Nifty Gadgets Once Again Outpace Content

Gates touts "glanceable information" technology, but the usefulness of that content is questionable.

"Glanceable information" was the somewhat tortured description Bill Gates used during his keynote last week at the Consumer Electronics Show to explain the content well be looking at in the next generation of digital watches, PDAs and other consumer appliances. Using Microsofts SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) gadgets, users will be able to glance at their watches and click through weather, sports scores and stock reports. While the devices are nifty, it seems to me that once again the device has outpaced the content. How many people really need to check on the weather a hundred times a day or watch their stocks on a minute-by-minute basis—or provide another avenue for spam messages?

In this weeks issue we address the systems that may help improve the current poor state of digital content. Labs analyst Jim Rapoza in his special report looks at content management systems and offers up a range of services that dont require the massive IT investments or training that were too often the baggage attached to previous-generation content management. Application integration is the key IT priority this year, and integrating content management into a companys overall business operations makes great sense.

And if your e-mail runs on a Microsoft Exchange server, be sure to read Henry Baltazars review of the Beta 2 version of Exchange Server 2003. Microsoft has been making a lot of public comments about security, but only in examining the upcoming new products from the company is it possible to determine if those comments are backed up with additional security features. In the case of Exchange, several of the security features that users have been clamoring for finally make their appearance.

Also in the Labs section this week are reviews of the beta version of FrontPage 11 and F5 Networks Big-IP 4.5. F5, as analyst Cameron Sturdevant points out, has been making big strides at adding features that expand from the companys load balancing roots. As companies consider the move into applications based on Web services, they would be wise to think about the increased network load that will be part of the Web services package. The Universal Inspection Engine that is part of Big-IP is a good approach to the increased network and security requirements that will be part of a Web services architecture.

Whats your choice: a wristwatch showing stock quotes "at a glance"—or improved digital content? Tell me at