Jiva Technology

Tutorhub Q&A: Question of the week

Every so often, we get a question posted on the Tutorhub Q&A that kicks off a whole debate amongst the tutors on what the correct answer should be. A good example: what is the probability the sun will rise tomorrow? A simple enough question and the initial reaction reflects a simple answer: the probability is 1. But then you can see people starting to think about it: the sun doesn’t actually rise, it’s just the language we use to describe the phenomenon as we see it, there is a small chance that it could blow up and it wouldn’t appear (although the explosion would take us with it, I presume). But what’s great about this is that the student has started a conversation that goes beyond a simple answer to a simple question; you can’t help but feel that this is where the thinking really starts.

All I want for Xmas is ..

…. extended search.

All you folks who asked Santa for a more powerful way to find just the right tutor, with those hard to find skills, your wishes have been answered. This Tuesday saw the release of new, extended search functionality onto our flagship tutoring platform Tutorhub. You can now search based on a whole raft of features, such as exam board, the price you want to pay and any peculiarities about the subject that you’re studying. So all you SPSS fiends can now breath easy. You can even specify tutors who are ‘online now’ if you’ve got a burning question that needs an answer or (heaven forbid) you’ve left things to the last minute, you’re notes are indecipherable and the exam starts at 9 am tomorrow.

For those of you who asked Santa for more mainstream items, we refer you back to the man himself.

Are web companies going the way of Premier League Football?

It’s hardly news that English club football has become dominated by clubs with the biggest chequebook – it’s not just that it allows them to buy the best players, it’s the fact that the size of the wage bill is the single best predictor of teams’ success. Forget the brilliance of the manager, the size of a clubs’ support or the brilliance of its youth policy. If you or I are found ourselves in the hot seat of a premier league club with a war chest fit for Croesus, we’d be in with a shout. Money talks and all the rest walks.

But that’s not how it used to be. Clubs somehow acquired a happy confluence of quality young players who felt like hanging around with a manager who was above average and a new dynasty could be born. Think Shankley and Liverpool, Revie at Leeds or Clough at Nottingham Forest. It’s hard to believe that the latter were back to back winners of the (now) Champions League.

Of course all this has absolutely nothing to web companies except I have an uneasy feeling that the same principle – money talks – now applies to the web. Duh! You might say, but let me hit you with two unrelated (ish) facts – Uber recently raised $1bn at a valuation of $40bn and Apple recently surpassed a market cap of $700bn. Even now, $1bn of cash to spend is a lot of money and $700bn is hardly conceivable unless you’re the Government of a large country.

In reality, these things are related, because if there’s a chance a company can be worth $700bn, it’s worth investing a cool billion just to crush the life out of the competition. Which is exactly what Uber is doing. You don’t need a billion dollars of investment to build a company, but you do need it to make sure that you can run everyone else out of town. It’s all about the weight of the money, not the quality of the innovation. Decent companies like Hailo and Lyft may well be losers simply because they only raised several hundred million dollars.

I’m not sure that this is the tech world we once knew, just as the Premier League has long since stopped being Bovril and steak pies on a Saturday afternoon.


Do we need more websites?

The number of websites has exceeded 1billion*. I won’t even bother quoting the actual number of sites, because it will be out of date before I can finish typing the number, but you can find it here. The number of websites is growing at a faster rate than there are people on the planet (which is saying something) and is in any case an underestimate because it doesn’t include the dark net and all that stuff on intranet. But it begs the question – how many is enough? For Google and the like, the answer is the more the merrier, but given that most people use about 12 websites and it really doesn’t make sense for us all to use 12 different websites (which is theoretically impossible any way), are we reaching a point where we need to go from creation-mode to maintenance mode? Or maybe the web is just a giant organism that kills off the old and the useless to make way for the shiny and new? Is there an ideal size for the web in terms of efficiency? The engineer in me says that there must be and that if you have an interest in the vitality of the whole, there should be a giant kill-switch for stuff that just doesn’t cut it. A sort of Logans Run-style cut off for sites of a certain age that aren’t contributing to the greater good. Too totalitarian for you? Think about all the resources the internet consumes to keep it up: power, rare earth metals (most devices consume them by the bucket load), even that most precious resource … time.

One to ponder.

* I know that not all of these are active. But they could be.


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