Cay Reads


Vikram Somaya is  a quiet, educated member of startupia. He makes his way through the nooks and crannies of Silicon Alley with charm, verve and some small order of wit and resides in the UWS with the wife, the dog and the Turkindian peanut-boy.


The Man Who Saw Tomorrow

When I pulled up the nytimes this evening, I saw a headline I thought I would never see. To those of us who have been brought up reading Verne and Asimov, this was the man we thought we live forever. Arthur C. Clarke passed away today but his incredible legacy will live on in the minds and ideas of many generations to come.

acc.jpgGrowing up in India, I often retreated into my books of pure utopia. Books about neutron stars and hypergates and space elevators and the worldnet. This was the man whose fertile mind spawned so many of those wonderful creations that now are beginning to morph into our living reality.

It is not often that we lose a visionary whose imagination alone has been able to move the minds of some of the most innovative and inquisitive amongst us. There will be many others who write about his books, his writings, his inventions and his musings. I merely write about the loss I feel.

There are some writers who become a very part of our DNA. Whose sense of curiosity becomes the standard to which we aspire.  Among my ACTG's, there dwells a part that will forever be ACC. Journey well Mr. Clarke.


The Girl Next Door

It would appear that the woman of the day is the young lady who catered to Client no. 9. In an interesting turn of events, it appears she lives in the building across the street from our offices here in Chelsea.

IMG_0217.JPGHere is an aerial view of the building - new trucks, police cars and paparazzi galore.

Only in New York :) 

From the cw11(Local NYC affiliate) site: article

"The woman, known only as "Kristen" a few days ago, is really Ashley Youmans, 22, but refers to herself as Ashley Alexandra Dupré, The New York Times reported.

Youmans, a former resident of Belmar, N.J., lives in a Chelsea apartment where a throng of media showed up Wednesday night."


Ray Ozzie Speaks to Yahoo

An interesting, thought not entirely unexpected article from MSFT via FT this morning:

"Microsoft would not rush to merge its technology platform with Yahoo's after a takeover of the internet company, even if meant delaying some of the potential benefits to shareholders from any deal, says Microsoft's chief software architect.

"Technology companies, if they dive in and just smash things together for smashing them together's sake, it's reckless, it's just simply reckless," said Ray Ozzie, who took on the company's top software technology role from Bill Gates in 2006.

His comments, made in an interview last week, highlight the technological difficulties Microsoft would face if it succeeded with its unsolicited takeover, worth $41.4bn.

"They have a number of different types of technologies. They have their own corporate culture," Mr Ozzie said."

 Therein lies the rub. If MSFT is to recoup its investment within two years, it needs to do what MSFT does, which is to rip through the Yahoo technology stack, discard the competitors and find out where they can loft out Yahoo code and square peg in the germane MSFT technology. This is certainly what the bean-counters would prefer and MSFT has had mixed success in managing this through much smaller acquisitions.

ray.jpgI have to give Mr. Ozzie credit for going public with his stance. That last quote was certainly directed at the lemmings that are rushing for the Yahoo cliff to head out into the wide world of technology outside of MSFT/Yahoo. In order to retain the talent that is looking at this deal with rather jaundiced eyes, MSFT needed to make a public appeal to them and who better to do it than Bill Gates' anointed Software Guru?

It remains to be seen whether this will have any real effect on the old guard at Yahoo and whether they will see this as  a meaningful statement or another sop to getting the deal done.  If it is indeed meant as written, Mr. Ozzie is certainly going to have to fight a two-front war against the Yahoo insurgents and his very own Corporate Development team. Not a particularly enviable task but one that I, for one, would certainly applaud.


Of EPG and Meta Tagging

Today I saw something that made me think about all the hype around meta-data and how they're changing the data landscape in online media. I have often wondered about EPG writers for years and today saw a description egregious enough to actually want to talk about it. For those few of you not aware, an EPG is an electronic program guide and it's the interactive channel and show description screen you can bring up on your cable box that has essentially made TV Guide redundant in just a few short years. Every so often I'll bring up the description of a show and burst into laughter at the rather unique take of some unknown writer.

Today I saw one of my favorites. I do understand that the Predator movies may not be everybody's cup of tea but may it never be said that the Predator (an alien hunter from another planet, came to Earth to go on safari - for humans), is anything but a well acknowledged cult-film bad ass. Someone disagreed:

IMG_0211.JPG"Predator 2: TV 14: 2 stars: Made 1990: L.A Police hunt a sneaky alien creature in 1997"




Sneaky alien creature? Here's what a Predator looks like. Enough said about "sneaky" as a descriptive term.


So what this makes clear is that this movie was certainly not seen or even particularly well explained to the writer aforementioned. In essence the description here is built for consumers but also represents meta-tagging of this particular piece of content as well. So how does this tie into some of the aspects of meta-driven advertising we're beginning to hear about?

Tagging represents the tip of the iceberg for content-providers. Effective tagging of its content across any medium/screen/format allows them to build any number of targeting models depending on the comprehensiveness, the accuracy and the structure of the meta-tagging model.

However, the effectiveness of this tagging goes down tremendously, if they are not truly representative of the content to which they are linked. So what this ridiculous EPG "tag" makes me ask is - who is doing our tagging and how effectively are we doing it? So much of the future of interactive media will be built around these intangible meta-models, I hope that it's being built with scientific rather than media discipline.  

In our industry, I've had ample opportunity to see what wildly differing attitudes content-providers have taken concerning the integrity and accuracy of their meta-data. There is no question that the more complex the technology and its reliance on accurate data, the more companies will feel the burn to provide powerful, accurate meta-data and the rise of the semantic web and  natural language processing  should certainly bring it even more to the fore.

Here's to the Predator (2) getting the kick ass description he deserves.  


Nanny York City

New York  seems to be losing any semblance of the wild, young thing she used to be. The newest symbol of the nanny state is something I haven't seen before.
IMG_0210.JPG This is an image taken from a New York sidewalk. What the sticker on the store glass seems to be asking is - "Please don't smoke on the sidewalks". I have come around to the no-smoke-in-the-hair pleasantry of non-smoking bars, however, it seems to me that in a city where jay-walking describes a bird locomoting on the ground and a man's Mercedes is his castle, that it's somewhat obnoxious to request that we officially surrender to the healthy mafia even while walking past every front door in Chelsea.

I wanted to take the time to actually explore the law around this but my confusion overwhelmed me and I felt the need to document this before I was sidetracked by good sense.