09 Sep

Structured Data Blogging

For some reason I hadn’t bumped into Reger yet, but it’s definitely intriguing:

"[W]hat this tool excels at is allowing you to capture extended data fields with each entry. As you blog and collect data, you can then mine that data with custom graphs, advanced saved data searches and data-enabled RSS feeds. All right out of the box with no complex user manuals or custom code. You can create a custom log type to log any sort of activity you can imagine."

Watched a couple videos, they’re ok though the sound production values are so-so and it still seems rough around the edges, especially overall visual design and more specifically form rendering. But then some of it should be considered “alpha software” says the voice over, and who likes HTML forms anyway? From a marketing perspective I get the sense Reger tries to cover too much ground too quickly, at the risk of not being a clear killer app for anyone. That probably comes with the swiss knife nature of such a tool. Since normal people don’t go creating XML schemas, the whole thing needs to be streamlined and refined, but the basic premises are intriguing. Many people track the craziest things with Excel, and a lot of it would make sense online (as much as these things make sense in the first place, that is).

25 Jan

Spam, Spam, Spam Everywhere and Not a Chunk to Eat

It’s not enough that spammers have made my referrer stats completely unusable, Google Desktop also helps them land the top spot in search results too by indexing spam in Outlook (flagged as such by filters mind you). Google Desktop is now gone from my PC. Nice trick to close the uninstall process on a feedback collection form though.
I’ve already commented on this company’s tendency to spread itself far too broadly and thinly, and this is just another example. Spam in all its forms is Google’s primary challenge (it’s to Google what security issues are to Microsoft, only this is less blatantly obvious), and looking at how they allocate resources and diversify into a new beta every quarter I’m not sure they see it clearly, or care. I’m finding Google web search results less and less useful… Well, I’m sure there will be a Refocus Hero to save Google a few years from now when it has drifted enough to bank itself into a no-growth/high costs zone.

01 Jan

Social Software: Finding Beauty in Walled Gardens

Dare Obasanjo:

"The social problems are straightforward, there is little incentive for competing social software applications to make it easy for people to migrate away from their service. There is no business incentive for Friendster to make it easy to export your social network to Orkut or for eBay to make it easy to export your sales history and reputation to Yahoo! Auctions.
[…] The value of a user’s social network and social information is the currency of a lot of online services. This is one of the reasons efforts like Microsoft’s Hailstorm was shunned by vendors. The biggest value users get out of services like eBay and Amazon is that they remember information about the user such as how many successful sales they’ve made or their favorite kinds of music. Users return to such services because of the value of the social network around the service (Amazon reviews, eBay sales feedback, etc) and accumulated information about the user that they hold. Hailstorm aimed to place a middleman between the user and the vendors with Microsoft as the broker. Even though this might have turned out to be better for users, it was definitely bad for the various online vendors and they rejected the idea. […]
The fact of the matter is that we still don’t know how to value social currency in any sort of objective way. […] The fact is that there is no objective value for reputation, it is all context and situation specific. Even for similar applications, differences in how certain data is treated can make interoperability difficult."

Dare then explains that if it’s not going to happen at the industry-wide level, at least there’s some level of integration done within MSN to re-use a master contact list across several applications.

01 Nov

Visualizing 5 Years of Plasticbag

Tom Coates had some people graph posting patterns through his 5 years of blogging. I guess the move from plenty of short posts to sparser, longer posts, is a trend shared by many long-established blogs. It’s definitely been true for me over the last four years. Now that there are so many blogs and meta tools, there’s less interest in just posting what everybody else is blogging about too, unless you have what you hope is a valuable, if not unique, perspective to add. I’m munching on topics for a while if they’ve already been mentioned in the parts of the blogosphere I belong to. A quick comment on someone else’s blog, or a side link, are replacing those full-fledged posts that tend to say: "hey, read me, this is worth a feature on the main blog." That doesn’t mean every post needs to be a long essay or article, but you end up striving to add some angle to everything you publish.

06 Sep

Towards Seamless Distributed Discussions?

In this thread other people and I ponder the idea of implementing trackbacks back and forth between Flickr and blogs. Post a photo on your blog, ping the relevant Flickr pages. Comment a picture on Flickr, ping the blog pages that embedded it. That way Flickr and the blog are two facets of the same thing, Flickr being focused on managing pictures while the blog does the same for text. Each has their own community and the trackbacks expose what’s happening on the other side seamlessly. (This reminds me I still have to write the post where I detail how Organizr could become a great blogging client.)
Closer integration would also be welcome in terms of settings, for instance to post to draft if that’s the blog’s default. Oh, and while we’re at it, how about a taxonomy repository to synchronize your Flickr, del.icio.us and MT categories/tags. Hmm, make it a collaborative distributed taxonomy to get a headache.
(No need to mention I didn’t even enable trackbacks yet on this blog, I’m aware of it.)
09/10/04 update: Jeremy Zawodny, Jon Udell, Gary Murphy.
12/29/04 update: Clay Shirky: Notes from ITP: Flickr-as-web-services edition.

19 Aug

Anyone Uses Lingo?

Lingo is like Vonage only with better international service. I’m considering switching to it to add a French phone number to our household in order to cut even further into our big Portugal Telecom bill (which is of course already deprived of transatlantic calls thanks to Vonage), and it’s likely a UK number is going to come handy too. I need to research how to switch or possibly combine both services. Informed comments welcome.
Update: you can hook up both ATAs to the same router. Hmm, maybe I’m going to add a second handset to my AT&T 5830 wireless phone… but reviews are mixed, this will need serious homework.

18 Aug

Organizr is Nice, But Not a Web App

Sure, Organizr is great, and the folks at Ludicorp work impressively fast. However, please stop calling it and others like it web applications (I’m not saying its creators do, but others introduce that confusion, starting with Macromedia). This is a Flash application that doesn’t expose its state to its host browser (to the best of my knowledge, by definition). ActiveX didn’t turn COM into a web standard and likewise Flash isn’t part of the fabric of the web. (It’s impossible that you read this weblog and confuse the web for the internet, right?)
No wonder Organizr behaves like a desktop app, that’s basically what it is, because what is Flash but a desktop runtime that happens to be integrated with most browsers? As an aside, it’s funny to think that Microsoft helped Flash get its ubiquitous reach and ultimately become a development platform (rather that just a nice animation player) in order to prevent Netscape from becoming… an ubiquitous development platform. Well done Macromedia!
Back to arguing that you need to support REST to be a web app. For example, if I use Organizer’s nifty widget to select a specific timeframe (which reminds me of Photoshop Album’s smart recognition that time is an intuitive way to access pictures), there’s no way I can share that specific state with you since the URL stays the same. Or maybe using Flash for applications makes you part of the invisible web (Flash content is not invisible to search engines anymore), like all those databases hidden behind POST forms and authentication walls. Can you belong to the web even if your content repository or application state is hidden from it? Anyway, there’s an API for those inclined to complement the Flash interface with a web app, and my architectural comments are not meant to minimize Ludicorp’s achievement.
08/19/04 update: read the comments, Organizr is actually a web app once you put it in the broader Flickr context. It’s just a matter of better exposing the relevant URLs right from the Flash tool. This goes to show Flickr has sound fundamentals and room to grow. Exciting stuff! Also, Anil Dash and Robert Scoble chime in.
08/24/04 update: The Flickr crew not only listens, it follows up fast. Organizr now exposes URLs for selected photos and sets. If you can likewise surface the URLs for search queries, tags and date selections, I’ll be a very happy camper!
11/11/04 update: Jon Udell: The state of rich Web apps.
11/20/04 update: Kevin Lynch: Making Rich Internet Apps Web-Friendly.
05/10/05 update: Flickr moves from Flash to Ajax (now live).
08/18/05 update: An Interview with Flickr’s Eric Costello.

24 May

How to Share a Taxonomy with Other Photoshop Album Users?

Photoshop Album is one of those rare applications that make meta tagging so easy that even "normal people" can use it. Now, let’s say I want to create a taxonomy and share it with other users, is there a way to do it so that a) they don’t need to re-create those tags, and b) they’re going to use my controlled vocabulary in order to avoid alternate spellings and other discrepancies? I could even throw in some fun such as nice, well chosen thumbnails for all those tags. (Don’t you love an app than lets you choose your own thumbnails to visualize metatags? And you should see the feature in action, it’s very graceful.)
The goal is to keep everyone on the same page to feed a common database. Is there an explicit intersection between desktop photo management tools and the semantic web (say, an ontology created with Prot