What's the Buzz

What does a HBS student need to know about technology? The world is changing, and it’s changing quickly. Take a couple of minutes to get acquainted with the latest developments:

Corporate Instant Messaging
Instant messaging is about to go corporate. Whether introduced through AOL, yahoo, or MSN, millions of people have taken to instant messaging over the past decade. With personal use of instant messaging becoming commonplace, more and more people are beginning to use messaging in the workplace. While the usefulness of this tool is clear, security and privacy issues surrounding messaging are not. This space will become very hot in the near future as everyone from AOL to IBM to start-ups try to convince companies big and small that theirs is the best solution.

Expect messaging in the workplace to be secure, logged, and monitored.

One of the most exciting technological developments is not really a technology at all, but an idea that is generating buzz everywhere. “Blog” is a contraction of the words “Web” and “Log.” Basically it’s a relatively new publishing format that is something like a journal or diary. There are two things that make blogs particularly cool (and important):

1) Blogs lower the hurdle for publishing. What does this mean? It means that all sorts of things are getting published today that would not have been published without this medium. For an example check out //www.contrast.org/treesit/

2) Blogs allow normal people access to primary source material. This may mean that you follow the work of a scientist intimately, or “listen” to the unedited opinions of a political columnist.

Harvard has a program to promote weblogs (blogs.law.harvard.edu). And two of your classmates have blogs:

o //blogs.law.harvard.edu/macExperiment/ (a new web log that tracks my experience using a mac at HBS)

o//www.jennyandadam.com/adam/ (Adam Medros MBA’04 has been at this for over a year)

The idea is that anyone can do this, so if you are interested, you could set up the third (or fourth, or fifth) HBS weblog.

This wireless technology is named after the viking king who preferred talking to fighting. Bluetooth promises that your printer, digital camera, cell phone, and PDA will all talk seamlessly and without wires. While Bluetooth has been around for years, it appears that we are finally at the verge of this wireless reality. New laptops have bluetooth, Microsoft has released a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and many cell phones are Bluetooth enabled. My favorite Bluetooth application is a program called Clicker that allows you to control your computer remotely using a Sony-Ericsson T68 phone. You can even set your computer to play a theme song when it senses that you’ve entered a room! And for the slightly less geeky among us, the phone works as a remote control for powerpoint presentations.

Digital Music Delivery
There is a lot of talk right now about whether record companies are going to be able to make money off of digital music. While MP3 players have come a long way, with popular players like the iPod enabling storage of up to 7500 songs, digital music delivery has been at a standstill since the Napster days. The largest experiment to date was launched last week when Apple announced their new music store. Songs are $0.99 and albums $9.99 and less. I can say personally that I’ve spent more money on music in the past week than in the last 3 months combined. All 5 record companies are represented, and the service is beautifully integrated into iTunes, Apple’s jukebox software.

Wireless (802.11a/b/g)
While the “wireless revolution” is a topic of excitement for many, you might not know exactly what this means and how it will effect you. On the HBS campus we benefit from wireless networks, you might be considering building your own wireless network at home (see Micah’s How-To), but what else is happening in the wireless space?

The first large community wireless network in the world is on Newbury St. in Boston. The network is serving as an interesting new marketing model and finding worldwide attention. You can read more at www.NewburyOpen.net.

New phones are starting to pop up that use an approach called voice over internet protocol (or simply VOIP). Cisco just announced their entry into this area last week, and Motorola and Nextel are reportedly coming out with VOIP phones in the near future. What does this mean? With access to a WiFi network phone calls from across the ocean could cost the same amount as phone calls placed within your office.

The first laptops with integrated 802.11g are shipping. This is the latest of the wireless standards and is capable of transfer speeds 35x faster than typical broadband speeds.