Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Who;s Afraid of Google

Who is Afraid of Google? Everyone?
Wired: December 2005
Of course, Google has always wanted to be more than a search engine. Even in the early days, its ultimate goal was extravagant: to organize the world's information. High-minded as that sounds, Google's ever-expanding agenda has put it on a collision course with nearly every company in the information technology industry: Amazon.com, Comcast, eBay, Yahoo!, even Microsoft.

In less than a decade, Google has gone from guerrilla startup to 800-pound gorilla. In some ways, the company is a gentle giant. Whereas Microsoft infamously smothered new and open standards, Google is famous for supporting them. And the firm is softening its image, launching a philanthropic arm, Google.org, with nearly $1 billion earmarked for social causes. But that doesn't reduce the fear factor, and Google knows it. Omid Kordestani, the company's global sales guru, said at a recent conference, "We're trying to find ways so we are not viewed as a gorilla." Given its outsize ambitions, that's one search Google might not be able to handle.

Is the sky falling?
That's how it looks to panicked tech companies across the Valley as they contend with Google's ever-expanding power and ambition.

VIDEO
Today, Google Video is a motley mix: clips of monkeys performing karate and robot dogs attacking iguanas. Tomorrow? No one knows, but everyone is worried.

Who's threatened:
Comcast and other cable providers, Yahoo!, TV networks that still shun the Net

Signs of panic: Comcast wants to be the Google of television. Yahoo! bristles at any mention of Google Video. Networks were stunned to find Google compiling a database of their programs.

Reality check: Google Video is up and running. The question is, How much content can it attract - or pay for - to fill the database. Watch for a strategic acquisition, even something big. TiVo?


CLASSIFIEDS

When secrecy-obsessed Google let news of "Google Base" slip, it looked like an aggressive entrée into online classifieds. The test service can search ads like used-car and personals listings, which would mesh with Google Local and might even kick-start Orkut, Google's social network.

Who's threatened: Craigslist, eBay, Monster, Tribe.net

Signs of panic:
Within hours of the Base bombshell, eBay's market value dropped by almost $2 billion. And even before that, the classified sites were nervous. CareerBuilder and others fretted about letting Google host their feeds.

Reality check:
This may be an extension of Froogle rather than a stand-alone product. But it could expand to everything from travel to eBay-like offerings.

TELECOM

Free Wi-Fi in San Francisco, instant-messaging software, a widely anticipated VoIP foray - Google's telecom initiatives seem designed to make life radically easier for users.

Who's threatened: Comcast, SBC, Verizon, Vonage, what's left of AOL

Signs of panic:
Surprisingly few so far, partially because Google says it has no plans to offer Wi-Fi beyond San Francisco. Still, Comcast coined the word Comcastic - is that its answer to Googlicious?

Reality check: Something's clearly afoot, and it could be big. With great power comes great regulation - so Google recently opened a DC lobbying shop to combat "centralized control by network operators."


OPERATING SYSTEMS
If anyone can fulfill the dream of turning the Internet into the operating system, it's Google. If the company chooses to develop an OS, the move will cement Google's other initiatives into a powerful whole.

Who's threatened: Apple, Microsoft

Signs of panic:
When one of Microsoft's key operating system engineers defected to Google last year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer threw a chair across an office and vowed to kill Google.

Reality check: The migration of applications from PCs to the Net is already happening - and it's key to Google's future. But the likelihood of a Google OS depends on what Microsoft accomplishes with its new OS, Vista.


PRINT
What if a search engine trolled not just every page on the Web, but every page in every book? Amazon.com tried it first, then Google said it would "make the full text of all the world's books searchable by anyone.

"Who's threatened: Amazon, Microsoft, book publishers

Signs of panic:
Against the interests of a legion of obscure writers, the Authors Guild sued Google. The Association of American Publishers, with more to fear, did the same. Microsoft and Yahoo! have joined a group that's creating its own book search service.

Reality check: Making every book searchable sends a clear signal that Google has the brawn to organize the world's information. But a vicious backlash could drown out that message.

PRODUCTIVITY PROGRAMS

Google joined with Sun Microsystems in October to jointly promote and distribute apps like the Google Toolbar and Sun's free OpenOffice software. Wider distribution of the toolbar, Google's most potent Trojan horse, gives the search engine access to a world of desktops.

Who's threatened: Apple, Corel, Microsoft

Signs of panic: Microsoft launched its own toolbar and protested the decision of the Massachusetts Information Technology Department to dump Office for open source alternatives.

Reality check: It may be a fiendishly clever way to attack one of Microsoft's highest-margin products, but this tactic can't be a top priority. Google Toolbar will thrive without Sun.


ECOMMERCE

Froogle threatens no one yet. But what if, as the development of Google Wallet suggests, Google handled your every online transaction? The potential revenue from Google's cut of each purchase would make AdSense look like AdCents.

Who's threatened:
Amazon, Buy.com, eBay

Signs of panic: After reports speculated that Google might take on PayPal, eBay said it would pay up to $4.1 billion for VoIP rebel Skype. Wall Street's read: With PayPal under fire, eBay needed a new growth area.

Reality check: Rather than take on PayPal directly, the company may start with something less ambitious, like handling payments for premium video content. But after that? Watch out.

google googlestrategy

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tagging with BlogThis! - Freshblog

This is a direct post and reference to allow tagging within a blog, as step-by-step on how to do it

Tagging with BlogThis! - Freshblog

On Del.icio.us:

Here is also a nice write-up on tagging, humor included

Tagging



Sunday, November 13, 2005

Grassroots Adoption

Grassroots Adoption, Much Harder than it appears
A minor point in R. Ozzie’s article/letter to the MSFT employees, is something that I strongly agree with.

But enabling grassroots adoption is not just a product design issue.

Today's web is fundamentally a self-service environment, and it is critical to design websites and product 'landing pages' with sophisticated closed-loop measurement and feedback systems.

  • Even startups use such techniques in conjunction with pay-per-click advertisements.

  • This ensures that the most effective website designs will be selected to attract discovery of products and services, help in research and learning, facilitate download, trial and purchase, and to enable individuals' self-help and making recommendations to others.


For context, here is the entire article, with some of my comments:
A Shift in the Software Landscape (based on R. Ozzie’s 11/05 CNET article)
The consumer shift is changing
  • How software is being monetized,

  • How software is delivered, and

  • What kind of software is ultimately embraced.
Today there are three key tenets that are driving fundamental shifts in the landscape
all of which are related in some way to services.

But enabling grassroots adoption is not just a product design issue.

Today's web is fundamentally a self-service environment, and it is critical to design websites and product 'landing pages' with sophisticated closed-loop measurement and feedback systems.

  • Even startups use such techniques in conjunction with pay-per-click advertisements.

  • This ensures that the most effective website designs will be selected to attract discovery of products and services, help in research and learning, facilitate download, trial and purchase, and to enable individuals' self-help and making recommendations to others.

Ray Ozzie's Key Tenet

1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model.
Online advertising has emerged as a significant new means by which to directly and indirectly fund the creation and delivery of software and services.
In some cases, it may be possible for one to obtain more revenue through the advertising model than through a traditional licensing model.

Only in its earliest stages, no one yet knows the limits of what categories of hardware, software and services, in what markets, will ultimately be funded through this model.
And no one yet knows how much of the world's online advertising revenues should or will flow to large software and service providers, medium sized or tail providers, or even users themselves.

2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model.
A grassroots technology adoption pattern has emerged on the internet largely in parallel to the classic methods of selling software to the enterprise.

Products are now discovered through a combination of
  • blogs,

  • search keyword-based advertising,

  • online product marketing and

  • word-of-mouth.

It's now expected that anything discovered can be sampled and experienced through self-service exploration and download.

dbs comments: There is nothing stopping the Microsofts, Yahoos or Googles from capitalizing on this model. In fact, they could even "stealthily" or even directly go after these. They have the advertising money to fund them on the other side as well. If there is a return, these properties/development ways to go to market could show both an ROI in new and different ways right out of the box.

Limited trial use, ad-monetized or free reduced-function use, subscription-based use, on-line activation, digital license management, automatic update, and other such concepts are now entering the vocabulary of any developer building products that wish to successfully utilize the web as a channel.

Products must now embrace a "discover, learn, try, buy, recommend" cycle –
Sometimes with one of those phases being
  • Free,

  • Another ad-supported,

  • And yet another being subscription-based.

Grassroots adoption requires an end-to-end perspective related to product design.

  • Products must be easily understood by the user upon trial, and useful out-of-the-box with little or no configuration or administrative intervention.

  • But enabling grassroots adoption is not just a product design issue.

  • Today's web is fundamentally a self-service environment, and it is critical to design websites and product 'landing pages' with sophisticated closed-loop measurement and feedback systems.

  • Even startups use such techniques in conjunction with pay-per-click advertisements.

  • This ensures that the most effective website designs will be selected to attract discovery of products and services, help in research and learning, facilitate download, trial and purchase, and to enable individuals' self-help and making recommendations to others.

  • Such systems can recognize and take advantage of opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell products to individuals, workgroups and businesses, and also act as a lead generation front-end for our sales force and for our partners.

3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that "just work"
The PC has morphed into new form factors and new roles, and we increasingly have more than one in our lives – at work, at home, laptops, tablets, even in the living room. Cell phones have become ubiquitous. There are a myriad of handheld devices. Set-top boxes, PVRs and game consoles are changing what and how we watch television. Photos, music and voice communications are all rapidly going digital and being driven by software. Automobiles are on a path to become smart and connected. The emergence of the digital lifestyle that utilizes all these technologies is changing how we learn, play games, watch TV, communicate with friends and family, listen to music and share memories.

But the power of technology also brings with it a cost. For all the success of individual technologies, the array of technology in a person's life can be daunting. Increasingly, individuals choose products and services that are highly-personalized, focused on the end-to-end experience delivered by that technology. Products must deliver a seamless experience, one in which all the technology in your life 'just works' and can work together, on your behalf, under your control. This means designs centered on an intentional fusion of internet-based services with software, and sometimes even hardware, to deliver meaningful experiences and solutions with a level of seamless design and use that couldn't be achieved without such a holistic approach.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

An hReview with Ning and a wiki

1. Using Ning, a Reviewing application, both tagging and xHtml are highlighted, around the NING platform..............
1. A. There is a browse function: http://rvu.ning.com/threads.php
1. B. They use hReviews and wiki: as the reference base, within the review.............., expanded using MICROFORMATS, and using the WIKI as the reference of how to rate/review on a scale etc...........
2. That example expanded, and you can find it within rReviews, there is an example of subnesting of ratings of a resturant, and the sub-rated "Ambience", Food, Service etc... http://microformats.org/wiki/hreview
Go to the Resturant's section about 1/2 way down and look what plain tagging verses using hReviews, with imbedded and formatted
3. Here is an example around Amazon, using hReview, allowing for alternate designs, but still complying a the hReview standard, meaning to me, that a service or a 3rd party service or application from TN20, could take advantage of and extend these reviews..........

A Potential Opportunity

A Mission

People, and even vendors, recognize that the right recommendation can immensely enhance a services' or products' appeal. A company could provide the most comprehensive tools and services, perfected to an individual's needs to both use, and, even build out rating/recommendation views.

The Challenge:
A company could create a system to actively encourage customers to explore the tools and service for providing them better decision criteria. An essential aspect of the system is the ability to search and browse for advise and recommendations based on a wide variety of often-intangible concepts. Finally, complex search results would need to be presented simply in a visually intuitive user interface.

The Solution
A company could develop a solution that allows users to search and visually build out ratings and recommendations by TOPIC area (buy a mtn bike), by items within a TOPIC area (mtn bike wheels), by published ratings-recommendations; and present them in the user's selected view, or using another view (such as a subject matter experts view on how to buy a mtn bike).

A company could use, leverage and extend a combination of (1) social bookmarking/tagging and (2) hReview, the top, open, rating and recommendation specification agreed to and authored by the leading industry vendors, Yahoo, Google, Amazon, eBay, and Microsoft, to enable and encourage the sharing, distribution, syndication, and aggregation of reviews.

Via tagging, in association with any hReview recommendation/rating content that has either occurred to-date or will in the future, whether captured in the company reposistory or not, the company would enable a person to create a TOPIC, and subsequently generate a taxonomy of related subjects and sub-subjects, in order to yield rich related results.

By displaying search results using a fish-eye display, the interface organizes large numbers of search/TOPIC/Item results into a more intuitive, contextual arrangement. TOPICs are grouped by items/snippets and their sub-subjects allowing users to quickly find ratings/recommendations with the right spin on categories as broad or narrow as they deem appropriate to make a decision.

What this Accomplishes
The solution streamlines the intimidating process of selecting web information via only bookmarks, and not from trusted information. That captured information today has no context of its importance to their decision, nor a way for the user to leverage this existing information, much less any new information from that huge non-manageable database in the sky, called the Internet. Using the rendering solution, customers will be able to continue to capture information in the new "tagging way" they have come to know & love, with tools like "Del.icio.us". The solution will enable them to better display their findings, by taking advantage of a combination of robust integration of existing tools/technologies and providing a user-friendly graphical user interface that encourages exploration and makes it easy for them to assemble the perfect decision………..


In my mind its that simple, provide a new way to render the tagging tangle that is sure to ensue……………..targeted for rating/recommendations, leveraging and extending hReviews/Del.icio.us.

It meets
  • The "cool" / Hook category
  • Appeals to the more technically inclined
  • Demos like crazy
Is simple, and builds out from existing areas being pushed by bigger players. The defacto tagging system, Del.icio.us……he is being funded by the cream of the crop

The defacto rating system, hReview……the vendors will make that happen, and are the cream of the crop…...

Could it use a discovery tool, an organization tool like EverNote, explicit FOAF things like Tribe/MindTrust bring, a trusted e-mail system……….?

You bet, they would help, but are NOT REQUIRED, for a company to do a market entry………..which has scarred / scared me more about what could be done with 4 developers than providing them.


As always, open for thoughts/discussions.

Tagging and Social Bookmarks

Tagging and social bookmarks

I’ve been thinking a lot about categorization, tagging and bookmarks. Everyone seems to have an opinion on why and how social bookmarking will change the browsing experience, and how services like Joshua Schachter’s Del.icio.us have an impact on categorization and taxonomies. There are a lot of projects around this topic, and this post is a dissertation of possibilities.

One word of warning: this is a theoretical and philosophical post - commenting is appreciated - I would definitely like some outside opinions.

The premise

Let’s start with the premise that tagging is a more natural process than categorization. Tagging or labelling an object with keywords that it relates to is innate to the human being and the proof is any person can, given an object, list semantic associations to that item as a single cognitive step.

With categorization though, you are applying a filter to your list of associations in order to come up with the most relevant related category. This second step is what in my opinion gives tagging an advantage - it relieves the user from having to make hard choices about the object. This is why tagging is great: little effort, some redundancy.

Motivations to tag

You could say tagging is really cool. And it is. But there is one aspect to tagging that some people usually don’t think about: the lack of motivation to tag for public consumption. Allow me to explain: when you tag something in del.icio.us, you’re doing it for yourself and not others. In fact, the number of cases on which you would tag for others is extremely limited, because *who cares* about how you tag if they won’t use that information [1]?

People don’t tag what isn’t theirs if they don’t see value in the outcome of the process. They can’t be bothered. They won’t tag something that is volatile either, because the usefulness goes down to almost zero.

Publishers on the other hand, have a reason to tag. Tagging can be a mechanism to find data and by tagging, publishers are giving people other ways to find that data. That’s the motivation. Lets see some examples:

  • I tag my private bookmarks in my own personal system
  • I tag my to organize information like books, movies and notes
  • I tag photos on flickr because people search for them by tags
  • I tag my blog posts so others can find them by subject

Usefulness of services (http://webreakstuff.com/blog/2005/10/tagging-and-social-bookmarks/

There is usefulness in some services out there. I see value in del.icio.us, because people can use the system in several distinct ways both acting as publisher and user. Other services that rely on tags out of novelty are bound to fade out, though. The assumption that tagging is something people will do without getting something in return is wrong.

There are much better ways to use the possibilities that folksonomies offer, other than expecting people to tag anything just because they can - it just doesn’t happen.

Do you tag? How do you tag? Why do you tag? What services do you use that involve the process of tagging? I know my own answers to those questions, I’d like to hear yours too. Leave a comment if you have something to say.

[1]: This lack of motivation for user tagging is what makes me wonder if “social bookmarking” having a future is a product of hype or a solution to a problem. The thing is, if it is an answer to something, what is the question? Why is social bookmarking important? I still haven’t found anyone that has given me a satisfactory answer, and this only increases my disbelief.


9/29/05 Musings

1. This is an extremely good read on what tags, hierarchies, and faceted views are good at, and not. It captures some of my biggest concerns with Tags, as our universal mechanism, strong point.

http://wiki.osafoundation.org/bin/view/Journal/HierarchyVersusFacetsVersusTags

Net, I believe that tags might be good for search/discovery, but not for organization/consolidation, nor sending out for iteration/feedback.

2. However,
I believe we can get through the difficulties of the multi-needs of our solution. I found 25+ specific add-ons to tagging that could directly help where we implement it. I have summarized this