Ethics and Writing

A particularly prominent technology blogger ( see http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/michael_arrington_the_kingmaker_who_would_be_king.php )has now formalized his status as an investor (which he did even before) while relinquishing his editorial duties (which were not much given the blog’s acquisition by AOL and its own formidable line of writers, each one of whom is quite influential). Without going into either sermon mode (thou shall not have conflict of interests) or adulatory mode (wow he sold the blog for 30 mill and now he gets another 20 mill for his funds)- I shall try and present the case for ethics and ethical lapses while as a writer.

Continue reading “Ethics and Writing”

Why open source companies dont dance?

I have been pondering on this seemingly logical paradox for some time now-

1) Why are open source solutions considered technically better but not customer friendly.

2) Why do startups and app creators in social media or mobile get much more press coverage than

profitable startups in enterprise software.

3) How does tech journalism differ in covering open source projects in enterprise versus retail software.

4) What are the hidden rules of the game of enterprise software.

Some observations-

1) Open source companies often focus much more on technical community management and crowd sourcing code. Traditional software companies focus much more on managing the marketing community of customers and influencers. Accordingly the balance of power is skewed in favor of techies and R and D in open source companies, and in favor of marketing and analyst relations in traditional software companies.

Traditional companies also spend much more on hiring top notch press release/public relationship agencies, while open source companies are both financially and sometimes ideologically opposed to older methods of marketing software. The reverse of this is you are much more likely to see Videos and Tutorials by an open source company than a traditional company. You can compare the websites of ClouderaDataStax, Hadapt ,Appistry and Mapr and contrast that with Teradata or Oracle (which has a much bigger and much more different marketing strategy.

Social media for marketing is also more efficiently utilized by smaller companies (open source) while bigger companies continue to pay influential analysts for expensive white papers that help present the brand.

Lack of budgets is a major factor that limits access to influential marketing for open source companies particularly in enterprise software.

2 and 3) Retail software is priced at 2-100$ and sells by volume. Accordingly technology coverage of these software is based on volume.

Enterprise software is much more expensively priced and has much more discreet volume or sales points. Accordingly the technology coverage of enterprise software is more discreet, in terms of a white paper coming every quarter, a webinar every month and a press release every week. Retail software is covered non stop , but these journalists typically do not charge for “briefings”.

Journalists covering retail software generally earn money by ads or hosting conferences. So they have an interest in covering new stuff or interesting disruptive stuff. Journalists or analysts covering enterprise software generally earn money by white papers, webinars, attending than hosting conferences, writing books. They thus have a much stronger economic incentive to cover existing landscape and technologies than smaller startups.

4) What are the hidden rules of the game of enterprise software.

  • It is mostly a white man’s world. this can be proved by statistical demographic analysis
  • There is incestuous intermingling between influencers, marketers, and PR people. This can be proved by simple social network analysis of who talks to who and how much. A simple time series between sponsorship and analysts coverage also will prove this (I am working on quantifying this ).
  • There are much larger switching costs to enterprise software than retail software. This leads to legacy shoddy software getting much chances than would have been allowed in an efficient marketplace.
  • Enterprise software is a less efficient marketplace than retail software in all definitions of the term “efficient markets”
  • Cloud computing, and SaaS and Open source threatens to disrupt the jobs and careers of a large number of people. In the long term, they will create many more jobs, but in the short term, people used to comfortable living of enterprise software (making,selling,or writing) will actively and passively resist these changes to the  paradigms in the current software status quo.
  • Open source companies dont dance and dont play ball. They prefer to hire 4 more college grads than commission 2 more white papers.

and the following with slight changes from a comment I made on a fellow blog-

  • While the paradigm on how to create new software has evolved from primarily silo-driven R and D departments to a broader collaborative effort, the biggest drawback is software marketing has not evolved.
  • If you want your own version of the open source community editions to be more popular, some standardization is necessary for the corporate decision makers, and we need better marketing paradigms.
  • While code creation is crowdsourced, solution implementation cannot be crowdsourced. Customers want solutions to a problem not code.
  • Just as open source as a production and licensing paradigm threatens to disrupt enterprise software, it will lead to newer ways to marketing software given the hostility of existing status quo.

 

 

Who writes white papers?

A social network diagram
Image via Wikipedia

There are four main types of commercial white papers:

  • Business benefits: Makes a business case for a certain technology or methodology.
  • Technical: Describes how a certain technology works.
  • Hybrid: Combines business benefits with technical details in a single document.
  • Policy: Makes a case for a certain political solution to a societal or economic challenge.
Name the best white paper you ever read? (comment that in the field)..
What categoy of white papers is the best?
Do you think white papers are too expensive or they give adequate ROI?
To be continued- including

  1. demographic and social network analysis of analysts and white paper sponsors to measure interaction effects.
  2. white papers segmented by type of software company
  3. proc freq analysis of the words frequency data viz in white papers written by same analysts for different companies on same topics.
  4. Race and ethnic analysis of influencers and analysts in Business Analysts and Business Intelligence. – Null hypothesis – it is not a white mans world, women, Hispanics and other minorities are adequately represented.
Why I am doing this?
I am writing a white paper on WHO writes a white paper? 
Sponsorships are invited- but academics and startups in analytics may be preferred.

Business Intelligence and Stat Computing: The White Man's Last Stand

Unknown White Male
Image via Wikipedia

Name an industry in which top level executives are mostly white males, new recruits are mostly male (white or Indian/Chinese), women are primarily shunted into publicity relationships, social media or marketing.

Statistical Computing And Business Intelligence are the white man’s last stand to preserve an exclusive club of hail fellow well met and lets catch up after drinks culture. Newer startups are the exception in the business intelligence world , but  a whiter face helps (so do an Indian or Chinese male) to attract a mostly male white venture capital industry.

I have earlier talked about technology being totally dominated by Asian males at grad student level and ASA membership almost not representing minorities like blacks and yes women- but this is about corporate culture in the traditional BI world.

If you are connected to the BI or Stat Computing world, who would you rather hire AND who have you actually hired- with identical resumes

White Male or White Female or Brown Indian Male/Female or Yellow Male/Female or Black Male or Black Female

How many Black Grad Assistants do you see in tech corridors- (Nah- it is easier to get a  hard working Chinese /Indian- who smiles and does a great job at $12/hour)

How many non- Asian non white Authors do you see in technology and does that compare to pie chart below


racist image Pictures, Images and Photos

Note_ 2010 Census numbers arent available for STEM, and I was unable to find ethnic background for various technology companies, because though these numbers are collected for legal purposes, they are not publicly shared.

Any technology company which has more than 40% women , or more than 10% blacks would be fairly representative to the US population. Anecdotal evidence suggests European employment for minorities is worse (especially for Asians) but better for women.

Any data sources to support/ refute these hypothesis are welcome for purposes of scientific inquiry.

racist math image Pictures, Images and Photos

Libre Office

Some ambiguity about Libre Office and why it needed to change from Open Office- just when Open Office seemed so threatening on the desktop

FROM- http://www.documentfoundation.org/faq/

Q: So is this a breakaway project?

A: Not at all. The Document Foundation will continue to be focused on developing, supporting, and promoting the same software, and it’s very much business as usual. We are simply moving to a new and more appropriate organisational model for the next decade – a logical development from Sun’s inspirational launch a decade ago.

Q: Why are you calling yourselves “The Document Foundation”?

A: For ten years we have used the same name – “OpenOffice.org” – for both the Community and the software. We’ve decided it removes ambiguity to have a different name for the two, so the Community is now “The Document Foundation”, and the software “LibreOffice”. Note: there are other examples of this usage in the free software community – e.g. the Mozilla Foundation with the Firefox browser.

Q: Does this mean you intend to develop other pieces of software?

A: We would like to have that possibility open to us in the future…

Q: And why are you calling the software “LibreOffice” instead of “OpenOffice.org”?

A: The OpenOffice.org trademark is owned by Oracle Corporation. Our hope is that Oracle will donate this to the Foundation, along with the other assets it holds in trust for the Community, in due course, once legal etc issues are resolved. However, we need to continue work in the meantime – hence “LibreOffice” (“free office”).

Q: Why are you building a new web infrastructure?

A: Since Oracle’s takeover of Sun Microsystems, the Community has been under “notice to quit” from our previous Collabnet infrastructure. With today’s announcement of a Foundation, we now have an entity which can own our emerging new infrastructure.

Q: What does this announcement mean to other derivatives of OpenOffice.org?

A: We want The Document Foundation to be open to code contributions from as many people as possible. We are delighted to announce that the enhancements produced by the Go-OOo team will be merged into LibreOffice, effective immediately. We hope that others will follow suit.

Q: What difference will this make to the commercial products produced by Oracle Corporation, IBM, Novell, Red Flag, etc?

A: The Document Foundation cannot answer for other bodies. However, there is nothing in the licence arrangements to stop companies continuing to release commercial derivatives of LibreOffice. The new Foundation will also mean companies can contribute funds or resources without worries that they may be helping a commercial competitor.

Q: What difference will The Document Foundation make to developers?

A: The Document Foundation sets out deliberately to be as developer friendly as possible. We do not demand that contributors share their copyright with us. People will gain status in our community based on peer evaluation of their contributions – not by who their employer is.

Q: What difference will The Document Foundation make to users of LibreOffice?

A: LibreOffice is The Document Foundation’s reason for existence. We do not have and will not have a commercial product which receives preferential treatment. We only have one focus – delivering the best free office suite for our users – LibreOffice.

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Non Microsoft and Non Oracle vendors are indeed going to find it useful the possiblities of bundling a free Libre Office that reduces the total cost of ownership for analytics software. Right now, some of the best free advertising for Microsoft OS and Office is done by enterprise software vendors who create Windows Only Products and enable MS Office integration better than  Open Office integration. This is done citing user demand- but it is a chicken egg dilemma- as functionality leads to enhanced demand. Microsoft on the other hand is aware of this dependence and has made SQL Server and SQL Analytics (besides investing in analytics startups like Revolution Analytics) along with it’s own infrastructure -Azure Cloud Platform/EC2 instances.

Search, Sports,Social Media,SlideShares, Scribd

An image of a house fly eye surface by using S...
Image via Wikipedia

Some slideshare.net presentations I really liked.

A tutorial on SEO and SEM-

Carole Ann Matignon deals with optimization and scheduling, rules in the…….NFL!

 

 

Carole, We are waiting for the sequel on  analytics on football and the beer game.

Social Media Screw-Ups

Social Media doesnt matter at all- Social Media matters a lot- Still undecided? Take a look

Slideshare is a great VISUAL interface on sharing content. I liked Google Docs embedding as well, but Matt Mullenberg and Matt Cutts seemed to have stopped talking. Mullenberg is going like Zuckenberg, not willing to align with Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin. or maybe they are afraid of Big Brother Brin. Google loves Java and Javascript (even when they are getting sued for it)- while Matt M  hates it- bad for RIA I guess.

Scribd also is a great way to share content- and probably is small enough for. WordPress.com to allow embedding

Thats the reason why I sometimes prefer Scribd for sharing my poetry to Slideshare and Google Docs. Also I like the enhanced analytics and the much easier and evolved interface for reading. Slideshare is much more successful than Scribd because it is open to sharing with everyone- scribd tries to get you to register …;)

(* Also see MIT’s beer game at http://beergame.mit.edu/ which is ahem different from Duke’s beer games).

 

 

My latest creation

I have just teamed up to create my latest venture called Kush Cognitives (Kush is my son). The firm is gonna make websites, build statistical analysis and offer social media offerings. It’s my latest venture and it merges all my previous ones and skills. After almost 3 years of working on and off with multiple people, this one is with a friend in the US.

Over the years (since 2007) I have made http://virtua-analytics.com (defunct), Swarajya Analytics Private Limited (www.swanplc.com – now sold) and now Kush Cognitives. I have gone through the models of proprietorship and corporation and now partnership.

Kush Cognitives is hosted at Decisionstats.com (as our flagship website) and we have shifted the blog to Decisionstats.Wordpress.com

We are aiming at the startups and small and medium segments first, but we retain capabilities for bigger clients as well. Lesser Bullshit and More Bang for your Buck.

So wish us luck- and if you need any social media advice, statistical analysis to be done, or technical matters of creating websites-This also includes training customization in R , SAS  , and statistical software but from a more practical point of view from a user angle. We are able to cater to both US and Indian clients.

give us a buzz at http://decisionstats.com

regards

Ajay Ohri

Image Courtesy-michelangelo