Thursday, December 21, 2006

Off the Grid

I will be off the grid visiting family through Wednesday, December 27 in rural Ohio ... land of dial-up internet where the closest broadband is more than a 20 minute drive away at a Starbucks in a truck stop! I do have my Samsung Blackjack for email and web surfing "emergencies" ;-)

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Techies Working from Home in Portland

There are many techies working from home offices here in Portland. In my case, I work for Compiere, a bay area open source company, and there are many others like me along with technology consultants, entrepreneurs, analysts, and others who wouldn't mind working at a “real office” occasionally. While I love my home office, it might be nice to have something other than a coffee shop where I could squat when I have company in town or every other Tuesday morning when my housekeeper is here. Shared office space would also provide a place where we can meet with other local technology workers to network, share thoughts, get feedback on crazy ideas, etc. by the “water cooler”.

The co-working idea could be popular here in Portland where we have so many independent technology workers. If you are interested, Raven started a co-working in Portland wiki where you can sign up or get more information about the idea.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Distro of the Beast

If you've ever wanted a Linux distro of the evil variety or a distro for Iron Maiden fans, you might be interested in this version of Ubuntu:

"Let him who hath understanding reckon the distro of the beast,
for it is a Linux distro,
its distro is Ubuntu Satanic Edition." (Quote from Ubuntu Satanic Edition)
Thanks to Todd for pointing this out!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

How Many Cartoonists Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, is awesome. Here is a link to his most recent blog entry detailing his failings as a “handy person”:

Beneath the cabinets in my kitchen is a row of fluorescent lights that illuminate the countertops. One of those lights has decided to go all Baghdad on me. It crackles and pops and blinks for the entire time it is on. You might be thinking this is no big problem. All I have to do is change the fluorescent bulb, right?

I have a confession.

I am not. . . mechanical.

Or to put it another way:

Q. How many cartoonists does it take to change a light bulb?

A. More than the number living in my house.

My problem is that the light bulb is encased in some sort of impenetrable container with no indication of how it opens ... (Quote from Scott Adams on Dilbert.Blog)


Sunday, December 10, 2006

O'Reilly's New Compact Definition of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has always been one of those nebulous concepts that has been difficult to concisely define. Each person seems to have a slightly different idea about what is and is not web 2.0. Tim O'Reilly's original essay, What is Web 2.0, was quite lengthy, and he is now trying to define web 2.0 using a short, easy to remember definition:

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I've elsewhere called "harnessing collective intelligence.") (Quote from Tim O'Reilly on O'Reilly Radar).

I am not sure that this is a business revolution as much as it is a consumer revolution that businesses can take advantage of by building “ applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.” I think the key to web 2.0 is how the expectations of the users are changing. Only a few years ago, most consumers saw the Internet as a passive medium, like radio and television, to be watched and enjoyed without any direct involvement. Many consumers now expect to be able to participate in the online environment by commenting, uploading, or participating in the content in a number of ways. I think that the key to web 2.0 is consumer driven participation and interactivity. Businesses need to understand this fundamental change and focus on building online participation into their business models.

I do think that O'Reilly has a great start toward a more concise definition of web 2.0.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Portland Free Wireless is Live!

I have not been close enough to downtown to try it out firsthand, but several areas in Portland now have free wireless access from MetroFi. Click the image below to get a high resolution image (with zoom).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Clearspace Collaboration Environment from Jive Software

I was lucky enough to get an early preview of Clearspace from the Jive Software team, a local Portland, Oregon company. They have just starting talking about Clearspace on the Jive Talks blog with a recent post from Sam Lawrence. They have not yet released details, and portions of the product were in varying stages of completion when I played with it, so I will not go into any specific details here.

What I will say is that this product is cool. It is intuitive to use and has a “web 2.0” feel to it with modern collaboration functionality built into the system from the beginning. None of the retrofit feel that older applications have when someone tries to cram a bunch of new technology into an ancient product. This will be a product to test drive when Jive launches it in early 2007:

“The idea for Clearspace actually came from our customers, who through their conversations with our sales, marketing, professional services and customer support teams had been asking for many different collaborative feature additions to Jive Forums and Knowledge Base. Some of these were very specific, others borrowed from a lot of the collaborative elements of completely different point solutions. At the beginning of last year we took a big step back and realized that the sum of what was being requested was a completely new, much more comprehensive product.

So, a year ago we faced very tough decisions. Up to that point we had planned to address our customer requests through a combination of improvements to our existing products and/or building a couple of totally new products. Our big decision was was whether to build three products or one. The more we talked about it the more we recognized the massive benefit that could be realized by a single, unified, flexible architecture– sort of like that quote from Lord of the Rings–”one ring to unite them all.” (ok, it was really “rule them all” but that’s too harsh.)” (Quote from Sam Lawrence on Jive Talks)

Compiere Press Release

For anyone interesting in learning more about what I am doing at Compiere, you can read the press release issued today. Way cool ... I've never been the subject of a press release before!

Monday, December 04, 2006

OSDL Shake-up: Reduces Staff by 1/3 and Stuart Cohen Leaves

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) in Beaverton, OR has just eliminated 9 technical and administrative positions at the labs. A staff of 19 people remain at OSDL including Tom Hanrahan in engineering, Diane Peters for legal work, Linus Torvalds, and Andrew Morton.

ZDnet writes that “CEO Stuart Cohen resigned to pursue opportunities with higher-level open-source software,” and that “Cohen's resignation as CEO was coincidental and independent of the other changes at OSDL”. According to ComputerWorld, Cohen will be working with Portland and Seattle based venture capital firm OVP Venture Partners. Mike Temple will be moving the COO position into the CEO role.

The now smaller OSDL will focus on the following:

“The lab's board concluded that a modified mission was appropriate because Linux is now mainstream, and companies have become adept on their own at some of the collaborative work OSDL was founded to oversee, Temple said Monday. The group is funded by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Intel and several other computing companies.

OSDL's middleman role--connecting customer requirements, computing-company resources and developers--remains unchanged, Temple said. "We will be a catalyst among those three, to bring them together, solve problems and create the code," Temple said.

Funding freed up through the layoffs is set to go toward legal work, which the group's members have found valuable, Temple added. The group either will contract with legal professionals or hire a staff attorney, he said.

In technical matters, the organization will stop focusing on projects defining broad categories of Linux--earlier examples including efforts for high-end servers, telecommunications gear, mobile phones and desktop computers. Instead, engineering work will emphasize narrower efforts to find areas where new software needs to be written.” (Quote from Zdnet)

“The OSDL is shifting its resources to focus on four key areas: continuing to provide a safe haven for key developers, sponsoring the work of Torvalds and others; providing increased legal support for Linux and open source to account for licensing and patent issues that are increasing in complexity (this expansion will complement current OSDL initiatives such as the Patent Commons, and the Linux Legal Defense Fund); supporting ongoing regional activities such as the Japanese Linux Symposium; and fostering closer collaboration among community developers, OSDL members and users to produce more code to advance open-source projects, OSDL officials said in a statement.” (Quote from eWeek)

Here is my take on the situation. I do not buy the “coincidence” argument. I find it very hard to believe that the CEO of any organization would just decide, completely of his own accord, to leave during a change of this magnitude. With a staff reduction of this relative size combined with a new strategic direction, Cohen's leaving OSDL would not have been a coincidence. There are a few possibilities (caveat: this is pure speculation):

  • First, the board of directors may have “suggested” that Cohen leave due to any number of potential issues: dissatisfaction with his performance, lack of confidence in his ability to lead the organization under the new mission, ...

  • Second, Cohen may not have wanted to stay under the new mission for any number of reasons: lack of agreement with the strategic change and new mission, expecting the job to be less exciting under the new mission and wanting to find greener pastures, ...

Despite my skepticism about Cohen's “coincidental” leaving, I do think that the new mission will be good for OSDL and for Linux. When OSDL was first formed, Linux as an open source project was less mature, and fewer contributors to the Linux kernel were sponsored by large companies who paid their salaries. As a result, the contributions tended to be made in areas of personal interest, which may or may not have been the areas needed to make Linux successful in large deployments of mission critical systems. OSDL helped to coordinate efforts and provide testing labs where Linux could be tested on large clustered systems not generally available to most people. Now, with companies like IBM and Intel doing more work toward sponsoring developers and helping with testing, OSDL's original mission has become less important.

The focus on legal matters makes sense. With the proliferation of lawsuits, concerns over software patents, licensing concerns and other legal matters becoming top of mind, having an organization to focus on open source legal issues could be a great benefit. 2007 could be an interesting year for open source legal matters: the GPL is undergoing a revision, and the Microsoft / Novell agreements related to patents could be clarified. Many open source projects are run by small groups of individuals or small companies, and it would be great to have OSDL as a legal resource.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Web 2.0 Poster

A web 2.0 poster with all of the "cool" company logos just in time for the holidays.

Here is a little more about it on TechCrunch.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Firefox Crop Circle in Oregon Hits Google Maps

Way cool! Here is the Firefox crop circle created in rural Oregon after OSCON. Unfortunately, I wasn't involved in the crop circle, but I'm still waiting for our Cylon Raider from Foo to hit the maps.

Guy Kawasaki's VC Aptitude Test

Even if you are not drawn to the allure of the venture capital industry, Guy Kawasaki's aptitude test is worth reading for the amusement value. A few gems from the test:

  • Been kicked in the groin by a major, long-lasting economic downturn, so that you know how powerless you are. (add 1 point)

  • Worked at a failed startup, so that you understand three things: first, how hard it is to achieve success; second, that the world doesn’t owe you a thing; and third, what it’s like to be fired or laid off. (add 3 points)

  • What is your background? Management consulting (subtract 5 points)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Open Source Gift Guide

Make Magazine, the place where you can find instructions to make all sorts of strange things (the modern day MacGyver site), has released the “Open source gift guide - Open source hardware, software and more for the holidays” with many geeky gift suggestions for the open source hacker enthusiast. Tim O'Reilly adds his twist to the gift guide by suggesting donations to a variety of open source organizations.

My personal favorite from the list is the Chumby. I saw some early models at Foo, and they were way cool.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mark Shuttleworth Invites OpenSUSE Developers to Join Ubuntu

The recent agreement between Microsoft and Novell has drawn quite a bit of criticism from the open source community especially with respect to the patent portions of the agreement. Mark Shuttleworth uses this as an opportunity to invite OpenSUSE developers into the Ubuntu community:

“Novell’s decision to go to great lengths to circumvent the patent framework clearly articulated in the GPL has sent shockwaves through the community. If you are an OpenSUSE developer who is concerned about the long term consequences of this pact, you may be interested in some of the events happening next week as part of the Ubuntu Open Week:

We are hosting a series of introductory sessions for people who want to join the Ubuntu community - in any capacity, including developers and package maintainers. If you want to find out how Ubuntu works, how to contribute or participate, or how to get specific items addressed, there will be something for you.


If you have an interest in being part of a vibrant community that cares about keeping free software widely available and protecting the rights of people to get it free of charge, free to modify, free of murky encumbrances and “undisclosed balance sheet liabilities”, then please do join us.” (Mark Shuttleworth, here be dragons)

Mark's pragmatic response is certainly a more productive reaction to the issue than what I have seen elsewhere. I also suspect that Mark is on to something: Novell will probably lose quite a few good community members as a result of this action.

Web 2.0 Reality and Hype

I have a huge amount of respect for Bill Thompson, but his recent article in the Register Developer takes an overly harsh view of web 2.0. Admittedly, the term is now associated with an amount of hype not seen since the last tech bubble of the dot com era; however, web 2.0 ideas and technologies also have strengths: an architecture of participation facilitating user generated content, an increase in citizen journalism, improved user interfaces, and more. Bill Thompson seems to be willing to forgo these benefits and dismiss the technologies that make them possible as pure buzz and hype with no substance.

“Now we must decide whether to put our faith in Ajaxified snakeoil or to look beyond the interface to distributed systems, scalable solutions and a network architecture that will support the needs and aspirations of the next five billion users.


Over it all stretches the 'Web 2.0' banner, a magical incantation that will bring attention, funding and respect to any programmer able to weave a little Ajax into their interface. It seems that it only takes a browser that can interpret JavaScript and a server that will let a page call for packaged data through XMLHttpRequest and we can have all the benefits of distributed systems without the need to write too much code or rethink the way that the different components of a service communicate with each other.

If Web 2.0 is the answer then we are clearly asking the wrong question, and we must not be fooled by the cool sites and apparently open APIs. Most of the effort is – literally – window dressing, designed to attract venture capitalists to poorly-considered startups and get hold of enough first-round funding to build either a respectable user base or enough barely runnable alpha code to provide Google or Yahoo! with yet another tasty snack. We need to take a wider view of what is going on.


Web 2.0 marks the dictatorship of the presentation layer, a triumph of appearance over architecture that any good computer scientist should immediately dismiss as unsustainable.” (Bill Thompson, Reg Developer)

A good architecture is always important, but we can also have a great user interface and user experience along with it. Shelley Powers does a great job of putting this in perspective:

“I'm not sure who is touting Ajax as a replacement for distributed systems. If that were so, I wouldn't be writing a book on the Ajaxian technologies. Ajax is nothing more than a way to create a user interface that's simpler, quicker, and easier to work with then more traditional web pages. It's handy, its helpful, but it's also limited and most who work with it understand this is so. Unless Mr. Thompson believes that user interfaces aren't needed in his distributed utopian environment, I don't see the technologies going away. Nor do I see them interfering with distributed development.


Even his dismissal of JavaScript and XML makes little sense. According to Thompson, we cannot rely on Javascript and XML since they do not offer the stability, scalability or effective resource discovery that we need. Need for what? XML is a standardized markup, a syntax, a way of organizing data so that multiple application can access the data without having to come to some kind of agreement as to format. It's use in syndication, for instance, has led to an explosion of communication; a version of which forms the basis of this page–in what way does this not scale, lead to resource discovery, or demonstrate instable behavior?

As for JavaScript, it's almost as old as Java, and is considered the most commonly used programming language in use today. It is not a replacement for Java, nor is Java a replacement for it. If I wouldn't think of using JavaScript to build a distributed system, neither would I consider using Java and EJB to validate my form data, or provide for live commenting. Apples and oranges.” (Shelley Powers on Mad Techie Woman)

No single technology (or even a group of technologies, like AJAX) will ever be the “perfect” solution to every problem. We need to keep this in perspective and focus on using the right technology for each job. Dismissing whole categories of technologies as hype without acknowledging that they have legitimate uses is not a productive discussion. It is black and white argument in a very gray world.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Portland BarCamp Meetup Scheduled for Nov. 30

Our third informal Portland BarCamp Meetup has been scheduled! Any local techies are welcome to attend.

When: Thursday, November 30
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd. Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max (directions to Jive Software).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

The meetup will be very informal and similar in format to previous meetings. We'll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

If you would like to receive notifications about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications, please join our Google Group to receive email announcements.

Google Groups
Subscribe to BarCampPortland


Browse Archives at

We have also created a BarCamp Portland Google Calendar for upcoming events. The next event will be held in January.

We are also trying to gain support for a real BarCamp event in Portland. We will start the planning process when we get enough people signed up on the Wiki, so please add yourself to the wiki if you want to attend a Portland BarCamp event!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Web 2.0, Data Gathering, and Flickr

Flickr has found an interesting way to leverage the data from their community of users. When pictures are uploaded to Flickr, meta-data about the camera used to take the pictures is uploaded along with the the photographs. Flickr is now providing this information for anyone to view, while using it to drive traffic to Yahoo shopping (as most of you know, Yahoo owns Flickr).

I like their innovative approach to reusing the data; however, Yahoo is not as good at Google about distinguishing between content and advertising.

For example, the main part of the camera page prominently displayed at the top shows a “Featured Model” camera, which is actually an advertisement. In tiny light gray letters under the feature, you'll find this small disclaimer: “Featured Model is a sponsored placement.” The idea is really cool, but credibility with users would be increased if Flickr / Yahoo flipped the approach to feature the content (which cameras are really being used) while still providing clearly delineated advertising from sponsors.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

OpenID, Identity Management, and Single Sign-on

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my recent change of heart about OpenID and identity management in general. As we begin to rely more heavily and put more of ourselves into web 2.0 and other online environments, identity management becomes increasingly important.

We have an upcoming hackfest here in Portland on January 17th called MashPit: OpenID for anyone wanting to learn more about OpenID in a hands-on environment working with the experts to make OpenID work for your sites and apps. If you've ever wanted single sign-on and OpenID, but did not know where to start or had questions about implementation, this event would be a great place to start!

The Details:
MashPit: OpenID
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 from 4:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Where: JanRain World Headquarters
RSVP here to attend this free event.
Visit the wiki for more information.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Moving on to a New Gig (Compiere)

Friday was my last day at Intel. Changing jobs always brings mixed feelings: excitement about starting a new job combined with the difficult feelings associated with leaving so many great co-workers and friends. Intel has been a great company, and I have learned so much over the past six+ years; however, a few weeks ago, I made the difficult decision to leave Intel to return to my open source roots.

I have just joined Compiere as their new Director of Community and Partner Programs where I will be working in a small, start-up environment for the first time in my career. Compiere is an open source ERP/CRM software company, and I will be responsible for managing the relationship between Compiere and their open source community while also managing some partner relationships and programs. I am excited to be working in open source again, and Compiere has some really interesting technology that could make a real difference within the enterprise environment.

This is a great opportunity for me, and I am thrilled to be joining the Compiere team.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Troubling Trend in the Virtual World

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I am a huge fan-girl for web 2.0, online communities, and social interactions. I am also known to occasionally hang out in Second Life, and I think that virtual worlds hold tremendous potential from a community standpoint and from a corporate marketing standpoint.

However, I am a bit troubled by the recent trend of making corporate announcements and holding Q&As in virtual worlds like Second Life with no alternate means of participation. Sun hosted a Q&A in Second Life to talk about the open source Java announcement yesterday. This morning, Dell held an invite only press event to announce a new Second Life island where people can buy real world Dell PCs or virtual PCs for their avatars to use. Holding press events in Second Life sounds like a great idea until you consider the realities of Second Life:

  • Not everyone has a Second Life account

  • Many people do not know how to navigate within the virtual world to effectively participate in the event.

  • Most laptops (and some desktops) do not have the horsepower required to run Second Life.

Frustrating the press is probably not the best way to promote a new product. At least one journalist (according to TechCrunch) passed on the opportunity to attend the Dell announcement, since it was not worth the hassle. Allison Randall at O'Reilly had issues running Second Life on her laptop where “only half the avatars at the event and on stage were rendered (leaving me the interesting task of trying out "empty" seats to figure out which were actually empty and which were occupied by invisible avatars)”

I do think that these two examples are significant, and I am impressed by Sun's and Dell's ability to embrace new opportunities; however, the execution of these events was not ideal. Dell probably should have done a traditional press event with minimal information to generate some awareness and excitement followed by a Second Life event providing more detail to the residents. The reality is that the intersection between the press and Second Life users are probably fairly small, so the press might not be the best virtual audience. In general, companies should consider providing real world information using real world events while providing information relevant to Second Life residents within the virtual world.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Google: Friend or Foe?

The New York Times today poses the question, “Is Google a friend or foe?”

Clearly, by the only measurement that matters (Google Trends), Google is a friend, not a foe. To test this theory, I ran Google Trends on several related searches:

Google Friend (blue), Google Foe (red)

Google Good (blue), Google Evil (red)

Google Angel (blue), Google Devil (red)

Please do not take this post seriously – it is meant to be a bit silly.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why Attend Conferences? AKA Time for a Change

The buzz around the Web 2.0 Summit this week got me thinking about why we attend conferences in today's world of near constant connectivity and information overload. I remember listening to TWIT sometime around CES when Dvorak talked about how he was “virtually”attending CES. He had decided to skip the travel and follow the news coverage virtually rather than physically attending the event. With thousands of other journalists in attendance, Dvorak decided that having one more technology reporter on the show floor was not a good use of his time.

Before every company had a website, before bloggers, and before RSS readers, we attended conferences because conferences were the primary mechanism for learning about new technologies. Now, we can read our favorite blogs, newspapers, and trade magazines from the comfort of our couches in our pajamas with wireless laptops. With so many great summaries of every conference appearing online and bloggers posting live updates whenever someone important sneezes, the need to attend conferences to gather information is greatly diminished.

Historically, we also attended conferences to hear the experts speak on relevant topics; however, podcasts are making conference keynotes, sessions, and even panels less relevant. I admit to being a podcast addict. I typically subscribe to more podcasts than any one human being could possibly process, but it does give me the opportunity to pick and choose based on my current interests. I regularly hear interviews with open source experts on FLOSS Weekly and the O'Reilly Foo Casts, web 2.0 experts on TalkCrunch, and a little bit of everything related to the tech industry from TWIT and PodTech. I do not need to attend a big conference to hear the experts and their latest ideas about technology.

Conferences have also become a mechanism for corporate PR and product launches designed to capitalize on the topical buzz around the time of a big conference, but in reality, the press releases and launches tend to get lost in the noise with dozens and even hundreds of press releases crammed into just a few short days. This is also a holdover from the days when people attended conferences to learn about the next new thing, and corporate types have the conference press release machine in motion.

I am not saying that we should stop attending conferences; however, our reasons for attending have changed over time. I currently attend conferences mainly to hold meetings with customers / partners and network with other smart people to generate new ideas and new ways of thinking about the tech world. The customer meetings and networking usually happen outside of the traditional conference format as lunches, dinners, and informal hallway conversations. Typically, I can learn more by spending 10 minutes in a hallway chat with someone than I can learn in an hour long conference session. Conferences are a great way to gather a whole bunch of experts and those wanting to learn more about a topic together in one place to facilitate learning and the sharing of new ideas and thoughts.

I am starting to wonder if technology conferences are due for a change. Maybe fewer talking heads and fewer keynote sessions with a larger number of small discussion groups giving people an opportunity to share ideas. I am also becoming a fan of the “un-conference” format popularized by FooCamp and BarCamp, which provide a framework for a conference where intimate discussions can be more easily organized; however, I do not know how well the un-conference format would scale when you get larger numbers of attendees. I recently had a discussion at a party with Identity Woman aka Kaliya who is an advocate for a hybrid approach like the un-conferences, but with a little more structure to keep people on track.

I am not quite sure if there is an “answer” to the conference dilemma, but I suspect that the time is right for a broader change in how we organize and attend technology conferences.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The GPL and Antitrust Law

A U.S. court has found that open source software provided free of charge under the GPL does not violate antitrust laws ... or as Matt Asay says “Duh!”. An excerpt from Evan Brown's Internet Cases blog provides a nice overview:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has issued an opinion in which Judge Easterbrook declares, "[t]he GPL and open-source have nothing to fear from the antitrust laws." The case is called Wallace v. IBM., No. 06-2454. [Download a copy of the opinion.] Internet Cases covered the lower court's decision from last December here.

Plaintiff Wallace filed an antitrust suit against IBM, Red Hat and Novell, arguing that those companies had conspired to eliminate competition in the operating system market by making Linux available at an "unbeatable" price (free) under the General Public License ("GPL"). The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana dismissed the case, finding the plaintiff had suffered no antitrust injury. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Will Red Hat Survive the Recent Assault?

Yes, I know ... everyone else blogged about this last week (I was having one of “those weeks” where blogging suffered as a result of my being consumed by other activities), and I just had to weigh in on this issue if only briefly.

I think that Red Hat, as a business, could be in trouble. First, Oracle begins offering support for Red Hat Linux at a price below Red Hat's support cost (ouch), and then two of Red Hat's biggest competitors Microsoft and Novell sign an agreement to collaborate that includes indemnification (Dana Gardner said this agreement was akin to “Fox marries chicken, both move into henhouse”).

Nick Selby from the 451 group has an interesting analysis comparing Red Hat to the “Poland of software vendors” including not just the recent Oracle and Microsoft / Novell but also some insight into how Ubuntu may contribute to Red Hat's decline:

And Red Hat itself now faces the real possibility of extinction … Overnight, Red Hat has become the flattest piece of land between two battling superpowers: the Poland of software vendors.

Less obvious is the effect on Ubuntu’s plans to burst onto the enterprise scene in the West. Ubuntu’s sponsor, Canonical’s, overriding strategy hinges on two key pillars. First, Ubuntu is feature-rich and easy-to-use, to appeal to non-fuddy-duddys - that next generation of young whippersnapper admins coming up in enterprise as we speak.

Second, the support model is flexible. Years before the Oracle and Microsoft announcements to provide support for someone else’s Linux distro, Canonical set out to provide support not just from itself but from an entire eco-system of other support companies. And the support could be bought for as little as a single server in a cluster.

The model was appealing precisely because of the Red Hat and Novell’s Soviet-style lock-ins - the very models which are now in flux. (Quote from Nick Selby on the 451 CAOS Theory blog)

Unless Red Hat pulls a rabbit out of their hat or Oracle, Microsoft, and Novell fail to execute on these announcements, I predict that Red Hat will really start to feel the pain in 2007.

JanRain Helps Sites Manage User Identities

I rarely (if ever) blog about online identities or OpenID, and if you had asked me a year ago about OpenID, or any other technology designed to provide a single point of authentication where the user manages their own identity, I would have responded with something like “dream on”, “when pigs fly” or some other “no way in hell will that ever really happen” smartypants answer.

Maybe I have been spending too much time talking to people like Scott Kveton and Kaliya Hamlin (AKA Identity Woman), but I am becoming a true believer and advocate for identity management. With the recent proliferation of web 2.0 sites, an easy way to manage my online identity without needing a billion username / password combos is very appealing. Yes, I know that wishful thinking will not make something come true; however, OpenID has made an amazing amount of traction over the past few months.

Now, JanRain is making it even easier for companies / websites to use OpenID with their new affiliate program:

I am excited to announce the launch of our Affliate Program aimed at sites that want to use OpenID but don’t want to have to manage an OpenID server or their users’ identities. Now with just a few clicks of your mouse you can have a place for your users to get OpenID’s. In addition, sites will get added to our ever-growing directory of sites that support OpenID. There are hundreds of sites that support OpenID today and that number is growing everyday.

By hosting identities for end-users we’re hoping that sites that support OpenID can focus on their “main thing”; blogging, photo sharing, wiki’s, etc. OpenID lowers the barrier to engagement for users and increases stickiness on sites; no more forgotten usernames or passwords. If you’re a developer and interested in OpenID enabling your site, head over to our sister site and learn more about the open source libraries, patches and tools available for making that happen. (Quote from Scott Kveton's Blog)

I have an OpenID through ClaimID, and I would like to see more websites start to support it. It really is a win-win for both sides: ease of use for the consumer and less overhead for companies / individuals maintaining sites requiring authentication.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fluckr / bLaugh

I highly recommend reading bLaugh: The (Un)Official Comic of the Blogosphere.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Danah Boyd: The History and Future of Social Networking

Financial Times calls Danah Boyd “The high priestess of internet friendship”, and the title is well earned. I attended a few web 2.0 sessions with Danah (and a few evenings of Werewolf), and this women “gets” social networking better than anyone else I know.

If you want to better understand the evolution of social networking and get a sense for where it is headed, this article based on a Financial Times interview with Danah is a great place to start.

The MySpace Migration aka The Death of MySpace?

The Washington Post claims that “In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year.”

"I think it's definitely going down -- a lot of my friends have deleted their MySpaces and are more into Facebook now," said Birnbaum, a junior who spends more time on her Facebook profile, where she messages and shares photos with other students in her network.

From the other side of the classroom, E.J. Kim chimes in that in the past three months, she's gone from slaving over her MySpace profile up to four hours a day -- decorating it, posting notes and pictures to her friends' pages -- to deleting the whole thing.

"I've grown out of it," Kim said. "I thought it was kind of pointless."

Such is the social life of teens on the Internet: Powerful but fickle. Within several months' time, a site can garner tens of millions of users who, just as quickly, might flock to the next place, making it hard for corporate America to make lasting investments in whatever's hot now.

The high school English class cites several reasons for backing off of MySpace: Creepy people proposition them. Teachers and parents monitor them. New, more alluring free services comes along, so they collectively jump ship. (Quote from The Washington Post)

I can attest to the creepiness. I have received “friend” requests from all sorts of creepy people to the point where I cringe when getting ready to look at a request to see whether I know the person in real life, and I do not spend much time on the site. Younger girls may be even less equipped to handle these situations, and by spending more time on the site, they probably see many more of these requests than I do.

With all of the press around MySpace drawing parents, teachers, and prospective employers to view MySpace pages, young people must feel like they are under a microscope instead of hanging out with friends in a casual environment. As a teen, this might drive me to switch to another social networking site.

It will be interesting to see if Facebook continues to grow to become the dominant social networking site for teens / college students. It will also be interesting to see if Facebook users entering the professional workforce after college continue to use it or whether they migrate to another social networking site or give up the idea of social networking entirely (doubtful).

Teens have always been a fickle crowd. What is hot one day becomes uncool the next. Cynthia Brumfield compares the switching behavior of teens in social networking to television shows:

This meteroic rise and ultimate dwindling puts me in mind of hit TV shows. At their best, hot TV shows can dominate the cultural consciousness, generating huge (although that’s a relative term given the increasingly fractionalized) audiences and scads of ad revenue. If it weren’t for the artificially (i.e. regulation-induced) complex nature of the TV programming marketplace, with most producer profits earned in the back-end during syndication, a hit TV show that soars and then fizzles (remember “Twin Peaks”) could be a very profitable enterprise. In other words, a TV show that becomes a hit but doesn’t stay a hit could make lots of money.

Moreover, hit TV shows can become the springboard for more money-making ventures, even when they fade (“Cheers” spawned “Frasier”). The trick for any given TV production company is to keep the creativity and business ingenuity going, and not rest on past successes.

The same thing holds true for hot web properties such as MySpace. MySpace is bound to fade—the Internet is a very contestable market, as economists say, and rivals can step in at any time, particularly for something as technically simple as social networking. But there’s little doubt that News Corp. has a chance to make money with MySpace while it’s still popular and the company is doing everything it can to exploit MySpace while it’s still warm.

The trick for News Corp., or Google, which just paid $1.65 billion for YouTube (another site highly vulnerable to competition) or any other entertainment business on the Internet is figuring out where they go from here. They can’t just sit back and expect to rake in the dough, hoping that their hit sites stay hot. They have to move forward and leverage their hits to create the next big thing. (Quote from Cynthia Brumfield on the IP Democracy blog)

This could be a sign that MySpace is fading into oblivion; however, I am not ready to predict the death of MySpace yet. Despite the migration of some teens to other sites, MySpace still has quite a bit of momentum. I expect that MySpace can continue to ride this momentum for a while before heading into a death spiral. It is also conceivable that News Corp could find a different, and profitable, niche for MySpace around music, other age groups, or some other aspect of social networking.

Next BarCamp Portland Meetup Scheduled for November 30!

Our third informal Portland BarCamp Meetup has been scheduled! Any local techies are welcome to attend.

When: Thursday, November 30
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd. Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max (directions to Jive Software).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

The meetup will be very informal and similar in format to previous meetings. We'll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

If you would like to receive notifications about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications, please join our Google Group to receive email announcements.

Google Groups
Subscribe to BarCampPortland


Browse Archives at

We have also created a BarCamp Portland Google Calendar for upcoming events. The next event will be held in January.

We are also trying to gain support for a real BarCamp event in Portland. We will start the planning process when we get enough people signed up on the Wiki, so please add yourself to the wiki if you want to attend a Portland BarCamp event!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Political Google Bombing

As we approach election season here in the United States, political groups go to great lengths to make their favorite candidates look good while making the competition look bad. The latest tactic used is Google bombing, the practice of manipulating Google's search results to inflate certain results. One of the best known Google bombs resulted in George Bush's biography page being displayed when someone searched for the term “miserable failure”.

According to the New York Times:

If things go as planned for liberal bloggers in the next few weeks, searching Google for “Jon Kyl,” the Republican senator from Arizona now running for re-election, will produce high among the returns a link to an April 13 article from The Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly.

Mr. Kyl “has spent his time in Washington kowtowing to the Bush administration and the radical right,” the article suggests, “very often to the detriment of Arizonans.”

Searching Google for “Peter King,” the Republican congressman from Long Island, would bring up a link to a Newsday article headlined “King Endorses Ethnic Profiling.”

Fifty or so other Republican candidates have also been made targets in a sophisticated “Google bombing” campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results.


Each name is associated with one article. Those articles are embedded in hyperlinks that are now being distributed widely among the left-leaning blogosphere. In an entry at this week, Mr. Bowers said: “When you discuss any of these races in the future, please, use the same embedded hyperlink when reprinting the Republican’s name. Then, I suppose, we will see what happens.” (Quote from Tom Zeller, New York Times)

While not illegal, the ethics behind manipulating search results seems a bit questionable to say the least.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Digg Acquisition Rumors

Who will acquire Digg? Michael Arrington from TechCrunch claims that Digg has been in acquisition talks with News Corp. and other companies: “However, the company was unable to land an offer in the price range they’re looking for - at least $150 million - and will likely close a Series B round of financing instead.” (TechCrunch Quote)

I am curious who those “other companies” might be. Here are a few random guesses (pure speculation):

  • AOL / Time-Warner: Calacanis might be interested in an attempt to merge Netscape with Digg (bad idea in my opinion).

  • Yahoo: The rumor is that they were in discussions for YouTube and FaceBook, and they have already acquired a number of web 2.0 companies. Digg might be an interesting fit for Yahoo.

Who should acquire Digg? Maybe Google. Due to the recent, and large, YouTube acquisition, I doubt that Google is currently in discussions to acquire Digg. Digg would be a great way for Google to get more involved in the collaborative, user generated content space to expand their web 2.0 offerings, and Google could probably add quite a bit of value in helping to optimize Digg's promotion algorithms. Digg has sometimes struggled with attempts by users to game the system to promote their own stories using all types of devious mechanisms. Designing creative algorithms to prevent people from artificially inflating search results has been one of Google's strengths.

Personally, I think that Digg will stay independent for now, but then again, I am frequently wrong about acquisition predictions. (I'm still waiting for Borland to be acquired – I predicted an imminent acquisition back in 2002 / 2003).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

SpaceShipOne Google Rumors

Rumors were flying this weekend, courtesy of TechCrunch, about Google's purchase of SpaceShipOne. The recent YouTube acquisition rumor in the billion dollar range also seemed far fetched, and it turned out to be true, so you just never know with Google. Lending additional credibility is the fact that Larry Page is on the board of trustees at the X Prize foundation; however, this rumor turned out to be only partially true.

Google seems to have acquired a very realistic looking mock-up of SpaceShipOne. Still pretty cool.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Portland BarCamp Meetup Scheduled for October 25

Don't forget to RSVP if you plan to attend our second informal Portland BarCamp Meetup next week!

When: Wednesday, October 25
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd. Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max (directions to Jive Software).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

The meetup on October 25th will be very informal and similar in format to the last meeting. We'll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

If you would like to receive notifications about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications, please join our Google Group to receive email announcements.

Google Groups
Subscribe to BarCampPortland


Browse Archives at

We have also created a BarCamp Portland Google Calendar for upcoming events. The next event will be held on November 29.

We are also trying to gain support for a real BarCamp event in Portland. We will start the planning process when we get enough people signed up on the Wiki, so please add yourself to the wiki if you want to attend a Portland BarCamp event!

Monday, October 16, 2006

The New York Times Discovers Technorati

I like the New York Times, but I was surprised by the quality of a recent article about Technorati. The title, 55 Million Blogs, and Now a Service to Track Them written by Eric Pfanner, implies something new, but Technorati has been around for at least 3 years. The new part is that Technorati will begin publishing a Top 100 list for French, German, and Italian language blogs. A nice new feature, but just a new feature.

Pfanner also quoted Peter Hirshberg as the Chief Executive of Technorati; however, Dave Sifry is the CEO while Hirshberg is the Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer. A simple fact checking exercise should have uncovered that error.

I am disappointed in the Times. A misleading title and obvious factual error both in a relatively short article.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Google Takes Over the World?

The New York Times had an interesting article, titled Planet Google Wants You, today about how Google is taking over more parts of our lives every day:

Marketing experts consider a Web site an experience — different from using a product like a soft drink — because it’s someplace you go, an arena in which you live out your life. And in this way many people develop a sense of intimacy within it, even trust.


Donna L. Hoffman, a founder of eLab 2.0, a research center at the University of California, Riverside, that studies online consumer behavior, said that Google has in the minds of many users “become one with the Internet,” achieving a meta-status because as the most-used search engine, “it literally augments your brain. I don’t have to remember quite a few things now because Google can remember them for me. Google is an additional memory chip.”


Like Apple, Google has lured the young and the early adopters by making the utilitarian — say, Gmail — seem hip. Part of the allure stems from the clean Euro-minimalist design of its applications. Part of it stems from the company’s reputation for innovation. (Quote from New York Times)

I'll admit it Google has taken over my life, not out of any need to be hip and trendy, but because I simply like Google's products better than the alternatives. I like Google search because it seems to find what I am really looking for more quickly than the other search engines. I am addicted to Gmail, and I use it not because it is free, but because I like it better than Outlook. Despite owning a copy of Outlook, I have stopped using it for personal mail (I still have to use it for work) because it is consumes too many system resources, and everything about it is just slow. An Outlook search for an email can take minutes instead of seconds in Gmail, and I love using tags in Gmail for those complex topics where filing them in a single folder makes no sense. Google Calendar helps my family find me when I travel. Google Analytics keeps track of my blog traffic. Google Docs provides a place to collaborate with my boyfriend to track household expenses. Google Groups gives my Portland BarCamp Meetup participants a way to keep up with the latest news about our events. I could go on, but you get the point.

Security does concern me in this environment, since Google knows more about me than my family, but it is a risk I am willing to take for the added convenience.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

High Tech Marketing in a Virtual World

Many companies are initiating marketing campaigns designed to generate revenue in the "real world" via virtual world marketing through Second Life and other online environments. If you are interested in hearing my thoughts on virtual marketing, you can visit my Intel Trends in Web 2.0 blog.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Google Just Acquired YouTube for $1.65 Billion

Like everyone else, I heard the rumors, and I was skeptical. Acquisition rumors usually turn out to be exactly that ... just rumors with talks falling through at the last minute or casual talks between companies spawning rumors of impending acquisitions; however, in this case, the rumors were accurate.

From the Google Press Release:

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to preserve its successful brand and passionate community.

On the one hand, this is a risky move for Google. The copyright issues within YouTube content could escalate now that companies could sue with the hope of making money by tapping into the deeper pockets of Google. On the other hand, Google has never been afraid of a few copyright skirmishes (the book searches and Google news come to mind as a couple of examples), and Google can usually find a creative way to make even very difficult situations work for everyone involved. I will be curious to see what happens.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Google's Blog Hacked ... Google is Not Cancelling Click-to-Call Service

The blogosphere has been speculating about the cancellation of Google's Click-to-Call Service over the past few days as a result of a Google Blog post stating that Google was cancelling the service. According to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, “the real story here is that the Google blog has been hacked.”

In reading the original post (which was quickly removed from the blog), this should be obvious. Google is known for hiring brilliant, well-educated people, and this blog entry just does not fit:

Notice that the wording of the post makes little sense combined with spelling errors throughout. This reads more like a spam email than an official Google blog entry.

Update 10/8/06 12:00 PM: Om Malik reported that a Google spokesperson has confirmed that an unauthorized user created the fake post. The Google spokesperson also said that the Click-to-Call service was proceeding on schedule.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Just Arrived: My Flickr MiniCards from Moo

I just received my Flickr MiniCards from Moo. They are very small (hence the mini part), so I'm not quite sure how I will use them, but they are definitely cool.

Searching Inside Books Boosts Sales

Google's plans to digitize libraries of books has come under fire from publishers eager to protect copyrights; however, publishers participating in Google's Book Search Partner Program are seeing a significant benefit. According to Reuters, publishers participating in Google's book search and Amazon's Search Inside programs are benefiting from additional sales:

"Google Book Search has helped us turn searchers into consumers," said Colleen Scollans, the director of online sales for Oxford University Press.

She declined to provide specific figures, but said that sales growth has been "significant". Scollans estimated that 1 million customers have viewed 12,000 Oxford titles using the Google program.


Specialty publisher Springer Science + Business reported sales growth of its backlist catalog using Google Book Search, with 99 percent of the 30,000 titles it has in the program getting viewed, including many published before 1992.

"We suspect that Google really helps us sell more books," said Kim Zwollo, Springer's global director of special licensing, declining to provide specific figures because the company is privately owned.


"Our experience has been that the revenue generated from Google has been pretty modest, whereas the Amazon program has generated more book sales," Penguin Chief Executive John Makinson told Reuters at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week. (Quotes from Reuters)

These examples highlight the importance of open marketing that lets people see some of the content prior to buying. In many cases, showing some of the book can generate interest in a book that would not have otherwise caught someone's eye. It also gives people the opportunity to see what they are buying, mirroring the brick and mortar book buying experience of leafing through a book. Hopefully, this trend will continue, thus giving buyers more information about potential purchases leading the way for Google and others to find similar opportunities to add value outside of the book market ... who knows what Google might come up with next.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Are MySpace Users Getting Old?

According to the latest comScore report, over half of MySpace users are the in 35 and older age range.

“The most significant shift has occurred among teens 12-17, who accounted for 24.7 percent of the MySpace audience in August 2005, but today represent a much lower 11.9 percent of the site’s total audience. Conversely, Internet users between the ages of 35-54 now account for 40.6 percent of the MySpace visitor base, an 8.2 percentage point increase during the past year.” (Quote from comScore)

According to Liz Gannes at GigaOm, they called “Fox Interactive spokesperson Ann Burkart to ask if comScore is off the deep end on this one, and she said the numbers are actually totally accurate with what MySpace is seeing internally.”

Because the press release only has percentages, it is really hard to tell what drives these numbers. Keep in mind that the report also shows a dramatic decrease in MySpace users in the 12-17 age range making it difficult to tell how fast the over 35 age range is really growing. Increasing as a “percentage” relative to other age ranges can also be caused by dramatic decreases in another group.

Assuming that the over 35 crowd is driven by real growth, I have a number of ideas about what could cause this growth.

  • 99 year olds: MySpace has a large number of 99 year old participants, which typically fall into a couple of camps: the “too young to be allowed” group and the “old enough not admit a real age group”.

  • Parents: With the recent press coverage over the past year focused on the dark side of MySpace (exploitation, sexual predators, etc.), I know quite a few parents of teenagers who use MySpace to better understand it and to keep an eye on their teenagers who use the site. Most parents of teenagers would fit into the 35-54 age range.

  • Bloggers, Techies, and Journalists: I am 35, and I have a MySpace page. I created it as a way to better understand social networking for the purpose of blogging and other writing, but I have found that it helps me keep in touch with a few of my younger friends.

  • Perverts: I assume there are also a few wackos in the over 35 age group that join for less than honorable reasons.

It would be great if some ambitious social networking researcher could do an in depth study to figure out what exactly is driving this change in the MySpace demographics.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Corporate Blogging 101

More companies are starting to blog every day, so I decided to spend some time providing my perspective on how to write a good corporate blog. If you are interested in corporate blogging, you might want to read the Corporate Blogging 101 post on my Intel Trends in Web 2.0 blog.

Next BarCamp Portland Meetup Scheduled for October 25

Our second informal Portland BarCamp Meetup has been scheduled!

When: Wednesday, October 25
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd. Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max (directions to Jive Software).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

The meetup on October 25th will be very informal and similar in format to the last meeting. We'll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

If you would like to receive notifications about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications, please join our Google Group to receive email announcements.

Google Groups
Subscribe to BarCampPortland


Browse Archives at

We have also created a BarCamp Portland Google Calendar for upcoming events. The next event will be held on November 29.

We are also trying to gain support for a real BarCamp event in Portland. We will start the planning process when we get enough people signed up on the Wiki, so please add yourself to the wiki if you want to attend a Portland BarCamp event!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Censoring the Blogosphere: The Right and Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism

We know that the world of media has been evolving as bloggers become more prevalent, and our methods of interacting with the media must also evolve with these changes. Some blogs (TechCrunch, Engadget, The Huffington Post) have become more popular than many traditional media sources, but many people are struggling to adapt to interacting with the blogosphere.

An example from the Washington Post about how NOT to respond to a blogger caught my eye this morning:

“Memories fade, but the Internet is forever.

Murry N. Gunty found that out the hard way this summer. Well known among Washington financiers, the head of Milestone Capital Management LLC ran afoul of bloggers for an attempt to censor a Web article about a 1992 incident in which he manipulated the election for officers of the Harvard Business School's Finance Club.


The Harvard flap seemed like ancient history until Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Pincus -- no relation to Gunty's business partner -- resurrected it.


'I have nothing personal against the guy at all,' said Pincus, whose original post included numerous disparaging personal remarks about Gunty. 'I write about ethics all the time. It's something I'm passionate about. If Murry had responded on my blog, the whole thing would have just ended there.'


Gunty or someone representing him sent an e-mail to Six Apart Ltd., the company that hosted Pincus's blog, asking that the article be changed because it was a violation of privacy.


When a Six Apart staffer asked Pincus to at least remove Gunty's last name from the posting, Pincus responded by posting the request on his blog -- escalating the issue beyond corporate ethics to a matter of free speech.” (Quote from the Washington Post)

Needless to say, cover ups and censorship are not an appropriate response to the blogosphere unless you really want the situation to escalate and spiral out of control.

Blogs require a different approach to criticism. Tim O'Reilly's lynching in the blogosphere over the web 2.0 trademark controversy provide an excellent example of how something can escalate out of control and still be diffused by the right type of response.

The best way to respond is with an honest and thoughtful (not defensive) comment back to the blogger on her blog along with an entry on your blog providing your side of the story. The response needs to come directly from the person (not someone on his staff). In order for this approach to work, the responder must admit to any mistakes and help people understand what was learned and how the situation evolved. This should be followed by clarifying any errors in the original post and next steps that the person is taking in response.

Approaching bloggers on their own terms through comments and posts on your blog create a conversation where the issues can be discussed and explored in the open.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New Netvibes Update

Netvibes just released a new update (code named Cinnamon) with new features, new modules, and a better user interface.

I have been using Netvibes for a couple of months, and I use it constantly. I tried more RSS readers than I can count, and I hated all of them. Prior to Netvibes, I could not find any RSS readers that worked better than than the RSS functionality built into Firefox. The beauty of Netvibes is that they manage to cram a bunch of feeds on the screen, but organize it in a way that never seems overwhelming or cluttered. I can see all of the posts from more than a dozen blogs without scrolling, mouse-overs give me the first couple of sentences, and I can chose to read any post within the Netvibes interface or natively as a new tab in Firefox. Almost everything is configurable; I can have multiple tabs; and the content is easily organized by dragging and dropping.

Netvibes has also integrated a number of very useful modules. Michael Arrington uses it daily for one stop access to a variety of web services. I can see my unread Gmail messages, my delicious bookmarks (including sort by tags), the front page stories on Digg, the weather and more from a single page.

The best part is that I rarely have to wait on anything. Quick, configurable, intuitive, and easy to use ... everything I want in a web app.

Women take Yahoo Hack Day by Storm

Yahoo Hack day is a geeky weekend of coding competitions held at the Yahoo campus. This year the winner was a team of women who created a mobile blogging solution. According to Michael Arrington (one of the judges for the event):

“The winning project, called Blogging In Motion, combined a camera, a handbag, a pedometer and the Flickr API to create a device that takes a picture after every few steps and then automatically blogs those pictures.” (Quote from TechCrunch).

Friday, September 29, 2006

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 :-)