Archive for the ‘networks’ Category

Google Search? Google Results.

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Google logoUnless you live under a rock, you are aware that Google launched “Knol” late last week. Immediate comparisons are being made to Wikipedia and Mahalo. However, a more accurate comparison can be made to Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger’s latest project, Citizendium, which focuses exclusively on the submissions of industry experts.

I’m not going to go into detail about the general concept (you can read this Mashable review if you’d like). Rather, I’d like to focus on the advantages and disadvantages of Knol. 

First off, the most apparent benefit of such system is the idea of a single, expert voice. This (in most cases) ensures that the article is not only credible, but also properly structured. Secondly, there is motivation for the publisher, both in terms of notoriety and monetary compensation. Lastly, community features, such as reviews, comments, and publisher profiles add credibility, authority, and validation to the entire system.

From a negative perspective, Knol articles are only presented from the point-of-view of one author. This means that bias and opinion are highly likely. Furthermore, there may also be conflicting information on a given topic from editor to editor. Finally, it may take extra time for a viewer to sort through all the articles on a given topic to locate the necessary information needed. 

Most important of all, Google results will start to appear in Google searches. This creates a huge conflict of interest, as well as head-to-head competition with SEO-dominant properties (i.e. Wikipedia,, etc…). A little algorithm tweak here, a little tweak there… next thing you know, Knol pages are dominating the first page results. Now, I’m not saying this is going to happen, but it does pose a very lucrative opportunity for Google. If Knol pages are able to rank higher than Wikipedia pages, Google’s ad revenues will skyrocket. Nevertheless, I’m sure many will be keeping a very close watch on the entry of Knol pages into the search results…

For those interested, here is a screenshot courtesy of the official Google blog: Google Knol screenshot.

Web 2.0 Critics Are Partially Right

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

The blogosphere seems to have a distinct hatred for web 2.0 critics. These “anti-social media” crusaders, most notably Andrew Keen and Nicholas Carr, have a tendency to openly express their distaste for web 2.0. The naive and uninformed are quick to discredit their opinions and theories. However, the educated take an extra second to ponder their hypotheses with interest and intrigue… 

Let’s face it. Web 2.0 is an echo-chamber. You can use any cliche you’d like to describe it. “Drinking the Kool-Aid” and “preaching the choir” come to mind. At the end of the day, this group of idealistic web enthusiasts is often oblivious and ignorant to the downfalls of web 2.0.

The most commonly cited argument against web 2.0 is the notion of “mediocrity of the amateur”. This notion states that a small number of unique, knowledgeable voices is more powerful than a group of semi-knowledgeable, amateur voices. The most obvious example of this is the perpetual ‘encyclopedia vs. Wikipedia‘ debate.

The concept is more clearly defined in a popular Nicholas Carr post entitled, “The amorality of Web 2.0″. In his essay, Carr clearly outlines his arguments and criticisms of web 2.0. Some are hard to justify, while others are hard to accept. My favourite quote from the post, and one that has stuck with me, is the following:

“… free trumps quality all the time.”

It rings true all over the web. Nobody is willing to pay for anything anymore if there is a somewhat comparable offering available. As noted, this still stands true even if the substitute is of lesser quality. Cost will always edge out quality, especially on the web.

Now, I’m not siding with either party. I’d like to think of myself as an advocate of web 2.0, who is aware of its limitations and potential faults. Lack of an open mind is not only short-sighted, but may also be costly in the business world. I’m not stating that everyone should revolt against web 2.0. Rather, I’m saying that we should all be willing to take a step back and see things from an opposing perspective.

The Evolution of LinkedIn

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

LinkedIn logoAs announced earlier this week, LinkedIn is getting a facelift. The plastic surgeons, otherwise known as web developers, are reshaping the experience in an attempt to create a more ’sticky’ experience. The business social network believes that user engagement and attention need improvement. Therefore, the new launch is focused on creating that ’sticky’ experience that will have users returning on a more regular basis.

As expected (by me at least), the changes look like they drew inspiration from Facebook. Most notably, a ‘news feed’-like feature highlights the home page. Emphasis is also being placed on internal messaging. This function has been given the most prominence on the home page.

Here is a link to a screenshot (courtesy of TechCrunch): New LinkedIn home page screenshot. At present, the new changes are in BETA… of course.

On a side note, the company is looking to launch an API in the very near future as well. Stay tuned for that…

My guess is that LinkedIn was stuck in a conundrum. Like Facebook, LinkedIn placed tight controls on the system. A lack of customization ensured that the network didn’t end up looking like MySpace. However, the company is beginning to loosen their stance on this issue for obvious reasons. First and foremost, Facebook proved that it can be done in an elegant, yet functional manner. So why mess with something that works?

Let’s pull back for a second here. There is an important, recurring trend that I’d like to highlight:

Everything in the social network space seems to be moving in the direction of Facebook. After all, Facebook arguably pioneered two of the biggest advancements in social networking history - the news feed and the platform. These paved the way for huge progress in the industry. Consequently, rivals followed suit. Now they are playing catch-up…

Now, I’m not a LinkedIn power user. Don’t get me wrong - I think it’s a great service that has a lot to offer. But it’s all about connections and contacts. Almost all of my colleagues (and friends) use Facebook. Not only that, but I also find it much more productive and less confusing than LinkedIn.

For further analysis, be sure to read posts from my fellow Canadian tech bloggers Mark Evans and Mathew Ingram.

In addition, for those interested, I wrote an article a couple months back begging the question, “Is Facebook the new LinkedIn?” Feel free to give it a read.

How YouTube Has Harnessed The Network Effect

Monday, December 10th, 2007

YouTube logo

Initially, it may not seem apparent how YouTube could harness the Network Effect. But upon further inspection, it becomes quite clear. The basic premise is this: I know that no matter what video I’m looking for, YouTube will have it 99.99% of the time. In other words:

“With every user added and video uploaded, the whole network becomes more valuable to all.”

It will be extremely hard for any other video sharing site(s) to play catch-up at this point. YouTube is just so far ahead. The amount of content almost seems insurmountable. Much in the same as eBay, as YouTube grows, the whole network becomes more powerful.

I believe this to be the biggest reason why YouTube has become the leading video sharing site on the net and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate.

Disappointment in Big Blogs

Friday, December 7th, 2007

BlogsI’ve been extremely disappointed with some of the big blogs recently. Their lack of interesting content and regurgitated material is uninspiring to say the least. I’m not going to name any blogs in particular, but you can come to your own conclusions.

My biggest concern revolves around blog owners, formerly known as the original blog publishers. I say this because most have given up writing (to some extent) to focus on management. These big blogs usually employ several full-time writers, as well as an assortment of part-time and guest publishers. Add to that the fact that ad sales and management take up a considerable chunk of time. This leaves little, if any, time for writing.

Another criticism I have for many big blogs is their habit of going off topic. Instead of focusing on the content that formed the basis for the blog, the author(s) choose to venture in a new direction - one that is often focused on gaining new readers rather than saitsfying the current ones.

Generally, it just seems that the priority has shifted from the content to the marketing and business processes. I’m not saying this is true for all big blogs, but it is definitely apparent on a couple.

All the above issues point to one thing: many big blogs are beginning to look like magazines or newspapers. Wait… Weren’t blogs supposed to be the medium that destroys these traditional media outlets? Yes, but it seems this argument has turned full circle. With less opinion and more conservatives views, these blogs are toning down the content in an attempt to appeal to a larger market. It also seems like they are trying to churn out quantity rather than quality. This may come back to bite them in end.

What is your take on this matter? Do you think that some big blogs are “selling out”?