Unexpectedly large turnout in Dublin for day of Web 2.0 related events

Dublin, Ireland saw one of its largest web technology and business gatherings last Thursday evening (September 13th). At least 200 Web 2.0 professionals from all over the country and Europe, plus others interested in the web application industry, converged on Ely HQ in the docklands area of the city for a series of events.

To coincide with the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) Road Trip (a meetup with FOWA conference organiser Ryan Carson), Fergus Burns and Conor O’Neill organised a number of co-located Web 2.0-related events. These were:

20070913a.jpg The Paddy’s Valley pitch training session took place on Thursday afternoon. Seven or eight Irish startups including Relevant M, TouristR / TripPlanr, Benchd, UseAMap / JustRoutes, and Toddle gave their pitches to the expert panel. Itineraries for Paddy’s Valley were discussed and arranged, meetings and visits scheduled, contacts swapped, and various aims and aspirations for the week in Silicon Valley were formed.

20070913b.jpg Pre-selected startups gave their product demonstrations in the DemoBar room, which was very busy (and hot). Louder Voice, GlowDay, MySay, PutPlace, and PollDaddy were among those who presented their innovative web applications. But the majority of people networked and enjoyed the open bar and nibbles outside the room, making contacts, putting faces to online nicks, and giving interviews to Conn from Intruders.TV Ireland.

20070913c.jpg The FOWA Road Trip Dublin event was one stop on a tour of 11 European cities by Ryan Carson of Carson Systems (the previous stop was the night before in Edinburgh). The forthcoming Future of Web Apps event is a major conference being held in London at the beginning of October, with many high-profile speakers from Web 2.0 companies and investors including Ross Mayfield (SocialText), Matt Mullenweg (WordPress.com), Jyri Engestrom (Jaiku) and Michael Arrington (TechCrunch).

20070914a.jpg Friday morning saw a smaller but nonetheless impressive gathering of Web 2.0 folk at the Dublin OpenCoffee Club in the Morrison Hotel, where the main topic of conversation was undoubtedly the energy and buzz of the night before.

There were an estimated 200 to 300 people at the evening event on Thursday. Just some of those I got a chance to chat to on both days were (with full names I remember first): Walter Higgins, Niall Larkin, Jan Blanchard, David Lenehan, Barry Alistair, Ryan Carson, Derek Organ, Martha Rotter, Conor Power, Conn Ó Muineachain, Adrian McMahon, Mark Taylor, Conor O’Neill, Fergus Burns, James Corbett, Joe Drumgoole, Gareth Stack, Vinny Glennon, Alexia Golez, Alan O’Rourke, Eamon Leonard, Conor Wade, Ed Byrne, Paul Campbell, Anton Mannering, Jessie Roy, Eoghan McCabe, Nicola Byrne, Maryrose Lyons, John O’Shea, Fergal Breen, Mike Kiely, Brian Fitzsimons, Darragh Curran, Diarmuid Wrenne, Colm Ó hEocha, Clare Dillon, Bart, Peter, Patrick, Fintan, Dervla, and Charley.

The success of this day and the enthusiasm shown from both the developer and commercial sides bodes well for the future of similar events in Ireland. I hope that this critical mass can be maintained and built upon, and that those who had ideas just germinating in their heads will be inspired by the others who have started to put their plans into action. Hopefully that new batch of ideas will be demonstrated at the next Web 2.0 Ireland event, whenever it may be and whatever form it may take…

Discussions on portable social network profiles for use across systems

A problem exists with most social networking services (SNSs) in that they usually do not work together and therefore you are required to re-enter your profile and re-define your social connections when you register for each new site. There have been a lot of complaints about these so-called “walled gardens”. Although many of the most popular SNSs would not exist without the walled garden approach, some flexibility would be useful.

Users may have many identities on different social networks, where each identity is created from scratch. A reusable profile would allow a user to import their existing identity and connections (from their own homepage or from another site they are registered on). If data about a person is aggregated from various social networks and linked together using a common representation format, a single global identity can be formed with different views and associated reputations / histories.

Semantic Web vocabularies such as FOAF and microformats like hCard and XFN can serve as useful platforms for linking or reusing the diverse information about a person from heterogeneous social networking sites and for performing operations on such reusable / linked data. This can then be used to provide an enhanced view of an individual’s activity in a distributed social network (e.g., “show me all the content that Alice has acted on in the past three months”).

“Social network portability” is a term that has been used to describe the ability to reuse one’s profile across various social networking sites and applications. The founder of the LiveJournal blogging community, Brad Fitzpatrick, recently wrote an article (with comments here) from a developer’s point of view about forming a “decentralised social graph”, which discusses some ideas for social network portability and aggregating one’s friends across sites. Dan Brickley, the co-creator of FOAF, has also written an elegant discussion (entitled “the world is now closed“) about how SNSs should not define your relationships in absolute terms and that even an aggregate social graph cannot be so clearly defined.

In parallel with this, a social network portability mailing list was established which has seen over 400 posts on this topic since August 17th. Activity on the list peaked soon after (see graph below), but many interesting topics have been discussed including centralisation versus decentralisation, FOAF, XFN, hCard, OpenID, Bloom filters, ownership of your published content, categorising friends and personas, the OpenFriendFormat, SNAP, aggregation and privacy, and XMPP. You can read more on the list or join it to post your own thoughts.

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Skyrock blasts away the social networking competition in France

20070914a.png French site “Skyrock Network” has lived up to its name and held onto its place at the number one spot in France’s list of top social networking sites, based on recent statistics from ComScore gathered since the start of 2007.

The site, which currently has over 9 million total unique visitors a month, has had a moderate 1/6th increase in visitors between January and July 2007.

Second-placed Windows Live Spaces, with 5.7 million visitors, has been losing visitors over the same time frame, dropping by about 6%.

Blogger from Google, in third, also increased by a 1/6th, with 4 million visitors in July.

Relative to their placings in January, Dada.net and Facebook both increased their numbers of French visitors substantially, with Dada.net up by 725% (from 60,000 to 495,000 visitors) and Facebook increasing by 642% (from 45,000 to 331,000 visitors).

Bebo agrees advertising deal with Yahoo! for UK and Ireland advertising

Online social networking service Bebo and web corporation Yahoo! have announced an exclusive multi-year advertising deal whereby Yahoo! will manage both banner and video ads for Bebo in the UK and Ireland (1, 2).

Bebo is the most popular social networking site in the UK and Ireland, and had 10,655,000 visitors from the UK and 650,000 visitors from Ireland in July 2007 (according to recent ComScore statistics).

It is unknown at this point if Irish company Generator, who currently manage Bebo’s Irish advertising campaigns, will continue to sell ads for Bebo in Ireland.

Call opens for BlogTalk 2008, the social software conference

BlogTalk 2008, the 5th International Conference on Social Software, has today published its call for proposals for the event which will be held in Cork, Ireland on the 3rd and 4th of March next year.

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The event is being chaired / co-chaired by Thomas N. Burg, founder of BlogTalk and a social software expert, Jan Schmidt, co-organiser of the previous BlogTalk event and now a senior researcher at the Hans Bredow Institute, yours truly, and Tom Raftery, social media consultant, blogger and podcaster.

BlogTalk 2008 will be of interest to developers, practitioners and academics, and aims to provide a cross-disciplinary forum for the discussion of social software ideas, visions, prototypes and use cases.

Previous events in the series were BlogTalk Vienna, BlogTalk 2.0, BlogTalk Down Under, and BlogTalk Reloaded, and featured prominent speakers such as David Weinberger, Rebecca Blood, Mark Bernstein, Mena and Ben Trott, Matt Mullenweg, Suw Charman and Danah Boyd.

If you are interested in sponsoring this event, send an e-mail to blogtalk2008@gmail.com.

Facebook’s UK visitor count jumps by 366% in six months

The social networking site Facebook increased its total unique visitors in the UK by 366% in the six months from January 2007 to July 2007, according to figures from ComScore. During the same timeframe, the other top 10 social media sites operating in the UK increased their numbers of unique visitors by between 25 and 63%.

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The figures show that the popular US site Facebook had 7.6 million UK visitors in July, compared with 1.6 million in January. Bebo‘s visitors increased by 63%, MySpace‘s by 25% and Google’s Blogger property showed an increase of 30% during this period.

Other fast growers (with over 75% increases) in the top 100 UK social media sites during this period include Gottabet (up by 1539%), Fanpop (up 595%), AGLOCO (442%), Zimbio (387%), OUOU (322%), Technorati (203%), Gaia Online (177%), MOG (172%), IMEEM (131%), LinkedIn (123%), SoundPedia (106%), Buzznet (103%), boards.ie (87%), del.icio.us (84%), orkut (83%), WeWin (79%), and Roiworld (77%), and Multiply (75%).

(Thanks to Damien Mulley for his help with the figures.)

Welcome to Technology Voice…

The first of many posts I hope!

Technology Voice is a new news site that aims to bring you the latest views, reviews and interviews from the world of social media and social software. We are coming from a European perspective, but we will provide global coverage of social media developments.

We hope you enjoy our posts, and we look forward to your comments…

John.