Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

OpenSocial: One Year Of Limited Success

November 24th, 2008

OpenSocial it is now over a year old and in perspective it is clear that it has not evolved as fast as it should have. and yes i am still having its achievements in consideration:

Since launch, the platform has been deployed by over 7,500 developers and reaches a staggering number of users, with 315 million application installs across social networks including MySpace, Orkut, Bebo, and Hi5 and a total reach of 600 million users. MySpace alone has over 135 million application installs, 40 million users and 4600 applications available in its directory.

But the truth is that for A platform that is both for Social Apps and Widgets and that got multiple Social Network Partners and the backup of Google. it didn`t raise Developer Fire as the Facebook App Platform did when it launched and during the year it enjoyed maximum relevance. Another proof of it is that it didn`t reached out version 1.0 in its first year and it will not manage to reach that milestone in 2008.  The Facebook Platform is now no longer as important as it was 6 months ago but OpenSocial does continues to serve a good goal and purpose. that is to allow for developers to not put all their hopes in one single social network and be able to deploy their Social Apps and Widgets to many without a lot of effort.

The Social Network Landscape is now transforming and bleeding out of being containable. it is now reaching out to the Common web via Data Sharing API`s and Contact Sharing API`s. something that also will not manage to see the proper light in 2008 but that will be the other half of Social Network Platforms like OpenSocial for 2009.

opensocialgraph

But one has to wonder what would have happened if OpenSocial didn`t existed at all and its more than not agreed that its existence was a better scenario and that it`s opposing to Facebook allowed to Tangent development to take center stage wish Social Graph API`s now being the next big thing. 

I still wish i could have many examples of great OpenSocial Widgets and OpenSocial Apps but what i can come up could be counted with one hand and that is why i insist that OpenSocial Didn`t got to be as good as it should have been.

OpenSocial.org

via TC

On The Fear Of Change In The Web And In Software

October 23rd, 2008

Change is hard. but constant change is the base of living and it is inevitable. however once people have set their mind on something. a framed perception is archived and this perception becomes a commodity and a invocative element of personal routine and personal habits. something that generates a refined Know-How for over time.  this in turn creates a individual experience i call Comfort Reality Zone. This is the reason why people refuse or resist change when it comes into changing a multi level experience. this is why it is so common  for people to resist change when it comes to software and web services.

When a Web Service changes. you are changing 2 things in the user mind:

1.-Perceived Appreciation 

If you change the look of things. you change the user reaction. i remember reading that Meebo had a burst of new users when they changed the color of the home page to blue. minimal change. but it meant a lot because people refreshed the evaluations of meebo thanks to a new first impression. there is a multitude of examples on this. but this example is perfect to frame my point here.

2.-Know-How Culture

If you change the organizational design of a web service as it happened with Facebook. you have just changed completely the knowledge its own users had about the service. you have disrupted what they knew and this creates a new learning curve instantly. I personally think the New Facebook is way way way better than the old facebook. even if they shamelessly riffed a lot from many services in order to create it and then claimed it as totally their own doing. but that it changes everything for the user.that is true. but i think it is justified by the fact that the changes are an improvement. but then i am a Early Adopter and i am always on the edge of new. but to someone who Facebook is a fifth or a third of their whole online experience on a daily basis. this can be hard to  accept and even traumatic since you pretty much FORCED the user to change its behavior completely.

In the case of the new iGoogle. it is more of a case of the first instance. Facebook change on the other hand is a case that touches strongly on both instances. and while Facebook and iGoogle can afford it thanks to the protection its brand and the service mindshare gives them. doing this on a small service is something that more than not has killed the service because users are not as invested and engaged enough  to cope with change and it is 99% likely that the brad is to weak to generate affinity and mental retention. it is actually preferred to do a completely revamp and changing the brand and name included if your service is young.

Even then. i cannot help getting amused when users from a service revolt from change that is without a doubt better than what was before. just like Frederic Lardinois reports in his RWW blog post. good read. recommended.

Resisting Change: iGoogle and Yahoo Profile Updates Shock Users

AOL goes further into Lifestreaming, Follows the trends, prepares for the future.

August 15th, 2008

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Two weeks or so ago, no one would have thought of AOL as a company you would associate with lifestreaming. It was just after that Frank of SomeWhatFrank revealed in a tweet that he was using BuddyUpdates that the mention of Lifestreaming and AOL conjured an association. That association landed in Mark Krinsky head and off he went to write about it. Certain major blog ran with the story a little later without giving credit of that and then suddenly everyone knew about it.

Little we did know that that week would end with the news of AOL acquiring SocialThing! For a undisclosed amount (a rumored 1 million) as broke by Techcrunch. It was weird news because it almost seemed random of AOL to have acquired a Lifestreaming Service. That impression just lasted seconds to me because of the still very fresh impression of the BuddyUpdates lifestreaming Service for AIM.

BudddyUpdates is clearly a Lifestreaming Tool, but its focus and goal is only of relevance to AIM IM users up to this moment. It is more of a Funneling Service for Updates. It lacks a common ground in terms of being a Lifestreaming service. It is more of just a bridge.

That is because it may not be meant to be more than that. SocialThing is now the base of AOL lifestreaming services.

A Boulder based startup founded in 2007 and funded by Techstars , a startup incubator from Colorado started with a little hype and then the hype died down because it was a private beta and also because it was quite snobbish and it only worked right using firefox and downright blocked IE browsers from accessing the service. Even then, I have used it since I first got in because it solved a problem for me offering support to my favorite Nanoblogging (twitter) and Microblogging (pownce) service.

SocialThing is quite unique to others even if it is often compared erroneously to Friendfeed. Even if they don`t have anything alike in principle. Something SocialThing CEO rightfully agrees with me. There is a simple why on that:

Socialthing! Is a about cross posting, lifestream aggregation and service specific replying. There is no local reply in SocialThing, there are no rooms and there is not even an actual user profile. The replies are posted in the respective service you aggregate. SocialThing serves as bridge in the same way Posty, the AIR app from Cesare Rocchi, allows you to check your microblogging (or nanoblogging if you will) rivers, cross post and also do service specific replying to notes from your contacts.

Friendfeed aggregates but also centralizes interaction within friendfeed and it exists as a social hub with a accompanying user profile. You cannot cross post, or reply to the specific note in the specific service that is being aggregated in the same way you do in Socialthing!. So please stop comparing them. The only thing alike as a web service would be HelloTXT because you can cross post and view your respective service lifestreams without being able to reply directly.

So please, could all of those saying that it somehow competes with Friendfeed just knock it off?

I even had posted about it. First as a mention in a post about Lifestream.fm that caused a response from Ben Brightwell that gave me 25 invites and I have added quite significantly to that having invited over 100 people to the service up to now.

I criticized them for their lack of IE7 support that is pure nonsense for ANY web service that wants traction, coverage and goodwill. I did the same for their lack of badges and widgets. Something that has proven a popular tool and I would say now indispensable to any web service where it makes sense. A lifestreaming service sure fits the bill. Because of that and many details I have seen while using it. I do now come to the conclusion that a acquisition was their only way out because I really doubt it would have succeeded on its own given its extremely limited set of supported services and snobbish way of doing things so far.

I am being harsh? Of course I am. The reason for that is because I believe the tool is great and it got a great potential. Mathew Ingram said that he found it less useful because it didn`t steal away the conversation in the way Friendfeed does and because it is user centered instead of note centered like friendfeed. I disagree completely. Because for me the services are completely different as I already have stated above. I think some will also agree with me on that.

Now, a whole week after the news of AOL bought SocialThing! broke loose . The confirmation from Frank Gruber gave it new life again and finally cleared SocialThing to disclose it in public.

Now it is all about how AOL gets to integrate it with Bebo and Buddy Updates. What else they can do with the service is also still a big interrogation mark. I of course wish there is a Widget involved (please frank, it would be cool, pass it along) so I can get another chance to revisit Socialthing! here at Widgets Lab.

*Yes, yes, I know this is one of those unusual posts that somehow get into Widgets Lab even if there is not a Widget involved at all (at the moment) but at least I am not posting about big foot like Techcrunch….nope, I am not joking. They posted about big foot.*

SocialThing!

Widgets are already a commodity, it is time for them to go further.

June 23rd, 2008

Widgets now finally got several forces pushing the way they must be managed now. there is a group of forces of interest behind them now and they have the form of Marketing, Advertising and Analytics.

Those are the things that aim to make monetization not only a reality. because that is something already archived. but to make monetization something common. be able to make widgets sustainable and generate as much revenue they can.

But now that everything of that is in place. lets forget about it.

How about mainstream acceptance?

That is even a issue now?. not at all i think that was the thing archived last year.if the surge of companies like slide and rockyou is not a mainstream acceptance of widgets. or the fact that now not having a widget for your service makes you look as unprepared.

if that are not powerful enough arguments that widgets have gone mainstream enough then we are wasting our time.

Lets move on.

How about ease of development’?

A point i think we will not only reach this year but even find ourselves in a glut of options.

Now you got lots of platforms and way to make widgets of all kinds and however you want them. now we got tools so evolved that you only need to drag and drop to build a widget or mash up services in order to make something in minutes if you want. something that just a year back would have taken you hrs or days.

Add API being something of an afterthought and we are in the right track.

We are getting there.next step.

What is left to do?

With the whole talk of widgets being the new website. something that would be a half truth,  half lie over optimistic approach to widgets. one has to wonder:  since when?.

We have not got there. that is not anywhere commonplace or  something you can point at one widget in particulal and say “that widget got it all”.

How do we get somewhere around that point?

We get to that point with not only Portable Experiences but Self Sufficient Portable Experiences

1.-Leveling Up

As i see more and more solutions for easy development i get to see widget companies wanting to make casual experiences. kinda like in video games where you got the Wii. offering up mindless yet socially fun games without substance. that is good. but that kind of experiences while they can get more people to try them out. their expiration rate is shorter and the engagement is of less quality over time.

We need more power to make more engaging widgets. but more importantly. we need it because otherwise you cannot with have Self Sufficient Portable Experiences.

it don`t matters if you choose to use Ajax, or JavaFx or Flex or Silverlight. it is time for things to go down that path.

2.-Self Sufficient Portable Experiences

when i talk about SSPE. i talk about widgets that don`t need to lead the user to the mothership. to take the user anywhere but the place where they found the widget. be a friend Blog sidebar, a friend social network profile or a Blog post just like this one.

I.-High Spread Sharing

The option to share the widget inside a widget became common at the start of 2007 when it only offered a generic embed code the user had to grab and then somehow apply wherever they wanted to put the widget. that was plain “Sharing”.

Later in 2007 you would find other options inside the widget like “JavaScript or Flash”. Later Social Networks  and Start pages reached their commodity status and it made sense to offer a way for the widget to be put in those social networks while making the process as frictionless as possible.

The use of “install links” became then common for Myspace and later other social networks, blogging platform and start pages. those options gave widgets “High Spread” to go viral, hence:

High Spread Sharing

With the coming of age of the mobile web and better widgets in the desktop as Vista Sidebar became the recognizable factor for widgets in the desktop. such form was also adopted by Yahoo Widget Engine and Google Desktop and now even Webtops. so i think the terms is suitable.

II.-Searchable

While not all widgets can use this. the most important ones and the ones we care about to reach higher level of engagement need it. be it a rss mini feed reader able to search feeds. a video game catalogue in a widget like Neoedge or Hulu allowing you to check out the Hulu  video library from the same widget. that can go further. for music, feeds and services. having the widget serve as the not only a face to your service but as a middle man for it is something needed.

Another reason is because it  expands the time a user will engage with the widget and gives the window of opportunity for a efficient monetization via advertising, promotional offerings or special sponsorships.

III.-Social Graph Enabled

Widget should not wait for the user to make up its mind and send a impersonal notification via e-mail. he should be able to have the same frictionless he has when using the High Spread Sharing panel in the widget. but how?. by allowing him to allow the widget to identify the user.

Once identified, the user can talk to others using the widget, send messages from the widget or allow the widget to send a notification written by the user in whatever method the user prefers: e-mail, microblog or instant messaging.

This is where the whole Inter connected relational information spheres theory enters. or as we call it now:

The Social Graph

This is of course the last stage  in engagement because it needs things like Data Portability, Authentification Protocols Transparency and Lifestreaming collide into something coherent that widget makers can get to use.

But it is part of what the whole Google Social Graph and Lifestreaming Aggregators API should get into play.

3.-Making Good Widgets

Finally. the Holy Grail. making some good widgets while still being able to give the Widgets more power and make them easier and more useful.

Yeah. no fair. i know. but hey. who said it was going to be easy?.

Anyway. that is where i think Widget should go as fast as possible. being able to see a widget with all those traits in 2008 would be great. at least that is what i think.

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