Friday, April 28, 2006

Physical World Connection In Business 2.0

This month's issue of Business 2.0 has a special pullout called "Your Wireless Future".

Carlo Longino of MobHappy does a great job of listing the companies to watch for specific applications (productivity, voice communication, location-based services, entertainment/social networking).

In the location-based services category he lists Semacode as a company to watch.

Semacode connects the mobile to the physical world using camera phones as bar-code readers.

Semacode is just one of the companies that provides this ability.

How does it work?

Semacode works by embedding a URL (web address) into a sort of two-dimensional barcode which looks like a dense crossword puzzle.

This is an open system. Anyone can create as many semacode tags for as many different URLs as they wish. Millions, even. As long as you own the domain name, the tagging system is completely unrestricted.

Congrats Carlo and nice job.


Anonymous said...

As usual for an "open" system, the whole concept being pushed by Semacode rests on ideas innovated and pioneered by others. The idea of print-to-web had already been in the public consciousness for years by the time Semacode got its start (remember CueCat?)

Just once, I'd like to see the advocates of open systems come up with some important NOVEL ideas of their own. Otherwise, they seem more like parasites masquerading as do-gooders, ripping off other people's good ideas and robbing genuine innovators of their incentive to come up with new ideas.

No Name said...


An open system is bad?

How is Semacode acting like a parasite?

CueCat was a closed system and look at what happened to that venture.

Anonymous said...

How is an open system bad?

How about by robbing genuine innovators of their incentive to innovate?

Isn't that EXACTLY why we have these things called patents, protecting innovative ideas?

And the failure of CueCat derived mainly from the context of its application -- a scanner attached to a PC -- NOT from the underlying concept of print-to-web. But Semacode clearly was NOT a pioneer in this space. (For that matter, neither was CueCat, but it DID come out with sufficient publicity that it got into the public consciousness).

Look, it always seems like a great idea when somebody copies someone else's idea, and that offers it up more cheaply. It looks like a great public service has been done -- the same thing is now cheaper, right? But what happens to the incentive to innovate?

Basically, the vast majority of open systems (not all) embody other people's innovations. They virtually never innovate on a basic level. Linux, for example, was mostly a ripoff of Unix. gcc is just another C compiler, at base. Where's the innovation?

Open systems are seductive because they seem better AT THE TIME, namely, AFTER THE INNOVATION HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. But they are, altogether too often, the force that would kill the golden goose of innovation.

Anonymous said...

Just to add a bit to my previous post.

If open systems are so good, why not simply make EVERYTHING open, EVERY idea?

Why not scrap the patent system altogether, and make drugs go to a small fraction of their current prices, and medical equipment, and just about every device we might decide to buy? Why not throw copyright out as well, and get Windows for free and all other software, and buy books for a pittance?

Because, as good as it may seem for a few months or years, it will dry up the font of innovation. Ripping off other people's ideas is not just wrong, it's bad for society. It's a fool's paradise.

Look, it may be that some open systems can be created that nonetheless fairly award innovators, through some kind of patent licensing arrangement. But the notion that any and all systems can be made open under all circumstances with no downside to innovation is absurd on its face.