Category Archives: web 2.0

Web 2.0 Exit Strategies

Marco Rosella has an interesting idea about how companies can promote their exit strategies at the upcoming Web 2.0 Conference … (Note – this is meant to be humorous):

“The success of a new service, if really demonstrated itself different from all the others, however could decree the end: where there’s a lack of Venture Capitals and/or the ads are to cover the band costs, naturally proportional to the traffic, the only reason of survival remains the sell to a big company.

As we know by now, Web 2.0 web application’s interfaces have their peculiar style defined by reflections, fades, drop-shadows, strong colors, rounded corners and star badges, these standing out in the header of every homepage.

Badges are the key element of this kind of design, being the first to flash user eyes, and so extremely important for the right communication of a message with fundamental importance.

Below you’ll find some example badges, arranged in four incremental levels, each one related to a different business model.” (Quote from Central Scrutinizer)

This is a humorous way to portray the current environment; however, it highlights a serious issue facing web 2.0 companies. With so many new web 2.0 companies, it becomes difficult to stand out in the crowd. Not all of them are looking to rise above the crowd in order to exit the business, but even getting mindshare with users can be difficult. Those that succeed in growing a large user base tend to do so virally, YouTube / MySpace / / etc., which is difficult to predict. Web 2.0 companies will need to focus on finding ways to get attention. Maybe the acquire me badges are not such a bad idea 🙂

Using Wikis for Corporate Collaboration

I just posted an entry on my Intel Trends in Web 2.0 blog about how “Wikis can be a great collaboration tool for use internally within the corporate environment or externally for use with customers or clients.”

If you want to learn more benefits of using wikis and hear about how I have been recently using wikis for collaboration, please visit my Intel Trends in Web 2.0 blog.

Creative Uses for Flickr MiniCards

Ever wanted to easily hand out a few Flickr images? Moo has a service that prints your Flickr pictures on one side of a 28mm x 70mm card (about half the size of a standard business card) and contact information or any other text on the other side. As an added bonus to Flickr Pro users, you can get a free 10 pack of cards if you are one of the first 10,000 people to request a set. Others can order the 100 pack for $19.99.

I found out about this service on TechCrunch where many people leaving comments were getting a bit too hung up on whether or not people would use them as business cards. I tend to agree with some of the comments. Most professionals would not use these as business cards with the exception of a few artistic professions; however, looking outside of the business card box, I can think of several creative ways to use these cards.

  • Something cool and unusual to use in a more casual setting with friends and family.
  • Commemorative items for weddings, birthday parties, or some other event with pictures on one side and event details on the other.
  • Teenagers and college students using cards to share their email address, IM, cell number, and maybe a MySpace / Friendster account with new friends.
  • Invitations to an event.

Moo says:


“…business cards are boring.

In an ambitious reinvention, that will address both form and function, MOO will take the business card back to its roots as a sophisticated social tool for non-business use and will introduce a new, advanced generation of calling card for the networked, mobile and social young communities of today. If you’re reading this, that’s you.” (Quote from

Smackdown: Browser-based Apps vs. Desktop Apps

Richard MacManus is running a poll at the Read / Write Web to determine whether people prefer desktop or browser apps. A day later, the results so far show that 62% prefer browser-based apps while 38% prefer webified desktop apps.

Judging by the comments, people fall into a few camps:

  • Desktop-based code is faster:
    “I have no clue who could possibly prefer web-based applications over ones running on your own computer. Native code, faster rendering, more memory, more bandwidth… how could ‘oooh, how neat, it works in my browser’ compete with any of those?” (Comment 1 from Mike Rundle)

  • I need to share my apps across multiple computers:
    “Well, I use five different computers on any given day, four windows XP and one Mac. You tell me how on earth am I going to enjoy apps running on any one of those PCs” (Comment 2 from hombrelobo)

  • Both are great for different reasons:
    “Basically what I’m saying is that certain apps (like productivity apps) are better suited for the Web, where production apps still have their place on my hard drive. So choosing between them is a little like choosing between my children, or maybe more like choosing between my cars, or maybe more like choosing room to take a nap in.” (Comment 8 from Steve Swedler)

In today’s world of near constant connectivity where work, home, coffee shops and airports are increasingly enabled for wireless, I tend to lean heavily toward browser-based apps. I am essentially forced to use Microsoft Outlook / Office / Communicator as part of the work environment; however, these are not the apps that I would select given a choice, and my personal usage tends to be browser-based with only a few exceptions. I almost always have Gmail, Meebo (IM), and Netvibes (RSS reader) open in Firefox tabs, and I use Google calendar, Blogger, and Remember The Milk (task list) at least daily. I also use a couple of desktop apps every day, mostly and iTunes (podcasts), but not nearly as often as I use the browser-based apps.

This is a drastic change from a few years ago when connectivity was far from constant. I tended to prefer desktop apps to keep my data available when I was offline. Now, I find that the need to be connected is nearly ubiquitous. Even when reading email offline, people have embedded links to relevant information requiring a network connection to finish reading many of my emails. Over the past 6 months or so, the only time I usually find myself without any network connection is on airplanes. This just gives me an excuse to catch up on reading.

Social Software, Productivity, and Personal Connections

The blogosphere has been in a minor uproar today over the topic of social software. Ryan Carson says that he does not have time for social software, Nick Carr thinks that social software is inefficient, and many others have responded to these ideas.

I think that Ryan and Nick are missing the point about why people use social software. It is about connecting with people in a social environment, having fun, and maybe even wasting time in a way that helps energize and refresh our workaholic, play-starved brains. Most social software is not about achieving some goal or increasing productivity. Some people may get productivity gains out of using some social networking tools, but I would argue that this is a side effect more than a purpose.

Stowe Boyd has a lovely post talking about “The Real Heart of Social Software”:

The implicit premise behind this lynch mob’s logic is that social software is supposed to make users more efficient: for example, personal productivity in sales or online research. And I guess, by more efficient, the authors are focused on how time-pressed they are (several mentioned that they are too busy to use such apps, the presumption being that if these apps made them more time-efficient, they would be attractive).

I reject this mindset out of hand. And I won’t get into a hand-to-hand battle about which social tools do or do not warrant our attention, since this is discussion is about the socialness of these apps, not the functional jobs that they do, really.

Social apps are not about personal productivity. They are about social involvement, learning and enlarging perspectives through connection, and — ultimately — about the productivity of social groups as a whole.

An example may help. I am a strong believer in instant messaging (a social tool so engrained in our world that the various authors don’t mention it in their dismissive lists of social apps they *do* use, although I bet they all use it). But instant messaging is a great example of social productivity. If you accept interruptions from your buddies, asking for advice or help, while you are busily working on the quarterly budget projections or this week’s cold calls, then your personal productivity will go down. So, if you want to maximize your personal productivity, you should simply ignore all interruptions. Which works fine, on a short term basis, until you ask one of those buddies for insight or advice next week, and they ignore you in return. Time is a shared space, and social apps are increasingly the mechanism we use to share it. The whole notion that we could turn away, at this juncture, from the tools we use to mediate our sharing is ludicrous. This is no fad, this is a quantum shift. You might as well wish away rock-and-roll, teenage sex, and cell phones in public places. Get over it.

There is a constant social tension between personal and network productivity. And if your primary measure of success is personal productivity, you will naturally decrease your network involvement. But its simply the wrong metric for today, and tomorrow. (Quote from Stowe Boyd at /Message)

With social software like Digg, the people submitting stories are often looking to share knowledge about topics they are passionate about or trying to gain a reputation as a leader or alpha user within the community. These are not personal productivity goals.

Another example is MySpace. Young people do not use MySpace solely as a substitute for email and IM; they use it as an online mall or coffee shop where they can connect with friends, get to know friends of friends, leave inside jokes as public comments to demonstrate that they are in someone’s social circle, organize events, and more. These are not personal productivity goals; they are simply good fun.

Web 2.0, Knowledge, and Splitting Hairs

Web 2.0 is taking quite a beating this week. According to The Register,

Five years after the first internet bubble burst, we’re now witnessing the backlash against Web 2.0 and a plethora of me-too business plans, marketing pitches and analyst reports exploiting the nebulous phrase.

Tim Berners-Lee, the individual credited with inventing the web and giving so many of us jobs, has become the most prominent individual so-far to point out that the Web 2.0 emperor is naked. Berners-Lee has dismissed Web 2.0 as useless jargon nobody can explain and a set of technology that tries to achieve exactly the same thing as “Web 1.0.” (Quote from The Register).

I think Dana Gardner might be on the right track:

What we are up to here is actually Knowledge 2.0, and it is at least a millennial trend, and it shows every indication of having anthropologic impact. That is, Knowledge 2.0 is changing the definition of what it is to be a modern human, individually and collectively.

So while the get-off-your-cloud folks are poking needles into the Web 2.0 bubble, I have a better idea. Recognize that as you do that you are actually breathing in some of the newly freer air of knowledge, and exhaling some added bits of your own perceptions back in. Each metaphoric breath in and out is changing the world, like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings in Timbuktu that then affects the weather in New York. (Quote from Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect)

I will admit that the term “web 2.0” is over-hyped, but it can be a convenient way to think about how the web is shifting from a one-way mechanism to push information out to the world and moving toward a two-way discussion between the author and her readers. It is this user participation, user created content and the collective intelligence or knowledge generated by large groups of users that makes what we are seeing so incredibly powerful. So, we can argue about what to call it, or we can accept that participation and knowledge are becoming more prevalent on the web and find more creative ways to tap into the knowledge of our users.

Web 2.0 Trademarks

Most of you remember the havoc in the blogosphere when CMP sent a legal letter to a non-profit organization to protect the joint CMP / O’Reilly trademark for the term “web 2.0” as used in conference titles. Tim was on vacation, the blogosphere went nuts, and the whole controversy spiraled out of control, and when Tim returned from vacation, he was able to calm the situation, but it was never permanently resolved.

Today Tim announced a narrowing of the scope of the web 2.0 trademark as part of an announcement about the Web 2.0 Expo and technical conference:

In conjunction with the announcement of the new Web 2.0 Expo and technical conference, I’m also pleased to report that CMP has agreed to narrow the scope of enforcement of the Web 2.0 trademark registration. It will only seek to protect the Web 2.0 trademark if another other Web 2.0-related event has a name that is confusingly similar to the names of the actual events co-produced by CMP and O’Reilly, such as our events “The Web 2.0 Conference” and “The Web 2.0 Expo.”

This is consistent with my original understanding about why the trademark filing was made. I must confess that I’ve always thought that the point was simply to protect the event names, as evidenced by the fact that we have always put the trademark notice at the end of the conference names on the website that O’Reilly produces, “The Web 2.0 Conference.” (Quote from the O’Reilly Radar)

This is a pragmatic approach to protecting a trademark without causing undue difficulty for the rest of the industry, especially when a term is becoming as common as “web 2.0”. One of Tim O’Reilly’s greatest strengths is seeing the big picture and doing the right thing for the industry as a whole.

Foo, Cats, and Kids (AKA Sunday Morning at Foo)

Despite being exhausted after two late nights of Werewolf (thank you to the kind werewolf who killed me off so I could go to bed last night), this has been a great morning of talks with a number of interesting themes.

Danese Cooper, Karl Fogel, and I led a session about the Art of Community, and we had a great discussion around the topic. We talked about how open source and other developer communities tend to start with a more tangible end goal, while other communities (social networking, communes) tend to be more about the evolution of the community than about the end goal. The tools also tend to be different across different communities with web 2.0 communities having intuitive user interfaces, while developer communities tend to use the techie tools that developers are comfortable with. The barrier to entry is also a bit higher for many developer communities while anyone can easily get involved in web 2.0 communities. We had an active and engaging discussion with participation from many different people. We even had a mascot for the session.

Geir Magnusson led a discussion about Web 2.0: Fact or Fiction starting with the caveat that he really didn’t know much about web 2.0, so he was hoping to learn from the group discussion. We talked about the definition of web 2.0 as a new method of using data: collective intelligence / user created content along with combining existing data in new ways (mashups). It was such a great discussion that I did not

Danny O’Brien talked about Cat Poop vs. Blogging related back to brain infections (you had to be there), and he even recruited a little help for the session.

Saturday Sessions at Foo Camp

Some of the morning was spent on the “Cylon Raider” project, but I attended several very interesting sessions. Here are a few of the highlights (these notes are a bit raw … in other words, forgive the typos):

In Democratization / Disintermediation of traditional media led by Jay & Kevin (Digg)

  • Mainstream media excels in areas where you have limited distribution (only so many people can be invited to White House press briefings, for example).

  • Media is changing and has a symbiotic relationship with the new media. Editors might look at sites like Digg to see user behavior trends and use that as an instant feedback mechanism to direct the edited content. Digg relies on traditional media for much of the content.

  • Competition for advertising dollars is really hitting the traditional media. Local newspapers are losing ad revenue to other advertising mediums – classifieds is where it’s starting, but it is involving into other areas. Bloggers who do reporting rather than relying on mainstream reporting will get more attention (TechCrunch) and more advertising dollars.

  • Opinion pieces and magazines are being eroded by new media

  • New media excels for speed of information vs. the accuracy / fact checking of traditional media.

  • Sites like Digg usually have a self-policing mechanism within the community.

In Passionate users – Kathy Sierra

  • People are passionate about the things they kick ass at, and they have a higher resolution experience – they pick up on things that the rest of us would not (jazz musicians, etc.) We want to create this for our users.

  • It’s not about the tools – it’s what you do with them – focus on the end result, not the tool.

  • Decisions are usually based on emotions – we are just not always rational / logical.

  • Keep users engaged.

  • Don’t want to interrupt the flow of what you are doing – if the software interrupts and become aware of the tool, the flow and outcome are disrupted.

  • Learning increases resolution.

  • If you want the user to RTFM, we need to write a better FM.

  • Pictures and surprises get people’s attention.

Doctor Who vs. Snakes on a Plane: Lessons from Fan Culture for Community Builders. Annalee Newitz

  • Fan culture – free collaborative narratives often incorporating elements of commercial culture.

  • Lessons:

  • Not all fans are good producers of fan culture

  • beaing a fan makes you a better creator

  • communities united around collaborative storytelling can last for an extremely long time.

  • Not all fan culture can be turned into commercial culture

  • communities can be quickly united by satire, but satire doesn’t last

  • “buzzers” do not equal “buyers”

Note: The fan culture session relates back to the passionate users session. Fan culture seems to have some of the most passionate users coming together on a topic. We also had an interesting discussion about how more of these fan communities seem to be based around sci-fi. I’m not sure whether this is because we had a really geeky audience or because people who watch sci-fi tend to be a bit more fanatical than the rest of the population.