A Social Network with Aged Groups


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I read Fred Wilson‘s post on Explicit vs Implicit Groups tonight.  It struck me that the right model for Google Plus (and any group based social network) is the concept of “aged groups”. So I can toss anyone into a group but over time a lack of interaction or engagement “ages” them out of the group. So groups remain small and focussed on the active members. The asynchronous nature of Google+ groups is ideally suited to this model and could be an option for users to set on their accounts.

With aged groups I’d be much more likely to allow Google+ to parse my address book and add members based on groups I already have setup or even suggest groups based on email conversations I’ve had in the past.

The key issue is for the groups to reflect the dynamic nature of relationships. I work in a company and then I leave, guess what? most of those relationships die within a year or so. I don’t want those (now) strangers still shot through my Facebook and Google+ account.

Google Storage Available to All

Google made its Google Storage API available to all today. This is the service that is likely to make Google AppEngine useful, as the existing BigTable storage system was just too painful for words and not designed for large blobs. Its certainly feels a bit slicker in execution than AWS S3 and has a more polished user experience from a getting started perspective. It was several months after S3 launched before somebody built a third party browser that would allow you to look at you buckets online.

They use a similar model to S3 of unique bucket names, so get in quick in you want a bucket called “test” or “src” 🙂  The naming conventions for objects are restricted, so you cannot expect to upload an arbitrary directory of files and expect it to succeed. The uploading process must perform some kind of name mapping process that converts illegal names to legal ones.

The do make a big deal about allowing developers to specify whether buckets and their contents are located in Europe (where in Europe?) or not  but read the T&Cs carefully. Section 2.2 makes it clear that Google can process your data just about anywhere including the US. It’s only “data at rest” that can be specified as stored in Europe. So all your data is essentially available to US agencies should that choose to take a peak. The most lame restriction in the T&C’s is the restriction on using Google Storage to create a “Google Storage like” system. Let’s put a layer in front of Google Storage that is like Google Storage but slower and less resilient and costs more, oh I definitely want to sign up for that service 🙂

They provide a version of the excellent Boto library that has been repurposed for use against Google Storage, this is the best indication yet that the Google API’s must be pretty close to the S3 APIs in structure. The main difference is the use of OAuth to give fine grained access to the storage objects. This is the biggest win for Google and I hope to see Microsoft Azure, RackSpace CloudFiles and AWS S3 following suite fairly quickly.

It would also be great to see the Boto changes for Google Storage rolled back into the Boto mainline.

More jobs for those that already have them

Silicon Republic had a great article recently reporting on the explosion of jobs in the tech sector. The IDA chief appears to be postively crowing about his success. Well that’s great, but it won’t move the unemployment needle one basis point.

Why? Because The tech in Ireland sector has virtually 100% employment, take a look at the indeed.ie search for software engineers to see the indigenous requirements.

It takes 4 years to make a new graduate engineer and the current intake of computer scientists and engineers is a fraction of what it was ten years ago. This means we get the same number of technical experts chasing a vastly expanded universe of technical employers.

The last time this happened was in the previous tech boom in 2000. Then, TCD was stamping out over 150 computer scientists a year from various different disciplines (Maths, Computer Science, Engineering). Today I think the total output each year is less than 50. Other colleges has experienced similar downturns.

The net effect of this is a spiralling wage inflation for technical staff, which is good if you are an engineer, but rotten news if you are an employer and an absolute disaster if you are a start-up competing for technical expertise.

Foreign Direct Investment companies (think Google, Oracle, Intel, IBM etc. etc.) who are moving here because it is a “low cost” development centre are in for the same surprise that companies who opened up in India got. Huge velocity of staff between jobs, sign on bonuses and rapidly inflating salaries.

In the noughties we could address shortages by importing expertise from overseas but who wants to move to a country that everyone in the world thinks is an economic basket case?

What to do? First of all understand that bringing in FDI companies that pay practically no tax revenue to the Irish government are of little utility to Ireland inc. from a balance of payments perspective. Second of all they create an unbalanced market as they can continue to afford to pay inflated salaries which squeezes the price up for indigenous companies competing for staff. Those companies are generally in worse shape financially and less able to withstand the stress of these salary increases.

Secondly we need to make more techologists and make them faster. In the 80’s companies like Nixdorf ran conversion courses for the thousands of arts graduates who couldn’t find jobs in our devastated  economy and the tech colleges provided a huge array of cross training. Their is a huge opportunity to retrain those that are capable of switching to a technology career (like most career choices its not for everyone).

Pity our training agency FAS is a such a busted flush, we could really do with them right now.