Whats happened? Lots…

June 5, 2007

Garry Trudeau became an RIAA shill…db070605.gif

The New York Times finds new ways to say the record labels are dead: With the hyperbolic headline “Plunge in CD Sales Shakes Up Big Labels” the NYT outlines the approved list symptoms contributing the labels demise but steadfastly avoids stating any causes.

The software police at the BSA put out a report claiming that “illegal downloading” by 8 – 18 year olds was down 24% over the past 3 years. File this report under official sounding pseudo-science and take it out whenever you need to fertilize your garden. Of the many explanations for the results reported in the survey, my favorite is that with all the lawsuits and media coverage 8-18 year olds have learned how to best respond to online surveys.

The good folks at Big in Japan have stepped in to help everyone who has fallen for Twitter, Jott, Jaiku and WordPress. They created a mashup called Egorcast that allows you to post to all four of these services at once.  Much like Onlywire does for social bookmarking sites, Egorcast is one site to control all your random musings.

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A 5 Site Guide to Web 2.0

March 21, 2007

If you follow any of the Web 2.0 A-listers, like Pete Cashmore, Frank Arrington or Om Malik , then you know that the only thing anyone can agree on is that no one really knows what Web 2.0 is. Folks seem to agree that it’s got something to do with the rise of social media, Rich Internet Applications and the growing power of us, but beyond that there lots of debate and grey area. In an attempt to cut through some of the noise, I offer this list of 5 sites you can play with to get first hand experience of Web 2.0. No need for $1,500 research reports or slick consultants with 50 slide PowerPoint decks. I guarantee that if you get engaged in at least 3 of these sites you’ll know more about Web 2.0 then most new media pontificators and all old media execs.


“Whats the point of this?” Thats seems to be the universal refrain when people first encounter the site, and its a damn good question. I still havent figured out what the point really is, but whenever I get a text telling me to post, I do. I also post when I have those all to frequent that someone says something where the only intelligent response is to stage blankly in dumbfounded silence (a look I’ve had to perfect of late).

The site is slow and often unresponsive but its a great example of the utilities and services that catch on with people hungry to say all that goes unsaid. Its a place where you and a few hundred thousand of your closest friends can answer one simple question; “What are you doing?” Thats it, nothing else. Yup, Web 2.0 all over. Simple, straightforward, discovered through usage not planning and amazingly addictive. Just like any good conversation. Doppelgangers: Happytxt, Justanger


Amazin Phasin’ hipped me to Grandcentral last year and I’ve used it as my main phone number ever since. The basic idea behind the site is to provide users with “one number to rule them all.” The simple way to think about it is Internet based call screening, with a bunch of features layered on top.

Want all the calls from a boss or co-worker to go directly to a voice mail? Done. Want calls from a talkative parent to be forwarded to the cell phone of a favorite sibling? Done. Grandcentral highlights the fun that can be had when one can apply online controls to multiple offline devices.


No discussion of Web 2.0 can occur without someone saying AJAX at least 10 times and in three different parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective). AJAX is the new HTML, its the basic building blocks of the new super cools webpages. I first took note of the power of AJAX when I started to play with the SideStep. It’s heavy use of AJAX makes finding the fare you want a much simpler process then Orbitz or any of the other travel meta-search engines out there. Farecast takes Sidestep to the next level, not only providing ticket information but also predicting the way that ticket price is likely to move. Both make heavy use of what anyone, excluding developers and techies, would most likely call AJAX (Farecast uses flash for most of its visualizations). If being an expert on Web 2.0 is important getting comfortable navigating around sites  like Sidestep and Farecast is  a good first step.


In the “early days”, way back in ’95, everyone was rushing to build beautifully gilded prisons within which to lock away users, or more specifically their eyeballs. Ironically these gilded prisons were called “portals”, although they didnt take you anywhere. Netvibes is one of a growing list of services that have taken a twist on the portal idea. Rather then gather everything into one place for you, they provide you with the means to build your own start page and litter it with what ever you find valuable. From gmail accounts and news sources to Flickr images and net videos, Netvibes gives you a way to bring them all together on one page. A start page that requires nothing to get going and only an email address to save. Where the old portals attempted to be the gatekeeper of your Internet experience these sites seek to be the concierge. Doppelgangers: Google Personalized Home, SuprGlu


Myspace, a collection of 159 million random profiles and musings by a lot less then 150 million random people, was sold for more then half a Billion non-random dollars. Why? Because it had 150 million random profiles, a ton of traffic and lots of press buzz. If you’ve ever thought you could build a social network of the same scale then Ning is the site for you. It started as the place to build lots of weird little social applications, from polls to “Hot or Not” like sites, and has evolved (or devolved) into a place to build weird little social networks. Rather then having to fuss with some geeky software, expensive developers or arcane technologies, Ning provides a simple page where you can drag and drop the features you want on your social network, pick its design, its privacy level and launch it to the public. Think of it as the WordPress of social networks.

Bonus:

Where do you go in this ever shrinking world for some alone time? How do you disconnect from the overly social networks, the ever twittering devices and the ubiquitous pings of email? Thankfully there is a site that helps you do just that. This site express the nature of Web 2.0 better then any Doc Searls rant or Clay Shirky lecture. If you want to be were others arent, isolatr is the site for you.


Digital Ethnography: The Machine is using US

February 7, 2007

GooTube isnt just the domain of scantily clad women, moronic teenage antics and copyright infringement. There’s gold in them thar servers and one nugget was sent to me by the amazing Phasing on Monday. It has captured the mood/feeling of the “whats happening?” crowd and offers some insights into thinking of the “whats next!” crowd.


YouTube Up TV Down

November 27, 2006

graphGreat post over at Mashable on this BBC report claiming that 43% of Brits who watch video via the net or mobile devices watch less TV. Now thats a big scary number but the fine print is that this group represents only 9% of the British population. Of course thats the only bit of good news if your a TV broadcaster. The rest of the article goes on to point out that the group most likely to watch now and in the future is the 16-24 set (28%). The very group most attractive to advertisers, despite the fact that they’ve got no spending power.


Research Summary: Google Takes On TV

June 16, 2006

There is alot of google bashing these days from sites that track its "evilness" to pundits urging it to embrace its evilness. As an early, and modestly loyal, user of most Google applications I'm inclined to like their products (except Google Video, which sucks ass and Picasa, which still isnt as good as ACDSee8 ). So when I came across a paper called "Social- and Interactive-Television Applications Based on Real-Time Ambient-Audio Identification" I thought it would be about as interesting as reading a Microsoft patent application. But I took the plunge and came away with a startling realization; Google groks the future. While the cable networks are throwing video at every buzzword that appears in the WSJ and tripping over each other trying to replicate broadcast on the web, Google is thinking about ways to bring mass-personalization into your home. Read the rest of this entry »


10 CEO’s, 5 Questions, 1 Big Insight

May 16, 2006

What does it take to build a business that gets a whole meme named after it? How do you get to be part of the Web 2.0 goodness that has been exploding all over the media? I dont know, but the web does provide access to lots of people that do. I contacted 10 of them for their answers to these questions and more.

Firing up my email program, along with a bit of courage, I emailed the founders of 10 different companies a series of questions about how they started their businesses and any lessons they'd picked-up along the way. I expected to get a few cruel letters of rejection and disdain from some overworked PR flack distrustful of blogs and unsure of their validity or usefulness. Instead, six founders running some of the Webs most interesting companies (at least the ones I use most often) agreed to chat with me.

Score: Indie Blogger 1, PR Flacks 0! Read the rest of this entry »


MP3tunes gets Tivo’ed

May 10, 2006

Heritage Exterior2.jpgEveryone has probably experienced the problem of traveling to your country home and having to figure out how to take all your music with you. Do you buy another music server? Do you just hire the bands you want to listen to and let them stay with you? What to do, what to do?

mp3tunes_logo.gifEnter MP3tunes. Michael Robertson announced that his company MP3tunes has turned on a feature that allows you to sync your MP3tunes locker with your Tivo box and play your music. Dont have a locker? No problem they have created a demo account for you to test out the new feature. Michael's minute has details on how to set it up. As a paying member of MP3tunes I can tell you I'd rather have a better way of getting my 40GB worth of songs into my locker then the ability to stream to a device I don't own.