First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: barcamp

BCB 3

The third edition of Barcamp Bangalore has been announced and is scheduled to be held on 31st Mar & Apr 1st.  I love Bangalore Barcamps for the rich interactions and the high quality inputs that I take away from here which is very unique characteristic of it.  The first and second edition were fantastic and I had great time with lot of fun & learning and I am very excited about this edition as well.

The theme of the event this time around  is  “social-tech  – the impact of technology in our lives and society and vice versa.”

So I am looking forward to this barcamp and hope to have some great conversations around topics like digital property rights , post-network societies, free culture, attention economy,  communities & source of  value, hypersimulation , anomie , new/social  media etc.Would be doing a talk and/or a demo on my favourite technology – cameraphones 🙂

Connectivity , Service Unbundling & Mobile 2.0

In barcamp2, farhaan during his talk mentioned how should telco’s should rise out of the slumber that they are in and not waste copious amount of money on buying 3G license & installing 3G networks. How new connectivity technologies like Wifi/Wimax networks would change the rules of the game for telecom players.

In between Ramesh raised a very valid point in the discussion where he stated that Wifi network is fractured saying it is specific to a location. One can’t move while accessing wifi, it is like you have to go to the location where wifi is situated.

The point that I think farhaan was trying to make was not to just show a comparison between 3G or wifi technical capabilities & features.  But rather a discussion on how open & closed networks fare against each other. How a stupid & intelligent network when pitted against each other would play out. Networks when designed stupid at the core allows the possibility of unbundling of application/service & connectivity.  We have been only exposed with networks in which these (connectivity & application) are so much fused to each other that we fail to see that these two things can be separated. (For example in a PSTN network just laying down the cables between our house and nearest exchange and making the copper wire live does not allow us to make phone calls. This part is purely connectivity.  When the phone is issued a phone number and switched into telco network, it is then we are able to make phone calls. Thus the application here is making phone calls and connectivity is the laying of wire from my home to the exchange. It is that we have also seen this together always that we can’t imagine as a application & connectivity separately in a PSTN).

As I have mentioned in my presentation one of the key drivers of moving towards a mobile/telco 2.0 is that of unbundling of service & connectivity. This will be give rise to new entities in the industry either within same organization or as two different business, one specializing in application/services and other excelling at providing connectivity. 

Now talking specifically about the problem that Ramesh raised, yes wifi is not a mobile technology and it is true it is fractured. But then it can/has to be viewed as a interesting problem to solve rather than as a hindrance.   And that is exactly what a company called FON is doing. The ingenuity of FON is that it is solving the problem through the help of building a community of wifi users. The idea is very simple – I use my internet/wifi for what I want to in my home and share the rest of it for free/fee with others in the community. When I go to anywhere else in the world I get access to FON network wifi which is hosted by others in the FON community there. Thus providing solution to the fracturedness problem of wifi. Pretty neat !! 

    The primary job of any telco is to solve a big coordination problem of laying a network, getting devices at the end point, connecting users etc. Anyone familiar with graphs would quickly agree that a network is bunch of contracts (edges) between end points(nodes). If there are no end points then there is no network but since a telco providers take the initial risk and coordinates the of building the network it wrongly assumes that it owns the network and charges abominous rents for that.

    I would call this as a telco 2.0 (connectivity business) provider and am very fascinated by the possibilities it raises.

     Users can do away with a telco and be owner of  network if somehow they can coordinate among themselves to build a network which is very very tough challenge. The brilliance of solution like FON is that it solves this coordination problem through the help of the users themselves by building a community of the users and taking care of their incentive to build  a network 🙂

(Full disclosure: I am doing some consulting work for FON now)

Favourite presentation at Barcamp

        In both the Barcamps at Hyderabad I found that there is one talk that clearly stands out clearly as my most favourite presentation in that barcamp. In Barcamp Hyderabad1 it was the talk by Jay Pullur, CEO of Pramati on what he thinks is the best opportunities in the web 2.0 space. In this Barcamp it was the talk by Farhaan, CTO Spokn where he spoke about a VoIP client that his company is developing specially for the mobile phone. The reason for my liking of these two  is due to the fact that these guys  understand the changes that are going in their respective space in an intuitive way. Also in their talk they explain these changes in plain & simplistic way for which I use a little bit of abstraction and models to explain.

 

      Farhaan last when I knew was heading a company called Phonestack but  looks like very recently he has started another company called Spokn which as Farhan describes is a company sitting out there so that it can eat telco’s for lunch. In his wonderfully articulate talk he explained about a new protocol that he designed called the Lightweight Telephone Protocol to make VoIP calls through a mobile phone. LTP is open source and is also going to be a part of Asterix in its next release. LTP is really light weight and the stack is written totally in about 2000 lines of C code and interestingly it does not have any dynamic memory allocation & thus no dangling pointer problems.

     Apart from the size of the stack another thing that he mentioned was that LTP has presence designed inbuilt into it when compared to SIP stacks(it does not have inbuilt presence in it) which I think is really  fantastic.

      After the talk he showed me a nifty demo of the Spokn client running on a windows mobile OS phone.  I have not been really able to toy around with the either the application or the stack but so don’t how well all of it works but from what he is described it is really poised great to take on the standards battle.

     In a world of closed everything & low trust, openness is a strategic edge which is the card Spokn is seem to be playing.

    If you are interested in tracking what is exciting that is going on in the web 2.0 & mobile 2.0 space in Hyderabad then I suggest you keep an eye on what Jay & Farhaan are doing  😀

Reflection from Barcamp Hyderabad 2

       We had a little silent but a very interesting Barcamp on Saturday. I call it silent because there wasn’t any live blogging :). Despite our best efforts to get the wifi up & running we could not manage to do it due to networking/proxy issues :(. If you are infuriated with that then you could direct the brickbats here!

      Some felt that the attendance looked very sparse but when counted on the registration desk there were about 150+ registrations. It looked sparse because we were housed in a very large room (actually two rooms merged into one room).

          We had various talks which ranged from overview of the mobile space, the promise of mobile, how changes in this space are creating opportunities to uproot dinosaurs (called telco’s) of our age, on how the understanding the dynamics of a mobile can help us come up with innovative application for day to day life, how mobile technology & applications has the potent to really bridge the rural urban divide. On the overall it covered a wide range.

 

Some thoughts on/after Barcamp Hyderabad that came to my mind.

 

       The alpha geeks of the PC world are not the alpha geeks of the mobile world. IMO the mobile pre adopters are the 10-17 year old kids who got a smartphone as their birthday gift. I was surprised & amazed as to how many of these geeks who grok out for developing code for PC even know how to get around installing a simple application in a Nokia 6600 or a J2ME phone.

 
       The Microsoft campus where the barcamp was held looked like a tube/tunnel or much like an airport terminal. It was very nicely decorated but it kind of looked a little funny to me as I have’nt seen any other office campus like this before. Even the entrance  was designed like an airport check in 🙂

        Lessig Style of presentation is really catching up and many are jumping to 2.0 style in presentation.  Atul gave a presentation where he used the lessig template and old typewriter font (I just love to use that P22 Typewriter font) but his style was much slower than the original lessig style. He had given a really wonderful presentation. Very rare is that you find a techie/geek who can speak in  normal people’s language and not speak the l33t speak. His points were very good but after a while (actually a long while) the audience grew restless because they felt like being hammered with the same two points.

        A statistic that was shared that we are 1 billion phone in the world and very soon we are going to have about 2 billion phone. I read recently that the actual number is that we have quietly crossed the 2.5 billion cellphone mark already.

        While spending time organizing things around missed out on meeting a lot of folks and also missed out on a couple of interesting talks. Should make sure from next time onwards that I do not miss lot of the talks or meeting with new folks.

Barcamp Hyderabad 2

Barcamp Hyderabad held in April got an amazing response with close to around 200 people turning up for. So much so that almost everyone was eager to know when the next barcamp is going to be. Energized , encouraged & enthused by this we announce Barcamp Hyderabad 2 and this time around we plan to have it even more bigger. Last barcamp was about the web and this time it is about Mobiles .

Just recently we crossed 100 million mark for the number of mobile in India, thus it is undoubted that mobiles are goint to bring in a lot of changes in terms of creating new business and influence & shape a lot of our culture/lifestyle. We hope to cover these aspects in the barcamp.

If you want to camp here then get yourself added to the wiki & the yahoo group(if you hav'nt done so far :)).

BarCampHyderabad2

Theme: Mobile Applications in the next Gen Internet

Where: JNTU Campus, (3.5 KM from HiTech city Microsoft Campus, Gachibowli

When: July 15, Saturday. 11am to 5pm (tentative)

We got together last friday to discuss things needed to kickoff barcamp hyderabad2, if you'd like to check out then mohit has more details on it.

Please help spread the word around, tell your friends,blog about it etc etc.

I just hope that this time it does not clash it with any other event 🙂

Barcamp for women

  Barcamp blog points out to a first ever barcamp for women, go figure it ! It's fantastic ! 

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