It’s easy to forget that Microsoft is the largest software company on the planet, especially when the news is relentlessly against them. This week they unveiled financial results which show just how resilient they are: revenue up 32% to $14.4bn for the quarter and profit up 65% to $4.93bn. There’s life in the old dog yet.
Page 3 of The Observer today was entirely given over to a story about the backlash against “the web’s endless cacophony”. Citing British-born Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur out at the end of the month, it argues that the rise of self-publishing is a direct threat to truth and discernment as administered by “experts”. It targets Wikipedia, MySpace and YouTube, among others, and has only a couple of sentences in defence by Jeff Jarvis. I thought it was an extraordinarily intemperate piece of unbalanced journalism, and even Keen was dismissive on his blog today. It sounds a bit like a wounded “old media” stalwart trying to make sense of a tidal wave of change, and failing.
Tech consultancy Forrester has defined a “ladder” of participation as part of its “technographics” research. Based on the US online population they have even helpfully put numbers on the different rungs. More on Charlene Li’s blog.
A Travolution snippet I forgot to add: Glen Drury of Yahoo! illustrated the long tail by quoting a statistic that there are 2,100 different groups on Yahoo! Groups for backpackers. 2,100! Actually, I could only find 884 when I looked, but still…884!!!
Spent half of today at the excellent Travolution Summit (full disclosure: it is run by my company, but has nothing directly to do with me). It was a good line up including speakers from MSN, AOL, Worldspan (the GDS), Lonely Planet and Wayn.com.
Highlights for me:
Stephen Palmer, EMEA ceo of Lonely Planet expounded on the popularity of top 10 lists. They started with company lists, but pretty soon extended to allow users to upload their own and vote and comment on other people’s.
Glen Drury, UK managing director of Yahoo! says their research indicates that only 15-20% of human knowledge is on the web – hence, he says, the popularity of Yahoo! Answers with its 100m users.
Mel Carson, community manager of MSN’s AdCenter demoing PhotoSynth, an immersive photo technology bought with a company called SeaDragon. (I say demoing, but actually he had Vista installed on his laptop and it wouldn’t work with the projection equipment so he had to fall back to canned slides.)
A couple of interesting quotes:
John Bray, senior strategist of consultant PhoCusWright says user content is “infecting search results” – interesting perspective!
And Yahoo’s Drury defines the stages in the evolution of search:
Phase 2: mass automation exemplified by AltaVista (remember them?)
Phase 3: topological analysis exemplified by Google…and
Phase 4: social search, exemplified by…guess who? new Yahoo!
So, there you have it.
Anyhow, a great event and I wish I could have stayed for the afternoon where a trip to Second Life was promised. The whole event was blogged, though, by Travolution’s chief writer, Tricia Holly Davis, if you want more…