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A Delicious Lesson In Owning Digital Products

Really long-term readers of this blog might remember Delicious (or, as I still instinctively type it, del.icio.us – surely one of the best domain names ever), the social bookmarking site. It was, in essence, a semi-public web-based version of the browser bookmarking that you probably don’t use.

Delicious was one of the big Web 2.0 sites that was bought by Yahoo — and slowly ruined. It was sold to competitor Pinboard for $35,000, rather less than the $15m to $30m Yahoo paid for it…

There’s an interesting insight from an interview with Pinboard’s creator:

In 2011, after Delicious’ value had plummeted, Yahoo sold the site to YouTube property AVOS, which redesigned it again, rendering it unusable for one of its largest established user bases — fan-fic writers. Slash fic, or fan fiction about romantic relationships between popular characters, is traditionally denoted with the / mark it takes its name from. E.g. Steve Rogers / Bucky Barnes, or Hermione Granger / Harry Potter. The AVOS redesign made it impossible to tag or search for anything with a / in it. A single symbol turned into a huge opportunity for Delicious’ growing rival, Pinboard.

Amazing how easy it is to destroy something – if you don’t understand what you have in the first place.

As an aside – he makes a side-swipe at Pocket, which is what I’ve largly replaced Delicious with, and it’s worrisome:

I feel like I won the war so thoroughly that I don’t really know what to do next. I would love to take down Pocket and I would love to take down Diigo. Pocket is losing a lot of money, and Diigo is kind of a strange, weird longterm competitor.

Pocket was acquired by Mozilla – lets hope they can keep it up.

Digg: web history, broken up for parts

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.

Quora: Over-hyped and flooding my in-box

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: Your Future, Visualised

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?”

A New Way To Follow The Eurovision

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. 

Save B2B Publishing By Loving People

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. 

Le Web 08: The Opening Sessions

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…