Fluckr / bLaugh

October 31, 2006

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

Fluckr


Danah Boyd: The History and Future of Social Networking

October 29, 2006

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?

October 29, 2006

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!

October 29, 2006

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

Email:

Browse Archives at groups.google.com

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!


Political Google Bombing

October 26, 2006

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 MyDD.com 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.


Digg Acquisition Rumors

October 24, 2006

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).


SpaceShipOne Google Rumors

October 21, 2006

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.