Federal government embraces cloud computing

This is an encouraging story.

On Tuesday, Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, unveiled Apps.Gov, a Web site where federal agencies will able to buy so-called cloud computing applications and services that have been approved by the government to replace more costly and cumbersome computing services at their own locations.

The push to promote cloud computing is part of the Obama administration’s effort to modernize the government’s information technology systems and to help reduce the $75 billion annual budget for federal I.T. in the process.

The apps storefront, which is run by the General Services Administration, includes an array of business applications, productivity software, services like storage and Web hosting and social applications. In a speech at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Mr. Kundra said that the cloud offerings could be cheaper and more energy-efficient and allow the federal government to benefit from the same technological advances that most consumers enjoy.

Wow. Is it possible that we finally have an administration that embraces technology and the Internet? Can you imagine how much money our government wastes on inefficient systems and hardware?

Assuming they can manage the security issues, this could be a huge benefit for the government, making it more efficient, more effective, and cheaper as well.

The e-book boom is coming!

paidContent.org has this very interesting story.

Need more proof that we’re witnessing the beginning of the e-book boom? It appears that the Kindle version of The Lost Symbol, the latest thriller from The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, is out-selling the hardcover version on Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). Kindle Nation Daily first noticed first noticed the trend by analyzing the category sales rankings on Amazon; the $9.99 Kindle version of the book is currently more popular than the hardcover version, which is retailing for $16.17.

Everything is changing VERY quickly. As more and more people get comfortable getting all their news and reading material on devices instead of paper, we’ll see an acceleration of the trend.

Publishers of magazines and newspapers need to pay attention here. Instead of wasting time wondering how to charge for online content, start thinking about ways to offer PREMIUM DELIVERY options that one can charge for.

I love to read the New York Times online or on my Blackberry, and that should be free. It’s news, and the Times wants to be a leader there, and you can’t maintain leadership if you hide behind a pay wall. On the other hand, I’d pay a small subscription fee to have the Times or may favorite magazines sent to my Kindle in an organized, readable format. This way I can read it at my leisure, regardless of whether I have an Internet connection.

Gist.com launch

This one sounds interesting.

The “limited beta” has become a right of passage for budding Web companies. In the case of Seattle-based Gist.com, an e-mail in-box management service, it’s a business strategy.

Gist launched on Tuesday, concluding an almost two-year period of controlled growth. During that time, thousands of potential users signed up for an invitation and dutifully filled out a survey for potential users. In exchange for the mere chance to be invited to test the service, chief executive T.A. McCann got from users behavioral data, feature ideas and marketing leads–all for free.

The relationship management service scours some 60,000 news sources, 20 million blogs and 600,000 Twitter handles and matches up the information they find to a contact list generated from a user’s e-mail correspondence. The result is that Gist is an advanced Web communication tool that helps you keep tabs on the people and companies that matter most. Some of the company’s success, however, comes from one the Web’s most primitive of communication tools: online forms.

We’ll see how this does, but there’s a clear need for this service, as we all struggle to manage all sorts of online accounts. Anything that can centralize one’s networking strategy is worth trying.

On demand printing

Google brings out-of-print books to the masses.

Google will make some 2 million out-of-copyright books that it has digitally scanned available for on-demand printing in a deal announced Thursday. The deal with On Demand Books, a private New York-based company, lets consumers print a book in about 10 minutes, and any title will cost around $8.

The books are part of a 10 million title corpus of texts that Google has scanned from libraries in the U.S. and Europe. The books were published before 1923, and therefore do not fall under the copyright dispute that pits Google against interests in technology, publishing and the public sector that oppose the company’s plans to allow access to the full corpus.

Many have not been pleased with some of Google’s recent tactics, but this is a good thing for everyone. Anything that expands access to books and information is a good thing.

Facebook domination continues

Facebook has announced that it is now cash-flow positive, and than it recently reached the 300 million member threshold. That’s a pretty stunning number.

Again, the free service model is a winner on the web.

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