This week the Web development community has been buzzing as details were released about a new widget API called Google OpenSocial. Google officially launched OpenSocial and provided this video to further explain its actions. I have been trying to get my head around what it really means and would like to open it up to my readers for input via a Somewhat Frank poll to get your take on OpenSocial.
Photo of the Week: This is a photo of the sunset I was able to experience while on vacation this past week in Clearwater, Florida.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 10.07.2007
Photo of the Week: Barry Bonds hit home run 755 last night in a game vs. San Diego tying Hank Aaron for most career home runs in Major League history. John Feeley was in attendance and captured history with his zoom lens in this shot (shown above).
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 08.05.07
Twiistup 2: 08.08.07 - Sign Up Today!
Time to for Twiistup 2, you may recall I attended Twiistup 1 on my birthday in Santa Monica, California and had a blast. If you are going to be in Venice, California this coming Wednesday (August 8, 2007) you should stop by Air Conditioned Supper Club and Twiistup too! SIGN UP HERE.
How To Become A Blogger
Stowe Boyd dishes 5 simple steps to becoming a blogger. It is a common question, I am glad he addressed it.
Facebook Meet Netvibes: Netvibes Introduces the Facebook Widget
The new Netvibes Facebook Widget launched to allow users to view their Facebook notifications and friends. You can now access your Facebook info on Netvibes, and keep up to date on what your friends are doing.
Secret New iPhone Features
Walt Mossberg points out how Apple issued its first iPhone update this week. And, while the company billed it as merely a bug-fix and security-improvement patch, in fact it has several small feature improvements that Apple hasn’t announced or documented.
Google Mashup Editor
Read/Write Web got beta access to the new Google Mashup Editor which provides a simple interface that enables developers to make basic web applications and mashups quickly. And again, like Yahoo! Pipes, it is very definitely aimed at developers.
Reconfirmation: Flickr To Add Video
Flickr has been rumored to be adding video since August but it appears that they could do it sooner than later.
Personalize Your Site’s Content With MineKey
MineKey is a startup that makes adding personalization to any website simple through their embeddable widget.
Perform Powerful Searches Visually with SearchCrystal
searchCrystal enables you to perform powerful searches visually. Their wonderful platform makes it possible to explore and filter 50 - 500 web pages, images, videos, blogs in a single display that guides people toward relevant info in a structured way.
What Web Conferences to Attend
I wrote up a pretty extensive list of conferences worth looking into back in January. Of course a few other conferences have popped up over the last few months. Read/Write Web weighs in on the conferences to check out.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 07.08.07
Facebook Sees Flood of New Traffic from Teenagers and Adults
In the months prior to allowing open registration, Facebook.com’s traffic hovered at approximately 14 million visitors per month. However, after Facebook opened its doors to the general public, visitation accelerated to reach a level of 26.6 million visitors.
Your Content is About to Be Worth $4.3B
MediaWeek reports that advertising on social networks, blogs and other venues where consumers produce content is about to become a much bigger business than it is now. It's on pace to be a billion-dollar business this year. However, by 2011 it will grow to $4.3B.
Twitter v Pownce: It’s The API, Stupid
Nik Cubrilovic compares Twitter to Pownce and believes that there are two key things that Twitter has done well that Pownce has overlooked completely.
TechCrunch quietly rolls out a web 2.0 directory of companies and services.
MyBlogLog: DNS for People
Ian Kennedy explains MyBlogLog's strategy. They want to build a platform which allows you to get to know someone through what they produce and share, collectively, across all networks and the internet.
Podcasting Toolbox: 70+ Podcasting Tools and Resources
A great list of podcasting resources aggregated by Mashable.
'Hyper-Local' Site Backfence Shutting Down
Backfence emerged about the same time, a couple of years ago, as InsiderPages, Judy's Book and Yelp. Now it appears to be closing its doors.
Classified Info: Craigslist Alternatives Compared
The online classified sites compared.
Sphere Quietly Nailing Its Business Model
Instead of focusing on building a better blog search engine (an area that Google now dominates after a recent Technorati refocus), Sphere has spent its time developing technology that automatically finds blog posts related to whatever a user is looking at
Netvibes, now with one less CEO
GigaOm reports on some changes at Netvibes which includes the departure of Pierre Chappaz. Chappaz is leaving Netvibes and instead will be focusing on Wikio, his personalized blog and news search service that is now said to have two million unique visitors a month.
Photo of the Week: I snapped this photo of the West Wing while celebrating Earth Day 2007 on the White House grounds.
Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240 Million
All of those great charts that Hitwise so freely provide us, have paid off big time for the web intelligence company. Information services provider Experian has announced their cash purchase of Hitwise for $240 million.
Netvibes Launches Universe: Customized Public Pages
Netvibes launched Universe, allowing users to create highly customized versions of Netvibes and publish them for public access. Netvibes has created 100 or so branded versions for the launch - users will be able to create these soon. Netvibes hosted a huge launch party this past Monday in San Francisco.
AOL Launching Next Week In India
AOL President and COO Ron Grant is going to be in India next week for the launch of AOL’s India portal.
Google Feed API
Google Reader finally has its first official API. Any developer in the world can request the entire history of a web feed from Google's geo-distributed server cloud in a normalized response for inclusion in their websites or products.
Web 2.0 takes On Colleges And Universities: Education 2.0
In the shift from an intellectual economy of push, to one of pull, the evolving participatory media are making their impact felt . It is no longer enough to pump out information like gasoline and expect authentic learning to take place - the new generation.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 04.15.07
The Web 2.0 Expo Is Upon Us
I just arrived in San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo. It should be an exciting week of sessions, demos and launch parties in the city by the bay. If you are in town and want to meetup tonight (Sunday) check out this little meetup but keep in mind, this is NOT a TECH cocktail event like the one we just hosted in Chicago - it is just a meetup in SF.
Makes sense as Google is truly an advertising company. Google announced that they have agreed to acquired DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in cash. Microsoft was reportedly in a bidding war with Google for the company. That is a lot of cash. Rumor has it they are buying the Internet just after the 2016 Chicago Olympics. :-)
Birth of the Social
Social Networks, Blogs and Startpages have long been treated as separate categories of web-based applications. According to Widgify, it is about to change.
Most Successful Web 2.0 Startups To Date
Rev2.org lists its take on the most successful web 2.0 startups. With FeedBurner’s domination of the feed management space I would probably add them to this list. But you probably know already I am a FeedBurner fan.
RSS 2.0 spec site deployed
Dave Winer has been working on a project to "future-safe" the Harvard site that houses the RSS 2.0 spec. Yesterday, he redirected from the old site to the new one. Congrats Dave on the new site!
for People Across the Social Network Sites
yoName is a search engine that allows you to search friends (not just) on these 6 big networks.
GigaPapi GigaOm is at it again as he has launched
FoundRead, a shared resource, where anyone can contribute, either through their
posts, or experiences or comments. You can choose to contribute freely or
anonymously. Great idea Om, congrats on the launch.
Startup Checklist: Spam A Lot?
An interesting chart of Valleywag (masters of the pie charts, graphs, slides, etc.) highlighting some of the most promising startups.
Photo of the Week: The trees are blooming faster than web 2.0 startups these days. I snapped this photo, titled Flowering with my camera phone, while at the AOL Mountain View, California office this past week.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 03.25.07
Under the Radar Office 2.0 Winners
I had a chance to drop into the Under the Radar Office 2.0 event at Microsoft's Mountain View, California office on Friday (March 23, 2007) that showcased a number of startups in various business related software categories. This article announces the top picks in each category.
SplashCast: Channel Yourself Across the Web
SplashCast, my favorite video player widget, has made some changes which make it easier to place videos to be syndicated via RSS, in an embedded player and a number of others.
How To Market Your Web App
Read/Write Web examines the horrible peak-then-slump scenario the is common in the web 2.0 era and often happens after Digg, TechCrunch, Read/Write Web, Somewhat Frank or other popular blogs spotlight a site.
Newspapers are dead...
Robert Scoble explains why newspapers are dead. I don't feel that newspapers are totally dead, as The Washington Post and a few other newspaper-based companies have been quick to adapt to the changes in the media landscape. However, the rest of pack had better realize that they need to change NOW.
Welcome To TechCrunch, Heather
TechCrunch and the Crunch Network has hired its first CEO by luring Heather Harde away from Fox Interactive Media to join the team. I had a chance to hang out with Mike Arrington this past week and he was pretty happy to have Heather on board.
SideStep and EveryClick Team Travel Searches, Charity Donations
SideStep.com just announced a partnership with EveryClick.com, a UK based search engine with social responsibility, giving 50% of gross revenues to charities. It reminds me of GoodSearch - BRAVO!
Netvibes Launches New Version
Netvibes, the personalized homepage product, officially released its new version called the "Coriander Edition".
Looking back at three years of Web 2.0 investing
Jeff Clavier, an established entrepreneur, offers up a glance of his impressive portfolio publicly for the first time. Thanks Jeff!
RSS on the Go: A look at Web-Based Mobile Aggregators
Want to read your feeds on the go? There are a few choices for those of us who want the same feeds accessible in both big and small formats at the same time, without requiring the download of a dedicated application on any platform. AOL also offers a mobile feed reader that was not mentioned but is an easy way to check some feeds on the go as well.
Weaving The Web To Your Taste
Hossein Eslambolchi's service will scour the web for the media you want and feeds you recommended items.
Basecamp, activeCollab, and Goplan compared
With the mention of the Goplan launch last week, I think it is appropriate to now point out this solid comparison of its competitors.
Fresh Reader - Pushing the Feed
Profy reports on a new RSS feed reader called Fresh Reader a Web based, server type RSS feed reader that runs exceptionally fast. Fresh Reader is designed for either personal or corporate use, and allows for social bookmarking, mobile support, Intranet use and many other features.
Top 40+ FeedBurner sites aggregated
Frantic Industries has manually aggregated a list of the top 40-plus sites based on FeedBurner subscriber metrics.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 02.25.07
Hollywood Disrupted By Social Media?
An opinion piece in the LA Times, titled “The Movie Magic is Gone”, explains how Hollywood is losing its place as the epicenter of cultural products and how movies are losing their relevance as the "barometers of the American psyche". Personally, social media has definitely pulled me away from more and more television and movies the last couple of years.
BitTorrent.com Launches Video Store
BitTorrent Inc, the popular peer-to-peer file sharing software, has released the final details of their long awaited video store. The store itself will go live this Monday, and will offer movie rentals at $2.99 - $3.99, and “download to own” TV shows.
It’s G-Day: Google Launches Apps Premier
Google has Microsoft squarely in its cross-hairs as it launched Google Apps Premier, its subscription package of premium, hosted business applications in direct competition with Microsoft. It does not surprise me. Interestingly, this past week I also heard a radio advertisement for "Breakfast with Google," an event setup to showcase Google @ Work for government organizations.
How Many Founders Does A Startup Need?
Brad Feld looked at number of founders in successful Internet businesses. The average is 2.09 founders and Brad discusses this number and gives his input.
Netvibes2Go, Pretty Good Actually
GigaOm takes a look at Netvibes mobile experience and reports back on it. Basically, Netvibes setup is easy: create a tab in Netvibes called “Mobile,” and drop in some of these modules.
The State of the Web-based RSS Reader Market
FeedBurner released a great look into the feed market and Read/Write Web took it a step-further by examining the web-based feed reader market. The article also pulls in some numbers from another feed-based business called Pheedo.
Yourminis, a Flash-based personalized dashboard of widgets created by Mark Cuban-backed Goowy Media, has been making some aggressive changes since its launch late in 2006. Yourminis offers users one of the most customizable homepage experiences I have seen to date as it leverages Flash to present desktop-like features on the web.
Yourminis, nominated for the 'Best New Site' award at the upcoming SXSW Interactive conference, recently made some changes to focus more on the social aspects of the web by reconfiguring the URL for the personalized homepage from Yourminis.com to Yourminis.com/start. The former URL has been replaced with an html-based “community landing page” which highlights Yourminis’ personalized homepage, desktop widgets, featured pages, widgets and users. The “community landing page” enables users to interact with the widgets as well as with other Yourminis users, thus emphasizing the social aspects of the product. Users can create tabs and share tabs with the rest of the community and I quickly created a tab made up of few Somewhat Frank related items - it can be seen here. Another user configured tab that I am particularly fond of is the Chicago Cubs tab shown below (Go Cubs!).
Of the comparable personalized homepage startups like Netvibes and Pageflakes among others in the space, Yourminis offers the most whiz-bang experience with a number of slick widgets. However, Yourminis could be criticized for being too overwhelming, with its flair and countless configurations, to a first time user. Yourminis’ recent change to a “community landing page” for a first time experience might help to assist overwhelmed users, however it also puts users a click further away from adopting the personalized homepage.
Aesthetic shimmer aside, performance and accessibility are still important aspects of a personalized homepage. With Yourminis I have encountered a couple of hiccups in respect to both as I have had to re-save changes upon returning to see them reverted, and I also have tried to access Yourminis from a public computer and found it inaccessible due to the absence of a Flash browser plug-in. That aside I still find Yourminis a compelling dashboard experience.
Bottom-line: Yourminis offers a Flash-based personalized homepage experience that might be your cup of tea if you are looking for a flashy approach.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 02.11.07
The Wizards of Buzz
The Wall Street Journal took an in-depth look at some of the social bookmarking sites that help others to discover the hottest content on the web. These sites include Digg.com, Netscape, Reddit, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon and Newsvine – all of which empower users to submit content items from around the web. Items are rated and promoted via voting or other mechanisms within the site.The most popular or highest rated items bubble to the top and usually become even more popular as traffic surges towards sources of these hot content items. These social bookmarking sites are managed by a number of users but there are some key influencers that do the most consistent heavy lifting. WSJ put out a podcast to go along with the article and it can be downloaded here.
Netvibes module developer collects web creds, personal content
Niall Kennedy highlights how Netvibes, the personal homepage startup, recently experienced some serious security issues. Netvibes was recently praised by Wall Street Journal reporter Walt Mossberg, but it appears its open-source approach to development has left its users at the mercy of rogue developers. What does this mean? Basically, it means a rogue module developer could take advantage of Netvibes’ users to steal personal information like emails, bank information and just about anything else personal you might find in a homepage module. This is unfortunate for Netvibes as most of its quick growth and development is due to its developer network. I guess Netvibes will have to rethink its security and privacy approach if it or risk losing the trust of its users.
Wall Street Journal IM Ratings: AIM Is #1
What instant messaging product do you use? If its not AOL’s AIM 6.0 you may want to reconsider your choice as an article published this week in the WSJ titled "Rating the New Instant-Messaging Programs" compared AIM 6.0, Yahoo! Messenger 8.1, and Windows Live Messenger 8.1. AIM 6.0 was rated #1.
A Lesson in Viral Video
Inside Higher Education details the events surrounding the Web 2.0 video created by Michael Wusch which Somewhat Frank helped surface in the blogosphere. The article further emphasizes the viral power of the web and the influences of the blogosphere.
The popular and slick web 2.0 directory created by Orli Yakuel has been revamped and relaunched with a number of improvements which should make the faster and easier to use. It should also offer more information for users. Included in the changes is the creation of a few innovative advertising options.
RocketDock: Add A Mac-like Dock To Your PC
If you are a Mac-lover stuck in a PC-user’s body then you might want give RocketDock a try. Lifehacker recently showcased it as a download of the day so I gave it a try. Upon installing the application created by Punk Software it instantly fulfilled my longing for a Mac-like dock for managing my desktop. Here is an instructional video which details the various configuration options of this nifty little add-on. Oh and buy some schwag or donate to support their development efforts.
31 Places to Monitor Your Reputation Online
If you are into tracking what people might be saying about you online you might want make sure you are checking a bunch of online sources. This article lists 31 places to keep your online reputation in check.
23 Signs That You're Becoming a Design Geek
While developing products I often find myself thinking I am a designer and I know I am not alone. I am admittedly not even close to the skill level of a full-fledged UI designer (like the designers I work with at AOL – they rock!). Nonetheless, this article will give you 23 design geek signs.
Announcing: The Compete Attention 200™
Compete recently posted a list of the top 200 online destinations based on their metrics tracking systems. Surprisingly, Somewhat Frank did not make the Attention 200 – this has to be some sort of mistake. :-)
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 02.04.07
First things first, today is Super Bowl XLI and I am from Chicago which means I will be rooting on the Bears today. The photo above shows the Merchandise Mart in Chicago supporting the team by shining the team's orange and blue colors. Go Bears!
Desktop Modules Help To Personalize Data, Cut Through Clutter
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal dissects the various personalized start page options. He is a Netvibes user but critiques all the other options as well and even hints at a new version of My Yahoo coming soon.
Desktop Widgets 101
Mike Arrington takes a moment to point out the differences between desktop and web widgets. Widgets are sexy in 2007 and so I would highly recommend you know what they are.
The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2007
Harvard Business Review's annual survey of emerging ideas considers how nanotechnology will affect commerce, what role hope plays in leadership, and why, in an age that practically enshrines accountability, we need to beware of “accountabalism.”
del.icio.us: overdue new year's resolutions
del.icio.us, the social bookmarking site, has grown to 1.5 million users. This article hints at upcoming integration with Yahoo, its parent company, and user interface updates.
Is Google building the Attention Economy?
Vecosys expresses view on the attention movement and explains Google's recent launch of new products (i.e. Google Reader Trends and Google Bookmark and Search History) that have been leveraging and surfacing attention data.
Mainstream Media Usage of Web 2.0 Services is Increasing
Has mainstream media recognized 'web 2.0'? This article by Read/Write Web takes a closer look at mainstream media adoption of 'web 2.0.'
News Search + Personalization + Social Media = Wikio
Wikio blends news search and personalization in a Digg-like layout. It also offers search and customization options to make it easy to get to items you might like.
Launching a product with the "beta" tag is the way of web 2.0, but the "beta" tag is not meant to be ever-present. I expect that eventually the ever-present "beta" will not be
legally acceptable. In the meantime, Museum of Modern Betas recently polled its readers on the best beta's of 2006.
I interpreted it as the best betas launched in 2006, though I have to admit, it is difficult to recall when products actually launched as opposed to when they became popular. After revising my list to remove a few products that launched in late 2005, I selected:
Readers of Museum of Modern Betas encountered the same issue and so the poll results were weighted by year with older betas receiving less points per vote. According to the MoMB poll results the Betas of the Year 2006 are:
What are your favorite beta products that launched in 2006?
What are your favorite beta products around in 2006?
It has been a great 2006, as Somewhat Frank has offered up over 400 articles which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on some of the best of 2006 as we look forward to 2007. Here are some of the most popular articles:
Most of the traffic to Somewhat Frank came from:
The top web 2.0 keywords which brought visitors to Somewhat Frank were:
Some of the top overall keywords that brought visitors to Somewhat Frank were:
Finally, let's take a snapshot look at where Somewhat Frank readers came from (click the map to see a larger view):
Alas, Somewhat Frank is a global destination. Thank you all for reading and interacting with Somewhat Frank in 2006 and be sure to tune in for more in 2007.
Happy New Year from Somewhat Frank!
Widgets have become a hot topic in the web community lately as a large number of sites are allowing users to personalize their experience. The term widget can be used interchangeably with gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake but for the sake of simplicity I will use the term widget in this article to cover all of these terms.
What is a widget?
As the web has become widget happy with community development projects popping up everywhere, I think it is safe to assume that the general public does not even know what a widget is. Rachel Cunliffe, cre8d web designer, recently asked this very question as she encountered an advertisement which pointed her to a widget. A widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate html-based web page. A widget can be created for just about every site or service possible thus allowing users to pull it into personalized homepages (Netvibes, Spotback and Pageflakes), blogs (WordPress and Typepad) or other social website pages (AIM Pages, TagWorld and MySpace).
Why all the buzz about widgets?
Widgets are a great way for a site or service to creatively offer products, services or news without having to visit the actual site. Similar to feeds and syndication, widgets can save a user time by making everything they care about on the web easily accessible in one place. Widgets can also leverage syndication in unique ways. The idea really rings clear on a personalized homepage which allow users to aggregate and create their own configuration of widgets. In a recent TechCrunch article Mike Arrington explained the value in a widget-driven personal homepage, Netvibes, as it positions all your favorites in front of you in at one time in saying:
“Like Google search, the best thing about Netvibes is that it has no problem with me quickly leaving the site to take care of other business. And that’s why it’s earned my loyalty as a user.”
Ease of use and the ability to see all or items in one page (via widgets) makes them a key component in the personalization process.
It is unclear exactly who was the first to create a widget. History seems to believe the word "widget" is derived from the combination of "window" and "gadget." A number of widget projects have risen up to help further along the widget movement. Konfabulator was swept up by Yahoo and leveraged to launch Yahoo Widgets to place widgets in front of a mainstream audience. Dashboard, an Apple project, was created to place widgets on the Mac OS X desktop. Opera web browser offers desktop widgets. Google Gadgets launched yesterday (October 3, 2006) to unleash 1200 new widgets which can be used on any web page. Microsoft also offers Gadgets for Windows Live. IAmAlpha.com is an AOL widget initative for AIM Pages which launched with a makeover in May 2006.
A number of widget marketplaces that have also popped up. Widgetbox, a the online widget marketplace, looks to widgetize the web by offering a number of different widget options. Widgipedia, a free widget community deems itself the ultimate cross-platform resource for both users and developers of widgets and gadgets. The Spring Box, offers a platform to create widgets on for both the desktop and the web and Clearspring, currently in private beta, also appears to be a widget platform looking to widgetize the web.
Bottom-line: Widgets are the wave of the future of the web as our attention continues to be overloaded with too much information. With widgets, users are able to customize a page to be able to get their sites and services in personalized homepages. An open standard development infrastructure which would allow a single widget to be plugged into any application and work properly seems to be something the widget movement is currently lacking – it may be a pipe-dream but I think it is worth wishing for.