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10 broken technology ideas -- and how to fix them

10 broken technology ideas -- and how to fix them

Why they are broken and what could be done to fix them once and for all

6. Web 2.0

For the past two years, the promise of the Semantic Web -- a concept where the Web is smarter and lets you tag information for better searchability -- has reached a crescendo that is finally coming down to earth.

I believe there is no clear definition of Web 2.0 or any sites that fit easily into that box. Instead, Web 1.0 is in a constant state of evolution. Imagine Amazon.com in its infancy -- over the past 10 years, it has been updated with hundreds of new features as Web technology has steadily advanced.

What I'm hoping for is a whole new framework for the Web: a wholesale HTML replacement, something like AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) that's faster and more reliable. Or, I'd like to see sites like Pageflakes expand even more so that Web 2.0 dies altogether and gives way to Internet widgets running on a true Internet operating system.

7. Electronic books

A promising technology, or a snake-oil sales pitch? E-books like the Amazon Kindle and Sony eReader could eventually reduce our reliance on paper books. I must admit the crisp 120DPI screens look remarkably like printed material.

In some ways, the Web is a gigantic e-book with an endless amount of information -- even if some of it is unreliable (see Wikipedia.org). Yet, nothing beats a printed book: you can find your place instantly with a dog-ear, it's practically disposable, you can loan it to anyone, and it causes very little eye strain.

Yes, you can load one of 90,000 books on the Kindle and check your e-mail in between chapters of the latest Stephen King novel. But before an e-book reader becomes a major hit with consumers, it must cost about the same as a real book. I'd like a throwaway e-book that's a plastic sheet with electronic ink (like the newspapers in Minority Report ) and costs about US$30.

8. Internet voting

I like the idea of Internet voting because the easier you make the process, the more people who will vote. Right now, the concept is in a preliminary stage because fingerprint readers or some other form of biometrics hasn't become ubiquitous or foolproof.

I have noticed that just about every enterprise laptop has a fingerprint reader. In the same way that Hollywood studios don't trust the Internet for delivering movies unless they are crippled with digital rights management, voting also needs some extra precautions to ward off fraud.

The idea will finally work once all displays are multitouch (which might be sooner than we think), facial recognition is common and secure, and there is some way of encrypting the connection to assuage any doubts.


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