Tag Archives: Xavier Villagonzalo

The Stradbroke Connection: Study with my father again

“It is said some lives are linked across time, Connected by an ancient calling that echoes through the ages”

— From the 2006 movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND, Queensland— The day for our trip to an island fell exactly on my birthday. It was the 10th of May 2012 and I was even more excited knowing that I can once again find myself on a quest to go on a soul searching of some description.

Photo by Shao Cheng Heng

Photo by Shao Cheng Heng

Another year has passed and I had a difficult juggling act of completing few academic work loads whilst battling with the tyranny of distance, being away from few family members back home. Plus keeping track of some priorities in life including most especially my faith, friends and university—so I have to make sure I have time to get a little time off and break away from the normal routine.

Little did my companions of that special trip know that after their singing of ‘Happy Birthday’, I was bound to entertain the idea of just sitting alone on a distant corner and engage on a peaceful relaxation and just forget about studying, while basking under the Aussie sun.  Despite the short break in between the next itinerary in the island, just around lunch time, oh boy was I lucky to take time drawing in the sand!


Personal reflections

Since it was my birthday it was an opportune time for me to reflect on what I have done so far in my life, particularly from the time I had to pick up myself after that tragic family event when I was nine, involving my mother’s vehicular accident—which led me to an awakening that I have to move on (hence, the theme of my very first post).

To start off, I guess I have constantly seen myself as a work in progress. Having to also endure the pain of the loss of my father due to complications of a health disorder, then to some of my own personal heartbreak stories and what not, sometimes I found that in nostalgic moments I clearly do not want them to be a usual refrain anymore.  Yet I know it is a part of my life and I am happy to rise and fall each time, and learn every step of the way—albeit those were all the source of my inspiration and definitely where I draw confidence from.


Seeking now for some connection whilst looking back to my timeline, allow me to start by remembering what my old man wished for in his own life. I have learned from my sister that it was my father’s wish to also study abroad—and he was nearly close to that as he was no doubt a brilliant guy who sought for possible opportunities in life to better the way of living after marrying my mother. I knew there was a sort of scholarship which he got qualified for, to study in the US during his early days.

Not only did he not have enough financial means to process his papers, he also did not get the much needed support from family members on his side including my mother’s—merely because of his imperfect health condition.  Early on, his life was a constant combat with life-threatening complications; heart-attack plus all the added misery and suffering caused by diabetes.  Particularly to his family and relatives, this meant that overseas travel would perhaps only worsen this.

But I’d like to believe that anybody who knew him well can easily get an impression that he is likely to set this plan in stone. But despite that sheer determination, he later believed that chasing this dream of furthering his studies abroad—as a conduit for escaping poverty—would only remain his one elusive dream.


Following Papa’s footprints 

Fittingly enough are the words spoken by the wife of the current US president, quoting the words she herself borrowed from her parents: “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dream, but maybe my children will, maybe my grandchildren will.”

And today I figured on my own that it’s as if these very words were spoken by my own father himself, and together with his constant encouragement and inspiration after all those years, continued to carry me through. He was this beacon of light that guided every path I tread on.  There were little disappointments on my part of course, but he continued to have that faith in me.


Like my mom, his attention to details was microscopic.  His mark of discipline for studying I have well-indoctrinated myself with, to an extent where—and I could still remember— I would sometimes blame him for not waking me up earlier than what we normally agreed to, sometimes 3, 4, or 5 o’clock in the morning.  Just so I can study well for exams back in high school/college in the Philippines.  Mind you, he would even feel sorry as if it was an important obligation as a father to me.

Photo by Leong Ming En

Lunch at Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island with student ambassadors Nathacha (Venezuela), Ali (Qatar), myself (Philippines), Guillaume (France), Shao (Malaysia) and Yoshiaki (Japan)   | Photo by Leong Ming En


No longer his unfinished business

Being on Queensland soil and soaking up on a brief island stint at North Stradbroke, quickly it came to mind that soon in December 2012 will be my graduation, I wish I can tell him that “what remained only as a dream for you Pa—to go overseas and study, has finally been realized by your own son, so thank you for giving me life.”   I have a strange feeling that his father (my grandfather) had the same aspirations for him.  True enough, my father’s life and my own are indeed interwoven by our common dreams and aspirations echoing through the sands of time. Needless to say that I love him even more, as besides our blood this is our connection.

How I wish he will be there in the audience clapping and saying, “I’m proud of that small guy right there. That’s my son!”

Not that he ever let me feel that he was not proud of me when he was alive. I know he is, but it’s a different feeling to get on stage being called with the surname we both share and to have him see that event unfold in his very own eyes.  This I’m sure—and many of you would agree (about your parents) that this is such a rare occasion that would serve as recognition of how much I value every bit of his legacy. For he once taught me how to pray, how to be humble, how to stand up for what I believe in, and he is one person I can show my genuine child-like character.  There would be no son in this world who will not be happy seeing a father happy and—most of all—proud of whatever that son achieves in life.

Aboard the Big Red Cat (catamaran vessel) off to North Stradbroke Island| Photo by Kritika Bansal

Aboard the Big Red Cat (catamaran vessel) off to North Stradbroke Island.  | Photo by Kritika Bansal

“Pa, I may not see you with Mama while I grab the parchment on stage but do know that this one’s for you both.  So here I am, finally did what you wanted to do in your life. Your words continue to carry me through and are much appreciated even to this day.”

This gave me a conclusion that my own father’s ‘American Dream’ has already become my own ‘Australian Reality’.




Article dedicated to Dionisio G. Villagonzalo (1935-2007)

Related Post: An Ambassador: The Child I Was


Summer is here in Brisbane. It’s the best time to embrace the beach culture of Australia’s sunshine state, Queensland. The Student Ambassadors (especially the birthday boy) just enjoy the treat from Redland City Council Tourism, a day at North Stradbroke Island is certainly the way to go when it comes to breaking the monotony of studying.

And finally the most awaited interview with Miss Tourism Vietnam 2011 Huynh Thi Ngoc Han. She shares about her life as a student in Brisbane & why she is proud of her roots.

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Study Brisbane


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New chapter of my Brisbane story

“Today my life begins” and so was the inspiring line sang by my favourite Filipino-American singer, Bruno Mars.

I know I try my best to keep this department a bit private but, yes it’s love—but sad to say—so it was.

I’m sure not a lot of people even find some entertainment in sharing miserable heartbreak stories, so I’ll try to keep it that way. Though I felt like I was almost there but some things are just not meant to be. Oh! Stop me now. Okay, let’s park that case right there.

So, ever wonder why my blog space was in deep slumber? Now it’s hoping to scream out louder.

“Love is like a river, never ending as it flows, but gets greater with time!”
—Reinhold Niebuhr

THIS NEW CHAPTER I wish you happiness with your ‘river’ as I stay here hoping this time I might finally find mine…

This is funny. At least I’ve got some excuse now—I hope it’s a valid one—for not having been inspired to get some literary concoction going on about my colourful life in Brisbane. Well that’s it, colorful indeed. You see wherever you go, you cannot deny people, things and events to come your way, and they are just inevitable. No way to predict. No way to avoid.  Every person you meet is a whole new experience.

I guess all you really want to happen is give yourself in. And I’m glad these all happened in Brisbane.

As I’m nearing towards the end of my two year role as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador, it just makes sense that I get to experience all the facets of living in this wonderful city. Not to mention all the fun, I got to meet some dignitaries around the world with the likes of Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of Companies;  Philips Senior Director of Energy & Climate Change Harry Verhaar; and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in 2011.

Going to exciting familiarization tours—from the unforgettable overnight at Tangalooma Island Resort, to celebrating my birthday at North Stradbroke Island, and to visiting the lush, green side of Redland’s Indigiscape Centre—they are not just my favourite but a whole heaps more that are quite memorable too.

And when I say different facets, I also mean the not-so-good bits (besides the heartbreak) including the tyranny of distance; not being with few family members who are in the Philippines, having been absent in many relative and friends’ celebrations—from weddings, graduation, reunions and anniversaries and the list goes on…

Well it’s sometimes bittersweet you know but that’s life, we sacrifice one thing to also experience the joy of doing another. Pros and cons will not dare go out of our way, so we just have to go with the flow.  Like my niece Kerrie’s favourite line in ‘Finding Nemo’—when Dorry was trying to help a worried father find his lost son—“just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.  Oh swimming shall I go, amidst all the heaving waves that try to push me back—but I will keep going until I find what I am looking for (not Nemo of course!).

In a sea of endless possibilities, Brisbane has taught me to LOVE and BE LOVED—not only by a set of good friends in the Filipino Students in Brisbane group but also amongst my local Aussie friends and a beautiful bunch of international friends—so how will I forget my fellow International Student Ambassadors coming from 23 different nations.  I must say we have all journeyed together and have established a strong camaraderie that neither one of us will ever forget. You guys have probably gotten tired of my saying ‘Thank You’ so I say it in my own tongue ‘Maraming Salamat’.

I can safely say that regardless of our religion, colour of skin, cultural beliefs and background—it was all about FAITH, not only in some Divine Intervention but faith in ourselves and being aware that we are capable of doing things even bigger than ourselves, and lastly faith in shaping our dreams!

ALL of you friends (and also to her)—together with those dreams, we can still make them happen.

Our journey will not end there, it has only BEGUN!

“You only have one life to live, so you better make the best of it”—Bruno Mars

Graham Quirk with BISA 2012

The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk with the Brisbane International Student Ambassadors appointment in March 2012


 Au Courant’s Corner is preparing to air a whole new exciting set of webisodes. As a primer, have a look at the work of a very talented member (name withheld upon request) of the Filipino Students in Brisbane (FSB) who crafted this full of life OFFICIAL TEASER for the Brisbane Mabuhay Philippines Festival held last 12 October 2012.

An initiative of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Australia-Philippines—together with the Filipino Students in Brisbane—and proudly supported by the Brisbane City Council, the Brisbane Mabuhay Philippines Festival this year was definitely more exciting as it showcased some of the best Filipino talents in the city from dancing to singing—not to mention an awe-inspiring cultural rendition of the Kalinga tribe of the Philippines by another FSB member Paul Mariano and a Melbourne-based international student, April de Chavez, who flew her way from interstate to enjoy the festival with us. Commenting on the success of the event, it was seen posted in the Facebook page of Lord Mayor of Brisbane – Graham Quirk on 15 October saying: “A great turn out at the Festival”

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Posted by on November 3, 2012 in Study Brisbane


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34th IGC—Geoscience ‘Olympics’ in Brisbane

Asia Pacific Cities Summit Ambassadors rendering service in the spirit of volunteerism last July 2011

For the international student that I am here, I could not just disregard the beautiful trajectory for BrisbaneAustralia’s New World City—  last year and this year.  2011 saw Australia hosting a summit in July for Asia Pacific region and in 2012 still Australia will play host to another international event on behalf of Oceania.

Asia Pacific. Oceania. Wow! I know from a modest point of view (since I was never geek enough in the sciences) that they may seem just two orthographic projections playing in my mind. But how relevant then shall be our knowledge of the Geosciences today, when every so often we hear natural catastrophes occurring from this side of the planet to another?

We ought to stress that—as human beings living in this planet—we are in an unprecedented territory, just as we started to think that Mother Nature will leave us for a little while, it will always come back with a full force. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and other natural hazards are all inevitable—and all covered by Earth Science!

The International Geological Congress (IGC) is the leading global forum for the Earth sciences.

What is IGC?

The Congress, being held once every four years and typically attracts 5000 delegates from over 100 countries, has been referred to as the Geosciences’ Olympics.  Having been held first in 1876 in Paris, the IGC is one of the longest running professional sector conferences in the world.  It has been regularly held ever since with the most recent ones hosted in Oslo, Norway (2008) and Florence, Italy (2004).

Dr. Ian Lambert, secretary general of the 34th IGC Organising Committee, states that

“the IGC is really big and important…it is the premier global geoscience event.  It brings geoscientists from around the world where they freely exchange information, they give oral and poster presentations presenting their research. They also have the opportunity to go on field trips to look at geographical features in the field.”

With the theme Unearthing our Past and Future – Resourcing Tomorrow”, the 34th IGC is being hosted by the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC).  The AGC is the peak representative body for geoscientists in Australia and consists of the following member societies, which represent specialty areas of the Earth sciences:

  • Association of Applied Geochemists
  • Australian Institute of Geoscientists
  • Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
  • Geological Society of Australia
  • International Association of Hydrologists (Australian Chapter)
  • Australian Geoscience Information Association
  • The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
  • Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia.

IGCs are run under the auspices of the International Union of Geological Sciences, which facilitates international geoscientific collaboration and development of standards.

Many delegates are involved in cutting edge research. There will also be distinguished senior personnel representing national geosciences agencies, major resource companies as well as the extensive supporting contracting industry.  In fact, the 34th IGC Scientific Program will feature a daily Plenary Session, 220 symposia under 37 themes in which distinguished speakers will give invited presentations on major contemporary themes in the geosciences.

One that I am particularly keen to meet for the day, if only we get lucky to have that same volunteering opportunity again just like last July’s  Asian Pacific Cities Summit 2011 (as student ambassadors for Brisbane), is a familiar face from my home country—Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum, Jr.who has said in one of his interviews that “the Philippines has 20 earthquakes everyday on average. Having 20 earthquakes is a normal occurrence.”



IGC’s are held in host cities throughout the world. Countries that wish to host an IGC must bid for the event. The bid must demonstrate that the country has the expertise and resources necessary to run the event and do so at a cost that is reasonable to delegates who must pay fees to attend. Bids are submitted by numerous countries and are subjected to a competitive selection process. The 34th IGC is being held in Brisbane as a result of a successful bid against India and Morocco back in 2004 during a previous IGC in Florence, Italy.

Accommodation in Brisbane 

As released in the third circular of the 34th IGC, there are discounted accommodation rates available that were negotiated particularly for IGC delegates only at an extensive range of hotels and accommodation establishments in central Brisbane. Booking your accommodation can be done when you register for the Congress via the online system or through the downloadable registration form.  Apparently since there is a heavy demand for accommodation in the city, expected delegates are urged to book accommodation as soon as possible.

The international congress, slated on 510 August, 2012 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, will also provide an opportunity for young scientists and students to engage with some of the best geosciences minds in the world. The YES (Young Earth Scientists) Network will hold its second Congress within the 34th IGC.

This event is brought to you by Geoscience Australia, GNS Science (New Zealand), Carillon Conference Management along with academic partners Queensland Institute of Technology and the University of Queensland, while Vale as one of the major sponsors.  If interested, please register now by visiting its official website at


Lambert, I., & Gordon, A. (2011, September). Guest Lecture from IGC. In J. Watson (Professor), Entreprise 2.0. Lecture conducted from Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.



Someone got even luckier on his last birthday to be granted an exclusive interview with a beauty queen whose interest lies in calligraphy, fashion, food and design, and who once said “I Just Got Lucky” in this one-on-one chat for a webisode that will take you to the changing skyline of her country.

Ms. Tourism Vietnam 2011 Huynh Thi Ngoc Han tells it all in this webisode while the rest of the student ambassadors enjoy their day at North Stradbroke Island, QLD, Australia. Here is the sneak peek to that upcoming Au Courant’s Corner webisode…


Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Enterprise 2.0, Study Brisbane


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Blogging—The New Frontier

SINCE this blog has considerably served it’s time, at least for the past few months (but will still do), as a modest chronicler of ideas of what Web 2.0 is all about, it is about time to tackle another emerging and equally  becoming popular term in this fast-paced world—Enterprise 2.0

As a frequent blogger about the life here in Brisbane, it is imperative that this new commitment of mine to create blog posts should now run equally, if not, deeper than my PASSION to be a conduit of information not only of anything about Australia’s New World City but also about today’s emerging technologies.

With that new found passion, allow me to embark on another journey with you and head onto the next level up by exploring the wonders of blogging and how you can reap benefits from it in the enterprise world.  As I see fit, I will try my best in the next series of posts to do so NOT in a hodge-podge approach—but rather in a more organized manner.

Blog-hopping has now personally been my favourite mode of daily transport (in the Cyber World of course!).  And I must admit everything is now happening here.  After few months of finally blogging again since my first blog post ever in 2005, I reckon maybe it’s time to get serious or haven’t I been?  It seems that I’ve gotten myself caught in a web and I don’t know how to get out.

Okay first things first, need I not mention that this cyber world I’m talking about is known to you as a place where users have the mechanisms in place to transact any business or personal activity as easily and freely as they can transact them in the physical world. We are now seeing an eclectic range of whatever market have you. Say, from the simplest gadgets, to sports gears, to the luxurious sports cars or DotA-inspired merchandises for MEN, or the unimaginable accessories, overpriced cosmetics, to the never-ending fashion for WOMEN. Seriously, anything can be blogged about NOW!

What is a BLOG then?

Matisse.Net defines the term BLOG (from ‘Web Log’) as:

“Basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger.” Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.  Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently.”

People ASK ME, why do I blog? And I try to explain, hang on a second—but why wouldn’t I?  A fellow Filipino and now Toronto-based is currently making waves as far as Enterprise 2.0 is concerned. In fact, she’s literally living an awesome life working for a top company’s operations in Canada and one of the world’s computer giants, IBM.

This lady by the name of Sacha Chua inspires me to blog further as it does also make me think clearer and even true to her words that:

Blogging doesn’t have to be about building a personal brand or improving your search engine ranking. You can write as a way to learn, understand, remember, share, and save time.

Report generated at 12:26 pm of 18 August 2011

As of 12:26 pm, 18 August 2011

To my surprise, I was even happy to learn from my Live Traffic Feed courtesy of FeedJit that she (Chua) did pay a visit here after our brief Twitter conversation.  So who will not be more PASSIONATE about blogging with that?  Thus proving something at least, that with the advent of—Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0—social technologies can help us work and connect more effectively!

Perhaps when it comes to blogging, it is also important to bring out the POSITIVITY in you as the world reflects back as to how it perceives you.  This is especially vital when you want your readers to keep coming back for more and eventually collaborate with you.

On positivity note, Henrik Edberg shares 16 lessons he has learned on how to build a somewhat Successful Blog whilst explaining it with details on his The Positivity Blog”.   

Allow me to succinctly re-echo these nuggets of wisdom and even if you are not a blogger yourself, you can still apply it in other areas of your life:

1.       Provide value.
2.       Market your blog.
3.       Learn from more experienced people.
4.       Optimize.
5.       Be patient.
6.       First impressions matter.
7.       Formatting is pretty and important.
8.       People aren’t just angry or hostile online. Quite the opposite.
9.       Don’t think about what everyone else may think.
10.   Making posting a CHOICE, not a must.
11.   Future posting is your friend.
12.   Don’t spend too much time checking statistics or other blogs.
13.   Blog consistently.
14.   Expect a slump after a few months.
15.   Don’t clutter your blog.
16.   When you get a big traffic spike, be prepared.

At the end of the day, blogging for me is truly a new frontier.  A new place that is untamed and untainted by the rest of the world.  It will be like a fresh start on a whole new planet or continent, similar events set in motion by the adventures of the Spanish Conquistador Ferdinand Magellan to the PHILIPPINES!

Welcome to the New Frontier and my OWN CHOICE…


Posted by on August 18, 2011 in Enterprise 2.0


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It’s Live and Light

Finally down to the last pattern of Tim O”Reilly’s What is Web 2.0—“Design Patterns and Business Models”. It has been somewhat like a long and arduous journey for me, after having explored the seven principles in my prior posts. Now I’ll be highlighting the 8th principal feature which is “Lightweight Models & Cost-Effective Scalability.”  Notably, one of the significant lessons he mentions about this is to:

Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely coupled systems. The complexity of the corporate-sponsored web services stack is designed to enable tight coupling. While this is necessary in many cases, many of the most interesting applications can indeed remain loosely coupled, and even fragile. The Web 2.0 mindset is very different from the traditional IT mindset!”

In Web 2.0 this means that really simplicity is the name, and doing more with less is the game. Whilst making sure that the business models are scaled as well as their assisting technologies that implement them. One can produce a cost effective solution if the amount of resources required to make them are reduced to the smallest possible amount or degree.

A very good example of Web 2.0 application that I can relate to the pattern is my favourite online storage service—Windows Live SkyDrive, a part of Microsoft’s Windows Live family of Web 2.0-style online offerings. You receive 25GB of free Windows Live SkyDrive online storage (although individual files can be no bigger than 50MB each), and you can store any type of file to a Private, Public, or Shared folder.

With your Windows Live SkyDrive log-in name and password, no one except you can access Private folders; anyone on the internet can view your Public folders, but only people you invite can see Shared folders. You can restrict invitees’ access to windows live skydrivecertain Shared folders or grant them Contributor status for viewing, adding, modifying, and deleting items in a folder.

I tried sending invites first to those who already have a Microsoft username and password before they can access a Windows Live SkyDrive Shared folder. Another good thing is that there will be no problem if they use Hotmail or Windows Messenger, or otherwise have an MSN or Windows Live ID. The last time I checked Microsoft promised that a future release of the service will support sharing folders with users who don’t have any Microsoft account, but I’m not sure if that has already been fulfilled.

I know there’s Dropbox, XDrive and Streamload already around though but what sets SkyDrive apart from them is the fact that it is already tied with my own primary email at Live MSN. However, it does fall short with some features offered by the aforementioned like allowing you to stream stored audio files and perform automated backups and lets you synchronize data between two computers.

As Tim O’Reilly has said, the next time a company claims that it’s a “Web 2.0” we make sure that we will have to test their features against the concept of the 8 patterns I’ve written on these blog posts. He adds that the more points they score, the more they are worthy of the name. It’s always good to be reminded of his quote that “excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven.”


On a more personal note, amidst all the blogging for Web 2.0, I felt to myself like I was a town crier in my old home town back in the Philippines constantly spreading announcements, proclamations and what not. But most of what will remain from me now after a semester of academic requirements doing Web 2.0 Applications is this blog that will serve as a chronicler of events capturing memoires of my learning; I feel this one would be handy at some point if I try to recount on what I have demonstrated as a vanguard of ubiquitous computing.

Lastly, writing for Web 2.0 is a great practice to incorporate into my article-writing ritual because it allows me to get my articles higher up on the search results—thus, a “Long Tail” effect (thanks to tags) and it’s good to be in front of the people who are ready for some action. The fact that you’ve read to the end of this entire document and are hanging out with me at the bottom of this page, I’ll have to say thank you truly it was a splendid adventure, but my journey has just begun!




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Leveraging the Long Tail with Youtube

Now we’re almost about to wrap up all the patterns of Web 2.0 as described by Tim O’Reilly, by the way the second to the last, is one that kept me thinking on how new businesses are discovering now the new ad forms. At a base level, regardless of IT budget, people need solutions to their issues and are often crafty enough to figure out a way to get things done. To discuss on the true children of the Internet era, O’Reilly touched on some good points with good examples:

Overture and Google’s success came from an understanding of what Chris Anderson refers to as “the long tail,” the collective power of the small sites that make up the bulk of the web’s content. DoubleClick’s offerings require a formal sales contract, limiting their market to the few thousand largest websites. Overture and Google figured out how to enable ad placement on virtually any web page. What’s more, they eschewed publisher/ad-agency friendly advertising formats such as banner ads and popups in favor of minimally intrusive, context-sensitive, consumer-friendly text advertising.

For a person like me who does not have quite a good grip of economics, you might also wonder why a Wired magazine editor talks about the hindmost part of an animal and of it being long. Certainly it’s got nothing to do with that thing that waggles behind a kangaroo hopping on our backyard. But it’s about what Business Week magazine said about “a powerful new economic force in a world where the Internet allows access to almost unlimited choice” which is a brilliant theory of Chris Anderson who has “identified an important truth about our economy and culture.” His example was how makes most of its revenue from huge numbers of specialised titles, not the blockbuster ones, or the high-selling books we see in bookshops. Each specialised title may only sell hundreds of copies per year, but there are just so many of them, compared with the small number of ‘top ten’ books (which is, of course, always only 10). He further adds that “In a Long Tail world, the future does not lie in hits—the high-volume end of a traditional demand curve—but  in what used to be regarded as misses, the curve’s endlessly long tail.”

So for this very reason, O’Reilly clearly tells us a good Web 2.0 lesson and that is to leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head.”

And since I don’t want you to be in the same dilemma of deciding what is “heads” and “tails” on a given coin (it’s not always easy), I might as well keep on tossing it.

On Traditional TV versus YouTube (Heads or Tails?)

TV versus YouTube

Television is a good example of this: Chris Anderson defines Long Tail TV in the context of “content that is not available through traditional distribution channels but could nevertheless find an audience.”  So those, whose independent contents could not— for economic reasons— find a place in the TV distribution channels as it is controlled by expensive advertisements costs, will resort to other mass medium.

Thus, the advent of services offered by YouTube opens up the opportunity for niche content to reach the right audiences. YouTube where thousands of diverse videos— whose content, production value or lack of popularity make them inappropriate for traditional television— now make independent contents easily accessible to a wide range of viewers. These may not always attract the highest level of viewership, but their business distribution models make that of less importance.


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Will beta services perpetually flicker?

Before going deeper to Greek letters and what not, allow me to quickly share with you the reason why I decided to take up information technology as a field of study. It was primarily because of the fact that (well other than hopefully getting a decent job) I have loved the idea of staying apprised of latest developments in the I.T. world. But I used to feel though that some releases by software developers were just a part of cynical marketing tactics. Could this be true?

Probably not, but nonetheless it’s about time we get to the Greek part!  My Concise Oxford English Dictionary, which has a ubiquitous presence in my room, defines “Alpha” and “Beta” as the first two characters of the Greek alphabet.  So how these Greek terms landed in the world of software development was presumably because they refer to the first and second rounds of software testing.

alpha beta

And because of the need for most web applications to be constantly refined and constantly improved, hence the phrase “Perpetual Beta” coined by Tim O’Reilly to describe practices like continuous production and continuous integration.  Apparently procedures like these provide organisations more agility in the lifecycle of their products and to give us a clearer picture of this Web 2.0 pattern O’Reilly suggested that:

“When devices and programs are connected to the internet, applications are no longer software artifacts, they are ongoing services. Therefore: Don’t package up new features into monolithic releases, but instead add them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. Engage your users as real-time testers, and instrument the service so that you know how people use the new features.”

In layman’s term, say if you are a big organisation and you badly want your customers to really engage to your business, product/service, or whatever project have you, you need to also allow them as human beings to feel part of it with dynamic and active roles, but if you only try to control them and manipulate them by treating them just like another ordinary consumer, sooner or later, they will leave, and all the time they spent with you, will be someone else’s advantage, maybe your competitor.

Photo courtesy of

Flickr for example has been qualified as beta for several years. In its website, Flickr states that it “continues to evolve in myriad ways, all of which are designed to make it easier and better” and for them to organise what service will be the next released service their approach was through creating communities of users that evaluated and proposed new user requirements based on their behavior. And as I have noticed also from the rest, this ultimately has become more of a business practice rather than a software practice.

Remarkably with his “Perpetual Beta” not only has O’Reilly proven me wrong that the open source dictum of “release early and release often” is just a part of what I used to think as cynical marketing tactics, he also made me understand that today’s world of ubiquitous computing is fueled by ever-changing innovation and constant iteration.  

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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Web 2.0 Applications


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