Category Archives: Web Services

The Web Ain’t Dead. Blekko.com Has Come to Save It.

This is  a VERY cool, and very paradigm shifting new site: Blekko.com. I caught this on John Battelle’s Searchblog tonight, got a beta invite, played with if for a few minutes, caught on quick and already found tons of new cool things that I wouldn’t have found before based on my interests and the ability to filter the searches to give me more accented, tailored, specific results.

Example:

My favorite musician, Josh Rouse. Now with a simple / “slash” I can search for Josh Rouse say only on blogs like so: Josh Rouse/blogs or only in forums like this: Josh Rouse/forums (Click those links to see the results of said searches. I also just Tweeted a link to those results. You get the picture, and that’s just scratching the surface.

New interesting information which is valuable to me as a fan, as an aficionado of said artist, immediately begin popping up at the top, based on my filters.

This is making me feel that giddy, ‘irrationally exuberant’ feeling I initially felt when I tried Google for the first time back in 2000. I felt I had the World at my fingertips back then.


But some kind of sludge in search has slowly happened. Some have blamed it on SEO/SEMs gaming the system so much that the results have slowly deteriorated.

I have no doubt that’s part of it, but shouldn’t Google have been innovating like mad to keep up with the onslaught of deterioration?

I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE so many of Google’s additional services, Gmail, Docs, Voice, all their wonky, data, cloud stuff (not their social) and that to say they shouldn’t have extended their reach beyond search would be like saying Amazon shouldn’t have extended its own reach beyond books, but it does sort of seem like, especially in the last three years of the Social Media threat, that Google has not innovated enough on their main product. It’s kind of like Microsoft jealously chasing everyone else’s success so much, they dropped the ball on their Golden Goose. (They did rally and sell 200m copies of Windows7, but still, no one would deny the mindshare, at least in the U.S. lost to Apple.)

I mean filtered searches seem like such a no brainer that you would have thought Google would have had them in right from the beginning. (Well actually they do, but no one can figure out how to use them, and usually the results come back blank for some reason as if the data base and or code running it act like you’ve done something wrong. It’s like when a car back fires, and you hear what you think is an explosion. Except this explosion is not a band, but a ‘whimper.’

Remember the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford? One of the best Movies ever. Remember that scene in the Hospital when he’s searching the database for records of people who’ve received prosthetic arms? His first search delivers hundreds, maybe thousands of results. Then he keeps narrowing the search by filters (I can’t remember what the exact filters were, dates other types of subsets) and finally gets down to a manageable number of results, and more importantly, results that have meaning.

Granted it was a movie, but still, that was 1994! People understood even back then before the internet was mainstream, that one of the most valuable automations of computers was search, and that one of the most important features of search were filters.
It’s mind blowing Google hasn’t at least already initiated these kind of easy filters for its flagship product. I assume they will soon and or buy Blekko.

I’ve only used Blekko for a few minutes. I want to use it lots more in coming days, but it already has such polish, and it feels silky smooth and fast, the kind of silky smooth quickness I haven’t experienced since FriendFeed, which for the life of me I can’t figure out why no one can duplicate, not even Facebook itself, which purchased FriendFeed and has one of its founders as its new CTO, Brett Taylor.

Remember how last week Wired published a story about how the Web was dead? Well I didn’t buy it. Thought it was link-baity gibberish for the most part, but it did have some valid points. Steve Jobs didn’t leave out flash because flash was dated. Steve Jobs left out flash to close off, to a large extent, the media distribution ability of the Open Web.
More and more stuff is happening through apps and other such ‘silos’ which does tend to negate the open web.

Well, although Boing Boing had a great rebuttal to the Wired piece, I do believe that if there is a sort of , how shall we say, ‘jaded’ feeling for the Web itself, I do believe a large part of the problem is this lessening of the ability to find the really interesting, cool, exciting stuff. It’s out there, but for some reason our discovery engines, the main one being Google, have somehow become clogged and stale.

I think Blekko, for one, can be like Roto Rooter to this clogged drain. These filtered searches are going to re-invigorate the joy of discovering on the open web, and in turn re assert the open web’s, if not dominance, at least equal importance to “apps” in this ever evolving, every life changing, and ever standard-of-living-increasing thing we call the Communications Revolution.

Google said their mission statement was to uncover the Worlds information, or something to that effect. Well they are doing a lot of other good things, but their eye, at least lately, has been off that ball at least in the long tail stuff, which are the hidden treasures. Maybe its time for a new leader. Maybe Blekko’s it.

Oh, I’ve got 5 invites. Just email, tweet, or leave a comment, if you would like one.

Update 9/2/10 From my incoming traffic I found this page that is loaded with good information about Blekko over the last few days. Links to 10-15 stories written about it in blogs and a ton of ‘real time’ reactions based on the hash tag #blekko. I wish I could just copy and paste everything from this page and post here, but I wouldn’t feel right. Here is the full URL:

http://www.skrenta.com/2010/09/blekko_coverage_and_twitter_gl.html

You know I was just thinking, I wonder if you could create a cool page like that in Paper.li or really just using Blekko.com itself using the “/” syntax.

Yeah you can. Just check this out:  http://beta.blekko.com/ws/blekko+/twitter

Oh here’s a Paper.li I just created for the hashtag #Blekko. Pretty cool, although not filled with as much content as I would have expected.

Neither Twitter, Facebook, nor Apple Will Survive the Open Web

I was thinking about this subject tonight, that there is no way such closed systems as Twitter and Facebook can survive the force of the open Internet in the coming years with the price of data, storage, and bandwidth all marching toward near zero cost, much less be an Eco System or “Platform.”

As these communication and computation costs lower each
year, it will drive so much innovation, the walls will be torn down.

See, what is exactly the value proposition of a closed network such as Twitter or Facebook?

A) The Network Effect.

The Network Effect, or “Metcalfe’s Law” says that the value of a network equals the number of users it has squared. Obviously, the more users the more exponentially the value of said network increases. Facebook has 400million users. Twitter around 50million. You might think Facebooks network effect is tremendously greater than Twitters, but Facebook is a much more closed network. On average a typical user may have 100 “friends” or network connections. On Twitter you can connect to virtually anyone on the network simply by “following” them. It doesn’t have to be a reciprocal agreement. Everyone on the network is accessible to you. This means Twitter’s more open Network is of far greater value than Facebook’s larger but more closed Network. That’s why Facebook is in a tremendous frenzy to open their network more through “Pages” “Facebook Connect” and changing the default privacy settings.

So if Twitter’s vastly smaller, but vastly more open network has more Network Effect value what does that mean? The more open a “network” is, the more valuable that it is. This means there is an incentive to build a completely open network. So one will be built, or shall we say, not built, but merely “facilitated” because the act of building one implies some degree of closed. The completely open network already exists. It’s called the Internet.

We all know how many users and how much traffic Facebook has every month. They say its like an upward hockey stick. But how much value are Twitter and Facebook giving off each month?

And how much traffic and how many users does Internet, Inc. have?

Basically you trade your identity and your content for their network effect. Also they throw in their bandwidth, storage, and programming. As of now this has value, plenty of it and that’s why you see the spike in these “networks'” traffic.

But now the process of them selling you down the river begins. They figure they’re giving you network effect, bandwidth, and storage for free in exchange for them selling your content. Sounds fine, right?

But the problem is innovation will drill a hole into any walled garden. Quickly, innovation will fork around sand boxed networks and find ways to connect people without them giving up their identity or their content. Each day, storage and bandwidth prices drop. They are heading rapidly to zero. So that part of the economic proposition is losing weight very quickly as well.

Twitter isn’t the network. Facebook isn’t the network. The network is the network.

Even the mighty Apple, as much as I am blown away by this iPad I’m typing on, can’t survive this onslaught of the open web. For instance, tonight I was watching a TV show on the wonderful ABC app and it occurred to me that I was being forced to watch the commercial because I couldn’t minimize the browser. it felt Pavlovian to me, being trained by the nature of the device, forcing me to behave in a way I didn’t want or like.

I don’t think the user will put up with theses strategies for long, and I’m sure the open web will come to the rescue.

It also occurred to me tonight that Gmail keeps 5 years and 25,000 of my emails forever available and searchable and yet Twitter only let’s me go back and see a few weeks of my Tweets, with a substandard if not plain archaic search system.

That’s just plain lack of innovation. And Facebook is hardly better.

Technology, driven by innovation as it is, is a poor place for a lock in business model. Technology doesn’t want to be trapped, and will eventually fork around it’s captors.

Sent from my iPad

MyLikes.com: The Holy Grail of Social Media Monetization

  1. Yes it is advertising, which is a chance to leverage your social media presences into real money, but it encourages authenticity, because if you are not authentic you know that the value of your influence, your legitimacy, will go down, thus your earning potential, not to mention the value of your reputation, which on social media networks is the most valuable thing you can have, will go down too.
  2. It’s FUN. Even if there were no money involved, I would love this site. It’s fun to play with. Much in the same vein as GDGT.com, where geeks enjoy being social about their “gadgets,” this site encourages you to be social with EVERYTHING in your life that you “like” or maybe even love. It’s fun to play around with this site. They have contests, in which you can leverage your likes of things that you may not be able to sponsor. The whole site just feels like one big party. And its “non-guilty” fun, because it seems to be sprinkled, or maybe I should say “doused,” which ethical juice. There’s a special, ethical, Googley, feel to it, that one only seems to feel from engineer types, which I believe the founders of this company are. I know that they are ex-Googlers, and ex-Googlers just seem to have this ethical ambience driven in their DNA. It’s the same kind of ethical, transparency I feel from Leo Laporte and the guys who founded FriendFeed, who were also ex-Googlers.
  3. It’s inclusive. Ad.ly, for instance only seems to be interested in the stars. I signed up with them months ago and haven’t even heard a peep from them. In contrast, one of the founders of Mylikes.com, Bindu Reddy, personally invited me to the service, thanked me for joining, answered all my questions personally, and this was after we had established an internet “relationship” pinging or having many “real” conversations about subjects we were both interested in. She’s real. Mylikes encourages the “little” guy to get involved. Sure they may only earn a buck here or there, but its fun even without the money. The money, though, as little as it may be at first, encourages the enthusiast to be even more socially active, if they are so inclined, and to even increase their social media reputation by enabling them to follow and add to the conversation of things they are really interested in.
  4. In short Mylikes, enables people to leverage their own interests, which energizes their social media presence, encouraging them to be more active. And active in a way that provides more value to the network. In other words, it enables folks to monetize their integrity and reputation and the interest and energy they put into their social networks. To me this is nothing less than a perfect formula to increase of value of the network itself, and the individual who is participating in it, who, in essence, is the real value of the network.
  5. I just wrote to someone on Twitter about Mylikes, “I think they have hit the sweet spot of monetizing one’s social media presence without sacrificing integrity.” But when I think about it, it’s really a way of monetizing one’s social media presence and increasing one’s integrity and reputation. To me that’s the ultimate synergy in the Social Media world.
  6. It makes Advertising social. The ad unit has my own personal commentary about why I am endorsing and recommending the service or product. People who visit my site and see the ad can also “like” the ad, in a Digg sort of way, and they can also comment on the ad themselves, which brings the ad to life and makes it more warm and personal. Compare that to Adsense, where you don’t choose the ad, which itself might be distasteful to you, and which you’ve probably never even heard of, much less actually used and enjoyed the product.
  7. You know what may be the most fascinating feature of Mylikes to me? Unlike Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and all the hundreds of other Social Media sites, their monetization model is interested in you, the user’s monetization model. All last year people fascinated how would Twitter monetize, how would Facebook? Thousands of people spent countless hours trying to solve this puzzle for a company that they had no equity in! Fascinating. I did it too. I thought about it at nights, and when I thought I had a brilliant answer I would @ reply @ev my brilliant idea! Can you believe that? All these minds at work worried about how @ev, already a millionaire many times over would make money! Twitter and Facebook don’t give a hoot about you making money, but they do give a hoot about you creating content for their site. Sure you get the value of their network, but after time, that starts getting a little old. Mylikes is a Social Network that is interested in You benefiting monetarily from the efforts you put into, not only theirs, but the other social networks you are contributing to. That is the killer app to me. Energize the user base with something more than just “features.” Energize them with an actual monetary gain from the sincere efforts they put into it. Money is “life energy” as @DeepakChopra calls it. To actually “earn” it through providing value is not greed. It’s freedom. And that quest for freedom doesn’t cause people to do bad things. It encourages them to do good things and to add more value. Mylikes is building a platform that marries user activity on their Social Network with monetary reward along with fun. This is a huge paradigm shift in the world of advertising and the world of individuals and the particular talents they bring to the table. The paradigm of the internet is the empowering the voice of the individual. The other social networks are focused on the “masses” and how many “uniques” they can grow each month. They think little of the uniqueness of the particular individual. Mylikes is highlighting the individual, with the particular tool it is providing, and thus leveraging the strength and the core paradigm of the communications revolution itself,  which is in the accentuating the value of the individual’s unique experience.

Here is a video interview Robert Scoble did with Bindu Reddy, Co-Founder of Mylikes, back in November of 2009, where they discuss many fascinating ideas about Social Media advertising, and ads in Tweets in particular:

Redbeacon: Whatever You Need. Done.

Redbeaconwww.redbeacon.com
This company won 1st Place in last years TechCrunch 50 for best start up company. That alone builds trust for me. I haven’t actually used it yet, but the next time I need a service, which will be soon, I will. I recommend you try it for your next local service need and let me and them know about your experience.