“The Long Tail Wags”

I’ve just read Chris Horn‘s article entitled “The Long Tail Wags” which was inspired by a recent conference I participated in. His post describes how commercial organisations can benefit from and add value to the global Web 2.0-using community.

There are some interesting observations on risks and opportunities associated with the large quantities of user-generated data (their activities, profiles, click histories, etc.) that are in the possession of various Internet-based and telecommunications-focused companies.

Another part of the article discusses both the usefulness and limitations of tagging, and describes a move towards allowing people to explicitly define and share their own collections of objects and interests.

About the SIOC project, a Semantic Web initiative to connect users and content in online community sites, Chris says: “The SIOC project at DERI in Galway underlines the benefits, and business consequences, of seamless federation of online communities.”

You can read more at chrishornat.blogspot.com/2007/10/long-tail-wags.html.

Nooooooo… I want my Chumby!

20071030a.jpg (I got my invite today to buy a Chumby, but apparently they don’t do shipping outside the US.)

Here’s an extract from the Wikipedia definition if you haven’t already heard about them:

Chumby is a consumer product created by Chumby Industries slated to go on sale in November of 2007. It is designed as an Open System, with schematics, PCB layouts and packaging/outerware designs available. The primary intended use for a Chumby device is to play a set of user-customizable widgets, small Adobe Flash animations that deliver real-time information. The animations also have the ability to control and interact with the low-level hardware, thereby enabling functionality such as smart alarm clocks that bring the hardware out of sleep, and physical user interface features such gesture recognition through squeezing the soft housing.

Some promotional information from the “insider launch” e-mail I received:

You’ll have fun with your chumby!

  • Catch the latest news headlines, sports, weather, stock prices.
  • Enjoy your Flickr and Facebook photos as a digital picture frame.
  • Make and share e-greetings, photo mash-ups, goofy animations.
  • Wake up to the multi-tone alarm clock.
  • Play your iPod® through built in speakers. Charge it too.
  • Track any eBay auction or craigslist items.
  • Monitor incoming email on any POP3 account.

Your chumby comes with:

  • Access to the free Chumby Network – your favorite info from the Net, always on
  • Great selection of widgets and content (news, sports, weather, social networks, RSS, humor, …)
  • 3.5″ LCD color touchscreen
  • Wi-fi connectivity
  • Two external USB 2.0 full-speed ports
  • 350 Mhz ARM processor, 64 MB SDRAM, 64MB NAND flash ROM
  • Stereo 2W speakers, headphone output
  • Accelerometer (motion sensor)
  • Leather case available in three colors: black, latte, and pearl

“People don’t appreciate how many page views on the Internet are in social networks.”

Eric Schmidt, speaking at Google’s Zeitgeist conference recently said: “People don’t appreciate how many page views on the Internet are in social networks. It is very real. It’s a very real phenomenon.”

It’d be interesting to know just what proportion of ALL page views do go to SNSs. I’m still quoting last November’s statistics from Compete, which said that the 10 most popular domains accounted for about 40% of all page views on the Web, and nearly half of those views were from the social networking services MySpace and Facebook. So that’s 20% of page views from just those top 10 domains – you can imagine that the total number of page views going to SNSs must be at least 50%.

Edit: MySpace and Facebook are now 1st and 3rd in total page views according to Compete. Apparently Facebook usage accounts for 1% of all time spent on the Internet.

Wired article against niche SNSs / anti-social networking

In a September article from Wired entitled “Beware These Six Lamest Social Networks“, Matthew Honan lists some of his least favourite social networking services (SNSs). These happen to be niche SNSs, and although he sees little reason for their existence, I would strongly disagree. As long as a niche SNS or community site provides regularly updated content to a steady or growing set of users, there is no reason that such sites should not persist or flourish on the Web.

20071025a.jpg As Honan himself has some pretty niche interests, I am at a loss to understand why he would ‘diss’ these others so. Honan winds up the article by saying: “It’s enough to make you boycott community sites entirely. Of course, there’s probably a social network for that, too.” Maybe he should visit this site. Not everyone loves Facebook and MySpace you know, and in fact, niche SNSs can provide a breath of fresh air when you want to escape from the big overcrowded SNS cities.

As pointed out by Paul Gibler in his article “The Expanding World of Social Networking“, it is the fine-grained and targeted communities such as CafeMom, BOOMj and PEERtrainer that are experiencing recent growth. Niche SNSs have been set up to cater for age demographics (e.g., Multiply for seniors), home countries (SiliconIndia), gender (MothersClick for moms), occupations (The Financial Executives Networking Group) and interests (StreetCred for hip-hop). Gibler says: “If you have a clearly defined and unserved target market, there could be a place for a niche SNS to connect and serve your audience.” And even if your target users are already using a large SNS, then a niche group can be housed therein.

So in conclusion, a lot of niche SNSs already exist, and if the niche site is more relevant and kept updated for its users, it will survive. Mark O’Neill sums it up nicely (in his post referencing a recent presentation I gave): “[…] by organizing networks centrifugally around objects, social networking sites have meaning, even when they do not have 200 milllion users and even when they are centered around minority interests (like Thomas Kinkade paintings!). The point is that they are centered on objects which are in common.”

Twine in invite-only beta

20071019a.jpg At the 2007 Web 2.0 Summit today, Radar Networks are officially announcing the invite-only beta version of Twine, a new service that uses the power of Semantic Web to enable an intelligent way of sharing, organising and finding information.

During today’s 4 PM panel (that also features Powerset’s Barney Pell, Metaweb’s Daniel Hillis and Web 2.0 authority Tim O’Reilly), Radar Networks founder and CEO Nova Spivack will give the first public preview of Twine. According to Spivack, Twine will be “one of the first examples of ‘Web 3.0’ in which the Web begins to function more like a database, and software grows more intelligent and helpful”.

The press release is here. As soon as my beta invite comes through, I’ll let you know more.

ThinkWeb20: a ratings directory for Web 2.0 sites

20071017a.png There has been some blog comment ‘promotional marketing’ going on for a new directory specifically for Web 2.0 sites called “Think Web 2.0” (due to the language used on the site, I believe it may be from France, but the WHOIS shows a private registration).

The site allows users to submit sites to the directory, to vote for sites, to comment and tag sites in the directory (in true Web 2.0 fashion!), and there is also a facility to list RSS feeds associated with these sites. Users can see newly-submitted sites and can browse sites by tag, rating, or by page rank.

I’m not sure how (well) the voting process works as there seems to be a few sites that have received a LOT of votes in comparison to others (namely Zimbra, Blurb and blip.tv). In total, there are 884 sites in the directory, which is split into ten categories.

Social networking services for enterprise use

Here are some interesting links I’ve come across in the past few days related to social networks and their applications in enterprise / business scenarios.

The water cooler is now on the Web
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_40/b4052072.htm

The expanding world of social networking
http://wistechnology.com/article.php?id=4247

Social networking: a time waster or the next big thing in collaboration?
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201808149

Social networks may become interoperable
http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201808173

Business faces up to social networks
http://www.vnunet.com/computing/analysis/2200354/facebook-microsoft

Harvard prof. envisions Enterprise 2.0 web services
http://searchwebservices.techtarget.com/originalContent/0,289142,sid26_gci1276012,00.html

34 more ways to build your own social network
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/14/34-more-ways-to-build-your-own-social-network/

Bosses warm up to social networking on company time
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/social-networking/59315.html

UK is the top social media consuming country in Europe

According to figures from comScore, the United Kingdom was the top social media consumer in Europe during August, with 25 million unique visitors using social media sites (equivalent to 78 percent of the UK’s online population). The Europe-wide social media user figures are 127 million unique visitors in August (56 percent of the EU’s total number of Internet users).

Users in the UK also spent more time (5.8 hours averaged per visitor) on these sites, nearly double the European average of three hours.

Bob Ivins, comScore’s executive VP of international markets, said: “[…] about 80 per cent of all online activity at social networking sites can be attributed to only 20 per cent of visitors.” comScore’s study showed that a user from this 20 per cent group (the “power users”) accessed about 3000 social media site pages in August, averaged 22 hours on their favorite site, and made 71 visits to various social media sites during the month.

Google acquires Jaiku for undisclosed amount

20071010a.png

It must be acquisition season: Google yesterday announced that they have acquired microblogging service Jaiku. Jaiku, founded by Jyri Engestrom (whose post on object-centered sociality I’ve referenced more than once!) and Petteri Koponen, is a direct competitor to Twitter, another popular microblogging service from the US.

Here is a copy of the blog announcement from the co-founders:

Exciting news: Google has bought Jaiku today.

What does that mean? First and foremost, we’re of course continuing to support our existing users. So fear not: your Jaiku phone, the Web site, IM, SMS, and API will continue to work normally.

That said, new user sign-ups have been limited for the time being. The idea here is to enable our team to get right to work with Google’s engineers on delivering a new, better service to you as quickly as we can instead of spending our efforts on optimizing the current back-end. Existing users will still be able to invite their friends, and those who are not yet on Jaiku can send us a request for an invitation to join.

We’ve put together a short FAQ about the acquisition, and we’ll continue to provide support on the #jaiku channel. But we’re eager to go beyond what’s there today, and build something completely new for you to enjoy. Take this as an invitation to join us on a journey to reinvent how you communicate and stay in touch with the people you care about.

Jyri, Petteri, and team

Newsvine Acquired By MSNBC For Undisclosed Amount

20071009a.png The Microsoft and NBC Universal News joint venture MSNBC has acquired the Newsvine community of citizen journalists for an undisclosed sum.

Newsvine, based in Seattle, publishes stories from both the mainstream media and a community of users together on the site. Users can vote on their news stories of interest, similar to the Digg or Reddit “social news” sites. Newsvine’s services also include group discussions and a conversation tracker.

The site gets over one million unique visitors each month, and is currently ranked at 4,173 by Alexa (see the graph comparison with Digg and Reddit below).

20071009b.png

For more views on the acquisition, check out Read/Write Web, CenterNetworks, and the Center for Citizen Media.