Archive for Week in Review

The Vortex: Less is More

Were I to tag this week, it would look something like this: SXSW, Facebook redesign, Foursquare, Christopher Walken, not Christopher Walken, Rackspace, Rob Cordry. Allow me to explain…

News from the Social Media Vortex

SXSW occurred and a good time was had by all, especially Foursquare which seemed to win the “Twitter of 2009″ buzz award during the week. What’s Foursquare? It’s the new version of Dodgeball. Not familiar with Dodgeball? It’s a handy mobile stalking tool.

–The Facebook redesign occurred and is not receiving the warmest of receptions. In a polling application created on the site, 954,000 users so far give it a thumbs down, with 58,000 approving. Will the masses cry loud enough to be heard? I’m working on a longer blog post about this, so check The Guidewire later.

–Robert Scoble disappointed me by neglecting to mobilize his army, at least for the moment. Instead, he’s launching a new content community with partner Rackspace, called Building 43. I’m a little fuzzy about what the new site is exactly, as his explanation involved Creative Commons, cloud computing, interactive videos, and something about boats in a tide.

–My initial excitement over Christopher Walken on Twitter was quickly dashed. It’s apparently an “experiment” – and an old one at that – by Clusterflock.org. Dear Clusterflock: 1) Don’t toy with my complex Walken-related emotions and 2) Change your name. Immediately.

Apps on the Radar

–My good buddy Josh pointed me to Contxts.com, a why-didn’t-they-think-of-this-sooner technology. SMS business cards. Brilliant. Think of the trees, people, and sign up for this hugely simple service.

Tweet of the Week

–My new favorite Tweeter is Rob Corddry, who curses heavily and never fails to amuse.But his rant to his two-year old couldn’t match the sheer terror inspired by Jason Calacanis: “Just had lunch with the former head of the CIA. fascinating discussion about religion, nukes, the middle east, oil and electric cars.”

Where to start: How did faux-celebrity Calacanis wangle lunch with the former head of the CIA? Did he bring a hit list with him?  Can we get more details on the “nukes” part of this discussion? Will any of us ever sleep peacefully again? I need answers.

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The Vortex: Jailhouse Rock

I stumble into this week’s Vortex still bleary-eyed from DEMO 09, so be gentle dear readers. If my verb tenses don’t match, blame four days of company-launching mixed with profuse cocktail-drinking. Welcome to the DEMO experience, Matt!

News from the Social Media Vortex

-Alert the authorities: Scoble’s leaving Fast Company. He’s hoping to announce his next project at SXSW next week. I’ve previously predicted that he will someday deploy his followers into an actionable army; we should all now await our mandatory draft orders.

-Speaking of alerting the authorities, Jason Calacanis fessed up yesterday to employing a convicted felon. After much effort and thought deciding which statement in his post deserves the most incredulity, I settled on Mahalo’s “rigorous hiring process.” It involves “five to eight interviews,” and three to five reference checks, but not, apparently, a five-second Google search. It’s worth reading what the developer was convicted of. Especially if you’ve given Mahalo any payment information in the past.

Apps on the Radar

-Webware points us to a handy browser tool, Ajax Document Viewer, that allows you to preview pdfs in your browser without downloading them.

-Amazon launched a Kindle app for the iPhone. I’m intrigued enough to check it out but honestly can’t fathom reading a book on that small screen.

-I have a long list of whiz-bang stuff from DEMO to download. XMarks (bookmark-powered Web discovery), Evri’s new toolbar and Collections feature (personalized search), Cc:Betty (email organization), Sobees (social desktop aggregator), and Gwabbit (Outlook contact organization), just to name a few. Check out all the demonstrators for yourself at DEMO 09.

Twitterer of the Week

-If you’re a fan like I am, you’ll be happy to see that David Lynch is now twittering. (And yes, it’s really him.) Daily weather reports mixed with deep thoughts – how very Lynchian.

Ephemera

-Do check out The Daily Show’s hilarious report on Twitter. I expect Grunter and Voweler to be launched within the month.

-This is from several weeks back, but too funny to resist. Mullah Zaif, a former Taliban official, is as in love with his iPhone as us infidels. “I’m addicted,” he said, “the Internet is great on this, very fast.”

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The Vortex: Zeroes and Ones

We’re back after a week away, half of which was spent in the Dublin airport. I love Dublin and we met some fantastic companies, but when I go back to see them, I’m taking a boat.

News from the Social Media Vortex

-The previously mentioned Shorty Awards, for great achievement in Twittering, were awarded in Brooklyn this week and it’s fitting that the attending crowd wouldn’t shut up long enough to hear anyone’s 140-character speech. That’s the essence of Twitter, really: never stop talking or you’ll become invisible.

-At the same time, a Pew report out this week finds that 11% of online Americans are using Twitter. What’s more interesting is that number was 9% just last November. Impressive growth for a service with zero revenue.

-When The Interwebs Go Horribly Wrong: I submit YoBusted.com, a site that allows friends to post embarrassing pictures of you, and won’t take them down until you pay a subscription fee.

Apps on the Radar

-Lose It! I’m not embarrassed to say I’m trying to cut a few calories, but when I searched for an iPhone app to help, the options were surprisingly limited. Lose It! is free and fully featured, with a huge database of foods, weight and nutrient tracking. Come on, get healthy with me. And while you’re at it…

-Yoga Stretch – If you’re new to yoga, go to some classes first. But if you know your poses and are looking for a good at-home practice, I highly recommend it. Also perfect for when you’re traveling.

-Speaking of traveling, did I mention my 30+ hours in the Dublin airport? I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful for my iPhone. VirtualPool, 2 Across crossword puzzles and Platinum Solitaire kept me (somewhat) sane. And I may have sold my colleague Mike an iPhone on the strength of Enigmo alone.

DEMO trends – where the innovation lies with DEMO 09 applicants

-inventive thinking in crisis communications for businesses

-a whole new way to view large amounts of online content

-live music search for the masses

Tweet of the Week

-This was an easy one. The always entertaining Jason Kottke, ladies and gentleman: “Hey blogosphere, shut up about cats, bacon and Shepard Fairey for a second, I’m trying to think.”

Ephemera

-The hot topic on FriendFeed this week was whether the service is doomed. Too many geeks using, not enough mainstream use, other services cribbing features, etc etc. The answer may lie a few entries down, however, where one of the most popular items of the week was the following: “I just added an XML-RPC interface to the FriendFeed API, so it’s now even easier to use. For example, one line of code can print my feed: for entry in ff.feed.user.paul()["entries"]: print entry["title"].”

And no, that last phrase isn’t html ephemera, it’s what he actually typed. I can feel the mainstream-ers coming now.

Happy Friday the 13th/Valentine’s Day everyone, depending on your point of view. The Onion sums up the holiday best, I think: Nation’s Couples Descend On Nation’s Rotating Restaurants. See you next week.

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The Vortex: The Volcano Bubbles

Lots o’ links saved up this week. Let’s see if I can adequately sort through them without boring you. No Vortex next week, as Chris and I are headed to London and Dublin for the next round of Innovate!Europe workshops. Pip pip.

News from the Social Media Vortex

-Twitter possibly raised another round of funding, on a rumored $250 million valuation. Here’s the question you should ask yourself: if Twitter started charging $20 a month to use it, would you pay it? If not, would you truly miss it? Be honest. Duncan Riley’s assessment is so apt, I may just make it the motto of this weekly review: “Until the very end, the citizens of Pompeii continued their decadent lives, until being buried for eternity.”

-Here’s a fun one. A conservative take on Wikipedia, called Conservapedia, has been taken down after Wonkette revealed a not-so-veiled hit list of Democratic senators on the site.

-The Boy Genius Report posted a spot-on list of things to hate about the iPhone. I would like to add the awful Google Voice Search to that list, which translated “Who directed A Fish Called Wanda” into “bass fish called wanda.” Not helpful.

-And I suppose we have to mention the kerfuffle of the week. Michael Arrington was spat upon in Munich and Jason Calacanis immediately responded with a call for an industry-wide group hug. I’ll simply posit that civility and manners in the technosphere should be an everyday fact of life, not a one-day occurrence when spittle is hurled.

Apps on the Radar

-Sarah Perez pointed me to RepairPal, an incredibly helpful iPhone app that uses GPS to deliver roadside assistance, auto repair estimates, and a repair shop directory.

-Hangman Cheat – if anyone can beat this thing, you are my linguistic hero.

-Not so much an app as a new feature, you can now submit news items to Techmeme via Twitter. Good idea in theory but I pity the soul who’ll have to wade through all the PR tips and self-promoting bloggers. (God knows I’ll be promoting myself shamelessly.)

DEMO trends – where the innovation lies with DEMO 09 applicants

-rich media publishing integrated with key back-office tools

-more location-aware mobile couponing – really getting a lot of traction this year

-highly personalized semantic networks

Tweet of the Week

-I swear I’m not kissing butt here. Chris Shipley’s tweet from the DLD Munich conference made me guffaw – and wish I was there: “At #DLD: ‘moving to an era of bio spare parts’ – Philippe Poullety. After visit to beer garden last night, I await the spare liver.”

Ephemera

-In the This Should Help You Sleep at Night department, a New Zealand man bought a used MP3 player filled with US military data, including personal details of US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The worst sentence: “He says he will hand it over to the US Defense Department should it ever ask.” Um, let’s go ahead and ask, shall we?

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The Vortex: Little Green Men

There is so much to share from this week that I’m literally giddy. In such a busy week, though, there have been no standout tweets. I may just nominate myself. We’ll see how I feel at the end of the post.

News from the Social Media Vortex

-Hutch Carpenter developed a handy chart to delineate the Angels and Demons of Social Media. I’m going to have to go with Rizzn who commented, “I mean no offense to Hutch, but…you’re either using it for business purposes or you’re using it to screw around and talk to people. If it’s the former, it doesn’t make you a demon and if it’s the latter, it doesn’t make you an angel. You’re still just a user.”

-I warned you about Scoble’s Army last week, didn’t I? Apparently he was listening, because it only took a couple of days to put that army to use. Seems he embedded an Amazon affiliate link in a tweet and the hue and cry from the technosphere was vociferous. I can’t say I fault him, actually. The man has 25,000 followers, for pete’s sake, and should find something to do with that colossal number. Either he sends them occasional ads or instructs them to revolt and become our masters. I’ll take the Kindle ad over Kang and Kodos any day.

-The Washington Post launched WhoRunsGov.com this week, a compendium of key players in D.C., including “members of the new administration, Pentagon officials… [and] senior congressional aides.” Or as my favorite Politico Mike Allen put it: “Translation: It’s Wikipedia for the Obama administration.”

Apps on the Radar

-Plinky – I’m either completely in love with this new content creation site or classify it as a key indicator of Web 2.0 frivolity. Perhaps both.  Louis Gray has an in-depth review of it. My two-cent summary: A cure for online writer’s block.

-For those with the opposite problem, check out TwitterEyes, a Firefox add-on that shortens your tweets to the prescribed 140 characters.

-And I confess to not having checked it out yet, but Pixelpipe is high on my list. Post one thing – video, text, or photo – to 60 different services. Perfect for those of us with more profiles than we can remember.

DEMO Trends – where the innovation is with DEMO 09 applicants

-A cleaner, more targeted take on mobile coupons

-A totally new way to look at and manage your email

-A new method of HD projection

Ephemera

-Little known fact about me: I love a good conspiracy theory. Yes, I’m one of those who thinks Oswald was a patsy. So imagine my glee when I read Duncan Riley’s post this morning on a UFO sighting during the Inauguration. Look! At the 11-second mark! A flying blur!

Tweet of the Week

-Since no one stepped up to the plate with my call for nominations (save for seedub with the helpful “yo mama”) I’m awarding this to myself. Well, really to Obama, for what I thought was the best line of his inaugural speech:

“All deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

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The View from Guidewire: Needs a New Name

I don’t know about you but this title ain’t doing it for me. I tend to shorten things and calling it ‘The View’ only brings to mind four women who yell at each other about subjects they don’t know much about. Something snappier, zippier is needed. Suggestions?

It was a quiet week around the technosphere, with only an ill Steve Jobs, a slash-happy Google, a new Yahoo CEO, and a plane crash to keep us occupied.

News from the Social Media Vortex

-But what should really keep you up at night is the news that Robert Scoble hit a mark of 25,000 followers on FriendFeed. It was the top post on FriendFeed this week, with a convoluted comment explosion involving phrases like  ‘augmented cognition’ and ‘homophilous networks’. What we should instead discuss is that Scoble now has a literal army of followers. A takeover of a small state is sure to follow. I nominate Rhode Island or Delaware.

-Burger King introduced a Facebook app in which users received a free Whopper for every 10 friends they deleted on the social network. Over 50,000 friends were sacrificed on the first day and 230,000 by week’s end. But Facebook quickly got wise and crippled a key feature, resulting in Whopper Sacrifice ultimately sacrificing itself.

-The social channels were put through their paces yesterday with the announcement of Steve Jobs’ medical leave in the morning and a miraculous plane crash in the afternoon. No snarky comments from me; it was one of those days when social media really proved its worth. From amazing instantaneous pictures of the crash to constant updates and discussion on both subjects, it was solid proof of what sometimes frivolous technologies can mean in the real world.

Special Inaugural Section (or Sweet Jesus Mary It’s Almost Over)

-Those of you stuck at your desks on Tuesday can tune into Joost for livestream coverage of the inauguration.

-Can’t livestream? Write your own speech with the Inauguration Speech Generator. See if you can out-hope and out-change our new President.

-And for the wonks out there, the great 10 Links a Day blog has put together all manner of sites (well, just 10 actually) for Inaugural info.

-Last but most certainly not least, drop by your local Krispy Kreme next Tuesday for a free doughnut. If for no other reason than just to annoy these people.

Tweet of the Week

Goes to Jason Meserve, who made me laugh out loud just after I published last week’s wrap-up: “Guy next to me at McCarran is going to transform the medical/pharmaceutical business. He just needs some cash. I hate him.”

Ephemera

-I like to title this story, “When Tweets Go Bad.” A PR rep from Ketchum made the mistake of tweeting that Memphis may not be the most fabulous town on the planet. FedEx, it turns out, doesn’t have a sense of humor about that kind of thing. Am I only the one who’s far more concerned with his typos?

-We are not, it turns out, completely made of stone. The top FriendFeed post of the week was a collective ooh and ahh over one damn cute baby, Miss Audrey Moskovitz. Congratulations Akiva and Rochelle! Really, she’s gorgeous.

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The View from Guidewire: New Year, New Silliness

I let ‘The View’ posts slide during the holiday malaise but the first work week of 2009 brings a bevy of technosphere fun. And apparently it also brings a rise in my snark quotient. I’ll try to be nicer next week.

News from the Social Media Vortex

-Several celebrity Twitter accounts, including Obama and Britney Spears, were hacked, causing much kerfuffle and official statements from Twitter. Users were alerted to “change your password!” because no one wanted to admit they weren’t famous enough to be hacked.

-The big discussion this week on FriendFeed was… FriendFeed. Louis Gray wrote a post on what FriendFeed needs to do to grow (some great ideas in there, by the way) and it gets 140 comments on his site alone. Several others chime in to debate further, including Sarah Lacy, who predicts “a modest acquisition in someone’s future.”  Hmmm, I’ve heard that somewhere before… Paul Buchheit, FriendFeed investor and founder, then has his say, requesting that folks remember there is no such thing as overnight success. I probably skipped a few steps in there but you get the gist: FriendFeed needs to grow and attract more mainstream consumers. See also: Pope’s hat and bear in woods.

-Gawker Media continues to sell off its properties, with Consumerist going to Consumer Reports, and my beloved Defamer looking for a home. Seriously folks, someone snap up Defamer – it has some of the wittiest writing online.

2008 in the rearview mirror

-I’ve had Jason Kottke’s Best Links 2008 in an open tab all week. There’s a lot to wade through but it’s all fascinating. And there are a couple of fun games buried in there too. [Note: why can't I get Passage to run on my computer? I've been dying to play it since I read Jason Rohrer's Esquire profile.]

-Speaking of games, Mochi Media released its list of the top 10 flash games for 2008. Click that link at your own peril. Hours of time suckage lie in wait.

-And don’t miss Pitchfork’s 20 Worst Album Covers of 2008. I think my favorite comment is on Brad Paisley’s cover: “The artist who did this also designed GeoCities pages for people in 1996.”

Apps on the Radar

-WebEx introduced its iPhone app, for those times when you want your browser to crash on a smaller screen.

-ReadWriteWeb tells me there’s a Change.gov iPhone app now available but I’m not sure I believe them. Searches in iTunes and on my phone turned up nothing. **Update: Christopher Corfi was kind enough to include links to the Change.gov app. See comment #2 below.

-I finally downloaded Enigmo and am officially hooked. It was voted best iPhone game at last year’s developer conference and completely merits the title.

DEMO trends – where the innovation is with DEMO 09 applicants

-Consumer-controlled marketing – allowing users to control the conversation on business sites

-Social Web – a remote control for your online experience

-Immersive learning – transitioning education to 21st century tools

Ephemera

-Apple is possibly developing iPhone gloves. You heard me correctly – gloves for using your iPhone in the cold. For those times when you just can’t abide the extra five minutes it takes to, you know, go inside.

Tweet of the Week

It’s a three-way tie this week, since we haven’t named anyone in several weeks. Drumroll please…

-Funniest: (And cheating a bit because this was a FriendFeed entry) Alex Scoble, brother of Robert, – “I’ve created a pastime out of coming up with new ways to humorously say that my brother’s head is gargantuan.”

-Pithiest: @marshallk, who got married New Year’s Eve (congrats!) and said, “thx everyone. gotta say though, wedding license applications, next to “domestic partnership” apps, felt like a whites’ only water fountain.”

-And this one came in just as I was wrapping up the post.  Most Out of Touch of With Reality goes to @JasonCalacanis: “Must. Not. Order. Corvette. ZR1. STOP. DON’T DO IT. Recession. Not appropriate. DRIVE TESLA. Save. Planet. STOP. DON’T ORDER.”

We should all have such problems.

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The View from Guidewire

I got a bee in my bonnet this week to start a regular feature on The Guidewire, posting each Friday and giving a peek into how things look from where we sit in emerging tech. There are plenty of great week-in-review blog posts out there but, frankly, I just wanted to have a little fun. Chris and I spend most weeks deep in conversation with startups, whether they’re applying to DEMO, auditioning for Innovate!Europe, or just giving us a download on their products. But I’m always keeping an ear to the ground under social media.  There’s just so much inanity lying there fallow. So I think it will be a bit of trend-watching, a bit of news update and a bit of humor to highlight the absurd parts of the Web that sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

News from the Social Media Vortex

–It was only a matter of time. The Shorty Awards are officially established, to honor those folks who achieve excellence in… tweeting. I scoff but do acknowledge that there is a fair amount of wordsmithing involved in making your point in 140 characters. (I think my most successful tweet to date involved, not technology, but a spilled pickle jar in the frig.) Keeping with the democracy of the blogoverse, you can nominate your own categories. The current breadth of categories on the site seemingly ensure a nomination to most everyone on Twitter.

Apps on the Radar

–My productivity took a dive earlier in the week when I downloaded Monopoly for the iPhone. That and Centipede should ensure hours of time-sucking during international flights next week.

–If your time-sucking tastes trend more toward inebriation, may I suggest GiveReal, a Facebook app that lets you give redeemable real-world drinks to friends. To be serious, though, I hope to see GiveReal expand their repertoire into all manner of real-world gifts. Could this be a potential revenue stream for Facebook? One can dream…

Money Money Money

–On the one hand, Accel Partners announced two new funds this week, adding a total of more than $1 billion to their coffers. On the other hand…

–The axes fell at Yahoo, with 1,500 workers affected Monday and Flickr in the crosshairs just today. Seems like interested parties should start wearing a hole in the road to the South Bay for a fire sale. Take the money (and a bit of your dignity) and run, Yahoo.

–On that note, one of my favorite tweets this week came from @xobni: “former yahoo – if you are an engineer, apply @xobni – we are hiring.” Go for it, coders. I am increasingly falling in love with my Xobni sidebar. Not to mention their new method of recruitment.

The “I Don’t Get It” Department

–Microblogging service Tumblr closed a Series B, $4.5M round.  I’d think smarter investments right now would lie in technologies that answer real-world needs for mass consumers or enterprises. Is microblogging honestly gaining enough traction to support this?

DEMO Trends – Where the innovation is with DEMO 08 applicants**

–Web discovery – A new way to find related content online, from a deep database of existing bookmarks.

–Content aggregation – information sharing built around subject, rather than the URL

–Search – Make searches more personal by building your own multi-layered concepts

**With the caveat that we can’t reveal too much about the companies at this stage. Let your imagination run wild.

Ephemera

–Condolences to Kevin Fox, who had his light-up Christmas Flamingo stolen from his yard. If I lived in the area, I’d be a prime suspect.

–Tweet of the Week award goes to @kmonson for “It was too loud in the other room, what with all the tranny opera singers.” I must start hanging out with him more.

–I’ll be headed to court soon, if this guy has any say. I am an egregious user of the ; )

That’s it for the inaugural View from Guidewire. Comments, suggestions and mild insults welcome.

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