Whiskey Bar

I started reading Billmon's Whiskey Bar recently.  Billmon, one of the anonymous bloggers at Davos, is an excellent writer and quite a thinker to boot.  Here is a paragraph from his recent post about blogosphere that jumped out at me:

I guess the metaphor I would use in place of Ito's amplifier would be earthquakes — which occur by the thousands all over the world every day. Most go unnoticed, unless they happen to hit a densely populated area, in which case they become news. If a really big one hits a remote area, it might become news, if word eventually gets back to the metropolis. But it's less likely to become a big story.

His remarkable analogy stuck in my mind like a gum would to my shoes.  BTW, I don't know who Billmon is but, if he can afford to attend the Davos event, his whiskey bar must be doing pretty well because I read somewhere that attending the Davos event costs around $10K.  Ouch.

OEM News Aggregators

Continuing the discussion that started with Ads in Feeds, I think the next step in content-syncation markets is emergence and proliferation of OEM news aggregators for premium content service providers.  In this space, oversea software developers can compete effectively against open source and shareware developers.

Companies with necessary internal resources to develop their own news aggregators (i.e. Microsoft) or sufficient needs to differentiate itself (i.e. Apple) will develop their own, but most companies will opt to buy and brand OEM news aggregators, initially as a marketing ploy, but ultimately as a source of revenue.

Inevitable consequence is a feature war that will stretch the definitions of syndication and blogging.  Marc will be a very happy man. 🙂

Trackback via Technorati

Apparently not too many people realize that Technorati can be used to track references to individual posts.  To demonstrate using here is trackback-via-Technorati to my Ads in Feeds post.  Beware that the link uses Technorati beta service for speed sake.

What I am not sure is whether Dave intended Technorati to be used this way.  Oh, well.  If not, this is a good test. ;-p

Update:

Technorati beta currently has a display bug that hides the content if the URL dislayed at the top of the page is long and the browser window is not wide enough to display it.  To see the content, widen your browser window.

Ads in Feeds

RSSAds.com, operated by Chad Williams of SF, recently opened its doors (sources: Tim Marman, Mike Gunderloy) and is looking for publishers of premium syndicatable content. Will RSSAds.com make money?  Maybe.  That's maybe as in “I hope they succeed but don't expect me to make a bet…yet.”  Can advertising in feeds make money?  Yes, but it will be difficult to pull off.

Here are some problems to consider:

It's too easy to filter ads out at the receiving end, meaning news aggregators.

Since retrieval and processing of the feed is fully under news aggregators' control, identifying ads is much easier than trying to intercept ads-laden content flowing to a browser.  Ads can be identified by URL, words, dimensions, etc.

News aggregator developers have no incentives to not filter ads.

Fierce competition among news aggregators developers means ad filtering features will be widely implemented within a few weeks.  They are also mostly individuals with wide range of interests, so it'll be like trying to appease a barbarian horde with glass beads even if you had some incentives to offer.

To solve these problems, premium content publishers need to require use of news aggregators capable of protecting ads from being filtered.  While at it, billing and tracking capability is needed as well to support payed content.  Yes, I am sorry to say, blogosphere will have to embrace DRM before it can support revenue models worthy of pursuing.

I am out of time for now, so I'll have to continue in another post.

Orkut Circuit

After my first lap (day) of Orkut, I got these to share.

It's supposedly written in ASP.NET.  That one surprised me.

It has many security and privacy issues just as other social networking services have.  For example, one can send a message to thousands of members with only a few clicks.  There could be some XSS (cross-site scripting) problems as well.  But, overall, I have yet to see anything that can't be resolved over time given sufficient technical, financial, emotional, spiritual, or religious fervor.

Invitation-only aspect of Orkut blew me away in terms of its effect and its meaning.  Since you can't just register without an invitation from someone within, it creates a sense of value that drives people to signup.

As to the meaning, what invitation-only means is that everyone who is a member of Orkut knows Orkut himself through a string of friends.  It means you have joined a six-degree of separation experiment where the starting end is Orkut Buyukkokten.  I'll bet that was why it was named Orkut.

I am not yet convinced that there exists a workable revenue model behind Orkut but then I have similar opinions about Rovers in Mars.  Entertaining thoughts about what might lie beyond the horizon with a bunch of geeky friends is a reward enough for now.  To this end, I created an Orkut Community titled "Orkut Design" to examine Orkut in detail.

Update:

Well, it looks like this Rover is not rolling for a while as Google offlined Orkut to make improvements.  Wasn't it a fun party?

Orkut Experience

I just registered into Orkut, thanks to an invitation from Chris Pirillo — thanks Chris!;-).  While the registration process was a bit tiring, Orkut UI and user experience were more pleasant than Friendster or LinkedIn.  It could use some improvements here and there, but at least it was pleasant enough for me to invited a bunch of friends and collegues, something I haven't done with other similiar services.

Hmm.  It might be interesting to mix PKI with social networking.  For example, I could issue Friend of Don certificates to my friends that basically say “I know this person to be trustworthy, smart, and nice enough to be my friend.“  What uses would such certificate have?  Nothing in the horizon but I am wondering what might lie beyond that…

If you are my friend and haven't received an invite from me, just send me an e-mail.  I just grabbed the names that were handy and definitely missed many of you whom I would be proud to call a friend.

Update:

Apparently, Orkut invitations are highly likely to be classified as spam by spam filters.  When I got mine, it was in the Unsure pile.  Since there is no significant factor stemming this trend, invitation-by-email is likely to be a thing of the past eventually.

AtomEnabled.org

Sam Ruby unveiled AtomEnabled.org site.  It's still in beta, but it looks pretty good already.  RSS should have a site like that.  At the moment, I don't have anything Atom-enabled so I didn't add to the Atom-enabled directory.

Hmm.  Is it just my imagination or is there is a strong invisible presence of Joi-centered social network behind Atom?  There is nothing wrong with it, of course.  I am just amazed at how knowing the same person can create synergy.  I don't think such effect is limited only to powerbrokers like Joi either because the effect doesn't require the 'center' to coordinate or even be aware of the synergy he or she creates.  Such passive effects of social networks are much more powerful than the kind of forced activities encouraged by services like Friendster and LinkedIn IMHO.

Of course, there are negative effects which are just as interesting.  For example, put two people like Dave and Mark together in a social network and something sour happens.  I don't get along very well with Mark either.  While I don't think my friendship with Dave has anything to do with it, the subconscious mind is called that for a good reason.  I should do some reading on group psychology.

More I think about the magic of social networks, more I am fascinated by the human angle of it.

Flash SWT Plugin

When I changed web server at the end of last month, I didn't have time to move non-blog related pages and files.  Until I do, I'll post on my blog whenever someone ask for them.

Today it was the Flash SWT Plugin which I wrote long time ago.  The plugin basically allows you to play Flash animation within SWT applications and tools.  Here is a screenshot.

ZIP file with source code:

com.docuverse.swt.flash-0.4.zip (148.48 KB)

There is really only one class you need to learn about: FlashPlayer. Below is a code snippet that will play a Flash movie.

import com.docuverse.swt.flash.FlashPlayer;

FlashPlayer player = new FlashPlayer(container);
player.loadMovie(0, “http://somewhere.com/movie.swf“);

For a complete example, scan the FlashPlayerView class source code.