Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Google to Release OpenSocial Platform

Google is upping the ante in the social media realm by releasing a platform tomorrow which will allow developers to create applications for numerous social networks. So far, they've signed up Friendster, LinkedIn and Hi5. You'll notice that Facebook and MySpace aren't on that list. That's probably because, come November 5, Google is set to relaunch their own social networking site, Orkut.

What's specifically interesting about this approach is that they are using open source as a business model. After years of being the underdog, it's not the competitive edge. And that's ok by me. Let's open-source ourselves in a competitive frenzy until data is owned by users, not corporations. Then we'll experience what will hopefully be a true "free" market.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

LA Times Using Twitter for Wildfire Updates

When we don't see a purpose, technology, especially new technology, can seem frivolous. Twitter is a great example — I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone brush off Twitter as "just for geeks" or for self promotion. Often, new technology needs people to experiment with it so that when the time comes for it to show it's usefulness, we are ready.

Here's a great example. The LA Times is using Twitter (which send updates via IM, mobile or Web to those who "follow" a user or a keyword) to communicate updates about the wildfires in Southern California. They started about a day ago and have already posted more than 100 updates, which come from their blog.

They also have a mashup showing where the fires are.

This is by no means the only example of Twitter being used beyond the "I'm brushing my teeth" model, but one that really show the power of instant, distributed, on-my-terms communication.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

MySpace to Open API's!

Yesterday MySpace announced at the Web 2.0 conference that they plan on making their API's available in the next few months. This openness embraces all the web was meant to be and I hope that more business see the value of openness as a good business move. It is certainly a leap from the way the business world has operated in the past, and an uncomfortable one to say the least, but one that warrants a leap a faith.

Here are more details:
Read Write Web

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two More Wins for Open Source

I hate to be simplistic, but in my view, open source equals good. And today there were two unrelated news items that both equate to "wins" for the open source practice.

The first was the announcement that Samsonite is using Elastic Path flexible ecommerce platform to deploy an open-source global ecommerce platform for its Black Label luggage brand, in 8 languages and in 45 countries. When I was at Avenue A | Razorfish I had the pleasure of being part of this pitch out of the London office, so an it's especially happy moment on a personal level.

Second, Wired reported today that an astrophysicist has replaced a supercomputer with eight Sony PlayStation3's, citing the Linux platform as a key reason for choosing the PlayStation 3. The project will measure theoretical gravity waves.

So yeah for open source! Congrats!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Creating Digital Dialogs | Ad Club Seattle Preso

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Ad Club Seattle Luncheon today. We had a great group and it was a lot of fun. As promised, my deck can be found here. Comments are welcome!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day. That means many bloggers will be writing on one general topic, this year, the topic is the environment. The idea is to see what might be achieved through coordinated posting.

What comes to mind for me is a study I conducted almost a year ago with 18-to 24-year old in the US, UK and Canada about technology. So many of them talked about how technology is going to solve our problems, specifically environmental ones.

Now, one can argue that generating the electricity for all of the servers for say MySpace or Google has its own ecological impact, even if we save in other ways. But I do think it's an interesting point, specifically in that the Internet allows us to share in new ways.

Take for example, freecycle, a site that allows members to give away used items. Got a bookshelf you can't use but can't sell, or how about a half used ream of paper? Just post it on freecycle and someone can claim it and pick it up. In a way, it's a type of simplified distributed computing. And just one example of how the Internet may be helping us reuse items instead of throwing them in the trash.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Consumer content=credibility

99 percent of consumers who read product reviews find them credible, according to an eMarketer reported today. Results came from a Deloitte Consumer Product Group-sponsored study.

This is not surprising or new. Back in 2002, the Stanford-Makovsky Credibility Survey showed similar results, adding that user-generated content actually credibility to the site the content is on.

Reviews really are a baseline today. They are easy to implement and while some moderation is needed, that's a simple challenge to tackle.

Yet today's report also said that only two-thirds of consumer websites allow for consumer generated reviews.So why aren't more companies including them on their site?

From talking to marketing folks, the biggest concern I hear is "What if someone posts something bad about my product?" Well, here's the answer: Unless it's offensive to society at large, you leave the bad product review on our site and either a) listen and consider it good feedback that might be valid and actionable or b) know that users are smart and that one bad product review isn't going to send them away.

In fact, from the research I've conducted, consumers generally say they consider a number of sources, and know that not everyone is "like them" or likes what they like.

So let's remember that consumers are smart and give them credit for making their own decisions. And if you manage a site with no reviews and no way for consumers to speak back, well, you know what to do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

One avatar, many worlds ... and other identity melders

Today IBM and Second Life creator Linden Labs announced a joint project that will develop avatars that can travel between various virtual worlds. This is just one more step toward a unified online identity. This has been a hot topic among geeks for some time now and is just starting to creep into the mainstream web. Bu it's a topic that needs to be addressed -- I mean, if we really are building a user-centric web, what are we doing fooling around with different logins and passwords on every site we visit?

Here are a few other examples of what's out there in the digital identity realm.

Open ID has been gaining traction recently. OpenID is an open-source application that provides users with a “URI” in the same way that web sites have a URL. It allows for ‘authentification’ so that it is secure, and it also allows users to choose which elements of their identity to share. It is used by a number of sites, including Facebook, Digg, Wikipedia, Yahoo, and AOL. Reebok also implemented Open ID in its community site.

Claim ID is a sister to Open ID. It allows user to create a profile with all of the sites they have identities on. It also allows them to claim those pages as their own.

iNames are similar to OpenID’s URI. iNames may be a better choice for regular, less technical people according to Hamlin. To date, more than 10,000 people use iNames. The system works by providing users with a number that is unique and persistent to that user. iNames and OpenIDs work together so you can type tour iName into an OpenID log-in.

Windows CardSpace allows users to securely provide a digital identity to a site via a piece of client software that uses a set of “cards,” with identity data for the user to choose from.

Amazon’s Real Name Attribution allows users to claim their real name using a credit card in the spirit of credibility and reputation building.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Google buys Jaiku!

Oh my. Google has purchased Jaiku and word on the street is that it plans on integrating it with it's new release of Orkut in early November. And just when we thought that Google wasn't paying attention in the socnet space!

It's interesting, because for me, Jaiku was always second best to Twitter. And for that matter, Orkut was always second best to MySpace (or make that third-best). But I'm glad to see that Google is paying attention and doing it well.

Jaiku is a smart app, and I was reminded of that this morning when I signed in after months of abandonment. The thing is, I hadn't actually abandoned Jaiku because long ago I had set it up to automatically post my blog rants and flickr photos. So even though I forgot to actually GO TO the site, I was still connected to it and it was still very relevant and up-to-date.

That's not just smart, it's crazy Web 2.0 smart.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A little more...

Marc Andreessen really nailed it:

Let me say it again: social media is not new

I've done a good deal of research with users about why they contribute online, and a lot of time they say it's because, at that very moment, they were passionate about something. That's my blogging philosophy as well. And this quote (which I just read on Robert Scoble's blog) stopped me in my tracks.

From Steve Ballmer in the Times Online:
I think these things [social networks] are going to have some legs, and yet there’s a faddishness, a faddish nature about anything that basically appeals to younger people.”

Can we stop with this nonsense? Please?

Not to point out the obvious, but many MySpace and Facebook users are over 30. And there are numerous social networks targeted to Boomers--look at Eons, or Gather. Or look at one of the most successful communities of all time, The WELL, which started in the 80s and attracted an active audience of adults.

Here's a little primer for you Mr. Ballmer. This by no means shows the extent of online communities over the years, but it does show a continuum. What's not on here? The cybernetic movement of the 1940's let by Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, and the Pragmatist thinkers who came before them, folks like Charles Pierce who talked about how knowledge must be social.

So please Mr. Ballmer, do your research before making comments that don't make sense.