Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Perception Teasers

I've been reading some blogs on human consciousness and found a link to some fun perception teasers I enjoyed:

optical illusions I to IV

In the ones that trick perception into seeing different things (usually 2) in one same image (old and young ladies, duck and rabbit) I love going from one to the other really fast.
There are a bunch that explore Escher type of images involving either recursion or impossible architecture, I love those two. I guess the familiarity of recursion makes it fun as life is recursive itself (tree and seed, kid and parents, web and pages).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Search engines and the new web

According to different sources when users open a web browser in more than 80% of the cases they go to a search engine page. The user perception of the web has changed in the last years. Today, users perceive the web as one continuous of information and resources. They don't really care that much for who is providing the information, they'll go to a search engine and with couple key words and clicks they'll get the info/service they need. The average time a user spends in a home page is about 30 seconds and it only hikes to average 60 seconds for an interior page. Then, most of the time without even noticing the visited website they move on to a new search (sometimes from the same page with right button "Search the web for ..."). I'm sure a user only remembers a very reduced set of the web sites he actually uses on a daily basis, specially when it gets there through a search engine. This obviously gives tremendous power to search engines, they have access to this pile of information and they can track users habits, and of course having the possibility to monetize it in different ways.
This fact is really confirming the vision of Google founders. In the words of Sergey Brin: "The solution isn't to limit the information you receive. Ultimately, you want to have the entire world's knowledge connected directly to your mind."
The bionic brain is already starting to be a reality. I like to joke answering any question with "the answer is on the internet for sure". When I tell this to my daughter it's kind of frustrating as she looks at me like "Yeah, of course.", not a glimpse of amazement. It's probably like my grandma telling me as a kid, "and we can phone someone", and I'd be like, "Yahh, what else is new?". Nicole was born with the internet as a fact so I guess she can't have the same kind of high I get out of this ;)

The survival of the fittest, unpredictable evolution

I guess part of the fun of thinking about how things will evolve is that there is no easy answer or sure bet when referring to evolution. There's been multiple examples of how the technological superiority is not necessarily the winning hand, being the QWERTY one of the most cited ones even if it's of doubted historical accuracy.

This thought came to mind when I was reading "The Web According to Ballmer" some days ago. When asked about Microsoft's top competitors, he was doing a nice analysis including three totally different strategies companies came up to compete with Microsoft:
. open source (linux business model), their strategy extend their value and compete.
. advertising as a business model (I'd call it Google paradigm: web as a platform), their strategy embrace.
. software monetized through hardware (iPod), specially interesting to get markets as China, India and Southamerica that will not pay for software as much as for hardware, again strategy compete (Zune).
It might get really interesting if some or all of the competing paths' companies partnership and unite. There seem to be many signs that a lot of that is happening already.

Anyway, this article just let me wondering how unpredictable evolution is ... how many different avenues can be taken to address one same problem (such as how to defeat the current software giant?), and how hard it is to predict the outcome.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SearchMash - Google's sandbox

Google recently launched SearchMash, their super Ajax'ed, testing environment for the search experimentation. It introduces a drop down list for now including web and images, I was wondering about this as a minimalist evolution of their growing link menu (web, images, maps, more ...). You can change the position of the searched results by drag & drop, which could be a first indication of the search engine being ready to receive feedback from users, although it's not clear how it's being used. The green url links open a menu with options not provided by the browser such as "More similar pages". The effect of the paging I loved so far!! I saw a presentation in youtube that included a preview of each web page result on the right pane which I really liked as a speed up tool for searches. I guess they might have experienced performance issues as this is not there as part of searchmash.

Oktoberfest 2006

What's so interesting in a bunch of drunks together celebrating their love for beer? Well, it was fun! Probably being as massive as it is makes part of the attractive. Like in the tent (that's how they call it although is not a real tent) I stayed there were probably around 5,000 people, and there's close to 20 of these I think. I also liked the traditional part of it, clothing and the enthusiastic chanting accompanied by cheers following the band. There is a little glimpse of time traveling when you celebrate traditions like this.
The Bavaria monument is pretty impressive when seen from below, apparently it was possible to see the inside at some point, but it doesn't seem to be open anymore.
It made me think for some reason of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in Carnaval, as far as a social massive drinking craziness goes, although I haven't been there but I would expect the later to exceed this.
Here are couple photos:
DSC02262 (Small)
DSC02207 (Small)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Massage technology

Munich Golf show was the slowest in years and you could tell. It was sooo slow that I went ahead and tried one of those big massage chairs with the whole meditative experience (music + glasses with suggestive lights). I used to hate those things a bit in the past, but I have to admit that this nice leather chair embraced me for about half an hour and I was ready to fall asleep in total relaxation. The thing first scans your body to know your dimensions and stiffness and then runs some programs with different types of massages that were for moments believable of being human hands. A similar one to the one I tried: Sharper Image. It involves sensors and robotic technologies that seems to have advanced a lot in the last years. It might sound silly or weird but I was impressed with the warm human kind of sensation that they're accomplishing. In a rather not serious note I have to say that they are not too far away from building a virtual reality "love" machine with this technology I would think ... I can see specially Asian markets developing more of this ...