"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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October 29, 2004

33 Million Americans Can't Be Wrong

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

A recent Pew Internet study discovered that

33 million American internet users have reviewed or rated something as part of an online rating system

As more Americans use the internet for entertainment, for building personal relationships, and as a tool for conducting business, online rating systems have become a significant element of internet use.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 26% of adult internet users in the U.S., more than 33 million people, have rated a product, service, or person using an online rating system. These systems, also referred to as “reputation systems,” are online applications that allow users to express their opinions and read opinions posted by other participants.

And no surprise, the younger you are, the more likely you are to have rated something online.

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

Scopo: Mitsubishi Wearable Display

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

scopo2.jpgI bumped into the Scopo at Future Now.

I have wanted this gizmo for years.

The screen is what forces PC manufacturers to make laptop PCs so large. Once wearable displays like the Scopo are affordable, the PC can become a small brick that stays in your shoulder bag, communicating by wireless (a la bluetooth) with your display and keyboard.

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

Middlespace: Where Bottom-Up Meets Top-Down

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Ross has a great piece where he introduces the term Middlespace:

Ross Mayfield
[from Many-to-Many - Middlespace]

Bottom-up phenomena has [sic] accelerated in recent years because of social software. A relatively simple decentralized pattern of enabling more connections and groups to form has complex results. These results (for example: open source, the long tail, heterarchical organization, emergent democracy, wikipedia and participatory media) hold great promise. Bottom-up production is driven by social incentives, comes at a lower cost, realizes economies of speed and enhances quality through diverse and greater participation. Despite these benefits, Bottom-up phenomena is perceived as a significant risk because the dynamic of control is uncertain. But every risk has its rewards and can be managed if known.

He goes on to relate examples where top-down control reaches down into the swarm of bottom up activities and creates a "middlespace" where merit and reward are provided from on high, but the logic of who gets the merit or rewards are determined by the swarm itself.

This is the emerging model of control: let the swarm control itself. Businesses that learn to operate in the middlespace will win, while those that continue to operate solely in a top-down fashion will lose.

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

Useless Social Network Toys

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Suw equates the faddishness of social network offerings with the Rubik's Cube, which came and went once people got bored with twisting the object without getting anywhere. She goes on to suggest that aSmallworld, the oh-so-exclusive by-invitation-only social network operation, will fail because of a lack of focus, while solutions like Last.FM and Flikr will flourish, because they support a sort of virtual social intimacy. Knowing what someone is listening to, or peering at their world through their photo montage, brings us closer. Just having a gated community does not create closeness.

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Evite Goes Social

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

ev_3launch8_120x600.gifI know it looks like Evite is advertising in this piece, but they're not. I have created an evite to get a bunch of folks together for a cocktail party in Palo Alto next Friday (ping me if you want to be invited -- no trolls, please). While fiddling I noticed this new social slant in the ad: read reviews written by your friends.

This is another example of the ongoing trend where every online experience will be socialized by your network.

Of course the negative in this case is the incredibly bad user experience with importing contacts into Evite: no Outlook or instant messaging integration? Come on, get with it. The features related to keeping count of attendees, their comments, etc., are good, but I want to use my buddy list, thank you very much.

And shouldn't these guys be pioneering in the whole area of geolocation? The "ships passing in the night" service that I have wanted for years -- where friends can be informed when contacts happen to be in the same town or neighborhood (sort of like DodgeBall or Plazes) -- shouldn't Evite provide that as the context for having a get-together? Get real, guys.

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

Blog Continuum Sparklines

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

In some ways related to the discussion that Marc Eisenstadt and I have been pursuing the last few weeks about the ways to represent blog-to-blog dialog, I stumbled upon a really interesting thread at Functioning Form: a Tufte-inspired representation of an on-going narrative on a blog that spans many entries.

[from Functioning Form - Web-log Continuum Sparklines]

There are a number of ways to organize Web-log posts (entries):

  • Date: time, month, day, year
  • Popularity: number of comments, links, views
  • Category: topic, theme
  • Author: who wrote it, who commented on it, who linked to it
  • Narrative sequence: evolution of an idea or story

Of these, the last option is probably the least common, yet potentially the most compelling for readers.

To address this, I introduced Web-log continuums last month that added a contextually relevant path for readers interested in how a particular idea has continued to evolve. But these links only tell half the story: they look forward and see if any posts dated after the current post reference it. To get the full story, I have taken a page from Edward Tufte’s sparklines playbook.

Tufte defines sparklines as “intense, design simple, word sized graphics that can gracefully and intensely narrate on-going results in detail.” Though best suited for print (due to their intense resolutions), sparklines can also introduce a lot of contextual (and perhaps even actionable) information to Web blog posts.

continuum_sparklines.gifHere you see his representation of the blog continuum as a sparkline.

There are any number of ways that the display could be intrumented, and LukeW mentions a number of them. The spread between lines could represent the time dimension, weight could represent length of piece, etc.

I think the community dimension is potentially more interesting. How many readers of each entry could make the lines fatter, perhaps; or ratings (either explicit, or implicit: by link count) could be represented by a color dimension.

And finally the real-time presence aspect of the display: how many people are engaged in reading the various entries, right now? I have toyed with various swarming technologies in the past, where the number and even identities of individuals reading a post are displayed at the margin of the blog (a la Eyebees) and you are presented with the opportunity to join others in the swarm, and co-browse to the stories they are reading.

So, what I guess I want is a widget on the bottom of every story that has both flavors of time facets. On one hand, a slow-time chronology element that represents the linkage of the entry to others with various weights, distribution and colors denoting time sequence, popularity, and the like; while on the other hand, a real-time instantaneous representation of swarm involvement in the thread, like who's reading what, who's saying what (yes, of course I want chat integrated!), and how many are where at the present time.

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

October 28, 2004

Blogging and the B-Side

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Posted by Gregory Narain

Everyone, except you real younguns, probably remembers buying music in some tangible format (vinyl, 8-track, cassette, or CD). A common practice, then and now, was for the best information to make it to the front, the A-Side. Other music, many times music that the musician, not the label, wanted, is placed on the flip side, B-Side.

Perhaps a common misconception of the B-Side is that it's "riddled with crap". Fortunately, I've heard many a B-Side that's good if not better than the A. Jimmie recently got me thinking about this as applies to blogging when he mentioned a photoblogger than was sorting his posts this way.

My first reaction to the notion was good, honestly. I really liked the idea that there was a place for overflow. It wasn't until last night, as we finished up some plans for the launch of a new blog (sorry can't tell more until next week), that I realized how much I could use one myself.

SocialTwister has never really been a personal blog. I see what I do here as part of work, but it's an enjoyable part (sometimes more than others). I tend to have a policy of posting only once a day. I do this to ensure that I give each post enough consideration and thought. My schedule is just too busy to write more often and I like to do my best once a day. Subsequent posts in the same day would be little quickies and against my goal.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with posting lots of times a day, it's in the DNA of bloggers. I get the urge many times to just throw stuff up, but I won't. I need a B-Side. If I had a B-Side, I would be able to be looser with my policy. I could post the meaty piece here and then lots of other things over there. Next week, I'll be starting that process.

I'm curious how you're all dealing with your content. Do you simply have different categories that you post to for filtering purposes (the pegboard approach)? Do you have on dumping category (the kitchen draw approach)? Do you have multiple blogs (the B-Side approach)? Do you just not say anything at all that's out of character?

If you've got a B-Side, can you provide links to both of your identities for some comparison?

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

Marc's Heresy IV: Stowe Gets Played?

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

It looks like Marc has decided to take our dialog about "pay-for-ink" very personally (see Marc's Voice: On my own - HAH!), while I was really trying to keep to the ethical issue.

I don't think of myself as a namby-pamby academic type, sniffing the flowers and about to get trampled by the Wal-Marts (as Eric Rice suggests). Corante is actively working to promote more-or-less conventional advertising on our Industry Insider blogs, and we are also at work on several very innovative projects with sponsors (soon to be announced) where we are blending blogging and sponsorship in cool ways.

But I can't support "pay-for-ink" because I think it swings too far.

But I am not really trying to convince Marc, so much as stating what I think is the correct path to walk. Marc is (obviously) free to pursue whatever course he chooses to. And if I am reacting just like Marc knew I would, fine. I am not trying to conceal what I think, or create some convoluted argument. It doesn't bother me that my reaction is predicable; so I don't feel played.

In the final analysis, the market is Darwinian. If "pay-for-ink" works, people will gobble it up. But I doubt it.

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

IM + Massively Multiplayer Games = Otoy?

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Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

A recent piece in the New York Times Technology ('Circuits') section (free subscription required) describes some nifty activity being undertaken by Jules Urbach of Groove Alliance. The work, aside from providing a fast 3D-rendering engine for web-based media, promises to bring massively multiplayer gaming to the 'lightweight presence' world of Instant Messaging.

Mr. Urbach['s ...] invention, which he calls Otoy, is a game engine that piggybacks on instant messaging, and thus it is something of a Holy Grail in the software world. For years, developers have been trying to figure out ways to turn instant messaging into a multipronged medium that goes beyond mere chat to integrate games, e-mail and Web browsing; in the gloaming of a guest bedroom, Mr. Urbach believes he may well have come up with the skeleton key that will open IM to an era of hyper-functionality.

If it pans out as promised, this is going to be a very interesting development in the world of Synchronous Social Software. True, you can already bring fellow IM-ers into various games, but typically small games. True, you can already engage in IM-like activities in the big blockuster MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games.. sometimes better known as MMORPGs if you include the RP=Role Playing), epitomized by Everquest and Asheron's Call: these games involve hundreds of thousands of participants, but necessarily there are a much smaller number on your personal radar screen at any moment.

The cool thing about Otoy, at least from my perspective, is that it would allow simple 'massive crowd' games (think of a Mexican wave in a big stadium), which is the direction Yanna Vogiazou and I have been heading in, with early entrants like her BumperCars and CitiTag games. We'll be talking about how these games fit together with the BuddySpace instant messaging / geolocation framework at the forthcoming ACM Symposium on Applied Computing in a 'Ubiquitous Computing' track in March 2005, and as that progresses I'll be posting related developments here on Get Real. Readers interested in big-crowd presence and gaming, whether real, virtual or mixed-reality, may also be motivated to check out this List of Urban Mobile Games (from Howard Rheingold via several intermediate sources).

In the meantime we look forward to seeing how Otoy evolves.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Art & Entertainment | Technology

Ethics of the Flu Vaccine Shortage: What Would Network Science Do?

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

The flu vaccine shortage has brought to high relief the inability of our government to effectively respond to public health threats. This is the result of a laisser faire attititude toward the safety net that the government has an implicit obligation to put and keep in place for the old, young, and needy, but even more chilling, as the direct result of outdated ethics.

Confronted with a shortage of flu vaccine, the health care apparatchiks have responded in a 19th century, "women and children first" approach, which may feel like the ethical response, but is in fact not well-grounded scientifically. It turns out that doling out the scarce flu vacinations to those most at risk will not counter the threat of epidemic. The government bereaucrats may continue in the old, wrong-headed, and unscientific rhetoric, but the public heath people should know better.

Network science has shown that human interaction is scale free: that is to say, some of us have significantly more contacts that the rest of us. As scale-free networks grow, those with more contacts are more likely to add new contacts. This is the power law of popularity and influence that we have seen at work everywhere in human interactions.

Research into the spread of diseases like AIDS has suggested an alternative approach to breaking the non-linear expansion of the epidemic, which diffuses through the population just like innovations:

Albert-László Barabási
[from Linked]

Despite differences in purpose and detail, all diffusion models predict the same phenomenon: Each innovations has a well-defined spreading rate, representing the likelihood that it will be adopted by a person introduced to it. [...] Yet knowing the spreading rate alone is not sufficient to decide the fate of an innovation. For what we must calculate is the critical threashold, a quantity determined by the properties of the network in which the innovation spreads. If the spreading rate of the innovation is less than the critical threshold, it will die out quickly. If it is over the threshold, however, than the number of people adopting it will increase expoentially until everybody who could use it does.

Recognizing that passing a critical threashold is the prerequisite for the spread of fads and viruses was probably the most important conceptual advance in understanding in spreading and diffusion. Currently the critical threshold is part of every diffusion theory. Epidemiologists work with it when they model the probablity that a new infection will turn into an epidemic, as the AIDS virus did. [...]

For decades, a simple but powerful paradigm dominated our treatment of diffusion problems. If we wanted to estimate the probability that an innovation would spread, we needed only to know its spreading rate and the critical threshold it faced. Recently, however, we learned that some viruses and innovations are oblivious to it.

Research into the spread of computer viruses has led to a new, network science-based approach to modeling -- and countering -- human epidemics.

Albert-László Barabási
[from Linked]

The deadly virus [AIDS] must have followed the route already spotted in the spread of innovation and computer viruses: Hubs are among the first infected thanks to their numerous sexual contacts. Once infected, they quickly infect hundreds of others. If our sex web formed a homogeneous, random network, AIDS might have died out long ago. The scale-free topology of AIDS dispersal allowed the virus to spread and persist.

So the problem before us, ethically, should not be "find those who are the most at risk, and vaccinate them," but rather "who among us are most likely to be the hubs in the spread of the flu? Find them, and vaccinate them."

Especially when supplies are limited, the best hope to stem the rise of the epidemic is to find the most connected individuals in the population -- which in this case means physically connected, not virtually -- and immediately vaccinate them.

I am no expert in the determination of who are the most connected people, but it would likely include some obvious -- and non-obvious -- walks of life. Various kinds of public and health service workers come to mind: doctors, nurses, and other folks in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices who come in contact with the old, young, and infirm are obvious candidates. Starbucks barristas, taxi cab drivers, and bartenders -- while not at risk, necessarily, to succumbing to the flu -- are likely disease vectors who might spread the disease to hundreds of others if they were to contract it. I am even willing to concede that our Senators and Representatives to Congress are likely to fall into this group, and therefore administering vaccine to this group is in the public interest, even while it may appear to be self-serving.

While some have argued that adminstering AIDS counteragents (we still have no vaccine) to those who are most promiscuous only rewards unsavory and immoral behavior, we have no such quandary in this case. The flu is not a sexually transmitted disease, so there is no moral dimension to vaccinating the bus driver: he could infect hundreds of old, young, and infirm every day. And he would do so simply through doing his job, not through some arguably anti-social act. And worst of all, he could infect two dozen other bus drivers, who would infect thousands, again.

The scale-free network is there, we all know it, and you can't wish it away. Our best choice is to apply what we know.

The stupidity du jour is the bone-headed notion of vaccine lotteries. This is totally dumb, and intelligent people eveywhere should rise up against its apparent "fairness." It flies in the face of reason, and squanders perhaps our only chance to stop the spread of the flu in a population confronted with an inadequate supply of vaccine.

The outcome of better science should be the betterment of society, on the whole, and an improvement in every individual's life. However, this is only true if those that govern our collective resources wisely take into account the best scientific thought. If they, on the other hand, disregard science and devolve into outdated ethics and pseudo-scientific mumbo gumbo, they should be hounded from office.

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October 27, 2004

Marc's Heresy III

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Marc Canter's plan to create a little controversy around his "pay for ink" proposal has created a firestorm of contention, and my last post on the subject received pings from Marc, and J Luster, as well as a bunch of good comments by Zbigniew Lukasiak, TDavid, rick gregory, and Richard MacManus (Suw's wisecrack doesn't count).

The lines seem to be pretty clearly drawn, On one side, those that contend that "pay-for-ink" is bad, because it will pollute the trust and athenticity that bloggers live by. This camp includes Jason Calcanis, David Weinberger, J Luster, and me. On the other, Marc is pretty much on his own.

However, some interesting middle ground:

  • Zbigniew points out that marketing departments do pay for survey information even when you check "this product blows" -- so in some aggregated way any ink might be considered good. But do companies actually want to pay someone to say that their product sucks?
  • TDavid lists a number of services and sites that do blend content and product: "Epinions, WayPath, Lockergnome ... all sites that utiltize affiliate text links in and around content (and effectively, BTW). Calcanis's crusade is well-intentioned but misguided and comes off looking absurd considering the abundance of websites (and blogs too) that are already inserting advertising inside blog entries effectively for advertisers." But I think the difference here is that the ads are insinuated into the content automagically, and the authors are not being paid to make the comments. It happens the other way around: they make comments on something -- a Sony device -- and the content is then hyperlinked to some click through mechanism, and any micropayments are delivered to Epinions. This is not a blogger being paid to blog about the device

This is a debate that will never be over, because we all want to move beyond just selling real estate over there in the margin. But jumping all the way over to being a shill is too far to go, Marc.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Marketing

October 25, 2004

WSJ quits AvantGo

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Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

SUMMARY: Wall Street Journal "PDA newsfeed" via AvantGo terminated. Why?


I tend to read a lot of news on my PDA (happens to be a fully-loaded iPaq 5550, about which I wrote an extended review and update). There are many reasons for this... most important of all being the anytime/anyplace functionality and just-big-enough form factor of the iPaq to make this a worthwhile (and generally quite informative) end-user experience. Because I'm always synched with my emails, I get any RSS blogfeeds automatically via NewsGator, which is synched with my email Inbox and therefore with my PDA. At the same time, I always run AvantGo's ActiveSync module, so I also get a number of 'channels', i.e. news-feeds available via the AvantGo's free service.

Importantly for me as an avid news-hound, the different services tend to provide very different subjective experiences. Whenever possible, I like reading selected bloggers and news sources in their 'native habitats', i.e. the web browsing experience for which many of them are designed -- this is especially beneficial when multimedia snippets are included. In case of 'cognitive overload' (i.e. normal life), then quick perusal of many stories via a news aggregator is extremely valuable.

AvantGo differs from typical (automated) RSS feeds in that it is a 'clipping service', which offers a 'sensibly-rendered' variant of news feeds that look quite nice on a PDA, and contain all the important content. Not as rich as the full web experience, but not as impoverished as many RSS feeds. With this in mind, I was somewhat startled when browsing my AvantGo pages on my PDA late last night to see the following alert on my (rarely-accessed but sometimes-valuable) Wall Street Journal 'channel':

We are sorry to inform you that effective October 31, 2004, The Wall Street Journal Online's channel on AvantGo will no longer be available.

We appreciate your interest in our services, and would like to offer you a special subscription rate to the Online Journal's website, at We'd also like to keep you informed of new mobile services we'll be offering in the near future.

Very interesting! Many AvantGo services are 'trailers' for a larger subscription service, so it may be that this trailer was simply not yielding enough click-throughs. In the past, I have noted blog entries such as this one asking

Anyone have any idea why AvantGo does not support RSS, RDF, and Atom feeds? Maybe the various aggregors have made AvantGo obsolete? I guess I can utilize NewsMob for now (no opml import support).

This is a very interesting question. My personal desire for a 'better subjective experience' via AvantGo-style clipping services may not accord with the financial realities of maintaining such a service, and the world of RSS feeds is rapidly growing, and providing very well-informed and viable competition!

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

Marc's Heresy II

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Marc continues the dialog regarding his modest proposal to make "100s of millions for bloggers" by creating a "pay for ink" business.

At first he is dismissive of the arguments that I made (as well as others) regarding "crossing the line" between observing what is happening in some market and, alternatively, explicitly blogging on products because you are paid to do so.

As I understand Marc's contention, he (or some company he is thinking about setting up) will stand in between the individual blogger and the sponsors, and he will distribute the funds based on product mention, but with no specific effort to create positive spin. So the blogger will just collect his micro payments for micro mentions, and there is no foul. And in this way, the blogger stays pure.

Marc Canter
[from Marc's Voice: REbutt, enlighten and grimace]

The purity of bloggers is what we want. AND the honesty. The moment our bloggers start shilling us - is the moment the whole thing is ruined.
WHAT IF this works - that's what the MOST terrifying. WHAT IF folks could REALLY say what they want and STILL get paid?

  • we will not, I repeat, we will NOT be censoring, limiting or telling our bloggers what to blog. No one believes me on this point. They just can't seem to fathom the notion of someone paying to be lambasted - but gee, maybe it's true.
  • why is everyone so upset? Perhaps because I'm challenging this hi-falooted notion of blogging. Perhaps becuase I don't buy that blogging and bloggers are the saviors of modern day democracy, journalism and media? Perhaps blogging is just a viral web based phenomena - that's found a home in lonely, information thristy customers who dig the honesty and difference from what they're used to? Why the brain pondering introspective nuances and conversations? What's wrong with having fun, making a buck and getting on with it?

As I sat across the table from David Weinberger he said that this idea would pollute the purity of blogging - that's all I needed to hear.

Right on!

Let's pollute the hell out of it.

I am not so concerned about the purity of blogging -- I am eager to sell advertising at Corante blogs -- but I don't like the idea of selling space in sentences, just over in the margins.

I agree with Marc's contention that the current model of blog advertsing means that only those with real influence can make money -- influence either from large readership or very select readership. But I think that is how the world works: its not just a convention around blogs.

We can experiment with all sorts of interesting sponsorships -- I will be announcing something along those lines later this week, in fact -- where sponsors dollars do something more interesting than buy a rectangle of real estate on a blog page. But there still needs to be a hands-off policy regarding the words coming out of our mouths. And while make seems to be saying "You are free to say whatever you want," I think I hear him saying, "but if you want this check, please talk about 'product X'."

We have sponsored blog entries here at Corante (although they are not running in this new template, at the moment) so maybe that's all that's needed. But in such a case we explicitly mark the sponsored entries as such. We even were making them a different color, so they would stand out (again, currently disabled -- soon to be back).

So the the skinny on this is: I don't think that there will be enough in it for advertisers to pay, the results will be meager, and potential for loss of credibility for bloggers will be too high.

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

October 22, 2004

Reminder: Microsoft Office LiveMeeting Business Interest Seminar - Instant Messaging in The Attention Economy

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

A reminder that on Tuesday, 26 Oct, 9am PT, I will be presenting a webinar called "Instant Messaging and the Attention Economy" courtesy of the nice folks at Microsoft (click here for more info and registration).

It going to be an hour, with me blabbing for 30 mins, 15 mins of dialog with the host, William Flash, and then 15 mins of Q&A.

I hear that like 100+ folks have signed up.

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

Ouch. My Account Suspended on eBay.

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

So no sooner than I set up the eBay store to sell Corante ads (which I thought was a cool idea), I get my personal eBay account suspended for being a shill, and eBay takes all the inventory out of the store -- which took me hours to set up and populate.

What happened is an obvious transition issue. I was setting up the store on one hand, and starting to put inventory in it, when a couple of big advertisin sales came through -- ones that had been conducted in the old fashioned "via email" form of sales.

So, I looked in the store management controls and there is no way to retire inventory as being sold but not through eBay. You can end the sale, but it goes into the database as unsold.

So I bought all the weeks of ads that had been purchased by my clients via my eBay account. What I should have done, in retrospect, was to ask my advertisers to log on and do it, but it was Saturday, and I wanted to straighten the store up so I could announce it on Monday.

Also, these ads were all listed at a fixed price, not as an auction, so I wasn't in some way bidding up the price.

It also turns out that eBay used to allow store owners to do what I did, in the past, but it was a abused, and they changed their policies.

The thing that is most annoying is getting a series of emails within a two hour period: the first warning me about "shill" practices, and suggesting I read the policies and refrain from such activities -- all this stuff took place last weekend, note -- and then immediately followed by a suspending of my account, and then the pulling of all my remaining inventory from my store.

And now, since there is basically no way to call eBay on the phone, I have to wait a few days to get a response to the emails I have sent along.


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

October 21, 2004

GoToMeeting: The Story Inside The Story

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I had a web conference with Brian Donahoo of Citrix Online yesterday, and he outlined the reasons that GoToMeeting has become the fastest growing product that the company has offered, eclipsing the monumentally sucessful GoToMyPC, and the lesser known but very widely adopted GoToAssist. The story within the story is not the technology itself, per se -- although what has been developed is impressive, and I will discuss certain functionality later on.

The inner story is in a way, commonsensical. I asked the obvious question: "Why did you choose to enter a crowded marketplace, with a bunch of well-entrenched competitors, and the imminent possibiltiy of a market consolidation around offerings like LiveMeeting and WebEx?" The answer: Citrix went out and surveyed existing, former, and potential users of online conferencing solutions and discover several very critical and unmet needs:

  1. The solutions availble were generally not easy to use by attendees.
  2. The solutions were considered by many to be expensive, relative to actual use; and worse, the expense is highly variable, with all sorts of additional charges that occur based on exceedingly difficult-to-track limits.
  3. While many large companies have adopted web conferencing, mid size and small companies have not.
  4. The solutions available were not oriented toward ad hoc use, but more so toward programmed and scheduled conferences.

So Citrix determined to develop a technology to meet these needs, and to satisfy the large and growing Mid size and SoHo market niches. Based on the technologies that underlie GoToMyPC and GoToAssist, they were able to develop GoToMeeting in a very short time, and to leverage their deep expertise in high performance hosted solutions.

The fee structure: a flat rate of $39/mo for 1 organizer to be able to have an unlimited number of unlimited duration meetings that can have up to 10 attendees. Or for those that need larger meetings, or need to have more than a single organizer, there is a Corporate version of the solution.

They have integrated a free conference calling service, where yout attendees are charged for the call, although with the Corporate version, you can arrange for an alternate telephone service where attendees will not be charged.


I found the tool almost effortless to use. A small client (above) runs on your desktop, something like an IM client, and you can simply invite people to join your "meeting" -- which is basically your shared desktop. When collapsed there is just a tiny panel that looks something like a minimized media player (below).


Once a session is open, you can then run any program, like Powerpoint, and display your screen. You can switch presenters, and the other person can display his screen, or alternately you can cede control of your keyboard/mouse to the other person, and they can control your app.

Invitations are either by email, or through a copy/paste technique you can IM folks to join. Brian showed me a plugin for Outlook, which makes invitations easier.

Very slick, very minimal and flexible. I like it.

Obviously, I still want more, like integrated video, audio, and recording/playback, as well as a more sophisticated integration with IM clients along the lines of what they have contrived for Outlook. But what they have is more than enough for what I want to do, and because of the "switch presenters" mechanism, I will now be able to ask people who want to give me demos (and I get like four or five per week) to use my solution, instead of having to download all sorts of strange, slow, and fragile clients. I was getting a demo a few weeks ago, and the client had to try two different services before finally emailing me a presentation and having me click through as he announced "next."

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Marc's Heresy

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Marc Canter seems to be suggesting a new business scheme (or model, if you'd like) based around pay-for-press:

Marc Canter
[from Marc's Voice: Transparency and sponsorship in the blogosphere]

One thing we DON'T want to do is hide the fact or pretend like it's anything other than income for bloggers. The particular product we're going to 'flog' is not something a blogger would use for blogging or even use at all. But it's coolio and has something to offer the world that's unqiue. And that's worth talking about.

The fact that we found them and give them money - just means that THIS particular meme gets spread (as opposed to any other one) and I believe that's called marketing.

There's lots of money available for marketing, some of it going to advertising. But wouldn't it be coolio if some of it went directly into blogger's pockets? I like the feel of it it my pocket!

We designed this program to tap into the pure state of what (as I see it) a blogger is - somebody who, off on their own, has something to say.

If through paying this blogger to blog about a particular product, the company can have it's agenda achieved - then why not?

Well, there are a lot of reasons why not. This takes the blogger out of being a commentator or analyst, and makes them a spokesperson or endorser.

Of course, if you really love blue Jello, there is nothing wrong with saying so; and there is nothing wrong with the makers of Jello buying an ad on your site since you write a lot about food. But there is something wrong with writing about Jello (at least in an completely false way) if in fact you hate it, but the marketers want the readers of your blog to get a different message.

There is a thin line between propaganda and marketing-facing editorializing, and we shouldn't cross it or we will lose authenticity and trust.

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Passed 10,000 Mark on Hitmaps

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I noted that Mark was talking about the recent splash of some big users of Hitmaps, so I glanced at the HitMaps users table, and discovered that Get Real has accumulated 10,084 visitors in the period 10/7-10/20. Wow! Just under 1,000/day.

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The Term: "Social Software"

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

danah and others at Many-to Many are wrestling with the pros and cons of the term "Social Software", largely as the outgrowth of a recent piece by Chris Allen.

I coined the term "social tools" in 1999, to express the disconnection that I saw with products like Abuzz Beehive, and the intent is exactly that of Drexler's introduction of the term social software (resuscitated in 2002 by Clay Shirky).

Stowe Boyd
[from Message - Business Culture in the Post-Everything Economy]

The Rise of Social Tools

The big story of the transformation of business culture isn’t the props -- the servers, networks, ten million web sites, and all the information lying around in databases and in HTML -- but what people are saying to each other and how they coordinate their actions, behavior, and goals. The big story is that the global computer network is a enormous chat room, enabling us to collaborate in unexpected, complex, and novel ways. We are experimenting with new social systems, systems that to an unprecedented degree involve software and hardware.

In the 60’s it had become unthinkable to run a business without a telephone on every desk. By the late 80’s, everyone had to have email. The need for cost justification of these new expenses, at first demanded by management, fell by the wayside as the second-order effects -- the social impacts -- became felt. The rise of PCs has not led to increase in productivity relative to things that people formerly did without PCs, like writing letters and memos, or selling widgets. PCs have decreased productivity in these areas. Why? Because people are spending their time in new activities, activities that were not possible before, and adding new value to the business. And all that comes for a price -- the time spent in the care and feeding of computers, networks, and software.

And at the same time, a new category of software is emerging, software intended to augment social systems. Not to change the company inadvertently, like email did, when the electronic analog of interoffice mail became something else, grew into something else by changing the way people communicated, and led a change in the structure of the company. No, this generation of software is intentional, designed from the start to guide human behaviour into new paths and patterns, to counter prevailing ways of interaction. I call these social tools: software intended to shape business culture.

I focused on the tools side, the technology side, because of the quote of Kenneth Bouldin -- "We make our tools, and they shape us" -- and because of my experience as a tool builder. It is the cutting edge of these tools that matters, not that they are software first and hardware second. What makes up the tools is not the point, but how we are shaped after using them.

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October 20, 2004

IM Interviews: Now A Research Topic?

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I saw a citation at Mathemagenic:

Voida, A., Mynatt, E.D., Erickson, T., & Kellogg, W.A. (2004). Interviewing over instant messaging. In extended abstracts of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2004). Vienna, Austria, April 24-29. New York: ACM Press, pp. 1344-1347. (If you don't have full-text access to ACM, you can get .pdf here or here)

Abstract. Interviews are a cornerstone of human-computer interaction research. As a research method, they can both be deeply valuable and distinctly challenging. Pragmatic challenges of interviews include the travel that may be required to meet face-to-face with a respondent or the time necessary to transcribe the exchange. As a tool for conducting interviews, instant messaging presents some compelling potential benefits to mitigate challenges such as these. And yet, over the medium of instant messaging, the genre of the interview takes on a different character. Drawing from our experiences conducting interviews over instant messaging, we reflect on the implications of using this new medium for conducting interviews.

I don't have ACM access, so I can't get the piece but I got the piece, and even though Lilia was "too lazy to summarize"; although she goes on to ask for advice about IM interviews:"I'm really thinking of doing IM interviews for my PhD research. Any experiences I should take into account?"

The report focuses on lot on the differences in attitude about multitasking during IM interviews, which is normally considered normal, but not so in this context. Their concluding points:

[...] the character of the interview genre changed in sometimes significant ways when carried out over the instant messaging medium. We have reflected on our own experiences interviewing over instant messaging, exploring the ways in which expectations about attention, timing, limited context, and persistence impact the genre of the interview. We will continue to experiment with the use of instant messaging for conducting interviews. Based on our experiences and observations, we intend to try some of the following strategies:
  • asking respondents if they would be willing to share their prior thoughts or thought processes in the event that they type for several minutes and only send a short message;
  • summarizing our understanding of what the respondents have said prior to asking follow-up questions in situations where probing for nuance
  • being mindful of the pacing of the interview and the length of pre-written questions when cutting and pasting them into the interview; and
  • taking advantage of instant messaging’s persistence by explicitly suggesting that respondents scroll back and consider whether there was anything we had not discussed that they would like to add to the conversation.

By reflecting on our experiences interviewing over instant messaging and observing some interesting interactions between medium and genre, we hope to provide a variety of things to think about for those considering or planning to conduct interviews over instant messaging.

I have done a few, and the results have been pretty good. I like the Gush technology for presenting the history of a chat as a flash object, but that's just gloss. The core issues are just like any other interview: start with a short list of topics in mind, and get in there.

You have to be careful about stepping on each other, since the visual and verbal cues are absent. I generally avoid the issues around multitasking by only working the interview. And what the researchers don't say is that the interviewees can't complain later that you are putting words in their mouths -- it is their typing that you are capturing, after all.

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UpSNAP: Text Messaging 411

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

UpSNAP has announced a cool service, using mobile text messaging to provide a 411 service:

[via email]

Just a quick one to give you the heads up on today's news - the availability of a new FREE 411 service for mobile users via text-messaging from UpSNAP. Until now, every time a mobile phone user had to make a 411 call, they had to pay $1.30 or more per look-up fee by their wireless carrier. Starting today, they can sign up for the free service by visiting or by sending a text message to: 604 877 SNAP (7627). That's it- It's easy to use and requires no registration or installation of any kind. The service is entirely free- The only thing consumers will have to pay for is text messaging charges (by their carrier.)

This is how it works: a consumer would simply type in the name and location of the listing they want - by city, zip code, area code or airport code and in less than 10 seconds the number is sent directly to their phone through a text message reply.

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Istanbul Out Of The Closet

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

The long-rumored Microsoft "Istanbul" has been leaked to the press:

the Associated Press
[from Microsoft to Debut 'Istanbul' Application]

BOSTON (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. introduced on Tuesday a desktop computer application that aims to seamlessly integrate e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing, traditional phone service and Internet-based calling.

Microsoft plans to debut the product, code-named "Istanbul," sometime in the first half of 2005. It will compete with efforts from rivals including IBM Corp. and smaller players such as Convoq Inc. to link together various channels of communications and promote their most effective use.

The products employ "presence" technology, which tells users whether co-workers are online and their degree of availability -- whether they can take a phone call or prefer to be e-mailed or to instead join a Web conference, for example.
The idea is to enhance the "buddy list" concept of instant messaging so workers can choose how to best communicate in a given moment, bringing an end to games of phone tag in a world of packed schedules.

Dear God, I hope we can stop putting terms like presence and buddy list in scare quotes at some point.

For those who have been talking to the folks at Microsoft, this is no surprise, as I said here recently, although a lot of so-called Microsoft watchers were still in the dark last week.

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New Channels for Internet Services: Corante eBay Store Opens

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I got a press release recently touting the fact that Vonage is selling through the marketplace:

[via email]


Offering its Service on One of the Nation's Leading Electronics E-Commerce Retailers Gives Consumers More Options When Seeking a Flat-Rate Calling Plan

Edison, N.J. & Aliso Viejo, C.A., October 19, 2004 - Vonage Holdings Corp., the leading broadband phone company, today announced, the Internet Superstore will sell its services on its Website, Vonage is pleased to offer its industry transforming calling plans on the nation's leading electronics E-commerce site.

Got me to thinking about interesting ways to package and sell Corante's inventory of ad space, as opposed to doing it the old fashioned way (sales guys calling folks up on the phone and pitching) -- or even the supposedly new way, like GoogleAds or BlogAds.

So I created an eBay Store over the weekend: And I posted the available stock of ads for Get Real and Strange Attractor, two blogs that have had some biggish ad sales recently. For example, starting Nov 1, both Get Real and Strange Attractor have their Premier Ads sold though May, and Get Real's Lead Ad A is sold through the end of February. In the upcoming weeks, we will be adding other blogs' ad stock to the store's inventory, as well as cross-blog sponsorship options.

The options that eBay offers to its sellers are a bit restrictive for what I am trying to do. In the perfect world, I would like to have an ongoing auction starting as soon as I post an ad slot at the store, and completing say two weeks before the ad is going to run, with a "buy it now" price. But eBay auctions are not very configurable: you can't have an auction that runs until a specified date. And even a 10 day auction costs more than the default seven day auction. So I have defaulted to setting a fixed price on each sort of ad.

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October 19, 2004

Basecamp: Project Management via Blog

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I took the plunge and signed up last week for Basecamp, a blog-based project management solution. We have so much going on at Corante (and a mess of announcements in the works) that I was starting to lose myself in the details.

The results have been really good. I quickly configured the service with Corante logo, etc., set up a dozen projects in a few hours, and invited about a dozen collaborators in various projects.

Basecamp is a great example of what specialized, blog-based tools can do for project coordination.

Here's a screenshot of the "Dashboard" view, which provides each user with a summary of information for all their projects.


The folks at Edgecamp enumerate 6 points on this screenshot

  1. Your logo appears in the upper-left.
  2. Late milestones are called out and linked.
  3. Any milestones due in the next 14 days are plotted and linked on a calendar, starting with today's date. If there are no milestones in the next 14 days, the next 3 milestones are listed.
  4. Projects that have new posts or comments since your last visit are labeled "UPDATED".
  5. Projects that haven't had a new post or comment in 30 days are automatically moved to the Inactive Projects section.
  6. The "What's fresh" log shows the last 25 posts, comments, completed milestones, and completed to-dos across all of your projects. Clicking one of the categories (eg. "Milestones") filters the list.
  7. [not numbered on the screenshot] Track all projects in your favorite aggregator with the "What's fresh" RSS feed.

I really like the RSS feed; I have tried to turn off email notifications in general, as a result.

The blog, or "Messages" display, is a more or less no frills blog model, with comments and file attachments associated with the blog.


The file attachments caused me some hassles, and represents really the only complaint I have about the service as implemented. I had to configure a folder on the server for FTP access, and then configure a bunch of FTP settings within Basecamp, to get attachments to work. Seems that Basecamp is unwilling to allocate the storage needed, and provide backup, for file management. Not even for an additional fee. But the file attachments do work as advertised, once everything was set up.

The basic model is blog postings, along with the creation of milestones and to do lists. To-dos can be linked to specific milestones, and milestones can be linked to blog entries. As a result, the notifications serve as a constant reminder of what's coming in the near term.

The milestone display is limited to the next 14 day period, which is nice as a default, but I would like to enlarge to the coming month, two months, whatever, on demand.

The projects are of two types -- Internal, where only employees or contractors can see what's being said, or Customer focused, where your clients can participate. Pretty cool. And you can even tag some items in Customer projects as private, like a private to-do list, or blog posting, that your client can't see, but your team can.

The other missing pieces:

  • Integration with Outlook -- they provide iCalendar support, but I would like to be able export or sync milestones and to-dos with Outlook.
  • Calendar view of the whole thing -- blog entries, to-dos, comments, file postings, etc.
  • Integration with IM -- they nicely allow you to enter a single (grrrr) IM handle, but they should also allow alerting through IM. If they talked to the nice Carr brothers over at 2Entwine, they could ping people on every service (if desired) whenever there is new content in general, or on specific projects. I don't always have my RSS feeds open, but I am always in IM.
  • Email posting -- would be sensible to support an email posting (as much as I personally hate it), with a private email address associated with each project, including attached files.
  • Controllable "dashboards" -- I would like to be able to define arbitrary aggregation of project related content, and define them as dashboards. For example, I would like to aggregate project information from various projects into a single dashboard, using categories, and filtering out all private information, and serving that information up to some defined list of participants. As an example, imagine pulling information from all Corante Research Projects that are tagged as "Public" and serving it up to all our Advisory Research clients, no matter what Advisory Service they have signed up for.
  • Nested projects -- need subprojects. For example, I would like to coordinate with each client within the Social Tools Advisory Service individually, at a subproject level, but by the same token, I would like to have all members of the service to have access to some common information.
  • Trackbacks -- obviously.

I am very pleased with what I have seen, and look forward to increased functionality in the future. But Basecamp seems to offer that critical mass of features that meets the 80/20 rule: 80% of everything you want to do can be satisfied by 20% of all imaginable functionality.

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October 18, 2004

Carl Tyler on Istanbul

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Carl suggests that the Sametime client is looking a bit old:

Carl Tyler
[from Sametime plugin for Trillian]

This is very good for Trillian users (like me) but I would have liked to have seen an updated sametime connect client from IBM before they put effort into this...The connect client is starting to look very long in the tooth. Not long and the new IM client (Istanbul) from Microsoft will ship, and then Sametime will look even more dated...

I recently (a few weeks ago) chatted with Ed Brill about this very fact -- the years that Lotus let pass without really getting up to speed with what others are doing with rich clients, like Trillian and Gush. Ed suggested that while this was true, IBM/Lotus was committed to bettering the situation. We'll see.

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Shameless Self-Promotion: TechWeb Blog Awards

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I see that TechWeb is offering $500 of free Starbucks coffee (and I am an addict, I admit) for the ten best (or at least most popular) tech blogs. Voting starts Nov1. Please nominate Get Real. I need that coffee!

You can nominate 4 other blogs, as well.

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AIM Buddy Cards

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

AIM is trying to capitalize on the preference of younger people to use IM rather than email or telephone. They are offering "artistically" designed Buddy Cards, which you can print and hand out to your contacts.


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October 14, 2004

Jabber on Wall Street

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Highlights from the Jabber on Wall Street event today:

Navin Rajapakse, Vice President, Global Architecture and Engineering, Lehman Brothers
Lehman made the decision to adopt Jabber two years ago. We had Mindalign (Parlano), as well as several homegrown IM solutions. We had various non-communicating islands of IM.

We also wanted to be able to communicate remotely, with people working outside the building. So they opened up to AOL and Yahoo. Soon, we grew concerned about that, and wanted more control, but still needed to talk with the public networks.

The requirements led to a bake off between IBM/Lotus Sametime and Jabber. The customization of Jabber's client was significantly easier. On the server side, we evaluated the flexibility of Jabber, and adopted various open source modules.

And in the final analysis, the Jabber solution was more cost effective.

TIBCO is the company's enterprise application integration framework, and Jabber seemed relatively easy to integrate there.

We had a need to develop self-service 'bots, and Jabber offered an easy way to do that.

And we had to meet various SEC requirements on privacy, security, and auditability.

[presents tiered architecture: notes that today, Lehman is not taking advantage of server-to-server capability]

We have integrated a generalized notion of presence that can be included into other applications, and we have presence enabled our directory.

Used an early version of the Jabber web client, but the Win32 client was more critical to Lehman's use.

While the 1:1 chat was solid, there were various features needed for roll-out of group chat, which Jabber rolled out in a few months time.

Now, in use at 80%-90% of the company.

We have SEC compliant escrowing and retrieval of all IM messages as needed.

We have eliminated other IM solutions, and have integrated 20 or 30 applications taht are using Jabber as an alert mechanism.

We have integrated with LehmanLive, directory, security and reporting services.

2,000-9,500 concurrent users. All over the globe, and even during the weekend, so we need to be up 24X7.

3-3.5 M messages per week, which includes IM and chat.

Launched early part of last year: it is considered a tier 1, mission critical application, like email.

Different groups have different modes. Like the equities guys who use a chat room to swap deal information.

On the equities side, we have set up chat rooms, like foreign exchange.

We have extended the client and chat in several ways. For example, we integrated voice, so you can right click on a buddy, and it will dial.

We decided to pick a protocol, XMPP, and go with it, even though the market has not settled that protocol war.

Issues with compliance with AOL and various consortium based IM clients were problematic. We decided to go with an 80/20 rule, and use Jabber, and let the other issues fall to the side for now.

Most important, we ensured SEC compliance.

Question: How much monthly maintenance? Have you considered a hosted solution?

A: We don't have a dedicated team, we have an operations staff that handle it. Its nearly a zero maintenance, except for upgrades.

Question: How builds the applications that integrate with Jabber?

A: We built a TIBCO bridge, so our application developers are experienced in building to that.

Question: How do make sure the apps don't crush the Jabber system?

A: We have a Karma system that tracks message rates, and quickly resolve any issues.

Jeremy Condie, SVP, Thomson Financial
Whay are we here, at a conference about Jabber?

I am a senior VP for Thomson Financial, and I am architect for our collaboration and communication systems.

What is Thomson Financial? We are one of the three largest financial information services, we are the largest provider of information to banks, for eample. We are better known for our brands, which are now being united into a single framework: Thomson ONE.

Collaboration is central to our business. We are moving beyond providing information. If you are a banker, a trader, an analyste, we are going to help you collaborate better.

Our strategy is based on helping our clients to gain mindshare, so that they will get the phone call at 2am from a customer.

We are focused on inproving user's workflow, and of course, that means we have to integrate with what they have on their desktop.

We are not building a proprietary IM system, we are incorporating a successful and proven instant messaging infrastructure from an innovator. That means we are leveraging ROI, minimize user disruption, and rapidly get productivity for our clients.

Being informed is not enough; until you impart that content to a client, it doesn't benefit you. How can you make sure that you are up with the moment on ionformation that is critical for clients. Is that already priced into the market?

Thomson has bought nearly every information company out there. We have an infinite degree of content. When we created Thomson ONE, we didn't make a single solution. You can configure your desktop with what you want, and all the components plug-and-play, and communicate with each other. We have integrated Jabber int he same way.

For example, if I am tracking some datum about Qualcomm, I could bring up various research and real time feeds about Qualcomm. So I can know before my client asks. And you can confirm in real time using Jabber.

Where's the edge in financial services? You need to gain an edge through a deeper insight rather than faster typing speed.

What about extending the IM environment to your customers? You can filter the information as needed, but you could present an IM window on the client's desktop where you could be sharing certain information. Whether its a banker, or an analyst, or a bond trader.

This is pushing the boundaries a bit, but this is where we see it heading.

David Fowler, VP Marketing and Alliances, IMlogic
No one uses email without spam filters; the same sort of management has to be applied to IM.

Companies have to get past the denial stage of IM; you can't seriously contemplate turning it off. A recent study showed that bond traders that use IM make 500K more per year than those that don't.

Today, use of public IM is still the majority in the market. But we see a trend in the market toward enterprise solutions, like Jabber. But we will see them running side by side for a long time to come.

First problem when we go into an organization, they don't don't really know what's going on. They don't which IM systems are used, who is doing file transfers, and what identities are being used.

Second, IM tools tunnel through your firewall, and there are a number of security problems: viruses, for example.

Third, there are legal risks. A large amount of sexual content is streaming aorund; and just the institution of archiving will curtail that, as well as keeping track of commitments in deals, for example.

Last, we need to avoid IT headaches -- like integrating with LDAP.

How do we manage IM? We act as the proxy, running side by side with your enterprise IM system, and control the interface with the public networks. We can map identities, and control the various features: if you want to disallow file transfers, for example, we can do that.

And obviously, we support compliance: archival, retention, discovery, supervisory, surveillance, and entitlement requirements.

How does this all fit together? It is likely that you are using a public IM system today, and considering moving to an enterprise IM system, like Jabber. We recommend that you take a long look at Jabber, and think about putting

Q: How do you integrae with existing archive solutions?

A: We have relationships with Legato, KBS, and other archive solutions.

Q: Is there a certain size company that would best fit this solution?

A: We have groups as small as 10, and up to thousands. Small comapnies sometime try to sneak by, but the cost is so small it is not worth the risk.

Paul Guerin, SVP Sales and Marketing, Jabber
We see the financial services industry as a hotbed of collaboration and communication. We see the power of presence as the keystone of the next generation of applications, and the business processes that are core to the industry.

I want to thank you all for coming, and we hope you will come to other events in this seminar series, as well as our webinar series.

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Joe Hildebrand: The Power of Presence

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I am blogging from Jabber on Wall Street event, and Joe Hildebrand, Jabber's Chief Architect presented a brief overview of the technology that underlies Jabber XCP.

His comments:

Jabber XCP is a secure stable technology that can enable sophisticated real-time applications.

New in Jabber XCP 4.0:

  • New federation features: encryption, selective federation
  • even more scalability and avilability
  • information broker
  • SDKs -- taking the existing APIs and extending into full-up SDKs to allow others to more easily develop real-time enabled applications

New in Jabber Messenger 3.0:

  • new look and feel
  • fully skinnable and brandable

Coming Soon:
SIMPLE gateway -- won't have to make a choice on protocol; will integrate with Lotus IM first; Microsoft LCS when it ships

  • external command interface -- custom forms applications; webex integration; other collaboration to follow

    Jabber XCP on Wall Street Tormorrow

    Use content feeds -- internal feeds and from service providers

    Build Real-time applications -- integrate with desktop applications;forms based integration

    Question: Who is your biggest customerand what is the largest number of concurrent users?

    A: France Telecom is largest; HP is customer and Jabber is on every desktop there.

  • [Note: I think that Joe's vision of forms-based Jabber enabled applications that serve the business process automation of the business of tomorrow is dead on.]

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    October 13, 2004

    GPS Bluetooth moblogging

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    Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

    This one looks very cool indeed... well, I've obviously gotta put this guy directly in touch with HitMaps man Jiri Komzak...which in fact is exactly what I'm doing!


    akuakugeoblog.jpgI've created a system that allows a Nokia camphone to take a photo, attach GPS coordinates obtained from a bluetooth GPS device, and post it to a weblog along with an interactive map showing the location. I wrote it in J2ME, but I plan on rewriting it in C++.

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    October 12, 2004

    The Coming of the Database Economy - Hold Onto Your Opinions

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    Posted by Gregory Narain

    I started a thread on SocialTwister that's gotten some good feedback and commentary. I thought it appropriate to share it here as well.

    [from "The Coming of the Database Economy - Hold Onto Your Opinions"]

    In the future, the question will largely shift from "Should I archive this information" to "Should I query this information". When everything is moved to the point that it is searchable, getting "new" information from a system is more a function of programming than brute force. Whoever has the biggest, fastest algorithm wins.

    So where's the long-term value then? Fortunately for us, these things always repeat themselves. As one force fades to the background a new one emerges. In my eyes, that new force is opinion, which I'd wrap in a Reputation bow. When there are millions upon millions of points of data to consider, knowing which the best is becomes far more important.

    Consider that for a moment. What drives the value of Amazon, for example? In the beginning, it was simply enough to have the database of books since no one else had it. What pushes me back to Amazon, more often than not, however, is not the database (I assume everyone has it now). I am drawn in by things like the User Reviews and Ratings, not to mention, the Recommended Reading lists and other hooks like that. Given too many choices, I often find myself polling constantly for external benchmarks to evaluate with. Despite the best efforts of the AI community, I still have little faith that I would outsource my opinions to a server farm or that I would trust the wisdom of a crowd of robots in personal matters.

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    Ok This Is Getting Funny

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Ted Rheingold [of Dogster and Catster]
    [via email]

    So as you may know I added a Diary feature to Dogster and Catster and they've been quickly adopted (over 2,250 so far), so I made a clearing house page for them. Can blogrolls, feeds and trackbacks be far behind? Why not I say.

    Watching what people write about is both a bit mundane content-wise but culturally fascinating. They communicate in a similar manner when they message each other, almost exclusviely using their pet as avatar, Using a persona to communicate online is ancient, but here I find it to be much more intimate without getting personal. It's a much more trusted, safe, environment to let your avatars spirit run wild, rather like the original user groups of yore

    Just had to share. I go a bit crazy just talking to dogs all day ;>

    Much woof,


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    Microsoft Entering the VOiP Market with LCS?

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Microsoft has everyone stymied regarding its plans for VOiP:

    Ellen Muraskin
    [from Microsoft's Looming VON Announcement: Not VOIP? I'm damned if I can figure out what Microsoft Corp. is going to announce with the first, most prominent keynote of all at this month's Voice on the Net [VON] show, if not telephony links to its LCS (Live Communications Server). The keynoter is Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of Microsoft's real-time collaboration business unit -- the one charged with LCS.

    The "tattler" leaks reported by Mary Jo Foley support my hunch, even as she gets an official denial from Redmond. Maybe there's some technicality here we're missing?

    I am betraying no confidences by stating the obvious: Microsoft has always asserted the key role of telephony integrated into its collaboration strategy of LCS. Read the briefs that I wrote last year, based on interviews and meetings with Gurdeep Pal (First Take: Live Communications Server, and Real-Time Revolution)

    [from Real-Time Revolution]

    G[urdeep Singh Pal]: Yes. That's why CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) crashed and burned. Even at Microsoft, we tried like 23 goes at CTI, but they failed because they didn't integrate with what was already there. They used a separate address book, they had no idea of presence: it was a totally different user experience. But imagine instead the example we had before, where the pawn associated with the paragraph's author could also allow you to right-click and dial -- I would be able to get them, without even having to know what phone they were using, or the number. Again: applying the same user experience makes it easy.

    S[towe Boyd]: You are starting to dig into another theme I wanted to ask about: the increasingly clever devices that folks are using, and how they can incrementally improve things. A friend of mine has a Bluetooth enabled cell phone, and when it rings, the Outlook contact pops up on his Bluetooth enabled PC. He already understands how to use Outlook, he knows how to use his cell phone, and now they provide a higher-order value through this in-context integration. I know, obviously that Microsoft is involved in many initiatives clever devices: PocketPC, Smartphones, tablet PCs, game machines, and who knows what else. So how does that vision converge with the vision in collaboration technologies?

    G: There are going to be some devices that will be more mobile, always with you. And you want to allow collaboration on that device to the extent of the fidelity possible on that the device. You won't want to bring down the fidelity of the entire collaboration session just to the least common denominator.

    S: You don't want to force everyone to use WAP just because one guy is on his cell phone.

    G: Right. One very important case for us is PDAs and Smartphones, and not particularly smart phones, too. We have a number of critical partnerships, specific development we are doing, and some research we are doing in Microsoft Beijing.

    So I predict a big announcement at VON, where Microsoft throws off the wrappers, and unveils a truly revolutionary integration of LCS with telephony, especially involving smart presence on telephones and other wireless devices.

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

    October 11, 2004

    What's With This One?

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Girl Wonder
    [from girlwonder: The Womanless Web 2.0]

    I'm not attending the Web 2.0 conference. But just looking at the schedule, isn't it interesting that the only woman speaker is Kim Polese? (And only two women are involved in leading workshops?)

    In my experience, working-with-the-Web 1.0 has many more women, including women in management. Is it that when we get to the new new Internet, there's no room for female execs? Surely that's not the case. It's odd that the conference line-up would be so unrepresentative. (Previous O'Reilly conferences have had proportionately more women on the panel. What's with this one?)

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

    BusinessWeek on Internet Dating

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    I was one of the usual suspects rounded up for a BusinessWeek piece on Internet Dating's seeming decline.

    Olga Kharif
    [[from Online Dating Faces Rejection]

    Social-networking sites, such as and, add to the competition. Already, both score higher on Alexa traffic tracker than traditional dating sites. Unlike the latter group's usual catalog of profiles, social-networking sites allow for more personal interaction. For instance, users of gather in chat rooms to exchange dating advice or play games. And allows users to talk, through voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology, via their PCs.

    "When you deal with real people and not a catalog of profiles, you can't just walk away," says Stowe Boyd, president of tech researcher Corante Research in Reston, Va. "It's like breaking out of your social circle."

    Internet dating sites are an out-of-context experience, and looking for a date should not be similar to buying a pair of shoes. You don't just type in "13 EEE" and look pictures of the arrayed results. It's totally bogus.

    Ultimately, Internet dating sites will be socialized thtough the admixture of social software, and people will meet through real activities -- like politics, music, art, or other shared interests. Sites like MySpace and Suicide Girls are winning examples of how self-definition around some passion (like music or the counterculture) naturally engenders dating, while most dating sites have the same "empty hall" feeling that I've ranted about regarding social networking mazes like Orkut or Friendster. Minus the supposed alchemy of algorithmic matchmaking, most dating sites feel like one of those Eastern European wife-picking vacation packages, and just about as intellectually appealing.

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

    HitMaps Part 3

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    I installed HitMaps on Get Real on 7 October, and four days later I finally got a hit someone in Japan! hitmap2.jpg

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

    October 10, 2004

    Podcasting <- Shoutcast <- AudioNet/ <- Real/Prognet

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    Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

    SUMMARY: personal take on the 'what?', the 'so what?' and a bit of related history surrounding a relatively new phenomenon: podcasting

    DETAILS (the what/so-what/history follow shortly):
    There's been a lot of buzz about podcasting over the last 5-6 weeks, amply chronicled in particular by radio-afficionado-extraordinaire Doc Searls in his IT Garage item of Sept 28 2004 as well as numerous mentions in Doc's personal weblog; originator Adam Curry's open-source ipodder and surrounding site at (detailing the rapid evolution since Aug 22 2004, and providing links to the downloads, history, philosophy, etc.), and the huge-and-rapidly-growing selection of items (the links which follow go straight to the relevant articles) on Wired, Slashdot, NBC4, and others you can find yourself by Googling for: podcasting - for instance check out the WebTalkRadio interview with Doug Kay of ITConversations, about 38 minutes into this interview (MP3).

    Podcasting: What?

    Podcasting provides 'time-shifted radio' (think TiVo or Personal Video Recorder for audio) in the form of MP3 files automagically-downloaded (from sites you pre-select) to your personal MP3 player (e.g. while you sleep, or at work), so that you can 'grab-gadget-and-go' and listen to that audio on the move, as well as have your playlist automatically updated next time you 'dock' or connect to the net. Your pre-selected sites are in fact those obtained from a (rapidly growing) list of RSS 2.0 feeds that contain enclosures, namely the MP3 files themselves... but they could be anything, as there's already a vipodder for aggregating videoblogs. The 'pod' is from iPod, since the original ipodder scripts transferred files seamlessly to an iPod and iTunes, but in fact the tool is totally generic, and open source at that; it allows you to set up bitTorrent downloads if you like, and is extendible. Syncing with any gadget is pretty simple, as this podcasting -> PocketPC article shows. [update 11 Oct: fixed that PocketPC URL to one that has some step-by-step tips]

    Podcasting: So what?

    Podcasting glues-and-scripts-together a lot of things that are already available, but the big 'so what?' comes from the fact that until now nobody had really achieved the complete cradle-to-grave life cycle from out-in-the-ether -> RSS feed -> portable gadget, and in a way that was open source and extendible: this is what has really fired the imagination.

    Sure, it is still a little geeky at this minute. Sure, the feeds tend to be a bit 'audioblog'-ish or 'tech-talk-radio'-ish. Sure, there are some way-cool time-shifted radio tools such as Replay Radio (check it out, by the way... I love it!), RadioRecorder for Mac, and hardware/software gizmos like Griffin Technology's Radio Shark. Sure, there are some do-it-yourself Streaming Internet Radio Station tools such as the venerable Shoutcast (which I used to great effect at Xmas 2000 with a bunch of 10-year-old kids to make their own school radio station).

    But the excitement stems from the fact that none of the fantastic innovations I've just listed have (until now, that is) solved the problem of getting direct from the audio originator to the portable device in such a 'hands free' and remarkably scaleable manner. So forget what you see (or rather hear) right now. Think about the possibilities -- with one important caveat I have to add: I watched Shoutcast undergo a daily-doubling of growth with glee and excitement, only to see it peak at several thousand 'stations' (Shoutcast sources), and stay steady at that level for several years!! In theory, podcasting could witness a growth akin to the explosive growth of blogging, but I personally think one of the rate-limiting factors is simply the inability to quick-scan/judge/browse/edit/search-within audio files easily. So while they're an absolutely rich source of exciting commentary, independent music, new ideas we haven't yet thought up, and all kinds of open source spoken media (think foreign language materials, audiobooks, news, analysis, etc), I'm not getting worked up about the death of radio or anything like that.

    Podcasting: Personal history flashback

    Like many net old-timers I've met, and as you'll see in spades throughout Doc's site linked above, I grew up huddled around the glowing tubes ('valves' here in the UK) of my shortwave and AM radios. Indeed, I think some of the motivation for Voice over IP and Internet Radio has come from the 'hidden DX-er' in many of us. There have been many milestones along the way to the podcasting activities now generating all this excitement, but I just want to list four that stick out in my mind:

    1. RealAudio / Progressive Networks (later to become RealPlayer and RealNetworks): Rob Glaser started Progressive Networks in February 1994, and RealAudio 1.0 was released in April 1995, immediately changing the face of (if not literally launching) 'net media'. People began to realise what was possible, and an entire industry was born. A personal highlight for me in 1995 was listening on my computer in the UK to the first-ever live-streamed sporting event, the Seattle Mariners playing the New York Yankees, with the first ball thrown out by the sons of Mickey Mantle.

    2. AudioNet/ Marc Cuban's AudioNet, later to become, was founded in 1995 and soon became the largest customer of RealNetworks. They were the ultimate gateway/service, helping conventional radio stations reach out onto the Internet, particularly with live sports broadcasting. The old media worlds and new media worlds were jointly changing the face of radio. [In 1999, Cuban earned around two billion dollars by selling to Yahoo! ]

    3. Shoutcast: Justin Frankel, creater of all-time great freeware MP3 (and later other media-playing) product Winamp in 1996, worked with his buddies to provide some cool plug-ins that 'reversed the flow', so to speak, and let any Tom, Dick or Harriet set up an instant Internet Radio Station. Though it remains a little geeky to this day, Shoutcast opened the doors for many thousands of people to produce and distribute their audio content to millions of others. [In 1999, Frankel sold his company NullSoft to AOL for about $100Million]

    4. Podcasting: Well, here we are in 2004, and I add this optimistically to my list simply on the grounds that it stands in my mind along with the other three as contributing to some 'fresh buzz' surrounding audio-on-the-net, and I like that a lot... it's been a few years since I felt that way, hence this article.

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

    October 09, 2004

    The Support Economy: True Voice

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    I am reading Shoshanna Zuboff (author of In the Age of the Smart Machine) and James Maxmin's The Support Economy. They advance a startlingly fresh synthesis of social psychology and business theory and suggest that we are, in fact, just past the threshold of what I have been calling the "post-everything" era, and that we have entered a new phase of human civilization, driven by a new sort of people, who are driven by new dreams.

    Shoshanna Zuboff and James Maxmin
    [from The Support Economy]

    Now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, people have new dreams. In spite of the heterodoxy and diversity that mark the advanced societies, we observe a common source for many of these dreams. It is expressed in a psychological awareness of one's own complex individuality. Today's people experience themselves first as individuals and shares a common longing for psychological self-determination. There are many who have lamented this, seeing only an erosion of community and the spread of narcissism. We, on the other hand, celebrate this psychological achievement as an important milestone in the evolution of humanity.

    As a result of these new dreams, a chasm has opened up between people and the organizations upon which they depend. People have undergone a discontinuity in mentality, but organizations have not. Business organizations, and other institutions too, continue to treat the new individuals' actions according to the terms of the older mass society. Individuals reach out from the intricacy of their lives in search of understanding, accommodation, and support, but the complexity of their needs and desires is ignored. Instead, they are greeted by metaphorical equivalent of the assembly line, expressed in the internally consistent set of practices, attitudes, and assumptions we call an enterprise logic.

    But the chasm between new individuals and old organizations contains the seeds of the next economic revolution. History suggests that the next great era of commercial innovation will require more than the production or exploitation of new technologies, however creative that undertaking may be. The next revolution in wealth creation will draw life, first and foremost, from a profound grasp of the new society of individuals and its expression in a new kind of consumption. Only the full force of this understanding can ignite the entrepreneurial innovation capable of leading such a revolution and paving the way toward a support economy and new episode of capitalism. That innovation will entail discontinuity. It will be as radical a break with the past as the break that today's people have made with the lives of their grandparents an great-grandparents. It will be as radical a break with the past as managerial capitalism was a break with the practices of proprietary capitalism and craft production that preceded it.

    The authors are creating a vocabulary and a set of perspectives to help us understand the brave new world we find ourselves in [and, yes, "find ourselves" in both meanings].

    Because of the social media context in which I am operating these days, the authors' contentions about personal meaning arising from an inner suite of feelings rather than through identification with larger groups or institutions drives home. In contrast to the paternalistic, elite-directed political and social movement s of the past, today's bottom-up, emergent, grassroots movements are based on a completely different dynamic:

    In contrast, the values surveys of Ronald Inglehard indicate that the new postmaterialists demand true voice. [emphasis mine] Theirs is a psychological reformation that suggests some interesting parallels to the religious reformation of the sixteenth century. Today's individual rejects organizational mediation, seeking instead to have a direct impact on matters that touch his or her life, just as the early Protestants rejected priestly mediation of their relationship to God. In the early twentieth century people joined organizations as a way to reestablish a sense of influence and control in a world that was spinning away from individuals. Now it is those very organizations that make them feel "out of control." They shun those associations in favor of an unmediated relationship to the things they care about. The new individuals thus demand a high quality of direct participation and influence. They have the skills to lead, confer, and discuss, and they are not content to be foot soliders. As one political scientist put it, "legitimacy based on inclusion is replacing legitimacy based on hierarchical authority."
    This is exactly the situation in media, today. Social media are growing because the "audience" is rejecting the mass market broadcast structure of media, demanding a participative role in a dialog-oriented exchange of information in lieu of coach potatohood. Information that is streaming through non-participatory media is suspect, and inferior to "true voice," and the new post-everything individuals are hip to that, and will not settle for less.

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

    October 08, 2004

    Jabber on Wall Street

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Jabber on Wall Street JPeg resize.jpgI will be attending the upcoming Jabber event, "Jabber on Wall Street," next Thursday, 14 October, in New York City.

    I have blogged from a lot of conferences, but this is the first time I will be doing so in an official sort of capacity. Will be fun.

    [via email]

    Come hear why Lehman Brothers calls its Jabber-powered solution "a mission-critical communications and trading tool." Learn how Thomson Financial plans to help its customers increase mind share and market share through real-time, context-driven business intelligence. Hear how leading financial services firms use IMlogic to archive and manage messages.

    Jabber is really moving ahead aggressively in deploying its XMP technology as a real-time communication infrastructure. Very cool.

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    danah On Supporting the Mac

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    danah, who is Mac-happy, points out that social tools vendors are stupidly risking alienating the very innovators that in principle they should be courting:

    [from apophenia: supporting the Mac is required for social computing - pointer from Cory at Boing Boing]

    I keep beta-testing software the crashes this, that or the other on my Mac. [Given, i'm really really really good at crashing everything.] Worse: i'm often asked to beta test things that don't work on the Mac. I want to scream.

    You can build enterprise software that doesn't work on a Mac but you CANNOT build social technologies that don't work on the Mac. Who are key driving forces behind sociable technology? Freaks, (independent) geeks, academics and other marginalized populations. What do marginalized groups use when it comes to technology? Surprise - they use subversive tools. Conferences organized by geeks, freaks and academics are like walking into an Apple distribution warehouse. If you only lived in this world, you would think that Apple makes up 70% of the market share.

    It doesn't. But it does matter, particularly if you're building sociable technologies and you want the attention of the geeks, freaks and academics. This includes the bloggers, who are often bleeding edge geeky freaky academically-minded folks.

    Sociable technologies are not enterprise technologies nor are they low-end consumer technologies. They require connecting clusters of people. And to do that, you start with the "mavens" to get to the hubs. Mavens are not mainstream users; they don't play by mainstream rules. They value their position as outsider, alternative. They love new gadgets that have cultural value. This is the type that Apple has done a fantastic job at attracting and maintaining.

    In a sociable technology economy, it is no longer acceptable to treat Mac users as second-class citizens.

    The problem is that these companies are trying out "post-everything" technologies through old economy models: namely, mass marketing rather than cluster marketing.

    This like the chilling analysis of how network theory should change public health efforts to eradicate AIDS, as offered by Albert-László Barabási’s in his amazing Linked. Namely, we should treat the infected who are likely to have the most sexual partners since they are the ones most likely to infect others. Turns out that the math demonstrates that doing so breaks the epidemic's exponential character, while trying to treat everyone on a first-come first-served basis -- which is seemingly fair -- does not.

    Obviously, social tools vendors should target their viral technologies at those most connected, and many of those are elegance bigots, using Macs. If you want the meme to spread, and spread like an epidemic that is hard to stop, target the connected, and forget the others.

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

    Is Crowd Wisdom Predicting The Election Outcome In Bad Taste?

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Xeni Jardin asks over at Boing Boing: CNN's "Presidential Showdown Game":

    Is it just me, or does this CNN banner ad seem incredibly bizarre, and CNN's online game to "Pick the winner of the popular vote in each state" to be in profoundly bad taste? The winner gets a gigantic HDTV. It feels weird. I mean, since when are these things "Presidential Showdowns?" My people call 'em "Elections."
    Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds points out that large groups of people do really well at predicting the outcome of things like elections, sporting events, or how much the fat lady weighs. Actually much better than pundits or analysts do.

    So while the feel of this whole endeaver may feel smarmy (to say the least) the reality is that we should look at the results very, very closely. If they really get tens of thousands of people guessing "how many jelly beans are in the jar?" the aggregated average is likely to be really, really close to reality.

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


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    Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

    Word Wide Media eXchange
    Marc Canter has been blogging intensively from Web2.0, and one of the many postings that caught my eye was this one about the Wordwide Media eXchange. A snapshot from my quick perusal of the web interface is included here... it provides clickable hotspots all around the world about which people have uploaded images. Very nice!

    The downloadable app runs more smoothly and speedily, and it looks to me like this is a much more scaleable version of the Degree Confluence Project about which I blogged last year. That project had as its goal "to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories will then be posted here. The project is an organized sampling of the world. There is a confluence within 49 miles (79 km) of you if you're on the surface of Earth. We've discounted confluences in the oceans and some near the poles, but there are still 13,498 to be found."
    Degree Confluence Project
    Interesting contrast between the two: the Degree Confluence Project targets the finite number of latitude/longitude grid interesection (integer values only), whereas WWMX is completely free-ranging... cool! It'll be very interesting to watch how the upload of rich media, targeted to place-specific tags, evolves.

    Add to these some of the other activities in this arena, such as GeoURL (alas, currently 'down for renovations' when I checked just now) and the Jabber World Map, plus all the other phenomena we've been blogging about recently (Plazes, BuddySpace, HitMaps, etc), and it's evident there's a growing flood of interest not just in the well known Geographical Information Systems space, but more specifically in the socially-mediated and 'personal presence'/'personal history/narrative' angle that really adds some spice to the mix and brings people and places to life.

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    Glenn Rieger Joins NewSpring Capital

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    My natural inclination to introduce any discussion about venture capitalists with some mordant joke about them having no hearts or their general incapacity for wise decision-making, has to be tempered in this case because of the individual involved.

    Glenn Rieger is an unusually visionary character, and today I received word from him that he was leaving Cross Atlantic where he has served as a managing partner for five+ years. Glenn was one of the investors in the ill-fated Ikimbo, which now serves only as a memory of some innovative product ideas unrealized. However, Glenn really got it: the future impacts of real-time and presence-enabled technologies that will rework the way that we work. I am only sorry that, honestly, we were way too early with the vision that we had.

    So it is a real loss for Cross Atlantic, and a big win for NewSpring. Among aother accolades and acheivements, Glen recently served as Chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Venture Group, the region’s leading venture capital association, and has been involved in over 75 investments.

    [via email]

    King of Prussia, Pa., October 8, 2004—NewSpring Capital, a $200 million family of venture capital funds focused on investments in the Mid-Atlantic region, today announced that Glenn T. Rieger will be joining the firm as a General Partner of NewSpring Capital, and a Managing Partner of NewSpring Ventures II. Rieger will join an experienced management team that has successfully built NewSpring Capital, a family of three private equity funds—NewSpring Ventures I, NewSpring Mezzanine Capital, and Commerce Health Ventures. Rieger comes to NewSpring Capital from Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, a venture capital firm with over $400 million under management, where he was a Managing Partner.
    Rieger will join industry veterans Michael A. DiPiano, Marc R. Lederman, and Brian G. Murphy as a General Partner of NewSpring Capital. Rieger will also serve as a Managing Partner of NewSpring Ventures II, a new venture capital fund providing equity capital for growth and expansion stage companies throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, to be launched in early 2005.

    Best wishes, Glenn, in the new gig. Send your software innovators my way.

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

    Married But Dating: It Had To Happen

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Via SocialPeople's RelaxedGuy, I bumped into this gem:

    [from Married But Dating - MarriedSecrets.Com Fits The Bill]

    For Immediate Release

    LOS ANGELES/EWORLDWIRE/May 24, 2004 --- With the popularity of Internet dating soaring, a new dating site stands out from the rest. touts itself as the only dating website specifically designed for married people.

    Due to the anonymity of online dating, it has never before been easier for people to find each other both anonymously and with little effort. makes it especially easy for individuals who are looking for some relationship outside of marriage to find other likeminded people. The site is meant to serve those people who want to stay married, yet meet some quality people for discreet hook-ups for whatever reason.

    The company stems out of the realization that there was a niche market for married people looking for dates. Upwards of 30 percent of the users of traditional matchmaker sites are married; was designed to tap into that market and serve those people specifically.

    The site's founders felt that if they made a web site that was designed for married people, and if married people could feel comfortable about putting up an anonymous profile on the site, and hook up with likeminded people, then they would be successful.

    Over 30% of online daters are married? No wonder they took "All The Good Ones Are Taken" as the site's motto.

    On one hand, this could indicate a growing Scandinavianization [yes, you heard that word here first] of sexual attitudes: according to various surveys, many Scandinavians enjoy extramarital sex, and the culture is very relaxed about it. But I am betting that, even while large numbers of Americans are doing one thing behind closed doors, in pulpits and op/ed columns across the country we will hear this condemned as yet another Internet indecency.

    Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life

    The World HitMap After Day 1

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    So this is the HitMap generated after my first day using the tool. Thanks to Marc Eisenstadt and Jiri Komzak, of the Open University and the Knowledge Media Institute, whose HitMaps and BuddySpace projects yeilded this cool tool.

    Kind of interesting that someone up on Hudson Bay hit Get Real. And what's going on in the middle of Australia? Isn't that an enormous desert?

    I ascribe the big blotch in the moddle of Germany to my recent frenzied postings about Plazes (like this and that), which so far seems to be primarily a German phenomenon.

    [Update 9.16am:

    Turns out that Alice Springs, in the middle of the Australian Desert, is the home of like 6 major ISPs there. Also, Marc turned me onto the table where all hitmaps users are arrayed numerically. I got like 700 hits in the first 16 hours or so of use. So I should be growing like 1000+ per day, I guess.

    And it looks like no one in Japan is reading Get Real! We have to change that! Ping your Japanese buddies, and tell them to tune in!


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    October 07, 2004

    The Five Keys To Building Business Relationships Online

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    The Five Keys to Building Business Relationships Online
    By David Teten with Donna Fisher and Scott Allen

    5keys-3d.jpgBuilding a powerful network of people who are willing and able to help you achieve your goals is the key to business success.

    Some people love to network. Unlike cold-calling, there's almost never rejection. And even if you don't get any business results from your activities, you've developed some great friendships and helped a few people along the way. Sound familiar?

    But what if you could have your cake and eat it, too?

    What if you could build friendships, have fun, be helpful, and get more and better business results just by being more focused and purposeful in deciding where and how to meet new people and develop relationships with them?

    This is the only book that will show you sytematically how to evaluate your network, align your relationship-building activities with your business objectives, and increase both the quantity and quality of your business relationships by leveraging the internet.

    You will learn how to increase...

    • The Number of people in your network -- Reach more people with less effort.
    • Their Relevance to your professional goals -- Do more with less effort by knowing the right people.
    • The Strength of your relationships with them -- Learn how to build trust and friendship online.
    • Your Credibility with the people in your network -- It doesn't matter who you know if they don't believe you.
    • The Diversity of your network -- Diversify your portfolio of people just as you do your finances.

    You will learn the essential skills for building your network online...

    • Using online social networks and communities
    • Blogging
    • Communicating effectively online
    • Netiquette
    • Building and maintaining your contact database
    • Targeted networking
    • Writing for publication
    • Web publicity
    • Starting and running an email list
    • Developing trust and friendship online

    Buy it now for just $14.95 and start building your powerful network today!

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

    Threadorati is a Start, but not Enough: Chaterati!

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    So Marc and I are exploring the issues around using two dueling blogs to have a persistent and public dialog about something, and in this case, incestuously, we are discussing that very topic.

    Marc Eisenstadt
    [from Threadorati - not yet]

    this very exercise has brought to light three problems, so here goes:

    Problem 1 (my original beef): The Technorati/Feedster/Bloglines 'citations' or 'threadorati' are too indirect, and are inadequate renditions of the ebb and flow of the discussion. The context of the discussion just isn't there: for instance, the 'Threadorati' search for my own entry correctly brought up your commentary, but NOT the permalink, rather the top level of your blog...

    Problem 2: The 'contextual quoting' tricks that are both familiar to and trivial for email and forum users are surprisingly klutzy for blog users. At the very least, copy/paste of the relevant entries loses any embedded hyperlinks (I had to manually re-add the ones shown above for Sifry and Weinberger for instance...)

    Problem 3:From IE, I in fact couldn't even do an intuitive mouse-drag-copy over the relevant passage of a MoveableType blog - too much (irrelevant) text gets highlighted.

    Responses, in order:

    1. This is odd. When I look at other technorati searches, like the example shown from Stuart Henshall's Unbound Spiral, the "read full post" is available, which links to the specific blog entry. BUt when I click the threadorati link on the recent entry that Marc commented on, his topmost link is provided, but not the link to the specific entry. I don't understand this, but note that I have a similar and perhaps related problem at Marc's blog: when I try to use the MoveableType bookmarklet (the button embedded in my IE that creates a outline of a MT post) on Marc's My Dog blog, the specific blog entry URL is never captured, but only the topmost URL for the blog. It may be that Marc's blog is not configured correctly for these automated capture tools to grab the permalinks for the individual entries there.
    2. Yes, its a pain to cut and paste the links embedded in quoted text. You can use the "view source" trick, which helps alot, if you want to retain all links.
    3. This is a glitch in the Get Real (and other Corante blogs) template, a real pain in the ass. We are moving to a new template for Get Real later this week, which will cure this problem.

    And a last point: Marc, it looks like your blog doesn't support trackbacks, which is an obvious crutch for this whole area of interactive discourse. We should be experimenting with two or more blogs that do.

    But, leaving aside the specifics, I agree that the threadorati is not what we really want. Something more along the lines of an instant messaging chat room session, where the alternatiing blog entries are serialized, would be better.

    Here's the depiction of what I would like to see from a hypothetical "Chaterati":

    Of course, it would get more complex it you tried to array the contributions of multiple participants, although, just like in chat, you could just fall back to a sequence without mutliple columns.

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

    Social Alibi Network

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    The Financial Times had an interesting piece this week that talks about new Nokia software that allows you to disguise your location by providing fake background noise, like traffic or a thunderstorm. This is a lot like the SounderCover service I blogged earlier this year. This service, which I don't think was named in the FT piece, works on certain Nokia phones, and works in real time: as a call is coming in, you decide if you want a background alibi. The software also allows you to have a background phone ring in 15 seconds, so you can plead busyness, and end an unwanted call.

    But the article also digs into something more interesting: a social alibi network for SMS users, formed as a club within the service:

    Rhymer Rigby
    [from Phoney excuses at the touch of a button]

    "One man went to a party until four in the morning," continues Mr Wilfahrt. "He couldn't go into work the next day so he solicited responses from the club. Eventually he got a female club member to pose as his wife and say that he was ill." His boss bought the tale - even though the man in question was unmarried.

    "Of course, this sort of thing has always happened," says Jakob Nielsen, a consultant on IT usability at the US-based Norman Nielsen Group. "But with alibi clubs you have access to a whole world to back you up."

    Moreover, continues Mr Nielsen, not only can users draw from a deeper pool of excuses, but people are also far less likely to have a problem lying to strangers; in fact they may even find it rather fun. "You don't know who you're covering for and the social constraints break down. We've seen a lot of this already with e-mail. People are far more likely to be rude because it's less personal," says Mr Nielsen.

    I am joining, so the next time I have someone call you and say that I am in bed with the flu and can't make our lunch meeting, it might be a fake-out.

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    October 06, 2004

    Mobile Bristol UK gig

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    Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

    Just came back from an interesting day in Bristol (UK), at HPLabs and the University of Bristol, where we were reviewing the results of CitiTag - our wireless multiplayer city game, discussing what it all means and what the next generation of game might look like.

    Yanna Vogiazou and Bas Raijmakers, co-designers of the game, gave a nice presentation which included some of Bas's annotated video of the 'game experience', and described the ways in which even such a simple game, based on nothing more than tagging nearby people, leads to some unplanned 'emergent' behaviours: for instance, people try to test the limits of the technology, the limits of the rules, and the limits of the tagging metaphor by developing their own styles of play, or cheating in various ways (such as pretending to be on the opposite team so they can quickly tag rivals). The neat thing is that the game deliberately treads a very thin line between total anarchy (no rules at all, so we can let people do whatever they want) and a game that has enough structure and rules to be motivating and replicable -- this is a very difficult balance, and the first triallists seemed at least to enjoy the simplicity offered by the game. What they wanted was a more prolonged/persistent version, so they could re-join the game over a series of days, weeks, months, and keep a user profile of sorts, so this is something we hope to explore.

    The background context is that HPLabs runs a project called Mobile Bristol, which provides
    "an experimental test-bed for technology and user value research in pervasive mobile media. The vision of the test-bed is to provide a digital canvas over the city onto which rich situated digital experiences can be painted and new commercial ventures can be explored. As you walk through the city a diverse range of digital media experiences such as soundscapes, games, interactive media and art bring the city alive and augment the ambiance of the physical places."

    On their site, you'll see not only CitiTag, but also the following:

    Schminky: "Players work to solve musical puzzles that involve dientifying sounds that are missing from an audio prompt. They can play individually or invite other Schminky users in the bar to join in a group game. The game was specifically designed to promote social interaction and test acceptability of new technologies in social spaces."

    Savannah: "...a collaborative project that explores whether children can learn about ecology and ethology by 'being an animal'."

    Queen Square Riots: "An Interactive Play for Voices... It is the Bristol Riots of 1831. The Political Reform Bill has been defeated in Parliament and the vote denied once more to ordinary people. Now those people are rising up and thousands of them have filled Queen Square in the heart of the city to vent their fury. You hear the rioters' voices as they plunder the surrounding buildings, the flames as buildings burn, the merchants as they flee for their lives and the Dragoon Guards as they sabre-charge through the crowds cutting the rioters down."

    The great thing is that the infrastructure is all well-embedded in Bristol, and pervasive mobile media is taking off... check it out!

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    Instant Messaging in the Attention Economy -- 26 Oct 2004

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    You're invited to this complimentary seminar, covering business topics from leaders in today's leading companies—delivered via web conferencing from Microsoft Office Live Meeting. All you need is a web browser and a phone. We hope you'll join us.

    Instant Messaging in the Attention Economy
    October 26, 2004

    9:00AM - 10:00AM Pacific Time (US & Canada)
    12:00PM - 1:00PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

    Speaker: Stowe Boyd, President/COO of Corante

    Seminar Overview

    The discussion around instant messaging generally centers on the first order effects of its deployment: costs, risks, and direct savings. This was true of all preceding communication media as they were being adopted by business, as well: telephone, fax, email, and cell phones. But as we now know, the second order effects – that generally take much longer to become manifest – are significantly more important in the long run.

    We now live in the world that email built; but are headed for a world where instant messaging will become the foundation technology of communication. What will that world be like, how will it be different, and why should we work to adopt the new modes of interaction and communication that this medium requires?

    We are in a time of unparalleled information access, but this paradoxically limits our ability to absorb information, because we have limited bandwidth: only so much attention to go around. Herbert Simon, the Nobel laureate, once wrote, ‘What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.’

    Linda Stone coined the expression “Continuous Partial Attention”, characterizing it as an aberration, a disorder, and an unnecessary disruption in business. But the benefits that arise from reorganizing around real-time coordination, collaboration, and communication pathways – most importantly the acceleration of response and increased parallelism – outweighs the apparent change in social mores needed to accommodate this new form of interaction.

    This seminar will cover:

    • What are the first order benefits from IM, and why are they less important than generally argued?
    • What is “Continuous Partial Attention” and why does its adoption offer advantages, not disruption?
    • Why does IM etiquette matter, and what can we learn from the biggest users of IM?
    • How can we gain the acceleration latent in massive real-time communication across projects, the enterprise, and the extended enterprise; and what role can instant messaging play?

    Click here to register or get more info.

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    Email This Entry

    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Bambi Francisco profiles Jotspot, a wiki technology company:

    Bambi Francisco
    [from Excite founders re-emerge on tech scene with JotSpot]

    JotSpot's Kraus said his technology is more enhanced than prior wiki versions because JotSpot wiki documents are integrated with e-mail, real-time news feeds from the Web and wysiwyg (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editing and publishing tools.

    The software, which will be sold as a hosted software application, is designed to enable small groups collaborating on a project to work together by using one shared space. For instance, correspondence between a human resources staffer and a division head about a potential job candidate can be captured in a wiki document by copying the wiki document e-mail address in the e-mails. The wiki document would then store the correspondence in a section of the document. That wiki document could also include the candidate's resume and real-time news related to the candidate or the specific job.

    It's been 15 months since Kraus and Graham went to work on JotSpot. Eventually, Kraus and Graham used their connections with Geoff Yang, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, who a decade ago had met the two founders when he led his firm's investment in Excite. At the time, Yang was at IVP.

    Two months ago, JotSpot raised $5.2 million from Redpoint Ventures and Mayfield, said Kraus, now in his early 30s.

    Kraus said he plans to make money by selling a subscription and charging on a per-seat basis, much like (CRM: news, chart, profile). He didn't comment on how much he thought he could charge. Indeed, there are other free wiki technologies, like OpenWiki, that are available.

    Interesting. Integration strategy is really good start, since Wikis can be an out of body experience, up on the portal or web, and away from the desktop. I don't even want to talk about Wiki style editing (which is at best a headache), so going wysiwyg is smart.

    More to follow when my beta app is processed.

    [Marc Cantor and others have made similar noises]

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    Survey Participation

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Web conferencing works but really there are so many different ways to use it. But how are people really using it in their work? What is effectitve and what is not? DecisionCast and Wainhouse Research need your help. They're doing a survey that will help determine the future of web conferencing. This survey will help developers to learn how Web conferencing is being used. This is your opportunity to give your voice on the matter. For your trouble, you will be entered into a drawing for an Apple iPod and Amazon gift certificates! So please, click this link and take the survey. Your help is not only appreciated, it is honestly valued. Thanks so much!

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    Relationship Marketing Conference 3 Nov 2004 in NYC

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Our friends at Business Development Institute have asked me to speak at an upcoming conference that brings together various threads: social networking technologies and techniques being applied to business development. This event will be in New York City, Wednesday, November 03, 2004.

    Building New Business With Breakthrough Relationships: Relationship Marketing and Business Development in the Professional Services Sector

    Business Development Institute and PM Forum North America cordially invite you to join us for a special one-day symposium devoted to exploring how to effectively build and maintain breakthrough relationships that generate new and sustainable business in the professional services sector.

    From the latest in technology applications, to the unique and innovative marketing, communication and business cultivation techniques that are being used successfully in the marketplace, we will examine how to identify and leverage the spectrum of Relationship Marketing solutions that can most effectively deliver real results for in the professional services sector.

    Note: Corante readers can get a $50 discount using the promotional code "corante" in all lower case at the registration page. To register or for more information, click here.

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

    Marc Eisenstadt Remotely Proximal

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Marc riffs on the recent Handwave at Synchronous Social Software, although not about the synchronous aspect of what I was pushing at, but on the geolocation element:

    [from Plazes, Gush, and Blog Comment Threading

    His wish list goes on to include the 'best of breed' features of IM, geolocation services, RSS feeds, generic presence and trigger alert info, combining the capabilities of Plazes and Gush.

    I have two separate sets of comments to make on this... one about the content, and one about where and how I make these comments (!).

    Regarding the content: Stowe's wish-list is right on the money -- it deserves a more thoughtful reply than I can give it at the moment, so I merely wanted to flag a few other things swirling around in that space that are starting to address these same needs:

    a) BuddySpace, naturally, with its location-centric presence info... not with 'live map' updates yet, but those are coming soon!!

    visitmaps.jpgb) Live IP -> Latitude/longitude information can be supplied more easily than the custom app you need to download for Plazes: check out the 'HitMap' in the upper right corner of my blog, which knows where visitors to my page come from, without them having to do anything.... cool, huh? This comes from KMi's Jiri Komzak, the same guy who implemented BuddySpace, and is described some more on KMi's HitMaps page.

    c) Updating my colleagues regarding my past/current/future locations? Check out the map in the lower right of my blog gutter, which does exactly this, courtesy Bryan Boyer's IndyJunior!

    Ok, so I want to run the HitMaps thing on Get Real. Immediate widget lust.

    Regarding Indy Junior -- too much work, man! Editing XML docs and figuring out the coordinates is too hard. But the guys at Plazes could keep a history of my logging in at various Plazes, and depict it as a part of my profile. They do parts of that already, including showing a daily update of new plazes on world and continental maps.

    But then Marc wanders off into strange territory, first of all acting apologetic for his writing the post at My Dog, and not here at Get Real, where he is *supposed* to be guest blogging. But the tension inherent in the decision making about whether to blog here or there has led to some interesting speculations about the difficulties inherent in following cross blogthreads:

    I'm continually amazed at the fact that blog comment discussion threads are such cumbersome beasts. I wrote previously with pointers to Jon Udell's comments on this and the new generation of Feedster and Bloglines citation bookmarklets. The challenge is to 'slice through the spaghetti' and obtain a sensible view of an emerging discussion thread, even though it is posted in disparate blog entries.

    Citation bookmarklets are a stab in the right direction, but they are still too cumbersome. Blogs have the advantage of preserving a sense of self-ownership (hence my posting here rather than in a comment on someone else's blog). Forums and discussion threads have the advantage of preserving some semblance of context. Feeds have the advantage of providing steroid-driven-navigation. There are times and contexts in which any of these may be superior to the others. I think a good challenge is to let the user 'in situ' construct a mix of perspectives, i.e. peruse an 'in-line' (constructed-on-the-fly) comment-thread while reading a blog entry, rather than having to play detective, peruse feeds, or invoke a bookmarklet.

    Toward this end, I have been brainstorming over the last few days with Bertrand Sereno, who is experimenting with semantic blogging. He's looking at ways to link blog entries together with semantic tags rather than mere faceless links or trackback pointers: tags that say something about why I'm linking to another entry. A challenge I've posed to Bertrand is to begin at the bookmarklet level and allow the two of us (or more if others join in) to carry on our brainstorming by means of parallel or 'yoked' blog entries, from which our discussion thread can be reconstructed on-demand. Another thing Bertrand is looking at in this respect is the notion of 'free-form' tags a la Flickr and, i.e. tags that are not constrained to be from a limited 'semantically credible' subset in the eyes of some High Priest of Ontology, but rather constructed at whim, in order to see what kind of tagging system evolves.

    Ok, I'm in.

    But what about various blogthreads efforts, like Dave Sifry's Technorati search embedded in MT (which David Weinberger calls "Threadorati")? [Note: I have added threadorati to Get Real, just now, so we can see what happens.]

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    October 05, 2004

    danah On "Why I Love My Sidekick"

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    danah boyd
    [from apophenia: why i love my sidekick]

    I ran into a skater kid on the BART yesterday who was sporting the newest Sidekick. I peered over with envy. He told me it was fucking rad and that a friend of his worked at T-mobile and snagged him one before it came out.

    I keep seeing kids wearing their sidekicks around their neck on chains. At the X-Games this summer, there were tons of sidekicks. The Hiptop is definitely appealing to the hip-hop youth crowd. And for good reason.

    First, look at the device. It looks like a gaming device. It says: you will use me for play and textual communication. Forget the phone - who talks on the phone anyhow? Certainly not you... you don't want to shove a piece of toast up against your ear now do you? And besides, if you want to talk, you'll use an earpiece.

    Next, look at the interface. There are no horrible menus, no poorly named programs. It's simple: scroll on the right and find everything you need. AIM is obvious. Email is obvious. SMS is obvious. Everything you need with simple scrolls. The feedback mechanism is purrfect - little icons in the upper corner no matter what screen you're on. And if you're away from the device, it'll buzz for certain messages and turn pretty colors for others. Feedback. Constant feedback.

    Three things would make it beyond perfect for me: a longer battery, a retractable ear piece (i always forget mine) and the ability to add programs to the ones available. I hear synching is improved with the latest version, but i haven't tried it out. That was previously on my list.

    But the fact is that using the Sidekick makes me feel like a subculture kid. And even as the mainstream kids are picking up on them, only a few adults are. Adults don't get the importance of text, particularly AIM text. And the Sidekick understands that American kids are mostly on AIM and it's a central feature, not a pain in the ass add-on. This is what texting looks like in the States. Turning AIM texting into a gameboy and voila!

    Just like the new gizmo from Verizon, the Ogo I blogged last week, new gadgets that treat IM as primary and other communication as secondary are being targetted at kids and hipsters like danah. This is the front of a transformational wave that old fogeys don't even get, and don't see coming.

    Like Rock&Roll, online gaming, and blogging, these social tools will shape society at a very basic level.

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    What's Next for Ev Williams?

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Ev Williams, founder of Pyra Labs and the Blogger technology now part of the Googlopoly, has decided that is time for something really different:

    Ev Williams
    [from evhead: Next?]

    Yes, I'm leaving my baby (or is it an adolescent by now?), in the hands of an awesome team we've compiled over the last few years. And I'm taking some time off to think. And...who knows?

    Gosh, what else to say about that?

    Necessarily, I must express that it's been an amazing, thrilling, life-changing, difficult, rewarding, surprising, and lucky ride I've been on. And "life-changing" is such an understatement. As I said on Blogger's fifth birthday, for doing the "same thing" for five years, it's amazing how drastically my life has changed. Not just my life, but me. I'm just a simple farm boy from Nebraska, after all.

    As I prepare to take off my "head Blogger guy" hat, which seems permanently sealed to my scalp by now, I need to give a huge thanks to the people who've made the last few years what they were. I'd name names, but I'd never get to the end of the list, so, in general categories: The original Pyra team, the current Blogger team, and those who helped me out in-between, my investors and advisors (formal an in-), all the awesome Blogger users and supporters, the whole blogging community -- developers, competitors, and drivers of the vision -- and, of course, the great folks at Google. Not to mention my friends and family who witnessed and helped many a stressed-out Ev (see picture).


    Well that's a transition I will be watching closely for the next big idea. After you get back from your tour of the known world, give me a call, Ev: I have a few trends to discuss.

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

    October 04, 2004


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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Another locale-based social networking solution, aSmallWorld:

    aSmallWorld is an invitation-only online community which is not open to the public. It is designed for those who already have strong connections with one another and want to create new ones. It allows you to interact more effectively with like minded individuals who share similar friends, interests, and schedule. We list the most popular restaurants, hotels, and night clubs in over 40 major cities, summer and winter resorts and we keep track of major events, parties, exhibitions, film and music festivals and sporting events such as motor racing, tennis, sailing, golf, and others. Our goal is to become the leading global social networking community.
    Whose isn't?

    Anybody out there who can hook me up with an invitation, or an introduction to the folks behind this. The front page is totally unclickable, except for the login. Maybe you need to be a jetsetter.

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    Imeem = Distributed Social Networking

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Judith blogs about Imeem:

    The only description Ms. Glassberg [who wrote the PR] gives us of stealth-mode Imeem is: ”...The software will provide social networking capabilities and other features along a distributed network…”

    Also mentioned in this venturewire is Ted Malone, a new member of the Imeem team formerly from TiVo, who is quoted as saying that a beta version of the Imeem software will be released before the end of 2004.


    I reviewed WiredReach some time ago: a peer-to-peer based social networking approach. But this area is ripe for competition, especially with regard to presence and real-time communication opportunities.

    Trust me; I have talked these ideas up with literally dozens of the existing competitors, and NO ONE IS LISTENING. They continue to be focused on email and portal based approaches, because they are easy and "everyone has email" and "we don't want to create a new client."

    I believe the company that dreams up a cool integration of buddy-lists, mobility, proximity, meetup-ish blending of on and offline interaction, and RSS aggregation of people's online persona (profiles, blogs, comments, dossiers composed of the stray bits we leave behind everywhere) will really be onto something, and will make today's out-of-content, portal-based solutions look immediately ancient and unweildy. The right critical mass of features could induce the mildly interested early adopters to drop what they are doing at LinkedIn or, and stream onto a better paradigm of online networking: namely, real-time.

    I gotta talk to these folks. Anyone out there in a position to introduce me?

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    Leverage Software Enters "Relationship Capital Management"

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    I was contacted last week by representatives of a new entrant to what is generally called enterprise social networking, Leverage Software, Today, the company is announcing its new product suite, Relationship Intelligence, and its positioning of the company and product around the concept of "Relationship Capital Management."

    [from press release] Leverage Software Enters into Relationship Capital Management

    As a New Market Segment, Relationship Capital Management Enables Sales Organizations to Gain Insight, Access and Influence of Trusted Relationships to Accelerate Sales Cycles

    October 4, 2004 – San Francisco, California – Leverage Software, a leading provider of Relationship Capital Management™, today announced its entry into the business applications market of social networking. Relationship Capital Management (RCM) is recognized by many of today’s leading industry analysts and industry pundits as technology that will profoundly impact the sales processes across both emerging and Global 2000 companies. Leverage Software’s RCM solutions are quickly becoming a strategic ally for leading sales organizations; empowering them to discover, analyze and leverage their collective enterprise relationships to gain access and influence to decision makers through a trusted introduction.

    I got the demo, and here's my first take:

    • Leverage is a partner of (like Visible Path, Spoke, and perhaps other competitors).

      Integration with SFA and CRM apps is the clear trajectory in this niche, and in a real sense, the final analysis for utility will be the degree to which these solutions meld with the business processes that SFA and CRM apps automate. To the best meld will go the spoils.

    • Leverage is going head-to-head with the more well-established Visible Path. Their target market and their pitch is very similar. In particular, Visible Path has been pushing the "Relationship Capital" message very effectively, supported by their very assiduous attention to privacy and security.
    • I sense a coming price war in the wind, where Leverage seems open to aggressive pricing with the intent of gaining market traction. Depending on your viewpoint of possible endgames for this sector, gaining heads and growth may translate into an attractive acquisition proposition for SFA/CRM vendors who may (in the not too distant future) may be casting about for acquisition candidates. This consolidation is to me inevitable, once the value proposition for these technologies is clearly proven by uptake and ROI.

    The appearance of Leverage makes me wonder how many more of these competitors are going to pop out of the woodwork, and are there any serious first mover advantages? The barriers to entry are low, but the cost of implementing the underlying analyses that Visible Path and more well-established players have invested years of effort and millions into may be problematic, but it is clear at the same time that these are early days, and it is not always the first, or even best engineered products, that win in the long run.

    Its a horse race, and its way too early to call.

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

    October 02, 2004

    Instant Message Barbie

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Instant messaging is more that ubiquitous: even dolls are using it!

    [from Mobile Technology Weblog]

    Mattel in India have launched a Barbie doll, impeccably dressed as always, but also with her own must-have accessory - a mobile phone. But this is no toy - the mobile works. Barbie's owners can Instant Message Barbie and friends who have a Barbie too. Plus the look of the phone can be changed to match her clothes. It's priced at R 1199 (USD 26), according to The Statesman.

    Whatever next - a phone for dogs? Ahh, we had that last week.

    I couldn't find anything at the Mattel Barbie sites, but did find it at Sears:
    Get hip with technology, and instant message with Barbie and her friends. The included instant messaging "phone" has a real working text messaging feature. Girls can send real messages to Barbie doll and receive a message back. Send messages to friends who have an Instant Message Girl Barbie doll, too. Each doll also comes with an extra face plate, trendy fashions and a cool messenger bag. Measures approximately 12" tall. Requires 3 button cell batteries (not included). Includes 3-"AA" batteries and 3 button cell batteries

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    A Handwave at Synchronous Social Software

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    So it was a sort odd, synchronicity feeling: I decided to turn on my laptop ridiculously early this AM to jot down some thoughts about the possibilities arising from a better fusion of proximity and place oriented social sofware (specifically manifested in the Plazes beta, about which I have written this and that already) with industrial strength instant messaging (specifically the 2Entwine Gush product, about which I have scribbled mightily). Then I noticed guest blogger Marc Eisenstadt's first post, where he wrote:

    [from Greetings + Synchronous Social Software 1]

    One of the many reasons I'm delighted to be here is that Stowe has long been the Daddy of what I like to think of as Synchronous Social Software... a category still so new that if you run a Google search for the quoted string "synchronous social software" you find, well... that this is, until now, really a very rarely-used piece of jargon. But unpack the jargon and you find that Stowe has been writing about precisely this niche for many moons now (in addition to having coined the more generic phrase "Social Tools" some 5 years ago!)

    And that's exactly what had me tossing and turning, so I had to get out of bed to write the ideas down.

    All I Want: Plazes + Gush

    Plazes is among the first social software technology that I believe that I will actually use, and it is exactly because of the blending of its proximity and place based capabilities with with synchronous communication opportunities. But of course, I want more.

    Plazes brings together some critical elements that match my wish list for social software:

    • I want to keep tabs on "the known": basically, those on my buddy list.
    • I want to know if those folks are online, and where they are.
    • I am interested in meeting other folks, wherever they may be on Earth, who share my particular interests and obsessions.
    • I travel a lot, and have difficulty letting people know where I am, but, in general, I want my friends to know, without bombarding people with a stream of spammish emails or IM alerts. So basically, actual location should become an aspect of my presence: this is what Plazes offers, at least in part.
    • I am interested in knowing more about my immediate surroundings; for example, who are the other people typing away at my local the Starbucks? Or, at a slightly larger scale, what do my friends and others think of the restaurants, stores, hotels, and in my immediate surroundings? What interesting things have happened in Cafe Montmartre (a local bistro I tagged yesterday in Plazes) recently?

    But I want it all smooshed together, not apart.

    Plazes supports RSS feeds from defined Plazes, so you can subscribe to the feeds and be alerted when others tag your haunts. This could also be a means of alerting interested parties to events. Ann, the owner of Cafe Montmartre, could alert me and the other habitues of that bistro about an upcoming wine tasting or musician's gig.

    That part of it is already 'integrated' since I have my existing RSS reader. But what is left dangling is the integration of presence.

    What I want is to have a client on my desktop pull the piece together. Note that Plazes relies on a desktop client to login to the Plazes network, but it doesn't do much besides login and send location information it lifts from the router.

    Instead, Plazes should offer an integration hook for IM clients like Gush, so that I could have a much richer integration of presence indication:

    • Every buddy that participates in the Plazes solution would be tagged with geolocation as well as on/off/away presence and availability.
    • Plazes of interest to me would also exist on my buddy list, so I could keep tabs on them: how many folks are there, how many new tags, network status, how many subscribers to the RSS feed.

    Note that I already had a discussion with the guys at 2Entwine this week about a new wishlist item: allowing me to put RSS feeds and buddies on the same display, not in two separate worlds. I want to see Marc Eisenstadt's presence right next to My Dog stats. And now, I want to see his geolocation and be able to access the RSS feed from the Plaze he is working (or playing) in.

    Dudley and Wes of 2Entwine said relaxing the false dichotomy between RSS feeds and buddylists in Gush should be relatively easy; what I am wishing for here, is however, a major undertaking, and would require all sorts of efforts on the part of 2Entwine and Stefan Kellner and Felix Petersen, the masterminds behind Plazes.

    These two groups don't even know each other. But they soon will be introduced, trust me.

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    October 01, 2004

    Greetings + Synchronous Social Software 1

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    Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

    A brief hello to plant my marker... I'm delighted to be blogging here on Get Real, and hope to provide a different slant which augments the observations I post on My Dog.

    One of the many reasons I'm delighted to be here is that Stowe has long been the Daddy of what I like to think of as Synchronous Social Software... a category still so new that if you run a Google search for the quoted string "synchronous social software" you find, well... that this is, until now, really a very rarely-used piece of jargon. But unpack the jargon and you find that Stowe has been writing about precisely this niche for many moons now (in addition to having coined the more generic phrase "Social Tools" some 5 years ago!)

    I'm hoping that with a little nudge here and there we can perhaps bring this "3S" phrase out of the "jargon closet" and give it the prominence it deserves: not only because of the huge popularity of Instant Messaging and peer-to-peer networking, but also because of the emergence of other manifestations such as mobile and wireless gaming, location-based services, presence-based tools, massively multiplayer games, ubiquitous computing, smart dust (!), real-time matchmaking, smart mobs, flash mobs, city games, augmented reality games, and various other large group and performance art phenomena that haven't even been dreamed up yet!

    OK... I've tossed in a lot more tantalizing jargon there... so consider this a trailer for some fun topics to be visited in future entries.... it's late here in the UK, so I'm gonna turn in... stay tuned!

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    Moving to Grooving

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    I bumped into this blog entry this afternoon while fooling around with Plazes; its written by Hugh Pyle, who works at Groove. It's interesting because I was talking with Andrew Mahon of Groove and some others on Wednesday in NYC about this very issue -- that with the V3 release of Groove, it has become the sort of platform that is rich enough that people might "live in it" as opposed to just opening it up every once in a while to update files:

    Hugh Pyle
    [from Hugh's ramblings: Moving to Grooving]

    Something subtle has been happening at work, and I only really noticed when firing up the PC this morning. Log in, start the apps: Groove, Firefox, Notes, and VMWare (where my current development project lives).

    Everything's in Groove. (Everything except BlogLines, and I'm not even pretending to keep up with the weblogs now - it's strictly for recreation only. I'll fire up IE later to use MSDN, probably. And Visual Studio, no doubt).

    This morning I have one email. There's nothing new for me in the other Notes databases I look at regularly (the design reference library, my bug list). An open-and-shut case; I can close Notes for a few hours (until I want to check email again).

    Groove, on the other hand, suddenly went from being "what we make" to "how we work". That's happened since V3 shipped. Wow.

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    Lurkers, Lurkers, Everywhere

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    Got an email today:

    Dear Customer,

    This message is just to remind you that the trial period of your ViewletPoll will expire in 7 day(s).

    You have 1 active ViewletPoll(s):

    Question: Would you ever use a service like
    Brief stats since last reset (9/8/2004)
    Views: 423
    Visits: 282
    Votes: 5 (1.77 % of visitors)

    So under 2% of the people who peeked at the little poll I put up (see Getting Dissed By PaperNapkin), and only 5 (one of them me) voted, even when 282 people looked at the results!

    Don't lurk! Get engaged. Life is short. It's not a rehearsal.

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    No Wonder: Few Enterprises Affected by AOL and Yahoo Moves

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    In a recent Sage Research study, cited in various quarters, only 14% of respondents stated that their enterprise instant messaging planning was impacted by Yahoo! and AOL dumping their enterprise instant messaging solutions. 82% shrugged.

    And, informally, I haven't heard any whining from anybody. At a recent conference (the BDI Collaboration in Financial Services conference, in New York on Wednesday) there was a widespread eagerness for the Microsoft gateway to AOL and Yahoo, coming with the next release of Live Communications Server.

    Monopoly is a viable solution to the interoperability problem, by the way.

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    AOL IM Image Virus Spreading

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    Posted by Stowe Boyd

    A nasty virus is spreading through AOL's instant messaging:

    Dan Ilett
    [from Image virus spreads via chat]

    A virus that exploits the recently discovered JPEG vulnerability has been discovered spreading over America Online's instant-messaging program.


    According to the Internet Storm Center, the victims received AOL Instant Messenger messages that directed them to Web sites that hosted the dangerous JPEG images.

    The instant messages read: "Check out my profile, click GET INFO!" When visited, the Web site automatically sends malicious code embedded in the JPEG image to the computer, Ullrich [chief technical officer for SysAdmin Audit Network Security Internet Storm Center] said. Once infected with the code, the computer sends the same message to other contacts in the instant-messenger list.

    The code also installs a back door that can give hackers remote control over the infected computer.

    And antivirus programs do not generally scan graphics files for viruses, limiting their searches to executables.

    Of course, this is just a sign of the times. As IM grows in popularity, it is inevitable that the networks will be attacked in this way.

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