Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Apollo to take off

ZDNet has a good first-hand account of an event where Adobe explains more about its plans for the Apollo platform, which is causing some excitement in the web world at the moment.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Social site tool

Techcrunch reports on Ning, a tool which allows users to create social networking sites by dragging and dropping site elements into a template. It has been funded mostly by Marc Andreesson, founder of Netscape, who has so far put in $9m.

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Emap reorganises

Emap will announce job losses as part of a £40m two year cost saving initiative which will also equip production teams to work across media, reports the Guardian.

An Emap consumer magazines spokeswoman said: "As part of the consultation process, we are proposing to bring production people together in Peterborough into market-specific 'publishing hubs' and invest in them to deliver static and moving content on web, mobile and magazines."

 

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FT.com stays paid-for

Marjorie Scardino has backed off making ft.com open access, reports PaidContent.org. Apparently, she has had a change of heart after considering the role of the FT in "mediation" in a sea of competing voices. Paying subs were 7% up last year at 90,000.

 

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Newspapers of tomorrow

Jeff Jarvis on the way things used to be in the newspaper world, and the way they will be in the future.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Has the English blogosphere peaked?

Researchers from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC) have produced some analysis which they say suggests the English speaking blogosphere may have peaked.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

More video tools

A new video editing tool called Mojiti aims to allow in-vido addition of comments to online videos.

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Techtarget IPO lower than expected

Just spotted it - though it's old news: Techtarget, the b2b lead generation site, has filed for an IPO worth $75m, reports PaidContent.org.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Whose top in online news?

PaidContent has the details of the spat between the major newspaper sites in the UK over who is the biggest. The Electronic Telegraph is currently running a campaign claiming that it is the number one "quality" newspaper site - citing Hitwise data to prove it. The Guardian, which uses Nielsen/Netratings data, says that proves Guardian Unlimited is number one (although both are behind the tabloids according to Comscore). Simon Waldman of the Guardian then goes on to post in great detail about metrics. All of which just serves to raise the argument yet again as to what precisely is the best way to measure audience online.

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The 25 startups to watch in 2007

Business 2.0 lists the companies they think might make it big this year, including Stumbleupon, Joost and Slide.

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Trust and Web 2.0

What does it take for customers to trust Web 2.0 companies? asks Steve Rubel. For example, he raves about Netvibes but won't give them his Gmail username and password as he's not sure whether or not to trust them - they are French, you see....

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Yahoo! Answers sponsored questions

Steve Rubel reports on Yahoo! Answers decision to start carrying "sponsored questions" - advertising by another name. The reaction, he says, has mostly been positive from users who recognise that free services need to be commercially supported somehow. However, he says, as the company moves to commericalise its other communities - work is already underway at Flickr - there are risks of consumer alienation. One to watch.

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A new paradigm for news?

Jeff Jarvis airs a new rule for journalists: "cover what you do best; link to the rest".
In the rearchitecture of news, what needs to happen is that people are driven to the best coverage, not the 87th version of the same coverage. This will work for publications and news organizations. It will also work for individuals; this is how a lone reporter’s work (and reputation) can surface.

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Defusing Google Bombs

Matt Cutts posts that Google has changed the algorithm to reduce the effectiveness of so-called Google Bombs - massive link attacks which can return sometimes funny results, as in the celebrated case of the term "miserable failure" which produced George Bush as the first result.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Yahoo!'s differentiation strategy?

I'm catching up on my feeds and I've come across this post on the Yahoo! Search Blog. I wonder if there is more significance here than initially meets the eye.
I recently sat down with Gord Hotchkiss over at Search Engine Land for his column titled, “Just Behave” and talked about the power of the Yahoo! Search experience, as I see it. We honed in on social search because, quite frankly, it’s quickly becoming a key factor in the overall success of a search experience.
In particular he cites the way in which Yahoo! Answers are featured alongside search results now.
Search has increasingly become better at refining raw information into ever more useful materials. The powerful blend of Social Search with traditional search puts this material into the hands of real people and also creates something that no machine could really ever reproduce: A connection to the world’s knowledge.
Reading between the lines, I wonder if this is really saying "we've lost the technology battle with Google who are just better at the horsepower than we are, so we are going to concentrate on making the social space work." They have the assets: Answers, del.icio.us, Flickr and even, maybe, MyBlogLog. Making them all work together would create a platform very different from the machine-generated Google Operating System.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wikipedia and Google - what does the future hold?

There has been much speculation about the commercial future for Wikipedia since remarks at the LIFT conference by Wikipedia Foundation chair Florence Nibart-Devouard that there wasn't much cash left. Last week she issued a firm statement that Wikipedia wasn't going to close, but was in need of support. Now John Battelle picks up on the huge growth in traffic being driven by Google:
The percentage of Google's downstream traffic going to Wikipedia increased by 166% year over year (week ending 2/10/07 vs. week ending 2/11/06). Last week Wikipedia was the #3 website in Google's downstream, after Google Image Search and MySpace.
He argues that with that much traffic going one way, something will have to give, maybe Google Adwords on the famously non-commercial site?

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Guide to video blogging

Steve Garfield has produced a really comprehensive guide to video blogging.

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Chelsea signs deal with YouTube

Chelsea FC has struck a deal to show archive and daily news footage on a Chelsea branded page at www.youtube.com/chelseafc, reports the Guardian. Broadcasting rights deal prevent live coverage. The content is produced by a JV between Chelsea and BskyB.

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Mirror relaunches

The Daily Mirror has relaunched as a Web 2.0 site with blogs, video and more.

 

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Google Apps reaction

Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff has an interesting post reacting to today's announcement that Google has launched Google Apps, a package of "office" tools designed to compete with Microsoft solutions in smaller companies. The bottom line: the suite won't be a real threat until they work offline. But it won't be beyond the wit of Google engineers to solve that problem. The Innovator's Dilemma springs to mind....again.

 

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Social Media

There is a bit of a debate in the blogsphere about what exactly "social media" is. Robert Scoble pointed out this really comprehensive post from Marianne Richmond of Resonance Partnership, a marketing and branding consultancy, which explores the phenomenon in some depth. Worth a read if you have some time.

 

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Bumper year for b2b media M&A

Folio Magazine has a cover feature on b2b media's year of mergers and acquisitions.

Each media banker has a different spin on how many deals occurred in 2006 and how much was spent overall. But all agree that the market was booming. DeSilva + Phillips reports 151 transactions and a dollar volume of $20.5 billion in media transactions, making it the strongest year since 2000 (and close to that year’s total volume).

The following chart illustrates the significance of the activity very well:

 

VolumeCharts

Folio looked at 10 of the top deals in more detail:

• CMP Technology/United Business Media
• 1105 Media
• VNU (Renamed Nielsen)
• Penton (Prism)
• Reader’s Digest Association
• Primedia
• The Wicks Group
• Metal Bulletin
• Summit Business Media
• CondeNet

The prospects for more activity, fuelled by easy access to debt, look just as strong, says the magazine.

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Web 2.0 explained

If you are one of the 1,343,151 people who have already seen this video, don't bother clicking the link. If not, and you want a whistle-stop tour of the evolution of the web right up to Web 2.0, click on...

 

Update: John Battelle interviews the man behind the video

 

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People like you...

Steve Rubel on why is makes absolute sense to invest in "people like you..." technologies such as those pioneered by Amazon.

 

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Video to save papers?

Interesting post from The Editors Weblog on the power of video to change the fortunes of embattled newspapers - a point which has been well-made in the past by, among others, Carolyn McCall, ceo of Guardian Media Group.

 

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Daily Mail goes digital

PaidContent points out that the Daily Mail has launched its first "e-paper edition" this week.

The Mail eReader, a fully downloadable version of the UK tabloid with the same graphics and design as the print edition, allows readers the flexibility to either click through content as they would on the web, or flip through page by page as they would with the actual paper.

 

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New blogging tool from Google

Steve Rubel point out that Google has just launched another tool for bloggers - the Goodle Newsbar Widget. This allows you to monitor topics you are interested in and have news stories which match your criteria constantly presented to you.

 

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Licence tag idea

The copyright status of pictures is one of the most intractible problems on the web and this post from Wired offers what could be a sensible solution: add a tag in (X)HTML:

Currently there are eleven attributes for the img tag, two required and nine optional. Frankly the tag is already bloated enough that I don’t think one more attribute is going to matter. Something as simple as lic="license-abbr" would do wonders for image rights on the web.

 

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Amazon saves money

Amazon's online pay-as-you-go storage solution S3 has saved photosharing site Smugmug $500k in one year and this post shows you how the maths works out. Amazing.

 

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Blogging tips

Some tips from Glenn Wolsey on how to get a good blog going.

 

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Web vs. Magazines

Josh Norem, a former editor with Maximum PC magazine, offers his take on the relative strengths of magazines and the web - and, he say, the web wins hands-down. Nothing particularly new in the arguments, but they obvious have some resonance as it was on the front page of Digg

 

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I wasn't able to be there, but....

Even though I wasn't able to be at the second day of Future of Web Apps (see previous posts for an account of day one), through the magic of blogs, I am able to provide an account of what went on.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

JetBlue ceo talks directly with YouTube

David Neeleman ceo of US budget airline JetBlue has recorded an apology for poor customer service directly onto YouTube. It comes across as unpolished and sincere. Is this the way company ceos will now talk to their customers in the bad times?

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Startup blog for startups

Bloglines founder Mark Fletcher has just created a blog for startups, which is more than blog. Intended as a resource centre for those wanting to start up their own business it has an attached wiki and forums. It starts with a string of posts from successful entrepreneurs including John Battelle, Dick Costolo of Feedburner and Ross Mayfield of wiki company Socialtext.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

That's it...

Day one is over and I won't be back tomorrow, so that's it....

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Kevin Rose on Digg

Kevin Rose, founder of Digg is on stage and is apparently going to make an announcement. First he talks about the Digg ecosystem. The first thing is to create incentives at every level. Why should people submit content? People want to share stories they think are important and they want recognition for doing it (like Slashdot). People want to store things that are important (del.icio.us). His aim was to solve both motivations. Empowering the user and giving them a vote is fundamental - when people Digg something they are increasing its value throughout the site. There was a virtuous circle - content which gets Diggs drives traffic which encourages site owners to add buttons to get Diggs.

There are some issues we have been having. We have 900,000 users and they don't always get along. How can you create tools to allow the community to moderate itself? We need tools which reward good behaviour at the topic level. We need a system to dispute and review inaccurate information. We want to allow the community to attach other things to a story, links, pictures, videos and so on. We want to add location-based services to add a geographic dimension.

We have spent a lot of time looking at what people are Digging? You don't realise how many people you are agreeing with on a regular basis. There is a difference between true friends and people who you tailgate - people whose opinions you value. There can also be value in what people bury and other people bury. We want to show people upcoming stories which aren't yet popular but which you might be interested in based on what you have done in the past.

We have dedicated resources to working on spotting spammer and gamers and we constantly work to detect and eliminate them.

We will be launching a Flash toolkit which plugs into our API which will allow visualisations of user behaviour - where are people changing their interests.

We will provide a tool which allows you to export your attention data, to export friends data. We will be supporting OpenID in the next few weeks (there we are - the announcement. This was very well received by the audience)

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Solving contact problems

Stefan Fountain was so inspired at last year's event that he went off and created a web app called Soocial.com. This is an attempt to solve the "contact problem". "We had to find a name with two o's in it as every successful web company has two o's in it." You can sign up for the public alpha now - invitation only.

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Quotes for all

Amit Kothari and Chris Garrett from Quotationsbook.com is a start up which is aiming to create a Web 2.0 infrastructure for quotes - a "quotes cosmos" allowing people to explore the time, date, author linked quotes and so on. The aim is to become a search engine which can find anything notable that anyone has said. An API is coming out in the next few weeks.

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BT Contact out of private beta

Somewhat ironically, given the painfully slow BT OpenZone speeds, there's a presentation from Stephen Stokols on BT Contact, a new service from BT which creates a platform which links all communications platforms together. It was to have been a live demo, but....

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Yahoo! on social interaction

After the coffee break and Bradley Horowitz is on the stage talking about social interaction. He says we have to move beyond the term "user" and turn them into "people". He has a model for interaction where there are three types: creators, synthesisers and consumers and the ratio is 1:10:100 He sees his role as trying to make the ratio 1:1:1. The internet is democatising production.

He gave some examples of where Yahoo! was adding features which encourage people to interact with content:

"Interestingness" is a feature which has been added to Flickr since Yahoo! acquired it. Up to then the pictures were ordered by date. What makes a photo interesting? "We could have used voting, but we chose to look at things like how much it has been looked at, saved as a favourite, blogged about - implicit behaviour. This means it's less susceptible to gaming, it was able to be used retrospectively on everything in the library "

Turning users into taggers. "Tagging is magic" - it's not a new concept but what's cool is that it is so easy. I can invent words. ZoneTag is a project where information from camera phones (location, time, identity) is used to auto tag. TagMaps is a research project which crosses a tag cloud with a map. This has been further filtered by time to show night views, for example.

Clustering using co-existence of tags in the system.

Pipes: He gave an example of wanting to find an apartment near to a day care centre. Currently this is difficult but with Pipes you can extract data from Craig's List and Yahoo! Local and create a service to answer the question. "Pipes is moving you from a world where people sample to one where they synthesise".

Q&A: he's asked if there will be an API for Groups. Eventually, he says, but he says another big Yahoo! service will have an API released very soon. He wouldn't say which .... even when pressed....

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Yahoo! on social interaction

After the coffee break and Bradley Horowitz is on the stage talking about social interaction. He says we have to move beyond the term "user" and turn them into "people". He has a model for interaction where there are three types: creators, synthesisers and consumers and the ratio is 1:10:100 He sees his role as trying to make the ratio 1:1:1. The internet is democatising production.

He gave some examples of where Yahoo! was adding features which encourage people to interact with content:

"Interestingness" is a feature which has been added to Flickr since Yahoo! acquired it. Up to then the pictures were ordered by date. What makes a photo interesting? "We could have used voting, but we chose to look at things like how much it has been looked at, saved as a favourite, blogged about - implicit behaviour. This means it's less susceptible to gaming, it was able to be used retrospectively on everything in the library "

Turning users into taggers. "Tagging is magic" - it's not a new concept but what's cool is that it is so easy. I can invent words. ZoneTag is a project where information from camera phones (location, time, identity) is used to auto tag. TagMaps is a research project which crosses a tag cloud with a map. This has been further filtered by time to show night views, for example.

Clustering using co-existence of tags in the system.

Pipes: He gave an example of wanting to find an apartment near to a day care centre. Currently this is difficult but with Pipes you can extract data from Craig's List and Yahoo! Local and create a service to answer the question. "Pipes is moving you from a world where people sample to one where they synthesise".

Q&A: he's asked if there will be an API for Groups. Eventually, he says, but he says another big Yahoo! service will have an API released very soon. He wouldn't say which .... even when pressed....

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FOWA 07 mentioned sites - day one

Pitch.tv - mobile social network
Helio - social networking enabled phones
Twitter - A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!
Threadless - t-shirt designs submitted by users, rated by users, bought from the site
BarCamp - ad-hoc, self organising conference
programmable web - resource site for web based APIs
Getting Real - an online book from 37 Signals
Powerset - natural language search which runs on Amazon services

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Q&A with Werner Vogels of Amazon

Werner Vogels has just presented the Amazon suite of web services which I didn't blog as it's been done to death by now. However, in the Q&A he described the Amazon approach to web development - the services are built on many small services which are built and maintained by small "Two Pizza teams" - teams which you can feed on two pizzas. He says they developed the web services EC2 and S3 after perfecting the approach on their own services. He says all the services can be used by Brits except Mechanical Turk "because of labour laws".

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Google APIs

Jason Chuck is a programmer who works with the Google geographic products - maps and Earth. He says it has been amazing how many things have been added to Earth by mash-up makers. He cited fboweb which shows real-time flights into US airports. He points out the Google code pages which list all the API workshops.

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ThinkFree - online document management

T J King of ThinkFree is on. He's talking about the online product which offers online word processing, spreadsheets and presentations which are completely compatible with MS Office. They are working on monitising with contextual advertising, he says. He announced that ThinkFree had released a free API mashup for blogs which will allow Office documents to be viewed online without having to have Office installed.

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Last FM - the challenge of growth

Matt Ogle and Anil Bawa Cavia from Last FM, which tags itself "social music revolution" , spoke about how they built the business. Matthew starts with some stats: 15 million tracks being played and "scrobbled" (metadata sent to the servers), 10 million artists, 70 million tracks, 700,000 tracks which are streamable, 145k artist wikis.

The service works like this: user listens to track, metadata sent to server, other tracks with similar metadata recommended to user, user listens.... The more you listen the better it gets, they say.

The early growth lessons: don't overextend, make sure revenue scales with usage, involve users in the web application's story. They recommend putting the blog at the forefront so that there is an open conversation. People prefer to be told the bad news than no news at all. People will be more likely to tolerate your problems.

Anil takes up the story of growing up. "People trump process", he says. Have simple process and good people. Take simple tools and customise them. Radiate information across different channels in the company. "We use IRC to communicate across our office which we customised."

He recommends opening up the product as a platform so that users and companies can extend the power of the product. This is a key way to harness critical mas".

"Openness is the key to web apps."

Matt is back on stage. He talks about Scrobbling data - it's "attention data" . The server knows when you listen, when you stop. It's a kind of "spyware" he says, but people will accept that if there is a real benefit to it. Then it's called "myware" - spying on yourself.

The social web - attention aggregators - is where the action is.

Some examples of what they do with attention data - a custom "Time Out" for your tastes and your area; blog recommendations based on your taste.

Anil back on. Monitising attention: microchunkit , free it, syndicate it, monetise it. In Last FM's case they sell labels the chance to pay to have music played to a very targeted audience, and they provide really detailed feedback of what listeners liked, and what they didn't.

He spoke about tag cloud moderation. The principle is censorship is not acceptable. But by weighting tags by attention then those people who listen to a particular artist count more than those that done.

Matt is back. The future for Last FM?

More:
growth, streamable music, ambient findability, personalisation (things you can do with your data)

Less:
interfaces (rationalise and streamline), barriers to entry (collaborative filters have a cold start).

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The venture capitalist's view

Ben Holmes from Index Ventures spoke about the venture business. First some stats: in the States there was $25.7bn venture money in 2006, with 1,446 transactions with an average transaction size of $10.5m. In Europe the equivalent was €4.1bn with 867 transactions with an average values of €14m. Around 55% of investments are in IT with a rapid increase in web application development.

In Index's case the mechanics are as follows: about half of all investments lose money, a third break even and a sixth make (lots) of money.

What a good VC will add: advice and strategy, hiring, partnerships, profile and PR, internationalisation, trusted service provider relationships and exit optimisation.

He outlined the basic deal terms, which he admits many entrepreneurs find offensive:
  • target 20-35% ownership (enough to make a difference)
  • board representation
  • liquidation preference (to make sure the exit is big enough)
  • participation rights (want to be able to maintain stake)
  • element of reverse vesting (owners lose equity if they bale out early)
  • certain control and veto right (to stop a low-value exit)
  • option pool
  • period of exclusivity to close legals
He says the main reasons for not raising VC money are: it's a feature not an application; the market size is too small; the owner's motivation isn't financial. "We spend out time looking for teams which have done amazing things with no money."

The pitch to the VC, he says, should ideally be a 20 page Powerpoint presentation covering:
  • product
  • market
  • business model
  • team
  • competition
  • product roadmap
  • technology overview
  • business development
  • financial status
Update: there's a great mindmap of the whole presentation uploaded to Flickr.

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Software, and hardware, as a service

Simon Wardley from Zimki talked about commoditisation of IT which he characterised as "yesterday's hot stuff becomes boring". There is no competitive advantage in having you own infrastructure, he argues. What is needed is an environment where you can build what you like, and pay for what you like. He would say this, of course, since that is what Zimki is.

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Fostering Online Communities

Tara Hunt, of Citizen Agency, asks the question: what makes a community? The characteristics? personal homepage/profile; personal content creation; the ability to interact with others' content; the ability to befriend and share content. The benefits: heightened customer loyalty; self-policing; amplified by word of mouth; better feedback; stronger and more interesting filters on content.

Three levels of communities: 1. lightweight social processes (low-barrier social involvement like voting and the recording of personal participation);
2. Collaborative information structures (enhanced by social participation); 3. High end end collaboration (groups using systems to make sense and share complex materials)

Common themes:
  • sense of fun and play (the founders very publicly have fun, playful messaging and images on the side)
  • keeping the dialogue going ("eating their own dogfood" - "it's amazing how many people don't use their own product", answering your own customer support emails, greeting new customers and introducing them to others - "being the host of a party"
  • wouldn't it be awesome if.... (taking an experimental approach to development, throw away the business plan and embrace the chaos, )
  • the power of the word of mouth (built-in a variety of ways ot share early on [rss, copy and paste urls etc], adding more on-ramps (email, SMS etc)
  • involve community in decisions (listen to your users and be flexible, let the community create the content and make the decisions)
  • simple platform to build on (building blocks - tools built be experts but used by non-experts eg. Wordpress [users add extensions] Flickr api, focus on one function well
  • Compelling stories
  • rewarding of community members (feature super users, more privileges)
There are four characteristics of successful communities that she identifies:
Feelings of membership (creation of community boundaries, perception of emotional safety) Personal profile pages, allowing for lots of personal and group expression.
Feelings of influence (being able to influence the group, feedback responsiveness, rule enforcement) Include forums, chat, comments etc
Integration and fulfillment of needs (feeling of being supported by others, reward of being and member, such as status, shared values, feeling of competence) Karma points etc
Shared emotional connection (personal investment of time and resources, high quality, frequent interaction) Add face-to-face opportunities
The bottom line: building communities is hard work and can take a long time to build.

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Apollo - the next big thing?

Mike Arrington says the biggest single opportunity around now is to build good impressive applications on top of Adobe's Apollo platform which enables rich on/offline applications to be built quickly and easily.

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The next big thing in music?

Mike Arrington singled out Amie Street - could do to the music industry what Digg did to the news industry. Artists can upload songs without DRM and they are free. As more people download the price goes up, so eventually the most expensive songs are the most popular.

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Mike Arrington - Techcrunch

What is the right formula for a successful start-up? Mike Arrington offers what he calls "the magic forumla". First, though, he tries to convince the audience that we are not in "bubble 2.0" . He cites two main reasons - Sarbanes Oxley has put considerable barriers for public companies and investors won't accept unprofitable floatations. In addition, we are seeing companies fail. In the first internet bubble no companies failed; they were just rolled into other venture funded vehicles.
Now to the tips:
1. Have a good idea!
Either invent a market, destroy a market or remove friction
2. Have a business plan - though, not essential (see Digg)
3. Have a revenue model
4. Build it cheap, test the waters (Digg spent $2,000 building the site)
5. Avoid a high burn rate

However, YouTube didn't do any of these things! But...they removed friction by providing a much needed service (IPTV not user generated video) and they were first to market. That was enough to compensate.

So what are the shared attributes of winners? passion, doing something extraordinary and he obvious. More importantly, what are the shared attributed of losers?
  • Poor founder team/ choices
  • Lifestyle/ego entrepreneurs
  • raised too much money
  • spending too much money
  • over business planned
  • forget about scaling

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The day at FOWA

I'm spending the day at Future of Web Apps, a two-day conference featuring some (what I hope are) interesting speakers, including Mike Arrington of Techcrunch, Kevin Rose of Digg and Matt Mullenweg of WordPress.

A few things I like about the event: there's a system of stickers, for people with money and people who need money; and for people with jobs and people looking for jobs; all the seats are within range of power; there is wifi - but sadly not free. (15.30: UPDATE: it appears the organisers did spend the money on a really whizzy wireless network, but the telco cocked up and hence the fallback - BT OpenZone, which simply can't cope with the volume! They promise to try to get it working by tomorrow).

A few things I don't like: the (standard Kensington Town Hall) coffee costs £1.50 (when there's a Cafe Nero just down the road; there's not much imaginative use of web technology - questions could be gathered from the floor during the session online (especially as every third person has a laptop.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

No-Follow doesn't work

Search Engine Journal argues that the "no-follow" tag, which was supposed to stop comment spam in blogs by allowing sites to tell search engines not to follow a link and index beyond it, has been a failure.

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Yahoo! Pipes up close

Yahoo! recently launched Yahoo! Pipes, which is a Web 2.0 service for combining and processing feeds of any kind. The name is inspired by "pipes" in Unix which are simple programming functions which can be easily combined together to do much more powerful things, and that is was the new web service sets out to do. Lifehacker contributor Gina Trapani provides an excellent walk-through example of Pipes in use. The current arms race inspired by Google's breathless pace of R&D is producing some really powerful tools which are sparking real innovation. Long may it continue.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Salon price rises

The poster child of paid content on the web, Salon, now in its second decade, has announced price rises to $45 and $29 for the ad-free and ad-supported versions respectively, reports PaidContent.org. The online magazine subscriber numbers peaked in December 2004 at 89,100 and have been declining ever since. According to PaidContent there were 54,600 subscribers in September last year and the renewal rate was 59%.

Google responds to Belgian Court Decision

Rachel Whetstone, European Director of Communications and Public Affairs, has posted a response to the Belgian Court's decision upholding a complaint by Copiepresse, the newspaper group. She points out:

We believe search engines are of real benefit to publishers because they drive valuable traffic to their websites. If publishers do not want their websites to appear in search results, technical standards like robots.txt and metatags enable them automatically to prevent the indexation of their content. These Internet standards are nearly universally accepted and are honored by all reputable search engines. In addition, Google has a clear policy of respecting the wishes of content owners. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News, we remove their content from our index—all the newspaper has to do is ask. There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs.

Sounds reasonable to me….

More on the future of magazines

My colleague Chris Flook pointed me to this piece on the "B or not 2B" business-to-business blog in defence of the magazine. The piece is responding to the commentary around IDG's statement that it was now reorienting around online. The piece argues that "magazines" will live on, even if print on paper isn't the medium of choice.

RBI digital strategy featured

There's a great piece on Guardian Unlimited on RBI's digital activities which puts all the work on blogs, forums and experimentation of all kinds in a very favourable light…

How bloggers make the world better

Scoble gives an example of how modern blogging techniques, properly applied, result in better reporting than was the case in the "fourth estate" world. He also makes a plea for better use of tools like Google Blog Search to ensure a broader voice is heard.

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Bloggers compete for home page positions

Danish newspaper Avisen is allowing citizen journalists' stories to appear alongside journalists' stories on the homepage of avisen.dk. To contribute, wannabe journalists create a profile and set up a blog on the website. Whether a user-generated piece makes it to the homepage is determined by its popularity

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Widget developments

Steve Rubel on some developments at Netvibes which point towards further development of the widget movement.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Top search engines

Here is a useful list of the "Top 25" Web 2.0 search engines. Looks like some really interesting implementations using mash-ups and AJAX.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Web Famous

Steve Rubel points out Forbes Web Celeb 25 list of the internet famous - which also includes lists of the "Almost Famous" and the "Unintentionally Famous"

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Ways to track trends

Lifehack has some useful tips for journalists (or, indeed, anybody) who wants to keep on top of trends.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

CNet to mandate replies to posts

Steve Rubel has the story that CNet is mandating that all its journalists reply to posts on their stories on the site. He applauds the move, seeing this as a sign of the way journalism is going, but he also points to the possibility of the site being gamed by unscrupulous PR professionals.

Internet video reaches mainstream

According to Podcasting News Nielsen Analytics has released a report saying internet video has now reached critical mass and is ready for mainstream advertising.
“Programmers have the opportunity to create new revenue models to benefit content owners and their affiliated stations,” said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics. “Such ad-supported models are uniquely adaptable to the broadband environment and are potentially superior to existing models because they can take full advantage of the digital environment. With broadband streams, for example, fast forwarding through commercials can be disabled making it more likely the consumers will watch the spots and possibly interact with them.”

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MyBlogLog developments

Following its acquisition by Yahoo! in a deal rumoured to have been worth $10m, MyBlogLog has added integration with Flickr, another Yahoo! property. How long, muses the 901am blog, before del.icio.us integration follows. "Are we seeing the rise of the blogosphere's version of MySpace right before our eyes?" it asks.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Magazines vs. the web

Josh Norem, an former editor for Maximum PC magazine, lists his take on the relative strengths of magazines and the web – and the web wins. Nothing very new in the arguments, but obviously it struck a cord as it's on the front page of Digg.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Online content set for boost

I missed this piece from paidContent.org which quotes an EU study saying the market for online will explode in the coming years.
The study anticipates revenue growth related to online content will amount to $10.7 billion (8.3 billion Euros). This estimate represents a 400 percent leap from where the continent stands today.
The PDF of the study is here.

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Zink

Zink is a new type of printer which doesn't need ink. Instead, the hand-held device uses special paper which has dye crystals embedded within it. These release colour when heated by the device.

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Prioritising features in the next release

Yahoo! has introduced a nice Web 2.0 feature in its Yahoo! Site Explorer Suggestion Board. Not only does it allow users to leave suggestions for improvements to the service, but it has Digg-like voting and commenting, too which quickly sorts out the most significant enhancements from the rest (if they can get the mainstream customers to participate.) Every site should have one!

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Google and Time photo deal

PaidContent has (no) details of a deal between Time and Google in which Google will scan the first 12 million Life photos.

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The beginning of a trend?

eWeek reports:
Entertainment giant NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric, will announce this week it is bringing in a new, younger chief executive to better compete in the digital age, the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported on Feb. 4.
It's enough to get you worried. But the piece goes on to say that Jeff Zucker, an NBC executive, is 41 - so hardly a "digital native". Still...

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Google Office one small step closer...

Google announced a new feature - a link at the bottom of any Gmail which contains an attached document, inviting the recipient to open it up immediately in Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Not an Office killer yet, but...

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Tagging for America

Pew, the internet research company, has found that a surprising 28% of Americans have tagged content and 7% have done so on a particular day. That bodes well for Web 2.0.

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ZoHo Notebook

One of the Demo 07 presentations was from ZoHo Notebook, which if it is anything like as good as the demo (it's "coming soon") will cause a real stir. My prediction is that either Microsoft (Ray Ozzie will appreciate the intricacies of such online collaboration) or Google will snap them up.


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The return of the enterprise portal?

A few years ago the view was that the enterprise portal - the intranet - was going to be the saviour of big business, but putting all the apps and info that individuals needed onto one screen. Companies like Plumtree and Hummingbird were going to make it happen.

However, legacy got the better of everyone and the dream didn't come to pass.

In recent months, though, I sense the idea coming back and this time I think it may in fact make it. The Maxthon browser, written on top of IE 7, aims to bring a wide range of tools into one interface, using, of course, RSS and the Atom publishing protocol.

And at this year at Demo 07 there were a few RSS enabled apps, the most significant, perhaps, WorkLight. This is an app which allows corporates to create secure RSS feeds from enterprise systems. From these, microformats and widgets, maybe the future workplace will be built.

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Souped up image search

Wired has news of new tag-less image searching technology that uses 3D modelling to get results.

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Public Sector Publishing - Reith for the 21st century or a dead duck

Ofcom have issued a consultation paper asking for views on whether it should set up a Public Sector Publisher to act as a kind of Web 2.0 platform - complete with P2P functionality - to provide quality content not yet available. They argue that the new service would contract out to media companies to provide the content, which begs the question a bit about why such content is not already being provided. And, given the row every time the BBC tries to develop deeper, more useful content, you would have thought it was a non-starter...

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Is TV 2.0 about to become a reality?

There's a lot going on in the world of TV/internet convergence. The AOP has this:
A report by Informa Telecoms and Media predicts that global revenue for online TV and video services will increase ten-fold to £3.2 billion in 2012.

Second only to the US, the UK recorded revenues of almost £22 million last year which are set to soar to £708 million by 2012. According to the report the US will be the global leader in online TV and video, expecting revenues of up to $3.94 billion by 2012.

The Informa research points to the increasing popularity of watching online TV and video and states that is wider cultural changes that are creating a new breed of consumer who "find it difficult to align themselves with the passive model of traditional linear TV".
We've already seen the deals done between the studios and YouTube, and this week's bust up with Viacom.

And there are rumours that the studios are considering building their own site to rival YouTube

But things are heating up. Wired this month has a feature about Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström the geeks behind the P2P network Kazaa who went on to build Skype before selling it to eBay for $2.6bn. It seems they are building their own internet TV model which combines P2P technology, industrial strength DRM and a solid ad model.

Does this point to TV 2.0? Maybe. But there will be a lot more fall out before the dust settles...

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Penguin launches the wiki novel

A Million Penguins is a novel experiment from Penguin Books to see if collaborative intelligence can achieve a single, authorial voice in a novel. Can't be worse than Jeffery Archer...

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Digg to slip up?

Digg has taken the decision to remove its list of top Diggers from the site. The company says spam and continuing attempts to game the system are the reasons and that there are new developments in the pipeline which will reward the most prolific Diggers in the future. However, speculates Steve Rubel, this could be a tactical error which alienates the community and pushes it into the arms of, say, del.icio.us. Time will tell.

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Viacom squares up to YouTube

Lots of stuff about Viacom's decision to ask YouTube to remove 100,000 of its clips. Some, like Charlene Li of Forrester see it as a short-term blip. Others, like Jeff Jarvis are less kind - "Viacom cuts its nose off to spite its face". He goes on to explain why the decision is short-sighted, to put it kindly.

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Yahoo! suffering the big media malaise?

Steve Rubel takes a close look at recent offerings from Yahoo! and thinks he spots tell-tale signs of silo-itis in the new media behemoth. Get a Merissa Meyer to sort it out, he counsels.

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Is the iPhone the first converged device?

Macworld has a think-piece from some-time contributor Glenn Fleishman who argues that a combination of the iPhone, Apple's recently announced new phone, and broadband services from AT&T could mark the first step towards the holy grail of truly converged devices.

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