindi's implementation of connecting embodied thoughts. It encourages the ambiguity of thought connection!

If you are not a true IT guy or if you are not a real geek, you may not feel how great the revolution is (though it is only one of the several revolutions imindi carries, and not even the greatest one). But if you allow me to quote a sentence written by Professor Seth Lloyd at MIT in his illuminating book "Programming the Universe", you will get it.

"... for computers, ambiguity is a bug. ... The ambiguity of human language is not a bug, it's a bonus!" (pg. 27)

Should I say more? On Semantic Web and artificial intelligence, computer scientists have struggled on solving the ambiguity of knowledge expression for many years. The reason is straight---teach computers to think while computers are bad at handling ambiguity. As the result, computer scientists have no other choices but to make ambiguity a bug and try to solve it in programming. Years after, many young generation computer geeks have nearly forgotten the origin of the problem by blindly following what they learned from textbook that ambiguity is a bug to solve.

But here is the critical point---for real thinking, ambiguity is a bonus but not a bug. Hence, the change is eventually asked by someone who is not a computer geek, such as a neuroscientist, Dr. Galen Kaufman, a co-founder of imindi. From his profession, Galen has intuitively insisted on constructing the mind index of imindi service (called mindex) in a different way (actually closer to real neuron connections in human brains) that normal computer scientists may not adopt. Without disclosing the technological details, the consequence is that mindex favors the mixture of semantics, i.e., the increase (but not decrease) of ambiguity of semantics in mindex. Be honest, both the professional developers of imindi and me have not gotten the point of design at the beginning. I finally got the point only after reading Prof. Lloyd's book. This is indeed the beauty of human thinking. And this is the first step that makes imindi service unique.

imindi actually empowers computers to improve human thinking in contrast to enhance computers to simulate human thinking. imindi is working on human intelligence but not artificial intelligence.

I believe all of the panelists, including the most geeky Kevin Rose, missed the point because the founders of imindi failed to tell them. Here is, however, a very unfortunate double curse of knowledge. What intuitive to imindi founders are novel to the geeky panelist such as Kevin, what intuitive to Kevin is unknown to the imindi founders. As the result, great innovation becomes a classic mess of miscommunication.

(5) imindi discloses and constructs a new layer of the Web.

In essence, such a layer essentially exists but implicitly. But imindi service turns it to be explicit. This is an attempt of disclosing the implicit web.

On the superficial level, imindi is constructing a web of human mind. In its real meaning, as suggested by the company name and visioned by the founders' vision, imindi is constructing a web of individuals, i.e., "i"s. That is, the company is "i-mind-i".

Be responsible to the interest of the founders, I would not disclose more details of this vision publicly in this post. I have participated much thinking of constructing the vision. I must say that it is another revolution. By discussing the details with the co-founders, I was really amazed that imindi turned many difficult problems to be much easier pieces to solve. I just cannot help expecting the future of imindi.

(6) Besides these aspects, imindi has several other great innovations that requires more human and financial resources to develop. After deeply shared with the imindi co-founders, I have to say that I am deeply impressed how far imindi can carry us. The most important thing is, however, none of them are wild dreams. From a professional computer scientist's point of view, all the innovations are realizable because of the unique vision and design of infrastructure created by the imindi co-founders.

By the way, after understanding these described innovation, does anybody still doubt of the business model of imindi?

imindi is a revolution. If the two innovators of imindi are killed on the stage of Silicon Valley by a few irresponsible dirty words, I would rather say that it is one of the most shameful events in the history of Web innovation.

imindi (1): it is a fortune Mark Cuban didn't get it

In two posts, I want to tell two things: (1) why we should not listen to Mark Cuban and (2) what Imindi is really about. If you are interested in only one of the topics, please choose it freely.

it is a fortune Mark Cuban didn't get it

What can I say? This morning, I have witnessed some worst time in the history of innovation. Under the stage of TC50, I watched the humiliation towards bright human mind, which I believe, however, should never happen, especially at Silicon Valley---the incubator of innovation. At the TechCrunch blog, it has already an objective coverage of the story. As reader, please make the judgment by yourself.

But I still want to say something. It is not only that I indeed know, support, and even cooperate with the two Imindi co-founders at certain level, but also a responsibility of a normal but tenderhearted person like many of you are and a person who really know the details to stand up speaking about the truth. On the stage, Mark Cuban just had shown his own arrogance, ignorance, and short sight as he used to be.

Mark, if the Internet was already "dead and boring" as you said, why did you come to attend a conference that focuses on launching services on this "dead and boring" Internet? Are you just coming to humiliate the true innovative souls so that you can demonstrate your ignorance? In fact, when you repeated that "The days of the Internet creating explosively exciting ideas are dead for the foreseeable future" in your own post, you had already kicked yourself out of the history of Web innovation, no matter how much contribution you did before the arrogant exclamation.

Hence the following are what I would like to say to the two Imindi co-founders.

Never give up! It is a blessing that Mark Cuban didn't get it. If ever Mark would truly have blessed you, you might not have been the innovators as you are now. There is a quote of an ancient wisdom of China---Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (about 500 BC), one of the greatest philosopher in Chinese history. The following is a quote from Verse 41, a very famous teaching that has inspired people all over the world for generations.

On hearing of the Way, the best of men
Will earnestly explore its length.
The mediocre person learns of it
And takes it up and sets it down.
But vulger people, when they hear the news,
Will laugh out loud, and if they did not laugh,
It would not be the Way.

And so there is a proverb:

"When going looks like coming back,
The clearest road is mighty dark.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Live Thoughts at TechCrunch50 9/8 morning

I have finally been at the conference of TC50. The crowd is huge. It is said that there are more than 1,700 people in the conference room. The Internet connection is, however, crappy. It is until close to the end of the morning session finally the WiFi service became normal. Here are a few of my comments on the companies presented at the morning of TC50.

Shryk: This is a new service for children to learn how to save money and learn basic financial skills. The UI seems attractive and the goal is well, especially for family. The problem is, however, how the company is going to generate profit if it is a profitable corporation.

Hangout: The company develops virtual spaces for young kids to explore. The service helps bridge kids' online and offline experience. It is about virtual world and user-generated content. Kids can put their real pictures into the wall frames in the virtual world or plug in their real video into the TV and play in the virtual world. Moreover, the service also support mixing of music intrustments such as play drums when click on it and add the click of drum sound into music. This is quite a cool service and children might love to explore it. A question is, however, how the company is preparing to compete Second Life. Just be a Second Life for kids would be a risky strategy.

Blah girls: It is targeting teenage girls, who chase for Hollywood celebrities' life. It is like a mutual interactive blog site that regularly posts celebrity news and uses avatars to broadcast news and interact to the young blog readers. The service is about celebrity news, fashion, and all kinds of gossip inside Hollywood. An interesting (and probably most valuable) technology presented by this blog is to apply virtual characters to directly interact with real people in the world. Blog readers may get personal message from the three Blah Girls in animation. This service is a new approach to engage the life of virtual world into the real world. A shortcoming is the extensibility of the service. It is limited by its essential platform type as a standard Web 2.0 blog. If it may break this limit such as deploying avatars across platforms instead of solely copying videos, the product could be more interesting. At last, how many parents would support their children for this service?

Tweegee: This is actually the best service in this first section by my preference. However, I feel the founder have led the service to a wrong direction. In general, the service is about improve web experiences for young kids. The virtual world created by Tweegee is not a standard virtual world. In fact, it is a virtual world of training how to perform right in the virtual world of the Web. Tweegee may provide kid-specific emails, social networks, and all kinds of services in the adult society that help the new-age kids be quickly adopting the new digital world. This is a great idea. But the founders must know that it is not about creating a real social networking for kids. It is about training kids to know how to be a better member in the adult virtual world when growing up. By this sense, the company would better addressing itself be a non-profit organization than a commercial company. By cooperating with all kinds of education organizations, the service may have brilliant future. However, if the founders keep on their current dream, the service will die shortly.

Dotspots: This service is about engaging the wisdom of crowd to perform semantic annotation. By adding external content into the target news page, readers may be able to access more related comments and other services when reading the news. A significant problem of this service is the scalability. By the way, I am not sure why it is semantic annotation when there is nothing about semantics mentioned in the speech.

Angstro: This is a new professional social network that is to compete with LinkedIn. In essence, the service looks for the linked people name inside news and based on certain ranking criteria sending information to users. But how may the service efficiently distinguish people? The problem is non-trivial at all.

LiveHit: The CEO is a female lead company. The service is targeting 18-25 age young audience. It employs a digg-type but 3d-map-style display of pages. It ranks the popularity of users as well as pages. But it is still unclear how the service may survive through its uniqueness when there are so many powerful competitors there already.

Quant the news: This service uses machine learning, a powerful but dangerous term at the technological realm. A current service, StockMood, utilizes news feed to predict stock market. The computed positive mood will suggest the price of the stock up and the negative mood suggest opposite. But how large the user base might be? It would be an interesting question.

At the stage of TC50, Google finally announced a new service---Google news search. The theme is to make historic offline news become new-age online searchable information. The technology is based on original Google book search. Scan old newspapers, Make history be part of the new Web age. make the old history also be linked to each other. links beneath portion of newspaper.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quantum universe, mind, and idealism

After posting "Programming the Universe", I received several questions about my thoughts of the topic. One request is particularly interesting, which is from François Dongier at Belgium. He asked, "does Seth explicitly talk about such reconciliation in the book? How does he (or do you) see the connection between a quantum universe and idealism?" In fact, Seth did not mention the issue in his book (the book is more mechanics-focused). By just following Seth's statement, however, we may achieve several interesting derivations that probably even beyond Seth's first-place expectation. So here are a few of my thoughts on replying François' request (extended from the original reply posted at

One of the most amazing facts of quantum is the phenomenon of particle-wave duality. Physicists, however, have shown that the particle-wave duality is indeed a general fact. The phenomenon is not only about tiny elemental particles but also for much larger physical bodies such as humans. The reason that it is generally hard to observe the wave-side of our physical world is because the world contains too many mutually interacted particles. These particles mutually become detectors to each other. Hence, based on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle we may only observe the objects in their physical body shape. That is, the particle effect predominates the wave effect.

To human, however, there is one other thing that is puzzling besides whether we are particles or waves. It is mind or human thought. A longtime debate is whether mind is a type of matter. The materialists insist that everything including human mind is matter. The extreme materialists even exclaim that mind is nothing but function of human brain. In essence, Materialism believes that mind cannot exist without matter. Hence matter is at the first place and the most fundamental of the world while mind is a secondary existence.

On the other hand, idealists argues that matter does not make any sense when there is no mind of perception. A matter is matter only when there is some detector, i.e., mind. Without mind to detect, matter might not even exist. Hence, Idealism believes that mind is the first place existence while matter is a secondary fact.

By all of the previous statements, we may think of another possible solution to the debate: whether it is possible that indeed both of matter and mind are equally fundamental and they are coexisting to each other just like particle and wave. Without matter there is no mind and vice versa. Neither of the two could be in our world when the counter party does not exist. To any object, mass/energy and mind/information are about the same thing just in two varied interpretations.

However, I must say that the previous statement also leads to another hard philosophical problem---does God exist? Note that if matter and mind are coexisting buddies, mind exists before humans appear in this world. Moreover, mind should exist as early as at the first second of Big Bang. When there is no human (and nearly nothing at all) at the beginning, to whom does mind belong? Can we thus tell that there must be God?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Start to customize a new world

Google is launching a new browser. The news has been the headline at today's Techmeme. Instead of repeating the introduction of the service and the comic book, I want to share a few of my intuition after first hearing the service.

Intuitively, I agree to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch that Chrome is essentially targeting to "compete head on with Windows."

Chrome is more than a browser. Otherwise, its fate might eventually be the same as described by Hank Williams---"it will be a cause for celebration if I care at all even in 2010." But Chrome is more than a browser.

To this point, Nicolas Carr has an insightful discussion that Chrome is trying to fundamentally shifting the focus of Web browsers from page displaying to application deployment. Be note that in tradition application deployment is a key function of operating system instead of Web browser. This is thus Michael's meaning that Chrome is actually targeting Windows in contrast to Internet Explorer in its long run. Moreover, this is where the value of Chrome is.

Quite a few readers in varied major blog sites asked a common question in their comments: why on earth does Google want to launch Chrome? I would say that it is another sign of Web evolution and, again, Google shows its sharp intuition on catching the flow. (This is why Google keeps on its leading position of World Wide Web.)

I have emphasized many times at Thinking Space and I repeat it again: Web 2.0 is an inevitable Web evolutionary event in contrast to a business hype or a commercial buzz. A fundamental upgrade on the Web brought by Web 2.0 is the prevalence of portable Web services (or Web widgets), a typical Web-2.0-quality resources by my study of Web evolution. Due to this upgrade, the Web actually have shifted from copying data among Web sites to deploying services among Web sites. Service deployment rather than data display has been the central issue of the Web at this new stage. It is clearer and clearer that Web browsers may have to be given certain new meaning to compromise the new essential upgrade. The launch of Chrome, again, show that Google stands in front of many others.

Please allow me using my classic Web evolution analogy to conclude this post. After newborns grow to be pre-school kids, can we still limit them inside the cribs? If cribs no longer be suitable platform for the kids to display their talent, we need to create new facilities for them to show their new talent. This is thus why the revolution brought by Chrome is a new sign of Web evolution.

UPDATE: I edit this sentence using the Google Chrome. I must say that the interface is clean and nice. Thought it seems Chrome still has a few bugs to fix since it did not well display this page very well at first and it still cannot display the plugin of reader locations in Thinking Space. But I still love this new browser.

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Meet me at TechCrunch50

Now there is only one week from the start of the TechCrunch50 conference this year at San Francisco. The conference is to help launch the best start-ups of the year in global wide by introducing them to the most influential VCs, corporations, fellow entrepreneurs, and press.

I will attend this year's TC50 event. I am interested in getting to know more people in the conference, especially if you are also a Thinking Space reader. So if you have planned to attend the conference, please feel free dropping me a mail ( or leaving a comment of connection method so that we may have a few minutes of chatting during the conference. Moreover, if you would be interested, I may introduce you a fascinating new service that might lead to the next generation World Wide Web (Web 3.0?).

See you at SF!

Programming The Universe, Part Two

I have finally finished reading the remarkable "Programming the Universe" by Seth Lloyd, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. Unlike the Part One that is more or less a philosophical description of quantum computing, in Part Two Seth focuses more on the mechanics of quantum computers. The writing is extremely illuminating and may bring readers much think. Hence here are a few of my thoughts and questions about the second part of the book.

Equivalence between Information, Mass, and Energy

The central theme of the book is that "all physical systems register and process information." In the other words, information is "a fundamental physical quantity" in the world as well as several other fundamental physical quantities such as energy and mass. If it is true, from the claim we may draw several interesting conclusions.

For long time and especially after the industrial revolution from 18th to 19th century, we have customized to the thought that energy drives the world while mass dominates product. Energy and mass are the two most fundamental physical quantities in the world. A representative abstraction of this belief is in Einstein's famous question---E=mc².

In his book, Seth, however, implicitly challenged this belief by showing the fundamental of information. Based on Seth's claim, we may derive a controversial point: there is equivalence between not only mass and energy, but also mass and information. We may perform physical transformation from one of them to another in quantity. Like that we have been able to perform the transformation between energy and mass through nuclear fission and fusion, quantum computing may eventually be the bridge of transformation between information and mass. Hence quantum computing is not just an advanced computational mechanism. Instead it might be a new sort of power that we have never thought before.

Why is the second law of thermodynamics true

At the same time, this potential equivalence among mass, energy, and information may also explain a long-lasting question: why the second law of thermodynamics is a truth. For long time, scientists have accepted the truth of this law but continuously questioned why. It is intuitively strange that when the total amount of mass and energy is constant, something called "entropy" generally increases. In the other words, entropy must be neither energy nor mass, or otherwise its existence has already violated the first law of thermodynamics. By Seth's statement, we may draw that "entropy" is indeed information.

When the total amount of mass and energy keeps constant, indeed the mass and energy unstoppably compute themselves. Although this type of universal computation in nature would never result in more mass or energy production in quantity, it generally produces new information about the progress of computation itself. This increase of total amount of information is thus the, or at least part of the, secret of entropy that is mysterious to us.

Then we have drawn two outcomes from Seth's theory. First, transformation between information and mass (or between information and energy) exists. Second, the total amount of information ever increases in contrast to that the total amount of mass and energy keeps constant. If the two outcomes are hold simultaneously, we may conclude that the mass/energy occupation per information unit (or per bit of information) is ever decreasing. In the other words, in average a bit of information holds less and less amount of energy or mass with the progress of time (or in average a certain amount of mass or energy registers more and more bits of information with the progress of time). Note that this conclusion is actually very intuitive since with time we have to use more bits to describe the ever-increasing history of a substance. Such a phenomenon, however, may have explained why it is much more difficult to make conversion from information to mass/energy than from mass/energy to information.

Energy, Mass, and Information Production

Another interesting derivation is about the relation between production and the three basic natural elements. In tradition, we have learned that energy is the driving power of production and mass is both of the sources of production and the consequence of production. In essence, a production process conducted by humans consumes substance in the form of energy to produce substance in the form of mass. Energy is consumed (in fact, the total quantity of energy never reduces while the amount workable energy decreases, i.e., the entropy increases) and mass is produced (the total quantity of mass indeed never grows while the variety of mass increases, i.e., again, the entropy increases). However, information brings a new relationship to production.

In contrast to energy or mass, Seth's research discovered that information computes by itself. It means that essentially information production could be energy free when its output does not involve mass/energy production. Entropy increase does not necessarily require energy consumption. By this mean, information industry may demand consuming much less energy than we are at present on the stage of mass production industry, if only we may figure out the right way of computation (such as possibly the right process of quantum computation). This derivation could be very significant for the progress of economy into the future.

Reconciliation of Materialism and Idealism

For long time, there is intensive debate between the correctness of materialism and idealism. When materialism insists that the only thing that can be truly proven to exist is matter, idealism advocates that thought or mind is more essential than physical matter. While in history idealism once was dominating in human society, materialism has generally dominated the modern society especially after the industrial revolution with the rise of modern science. The new discoveries stated by Seth, however, bring more thinking about the two objects and the evidences seemly point to that the two contradictory philosophical viewpoints may actually be reconciled just like the wave-particle duality.

Information and Spacetime

By rephrasing John Wheeler's statement that "Matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter where to go," Seth formulated that "Information tells space how to curve; and space tells information where to go." Although Seth formed this statement to prompt his research of quantum logic gates, it is quite interesting to me how it may be applied to the research of World Wide Web.

In fact, the Web is a space where information is stored, shared, and communicated. Meanwhile, the time on the Web may eludes in a different rate from what it does in the real world. Hence World Wide Web indeed constitutes special spacetime that is varied to the spacetime we are living in real life. Moreover, on the Web we may construct not just another one spacetime. We can actually build many different spacetime by various perspectives. By this sense, the statement made by Seth becomes extremely illuminating on how we may build proper Web spaces for the evolution of World Wide Web.

Complexity of computation

Ever-lasting computation inevitably leads to greater complexity in the computational space. This is the last conclusion Seth presented in his book.

In the book, Seth tried to explain the emergence of life through natural computation. Nevertheless do I disagree to his example, I am indeed very much keen to his claim that complexity is an inevitable consequence of ever-lasting computation.

In my study of Web evolution, I have actually stated that the ever-increasing production of Web resources will inevitably lead to the emergence of higher quality Web resource, which is the signal of stage transition on Web evolution. In fact, higher quality Web resources always refer to more complex in both of its external presentation and its internal essence. In the other words, higher quality Web resources has greater complexity than their lower quality siblings. This is a fact in all the evolutionary progresses.

In similar to the natural universe we are living, World Wide Web by design is another self-organizing computational spacetime. Therefore, the conclusion drawn by Seth can be well applied to the Web. On the Web we must gradually have new-generation resources in more and more complex ways. From another angle, it shows the integrity of my study of Web evolution.

A careless thought in Seth's book

At last, I want to point out a careless thought in Seth's remarkable book.

In the book, Seth has made a great analogy that the computational universe is actually closer to that a few monkeys are randomly typing to a great computer than typing to a typewriter. The difference is that if the universe is a computer, what monkeys type become programming instructions since computers can compute truth through these instructions. Otherwise if the universe is just a typewriter, what monkeys type must be the truth itself since typewriters cannot compute.

The previous model has very well explained the essence of quantum computing in universe. It, however, leaves a grand question, i.e., where does the rendition of the universal instructions come from at the first place if the universe is a computer instead of a typewriter? The only explanation must be that there exists the God who has designed the universal instruction systems just like we humans have designed the instruction interpretation mechanism in our computers. The universal computation may not even be able to get started from the Big Bang if the certain universal instruction rendering mechanism does not exist.

The previous thought, however, seemly contradicts to Seth's belief of natural evolution of human life. To me, this implicit self-contradiction is probably the only flaw of the book. It reflects the struggle of a human being between his integral scientific judgment and his emotional religion expectation.

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