Instead of predictions, Mike is writing about the Web 2.0 companies he couldn’t live without. I agree with many of his selections, including (but not limited to) FeedBurner, Measure Map, and WordPress. I part ways with him on Bloglines and del.icio.us and also have a couple of other Web 2.0 like companies that I use on a day-to-day basis. Here is my list:
SearchFox RSS over Bloglines After testing and using just about every web or client based RSS reader out there, SearchFox RSS became my default reader for two reasons. The first is its River of News aggregation style, which allows me to quickly see updated content via a mixing of all feeds from a particular folder.
The second and more important of the two is that SearchFox RSS learns from my reading habits and personalizes the display of my feeds. Thus, I have the ability to view feeds in chronological order or via my personalization (which is the default view).
BlinkList over del.icio.us BlinkList offers a much more intuitive and appealing user interface, a blog filled with helpful tips, and some features not available in del.ico.us.
The most compelling reason for me to move to BlinkList was private bookmarks. I wanted the always accessible, tag based approach to save websites, with the option to make certain business sensitive links private. Other selling points include the BlinkList toolbar and the Quickstart page.
Findory – Based on my past reading habits, Findory helps me pick up the memes of the day before everyone else does.
Gmail – I’d pay for Gmail if I had the option to host my work email with this incredible app.
Wikipedia – Always the first place I go when I have a question.
Rollyo – Via the Searchrolls I have in my Firefox toolbar, it provides an easy means for me to search my past writings or the sites I visit on a regular basis.
iTunes – Some might say that iTunes is not a Web 2.0 product but to me, it is one of the best Web 2.0 products out there (and I’ll explain why, as I continue my series on Opportunities 2006). iTunes is my podcatcher, music organizer (including where I make purchases), and often my radio.
2006 will not be a year of massive Web 2.0 adoption The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my countless non-geek interactions this year is that we are far from reaching mainstream penetration of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, RSS, tagging, social bookmarks, wikis, podcasts, etc.). Web 2.0 services are too disconnected, unintuitive, and often are impractical.
2006 will be a year of opportunity 2006 is going to be a year where the creators of web technology have the opportunity to make their services better in terms of integration, usability, and usefulness. In particular, developers of Web 2.0 services who begin to embrace these opportunities in 2006 are going to be the winners of 2007.
I’ll exame each of these opportunities in subsequent posts.
I’m not against an old-fashioned dustup amongst geeks but debating the legitimacy of Web 2.0 doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile use of our intellect. The semantics surrounding the coining of this phrase, who has the proper definition of it, and whether it exists or not means to me that we have lost sight of one of our important roles: developing ways to articulate the changes of web technology to those outside our circle.
When it comes to the jargon behind the changing web, we have failed. These words are just that – jargon. Words like blogs, RSS, podcasts, wikis, folksonomy, AJAX, and tagging are confusing and unintuitive.
So, where, if any, is the value in the phrase ‘Web 2.0′? Not in its non-existant definition, the idea of it being ‘the web as platform’, or in it representing a buzzword compliant application. It presents a way to encapsulate the fact that the web is changing at a very fundamental level, that web technology is getting better, smarter, more fun, and more efficient.
At the very least, Web 2.0 is a much better phrase than the words ‘wiki’ or ‘podcast’. It embodies two elements of familiarity – the word ‘Web’ and the idea of versioning. Geeks will need to do their best to overlook that it is not really a new release of the web. Skeptics will have to bear with the fact that businesses and entrepreneurs might use the term inappropriately, in order to make themselves more marketable. And those who embrace the phrase might face the ridicule of mockers, who have nothing better to do than to crudely slander those who talk or write about a made-up concept.
“I think what’s really dead is the discussion of whether Web 2.0 is real/unreal/a bubble/a whatever – it’s like blogging about blogging…it gets old.”
It is old. So, whatever you want to call it, the web is changing. But with what has been set in motion, the force behind Web 2.0 will not be undone. The once meme will become the moniker for heralding the second coming of the web. As we use the term “dot.com” to reference the early days of the web, Web 2.0 will also be solidified as an era. The web is changing and for better or for worse, the movement has been given its name. The dawning of Web 2.0 is upon us.
2005 was a big year for the Web. It consisted of a slew of conferences, a seemingly unending amount of product and service launches, significant acquisitions by major players, and an incredible adoption of many new technologies. Before looking towards 2006, I’d like to make several high-level observations about what has occurred in 2005. These are not meant to represent everything that happened in 2005, just some thematic ideas sticking out to me:
Three camps of web users are beginning to materialize According to Google, MySpace was the top gaining search term for 2005. Podcasting was also New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year. But compare MySpacers and podcast consumers to average Internet users – the latter group is still using the web just for e-mail or reading news online.
The digital divide is segmenting itself a bit more. The technical side of the equation is being refined. Putting the average users mentioned above aside, here’s how I’d generalize the other two groups out there:
Power Users – Incredibly tech savvy. Early adopters. Like gadgets. Primarily interested in technology that helps them be more efficient or that provides them alternative ways to consume and create information. Probably blog or read blogs often. Understand concepts and terms like RSS feeds, podcasting, and Web 2.0.
Social Users – Enjoy the connectedness of the web. Constantly on IM. Part of social networking of community sites like MySpace, Flickr, and others. May have heard of blogs or read their friends blogs. Not familiar with terms like RSS or podcasting. More concerned with what technology can do for them than how it is doing it.
Businesses can “win” by catering to Power Users or Social Users Both MySpace and Bloglines were acquired in 2005. Generally speaking, they appealed to two completely different groups. Still, both attracted buyers because they achieved a relative critical mass of the users they went after. Bloglines is one of the largest web-based feed aggregators and as alluded to above, MySpace is nearly solidified as the web’s hottest social networking site.
Adoption is tied to intuitiveness and knowledge At the outset of 2005, the reach of MySpace and Bloglines were comparable. Both experienced good growth but take a look at the December 2005 reach for each in the graph below. Even considering MySpace’s network externality effects, the difference is astounding -
If technology is only in the background, as in the case with MySpace, people will get it. In order to compel someone to use Bloglines, it takes a precursory discussion about RSS feeds and what they are all about. In order to further the adoption of Bloglines, education is necessary. On the other hand, telling someone what MySpace is about is pretty simple – it’s a place for friends.
While at a speaking engagement yesterday, I had a couple of people ask me how to avoid spam filters. I am always hesitant to answer questions like these because I am not one to employ tricks. Spam filters are also constantly changing in an effort to combat spammers. Instead of advocating tricks, here are a handful of thoughts to help get your email to recipients. The point with each one of these ideas is to simply avoid what sets spam filters off, as opposed to employing tricks to get around them.
Avoid sending HTML emails: Emails that contain links, graphics, and HTML code are one of the biggest triggers that filters use to identify SPAM. If you are set on using HTML email, be sure that at the very least, your first correspondence is in plain text. In the first email, request that the recipient add you to their safe list or address book.
Avoid sending attachments: For most filters, attachments equal computer viruses or trojan programs.
Avoid overly aggressive or ambiguous subject lines: Subject lines that are in all caps or contain exclamation points are often identified as SPAM. Overtly generic subject lines do the same.
Other places to watch out for include common SPAM words and phrases both in subject lines and in the body of the message. Do some research for yourself. Never be convinced by those who guarantee you they can get around SPAM filters. If they can one day, the likelihood is that they won’t the next.
The historical origins of the watermill are quite simple: innovators sought a way to harness the force of water to accomplish work more easily and efficiently. Mechanical energy could boost production and reallocate human resources to other efforts. But prior to rotary motion, the watermill was not possible. Water existed and milling existed. Yet the force of the one could not power the other.
While the crafting of the World Wide Web was a monumental achievement, it was largely a technical one. The architecture did not harness “the water”. The ensuing years included a glaring disconnect between an online and offline world, best exemplified by ridiculous, annoying, and uninteresting pop-up advertisements.
Web 2.0 represents a revolution in the interaction between web technology and users. The enabling technologies – AJAX, Ruby on Rails, RSS, and others – are like the rotary motion of the watermill. While key, in and of themselves they are not as interesting as the end results they produce – a better, smarter, more fun, and more efficient web.
The Web 2.0 Watermill In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.
People are analogous to the water of the watermill. They power the Web 2.0 Watermill. Technology facilitates the interaction of people with people, people with technology, and technology with technology. Knowledge is generalized to include all information generated by these three interactions. Where the interaction is of people with people or people with technology, knowledge may be used in the traditional sense of the word. Where the interaction is of technology with technology, knowledge may better be understood as data.
The interconnectedness and interactivity of this paradigm is what makes Web 2.0 so valuable. Web 2.0 powers a world of relevant, rich knowledge. With these synergies, businesses are empowered to have better access to customers. They are enabled to extrapolate better insights into consumer tendencies. Employees have new means to track projects or collaborate. Applications can be built more quickly and cost effectively, while being more useful to users.
Keeping you informed about my writing, speaking, and consulting work:
Site Redesign Complete: Thanks to Subbu Agency, my redesign is finished. I’ve enjoyed working with these guys on a couple of projects now. Professional, prompt, and just flat out talented. They have a knack for giving distinctive creative life to abstract ideas and description. Thanks Subbu!
Corante Keeping Me Busy: Posting here has slowed down a bit. I am dedicating a decent amount of time editorializing at the Corante Web Hub. I envision that as being the place where you can get my “quick takes” on day-to-day web happenings. If you like my writing style or take on things, I encourage you to subscribe to that feed. It also offers you my somewhat daily “Hub Happenings” – essentially a reader’s digest I create from some of the web’s brightest stars. A couple of examples from posts at the hub include Yahoo! Makes a Del.icio.us Acquisition and today’s New Alexa Web Service is a Double Edged Sword.
Two Upcoming Speaking Engagements: I’ll be discussing how to build a “virtual presence” to a room full of campaign managers and similar folk this Thursday. I hope to put up some thoughts from my notes and presentation.
La Shawn and I still have some spots left for our Crash Course on Blogging seminar too. So, if you are based in the Washington D.C. area and are interested in blogging, make sure you read about it or sign-up via my contact form. We encourage all to attend, although portions of the discussion are geared specifically towards non-profits.
WebProNews “Expert Author”: WebProNews has decided to resyndicate select posts from my blog. I am one of their Expert Authors, along with those by the likes of Steve Rubel and Jeremy Zawodny. Pretty good company, if you ask me.
Goodbye DreamHost: After five months of absolute frustration, I have decided to leave DreamHost. They’ve not lived up to the hype and I’ve experienced regular (sometimes weekly) outages since joining them back in August. I really like what DreamHost has to offer and am saddened by this decision but I need reliable hosting.
I’m on the market and need a provider who supports PHP, MySQL, and SSH access (would like some prebuilt scripts like form mail too). Drop me a line or leave a comment and let me know who you think could fit the bill. I plan on migrating the site over the holidays.