"I can’t think of anything that demonstrates the sovereign nature of the self better than a blog.” - Doc Searls
About the Author
Stowe Boyd is a well-known media subversive, and an internationally recognized authority on real-time, collaborative and social technologies. His new blog is Message.

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February 27, 2004

David Weinberger: Berkman Center Fellowship

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

David Weinberger announced some great news yesterday:

"I found out this morning that I've been offered a fellowship at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. I start officially in July.

What a great opportunity! I'm thrilled."

It's well-deserved, David.

By the way, here's a review I wrote of David's Small Pieces, Loosely Joined at Amazon on 4 May 2002:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business

February 26, 2004

AIM 5.5 -- Video IM

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

AOL pinged me to upgrade my AIM client:Download AIM for Windows

"What's new in AIM 5.5? Use one Buddy List® Window for all your AIM Identities!

Use more than one AIM Screen Name/Identity. At work you're LawyerLisa783, at home you're LisaHome783. With the new AIM service, sign-in once, and all your AIM Identities are online at the same time ... in the same Buddy List!

  • No multiple Buddy List windows crowding your desktop.
  • Access all your AIM Screen Names/Identities from one Buddy List at the same time!
  • Sign-on once, and all your AIM Screen Names/Identities are automatically logged on!
  • Send and receive IM's from any of your AIM Screen Names/Identities"
I haven't successfully seen someone else sending video to me, nor have I successfully sent video to someone else. Let me know if you'd like to try. AIM me!

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Rumors of Kinja

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I have caught a few hints about Kinja -- a new approach to blog readership/aggregation/search -- but the website is locked down. Best clues are at, the blog of Meg Hourihan, one of the founders of Pyra (Blogger).

"I am now the co-founder and president of Kinja (aka the Lafayette Project). Kinja will use the editorial selections and commentary of weblogs to provide a new type of personalized news service. We hope to create a compelling, relevant, and simple weblog reading experience. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about what we're up to."
Reminds me of a 'poor man's business plan' I hacked together with my buddy John Casey last year, code-named Blogisphere. Here's a segment:
"It’s Hard to Read Blogs, but Easy to Write Them

Existing blog technology – as typified by Blogger, Scribble, Greymatter, Big Blog Tool, Movable Type, and Radio Userland, for example – is geared toward the creation and editing of blog content. They are designed to support the activities of the authors, and actually only accomplish that at a primitive level. Surprisingly, many of the features that blog writers would like – reader comments and ratings, polls and other interactive capabilities, notification -- are currently incompletely implemented or provided by third parties.

However, while better blog authoring tools is desirable, it is unclear how any collection of features that are solely geared to improving the lot of writers will lead to a real business model. There are too many low-cost or no-cost competitors. Writers will need some real incentives to shift from whatever they have grown comfortable with.

On the other hand, reading blogs is a pain. I don’t mean the activity of reading a single blog, once you know about it. That’s easy enough. It’s just a web page, with various controls provided.

No – the hard part is being a consistent reader of many blogs. Readers have to keep tabs on each of the blogs they like using different techniques – some manual, some email based. Even more difficult is trying to find high-quality content pertinent to some interest. Blogdex and other indexing systems provide a start in this regard, but I dare you to wade into the world of blogs and try to find quality content about “Travel Writing” or “Microsoft XP” unless you already have a thread or a pointer. And even if a reader has determined a selection of the world’s thousands of blogs that are of interest, there is no good way to create a “DailyMe” – a compilation of recent information from a variety of designated blogs – accessible to a reader or a group of readers.

Support for RSS -- Rich Site Summary (RSS) – in various blogger services is a starting point for ‘push’ style of content distribution.

But what is needed is a pull model – where readers’ activities pull information from various blogs, not a mechanism for publishers to pull content. It’s the subscribe side of the equation – the reader’s side – that needs support.

The premise behind Blogisphere is that the missing insight for creating a working business model around blogs is to focus on what the readers need, and build a system to support readers: to make reading blogs easier and more rewarding.

This model would be based on the now well-established principles of collaborative filtering and slashdot style reader-based evaluation of content quality. And like Slashdot, the goal is to foster communities of readers, united through shared technology. Today, we find that this is emerging in an unconsolidated and haphazard way. Providing a better reader experience – one that will integrate with existing authoring systems, but provide a uniform and consistent reader participation model – will provide a strong incentive for readers to use the system. And later on, the authors will follow."

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Yahoo Cool On Social Networking

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Frank Barnako reports in his CBSMarketwatch email that Yahoo is not leaping into the social networking scene, like Google has.

"Online social networking may be the hot thing on the Internet these days, but it's not a business as far as Yahoo's concerned.

"It's exciting, it's interesting, it's viral," agreed Terry Semel, Yahoo's (YHOO) CEO. But, he added during a speech to the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara, Calif., "We haven't seen any business models around it yet.""

They can just buy someone later, after all, once the risk is shaken out and the winning models emerge.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category:

The Future of Trading and the Evolution of the Real-Time Enterprise

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

KnowNow, Accius, and WhenTech are sponsoring a seminar in NYC, March 1, 2004, entitled The Future of Trading and the Evolution of the Real-Time Enterprise. Jnan Dash, KnowNow's chief technology officer will be presenting.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events

Jim Lanzone of Ask Jeeves on Social Search

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Andy Beal of webpronews writes about a recent conversation with Ask Jeeves’ vice president of products, Jim Lanzone. One element of that chat had to do with the theme of social search:

"[AB] Companies such as Eurekster are betting that social networking is the future of quality search engine results, what are your thoughts?

[JL] In terms of the social networking devices being developed by other companies, there are two types we're seeing get attention. The first is the kind being used by the likes of Friendster and, where social networks are being used to help people find a job or a gardener or a date. The potential problem with this is the "reverse network effect", whereby the more the network grows, the less useful the recommendations are by those in the network. For example, how much more useful is it to me, versus the yellow pages or a search engine, to be recommended a contractor by my friend's cousin's neighbor? Now imagine if that's how I'm finding a date for next Friday night?

Meanwhile, with something like Eurekster, the "social networking search engine", you may face the same problem. At what point are these results more useful than those given by our "normal" engine, which is already getting smarter and smarter about who and when it serves up certain results. So, in the end, we believe that social networking as defined and utilized by Teoma is the best of breed way to go in this area, and the most effective growth will be built on its foundation.

[AB] What makes Teoma the “best of breed”?

stoweboydbanner.gif[JL] Our Teoma technology is predicated on social networking theory, as originally pursued by the Clever team at IBM in the mid-90's. Teoma was the first (and is still the only) search technology that can identify the Web graph's expert hubs and authorities in real time.

[AB] What is Teoma doing that the IBM team couldn’t do?

[JL] The Clever team identified that it was a better mousetrap for producing relevant search results, but thought it would take a server farm the size of the state of Texas to produce in real time. Teoma does it in a split second. Others questioned whether the technology would scale past 50 million document index. We're now at 2 billion. Remember that Teoma is a much younger technology than our competitors, so in some ways we're only now starting to see the power of it. And as it grows, social networking will continue to be at the heart of what makes Teoma different and special. "

So, Teoma is based on social networking theory, and it is building -- in essence -- a huge social network that allows Ask Jeeves to "identify the Web graph's expert hubs and authorities in real time." But no one opts in -- it's based on public information in blogs, articles, white papers, etc. And I, as an Ask Jeeve's user, don't have to state who I think are authoritative influences on my perspective of the world; Ask Jeeve's knows already.

Clearly the jury is out on the impact of social networking-based search, but activities by companies as diverse as Ask Jeeves, Eurekster, and Entopia (who I recently met with) suggest that the next generation of search performance is going to come from harnessing social network analysis in one way or another.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

February 25, 2004

John Battelle On "Why Blogs Mean Business"

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

John Battelle distills his argument for the central role of blogs in business at Business 2.0:

"Blogs will soon become a staple in the information diet of every serious businessperson, not because it's cool to read them, but because those who don't read them will fail. In short, blogs offer an accelerated and efficient approach to acquiring and understanding the kind of information all of us need to make business decisions."
I like it, especially since I have been talking up sponsorships here at Get Real a lot recently. John makes the general case very well; its up to me to make the case for Get Real, specifically.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Media

Bizex - ICQ Worm

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

There is a widely reported, but not clearly virulent IM worm infecting ICQ, called Bizex. The supposition is that the work is burrowing for financial information. Kaspersky Labs issued a warning, saying as many as 50,000 PCs had been infected. Symantec stated that far fewer infected PCs had been reported: 5.

The simple solution is to not click on any unknown or unfamiliar links sent to you in ICQ, especially anything to do with "jokeworld," a webist that was shut down only a few hours after the worm was discovered.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Wicked Good Wikis - New Column At Darwin

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

My February "Social Commentary" column has been published at Darwin Magazine, called Wicked (Good) Wikis.

"I recently attended a workshop on "Working Communities" that was developed and led by Full Circle Associates. The workshop experience was itself worthy of commentary, but the thing that I really came away with was the impact of a collaborative, social technology that we used prior to, during and now following the workshop itself: a Wiki.

Although I had been exposed to Wikis as a casual reader of websites like the Wikipedia (which is the largest, and perhaps most ambitious, Wiki in the world — attempting to capture encyclopedia entries on everything), I had not had the opportunity to work with a large group collaborating with the medium. My eyes have been opened; and in the jargon of my Boston boyhood, I now think "Wikis are wicked" (which means they are good)."

Note: the Wiki technology we used was from Socialtext, led my by buddy Ross Mayfield, who is one of the Many2Many bloggers here at Corante.

To read the full piece, click here

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

February 24, 2004

Bambi Francisco on the Social Networking Market

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Bambi Francisco's email today from CBSMarketwatch digs into social networking applications, asking the inevitable:

"So, it seems that these social-networks are a natural extension of any the larger portals (those mentioned above as well as Microsoft's (MSFT) MSN, Time Warner's (TWX) AOL, and search engines, like Ask Jeeves (ASKJ)) as they move toward a more personalized search experience. The question is: When does Yahoo and MSN launch their social network, or some variation of it?"
She goes on to mention a new deal announced by LinkedIn, a SNA vendor *not* competing with search engines, but in the job site market:
"Separately, LinkedIn, which competes with online job sites, such as Yahoo's HotJobs and Monster WorldWide (MNST), is expected to announce Tuesday that it's partnering with DirectEmployers Association to help the 125 companies that make up the group, including IBM (IBM) and Sprint (FON), to hire employees. LinkedIn, which has 140,000 LinkedIn users (including myself), says it's facilitated more than 15,000 referrals."
Many observers argue that there is no market for SNA, per se; its just a feature, they say. But if so, it is such a major shift in how these services -- search and job sites, for example -- that it is potentially destablizing for the established market. LinkedIn could potentially force job site leaders to compete based on SNA-features, and capture serious market share in the meantime.

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February 23, 2004

FIMA Expands

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I reproduce in its entirety, a Financial Services Instant Messaging Association Press Release.

"In order to further promote the development and adoption of instant messaging (IM) technology in the financial services industry, the Financial Services Instant Messaging Association (FIMA) announced the expansion of the association to 21 financial firm members.

FIMA announced the expansion of its steering group to 10 member firms with the addition of two key appointments, Bank of America and BNP Paribas. They join Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS on the steering board. Graham Lawlor of Deutsche Bank and Ursula Mills of UBS are co-chairs of FIMA. Additionally, Andy Higgins of Bank of America has been appointed as chairman of the FIMA User Group.

FIMA also announced publication of the two documents identifying key IM requirements shared by FIMA member firms. The FIMA Functional Priorities List v1.0 identifies a comprehensive, prioritized list of enterprise IM features required by FIMA member firms. The FIMA Interoperability Definition v1.0 defines FIMA's position on specific requirements relating to interoperability between IM systems, promotion of which is a key FIMA focus. The documents were produced in conjunction with FIMA affiliated IM vendors and are intended to guide development of IM products and services towards delivering the needs of FIMA members and the needs of the financial services industry as a whole. Both documents and the list of FIMA affiliated vendors are available on the FIMA website --

FIMA is non-partisan and open to any participant that wishes to promote Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) IM standards and protocols within the financial services community. By endorsing IETF instant messaging standards, FIMA seeks to promote interoperability and beneficial competition among Instant Messaging vendors.

For more information about FIMA, refer to the FIMA web site or contact Kris Kagel of UBS at 1-212-713-8703 or Ted Meyer of Deutsche Bank at 1-212-250-7253."

I had the opportunity to interview Ursula Mills of UBS Warburg last year. To read the interview in "As Fast As Possible: Today's Financial Services Sector," click here.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business

February 21, 2004

WiredReach: Peer-to-Peer SNA

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I recently stumbled across WiredReach, a new Dallas-based SNA start-up. I have only spent a breif period of time with the technology, which is a peer-to-peer based approach to social networking. But what I have seen, I like.


Among other now-familiar social networking features -- such as inviting friends to join the network (now kind of limited, since Ash Maurya, the founder, is limiting access to the beta), asking for introductions, and so on, WiredReach incorporates a full text instant messaging capability, and the service is presence enabled. Note in the screenshot above that Ash's pawn is red (offline) while mine is green (online). Also note the floating IM window.

I'd like to get a few fanatics involved in using the system, so if you are interested, let me know.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category:

February 20, 2004

Real-Time Collaboration - Who cares?

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I am involved in an interesting dialog with David Daniels at Always-On., based on this posting:

"I've recently taken interest in the vast array of products in the "online, real-time collaboration" space. Video over IP, VoIP, joint document editing, etc. Throw a rock and you'll hit at least a half-dozen of the vendors who play in this space. I gotta ask: Does the market really care about these products? Beyond the coolness of seeing your colleague in a little window on your PC does anyone get any real business value out of these products? Is the immediacy of seeing a grainy image - kinda like watching astronauts in the Space Station on the news - that compelling? In what businesses is this capability a "must have" rather than a "nice to have".

My belief is that the problems with these products are:

1) There's no compelling business problem to be solved
2) The cost of entry is low causing a flood of "me too" competitors
3) A lack of interoperability among products inhibits the network effect
4) It requires a behavioral change that users aren't willing to adopt
5) There are reasonable alternatives we use everyday

These problems aren't going to be solved anytime soon yet there continue to be new players in this space. Investors, why would you put money into a clearly losing proposition?

Food for thought."

Of course, I strongly (and wordily) disagree.

Reminds me of the flapdoodle with Dvorak regarding his comments about IM, minus the invective and snotty tone.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Identity Based Encryption

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I stumbled across a company that's new to me: Voltage Security, who have recently announced a security plug-in for Windows Messenger. The company's technology -- for both IM and email -- is based on Identity Based Encryption, described breifly in a Terence Spiesarticle:

"The biggest drawback of PKI, aside from simply getting people to use it, is the rigmarole of generating and distributing public keys. One potential solution was proposed nearly 20 years ago. It's called Identity-Based Encryption.

The insight behind IBE is that public keys don't have to be large prime numbers. They could be email addresses, phone numbers, or even subject lines. Bob can send Alice an encrypted email before she's even generated her private key, before she's even heard of private keys."

[tags: , ]

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Technology

Social Networking in BusinessWeek

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I read a well-balanced article on social networking software by Jane Black in BusinessWeek. No handwringing, no declaiming the end of Western civilization due to loose-moraled hipsters and free agent nation types swapping spit and job leads on the Internet. Does touch on the security flap-doodle that Orkut's now-revamped privacy policies caused a few weeks back.

Also mentioned a peer-to-peer social networking start-up that I had not encountered before:

"WiredReach, a Dallas startup, is trying a different approach. Its system uses peer-to-peer technology to keep users' data safe -- right on their own hard drive. Founder and CEO Ash Maurya says the danger in social networking is uploading such personal information to a centralized server that's "just one hack away" from being exposed. Peer-to-peer technology has no central server. Two users who know each other can search each other's hard drives for, say, a recruiter at IBM or a senior writer at BusinessWeek. If they find a match, they request an introduction. Says Maurya: "We're trying to simulate real-world networking without losing any confidentiality.""
About which more later.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category:

February 19, 2004

Blog Advertising: Cheap and Effective

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Frank Barnako of CBS Marketwatch included the following blurb in today's email blast:

"Blogs pay off for Kentucky candidate

A $2,000 investment in advertising on a dozen blogs helped fuel a successful Congressional campaign for Ben Chandler. The marketing effort for the Democratic candidate in Kentucky's sixth district returned $80,000 in two weeks, money that was funneled into radio and cable spots and is credited for Chandler's late surge to victory on Tuesday, Wired news reported. Campaign manager Mark Nickolas figured readers of political blogs, while not in the district, were likely to be interested in the race to help a southern Democrat recapture a seat in the House. Blogs included in the campaign were the left-leading Daily Kos, Political Wire and Eschaton."

I am particularly interested in these stories since we are ramping up sponsorships here at Get Real, and I am being asked by potential sponsors for the potential return on investment. Knowlegeable users will seek insightful commentary, and will reject paper-thin journalism. Print is not dead, but knee-jerk, analysis-free journalism is.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Marketing

Always-On-Network Enters Social Networking Fray

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

In a sign of the growing convergence between traditional media, new media (i.e., web-based blog technologies), and social networking, Tony Perkins announced this week that Always On now supports social networking: the so-called Zaibatsu.

There is no doubt that even fanatics like me will now start to limit participation in these services. I guess if someone has made an investment of time and energy into the Always On network to date, this turn of events will be seen as positive and beneficial. However, if Always On has been a sideline for you (as it has been for me), just another source of info, then having the SNA snap-on is unlikely to tip you in.

Pretty soon, the Wall Street Journal and Comcast will be offering SNA services threaded into their offerings. And why not? Its just a matter of what you affiliate with. WSJ has a good claim to corporate America's networks, and at the other extreme, Comcast serves nearly all the high tech households in my neighborhood. People's networks are not homogeneous, they are really discontinuous and heterogeneous. My neighbors are 'close' in proximity, and I would like to share certain forms of information with them ("Come to my barbeque this weekend") while other subnetworks should be getting different sorts of announcements from me ("See you at Instant Messaging Planet in Boston next month!).

I guess I am willing to join various disjoint services to manage different sorts of networks, especially if the services catered to me by providing differentiated offerings. Like if Comcast supported neighborhood related networking somehow, or Monster supporting job-search related activities.

But Zaibatsu looks like another Orkut -- there's no there there. If all we have is a way to make relationships explicit -- the most minimalistic social linkage -- I despair. It's too thin a broth.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category:

WaveMarket Debuts at DEMO

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I heard that Wavemarket was the darling of DEMO, with their location-based mobile WaveAlert tool showing SF traffic jams and a speed trap.

From the company's product page:

"The three components of WaveIQ [WaveMarket technology platform for mobile operators] are:

  • wavespotter.gifWaveSpotter turns cell phones into location-enabled broadcasting and viewing devices. You can zoom around our map-based interface and interact with location-based content, like other blog posts, or even yellow page listings relevant to your location. You can now immortalize when and where you proposed to your spouse, or where you sited a celebrity, or just the best donut shop in town.

  • waveblog.gifWaveBlog, is where you go to see postings from anywhere that interests you. So, if want to know where the hippest place in town is tonight, just check out the entertainment channel and find out. Or, for how to get there, there's a traffic channel. The number of posts, pages, and channels we host is unlimited, but it's all organized by place and time so you get where you want in just seconds.

  • wavealert.gifWaveAlert enables wireless operators to notify you when are near something important to you, like a speed trap before its too late, or a good friend who happens to be in your area. Now you get the information you want when you need it based on your location and interests. For the first time WaveAlert solves the tremendous technical challenges required for these services by dramatically reducing location polling rates while also efficiently scaling to millions of subscribers."
WaveSpotter sounds like the Tag and Scan service I reviewed a few months ago, where geograpical tags can be associated with locations, like restaurants, bars, museums, or street corners. WaveAlert is catching a lot of attention because everyone hates traffic jams, and mobile operators could make a fortune on people trying to evade them. I guess I would be interested in WaveBlog, especially if I were in an area where a gazillion bloggers were flitting about. Here in Reston VA, I'm not so sure. But if I were at a conference, for example, it would be great to track down other bloggers.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

February 18, 2004

Mobile Spam

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Reuters reports that mobile spam is becoming a real headache in Europe:

"London-based technology firm Empower Interactive said 65 percent of Europe's mobile phone users report receiving up to five unsolicited text messages a week on their handsets.

"We are certainly going to see a significant acceleration in the coming years," said Richard Shearer, CEO of Empower Interactive."

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Xfire: IM for Online Gamers

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

In a recent PCWorld piece, I learned about a new instant messaging system designed specifically for online gamers: Xfire. The technology has only been in beta for a month, and already has 60,000 users.

I had known that some gamers use IM frequently, while other turn it off to avoid IMs popping up during play. I hadn't thought about the impact of IM on the style of game play:

""People are anonymous on most game servers and because of that they can act really arrogantly, especially to players they don't think are up to their level," he [CTO of Xfire, Fong] says. "That can really kill the fun."

"But when you know a few people in the game, the tone really changes," he adds. "It becomes much more social, and it's actually a nicer environment for the strangers who are there with you. Everyone is much more civilized.""

I also took a peek at the features of Xfire, and discovered a number of cool advances, unmentioned by the PCWorld piece.

Xfire supports some game-related presence and availability information (see picture above), so that the buddy list of your gaming pals includes the games they are playing, and the ability to join them in those games by simply clicking on the 'join' button.

There is also an elusive hint of social software here, as well, with the 'friend of friends' group on the buddy list: I want this feature added to all other IM systems, immediately! (With appropriate privacy toggles, of course.)

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Art & Entertainment

Convoq ASAP Pricing

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I recently received the following email from Convoq:

"Dear ASAP Beta User, [that's me!]

On behalf of all of us at Convoq, I want to thank you for your participation in our ASAP Beta testing program. Because of your support and feedback, version 1.0 of ASAP has entered the marketplace as a more robust and feature-rich product. Your suggestions have ensured that ASAP can effectively compete as the industry’s first personal Web conferencing tool.

In case you hadn’t heard, ASAP was officially announced and released on February 16, 2004. We are very excited about the launch and look forward to extending our user base. Since this means that we have reached the end of the Beta testing program, we would like to convert your account from Beta user to ASAP licensed customer. This is a simple process; you just need to decide whether you want ASAP Standard (which allows you to convene unlimited 5-person meetings for $49.95 per year) or ASAP Professional (which allows unlimited meetings of up to 25 people for $99.95 per year) and provide us with payment information. For more information on pricing, visit the Product section of the Convoq Web site (

To convert your account, please contact our Sales department at 781-676-6800 or reply to this e-mail. On February 25, 2004, we will be canceling all Beta accounts that have not been converted to either ASAP Standard or ASAP Professional licenses, so please act soon.

Again, we thank you for your support of ASAP during its formative period and hope that you will continue as a member of the Convoq family.


David MacKenzie, Director of Inside Sales
Convoq, Inc.
781-676-6800 (phone)
781-862-2800 (fax)"

As I recently mentioned, I think the ideas motivating ASAP (As Soon As Present) are very cool. Aside from the network effect (the utility of the tool is only so good as the number of people that are actively able to use it) the pricing/seat model looks very attractive, when compared with competitive web conferencing solutions.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Get Real Sponsorships

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

You may have noticed that we have begun offering sponsorships at Get Real: see the brand new third, right column?

We are offering an opportunity to a small group of companies to participate as founding sponsors, starting 1 March 2004. Please contact me if you are interested in discussing the sponsorships, and the value they offer.

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February 17, 2004

Henshall on Skype and Flickr

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Stuart Henshall reflects on the new feature set of Skype (free conference calls up to five people worldwide):

"Then it is also a surprise (BIG SURPRISE) the first time that you are in a Skype call and another Skype call is incoming. To date we've not had this functionality. This puts call waiting to shame! For it is not just a buzzing, rather I see their name and have a choice I can put the other person on hold, I can text them or dial them back and add them into the orginal call expanding it to an instant conference call. Or I can just leave them on hold etc.

I quickly missed a "conference text" capability or even the capability to message all with a link. While in a conference currently you can continue texting one to one however there is no group texting capability. I imagine there are some additional issues to overcome. Perhaps a short-term Skype solution is provide a broadcast text component for the conference moderator that messages all simutaneously. Thus a link could be shared quickly. Almost concurrently with this I found myself in an IM session with Stewart Butterfield Ludicorp and Flickr. It would be pretty neat to run a SkypeFlickr conference tomorrow. I do wonder if programs like these could be activated by the Skype callto: function. Thus an inbound Skype call would provide a Fickr profile (or a group of my choosing) and thus enable photo conference..... etc."

A number of the other threads he develops are interesting:
  • using a Skype conference like an IRC channel -- always on and persistent.
  • Possibility for workgroups to link a Skype conference with other workgroup collaboration tools.
With all the DEMO announcements this week I haven't gotten around to a review of Flikr, and Stuart is already postulating possible integration of Skype and Flikr. The world is wagging too fast.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology | Telecommunications

Convoq Announces ASAP: Personal Web Conferencing System

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Convoq (formerly Applied Messaging) announced the availability of its flagship [and very innovative] product, ASAP:

"ASAP is a presence-enabled fusion of Web conferencing and video conferencing. It provides professionals with a new metaphor for convening rich-media meetings - As Soon As Present™ - by looking for the next slice of time when everyone who needs to attend is available. In addition, its powerful “Lifeline” capability permits users to instantly locate an available expert or resource. ASAP is available to individuals as their own personal Web conferencing system and to companies for enterprise-wide deployment.

ASAP is aimed at today’s “interrupt-driven” professionals who need better tools to make time-critical decisions and solve problems quickly. For example, sales departments can create a Lifeline that resolves to a group of worldwide sales engineers. A sales representative faced with a deal-breaking question can tap this Lifeline to instantly collaborate with an available engineer to get the deal done."

I like the "As Soon As Present" concept (having worked on similar technology: Ikimbo Agenda), and it suggests a fundamental shift in the way we will organize ourselves in the always-on era. Rather than scheduling meetings at the first time in the future that the meeting's required attendees are certain that they can be available, you can simply structure a potential meeting to take place as soon as those required attendees become available. That means, in general, that critical meetings will take place earlier than otherwise.

This is the thrust of what I have referred to as the Law of Synchronization Amplification (or Boyd's Law):

[from upcoming issue of Message] "Like other network effects, we will not see the full, exponential benefits of real-time communications until a large proportion of people switch over to using it. Today, perhaps as much as 30% of businesses may have deployed instant messaging solutions, or blessed the use of public instant messaging networks. When we get to 2/3 or more of potential contacts online and accessible, we will start to experience an dramatically increased improvement in communication efficiency. This will be the third wave of real-time productivity, and it will represent an exponential advance.

How will this come about? Paradoxically, as we increase the time we spend linked to others in real-time, synchronous communication, the net effect will be an increase in overall operational efficiency of the enterprise, including asynchronous, slow-time communications. This seeming paradox – that bringing two or more people into a conversation is more efficient that a series of asynchronous emails or voice mails – is simply explained.

Consider this familiar example: I send you an email, suggesting a course of action on a project we are working on. Because you do not immediately respond – based on the general time lag of email communication – I may delay taking next steps waiting for your response, or, alternatively, I actually begin taking next steps. In the first case, you may agree with my recommended course action, in which case I have unnecessarily delayed taking action. In the second case, you may disagree with my recommendation, in which case I have wasted time and effort going down the wrong path. A single real-time interaction – a conversation – would have avoided both these cases. Note that the email approach only works well when there is no need for real interaction on the subject. Email is simply not a conversational medium.

As we move toward the real-time enterprise, we will have more frequent communication among staff and with its partners – passing information in real-time from application to application, or passing information between members of real-time communities – and as a result, the overall latency in information transfer decreases.

This means that individuals (as well as project teams and companies, at different levels of scale) are freed to take action on this lower latency information earlier, increasing overall performance across the network. Or put another way, decreasing latency in the individual communication events translates to higher probabilities of increased parallelism in the overall network."

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February 16, 2004

VIA3 For Government Announced At DEMO

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

VIA3 announced the availability of the company's new offering, VIA3 for Government:

VIA3 for Government "enables agencies or companies to selectively pre-determine classification of -- and access to -- documents. VIA3 for Government creates a security hierarchy for documents and performs the function of a gatekeeper, based on an employee's need -- and right -- to know information. By denying employees without proper clearance the ability to access sensitive information, organizations can dramatically decrease the likelihood that someone purposely or inadvertently releases such information to competitors, the media or others."
The company's press materials cite the 2003 Computer Crime and Security Survey, conducted by the Computer Security Institute and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which found that 80 percent of respondents reported that security breaches were caused by insider abuse of network access, causing millions in financial loss. The security solutions generally in place today only track who accesses documents, and almost never restrict access based on individuals' identities.

VIA3 for Government provides the full spectrum of real-time collaboration and web conferencing support of VIA3 (reviewed in Web Conferencing for the Rest of Us):

"Viack's Via3 is an enterprise web conferencing solution, one geared to ad hoc web conferences but with somewhat more support for larger conferences, as well. Along with instant messaging and presence, Via3 incorporates sophisticated meeting moderation and application sharing capabilities. The system is based around secure 'file cabinets' -- shared repositories of information -- that conferees share. Via3 supports streaming audio and video, for a rich conference experience. The product's core differentiation relative to other enterprise-scale web conferencing solutions is security -- all information in the system is encrypted end-to-end -- so Via3 will appeal to those whose security is absolutely essential."

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Silkroad Debuts Enterprise Blog Technology at DEMO

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

SilkRoad Technology, a company founded by Andrew "Flip" Filipowski, today announced Silkblogs, an enterprise-oriented blog technology.

In deploying the first level of collaboration tools, such as instant messaging, e-mail and Web conferencing systems, organizations took the step towards sharing, accessing and distributing this information. The next generation of contextual collaboration demands empowering geographically dispersed business users to update, manage and share information immediately. At the same time, organizations must also enable knowledge-seekers, those searching for knowledge within the enterprise, transparent access to the information. Weblogs provide the easiest and most cost-effective way to share, access and react to information quickly.

“As enterprises move to the next generation of information-sharing applications, collaboration will be at the core and the foundation of these solutions,” said Andrew ‘Flip’ Filipowski, CEO of Silkroad technology. “We have seen that Weblogs are the easiest and most effective means to disseminate large amounts of important information quickly. To insight action on this knowledge, enterprises must provide a forum for employees to collaborate and react quickly, driving faster response and results. With SilkBlogs, we are first to market with this type of solution, and believe we have solved a tremendous problem facing companies today.”

I buy in fully on the value of deploying easy-to-use blog tools to help the enterprise "talk to itself" and my bet is that Filipowski is onto something. He and I first chatted last summer about SilkRoad, and its plans, as I had heard a rumor about the firm. I plan to get a demo soon of the finished product.

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Centra Signs Deal With SAP

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Centra has announced that the company's real-time collaboration application will be integrated

"with the SAP Learning Solution, a component of the mySAP Human Resources solution. The integration will provide a robust technology, training and performance support system that will enable individuals to successfully launch mission-critical virtual classroom training at the convenience of their desktop.

The SAP Learning Solution gives companies the ability to map specific courses to competency requirements, to associate learning activities and results with personal development plans, and to incorporate eLearning with classroom and other learning activities into blended curricula – without incremental implementation or customization costs."

This is another indicator of how the collaboration vendors are aligning themselves with enterprise application vendors as the maturation and commoditization of web conferencing occurs.

When every application has integrated collaboration services, it will be hard to sell a horizontal and unintegrated solution. Centra is moving with -- or perhaps -- ahead of the pack with this partnership.

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Pulver On FCC Ruling Re: Free World Dialup

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Jeff Pulver comments on the recent FCC ruling about his Free World Dialup service. In a nutshell, the FCC is willing to consider Internet-based VoIP more like instant messaging and email than a telephone network. However, services like Vonage, that incorporate integration to conventional telephone networks and devices (like handsets) are still in limbo.

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Visible Path Announces A Round Financing From Kleiner Perkins

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Visible Path announced a series A funding of $3.7 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers at the recent Business Development Institute sponsored "Social Networks: What's Next?" seminar, held last week in New York City (see my piece on the conference). Ray Lane, general partner of KPCB, joins the board.

My September column in Darwin, "Cracking the Social Code," treated Visible Path's value proposition and technology at some length.

"I think VisiblePath has cracked the code for enterprise adoption of social networking technology, which gets down to business basics and leaves the social altruism aside. It's not just building a better Rolodex: it's keeping your network happy, and at the same time making your partners' wallets fatter when they throw you a lead."

For more details, see the Press Release.

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February 12, 2004

BuddyLinks: About Us

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I tracked down the website of BuddyLinks, the service involved in the AIM "Osama Found" adware mess (see Buddylinks Trickery = IM Adware):

"BuddyLinks, a division of PSD Tools, was founded in 2003. Our aim is to bring people on the Web closer together with our patent-pending technology. Using future releases of BuddyLinks, users will be able harness our software to automatically transmit information -- whether it be job openings, party invitations, jokes or potential dates -- to their entire network of instant messaging buddies, all with just the click of a button. BuddyLinks brings together the best aspects of P2P apps, Social Networking software, and Instant Messaging to form a single, powerful tool.

Our mission is to entertain Web users with games and news by tapping into the natural social networks that their IM buddy groups form. We also understand that our compelling content is central to our success. That's what makes BuddyLinks unique, and we hope you and your friends enjoy the breath of fresh air BuddyLinks represents for the Web.

If you need to contact us, please feel free to email us at or snail mail us here:

1770 Mass. Ave. #213
Cambridge, MA

Hmmm. Why is it that the words they say doesn't seem to gibe with the mess they have stirred up?

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Lycos To Repurpose Itself As Social Networking Destination

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

From AP's Justin Pope, I learned that Lycos is repurposing its varied properties into a destination site for social networking:

"Terra Lycos [the 8th biggest brand on the web, by the way], trying to carve a niche in a Web portal realm dominated by its rivals, hopes an overhaul will make it a major player in the trendy Internet field of "social networking""
The company is not launching a new service -- like Google's Orkut -- but is simply respinning what it has as a "community of communities." The have and blog technologies. already.

Kind of a "ride the buzz" strategy, rather than a serioius investment in the technology side.

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Coming To An IM Client Near You

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

An interesting piece at about advertising in desktop apps. The data around IM clients shows why the IM networks are resisting interoperability: The war for ad eyeballs.

"Messaging Through Messengers

Instant messaging services include AOL Instant Messenger, with 20 percent, MSN Messenger Service at 19 percent and Yahoo! Messenger Service, with 12 percent of the active user base.

"People who use IM (Instant Messenger) do so throughout the day," said Derick Mains, an AOL spokesperson. "According to Comscore, over 50 million independent users are on AOL instant messaging products every month. It's prominent real estate, definitely.

"The Buddy Video is the little ad that runs on the top of your buddy list," said Mains. "Now, for the first time, AOL has been selling it as a video opportunity. Movie companies can repurpose their TV ads and run them in the space." Instead of seeing a static, two-dimensional ad, users see a streaming video ad with audio at the top of the buddy list, timed to appear only a couple of times in a 24-hour cycle. The new format is still being tested.

"In December, when we introduced it, we did a pilot and it sold immediately. Major advertisers loved it. Your buddy list is up all day, so it's un-missable. There are no other ads on the desktop, while on a Web site there could be several other competing ads," Mains noted."

So long as the financial model of the services is based on free access subsidized by advertising, we will not get to a universal instant messaging infrastructure. Imagine free telephone service, so long as you had to listen to ads and could only call other users of the same service.

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Buddylinks Trickery = IM Adware

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

A ZDNet piece digs into the recent AIM adware ploy by BuddyLinks. One aspect of the trickery employed is a bogus news story about Bin Laden getting captured:

"The application sends an IM to every person on an America Online user's buddy list and includes a link to a fake TV news Web site. A dialog box then asks if the user wants to install a "news player." However, the program instead plays a simple animated game, reconfigures AOL's instant messenger to receive advertising and once again sends a link to the fake news Web site to everyone on the new victim's buddy list."
AOL is considering legal action against BuddyLinks and the parent company, PSD Tools. So be cautious of IM's announcing Bin Laden's capture. The software is easy to uninstall, but you may wind up sending the adware along to all your buddies.

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February 10, 2004

Social Networking: What's Next

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Sitting in Palo Alto at the offices of MoFo (Morrison & Foerster) for the Business Development Institute's Social Software: What's Next?" Lee Greenhouse (Greenhouse Associates) will be herding the cats down the beach, who are

  • Mark Pincus (Tribe Networks)
  • Andrew Weinrich (I Stand For)
  • Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn
  • Antony Brydon (Visible Path)
  • Adrian Scott (Ryze)

...continue reading.

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Clay on Computerworld Article re Blogging in the Enterprise

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Clay writes over at Many2Many about blogging in the enterprise:

"... technology tends to be an amplifier, so streamlining things often makes a bad culture able to to get worse faster. If a company distrusts employee initiative, blogs won't help much, except maybe in that "precipitate a crisis" way -- they are tools, not magic pixie dust."
But I still think healthy cultures would do well with blogging-for-everyone approaches.

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More is Different: Social Search

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Bambi Francisco writes about Spoke Software's newly announced social search technology, and what she saw kind of freaked her out.

"Spoke, one of the rising social-networking upstarts which has raised more than $20 million in venture financing, is attempting to make the search process, or at least the searching-for-people process, more personalized and relevant.

By organizing information based on social networks drawn from members' address books and the people they communicate with through e-mails (and instant messaging in the future, I'm told), Spoke improves upon the average search engine's results. That's the cool part.

On the other hand, the data it pulls together includes information about millions of people who are not members and suggests a dark underside to search precision.

For instance, I haven't joined the Spoke service, yet I became one of the 13 million searchable people in Spoke's public network.

My profile on Spoke included a resume, notes about me, and a list of people who may know how to contact me. "

Spoke is harnessing public data about people, just like I might if I was considering hiring Bambi for a job. But the ease with which it can be done is unsetlling, just like the experience of seeing a Google map showing your home by simply providing your phone number.

This is a mild form of future shock.

New communication media are always disruptive, and are no respecters of the established order. The diffusion of email across the corporation spelled the end of middle management, and led to wholesale "rightsizing" of the enterprise. The emergence of the Internet led to the death of previous models of computing and communications. Social networking-based collaboration and communication technologies will upset other applecarts, and inevitably rewire etiquette and ethics as well.

Social networks exist in the world, and people's relatedness can be inferred from public information. I know that you sit on the board of company X, and therefore infer that you know Mike who is the CEO there. Spoke's is simply applying this logic to rank order search data.

The fact that computing power can be harnessed to accomplish this sort of inferencing in the large is what raises the hair on Bambi's neck. Yes, there is nothing stopping the uncrupulous from trying to use the power of this social inferencing to spam someone. (I am getting social spam daily, anyway, with or without social networking solutions to help, but at least with the social networking tools I can anonymously reject requests.)

But my stance is that the tools are not the issue: prosecute the spammers, create mechanisms to preclude email without proven identities, etc.

Meanwhile, I look forward to a better mechanism to sift through the 16,877 hits I can get associated with "Bambi" so I can actually get the information I need. And I promise not to spam you, Bambi.

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Glen Vondrick Steps Down As Facetime CEO, Kailash Ambwan Assumes Role

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Web conferencing veteran, Kailish Ambwan has been appointed the new CEO of Facetime Communications, according to a company press release. Glen Vondrick, the hard-charging and sometimes combative former CEO, will continue on the advisory board.

Facetime is a leader in the instant messaging management software area, with competitors like IMlogic and Akonix. These firms provide management of instant messaging, including logging, archiving, regulatory compliance, and public IM gateway support.

Ambwani's background is a good fit for the convergence between instant messaging and web conferencing, an area of overlap and inevitable collision.

"Most recently, Mr. Ambwani was chief operating officer with global P&L responsibility for Genesys Conferencing, a leader in integrated audio, video and Web conferencing services. Genesys has annual revenues of $200M with 17,000 customers and operations in 18 countries."

Vondrick has a reputation of rankling management at the various instant messaging companies that Facetime needs to cooperate with. In one well-known example, Facetime released news of its partnership with AOL a week ahead of AOL's planned announcement.

No doubt, one of Ambwani's first tasks will be to heal these strained relations, as well as to shift the strategic direction of the company to prepare for the convergence of all real-time collaboration -- web conferencing, instant messaging, video, VoIP, and so on.

I hope to interview Ambwani in the near term.

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February 09, 2004

iChat Adds Video Support for AIM

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Apple iChat AV 2.1 now supports video conferencing with users of AIM 5.5. This opens up a wider world for Mac OS users of iChat, but does not reach users of other networks, like MSN, Yahoo, and Jabber.


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After The Frenzy, People Don't Feel Friendly

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

A recent piece by Verne Kopytoff of the San Francisco Chronicle digs into the emptiness of social networking without purpose. If your networking activities are not serving an aim aside from gaming the system -- seeing who can be more connected, who has more fans, or whatever -- at some point the fun wears off. This algal bloom is gumming up the plumbing in social networking, and will lead to a hype bounce, when the anti-pundits start writing "I told you so" articles.

Kopytoff writes:

"But the question remains whether the Web sites can keep users interested beyond the initial few months. After users link up with all their friends and browse their profiles -- then what?"

It's a question that many social networking companies are only now addressing. Some are planning to add new features for dating, job hunting and business networking, activities that are already taking place more informally on the Web sites."

The secret (is it a secret?) to supporting anything online is to a/ find an existing constituency that is underserved and b/ serve it with tools that augment what is already going on.

The recent froth over Urkut -- the Google SNA that provides very little support for anything other than making friends and sending messages -- is a good example of empty networking. There is no there, there.

Meanwhile the real value proposition for SNAs -- getting "work" done faster and better -- is being pushed to the back so that everyone can roll up the rugs to have a party.

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February 08, 2004

AgileMessenger: Mobile Access to All Major IM Services

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Posted by Stowe Boyd has announced availability of AgileMessenger. a mobile instant messaging gateway that allows users to login to Yahoo, AOL, ICQ, and MSN at the same time. The download is free , and is now available for Symbian OS compatible phones, including Nokia 7650 / 3650 / 6600 / N-Gage, Sony Ericsson P800 / P900, and Siemens SX1, and MS Windows Smartphones.

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IBM Mercury: Intelligent Medium Switching

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I read a short piece at New Scientist about a research project at IBM called Mercury, which helps switching from one medium, like voice over POTS, to another, such as IM.

Mercury "will track where you are at work, at home, in the street and plug you into the medium you prefer in that location, whether it be cellphone, email, instant messaging, pager or landline phone.

Mercury can also be made "context aware", by detecting whether a laptop is running a presentation, for example. You could then set it to refrain from sending a message that would interrupt a business presentation, but allow it through if a game is being played."

The project is at least three years from being commercialized, and this vision -- a system intelligently picking how best to reach you based on presence information -- is certainly driving development at Microsoft and other vendors as well.

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Former Visio Execs to develop Social Networking for Longhorn

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I read in Microsoft Watch that several former Visio/Microsoft execs

"have banded together to form a new company that is developing social-networking software and Web services that will build on top of .Net and Microsoft's forthcoming Longhorn Windows operating system.

The new venture, The Graw Group, officially launched in October 2003. The principals behind Graw include Jeremy Jaech and Ted Johnson, the co-founders of Visio."

I did a short stint consulting to Visio back in 1998 or 1997, and spoke at two of their conferences. I will try to track them down and find out what is going on.

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February 07, 2004

Amy Jo Kim

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I had the opportunity to meet Amy Jo Kim this weekend (while attending the Working Communities workshop. Amy Jo is the author of Community Building on the Web, and her blog is Social Architect.

She related some experiences in developing social architectures, and in particular discussed the transtion away from place-centric online communities to a people-centric model. This is well captured in a recent post at her blog:

"What I see all around me now are networked social tools that have 'emergent purpose.' This is an old theme in new clothing -- the 'build it and they will come' belief that connecting people is STEP 1, and the purpose and business model for a cool online social tool will emerge over time. I saw a lot of companies fail as they followed this ethic - particularly those that created and marketed FREE tools & services built around chat, message boards and virtual worlds. The companies who made real money connecting people online -- Amazon, eBay, SOE (makers of Everquest) -- built their community infrastructure around a shared, meaningful activity other than pure socializing.
I confess I was elated when she turned to me, prior to her presentation, and said "Aren't you Stowe Boyd? I love your writing." Yow!

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February 06, 2004


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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I had the opportunity today (while attending a small workshop on Working Communities in the SF area) to get an introduction and tour of Sun's program for flexible and mobile workers, called iWork@Sun.

It's no surprise that during the dark days of the last few years, employees like Sun found themselves saddled with far more office space than needed, and increasingly managing a global, mobile, and commute-averse workforce. The result? The iWork@Sun initiative, which has moved nearly holf of Sun's 35,000 staff into a flexible worksplace program, that relies on a "hoteling" style reservations of availble flex space in various Sun facilities.

I gleaned some of the facts that motivated iWork@Sun:

  • 30-35% of staff were not "badging" into assigned locations
  • Analysis of office-use data showed that providing far less seats would meet actual demand. Seat supply of 1 seat:1.2 staff (in engineering) - 2.5 staff (in field sales) people would meet actual demand for workspace (typically would be 0.85:1 ratio)
  • 75% of staff desired to work from home, at least some of the time
  • Sun's drop-in centers had already reached higher demand than supply

Since implementation, Sun has acheived $71M annual cost savings, which they estimate will grow to $150M as they ocntinue to roll out the program and as the company grows. This is based on 35K employees overall, with 17K in the iWork@Sun program.

Staff are willing participants, with those involved surveyed at 77% satisfaction levels, and average 3.1 commute hours saved per week. Employees estimate a 54% productivity gain, which Sun representatives agree is a highly subjective figure but again indiciative of satisfaction levels. Note that employees give back 60% of saved time -- reduced commutes, etc. -- to Sun.

Note: only a tiny 1% have opted to work completely at home. This apparently requires a very unusual personality to make it work. 59% remain in traditional dediicated office settings, but 49% of the population now flex their situation.

The technology that underlies the program is what Sun refers to as "Wired Mobility" -- thin client, diskless Java 'terminals' called SunRays, as well as a variety of sophisticated infrastructure to support flex working, such as Java cards that support login on any SunRay.

iWork@Sun has necessitated a shift in organizational theory and an emphasis on remote management skills, including self-management, that Sun has worked hard to inculcate throughout the company. Basics include moving to paperless information management, and a strong reliance on online collaboration.

We had a demo of the Sun Meeting Central tool [presented by Patricia Roberts, Product Manager iWork, and Nicole Yankelovich, principal investigator Sun Labs], which in some ways is quite conventional (i.e., presentation sharing), but which also supports some sophisticated moderation through the Facilitator tool. In particular, the integration of voice conferencing features is very rich -- automatically denoting which participant is speaking with a 'presence'-like icon in the Facilitator window.

In the small, I don't see the Meeting Central tool as really competitive with other web conferencing solutions -- at least not in the current incarnation. For example, the tool lacks integration with instant messaging, and no support for video conferencing.

However, I left extremely impressed with the iWork@Sun initiative as a whole -- the management approach and execution, the serious savings, the acceptance of the new model of organization by the staff, and the ability of Sun to develop a strong hardware and software infrastructure to support the new way of doing business. Definitely an indicator of things to come. Sun is planning to make iWork@Sun a product in the not-to-distant future. For more information, contact Glenn Dirks ( at Sun.

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February 05, 2004

Dvorak Relents

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

John Dvorak had one last comment as the outcome of our interchange yesterday arising originally as a result of some observations about the inutility of instant messaging:

"I didn't know that these notes constituted "learned discourse." That said I relent. You win."
Once again, truth triumphs over ignorance! (wink)

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February 04, 2004

Bottom-up Trends Into Topdown: Death To Deanism

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Lessig points out that a grassroots campaign that decides to retreat into centralization will fail:

"Fire someone who built the most extraordinary grass-roots organization in history, and hire a Washington lobbyist in his stead. Now we’re making progress."

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An Exchange With Dvorak

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Email exchange with John Dvorak, columnist for PC Magazine, arising from my comments on his recent column, in which he presents his case for the uselessness of IM.

John Dvorak:

"I've heard this before...but you lost me with the dismissive summary: /In the final analysis, Dvorak just doesn't get it. IM adoption is a generational phenomenon, and his statements show that he is strictly '80s in his thinking: stuck in the inbox. Probably thinks blogging is a joke, too./

read this to understand why"

The article referenced suggests that many innovative trends behind technology trends are fueled by drugs and wild-eyed psuedo-religious cults, like EST:

"The world of mumbo-jumbo self-actualization hokum is important to the dot-com litany. Much of the computer revolution is tied up with such thinking systems. Their influence is here to stay, just as the influence of drugs—marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines—fuels many high-tech companies at one level or another. Just look at some of the boom-time business plans, in retrospect. The people who drew them up were snorting something. Welcome to California."

Stowe Boyd:

"John -

I thought my tone matched yours fairly well. You don't get the value proposition for IM, and think that it doesn't have a serious role in the enterprise, if anywhere. Your paragraph on IM was dismissive.

Re: your piece on "not getting it" and the rise of various faddish and bubblicious software crazes -- all innovations rise through the agency of "innovators" and "early adopters", both the successful and unsuccessful ones. In the piece, you mention a long series of innovations that didn't catch on, but I could have just as easily reeled off examples like PDAs (the Newton was a true failure, but the innovation has been proven), email, portable computers, cell phones, web conferencing, and, yes, instant messaging.

The gibes about drugs and EST aside, some people just don't "get" certain innovations, and this is often generational. While I agree that "paradigm shift" is overused, Thomas Kuhn's observations about scientific revolutions is completely apt relative to the generational shift to instant messaging:

"According to research conducted by AOL (America Online) about 93 percent of 13-to-17-year-olds use some kind of Internet instant messaging system, and 73 percent say they use instant messaging more than e-mail."
"Also according to AOL’s research, when given a choice between television, telephone, instant messaging and radio, and told they could have access to only one form of communication for a month, 41 percent of teens chose television, 33 percent chose instant messaging and just 17 percent chose the telephone." (

Kids, teenagers, and hipsters simply use IM and appreciate its esthetic, while others are less likely to. There are many precedents that are a counterpoint to your examples of pen computing, and Ken Olsen stated flatly that "there is no need for a computer in the home," and as a result Digital completely missed the PC revolution. I was consulting for Novell when senior management collectively convinced themselves that the Internet was not a real threat to their networking business, and as a result the Groupwise product missed the boat for getting with the web, and Frankenburg lost his job. The 'get a horse' examples are endless.

The financial services industry is the leading sector where real-time messaging and collaboration technology has become a baseline requirement for everyday operations. In the trading community, hundreds of thousands of users are involved in IM-based interactions every day. The same will come to be the case in nearly all information intensive work in the future --- partly as a result of the hard benefits of real-time communications (such as presence and availability information, and increase productivity through time savings) but also as a result of the adoption of the style and form of real-time communication.

- Stowe"

John Dvorak:

"to tell you the truth these VC phrases such as "value proposition" -- which is a completely meaningless phrase -- do nothing to help your argument.

let's examine this idiotic term...

Value 1. a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged 2. the monetary worth of something *:* marketable price 3. relative worth, utility, or importance [a good /value/ at the price] [the /value/ of base stealing in baseball] [had nothing of /value/ to say]

1. a (1) something offered for consideration or acceptance *: PROPOSAL (2) a. request for sexual intercourse b. the point to be discussed or maintained in argument usually stated in sentence form near the outset c. a theorem or problem to be demonstrated or performed 2 a. an expression in language or signs of something that can be believed, doubted, or denied or is either true or false b. the objective meaning of a proposition

combining these two words is nothing less than silly

I'm guessing that what you mean to use is "worth" as in I don't understand the worth of IM. This may be true. Or possibly I do understand it and reject it anyway. But instead of saying it simply you use the condescending language of Silicon Valley 20-something bullshitters trying to sound important. So how can I take this seriously?

Stowe Boyd [Who is not used to not being taken seriously]:

""Value proposition" is a well-understood marketing and management term, and my using it does not make me a bullshitter, 20-something or otherwise.

"Value proposition - 1. The unique added value an organization offers customers through their operations." [Carla O'Dell & C.Jackson Grayson]. "Value proposition: A clear, simple statement — resulting from a set of very disciplined choices — describing what a customer can expect from us in the way of goods and services (including quality, timeliness and innovation) and the price that customer is willing to pay." - Weyerhauser. Although I was applying the concept to a technology, the concept is the same.

I wasn't -- and still am not -- trying to be condescending, although I maintain that you don't agree with the (dare I say it) value proposition for IM."

I wonder what he is going to say next? Is it possible that this passes for learned discourse, today?

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Gushing for Gush

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I got an interesting email:

Hi Stowe,

I'm a regular "Get Real" reader, and I just wanted to let you know about our
product Gush ( I figured you'd be interested since it
integrates Instant Messaging (XMPP) with RSS news reading. We've also added
something called IM Blogging (Announcements). IM Blogging which has been going on for a while now in the form of AOL Away Messaging, but really hasn't matured enough because of limits in other IM clients. Anyway, please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope you find it interesting.

Dudley Carr

My interest piqued, I took a look.


Example of Gush Sidechat

First Take

2Entwine's Gush is a really interesting fusion of several ideas:

  • Replacing the sequential 'strokes' of IM text with 'sidechat' -- using two columns with the text from the IM participants displayed side-by-side.
  • The blending of real-time communication -- IM -- with slow-time communication. But this is *not* an integration with conventional email; instead, Gush provides the notion of "conversations" -- a persistent , searchable, accessible log of your ongoing conversation with someone. The image above is a conversation I had with Dudley, yesterday.


Gush RSS Feed

  • Gush leverages the concepts of RSS in several ways:

    • There is a more or less conventional RSS reader (see above)
    • Announcements that Gush users post form a lightweight blog, searchable by friends or associates. The readership of these entries is based on user selected buddy list groups. These also serve as an 'away' message. (see below)


    Gush Announcement

    This combination of features is really a breakthrough. The unification of all my communications -- real-time, broadcast, and slow-time -- into a single app is very, very attractive.

    One of the limitations of a gated community model like that of IM products like Gush is that there is no way to post content to the wide wide world. I hope that Gush is extended to support blog features like trackback -- then I can comment on external blogs from within the Gush 'announcements' model. Still, I think the notion of community-oriented postings -- within a workgroup or social group -- is well supported by the Gush model. Perhaps a tiny tweak to support posting announcements to external blogs or external users via email gateway would solve the closed world problem. Ditto the need for comments -- if I am using announcements as a mini-blog, then folks need to be able to mini-comment, too.

    Anyway, I love it. I want everyone to switch over to Gush, so I can use it instead of the myriad other IM clients on my desktop. For the moment, Gush is free and the company will host your use. It has only been launched this week, and I don't know how many folks are signed up, but I predict a fast uptake.

    Gush is built on top of the Jabber protocol. so you can communicate with other Jabber users. I asked Dudley about gateways to the public networks:

  • stoweboyd: No gateways to AIM, Yahoo, or MSN?
  • Dudley: No, and there is a good reason for that. We'd have to reduce some of the functionality if we want to interopt. Also the gateways are really unreliable.

    Well... there are other reasons to consider interoperability. But for the moment, I will be eager to get others to use Gush, and drop their other clients. It's just cause I am so selfish. Please go download it. My address is '' -- ping me.

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    John Dvorak Weighs In On IM

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    In the Feb 17 issue of PC Magazine [with a lead story about how broken the email system is] John Dvorak's column features some boneheaded sniping about instant messaging:

    "The always-on notion has led to the creation of numerous IM networks. Some analysts have even predicted the future of business would depend on IM. But why do we need to know when somebody is online? Just to say hi? Direct computer-to-computer links like IM are channels for future problems.
    I hardly know where to start.

    First of all, knowing if someone is online is incredibly beneficial. Not so you can say "Hi," but so you can get an answer to a question, or resolve an issue RIGHT NOW, not at some who-knows-when time in the future when the email is opened and dealt with. And with more sophisticated use of presence and availability you would be able to see that your friend Joe is online, but on the phone (like eDial's telephony-sensitive presence), or that he is online but only on his PDA or phone.

    More importantly, IM networks are highly resistent to spam, or spim. Individuals have to confirm their identities to get accounts, and must actively login to gain access to the network. The fire-and-forget model of the Internet email systems encourage spammers becuase the barrriers are so low. The barriers in IM networks are relatievly high. And since I can block strangers and specific individuals from IMing me, I have a great degree of control in IMland that I don't in email.

    Enterprises can monitor IM use and turn off features that are potentially dangerous, such as file transfers, if they wish. This is no more prone to harming the enterprise than email, and given the identity verification of IM networks, is less likely to cause trouble.

    In the final analysis, Dvorak just doesn't get it. IM adoption is a generational phenomenon, and his statements show that he is strictly '80s in his thinking: stuck in the inbox. Probably thinks blogging is a joke, too.

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    Chris Allen on Orkut

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Chris Allen has a long post -- Followup on Orkut -- that digs into the furor over at Google's Orkut social networking service. Chris, like Marc Canter and other very active users, has been placed in Orkut 'jail' -- locked out of his account -- and has received some interesting emails from the Orkut staff regarding his suggestions about the service:

    "You are a bit annoying, and you seem to go about making things a better in the same way a child goes about crying to his mom because he didn't get his 4th lemon pop in a row."
    Touchy, eh?

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    February 03, 2004

    Kubi Announces v1.2

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Kubi Software announced version 1.2 of their client and server. Kubi is one of the companies (like ePeople, ZeroDegrees, and, long ago, Zaplet) that are extending the traditional use of email clients like Outlook with more sophisticated collaborative capabilities. See my Knowledge Management article from July where I review v1.1.

    [tags: ]

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    CRN Judges LCS Product of the Year

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Somehow I completely missed the report in CRN that Microsoft Live Communications Server won the magazine's product of the year award:

    "Live Communications Server provides encrypted instant messaging, archiving and follows industry accepted SIP/SIMPLE communication protocols. Moreover, it offers an integrated presence-awareness feature that allows users to know if other users are connected online, busy or offline. The presence-awareness feature can easily be tied to other Office products and other applications through an API. Especially since it is integrated into Office, Live Communications Server is the most effective collaboration server CRN Test Center engineers reviewed this year."
    While I haven't gone the path of awards (although we should consider that, Hylton), I have to agree with the thrust of CRN's comments: see First Take: Microsoft Live Communications Server.

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