A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged web 2.0

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Flickr is a decade old:

Together we have defined online photo sharing. Currently, there are nearly 2 million groups sharing 1 million photos every day. We were the first significant online community where you could store, organize, tag, and share digital photos. Before Flickr, there was no widespread way to share your photos with friends, family and the wider public.

It’s easy to forget that Flickr was one of the early pioneers of embedding – long before YouTube came along – and that many of the photos in the early years of this blog were Flickr embeds, to protect limited storage space and bandwidth on my server back then. Flickr introduced many of us to the power of metadata, as it made it so easy to lag, and then geotag photos.

It’s certainly lost its way since then, it was far too slow to the mobile world, and is, in many ways, a shadow of its former self. Yet, I still search it regulalrly for Creative Commons images to use in my work, and am always suprised by the work I find in there. I suspect if I took just a little time to reinvestiagte it, I’d find a lot of life in the service. Maybe the anniversary will spur me to do so. 

As far as I can see, this is the first photo I uploaded to Flickr (after my profile pic):

That wasn’t until August, though, so I don’t know if I was just unaware of Flickr, or if there was some reason it was hard to get an account in the early days. Either way, the evidence on this blog is that I didn’t join until mid-August

Still, more of my photography has been seen on Flickr than anywhere else. I’ve had 1,002,974 views in the life of my account. That’s not anything to be sneezed at. I doubt all my physical photos have had more than a tiny fraction of that number of views in aggregate. This, rather bizarrely, is the most viewed photo, at 16,731 views:

It’s one of a series of photos I shot on the day of the London bombings – which collectively make up most of my top 10 viewed photos.

Flickr really made photo-sharing viable for a mass of people, and has opened up more artistic work to more people than we give it credit for.

Flickr is still there, and still growing. It hasn’t been “sunsetted” by Yahoo. Given how many other services from those days – and the days afterwards – are now gone, that’s still quite an achievement. 

Long live Flickr. 

Liveblog of Aral’s talk at Hacks/Hackers Brighton:

Aral Balkan

He’s going to talk to us about identity and privacy. He’s an experience designer. He makes things for people – mainly virtual products, his focus is on the human side of things.
Aral BalaknIf you could send free letters to everyone you like for free, would you sign up? Yup, say the audience. OK – but what if that service could read everything you said? Only two people went for that. How many are on Gmail? Way more. But that’s exactly what Gmail does – reads the e-mails to show you advertising. They have to examine you, build a profile of you. Whatever they do: a phone, a tablet, a computer – they want you do given them your data. That’s what their business is built on. Imagine if that were the case with the telephone. 

It all began with Web 2.0, amongst the starburst and rounded corners, with free web apps. The steps of creating a free web app:

  1. Get loads and loads of users. Go to venture capitalists and get them to lend you money based on your users
  2. ?????
  3. Profit

It’s the second step where you get screwed. The VCs want money, and you have no business plan. So you go for advertising, and optimise your sites for advertisers not users. Free… is a lie. The cost is your personal information, your privacy. 

The Kindle Fire compresses your web browsing and squirts it down the internet to you. Great, right? Well, they know exactly what you’re browsing and buying. They know every site you go to. Any government would give their right arm to get the information you give for free to Facebook. Facebook is a prime example. Their shares have collapsed to $18 since their launch. But they do have $6bn cash in the bank, so they’re doing not that great.

Twitter? It used to look far more simple than it does now. It was a friendly place – he had warm feelings towards it in the early days. They had a lot of problems scaling it. The early adopters built a lot of the conventions – @ replies, retweets. Twitter paved the cow paths – the places people have already been. Hashtags were the same. What Twitter has was an API – a means of getting just the data out of the system. That allowed people to build their own clients. Tweetie was one of the best iPhone and Mac clients using the API. Tweetdeck was one of the most widely used. 

The developers built a lot of the platform, the infrastructure and the culture. Things wents south in 2010, when Twitter built Tweetie. For the first time their was an official Twitter client. They they bought Tweetdeck… The in March 2011, they published a blog post telling people not to build client apps. “Explore other verticals” – a suit phrase. On June 29 2012, they followed it up with a post that started implementing limits that make it very difficult to have a successful Twitter client. The reaction of the developer community was negative and shocked – because they loved Twitter. 

Like Flipboard? It could die under the new rules. Twitter wants a Tweet to look the same everywhere. Flipboard contravene this. The CEO of Flipboard quit Twitter’s board. July 13th – Dalton Cladwell wrote and audacious proposal for – an alternative people paid for. That’s crazy. We never pay for shit. So what is ADN? It’s an ad-free, open standards-based alternative to Twitter for real time social communication. They did a Kickstarter-like pitch to get $500,000 to start it. They did it with 38 hours to spare. In the last 38 hours they hit $803,000. 

Aral’s conclusion? Web 2.0 is dying. ADN’s API is completely open. It’s on Github. You can add notations – metadata – to the posts. It’s been going for a month – and there are dozens of apps being worked on already. 121 of them, in fact. Some of them are really, really polished. 

Right now – it’s not for the general public. It’s for the geekier amongst us. But this allows us to get it ready for the general public. 

Have you looked at Twitter lately? The trending topics are nonsense. They way he views it is that Facebook and Twitter are targeting the same audience as McDonalds. It’s the McDonaldsification of social media. It’s good that we have alternatives to McDonalds – not all of us want to eat there. But there’s been a backlash about the $50 charge, but it misses the point. Is your identity, privacy and security worth $4 month? Is it worth a pint? 


Q. How is different from, a free and open source equivalent? 

A. Part of it is that it has a sustainable business model. With a lot of open source projects you don’t have that focus. Plus, is very focused on the user experience. Aral doesn’t believe that open source and great user experience are mutually exclusive, but the examples out there right now don’t support that. Design thinking is sorely needed in open source. doesn’t have the mindshare.

Q. Will you be able to use the funds raised for marketing?

A. Exactly. Dalton has said they can go for two years with what they’ve raised so far. Plus, we’re emotional creatures – we like the underdogs. 

Q. It’s not the only game in town I’ve got nowdly in review in the app store.

A. I hope Libya doesn’t do anything nasty to your domain name – but there’s a groundswell – a trend. 

Q. Are we being anti-capitalist? I like Amazon knowing what I read, I want this pub to know what I drink.

A. First time ever we’ve discussed paying for something as anti-capitalist. Twitter and Facebook aren’t going away. It’s good to have an alternative. 

Q. Is the fragmentation of the social networks a problem?

A. Things aren’t set in stone. MySpace was huge. Bebo was huge. People move around. 

Q. doesn’t have to be the only one – it can be interoperable. You could build another service that talks to it.

A. To sum up, we’re living in a very exciting time, when there’s going to be a lot of upheaval. 

Alexia, writing for TechCrunch:

Digg was an extremely influential site for anyone who worked in the early era of online publishing, so it being scrapped for parts is sort of weird, especially for those of us who used to beg friends to vote up Digg stories.

It’s easy to forget how important Digg was to traffic in the mid-2000s, and how Reddit was dismissed as a second-rate failure. As early as 2008, the community manager of Computer Weekly was telling me that she was seeing more results from Reddit than Digg. Sometimes the decline is well underway before we notice it. Two lessons there:

  1. Even the most powerful social site can be rendered irrelevant
  2. The early winner isn’t always the long-term victor

Bear that in mind as you fire up Facebook and Twitter this morning.

Time for a confession: I’m a Quora sceptic. There’s nothing specific about the service itself that’s causing this – I’ve barely used it so far – but the way both it and people around it are behaving suggests to me that we have a flash in the pan here.

First of all, my in-box is full of Quora spam. Several people have pointed out to me that the service is replete with granular e-mail notification settings, which is great, but the fact that the defaults are so, well, spammy, just sets my alarm bells ringing. Here’s what happens: someone signs up for Quora, adds their Twitter list, and every single person on their Twitter list who is on Quora with default e-mail settings gets an e-mail. With a couple of dozen people who follow me on Twitter joining Quora every day, that’s a lot of spam. Dumb.

Also, my gut feeling, as I’ve blogged before, is that the Next Big Thing, whatever it turns out to be, won’t be this hyped. And Quora is really hyped right now. Every previous Next Big Thing, from blogging, through Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and more has gone through an extended period of quiet use by a small, but steadily growing pool of users and evangelists, before the real mainstream growth kicks in. I’ve never seen a major Next Big Thing on the web go from zero to hero in about 10 days.

I’m putting Quora down and walking away. If it’s still looking useful in a month’s time, I’ll re-evaluate. But I’m not keen to waste time on the Next Flash In The Pan.

Web 2.0 Square

I rather like this little graphic from Ross Mayfield, based on ideas being discussed at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo. You can download the supporting report Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On.

I think it neatly encapsulated the four issues that will effect the web, and which the publishing business needs to get its head around. I talk a lot about social on here, and the whole hyper-local journalism movement is, to some degree, predicated on the idea of geo-centric technology, even if the potential benefits of geocoding information haven’t really been discussed.

The whole mobile environment has been changed by the new breed of smart phones, led by the iPhone, which are turning users into voracious data consumers on the move, and the Real Time web is becoming, in a technological sense, a very real proposition (and, if fact, I should write a post about that).

This graphic is the sort of thing every publisher and journalist should be looking at and thinking “what does this mean for what I do?”

It’s nearly the weekend. And we know what this weekend brings, don’t we?


Now, we might be lacking Terry Wogan this year, so can I recommend a whole different kind of coverage for you? Mr Ewan Spence, a mad Scotsman whom I’ve run around New York and Paris with (but never anywhere in the UK, strangely), is over in Moscow reporting on the thing, in an online, new-media kind of way. In fact, he’s been doing so all week, so you can head over to his site to get your preparation done for tomorrow night’s Eurovision extravaganza.

And just to whet your appetite, here’s his 50 Fun Facts about the Eurovision:

Obligatory Journalism Content:
What I find really interesting about watching Euan’s stuff is the completely different level of involvement you get from watching a genuine enthusiast cover an event they are passionate and knowledgeable about, as opposed to the “skating the surface” mainstream coverage. Around an event like the Eurovision, the main broadcast is in real danger of becoming just a social object that people interact about elsewhere. 

Naked bloke on a horseMore WIN from my feeds. Ross Mayfield has been posting about the different styles of relationship between users that various web tools promote. One post had this wee gem:

Consider a 1.0 community feature, Forums. Forums are topic-centric instead of people-centric. There isn’t the notion of following people, or leveraging the social network as a filter. You have to sift through what everyone is saying regardless of who they are, which I find tremendously inefficient. This also means that if someone is truly obnoxious you can’t unsubscribe from them.

Now, forums are beginning to evolve away from those roots, by grafting social-network-esque features onto their platforms, so the role of forums is not really the point. The point is that the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 was the shift from topic-focus to person-focus. That’s why blogs lead the charge – they are a transition technology, in that they’re still (usually) topic-focused, but that the person writing the blog is as important as the topic and often more so. 

However, traditional B2B publishing companies are still, structurally, topic-focused. Our business is built and arranged around topic silos. But people don’t live in topic silos. They have more than one interest, area of expertise and desire to communicate. And the more we try to shove those people into our pre-designated and easy-to-sell (for now) silos, the more we’ll hasten our own demise. 
We need to shift the balance from topic first, person second, to person first and topic second in every element of our publishing process. Until we do that, I don’t think we’ll every escape the trap of sprinkling a wee bit of magic community dust on fundamentally Web 1.0 offerings and wondering why we struggle. 

Loïc and Geraldine.jpgAnd so, Le Web 08 gets underway. Loïc and Geraldine kicked things off slightly late, as they struggled to drag people away from the (rather good) coffee and croissants. The mood of the conference is rather different this year, given the uncertain economic times.

The pre-coffee sessions this morning were distinctly corporate, so I blogged them over on my Computer Weekly blog. Presentations from Google and Microsoft were relatively predictable – either plugging a product (Bizspark and Azure from Microsoft) or just fairly anodyne, as was Google’s talk. Mind you, neither were as dull as the MySpace presentation which I couldn’t be bothered blogging.

However, the most interesting one was, not surprisingly, Dave Weinberger’s, who unleashed a torrent of ideas about leadership in his 20 minutes which challenges many of our current preconceptions. It makes mw think about what a post-web journalistic organisation might look like, if we move beyond command and control from an editor/leader…

And things only got better after the coffee…