Tag: Web 2.0

Web 2.0 Expo Berlin 2008 – kickoff

I made it to the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin, following some interesting travel situations and timezone jumps… I’ll almost certainly blog about last week’s diving trip once I’ve had time to get back from the Expo and sort through the photos!

This is a good opportunity for me to meet up with some fellow IBMers who I’ve not yet met in person, although I’ve come to know them well through our internal and external social networks – social software FTW! – and of course it’s also a great chance to meet new folks and extend my network. It’s my first time in Berlin (positive impression so far) and I think my first time in Germany for about 10 years.

If you met me yesterday I was probably somewhat zonked by the travel – but I spent the afternoon in Leisa Reichelt’s usability workshop (very relevant to me given my new role at work) and the keynote sessions. The keynotes were interesting but it was fairly hard to do anything approaching livestreaming or liveblogging as the wireless network wasn’t playing ball… and my Eye-Fi card didn’t seem to want to connect through the conference wifi (ah! just got that working!) and I can’t VPN out to the corporate intranet either, so there’s something screwy going on. Good coverage on Adam’s blog.

More to come, I should think. Hopefully I’ll call in to give a report on Dogear Nation on Friday too. Photos from the event are going into my set on Flickr.

Oh, and as an aside, the new Brightkite app for the iPhone is lovely – should be really useful for conferences like this.

Social networking with schoolfriends in Poland

One of the sites making waves in Poland at the moment is Nasza Klasa, or Our Class. When we were there at Christmas, the whole family was getting very excited about it – reconnecting with old friends and giggling at old pictures. A lot of fun.

It’s interesting that this social network is even needed. Lots of local / native language sites and networks do exist, not only in Poland, particularly in the Far East for instance… this is one area where sites like Facebook sometimes fail. Poland in particular has its own instant messaging network (Gadu-Gadu, on which I have an account but never seem to be able to login using Adium) and other reinventions of the otherwise English-speaking wheel. Although some of my family are on Facebook, they are also enjoying using the Polish alternatives.

Nasza Klasa is suffering growing pains having gained several million users in a very short space of time… it’s particularly evident in the performance of the service, unfortunately. The site reminds me a lot of Friends Reunited, which I suppose was one of the earlier social networks. The idea is the same – reconnecting schoolfriends – and even the colours and layout are not dissimilar to the original Friends Reunited design. Looking at Friends Reunited now (part of the ITV empire, for some reason), it does look horribly dated. We complain about Facebook’s walled garden, but FR has absolutely no APIs or feeds, you have to visit the site to do anything, and you have to pay to be able to contact your friends. Thank goodness the web moved on.

An excellent September Minibar

As I type this, I’m on the train on the way back from the September Minibar meetup at the Old Truman Brewery in Corbet Place.

Very cool to get along to a Minibar meetup again after a break of a few months. It was interesting to see the number of my Twitter contacts who wish they could have made it! I’d been hoping to meet Chris Dalby, and my colleague Shiyghan… neither of whom made it this time.

Instead, I had some very interesting conversations with, amongst others, Matt and Katherine Cashmore. Matt is from BBC Backstage and ran the BBC/Yahoo! HackDay in London. I’d seen him on stage at the event, but hadn’t had the opportunity to connect with him… so it was good to finally have an opportunity to talk to him about all the cool stuff that BBC Backstage does, and with Katherine about all kinds of social software topics. Matt also made the announcement that Backstage is about to launch a new website, which is something to look forward to. I also had a fascinating conversation with Martin Kamara from BBC World Service (who is very tall – definitely taller than Roo) about my social software evangelism, and what his organisation is up to.

Finally had a chat with Christian, the organiser, and Hannah from OpenBusiness … they are about to celebrate the first anniversary of Minibar with the next “special” meetup on October 19th in association with Seedcamp. It has been a great effort so far. Also, Hannah put me in touch with some really great people – looking forward to developing the new connections.

On to the presentations… which were a little hard to hear at times, thanks to a power blackout depriving the venue of a PA system.

Spreadshirt enable users to create their own t-shirts and other branded products… so far so standard… except that they also enable sites to embed the shop platform. It is all RSS and CSS-based, so it is highly customisable, probably more so than Cafepress (which I immediately thought of when Larry Ryan started talking about the concept). I’ve been burned by import duty on stuff from Cafepress in the past, and following a chat with Larry it sounds like Spreadshirt could be a great alternative. Turns out that these folks have been around for a number of years (they started in Germany in 2002, and expanded internationally in 2005). One to check out… plus they were handing out discount vouchers and free Minibar shirts! 🙂

School of Everything
These guys were funded by Seedcamp one of the Seedcamp finalists, and the alpha version of the site launched today. The concept is that “everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to teach”… you can set yourself up on the site as being able to provide training or education in a particular subject, and local users can find you. SoE will then take a small cut from helping to manage your profile and schedule. Apparently this is built on Drupal in PHP, and the presenters were talking about an API, although what form this could take was unclear. There were questions around how this would work though… at the moment, anyone can set themselves up as a trainer, and although there will be a user recommendation system to weed out bad ones, there appears to be no need for any kind of accreditation. Lots of enthusiasm from the team, an amusing presentation, and an interesting concept. Oh, and a man who needs help finding a place to buy a tank that he bought (long story, kinda).

Babyfy has been open for a couple month and is aimed at the ~1 million people who go through the “babification” (pregnancy and birth) process in the UK every year. The concept is that it is a social website to help new parents find products, recommend hospitals, and provide reviews and support to one another. I’m personally somewhat dubious – I see a bunch of potential holes in this, from disgruntled parents making unwelcome comments about hospitals, to companies pushing products more than having users recommend them… the main thing that sprang to my mind was a recent controversy in the UK about baby formula advertising, and whether the site would accept such advertising. It is early days though, and I’m sure the developers will have to think about these things as they go forward. I can see that it has some great potential, and who knows, I may even need to take a look at it in the future… (!)

This very nice-looking website is apparently built entirely in HTML and Javascript at the moment, which is impressive. The idea is that you can browse a timeline of history. Memories – both public (culled from Microsoft and Wikipedia) and private (your own audio, video, image and text feeds) – can be stored and browsed. This really reminded me of Rememble which I heard about at a previous Minibar (and which, incidentally, is due to launch publically soon). Apparently these guys will allow companies to sponsor events and timelines or years, and also allow users to embed the timelines on their own sites. A Microsoft influence is evident – the map is based on Virtual Earth, and the developers mentioned that a Silverlight version might follow soon. The idea kind of appeals to me, but a) in common with my reservations about Rememble I’m not sure how this differs from other lifelogging solutions like Tumblr or, increasingly, Facebook and an aggregation of Twitter, blogs and Flickr (apart from the timeline); and b) more scary than Rememble, there was discussion of automatically sucking data from the web, which bothers me as I’d rather explicitly authorise what content of mine becomes part of “world history”, in a way… maybe I misunderstood.

A lot to think about, new stuff to check out, and some great company and conversations. Well worth the time.

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Windows Live Writer, meet Lotus Connections

The latest Beta of Windows Live Writer is out.

I’ve been trying it out with Lotus Connections – namely, with our internal IBM blogging system which is also known as BlogCentral. I was able to successfully add my blog as a new account… WLW auto-detected all of the connection details, and downloaded the editing style (but not the list of categories).

Why is this important? Well, it means that, as previously hinted, Windows Live Writer now works with with Atom Publishing Protocol. This is goodness.

Update: hmm, maybe not. Looking at some debug traces, it looks like WLW is still hitting the metaWeblogAPI endpoint. So maybe I’m mistaken…

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Facebook and the enterprise

I recently gave a presentation on social software to an internal conference at IBM. In it, I identified what I see as a number of key webapps out there on the interweb today. Along with blogs, I also talked about del.icio.us, Dopplr, Twitter and Facebook (MySpace being so last year, especially since Facebook’s API went live a few months ago)

One of the accusations commonly levelled at Facebook is that it is a walled garden for data. They appear consume the data that people put in, but it is allegedly remarkably difficult to get it out again.

This morning, Dennis twittered at me to point me at an excellent post highlighting how data can be shared out of Facebook. SAP’s Craig Cmehil has demonstrated how this could be done – interestingly, the scenario he suggests is for companies to pull in information about new hires from their Facebook profiles.

Facebook as a trusted third-party / clearing house for personal data? Will enterprises go along with this? It’s all very interesting. I’ve been saying for some time that entropy will happen as increasingly, new webapps pop up demanding that we create profiles, duplicate data, etc.. Could Facebook be onto a winner here?

(I’m off to a meeting, but may post more on this if my brain kicks into gear later!)