Archive for December, 2006

What To Look For In 2007?

Friday, December 29th, 2006

As the new year approaches, the blogosphere and tech world has entered a lull over the past week. I expect that next week will bring about exciting launches and interesting news, especially with CES only a week away.

From a more general perspective, what am I predicting for 2007?

  • Expanded use of wikis and user-collaboration tools to increase productivity.
  • Niche social networks continue to pop up and attract small, but loyal followings.
  • Vertical search engines prosper.
  • VOIP becomes the standard for landlines.
  • Proliferation of blogs throughout corporate landscape, as more organizations embrace this new form of media.
  • RSS becomes ‘more’ mainstream, not widespread just yet.
  • New ad medium to potentially thwart the overrated/click-fraud burdened Google AdWords system?
  • More widget-ized services for maximum exposure and distribution.
  • Google web browser?

Sounds good? Or not? Let me know your thoughts…

Ode to Web 2.0

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

 

Twas’ the days after Christmas,

And all through the house,

Not a peripheral plugged in,

Well maybe a mouse.

 

I checked out the headlines,

On Reddit and Digg,

Downed more rum and egg nog,

And ate like a pig.

 

I called a few friends,

Cheaply using Skype,

Scorned at ‘web 3.0’,

Ignoring the hype.

 

I laughed at some vids,

on YouTube and Revver,

Signed up at PayPerPost,

Not once, no way, never.

 

Expanding my knowledge,

I read at Wikipedia,

Then check out travel deals,

At LastMinute and Expedia.

 

I log in to post,

Using this tool WordPress,

My Feedburner stats,

Are anyone’s guess.

 

I read some new feeds,

As I’m in Bloglines,

And check out my visitors,

On MyBlogLog some time.

 

Then hit up Technorati,

And Craigslist and Flickr,

As I scurry the new web,

Firefox is much quicker.

 

My poetry skills,

Are useless at best,

I hope you enjoyed this,

And forever God bless.

 

PS. I know the syllable counts don’t match. I just figured a fun, casual poem might bring about some Christmas cheer.

The End of Google?

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

Wikipedia logoNope. Not yet at least.

But Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, founder of Wikipedia, thinks he has the Google killer. Wales is set to launch a rival search engine at some point in early 2007. The project is code-named Wikiasari – with ‘wiki’ meaning “quick” in Hawaiian and ‘asari’ meaning “rummaging search” in Japanese.

Wales believes that there is a fundamental problem with an algorithmic search. His belief is that people are more effective than machines. Therefore, an editorial-based search engine will churn out better results than one based on a complicated algorithm. 

Wink and Jookster have ventured along this route with some level of success, but nothing to write home about. Digg can also be considered a contender in this space to some extent. Obviously, the latter of the three has had the most success, but it is not exactly a search engine. In addition, it is all tailored around news, which is simply a vertical on most engines.

The revenue model is nothing revolutionary – an ad model. Who would have thought?

Obviously, the biggest challenge will be to garner as much high-quality editor support as possible. Although this does seem like a huge obstacle, I feel that some of the Wikipedia following will latch on to this new idea and continue to participate. Furthermore, the credibility of Wales itself will no doubt attract new editors and contributors. A loyal user base will make or break this venture.

Similar to The Venice Project, this initiative will foster huge PR and buzz. The previous (and present) success of Wikipedia has led to high expectations for Wikiasari. But as many successful entrepreneurs have to come to realize, one previous success does not guarantee another.

Initially, when news came to light about the story, a possible Amazon partnership was mentioned. Since then, Jimmy Wales has confirmed that that is not at all the case.

I think that this project has huge potential. I am a big fan of Wikipedia and the efforts of Jimmy Wales. In fact, I hope to meet the man one day. But that’s beside the point.

Two years ago, I don’t think such a vision would materialize into an actual search engine, as people had no confidence in a user-edited and -contributed website. But Wikipedia has proven out the model, which now paves the way for its successor.

The search engine war will be a race against time. The pure magnitude of this project make take a considerable amount of time before results become overly relevant. By that time, who knows what else will be on the market or if any other competitor will enter the game.

Let the wiki fever continue…

UPDATE: The TechCrunch story and screenshot were confirmed as being false.

The Best Design? Ugly Design…

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

What design elements do I hate most on websites? Flash intros, heavy graphics, scrolling text, tiled backgrounds, centered alignment, and the list goes on. Nowadays, so many websites ‘overdo’ the experience and clutter the page in an attempt to captivate the user. In many cases, this approach is counter-productive. The user suffers from a bad experience, exits the site, and never returns. Time to rethink the strategy.

A new form of design, ugly design, is becoming a mainstream technique. What is ugly design? It’s a website that isn’t overly attractive or appealing to the eye, but serves a very useful purpose and is easy to navigate.

The following is a list of companies that are considered to use ‘ugly design’:

  • Craigslist
  • Wikipedia
  • Google
  • PlentyOfFish
  • MySpace

Sites that make use of ugly design are also usually quick-to-load, uncluttered, low on fancy fonts and colours, and optimized for search engine crawling. The URL structure tends to be simple in many cases as well.

I think that this tactic in itself can be considered a marketing strategy, as well as a competitive advantage – although I’m sure many would disagree with me.

Back in the late 80’s, Tim Berners-Lee‘s had a vision. It was called the semantic web – a landscape full of links. This vision came to be known as the World Wide Web. However, at some point between then and now, the web became disorderly with graphics and cluttered design.

But now we’re seeing a resurgence of the old. Ugly design is what the web was meant to be. I guess that’s why it’s so useful and  effective. It just makes sense… and works.

Inside The Venice Project – Screenshots Included

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

The Venice Project logoTalk about ironic. I first mentioned The Venice Project this morning. No sooner did I post the story did Om Malik post an EXCLUSIVE with the stealth start-up, screenshots included. Let the PR onslaught begin…

Internet start-up rock star Niklas Zennstrom and partner Janus Friis aim to disrupt the current television industry with this new venture. Details are finally being released.

Here is a quick rundown courtesy of GigaOM:

Venice Project screenshot 1Upon log-in into the system, users are directed to a download page. Only Windows XP is currently supported. Dowload and installation are apparently very quick and easy. After opening the desktop application, users are pointed to a start screen that contains default channel options and staff picks, among other things.

The image quality, says Om, appears to be very crisp and clear. Streaming was smooth with very little hiccups. Only default content delivered from the Venice servers was available – no live broadcasts just yet. Some of the video footage contained ads, much like those presented on traditional TV.

Some lag did manifest when switching channels and navigating menu choices, but expect those to be cleared up. Channel set-up and removal were easy. Program navigation was clear and intuitive. Functionally, a plug-in section will provide the ability to create valuable add-ons to expand the feature set. Currently, a lone chat plug-in facilitates discussion between friends. Chat can also be program or channel specific.

The challenge in gaining massive distribution and acquiring a huge user base will be to aggregate high-quality content.

For more screenshots, click here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Once again, thanks to Om Malik for the exclusive and screenshots.