Anticipatory web services

The Anticipatory/Predictive/ Intention Web

We all have silent little conversations with our computers, don’t we? Admit it. “No, that’s not what I meant.” “Go back.” “Are you still alive?” We talk to them like they are pets. We hope they will understand a few words we give them, knowing we will have to remind them again and again to get down off the couch, to stop eating slippers, to sit. We talk to other things too, lots of things, that don’t talk back with us.

Computers (software, web services), however, enable more complex discussions and as technology is taking hold of more and more of our time, there exists the early inefficiencies of any major change. The creation and distribution of information online, your information, and that of everyone else remains for the moment at a pivot point, balancing between traditional media control and a rising of consumer-driven content. The time is ripe for a significant advancement* in the “anticipatory web.” A change in the user experience is about to come.

Sit. Stay. Good Web.

CartoonIt’s fair to say I have spent a lot of my life on computers, on software development, and the marketing of each. Five years ago, my attention centered on connecting companies with their customers primarily by paying for lead information, casting test advertising nets into the Internet ocean, and mitigating their adoption concerns (i.e. understanding why they wouldn’t buy.) Now, working on our own software (finally) at Grabbit I am thinking more about the intelligence of software to understand a user’s needs, preferences, patterns, etc. (all without endangering their trust.)

The complex equations of algorithms combined with the implicit behavior and data given to us by the user will help developers create next-generation software systems that anticipate more fully who you are and what you want from an end-user perspective. We’ve seen baby steps in this direction for many years online. Auto-fill forms, “keep me logged in” buttons, and so on. But software can take a big step — a step that produces interaction.

Companies can address product or service concerns, or open public discussions about other issues concerning their customers and by doing so, anticipate what user’s want (importantly) based on use AND explicit feedback, for instance. In turn, customers can offer – by way of behavior or explicitly-given feedback – additional information about themselves. Also, because of periodic down economies, lack of capital and simple software that provides basic information, many software companies (especially internal divisions of large corporations and underfunded start-ups) circumvent market research, focus groups and other comprehensive testing techniques for the web services and pay for it in adoption or poor press.

* The term Anticipatory web is not in any way a ‘new’ term. Q. Why now? A. Product and service providers have conglomerated into several the major categories. They have matured enough to offer partner programs, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and support for these. Concurrently, web service developers are creating sophisticated programs to anticipate consumer behavior, therefor unlocking revenue for many of the software companies who will have otherwise failed. Happy customer. Happy company. Happy investors.

Have an example to share? I’d love to hear about it!

You thought PayPal was it?


Finally, some true innovation for peer-to-peer online payments from a company establishing itself with partners who will really help distribute their service. Partners like AOL and Facebook.


Jason Hogg grew up in the finance industry, in fact his father works for MasterCard. Jason was a founder of MBNA Canada and served as chief business development and marketing operations for them.

Over a year ago, I met Jason, along with members of his board (Steve Case included) for an intimate briefing to a handful of interest journalists. The parent company Revolution, was premiering a subsidiary of that company called RevolutionMoney. I was in that group, sitting along “real” journalists, with their tattered notebooks, scribbling furiously as Jason spoke. Me, with my iPhone, trying for one of the first times, to type quickly. Unable to keep up, I resorted to jotting down topics, looking with envy to the fast-moving pens beside me on either side. Well, I thought, I’ll get it all in an interview. People tell me Steve doesn’t have the best business sense all the time, but I still have a soft spot for him because of my time at Netscape. Jason sticking it to his dad for the interests rates alone seemed satisfying enough to chase him down for a chat.

And after all, what Jason was doing, seemed like an interesting story — putting the power of money lending, and terms of those relationships into the hands of the people actually at risk. I liked it. I thought it would allow so many people across the world, from those who get caught in the problem of “we can’t lend you money because you need it” to those in 3rd world countries still just hearing rumors of technological advances, sheltered from the knowledge of the opportunities around them.

There was something I liked too, about what Jason must have learned from his father. The enormous interest rates and late fees credit card companies change consumers is a large problem. So many people are in debt, or have debt war stories. RevolutionMoney was sounding like EvolutionMoney. Terms negotiated directly between two (or more) parties. I thought more than once about my Indian friend Arijit, with whom I would trust to back for a business initiative he may have, regardless of his resources.

I called RevolutionMoney’s press contact a couple of times. She didn’t return my calls. I tried email, finally she told me she was no longer with the company and gave me a new name. I tried the new name, to the same end. Eventually they told me that Jason was too busy for an interview, and now I know why.

American Express bought them! What a sell out. Back to Paypal and looking into services like


Dr. Zhong Lin Wang, Georgia Institute of Technology (Podcast and Interview Transcript)

Recorded from an earlier interview.

Select, related slides are Slides from Georgia Institute of Technology.


Lisa Padilla: Good morning. It’s 08:32 AM Pacific Time on Friday, narrowly escaping Friday the 13th today so 12th 2008 and we are talking with Dr. Zhong Lin Wang today who is Regents’ Professor of the School of Materials Science and Engineering for the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. And he is joining us today to give us his thoughts and ideas about biomimicry and the future of technology. And I see on my switchboard that Dr. Wang has called in so let’s see if I can bring him in. Dr. Wang, are you there?

Dr. Wang: Yes. Can you hear me?

Lisa Padilla: I can hear you just fine. Thank you very much, it works out very well that you can call me. We are actually doing a dual live broadcast because the phone call is another audio technology that doesn’t do live videos but does fantastic audio and I just have to give some — to those guys just. This is going to be a show about technology and I am comparing Ustream versus the audio platform BlogTalkRadio. And Ustream has some very attractive features to it and you can see the UI feels comfortable and they are meant for live broadcast but definitely more on the video side. So Dr. Wang, enough about that, let’s talk about you because I know we are riding a little bit late and I want to be sure that if we run past let’s see what is noon your time that–

Dr. Wang: Okay I have till 2 o’clock.

Lisa Padilla: Okay no problem. One second, okay. So are you on the Ustream site now?

Dr. Wang: Yeah you mean the video right?

Lisa Padilla: Yeah the video. Why don’t we go ahead and start the broadcast?

(Informal Talk)

Lisa Padilla: Okay. So let’s start with you introducing yourself and then I can just step through these questions with you. How does that sound?

(Informal Talk)

Lisa Padilla: Okay so go ahead, let’s just get started. Why don’t we start by having you introduce yourself.

Dr. Wang: Okay. My name is Dr. Zhong Lin Wang, people normally call me by my two initials ZL Wang. I am Regents’ Professor at Georgia Tech, and my expertise is in nanotechnology nanomaterials. My personal background is in physics. I received PhD from Arizona State University in 1987 and I have been a professor at Georgia Tech for the last 15 years, and my main research is on nanotechnology and some related to energy research in Biotechnology.

Lisa Padilla: Fantastic. And you are widely cited as an expert in this field and involved in many projects globally and there is a couple that we will get into. And maybe it will be most natural to talk about those two projects that I mentioned earlier after we sort of investigate the question about your inspiration for studying in this field and your work in biomimicry?

Dr. Wang: We have several projects going on and the first one is related to energy holistic and the second project that is biomimetic applications, and let me come to the first project for the energy. I have been involved in nanotechnology over last 15 years, we build all kind of nano-devices for biological sensing, gas sensing, chemical sensing, and various devices. One key challenging question came to my mind a few years ago that if you build those devices, how are you going to power that because these devices are very small, power consumption is extremely low. So the key question is that can we have energy from environment so that we don’t need to use a battery so this little device can be sustainable working, wireless remotely for whatever time you expect it. So with this in my mind we started research in energy harvesting and that’s one of my major research project today. The second project is related to biomimic. We utilize biological species to fabricate new materials and let me probably use a couple of photographs to show you our research. And what I have here is if you can see this is a butterfly wing, right. Do you see the butterfly wing? And if you see this picture here, this is a scanning electron microscope image of the butterfly wing. This has unique colors and what we try to do is that can we replicate these butterfly wings to make new photonic devices. And biological species have the most advanced, most unique and most optimized structures that have photonic, many, many different properties so I will go can we replicate this to make new photonic devices that we are unable to fabricate by our own. So that was one of the inspiration to do this biomimic studies. So that would be a very brief overview of the two topics we do now, and let me elaborate a little bit on the energy side. Why do we need a small power source for applications involved? If you have a biological (Indiscernible) sensor, cancer detections, biological species detections, you are unable to have a battery to run in your body to drive these devices. Over a big scope, can you replace the battery that run the pacemaker by the energy generated from your heart beating, from your blood flow, from your body movement, your muscle movement. If we can have this energy, you can power some biological sensors, and this is one of our motivations to develop this energy harvesting technology.

Lisa Padilla: And Dr. Wang can you elaborate a little bit on application of being able to replicate how replicating the colors in those wings and in optical splitters might switch us from computer chips that are predominant today? [Full article]

Funding culture – the life of a VC

This week’s guest on Lisacast is Mr. Sean Wise, multi-talented tv show host and columnist on entrepreneurship and venture capital for Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper. Sean has just released a book called Wise Words, providing advice from the inside track on funding and growing your business. successful money-raising entrepreneurs were rats…

Sean would be the Pied Piper. In Ernst & Young’s newly formed venture capital group, he launched boot camps for entrepreneurs on the art of raising VC and angel funding, and trained over 2500 company founders who have collectively gone on to raise more than $890M in capital.

Listen to the stream live and call-in to listen or ask questions 1 (646) 478-4956 at 10 am PST this Sunday, June 24th, 2007. Chat live with me here at during and after the show. We’re going to talk funding and entreprenuer culture.

Delayed justice

A follow up from this week’s show with Rafael Martinez Alequin who was supposed to have his press credentials addressed on the 15th this week:

“The following is an article publish today in the New York Sun. Last night the police department called me at home to tell me that the appointment schedule for today was cancelled. It is re-scheduled for next tuesday 8/22 at 11:00am. “

You can read the article written by Grace Ruah at the New York Sun and mentioned by Rafael, here:

Also, here is more information about the woman Rafael mentioned who disappeared from Cancun:

If you happen to know anything about this case, please email me. This woman’s mother and father would be thankful. I wrote a post this morning about how online communities can help each other and this is a perfect example.