Tag: internet buzz
On Saturday, I spent the day at BarCampDC2. Like last year there were plenty of great sessions. I really wanted to discuss Amazon’s EC2 as I think it is where most small companies should be moving their sites and I see huge business opportunities in this space. As the session board was being built I kept looking for something on Amazon’s EC2, S3 or AWS. I had not used the services yet, but I was determined to discuss them as I know many of the companies present were using them. In desperation, I grabbed a pen and a post it note and wrote “To Cloud or Not? AWS, EC2, S3 or build your own“. I owned the session and I hoped I would have a few experts in the room so I could act as a moderator instead of presenter.
The room was packed and I started out by telling everyone that I had no presentation or experience with these technologies and hoped we had some experts in the room. As I expected there were plenty of experts in the room and we had a great discussion on what Amazon had to offer and other offerings that companies can leverage.
The room was filled with some of the greatest minds from the DC Tech scene.
More pics are here.
After my session I attended several hard core geek sessions, as usual there were many sessions I was unable to attend. Maybe we can videotape the sessions next time?
- 11AM – Nitrogen Web Framework
- 1PM – Git
- 2PM – MySQL Optimization
- 3PM-5PM wandered through various sessions.
- 5PM – Beer! Great presentation by Chris Williams. I thought this was an early happy hour room but instead Chris schooled us on the history of beer.
Afterward we headed to McFadden’s where I consumed several pints of Guinness. Fortunately I had taken the bus and metro from my house so getting home was a non-issue.
Thanks to Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University for letting us have the conference there and thanks to all the folks that helped put this together. Can we do this again in 6 months?
A few months ago I was asked to do a Technology Due Diligence of SocialThing. My 1st reaction was why do we need another aggregator? We have BuddyFeed and several technologies that are proven to scale. People always snicker when AOL and technology are mentioned in the same sentence but the fact of the matter is that we’ve been building products that need to scale to millions of users, on day one, for well over 15 years. There are some amazing software engineers at AOL.
Back to SocialThing….
As TechCrunch and others have noted, there are several social aggregators out there, but SocialThing found a powerful niche in the LifeStream aggregation market. Let me start by defining what a LifeStream is and then I’ll get to what makes SocialThing unique.
LifeStreams focus on feeds about your life.
- What you are doing right now
- What pictures you recently uploaded
- What you posted to your blog.
Feeds on news and other events that are published by 3rd parties are not part of a LifeStream. They may still be feeds but they are not part of your life.
Life with a single social network
If everyone updated their status, uploaded pictures and blogged on a single social network LifeStreams would be easy. The standard Facebook News Feed would be all we needed to keep up to date with what our friend were up to. Of course, if there was a single network it would probably be pretty boring. Competition between social networks means we’ll always have the latest and greatest features, and if we don’t we’ll eventually move to where the best features are.
The problem with this competition is that our online life is fragmented and our friends are in various places. If we want to keep up with everyone we need to sign into several services or find a way to aggregate information on the people we care about.
LifeStream Aggregators try to make this easy. I’ll compare three of them here. These notes were made on my wiki a few months ago when I was hashing out what it was we were looking to buy.
Many of the things our friends do are available via public feeds. This makes pulling them together in a meaningful way easy. FriendFeed makes this easy but you need to define what you want people to see in your feed (Me Feed) and then people can subscribe to your feed.
For example. I can quickly build a feed on FriendFeed that includes my Twitter, Pownce, Flickr and Blog feeds. Then my friends that use FriendFeed can subscribe to my feed to build a LifeStream of people they follow. FriendFeed makes this easy but its another account you need to create.
AIM Buddy Feed/ Buddy Updates
AIM has a buddy feed that does almost the same thing as FriendFeed. The AIM Buddy Feed feature is not well advertised but if you set it up your updates will show up in your friends buddy lists. Setup your feed here. If AOL promotes this feature and your friends are already on AIM this will save you from registering at yet another site. The aggregation of all LifeStreams of your buddies has been at dashboard.aim.com at times and then disappears. I hope it comes back soon.
SocialThing makes aggregation simpler than FriendFeed and AIM Buddy Feed because they took a different approach. Instead of requiring all your friends to join SocialThing they just pull your friend’s feeds from the networks you already belong to. They also let you post messages to your various networks.
They can do this because they ask you for your name and password on these sites. Personally I find this scary. Some sites like Facebook can give 3rd party sites tokens that they can store and use to access your account so the password is never sent to the 3rd party site. But sites like Twitter do not have this capability so sites like SocialThing need to save your username and password.
What do you get for giving up your usernames and passwords? Power!
Some services like Twitter have APIs to fetch your aggregated LifeStream in a single call. This makes SocialThing’s job easy. Other APIs require a 2 step process to get the aggregated LifeStream.
- Step 1 — Fetch my friends
- Step 2 — Fetch my friend’s “Me” Feeds.
This second scenario presents a scaling nightmare. If I login to SocialThing and I have 5 networks that require a 2 step process and I have approximately 50 friends in each, they need to make (5 + 50*5) 255 calls anytime I visit. They then need to keep polling these services to keep them up to date. This is a lot of work for SocialThing to be doing but it is also beating up on my 5 networks. As SocialThing grows its user base they might find their IP Address block as they overload the sites they are polling to build LifeStreams.
Another nice feature that you get by giving SocialThing your password is the ability to send messages to your various networks from SocialThing. With 1 click you can update your status on Twitter, Facebook and Pownce.
Honestly, I don’t know. At this point the product folks are in control. We have an opportunity to make a great product even better and to bring our AOL, AIM and Bebo users into the world of LifeStream aggregation.
I was going to write about how much I hate December but instead I’ll attack www.
Now I love the World Wide Web but I hate typing www for web sites. I’m specifying http:// and I’m hitting port 80, i expect a web page. So why do so many sites still expect you to type www. then the domain name? My site works fine with http://tonycode.com/ or http://www.tonycode.com/ but there are still plenty of sites that just plain break if you don’t add the www. A friend of mine worked at a startup and he mentioned the company name so I entered http://companyname.com/ and I got some guys personal web page. As it turns out one of the employees was using the base domain as his personal web site. No one at the company noticed because they always typed www first. I wonder how many people like me landed on this guys page instead of the company page. Needless to say this was corrected after I brought this issue to the attention of my friend.
That was a few years ago but there are still plenty of examples today. Here is the most recent one I stumbled on
http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/ works correctly but http://berkshirehathaway.com/ returns a directory listing error. Come on Warren, surely you can get Bill Gates to fix this for you. Any competent IT professional could fix this issue in a few minutes. Of course the site is running on Microsoft IIS so maybe this takes days. I live in an Apache world were everything is easy and free.
Ok, enough picking on Warren and Bill, I own stock in both of their companies so they have the last laugh anyway. But please fix the www. I never type www. unless a site won’t work otherwise.
Did I mention that I hate December?
The New New Internet conference was somewhat interesting but I didn’t really learn anything useful. Towards the end there was a Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 discussion where the moderator asked something like “Can we agree that we are now web 2.0?”. I was drifting in and out of email so perhaps I missed the real question but with Zeldman’s “Designing with Web Standards” 2nd Edition still declaring that “99.9% of Websites Are Still Obsolete“, I would say that most of the web is certainly NOT Web 2.0. While standards like XML were discussed most sites still ignore the 1st standard that should be used in building any web site, XHTML.
Robin Miller chimed in at one point and said that not all web sites should be Web 2.0… Some people on the panel tried to tell him how his neighbor’s lawn service site might benefit from Web 2.0 community. I couldn’t disagree more. Not all web sites should use Ajax and most web sites probably have no need for collaboration. A simple business needs a simple page that is well written and relevant, so that search engines can do their jobs and return it… when relevant. Slapping Ajax on your site or putting it all in flash will just lessen your chances of showing up in search results. One of the panelist earlier in the day did try to make the point that Ajax hides information from search engines and that was dismissed as a search engine problem that needs to be fixed. I wouldn’t suggest waiting for that fix. If you need a simple site, keep it simple, and your customers will find you.
Jason Goldberg of Jobster gave and interesting talk about Web 2.0. It was mostly a sales pitch for Jobster but none the less it was interesting to hear the state of job search sites and how Jobster is doing them one better. I just hate the name “Jobster”. Sorry. Is it possible that he is related to Shawn Fanning?
Rajen Sheth of Google gave a good talk about various Google things, both consumer facing and employee facing. He mentioned that EVERY Google employee has a profile that is updated frequently. This allows everyone in the company to find out who is working on what and to track down experts. This is a really good idea. Another focus of his talk was about simplicity. Some of this was around keeping interfaces simple for consumers but as a developer his statement “The simplest, most useful, standard wins in the end.” the most interesting. In my mind this means REST over SOAP and even JSON over XML (for pages).
It was refreshing to see that many of the panelist appeared to favor REST over SOAP. Some of the discussions talked about SOAP being in the enterprise arena and REST being in the web arena. Michael Platt from Microsoft was talking about how consumer adoption of technologies drives the enterprise over time. For example PCs were for consumers and mainframes were for businesses. Now PCs are everywhere. In the same respect the technologies adopted by Web sites will eventually change the Enterprise market.
Ruby on Rails was mentioned several times in the conference. I must admit I have not had time to play with it.
The coolest of the vendors at the Conference (as voted by attendees) was notefish.com. They have a simple browser plugin that allows you to select random content from web pages and post it to your notefish.com page. Want to build a site about sightseeing in DC. In about 10 minutes you can steal content from 10 sites, drag it around and you’re done. The source of all the content is linked but I wonder what copyright issues are lurking here.
Here is a sample of some AIM Pages snags.
That’s all for now.
Tomorrow I will be attending a Web 2.0 Conference outside of DC but I’m wondering how 2.0 it’s going to be. I’m getting the feeling that the organizers don’t really get it. Why?
The 1st communication I received on this event called it “The New, New Internet: A Web 2.0 Conference”.
Doesn’t everyone know the O’Reilly has a trademark on “Web 2.0 Conference”.
Its now called “The New, New Internet: Web 2.0 for Business”
Yesterday I received a note from them indicating that “The dress for this event is Business Attire.”… Good grief. I was planning on dressing up by wearing a collared shrit but I guess I’ll be wearing a suit.
The final pitch?
The conference is loaded and they still have a chance to hit this one out of the park. I want this to succeed because I’m sick of all the great conferences being on the west coast.
I have 3 modules on AimPages now. I added 2 last Sunday and they are getting adopted pretty quickly. My Fortune module has been out for a month but since most of the quotes are pretty nerdy I didn’t think it would be that popular.
But my Eyes and Visitors modules are already generating more traffic than the Fortune module. It’ll be interesting to see if I can keep up with the traffic once AOL starts promoting AimPages.
Details on the services can be found on my wiki