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Friday, December 12, 2003
Transition - Making Sense of the Digital Age 

Title: Transition -
Making Sense of the Digital Age
Author: Oon Yeoh
I'm sure many of you would have heard of the new book by Oon Yeoh, called Transition. If not, then maybe this review could serve as an introduction and hopefully be useful to you. It's truly an insightful book and agreeing with the comments from Yeap Jin-Soo, Managing Director of Korn/Ferry International (Kuala Lumpur) on this book, - this is cool writing indeed.

Transition is divided into four main parts, namely Technology, Issues, New Media and Concepts, with subchapters under each part. In the first two chapters under "Technology", the author wrote about the wireless technology, outlining current technology of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G. The areas of application for these three technologies are inherently different and each appeal to different users in the market. They might seem to be competing technologies, but in the question of Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi, Yeoh reckons that it's unlikely that we'll see a typical winner-loser situation, but instead will likely to co-exist, even complement each other. As for 3G, there is a need to upgrade the current mobile phone systems, which often suffer under congestion. In this sense, 3G is a necessity - not a luxury, says Yeoh. He futher talked about concepts and ideas, which can be adopted from successful, existing companies in order to make 3G more marketable.

In the following chapter, Yeoh talked about the provision of broadband, its pricing and its importance to a country like Malaysia - a country with an ambition to turn into a knowledge economy as well as a technological hub in its region. He says that our country should emulate South Korea with their success in implementing broadband - about 70% of the household there has broadband access. In the chapter "P2P", Yeoh explains what peer-to-peer (P2P) computing is all about, giving three distinct concepts involved, namely file-sharing, distributed computing and online collaboration. He completed the Technology section with a chapter on web services, explaining clearly how web services are being used today, standards available, and its future in our evermore advanced (and demanding) society.

In "Issues", the author touched on issues of internet jurisdiction and intellectual property. He cited examples and cases involving international disputes in the world of "borderless domain of cyberspace". Protection of intellectual property in the digital age is also certainly different and "virtually impossible" in a time, where distribution of exact duplicates of digital content is a norm. Yeoh explained why some companies are putting more value into their services rather than surviving solely on the sale of products. Some even give away their product for free, but charge customers by providing additional services. He also touched on the provision of online music and how the concept of distributing MP3s via the Internet is a norm these days, since made popular by Napster just a few years ago.

Other issues mentioned included the importance of the appearance of a website, internet censorship as well as Yeoh's views on the concept of having online relationships. Read about why he thought that "Style + Technology = Fantasy" and look at how internet censorships are being used, be it by governments to restrict foreign news or by parents filtering offensive materials from their children.

In the subsequent section, "New Media", the author discussed five topics, including online media, blogs, deep linking, the issue of charging internet content, and streaming video. He analysed three popular and significant sites in Asia, namely South Korea's OhmyNews.com, India's Tahelka.com and not forgetting, Malaysiakini.com. OhmyNews is very influential with the Koreans, even able to move public opinion. Tahelka had its moments as well, but at this moment, as Oon Yeoh puts it, "is all but dead". Malaysiakini, launched during the general elections in 1999, also plays an important role. Unlike many of the controlled mainstream newspapers, this online news provider is "committed to press freedom, giving opportunities for different viewpoints to be aired, especially in its letters section". Being more familiar with the local news provider, the author provided more details on Malaysiakini than on OhmyNews or Tahelka.

Many of you reading this review probably owns a blog already. If not, read on what having a blog (or in its full term, a weblog) is all about. Yeoh defines blog in a nutshell as "a series of ongoing commentaries that include embedded links to external web pages". A blog, he says, could complement mainstream media and "expand the media universe". Carrying forward the discussion, he talked about approaches to deep linking - its negative aspects and benefits. It all depends on how the deep linking is done, he says.

Should internet content be charged? Yeoh discussed this question and listed available (and suitable) methods, which providers can use to charge users. He ended this section with a chapter on streaming video, which is fast gaining popularity. Take a look at where MPEG-4 is heading and where it seems to fit in with current media formats and the various media players.

Finally, Yeoh provided some tips on concepts, such as internet speed (i.e. tips for acquiring "internet speed"), human networking (i.e. tips on how to establish and expand your network), creativity and innovation (i.e. tips to help you improve creativity), free agency (i.e. tips on how to become a successful free agent), and the "art of the buzz" (i.e. tips for creating a successful viral-marketing campaign).

Overall, this book covered a wide range of the many and different technologies in our society today. Whether you are a technology expert or not, I believe this book provides a wealth of useful information on various issues - many of them in relation to the Malaysian society. What's more, this book comes with a web companion for additional information and updates. From the website, you can get a feel for the book by reading summaries of the various chapters I've mentioned above. Go check it out. I'm sure you'll like what you see.

Ivan  # 5:11 PM
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