Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

We need to increase the rate at which we consume information

October 23, 2007

I am not talking about Matrix style information consumption (although that would be cool) but one of the biggest problems with the overload of information that we are in the midst of is that we are governed by old information presentation models.

Sentences, paragraphs, headings etc… have been the common tools we use to present information. Take a blog post for example. Very straight forward (I am shacked by the common layout formats myself). In most cases we present information on the Internet much the same way we would present it in a book.

We need to rethink this. Some will argue that we don’t present content in the same way that we do in books. They might say, “…but, Ron, we use flash and video and other techniques to get our points across”. They would be correct. Good content is delivered over the Internet using rich media, which is cool for those talented designers that can move in and out of Photoshop and Flash, the same way I do with a web browser.

But what about the rest of us. Those that can’t whip up nice graphics and movies whenever we want. How can we present information in a better way?

Robert Scoble thinks:

We have too much great content.

And Steve Rubel thinks that we are headed for an:

Attention Crash.

I think Steve and Robert are both correct. But what I think we need is a new way to communicate ideas. Not with text and lengthy paragraphs or run on sentences, but with something else.

I believe that we were headed here anyways. We add thousands of books a year (good books) yet on WordPress alone there were:

1,682,684 blogs with 15,713 new posts today.

We don’t need a fancy publisher to put content out there.  We simply write.  We are not reaching the amount of people that the Times Best Seller writers reach, but if you look at the world of content it is growing at an alarming rate.  The result of this is that eventually all of this “good” content will eventually go to waste.  Hopefully not.

If we don’t produce a way to “rip” through our “good” content in a faster way, we will miss the opportunity to truly capitalize on this great medium.

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Let the “targeted advertisement” race begin

August 13, 2007

I have been anxiously awaiting this day. My Space has begun a “targeted ad” campaign which if successful, I think will revolutionize the advertising world. The benefits of targeted advertisements is simple:

Deliver more meaningful advertisements

It is a fact of life that quality content must either be paid for (Cable channels) or supplemented through advertisements (Network). We have been living with advertisements on television since it’s inception. Although TV/Cable content providers have become more intelligent about their ad placements (My wife does not understand half of the humor displayed in the advertisements during a Football game on Sunday), there was no real way to determine who was watching television.

Enter “Cookies” – no not your mom’s chocolate chip cookie. Imagine the Nielsen Ratings group – only in EVERY household. Essentially every visitor to a web site can be tracked. And with sites like Facebook and MySpace your content retrieval habits can also be tracked. Imagine watching television and getting an advertisement that said: “Goes great with the new pair of brown pants you just bought last week from the store”. Freaky yes, but I would rather have this ad then a bunch of ads completely unrelated to what I am looking for.

Targeted advertisements hold the key to increased click-through rates and even higher completion rates (someone actually purchases). I know this topic represents a mixed bag – but I think that this is the best thing to happen to the Internet. Among its benefits:

  • Potential for less advertisements – key concept here is that the websites sprinkle a ton of advertisements in hopes that one of them is clicked
  • Advertisements are more successful – no more campaigns with unknown return value
  • Freak the hell out of your Mom – ha- no seriously, though, remember the Minority Report? Imagine an ad directed towards your mom? I know mine would freak out. “How’d they know that I just remodeled my kitchen”?

There are certainly some challenges and I think that the general privacy community will certainly have problems with statements like this:

If someone’s been identified as someone who’s interested in fashion, we target ads to them that have nothing to do with fashion, and then ads that would direct them to say, the MySpace fashion channel.”

How do they determine someone is “interested in fashion”. Do they look at my MySpace messages? At my “Blog” posts? Surely someone will want a public deceleration of the data collection policies used to determine the targeted advertisements.

At any rate – we are on our way, so we shall see!

Gathering thoughts about SN, Web 2.0 and everything else

August 12, 2007

http://www.calacanis.com/2007/07/27/facebook-bankruptcy

 

 

One of my “friends” on Facebook posted a link to this BRILIANT blog post which has filled me with a ton of energy.  I am trying to figure out where to aim this and I guess I am hoping that you can help.  I have a few angles of discussion from this post and I need to know where to focus (may help to actually read the post =) :

 

1.) These applications that are popping up (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pownce, Twitter, ???) – are they opportunistic software application developers taking advantage of the hype of Web 2.0 to make a buck (or million) or are they opportunistic software application developers taking advantage of the shift in our societies decision to communicate more openly/freely over the Internet to make software that helps enable true “enhanced connectivity”?

 

2.) Is his disgusted with the Social Network System and his inability to internalize what is going on here (we are completely shifting our Communication techniques).  Is he part of the “older” generation that just can’t understand how to fit this into his daily actions?  Hyper connectivity anxiety disorder?

 

3.) Is he trying to get people to think further down the road?  Can we honestly think that the current state of Social Networking is the “Way it will be”?  Why do we have to travel around to all of these different sites?  Why do we have to post on other people’s blogs (only to loose that communication later when the user decides to close up shop?)  Should we think about shaking up the model a bit and leverage the Internet to communicate in a whole new way?

 

4.)Unrelated – I have travelled quite a bit over the last 2-3 years and I have met a ton of young professionals who either don’t know that much about social networking or find it to be a  waste of time.  To be honest I am not sure that I would have learned as much as I did if I hadn’t been on the road.  With a wife and two children, time is a precious commodity.

 

One of the conversations that I have been having recently is how we as a society is not interested in information for the long term anymore.  We are “experience” animals that search for the “next best thing”.   We revel in the challenges to achieve it (getting from A to Z is half the fun) but are disinterested as soon as we do.  Moving on to the “next best thing”.  We are an ADHD society who have been transformed into “minute-memories”.

 

Our means of communications have shifted towards this – IM, Text Messaging, Blogging etc…  We are very interested in the now – and NOW moves faster then any of could believe.

 

The nagging question for all of this – what does it mean to the next generation of “communicators”?  When they have grown up on Text Messaging, IM and {gasp} Twitter?  And more importantly, how can we establish these new levels/channels of communications so that these new communicators are capable of achieving more then we have.

 

I am certainly not claiming “Facebook Bankruptcy” but I have denied the Zombie requests and I continue to edit my “iLike” portion of my site (and encourage others to do the same).

When will we outgrow our current Social Network applications?

August 10, 2007

I will be the first to tell you that I am glad that MySpace is in trouble. After working with Facebook for the last few months I have decided to pull all of my content off of MySpace and just link to My Facebook account. However it and a recent article (LinkedIn to Open Platform in Response to Facebook) it has become clear that we are rapidly outgrowing the services available in some of the earlier Social Networking applications that we have been using. LinkedIn is a great site (I use that as well) and I think that both Facebook and LinkedIn have their values.

However as the networks grow and the companies producing the applications understand more and more about how their software is used things change. Sometimes the change for the worse (Wis.dm)! What has become increasingly clearer to me is that we will begin to outgrow some of these applications rather quickly. I agree with Michael – LinkedIn is here for the near term. They do however have some interesting challenges as applications which provide similar capabilities begin to produce more user retention.

The problem LinkedIn faces is a market suffering from too many social networking options; Facebook offers a one stop shop that for many is becoming their main and in some cases their only choice in social networks. LinkedIn must evolve to compete, the move to open their platform is a definite step in the right direction.

Evolution is key and we are already beginning to see the challenges ahead as “applications” like Twitter and Pownce begin their trek through the uncharted waters of social networking.

As the fundamental communication process is transfered to the Web we will see a myriad of options available to us.  Who knows maybe some day instead of posting to all of the sites, we may actually have a “LifeComputer” at home which publishes strategically to social network stations which publicize our lives for those that are interested.

Why Facebook may actually be better than LinkedIn

July 6, 2007

I have been a member of LinkedIn since April 24, 2006 and I have about 50 connections. I have been a fan of LinkedIn but since I have been at the same company for over 5 years I have to say that LinkedIn has really only gotten me back in contact with a few people that I lost touch with in the past. Most of the people that are on my list I regard highly – people that I have personally done business with and would more than likely enjoy doing business with in the future. I am not too concerned about a “network” per se, so the number (50) doesn’t bother me. I have several people in my list that have over 500 contacts. So, if I needed to find more people or get a reference or introduction I certainly could.

Then I joined Facebook (don’t remember when but it was shortly after they started to allow users without .edu email addresses). I have begun to get into Facebook a bit more and started to look through their groups and networks. I found an interesting group called Web 2.0 (Entrepreneurs). Currently, there are over 7500 members and they are people who are either looking for help or want to offer their help with startups. The group’s officer list is a who’s who in Web application knowledge. People like Kevin Rose (digg.com), Michael Arrington (TechCrunch), Om Malik (GigaOM), Guy Kawasaki (Garage Technology Ventures) and others. The group got so popular that they had to spin off another group which they entitled Web T.e (T.e = Trust, Integrity and Ethics) where you essentially need to be invited to participate.

In the “Recent News” section of the group Mark Fletcher (started Bloglines.com) had 25 (15 + 10) things to remember when starting up a Start-Up:

+15 Startup Commandments

1. Your idea isn’t new. Pick an idea; at least 50 other people have thought of it. Get over your stunning brilliance and realize that execution matters more.

2. Stealth startups suck. You’re not working on the Manhattan Project, Einstein. Get something out as quickly as possible and promote the hell out of it.

3. If you don’t have scaling problems, you’re not growing fast enough.

4. If you’re successful, people will try to take advantage of you. Hope that you’re in that position, and hope that you’re smart enough to not fall for it.

5. People will tell you they know more than you do. If that’s really the case, you shouldn’t be doing your startup.

6. Your competition will inflate their numbers. Take any startup traffic number and slash it in half. At least.

7. Perfection is the enemy of good enough. Leonardo could paint the Mona Lisa only once. You, Bob Ross, can push a bug release every 5 minutes because you were at least smart enough to do a web app.

8. The size of your startup is not a reflection of your manhood. More employees does not make you more of a man (or woman as the case may be).

9. You don’t need business development people. If you’re successful, companies will come to you. The deals will still be distractions and not worth doing, but at least you’re not spending any effort trying to get them.

10. You have to be wrong in the head to start a company. But we have all the fun.

11. Starting a company will teach you what it’s like to be a manic depressive. They, at least, can take medication.

12. Your startup isn’t succeeding? You have two options: go home with your tail between your legs or do something about it. What’s it going to be?

13. If you don’t pay attention to your competition, they will turn out to be geniuses and will crush you. If you do pay attention to them, they will turn out to be idiots and you will have wasted your time. Which would you prefer?

14. Startups are not a democracy. Want a democracy? Go run for class president, Bueller.

15. You’re doing a web app, right? This isn’t the 1980s. Your crummy, half-assed web app will still be more successful than your competitor’s most polished software application.

+10 More Startup Commandments

1. You will have at least one catastrophe every three months.

2. Outsource effectively, or be effectively outsourced.

3. Do you thrive on stress and ambiguity? You’d better.

4. The best way to get outside funding is to be successful already. Stupid but true. But you, cheapskate, don’t need money, right?

5. People will think your idea sucks. They’re even probably right. The only way to prove them wrong is to succeed.

6. A startup will require your complete attention and devotion. Thought your first love in High School was clingy? You can’t take out a restraining order on your startup.

7. Being an entrepreneur requires a healthy amount of ignorance. Note I did not say stupidity.

8. Your software sucks. So what. Everyone else’s does also, and re-architecting is the kiss of death for a startup. Startups are no place for architecture astronauts.

9. You do have a public API, right?

10. Abject Terror. Overwhelming Joy. Monstrous Greed. Embrace and harness these emotions you must.

With online networking opportunities like this who needs LinkedIn?

I am not the only one thinking about LinkedIn like this, in fact TechCrunch has recently posted that LinkedIn may face a

“real risk of long term irrelevance as Facebook becomes the social networking platform of choice for professional networkers. “

Today I will keep my accounts on both sites. Currently I only have a handful of people in Facebook and I am currently only using Facebook for personal not professional reasons but who knows. Maybe I will ditch LinkedIn and get all of my contacts to join me on Facebook.

I can tell you this: I will more than likely pull down my MySpace account and focus solely on Facebook – it is leaps and bounds ahead of MySpace.

If you haven’t heard of Sphere, you will soon

June 23, 2007

Before the wis.dm site jumped ship, I wrote about how mainstream media has begun to engage end users in conversations. News sites like Wall Mercury commentsStreet Journal, USA Today, Wired, San Jose Mercury have been engaging their customers for a while. WSJ.com forumsReaders have been posting comments, digging, tagging for some time. And most people actually like it. CNN.com has been a little late to the game and while they have the “revolutionary” Situation Room, they have not joined the true social network. Until now..

I use CNN.com for all of my mainstream news (can’t ever get enough Paris jail footage), and while I don’t spend a ton of time there, I do use the site on a daily basis to keep up with what everyone else is keeping up with (not everyone knows what NewsGator is for or how to use it). When they announced their beta I like any other beta tester jumped at the chance.

I have to say that I was not tremendously impressed at first. Since all of my news is read through a pretty plain RSS reader, I saw this as a simple re-design. Then I started seeing a few things that I liked. First was that they have a tab on some articles (the details page) which will display a video file if the article has an associated video with it. Then I saw it … the difference that I had been waiting for.

CNN.com has not only decided to allow people to add their voice directly to the web site, CNN.com has decided to “report”CNN.com and Sphere oCNN.com and Sphere (1)n conversations in the Blogsphere with a widget created by a company named Sphere. The basic idea for the widget, is to query the Blogsphere for content related to the article. I think that this feature will really improve the recongition of Blogs and expose the community to more people. I am not sure how many people will actually use this but I think that it is a great idea.

The first mention of YouTube on TV and they may not benefit…

June 23, 2007

Apple has begun to advertise on TV and as you may expect it was not what you expect. Instead of touting all of the features on the iPhone, Apple decided to talk about YouTube. At first, I thought it was a commercial about YouTube (I was listening to the ad at the time) and I was all like “cool”, finally an ad about YouTube. The technology that will irronically take advertisements away from TV, is using TV to get out the message. Genius.

It was an interesting advertisement either way but I wonder two things:

1.) Of the people that are going to by an iPhone, which of them does not already know that you will be able to run YouTube on your new iPhone.
2.) Was the mention of YouTube inadvertent or, are Google and Apple really working together closer then people think?

Some crazy thoughts about Web 2.0

May 3, 2007

As Mike posted about “RSS in Plain English” , it reminded me of some of the conversations we have been having at work as we try to jump-start discussions surrounding our companies general approach to Web 2.0 (which includes a healthy dose of RSS). I spoke at internal round table last week about RSS, Wiki’s and Blogs and their place in the Web Content Management space. Particularly, focusing on how RSS was effecting the Enterprise business world and how our product would be growing to support that need. During my work, I came across a great video (like a great cult movie these days you need to watch it a couple of times to pick up everything) which helps to dispel the myths about Web 2.0.

What I found to be well done in the video was the process of not only describing what Web 2.0 is today but how we got here. How HTML was built as a markup language which was

“…designed to describe the structure of a web document … such elements defined how content would be formatted. In other words, form and content became inseparable in HTML…”

In the early days of pure HTML development, the tags were the power. <b> for something bold, <i> for something italics. We coded because we wanted to designate that something was important and should be looked at differently. We were not thinking about the actual content in the context of the document, we were simply saying “when this is displayed on the Web we want it to look like ‘x’.”

What is remarkable about the current changes on the Web is that they are not simply architectural changes (support for semantic style markup like <address>4222 Clinton Avenue</address>) but it was also the explosion of the user compiled data:

Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site useable. Owners of Adobe, Apple and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum web pages. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organising intelligence for a new economy. [excerpt from “Unto us a machine is born”]

Nobody could have ever imagined how much the consumers of the world would contribute to the web and it’s over all growth. In some articles it is said that a new blog is born every 1/2 second. When I first started blogging at WordPress.com (which was admittedly way after the general populous started) there were roughly 190K blogs. In the short amount of time that I have been active in the blogsphere, that number has grown to an astonishing 900K+.

So as this data grows and the web spins out of control, we must start thinking about the next thing. How many times have you gotten to a great Digg article, only to find that 850 people had already commented on this article. Rendering the comments section of this article completely useless. Who can sort through that many comments and make heads or tails of anything relevant to the discussion. Likewise, how do you weed out the unproductive comments that prove we still have a long way to go as a society? You don’t, that’s how!

One thing I will say that I have spoken about in the past (and is iterated in the article mentioned above) is that the system is growing and the tools that are becoming available to us are opening up our use-able networks. We are currently connected (most of us) with way more people then we were in the past. Additionally, we are capable of maintaining relationships with hundreds of people at at time through many different outlets.

I am not sure that we are “teaching the Machine (a.k.a. the Internet)” but I can say this, when I get involved with projects like Behavioral Targeting I can truly say that we are living in a remarkable time, and I am glad to be a part of it.

Quick

March 30, 2007

I ran across this link (Mike this is for you):

http://www.ilovejackdaniels.com/blog/dear-blogger/

Where is wis.dm Webisode 2?

March 27, 2007

I have certainly been bitten by the Wis.dm bug lately and so I wanted to share with you a few of the interesting “things” going in the quite creative community which has so nicely developed over at wis.dm. To do so, I am going to introduce you to a “character” that has joined the community.

The first is George Pepper:

Sent to document and report on the pop culture of the early 21st century, I, Commodore George Pepper stepped through the time displacement portal and arrived in the year 2007. Expecting to find a time of peace and prosperity, as had been recorded in my history books, I’ve found a culture mass paranoia, military conflict, and degrading environmental conditions which will lead to mankinds doom.

Faced with customs and beliefs alien to my own, I’ve set forth to change history for the better. My only guide on this journey is Wis.dm, a research assistant from my own time, who appears in the form of an 8-Track player attached to a tripod. And so, I must scour pop culture, striving to find the people, events, and institutions that have corrupted the timeline…hoping to save this era, and my own.

 

In addition to some of his posts he has produced a video which can be seen here:

This was posted some time ago (February 12th) and I am very much looking forward to the second Webisode where I hope to meet some of George’s arch enemies like Dr. Digg and his evil henchman Facebook.

More from this later.