One challenge any community site faces is how to let users express themselves. It is hard to express the sum total of any individual on a web page, but in the virtual world that interface is the one chance a user has to connect with another human being. The challenge for designers is making the profile look good. In most instances the profiles end up cluttered and in the MySpace instance where users are allowed to customize the look of their profile the site ends up with some of the ugliest pages ever created. However, I'm not convinced that is a fault in their system. If you look at most teenagers rooms they would likely qualify as a superfund cleanup site. Their online profiles reflect that.
The following is a list of profiles from all types of social networks. Some are general networks like Facebook. Others are niche networks like Bakespace. One thing I find interesting is how each niche site tries to let the user express themselves in a way that is unique to the site. For examp...Continue Reading →
I spent this afternoon with some really cool and interesting individuals from around utah. Matt Mullenweg, the original developer of WordPress was in town and was willing to come and hang out, each lunch and chat for a couple of hours about anything. Matt is a very cool guy not only because he created the best blogging platform of all time, but also because he is just a plain nice guy.
It is to bad that Salt Lake is as far away as it is. These kinds of events are a great chance to meet other people with similar interests and to generate ideas. It is also important to break out of your own personal sphere every now and then so that you can see what the outside world looks like.
A couple of highlights:
I have been playing with OpenID for about a year now. It is a very cool, distributed authentication system. The concept is great and I love that I don't have to create accounts everywhere. Instead, I just log in with OpenID and away I go. The biggest shortcoming for OpenID from a user perspective however is the fact that you have to remember a url. People aren't very good at that. I have my OpenID mapped through justinball.com which is easy to remember, but most people don't have that luxury and if your name is Bill Smith or Sam Jones you are not likely to own the corresponding domain.
Over the past week I have had some time to play with the Facebook APIs. Before I became a Facebook fan I could not figure out why anyone would use the stupid thing. Quite frankly before my friends started showing up in the system there wasn't a good reason. Facebook really depends on the network to be meaningful to an individual, but I digress.
So I am playing with Facebook in a number of...Continue Reading →
I have an iPhone. It is an awesome little toy. I couldn't just own one. I need a reason to play with it so I wrote an application.
It lets you gather your favorite news sources - rss/atom under one aggregation. Thus it is easy for me to gather up a number of cycling blogs and collect them under the aggregation 'Tour De France'
My favorite feature, one that is not quite done, but is coming in the next few days, is the ability to specify a tag which the system will then search for over the 'Internet World'. For example, say I am at the Ruby on Rails conference. Most conferences ask that you use a specific tag. At the rails conference it was 'RailsConf07'. Enter that tag into the tag box and igag.us will go search technorati, flickr, delicious, google blog search, etc and find entries that match the tag. This makes it very easy to keep track of the goings on at a conference via your iPhone (or computer it works there as well)
It is still early in develo...Continue Reading →
I sat in a meeting at the university today and listened to a sales pitch by an SEO company. We get calls at The Plan Collection for these all the time.
I need to setup one of these companies. They are usually run by a couple of jokers who know very little about SEO. In this case the jokers were looking for easy money. They wanted 10k for a 'keyword analysis' and 10k to optimize 10 pages. Holy Crap!
The 'analysis' involved a bunch of people at the university running around coming up with the 'things they want to advertise' - read keywords. Not sure what that leaves for the SEO company to do. I guess they can type it up. Makes them a pretty dang expensive secretary. They then wanted to charge to setup an adwords campaign - you know because Google makes that process so hard.
Start with SEOChat.com. This site is a vibrant community of real SEO pros that will tell you all kinds of neat stuff for free. Work a little and save yourself the tens of thousands of d...Continue Reading →
Jory Des Jardins, Co-founder, BlogHer LLC Caterina Fake, Co-founder, Flickr Jessica Hardwick, Founder and CEO, SwapThing.com - people exchange whatever. Uses social collateral. Lisa Stone, Co-founder, BlogHer Jenna Woodul, Executive Vice President and Chief Community Officer, LiveWorld
Importance of community. Is community a business model or does it need to be bought to have value.
Caterina Fake - Flickr was about break even when it was acquired. Big competitor was Photolog. Was started as a site for friends to share sites. They did not start as a business so it was hard for them to become a business. Flickr started as a business and as such they took care to design it as a business. Communities that are organic are owned by the community. Value is in the peripheral services.
Lisa – The community is worth money.
Jenna – Research of community vs single user. Studies showed ability to recal brands was much greater when engaged in a venue where users where interacting with each other – 4...Continue Reading →
I am attending the Web 2.0 conference this week. There is an interesting combination of people here and I must admit that I feel like a foreigner as I am part of an academic group. The current session I am in is titled “The Next Internet Infrastructure.” I expected something about servers and bandwidth which would have been interesting, but I am getting something much better. Marc Canter, CEO, Broadband Mechanics (peopleaggregator.com), Jeff Barr, Senior Evangelist, Amazon, Chad Dickerson, Yahoo!, and Jonathan Hare, Co-founder and CEO, Resilient are talking about identity and open APIs. It is good to know that big companies are interested in the cross domain authentication and authorization problem. Here are some of the things said that I found interesting. I provide names because the context is important.
Chad Dickerson - future isn't in mashups but in building compelling user applications
Jeff Barr - Future is in the legacy - take your old app, your old main frame, your faxes, an...Continue Reading →
One of the most impressive presentations giving at the Instructional Technology conference was not attended by nearly enough people. Stewart Cheifet explained in detail the mission of the Internet Archive, the resources available and the technology used. The infrastructure blew my mind. For an engineer it was like every Christmas from childhood crammed into one giant data center. The resources they have available are astounding. Here is the the other cool part. It's free. All of it is free. For education these means that terabytes of information are right there waiting to be utilized. There are children's books you can print for free. There are full length movies. There are full video lectures from MIT professors. They record 20 TV channels 24/7 and now have nearly 1 million hours of video. (This is sitting in their "dark archive" until such a day as they are allowed to present it to the public). They are getting ready to digitize millions of images tho...Continue Reading →