Blogging, the good and bad

•August 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Blogging, sometimes I wonder what it’s good for. Other times I see excellent and useful content I couldn’t do without.

Either way it seems to have taken off on the series of tubes and looks to be here for the foreseeable future. The beauty of it is the wide range of subjects a blog can cover, it can be a technical journal, an insight into a persons mind, a more personal way of approaching marketing or a rigid propaganda machine.

If you read Sacha Chua’s blog you can see a bit of the first two. She mixes personal insight with useful information in a fun yet informative way. What started out as a task list for her has transformed itself into something that has thousands of people hanging off her every word. She provides an interesting range of topics from what is happiness, to personal experiences, to how to use this application articles.

Of course as with all online media you shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security and reveal too personal information. A lot is being said about online privacy and how anything you post can be used against you. I myself have a slightly embarrassing incident of this relating to a couple of nights out and I’m still labelled ‘that drunk guy at the Christmas party’ by my work colleagues. And of course you never know when a picture will crop up.

For myself obviously I’ll be using the blog for uni, however I can see some interesting uses that may allow users for the company I work for a bit more insight into the IT department. Still not sure on how to do that, but it would be great to provide a bit more transparency to my job rather than just performing ‘IT Magic’ and fixing the problem. If you have any experience in this please comment.


Digg, Lightweight Models and Cost Effective Scalability

•May 10, 2010 • 4 Comments

Digg is a role model for Lightweight models and scalability. It was started from a simple idea that users could ‘digg’ up stories and then the most popular and useful stories would be viewed the most.  Their model was very user driven, they provide the system, the users provide the content. Because of this its very scalable and very cost effective. Digg only provides the framework for users so they have no cost outlay in finding or publishing content, they also don’t decide which stories get popular this is again controlled by the userbase. Due to all of the traffic that digg generates its very resource heavy now, however its alot easier to scale from a technology viewpoint then it is to scale from a business model viewpoint. With optimized software and a very modular design Digg scales easily, its just a case of adding more servers to their farms.

Where Digg really shines is their revenue scheme, which is build the community and the ads will come, they designed their system with minimal ads in mind from the beginning but focussed on building a community, then when advertisers were interested they already had the system implemented to show their ads.

Google Adsense, Leveraging the long tail

•April 28, 2010 • 2 Comments

Adsense is googles title for something so simple yet incredibly genius. It allows two tasks, advertisees (for want of a better word) to submit ads to be displayed by google on their various sites. As well as advertisers, to sign up for targeted ads to be placed on their site and having a cut of the ad sales go to them. Why its genius is that it allows google to place ads in any niche market and have it targeted very nicely. A small community site that deals with collectible dolls (for your information I have no idea why I chose collectible dolls, my brain is odd) for example who only has 10-50 users. Adwords can be placed on their site and google then will place ads to other doll sites on their page, thereby targeting that audience with ads they may be interested in. This but expanded to thousands and thousands of sites brings google a lions share of the long tail.

For those of you that somehow dont know about the long tail read this article from wired. It is one of the best written articles I have seen that describes the long tail and how it applies to web economics. Basically it points out how there are alot more people in the smaller niche markets than in the large demographics, because of this new web startups should aim their apps at these niche markets for long term paybacks. In terms of this google adwords does this perfectly, while still getting a good deal of the head as well. By letting the niche markets themselves place correctly targeted ads on their own sites it gets the larger share.

SircleIt, Perpetual Beta

•April 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

SircleIt is a social question and answer portal. It touts itself as being able to connect you to the right ‘circles’ of people to answer your questions. In essence what you do is sign up, tell SircleIt what you are good at, it will then only present questions from those areas for you to provide answers for. On the other side when you are asking a question all you do is type your question and what area it pertains to and then anyone who has said they are good at that, gets asked.

SircleIt is at the moment in Beta which is where the perpetual beta side of things comes in. Since inception they have added facebook support (allowing you to add and tell your friends about it via facebook), added a polling option (that allows you to ask questions and get a poll on responses) and fixed numerous bugs and interface errors. The beauty of being in beta is that everyone takes this as a positive as they are improving the service without anyone having to pay anything for it. Perpetual beta at the moment seems more like a marketing term, it really just means that they are continually improving the software/service/site they could do all of that without the ‘beta’ added to their logo, its more there to let the user know that somethings may not work fully yet but they will get around to it later.

Now SircleIt has some strong competition and it is in no way the best at question answering, Aardvark is way better, with IM support and a much larger user base, however its not in beta so didnt really fit this topic. However SircleIt is constantly adding features and presents information in a much different way then Aardvark.

All in all a useful webapp that provides some merit.

Waze, Software above a single device

•April 5, 2010 • 1 Comment

Waze is a user generated mapping service that is available on most smartphones. It takes real time GPS data from participating users devices, uploads them to the waze servers and using this generates roads. Budding cartographers can also log in to the website and edit the maps directly adding road names and correcting errors. The beauty of waze is that it detects traffic jams by analyzing other users GPS data and reports them, users can also report traffic incidents and nearby ‘wazers’ are notified. This can help immensely when choosing routes. Continue reading ‘Waze, Software above a single device’

OODesk, Rich User Experiences

•March 28, 2010 • 5 Comments

For this weeks pattern of Rich User Experiences I have chosen OODesk. OODesk is an online web desktop/webtop/web OS depending on which name you want to call it. Basically its a desktop experience but online, it has a basic set of apps such as word processors, calculators, media players but its all run inside a browser, see the screenshotto the right. There are a couple of direct competitors for OODesk including EyeOs and DesktopTwo. They are all aimed at people who would like the same experience no matter where they go.

In terms of rich user experience, this has it all, you double click on an icon and it loads a window that you can drag around, type in (for the word processor) change the document as you go, you can minimize that window and open more seamlessly, it is very well designed with the transitions and movement smooth. All of this inside a browser window without any page refreshes. This allows the user to experience a desktop experience that they are currently familiar with but inside a browser, therefore allowing for a better user experience.

Now of course there are drawbacks, its not quite as fast as a desktop, and it doesnt have the breadth of applications that you can install on a desktop, but from the point of view of someone wanting the same experience and all the same files no matter where they are or what computer they are using it can be quite useful.

In the future the developers intend to add more applications and improve functionality. Currently there is only a limited usage as you can only use a word processor and a spreadsheet program along with the more basic calculators and notepads.

Twitter, Innovation in Assembly

•March 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Twitter is a great example of innovation in assembly, its a web app that started off as a really simple idea and has grown to huge proportions. In a nutshell its just sharing small bits of text of 140 characters with anyone that follows you, and in turn you can follow people and receive their tweets. Where it really shines is how easy it is to integrate twitter into thousands of applications and uses. Twitter is totally open in terms of getting data out with external applications and plug-ins being able to use any tweet in any way it wants, even allowing them to post tweets as long as you provide a user-name and password. In this regard its a great example of not only a useful web app but a platform that allows other people to build useful apps on top of it. An excellent example of just how extensible it is can be found here, this guy pretty much took twitter, integrated it with his support case manager using a number of tools so that it sends a tweet to his team when a new case is logged, team members can then send a tweet back and accept the case, the system then notifies everyone else that the case has been accepted, I’m sure that when twitter was first thought of no one thought of using it that way, however by making it open and accessible its possible to extend the use of the original application.

Twitters biggest competitor would probably be Facebook in terms of its status updates, Twitter lacks most of the social networking features of Facebook however due in fact to its limitations, ease of use and external integration is fast being adopted as a microblogging outlet.

In terms of the future of twitter this is a very vague and as yet undetermined subject. There are many opinions on the matter, this link has an interesting mind map presented at a conference on possible directions. However one thing that seems to be hugely speculated on is how they will monetize the system, at the moment twitter itself does not actually make any money, therefore how they will change or influence twitter into a money making device will be quite interesting.

Brian Solis‘ and Jess3’s Twitterverse diagram shows just how many apps there are for twitter.