Mobile - Web - Media
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2005 10:21:03 AM
Answering Web 2.0 Questions Today's blog post, is a response to a series of questions posted on Joshua Porter's Blog, entitled: Bokardo
Joshua's blog is generally focused on "Web 2.0" - which is the 'next wave' of the Internet. While Web 2.0 is a silly term, the reality of it is quite refreshing. Did the Web evolve? Did the number of users online reach a special threshold point? Did we as developers see the light? What is happening right now? Did you even know that something is happening?
Indeed, something is happening. You could call it an evolution for the Web, the numbers of online users is massive, we the developers are seeing the light, and suddenly... people are excited about the Internet again.
Ok - onto the questions!
How do you build an architecture of participation?
1. Easy integration - users need to be able to get started and succeed within a short time frame - the same concept is heavily applied to game development - you want the user to obtain a sense of success within a short time frame in order for the majority to continue on.
2. Provide a platform for exchange - this can be content, like music, or it can be topic driven where the context of participation is the content.
3. Provide a two way street around the focus - establish pathways through your content - make it easy to navigate, consume, process, deliver and share. Once this is in place, your two way streets can be established. Here, one may need to 'seed' the concept to get it started.
4. Feedback - it's important to have proper feedback in any complex system - be sure to work in a means to send feedback directly to users. Even better, give them an option to turn off feedback notification. Take it even further, give the user an option to be notified by email or SMS - the idea here, is to be flexible - but don't go overboard on options.
There's definately a lot more you can do and consider - the key is to enable and empower people.
Is collaborative filtering only possible on large data stores?
I think it's a correlational curve. As the volume of data increases, the opportunities in collaborative flittering will also increase. This isn't a given though. You still need to have a solid means to conduct filtering.
What is the difference between Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web?
This one is a bit difficult to answer, because there's a whole camp of people who feel that "Web 2.0" is just a silly term used by people attempting to pump up a new bubble. Honestly, it is a horrible term. I think the best way to ask this question, would be to split it into two groups. The users, and the architects. Those of us who build the Web have a different take on it - we use it differently - we think about it differently. Ultimately, I think it's the user's perspective that we need to attend to. With that stated, The question now becomes... Do the users notice a difference, if so, what is it?
Is Ajax a Web 2.0 technology? Does the distinction matter?
If you look at the examples - it's pulling off the same thing as Ajax. It's not as new as people think. I find all the hype quite funny actually. Ajax isn't the cure. It's a solution to a few Web UI problems - it works well in some situations - but it isn't the catalyst for Web 2.0. Although, it definitely wins the award for generating the most hype around developers. Now even clients are asking, "So, you do Ajax?" Do they know what it is... usually not... it's a buzzword to them.
Is Ajax a Web 2.0 technology? Yes - it is now. Although, I would say that XML, RSS, and Web Services are much more important - not as 'sexy' - but your Web 2.0 house can't be build on Ajax alone.
One thing to consider about Ajax, is how it creates a problem with traditional banner ad and Google Adsense systems. Will the serving of ads move to a 'push' method for sites who rely heavily on Ajax? And if so, at what rate? Here's a good blog posting on "What's Wrong With Ajax" from "A Venture Forth."
Is there a future for a web-based Office suite?
Yes. Word processing has become the worst function of the computing experience. Starting over, pulling away all the bulk and useless options is the only way to salvage such a wreck.
How long will the distinction between a search engine and a blog search engine last?
The two may need to remain separate. Or - people need to be given a way to distinguish between the two. I search in both realms - and do so with specific goals. Sure, a meta search of some type might be good, but checking multiple locations helps ensure you are getting a better sampling from the Web when you search.
Will RSS or Atom supercede XHTML as the display format of choice?
Developers will move to support development trends - and general users will adopt what is free, the easiest, or what is pushed upon them. For power users, bypassing the site and consuming the content via feeds is the way to go. Ask anyone who is hooked on feeds, they'll state that they can monitor more sites than ever before by using RSS feeds. There's no way I could start my mornings off by browsing to 50 different sites.
Let's consider the next version of Windows. What if they nail RSS feeds in such a way that general users will be comfortable with it? If enough people upgrade to the next Windows, and successfully adopt Feed use, we very well could see a massive movement towards feed technology across most organizations. Would it replace the Web Browser, no way.
Who controls content?
The gatekeepers used to control the content, but as we the people became empowered through technology, we are now taking complete control over our content. I myself was an artist back on the original mp3.com. There was a lot to love about the scene around the site, but the company as a gatekeeper kept letting all of us down. My solution, was to build a service for independent artists which kept the artist in control and as the focus.
Granted, I'm referring to unsigned, non-commercial content, but, we can also point to the facts that more artists are going independent these days, which means more people will control their own content as time progresses.
What’s the difference between an application, a platform, an API, and an interface?
Ok, now I feel like I'm taking a test! Let's give it a spin. An application can provide a platform for content and data delivery and/or processing. That application would most likely have an interface for users to directly interact with the platform through the application. The interface is usually graphically designed in a way to organize or process content and data . An API is a collection of doorways into the application, providing access to the platform utilizing exposed processes.
Although, you could also go with the platform as the user's platform - or you could call the Web the platform. It's a bit fractal - all self-similar.
How do you monetize…X?
These days, you need to build hype, get people talking, get people blogging, although, having capital to help push this process definitely will help.
May use the "give away the basic, and sell them the Pro version." This has been used on the Web for years, and is currently in use at Flickr.com. People try it out, they find the value of the service to be great - then they upgrade.
What are the limits of social software?
I'm not really sure. I think the under 25 crowd will surprise us with what they'll do. Maybe the better question would be, how can non-social software benefit from becoming 'social software?" With this question, we could disect what is already out there and potentially discover new ideas.
What will Microsoft do?
Same thing they always do: spend a lot of money, have huge development teams, make products free to destroy competition, buy small companies that innovate, rip on everything that isn't MS, attempt to "Win" the Web (yeah right Ballmer). Yes, we will all keep an eye on Microsoft, but the action is everywhere these days. Let's just hope fewer companies sell themselves to MS.
Who’s Buying Who?
There will be a fair amount of consolidation over the next year. The number of startups launching new services seems like it's climbing, but I'm sure many will be rolled into one of the bigger players, like Yahoo, Google, etc.
Is Web 2.0 a marketing ploy, or something real?
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Thursday, Aug 25, 2005 1:51:21 PM
My competition is not valid. Well, at least their code isn't. The other day I came across an html/xhtml validator link - so I ran the ArtistServer artist homepage through it and it came back with an obscene amount of errors.
It turns out - none of the pages on ArtistServer validated as good code. This got me down. But then I ran several of my competitor's sites though the validator - and they too weren't validating.
All of my competition FAILED validation:
This was no excuse. Having valid code is key for many reasons - one of which, is that it improves the opportunity for search engines to index your site. If a spider is crawling through your code and it's filled w/ errors, it will skip your pages. I want to make clear here, that these errors I'm talking about are for the most part, "NOT" noticable to the user. I've been looking at ArtistServer for years - the pages always looked good and rendered well. Little did I know, my browser was ignoring a lot of simple errors.
If you are a geek, you might have noticed that I'm going with "DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional" and not "XHTML 1." At this point, I don't see a need to make those kinds of changes to the site. I also felt that getting the site to validate at it's current state would set us up for a better transition into "XHTML 1."
Funny thing about some of the sites on the Web that are doing well or are very busy as the 'new' thing - they don't validate either:
- www.backpackit.com - 6 errors - failed
- www.43things.com - 34 error - failed
- www.flickr.com - 6 errors - failed
- del.icio.us - failed - it wouldn't even parse it
- last.fm - 2 errors - failed
- www.boingboing.net - 132 errors - failed
- www.icerocket.com - 40 errors - failed
A few passed:
- www.rubyonrails.org - passed
- www.technorati.com - passed
- www.feedburner.com - passed
Ok - back to ArtistServer... why so many errors? One aspect has to do with the amperstand symbol being used in URLs. Any site which has variables passed in the URLs will not validate - period. This was news to me, and probably news to most Web developers, as I see most people have this very same problem.
I've sat down for three sessions and worked on modifying the code to get it all to validate. So far, I've cleaned up 16 pages, which includes all the pages in an artist account, the site homepage, the music page and most other key pages on the site. I have around 25-30 more pages to check. I'm happy to say that the main/core pages of ArtistServer are now valid!
Now for the rest of you developers out there... clean it up! :)
BTW - If you are an artist or member on ArtistServer, and you add HTML to your site, you may want to validate the code before you publish it to the site. Visit the following site to validate your code:
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Mobile - Web - Media
Friday, Jul 01, 2005 2:47:23 PM
You know you're a Webpreneur when... You know you're a Webpreneur when... you own more domain names than shirts.
These aren't all the names I've picked up over the years, just the cool ones :)
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Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 2:46:30 PM
ArtistServer - Stations, Playlists, Feeds and Tags Development of the stations/playlist tools:
Development of the stations/playlist tools is nearing completion. Everything is basically done, but I want to go in and try to break it to make sure I have all the holes filled.
What are stations and playlists?
You probably already know what a playlist is - but in terms of using and creating them on ArtistServer.com, we are about to step into an explosion of music distribution and discovery. Our stations will be created and managed by the artists and members on the site - you name it, give it an icon, and a description. Next - you create a playlist - you add songs, resort them, write notes/comments next to each song, assign an icon to your playlist, add tags (keywords)... click and listen. If you want to create another playlist - no problem - make as many as you like.
What about Podcasting/Audio Feeds?
Each Station and Playlist will have a feed URL to subscribe to for both RSS feeds (For Podcasting) and XSPF (XML Sharable Playlist Format). BUT - not every song in a playlist will be served in these feeds - ONLY songs by artists with upgraded accounts will be tagged as 'PodCast compatible.' To make the process of creating playlists for Podcasting easy, the playlist builder tools allow you to filter out all songs that are not 'PodCast compatible.'
Currently, all artists who were previously paying members are available for Podcasting/Audio Feeds.
Current Development Status
Right now I'm working on the pages that display the stations, playlists and provide a listing/search page for all playlists.
Once those are done, I'll modify the current .m3u generator on the site so it will generate streaming files from the playlists.
Then... I'll add in the RSS feeds with 'enclosures' - which is another way to say "Podcast" or "music feed" or "audio feed" - it's basically a way for people to 'subscribe' to your playlists.
Tags - the 'proper' way to categorize content
If you have some time, read this: http://shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html
We're going to start using 'tags' as a means of organizing content on the site. A tag is just a modern term for 'keyword' :) If you've used sites like http://www.technorati.com or http://del.icio.us or http://www.flickr.com - then you've probably seen how 'tags' work. If you dont' know what I'm talking about, go http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/ - that's a 'tag cloud' - then read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tags
This doesn't mean 'genres' are going to be removed - not at all. It just means that we'll also have an alternate way of organizing and searching for content across the site.
Tags will most likely be applied to playlists first. After this, I hope to apply the newly developed 'tag manager'to Songs, Images, Artists, Articles, links, and all future content on the site. Then - maybe later down the road, you'll simiply define how 'you' want to consume ArtistServer.
For example... let's say you are a massage therapist, and you are always looking for music that is: "quite instrumental mellow." What you would do, is search on this - then add the generated feed URL to your feed program (like FeedDemon - or when Longhorn comes out, your feed reader will be embeded in Windows, or iPodder, etc.). Once you are subscribing to the feed, your software will download any songs that are tagged with these keywords.
Another example... let's say you want to be aware of Hip Hop in New York. No problem - you would search on, "New York Hip Hop" - then save the link to your feed reader - and there you go.
Yes - the future will be served to you in feeds. :)
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