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Archive for April, 2007

Web 2.0 Expo – A Drive-By

Joost

I did a one day “drive-by” at the Web 2.0 Expo. I scored a free exhibition pass and was limited to certain sessions and panels, but what I did see looked like a great event. I caught the John Battelle interview w/ Jeff Weiner (Yahoo) and the Joost demo showed me how to navigate the challenging interface and where internet TV is headed.

Twitter “mania” continues at Web 2.0 Expo. It’s an addictive social networking service that allows members of the service to let others know what they’re up to in very brief fashion. Users send messages via SMS or IM, then friends of that user can receive updates via web, RSS, IM or SMS. This isn’t a blog or email – it’s a mini-snippet of what someone is doing right now. Few applications demonstrate “viral” as well as Twitter and it was referenced a number of times during the Expo.

Expo Hall Demo’s:

Bungee Labs — came out of stealth mode. Bungee Connect, a 100% on-demand web development and deployment environment that will be going into Beta phase in May. Bungee Connect is a completely web-based integrated development environment for building and deploying rich Ajax web applications, from simple web apps to seriously sophisticated Ajax applications. No install for developers, no installation of delivery infrastructure, and no client install for end users. This is for developers – NOT consumers. They had a booth with PCs (Windows, Macs and Linux) with multiple browser support (IE, Firefox and Safari).

Grouptivity — they launched an updated version of their content-sharing tool on Monday. Blog posters can now add a “discuss this” button on the bottom of any post, which will pull up the Grouptivity sharing dialogue to send off the post or article to others. This dialogue allows you to pick from various pieces of media (photos and videos) that you want to share, along with a full text copy of the content. There’s also the option to send it off to multiple e-mail addresses, set up read confirmations, and author explanatory messages to your recipients.

Maplight.org — an indicator of trends in the political arena. This is a non-profit mashup of voting records pulled from the Official California Legislative Information Web site, and campaign contributions kept by the Institute on Money in State Politics. The database is searchable by legislator, interest group, bill number or subject.

LuckyOliver — a stock photography service that sells user-submitted photos for use on Web sites and printed materials. The service has a carnival/circus theme, right down to calling its users ‘carnies.’ They use Web 2.0 technologies to categorize photos, including tags, a cloud of similar or related images, and a prestige system for heavy users of the site. Esteemed photographers also get special badges. Other users can comment on their work, and browse through their portfolio. Photography sales are divided up into tokens. Similar to iStockphotos (Getty property).

Vidoop — is a system that replaces passwords with pictures. It’s interesting, and they state is more secure than standard, hackable, or keyboard-log passwords. They can act as an authentication technology for a high-security site, like a bank. They are also an OpenID provider (similar to JanRain), so if you want to use sites that authenticate against OpenID, you can use Vidoop.com to provide the authentication. One monetization aspect is that Vidoop pictures can be sponsored. When I met with them they told me that each computer that you use Vidoop on must be authorized.

Viddler – video hosting and sharing service. Embedded videos now have Viddler branding, and a new drop-down menu filled with sharing and embedding options. Users are also now able to comment on video clips, not just certain moments of a video. I thought this was cool as their updated player takes the community experience that you get on Viddler, and puts it on any site where a player is embedded. Anyone with a Viddler username and password can login from the embed, and add or browse comments, tags or notes. Excellent tool for education and news searching.

Fatdoor — had a booth in the Expo hall, but didn’t have anything other than signs! They are in stealth mode. They will be a social network and mapping service. The service will be like social white pages–pre-seeded with information about people and where they’re located once it launches. Its reach will be national, but the tag line is “get to know your neighbors.” Groups and search will be based on political leanings, ethnicity and activities.

Adobe — announced their new Media Player, a multi-platform, online-enabled application that runs on Adobe’s Apollo framework. Along with a full featured desktop media player for Flash files, Adobe plans on including a themed online music store like Microsoft’s XBOX Live Marketplace where people can purchase music and movies. Adobe Media Player now joins the multitude of online music and media stores like iTunes, Napster, Urge, Rhapsody and others. Like everyone else, Adobe is using DRM, both for downloads and streaming media to secure purchased content.

Dekoh — is an open source challenger to Adobe’s Apollo. Public alpha started at the Expo. They provide a platform for applications to be built for offline desktop use and with an automatic integration upon syncing with an Internet connection. Service is free and includes a music player, virtual library, and photo sharing communities,

Tellme — Microsoft acquired in March. They had a new downloadable app for getting useful 411-like info on your mobile phone.

Octopz — a collaboration service.
Dapper — makes any Web site into an RSS feed or widget.
Coghead — a Web-based database.
Cambrian House — a place for people involved in web creation to come together for a given project.

There were many more companies, but I needed to depart for the airport….

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Kill Internet Radio

A recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, DC to nearly triple the licensing fees for Internet radio sites is irrationally high and will hurt music sites like Pandora. The new royalty rates are more than 4X what satellite radio pays and broadcast radio does not pay these. These new royalties will kill Internet radio.

In response to these new and unfair fees, Pandora formed the SaveNetRadio Coalition, a group that includes listeners, artists, labels and webcasters.

If you want to help you can sign a petition urging your Congressional representative to act to save Internet radio.

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Sharpton Wins, Imus Loses


I don’t condone what Imus does. I do embrace freedom of speech —- in America, we are a land and a people that embrace controversial speech and we don’t like thought police or censorship. Basically Imus is a guy who has made lot of money spewing hateful stuff for a long period of time.

Like many, I don’t listen to Imus. Because I enjoy my freedom of choice and push other buttons on my radio.

There are several things that sent this sideways:

  • The mainstream media – they had little controversy to (over) report for the Easter break. The Anna story was running dry.
  • Sharpton & Jessie do it AGAIN. Pounce on the divide between whites and blacks for 5 more mins in the camera spotlight.
  • It’s always about the $money$. Fickle program sponsors feared backlash and retribution — they bolted with $million’s$ of ad revenue.
  • But, what about:

  • The fact that what Imus said is listened to by millions (yes, that’s millions!) of people a day played by Rap “artists” on mainstream radio and downloaded on iTunes. Who came up with the word “ho” anyway? I first heard it on MTV — in a Rap video over a decade ago. I guess all the gang killings are OK too. Haven’t heard Al & Jesse rant about that.
  • All rape charges were formally dropped in the Duke rape scandal yesterday. Al & Jessie aren’t shouting out for an apology in the misallegations that will follow or ruin those kids the rest of their life. No personal foul for slandering and vilifying them, huh?!
  • The predominantly all black comedy shows on HBO (Def Comedy Jam) that spew the same hatred. Can you smell the foul stench of hypocrisy or double standard yet?
  • I’m sure the Rutgers basketball team has made a school pledge to stop down loading or listening to Snoopy Dogg, Ludacris or 50 Cent and all degrading hip-hop music. Since they are demeaned by rap’s foul language I’m sure Rutgers will also stop all concerts by such groups because they’ll want to do the “right” thing.

    Some people (more so than the women on the Basketball Team) are immediately and directly hurt as a result of the Imus’ firing. The Fallen Heroes Fund, the CJ Foundation for SIDS and The Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund for Kids with Cancer. An event which also raises funds for THE IMUS RANCH. The donations, the staff, the causes are all hurt.

    I wasn’t even that upset by all the news noise until I heard about the children’s fund stupidness. Oh and for anyone who wants to complain call Mark Chernoff. He is the program director of the radio station. His number is 718-707-4001. That’s his direct line.

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    I recently sat in on panel discussions and audience interactions at ETECH. At each session we were met by enthusiastic people/companies that have a genuine concern about understanding what customers want.

    In a world where the noise of the social crowd is amped up exponentially with endless streams of chatter…what I took away was confirming some of the reading I have been doing lately (Check out Scott McKain’s “What Customers Really Want”):

    We need to focus on creating customer experience, not customer service; personal focus, not product focus; reciprocal loyalty, not endless prospecting; and innovation rather than status quo.

    Then I came across this new start-up website Oddpodz. It’s basically a website where creative, independent thinkers unite and share information.

    I’m not sure how these type start-ups are changing the way we communicate or manage intellectual property?

    Let me know what you think.

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    Imagine every man, woman and child in the U.S. with a cell phone — now imagine they all ring at the same time!! Its possible now that China Mobile, the worlds largest mobile operator, recently announced that its subscriber base grew to 301 Million, surpassing the total population of the United States.

    Now that we’ve establish that everyone in the U.S. could have a cell phone…there are some real abuses of wireless technology being perpetrated all around us, and the time has come to create some social order out of this cell phone chaos. Can we have a moment of silence from all the Snoop Doggy Dog, melodies, and listen up – paaha..leaseee!

    I thought about generating a top 10 list on how not to use your cell phone. We’ve all seen etiquette blunders and most of these seem like common sense rules to me, but they get broken every day. So, I have just 2 Big Daddy rules:

    1. You can’t speak louder on your cell phone than you would on any other phone. Especially on Airplanes. These things have sensitive microphones, and it’s gotten to the point where I can tell if someone is calling me from a cell because of the way they are *SHOUTING*, not how it sounds. If your everywhere unlimited signal cuts out, speaking louder won’t help, unless the person is actually standing next to you.

    2. Don’t attempt to impress anyone with your cell phone ring or number of blueteeth (plural Bluetooth?) enable devices attached to your Batman-esque utility belts or purses. Not only is using a cell phone no longer impressive in any way shape or form (unless it’s one of those really cool iPhones months before it ships), when it is used for that reason, you will be immediately identified as a communication poseur.

    2 rules 2 remember. Simple.

    I say, let’s talk less and invent ways to use cell phones that don’t involve that distasteful habit of synthesized ring tones or actually talking on them! For example, Jaxtr, a service that lets you take calls, texts, or voicemail from anyone on the web, without handing them your phone number.

    Now that’s less conspicuous!

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    Scooters R Us

    Intel Corporation is celebrating 30 years in the embedded business. They must have contracted the Teutul boyz (Doug Davis (left:Intel GM), founder Paul Teutul with sons Paul, Jr. (‘Paulie’) middle and Mikey, on the right) of Orange County Chopper (OCC) and American Chopper/Discovery television fame. The high-definition TV show has become popular in the US as this (sometimes comical) family business yell’s, shouts and throw’s things at each other while making one-off customized motorcycles. The photo is courtesy of the embedded conference keynote where the bike was displayed.

    I like to drink beer from a Mason jar while listening to Dwight Yoakam as much as the next guy, but just don’t get trying to ride one of these spuds. It’s akin to driving one of the Rose Bowl floats in normal traffic. People will stare and you might believe people think you are cool, but really they are wondering how the hell that thing ended up stuck between your legs after you escaped the parade.

    Corporate America** seems star struck using the OCC crew anytime they need to inspire PR ratings, perspire “cool-ness” or boost news coverage. I ride a simple and plain Harley, but have to think that eventually this whole $mega$-custom-chopper fad is going to burn out like a hunk of magnesium thrown in the camp fire during a guys drunken weekend hunting party.

    The real question is…if I knew what will be the next must have for the extra cash burdened set…I wouldn’t be writing this blog now would I!

    **Hewlett-Packard ran a commercial during the forth quarter of the Super Bowl. The 30-second spot featured OCC — as one of the world’s leading makers of custom motorcycles and how it uses the HP xw8400 Workstation. HP also had a bike build off for a business event on March 28, 2007 seen HERE.

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    Apple will sale EMI music without anti-piracy (DRM – digital rights management) technology — Steve Jobs proclaimed in February that music companies should sell their music DRM-free. Evangelizing that DRM-free music would create a truly interoperable music marketplace.

    About a month later (4/2/07), in agreement with music label EMI, Apple is making EMI songs available without DRM through its iTunes music store. The music will be higher quality (encoded at 256kbps AAC), and tracks will cost $1.29, or 30 cents more than the standard 99 cents.

    This means you can take those songs (EMIs entire catalog (DRM free) – globally in May) and put them on any device you want too. I think this helps address how I only want to buy a song or album ONCE and be able to play it in my car CD, my iPod, computer, on my PS3 or my TV. I don’t want to buy it 10 times from 10 different sources to play it on 10 different electronic components.

    Is this the next big step forward for music interoperability, a significant development for the industry or a move by EMI to garner headlines? Maybe it’s all three, but at the joint press announcement EMI stated they were confident this will grow their sales and put a stake in the groud stating that 1/4 of all sales would be digital by 2010.

    Hard to predict music sales let alone the digital elements, but I like the interoperability and hope other label’s follow.

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