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June 2007

Foxmarks reveals its true nature–next-generation search

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Having fallen out of the Firefox crowd for a bit, I missed Foxmarks coming onto the scene.  When I came back into the fold, for now, I didn’t really see the point.  I don’t really surf between several machines.  Well, seems that the real reason behind Foxmarks wasn’t just bookmark synchronization–it was building an index of websites:

The Foxmarks search engine is based entirely on user bookmarks and the associated metadata. Don?t expect pages and pages of results like you get with Google. But you will get a few results for most queries that are highly relevant and on target. When returning and ranking results, Foxmarks takes into consideration the text in the title of the URL, the names of any folders people have put the bookmarks in, and any descriptions added by users. All of this information is shown in the results. See the very hazy screen shot below for the current user interface, which Kapor says will change before launch. Source: Mitch Kapor?s Foxmarks To Leap Into Search World

So take the bookmarks of thousand’s of people, see how they are organized and “tagged” (in the most general sense) and use that to build something to be queried against.  Sounds cool to me.  I just downloaded, installed, and configured it.  Pretty painless, but … But, are people still bookmarking websites often?  I don’t.  Most of the sites I visit often are via RSS, no need to for bookmarks.  I might had a new bookmark once a month.  So will the Foxmark search engine continue to be popular?  Will it grow?  Well I’m happy to contribute my data to the folder.  So, if you’re looking for the online flyer for Thrifty’s or Country Grocer (two supermarkets up here), I helped you with that.

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Facebook, MySpace, Digg, and MyBlogLog are analogues for society at large

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No this isn’t stating just the obvious, it’s stating something very important and perhaps profound in terms of how we perceive the Internet as an egalitarian place of knowledge and information.  Yesterday Jim, in an uncanny bit of foreshadowing, was comparing Digg users versus MyBlogLog users and mused about Facebook and MySpace:

This makes me wonder if people go with one social network and stay with that network, not also belonging to other groups.  Do people go with Facebook and not also go with MySpace?  If you use one tool do you not always use a competitor tool?  One thing for sure, with all of those visitors, if they had been My Blog Log members, that widget would have been smoking. Source: One By One Media ? The Digg Nation Not My Blog Log Community

Today, of course, Danah Boyd released her paper on Facebook and MySpace as societal analogues to much fanfare.  I’ve skimmed over a lot of the reviews and analysis of the report, one of the benefits of writing late in the evening, and Mathew Ingram, Joey deVilla, and Tony Hung have some of the best discussion I’ve seen.  Joey had the amazing benefit of hearing Danah discuss the report in person and the report is probably the best summation of Danah’s work.  Tony Hung, however, points out the factor that will make many folks lose sleep…did this report just tank MySpace’s value?

Personally I’ve never liked MySpace, mainly because it’s UI and user interactive sucked.  I couldn’t figure out if my profile was public or private.  Facebook, reminds me of the social version of LinkedIn.  Like LinkedIn is the corporate cocktail party and Facebook is like a geek meet-up at a pub.  Business and networking is still going on, but the ties are loosened and some folks are wearing jeans.  Having the benefit, for maybe the first time in my Web 2.0 career, of an anthropology degree, Danah’s report is fascinating and almost defers to Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” statement.  MySpace is a nearly clean slate.  You can do just about anything.  Copy bits of code, trick out your space make it your own.  Facebook is controlled.  Sure you can “personalize” it, but within parameters.

Digg vs MyBlogLog … a similar comparison, but MyBlogLog is based more on connected spheres of influence compared to Digg which is a more insular community focused on a particular thing.

And none of this should be of any surprise to any of us.  This is how society is.  Don’t you think you will gravitate to the tools and online communities that both reflect your own personality and  have your friends or people of similar tastes?  The question is then, will these groups (de)evolve into online “tribes” that will wield their own influence and power?  Something analogous to the worlds of William Gibson.

We’ll see won’t we.  And I bet part of the fun of Blog World Expo will be watching some of these groups mingle a bit.

BlogWorld Conference Program Now Available

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Thats right the BlogWorld conference program has been published. We are really excited about the conference and hope you are too. Please take a look at the schedule and let us know what you think.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we announce more speakers, but just to give you an idea of the amazing group of bloggers and podcasters and new media experts we have lined up here is a small sample:

Om Malik, Charlene Li, Jory Des Jardins, Aaron Wall, Paul Dunay, Jim Kukral, Hugh Hewitt, Jerome Armstrong, Tyler Bleszinski, Maggie Fox, Jeremy Wright, Dave Taylor, Professor David Perlmutter, Brett Trout, Leesa Barnes.

And that is just the beginning.

Exciting week-Yahoo shakeup, iPhone count down, Enterprise 2.0, RSS and Facebook

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Gee anything happen this week?  Wow.  Rick and the team are getting ready for the conference and I got a sneak peak at the sessions.  Something for everyone for sure.  For my money I’d hang in the tracks that show you how to take these cool technologies and use them in what is now being called “Enterprise 2.0″.  Take Michael’s notes from a recent talk on RSS in the Enterprise:

The Problem
- Huge proliferation of information, both on the Internet and Intranet.
- Email is insufficient, static portals are broken (you have to go there to see what’s new).
- Information workers spend a lot of time searching for information … up to 8-10 hours a week.

The Solution
- Syndication in the enterprise. How do you go about it?
- Step 1 … access and monitor all information sources. Eg, internal data sources (email, content management, enterprise portals, databases), and external content (RSS, Yahoo, Google, NYT)
- … databases … monitor record changes
- … portals … monitor revisions
- … applications … monitor relevant changes, eg, order status updates
- … intranets/extranets … monitor changes
- … email … calendar events
- Step 2 … relevancy of the information to the individual
- Step 3 … push information to users … so they don’t have to go to a system to get it, but that information may pull them in
- Step 4 … capture user behavior, as a way of monitoring what someone is doing and interested in

In the KnowNow architecture, there is an aggregation server in the middle for enterprise syndication.

Minimum requirements for RSS in the enterprise:
- monitor all sources inside and outside the enterprise
- match content to users based on relevancy
- leverage the network effect
- deliver information to users as available
- provide enterprise security and management
- enable end-user personalization and control Source: Michael’s Thoughts: Notes on “RSS: Bridging the Gap Between the People and Information that Drive Business”

And Ross’ from How to Build an Enterprise 2.0 Platform Employees Will Use.  Both of these highlight something that will be 2008’s hot topic.  Blogs, RSS, Facebook, great but what’s the business value?  Brad Feld (happy anniversary Brad!) is working on the Facebook issue, among others of course.

A big part of Blog World Expo is going to be looking at these technologies and, frankly, putting all the speakers in one place, with vendors and others; I’m betting at least one new company will come out of Blog World Expo and probably some awesome product refinements.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Yahoo.  There is lots of chatter about what will happen next.  Yahoo and eBay?  On GigaOM there is even a top five list with odds.  My bet?  Merger.  Yahoo is going to merge with someone.  My bet is still Microsoft.  Given my batting average on these things is like .300 … don’t bet I’m right.

Finally, for all you iPhone fans, if you buy one and don’t like it, be ready to pay out about $175 to free yourself from AT&T.

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Sharks are circling in the post-Semel Yahoo!…what will Jerry Yang do?

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Soon after I wrote Monday’s post, the news that Terry Semel was out at Yahoo! as the CEO was all over the news (Techcrunch and Valleywag).  While there is lots of debate whether Semel was pushed or jumped and whether Jerry Yang is a temporary CEO or more permanent, these aren’t as important as what’s next for the once giant of search.

When the web was young, Yahoo! was search.  Heck, Yahoo! was also free e-mail and decent IM.  Then a couple kids came up with a better way to search and find stuff online.  Yahoo!, if you remember, embraced organic search late in the game and relied on it’s popular and growing index of sites.  An index that was compiled by people.  That was a fatal error.

Now Yahoo! is playing second fiddle to Google but, Yahoo! is huge and has a ton of great things under its tent (Flickr, del.icio.us,MyBlogLog, YahooMail, IM and on…) and people are wondering what’s next.  The Times of London and the NYT both discuss News Corps overtures to Yahoo! with giving MySpace to Yahoo! in exchange for a stake in the company.  There is even talk of letting Google power their search.  I’m surprised that a merger with Microsoft hasn’t come up more strongly this week.

I’m no pundit, but Yahoo is becoming an also ran.  They haven’t leveraged the the “hot startups” they purchased nearly as well as they should have.  Panama was late and might have come too late in the game to make a difference.

From where I sit, I think that Yahoo!’s best hope might be to become a part of a large publishing group, maybe sell off some parts that don’t support that end and move on.

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Sick of the iPhone yet? Join the club

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One look at Techmeme today and you can see that, well, the @#&*!&(#%_+$#@$ iPhone is swamping the news.  Me, I’m sick of it.  No idea when it’s going to be available outside the U.S., much less if supply will even approach demand later this month.  I love, however, this dig at Apple on CrunchGear:

Apple, could you please be straightforward from now on. The lies and run around are wearing thin, not to mention being obnoxious. There?s enough hype around your WunderFON to last a lifetime. We just ask that at&t doesn?t strip it of the most coveted features and that there will be enough units at launch. K THX

In the continuing to slam Apple department (maybe I’m just jealous of people who can afford MacBooks), C|Net has a little article quoting John Lilly of Mozilla about Safari’s hype.  See, that’s another one I don’t get.  Release a browser for Windows that most users probably don’t want, oh and have it so riddled with security holes that you have to release three patches in the first week.  So typical Apple.  Man if this is what their web browser is like, I don’t have much confidence in their freakin’ phone!

Of a far more interesting note, WebProNews looks at the new Google Public Policy Blog.  You might think that public policy is a big yawn, and often you might be right, but sometimes there are hugely important issues at stake that people need to think about.  My pet one is Net Neutrality.  Google’s post on this is very good and this quote from Craig Newmark sums it all up rather nicely:

Without nondiscrimination safeguards that preserve an environment of network neutrality, the Internet could be shaped in ways that only serve the interests of broadband carriers, rather than U.S. consumers and Web entrepreneurs. As Craig Newmark of Craig’s List puts it, ?Imagine if you tried to order a pizza and the phone company said AT&T’s preferred pizza vendor is Domino’s. Press one to connect to Domino’s now. If you would still like to order from your neighborhood pizzeria, please hold for three minutes while Domino’s guaranteed orders are placed.?

Related to this whole discussion is Fox’s announcement that they are going with Brightcove for streaming videos and this BBC article talking about our need for speed–or our desire for flawlessly streaming videos–is bumping into both how much bandwidth is available in the last mile (that is your house) and the routers that keep it all straight.  What is interesting is if you look at what pressure the networks are under you can see why the likes of AT&T and other ISPs are clamoring against net neutrality.  They see the crunch coming and what some cash to help upgrade their stuff.  Hmm, maybe cut back on say the executive perks and such first before you still hitting us up for cash?  Sorry the “oh we’re so hurting” argument falls on deaf ears when you’re making money hand over fist from us already.

I hope there is something interesting between now and Wednesday, because I can only slam Apple so many times before even I get sick of it!

Update: Mark Evans is on the same page with me on the iPhone nonsense.

Xing and Zoominfo Work Together on Biz Info–might not be a great thing

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 Remember how I mentioned a Xing-Plaxo rumour last week?  This isn’t a rumour:

Zoominfo is a business information search engine that allows users to find news, updates, and business details about industries, companies, and people, with over 4.5 million unique visitors monthly. Xing, meanwhile, is a professional networking site that allows its members to meet people in the same industries, opportunities and other privileges through it?s network directory and advanced contact management platform. Source: Xing and Zoominfo bring together networking and information search to online business industry | 901am

There is a hitch.  The folks at LinkedIn (who would be a major competitor) say that Zoominfo scrapes info without people’s permission.  Okay … like any of us who are active online aren’t already used to that.

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Maybe not the biggest news: Skype 3.5 beta released

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You might not think this is big news, but you know whenever Skype releases a new beta, the whole application-based VoIP area gets a boost.  I live on Skype.  I have it open all the time and would gladly dump all my other IM clients for it.  I can’t, of course, but I like Skype that much.  Today Skype 3.5 Beta (Windows) is out (I have it downloaded but not installed) and here are some of the new features of note:

  • feature: Auto redial
  • feature: Call Transfer
  • feature: Device Indicators
  • feature: Edit chat messages
  • feature: Message history loading granulated
  • feature: Private Telephone Numbers
  • feature: Send contacts inside chat
  • feature: Visual indicators for Audio In / Audio Out in options
  • feature: Show examples of notifications / alerts in options

Now if memory serves registrations for the Blog World Expo will be open, or are open, soon.  I’m on the speaking docket for the Bloggers For Hire panel.  Maybe I can convince Rick or Dave to make a blogs for competitive intelligence panel.

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Going on a Safari for Leopards

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The discussion of the week is still all about Apple.  Rather, Safari on Windows.  GigOm wonders why, I Cringely has the answers.  I tried to install it, but something ain’t working here in Vista land and I keep getting errors.  Frankly after three tries (two tries too many, IMHO), I’ve given up.  Not that important to me.

The theory is, btw, that Safari for Windows is all about AT&T.  Wooing AT&T into signing on for more Apple products (read Apple TV).

I had a discussion recently about people getting Macs.  You know as cool and sexy as the machines (and granted the OS itself) are, the price is still too high for me.  Not to mention the application issue.

And while Linux (Ubuntu specifically) might be inching (at a glacial pace) into the mainstream, this is still Microsoft’s game to lose.

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