July 31, 2006

Technologically, I wonder how Microsoft Live Labs: Photosynth compares with QuickTime VR?

But socially this could be a very big deal.

I've always found QTVR really worked in web-pages, but I've never seen Apple push it. I guess MS are going to produce something that mixes Flickr's socialization of online photo-collections with online tools for making interactive panoramas and letting you hyperlink between them.

Are panoramas going to be the first media that MS will lead the socialization of?

Update : it is technologically an advance on QTVR. But I'm not sure how important that is. It's the social linking of photos to make a space that's important. Whether you use clever algorithms or human tagging for that is probably less important.

Update 2 : I guess if they took some tips from Croquet it could be the new Windows :-)

July 30, 2006

Actually, I now seem to be up 365 virtual dollars on the Buzz Research prediction market (Suddenly I'm wishing this was real money :-)

Mainly, it's thanks to JotSpot, which has climbed phenomenally after the release of JotSpot 2 and their accompanying media binge. OTOH I've invested a lot of my virtual money in SocialText, and despite the Open Sourcing announcement, they've fallen. I suspect people on the market think they should be in the wiki sector but don't know where. So they work on the principle of having the succesful wiki company. Because Jotspot is going up, they're trading in their SocialText, TWiki and MediaWiki shares to buy it.

Me? I'm investing in them all.

When I started, I lost money on Laszlo, RSS and OPML but these have, slowly, climbed back and are now higher than when I bought them. Two reliable investments are "microformats" and "WordPress". I was surprised by the latter. I thought it was worthwhile, but didn't expect much. But it's creeping up and up.

The disappointment is Eclipse which has fallen. Not sure what's going wrong here. Maybe it's billed as a Java Development Environment and Java is falling? (Actually why no programming language market?)

Right now, I can't think of any rival to Eclipse. Unless something surprising happens, what other comprehensive free IDEs are there which can be adapted for things like Python and Ruby?

Against my heart, I haven't invested in Emacs, as I'm not sure I see a future for it. Even Vim seems more dynamic. But I could be wrong about this. I'd like to be.

July 28, 2006

Here's something a bit jaw-dropping.

A 6 minute screencast from WebFaction showing how to set-up popular web-application frameworks using their control panel.

WebFaction are a hosting company who specialize in providing the cool frameworks and tools like Rails, Django, Turbogears, Trac, WordPress etc. Looks like for 15 dollars a month you can run several different applications based on these frameworks.

I am sorely tempted. This is way beyond what I'm getting from my current hosting company for roughly the same price. No wonder all the kids are creating cool web 2.0 startups when it's this easy to get and manage server space.

I wonder how typical WebFaction are. A lot of people in the comments want the cool control panel, which suggests it's a bit out of the ordinary. But I imagine that other hosting sites will have to catch up.

Clearly this is a hosting platform that WebFaction have built. They don't want to see it commoditized. In all the discussion about web-apps, and software as a service, and the browser essentially commoditizing the client, I haven't seen much about hosting companies like WebFaction. But might the conservation of modularity be bringing decommoditization to this area?

PS : and, yeah, I am digging the new JotSpot. Update : although it's slooooow

July 25, 2006

Techcrunch on BillMonk - Social Money

The place to make money in the coming web 2.0 / peerospheric / netocratic / attention economy is to set-up a toll-bridge at the border of money and attention.

Google do it with AdSense. Calacanis is doing it by paying people to submit news items to New Netscape. BillMonk is doing it by remembering money debts in social situations and selling financial services to social networks.

Meanwhile, in wikiwars : SocialText go open source and JotSpot integrate with more Office-like formats.

July 22, 2006

Buzz Prediction Market

I'm now very interested by prediction markets as a way of tracking my ability to understand and predict the tech. future. So I've started playing the Yahoo / O'Reilly mashup Buzz Game

Let's actually see how my predictions shape up. I'm going to be a "fundamentals" rather than "noise" trader. I'll buy things that seem to me to be either good ideas. Or likely to succeed for platform wars strategy reasons. I won't buy things that I think are going to be hot in the near future because of hype. (Although, even I will be misled sometimes.)

There are, of course, some obvious missing categories / products from the current game.

  • Ning (and similar)

  • Thingamy (and similar)

  • Voted news (Digg / new Netscape)

  • Prediction markets :-)

But it's generally pretty comprehensive.

Update : two days later I seem to have lost around 28 virtual dollars. Mainly on OPML and Eclipse. SocialText's up though.

July 19, 2006

How To Build a Website with Office 2.0
Read Dion Hinchcliffe (part 3) : Consumers as producers: Disintermediation without a net
Read Dion Hinchcliffe (part 2) : Blogs, wikis, and Web 2.0 as the next application platform
Read Dion Hinchcliffe (part 1) : Software as a Service / Enterprise 2.0

Attention Trust on social shopping

The Attention Trust have a couple of good posts on the intertwingling of markets and social networks.

Stowe Boyd on Social Shopping

Stowe Boyd on Me-commerce: Attention-Driven Shopping

O'Reilly Radar on Ning

O'Reilly Radar : A Week in the Valley: Ning

Interesting overview that gets at what I like about Ning.

There's a huge philosophical and mental gulf between the Ning conception of apps and the traditional programmer sense. We think there should be one perfect app, with lots of users. Flickr, for example. If we want a new feature, we whine at Flickr to add it. Ning isn't about software perfection and collective brilliance, it's about individual empowerment. If you want a photo site, you go to someone's photo site and hit the "ah gotta git me wunna thayem!" button. Boom, you have a photo site. If you want a new feature, you hit "edit my app" and add it. It's so very American, and is so against the grain of programmers who are taught that duplication is bad and must be avoided.

Now here's something I wrote on ThoughtStorms a couple of years ago :

Today I got the very first version of SpittingCobra [A simple web-based Python code-generator] working. And I had a vision. That thousands might install little code generating scripts on their computers and sites. All minor variants, customized for their own particular languages and situations and purposes. That cranking the handle of these thousands of little code generators will spit out thousands more scripts. That the cell learns to reproduce. That, just as the blogosphere is a rich, dense, weave of discussion and opinion and knowledge. So we'll create a rich, dense weave of software customization and authoring. That "programming" will be swamped by spitting scripts. That "design" will be an argument, flowing across weblogs and wikis. That we'll bang the rocks together harder. And split the atoms into smallers pieces.

OK. I got a bit carried away :-) But this idea of evolving software by reproduction and "natural" selection; an ecosystem of continuously adapting small-apps on the network is something that's intrigued me for (OMFG) nearly 20 years. (Since I first read Dawkins's "Blind Watchmaker" around the same time I learned Smalltalk in college.)

Ning is the nearest I've ever seen anyone come to that.

A reader asks : But Phil, have you actually used Ning to write any applications?

Erm ... well right now, strictly speaking, um, no. I'm holding out until they get the Ruby bindings ...

July 18, 2006

July 16, 2006


BubbleGen links the Wired story on Rupert Murdoch.

Hmm. OK, so we all know that Murdoch isn't stupid. But I'm not entirely convinced of his visionary status either.

As the article points out, Viacom were after MySpace too. All Murdoch seems to have done is been a bit more decisive about having it. And Murdoch has always had a populist instinct : this is the guy who brought you The (UK) Sun, remember.

Then the article gets into the usual debate about the money to be made from MySpace. I'm sure there is a lot by my standards. But not as much as some people expect, given the number of visitors.

How will MySpace make a tonne of money? Comically, it seems that Murdoch himself either doesn't have an opinion or isn't letting on; so the journalist, Spencer Reiss, is reduced to reporting his own speculation as to how MySpace might become mega-profitable.

Umair's quote is interesting :

MySpace’s challenge is to do for branding what Google did for ads – to create a hyperefficient form of interaction.

It would be nice to know more, but Umair is now selling his more in-depth analysis, so I'll just have to make do with my own interpretation. Google, of course, have positioned themselves at the mutual border of the attention and money economies and get to charge a toll on people crossing in both directions. Ads are at that interface.

Branding is a little different. It's intention is to get inside the mind of potential buyers and create a strong but unspecific bias in favour of the company and its products.

The problem (for Murdoch) is that turning amateur ideas and community-spirit into feelings and biases can be done completely within the attention / IP (internet protocol) economy, not the dollar one. MySpace isn't at the border with the money economy. It's deep within the attention economy, where content creators pay illusory attention to their community when creating good stuff, and, in return, receive real attention and acclaim.

Murdoch doesn't need to flow much money through the system to make that happen, but when there's no great flow of money, there's little that can be skimmed off of it.

Update : It's a Wired tradition to laude big media when they (finally) "get" the internet and start trying to buy their way in. Anyone remember this? (From Bubble 1.0)

July 15, 2006

TCP/IP vs. the Dollar (continued)

Kaunda on my last post (on the internet vs. money) :

I'm not so sure the metaphor of Platform War is really the right way to see it. On one hand the "war" does highlight the differences in communications networks (money vs. social networks). But on the other hand obscures the interdependencies of the two.

I agree with him (and Amarty Sen who he quotes).

Markets are "embedded in" and "parameterized by" civil society and its explicit rule-sets. And these are political decisions.

I agree, too, that the relationship between economy and society isn't a "platform war", although it can be antagonistic. Political power isn't a direct rival platform to the market. (Where it's set-up to be, it's a disaster.)

OTOH, the zone of public discourse on the internet seems to me to be a much more direct rival to the market. Behind all the familiar phrases like "peer production" and "attention economy" and "amateur journalism" is the basic fact : people are being motivated to produce stuff by something other than money. Attention is attracted by PageRank and votes on Digg and social networks carrying viral memes etc; not by paid advertising carried by profit-making publishers who pay professional content-makers to lure them into their pages and onto their channels.

If you look at the amount of work that people put into, say, MySpace. And you count the number of viewers. You might be tempted to try to extrapolate a "monetary value" based on an analogy with how much money would be involved in organizing all this via the dollar economy; but you'll get a completely bogus figure. Questions like "where's the money?" seen to me to be assuming that something like MySpace is "failing" to live up to its potential as a money maker. (Which really means, a high-bandwidth "money router", able to skim a little bit off the top.)

But I'd suggest that this potential doesn't exist. MySpace is an "attenion router". And, unless they can think of something very clever which I can't, they'll never be a high-traffic money router. So there's nothing to skim. (Except attention, which will be increasingly recognised as valuable, of course.)

OTOH Google are very clever and very succesful because they've become the most efficient place to turn attention into money and back again. No one makes it so easy to try to sell your attention for money (by putting AdSense on your blog) or spend money to buy (relevantish) attention (by buying AdSense ads)

Oh, and Ross Mayfield has a great post on Markets as Social.

July 12, 2006

TCP/IP vs. the Dollar

Donna Bogatin : � Social Web or Business Web: where is the money?

Naturally, people are fascinated by this question of "where's the money?"

But it's the wrong question. The more interesting one is "why the money"? And it's still gonna take us a long time to get our heads around that. But that's what we're all gonna be asking at some point.

The more effective the internet and the web are at helping us communicate and co-ordinate, the less money will be involved. Because ultimately the economy is a communication network and money is its protocol

The network is not the means to the end of money.

Instead, money and IP are rival protocols in rival networks which are means to the same end : that of articulating human labour to create more wealth for humanity. Money isn't wealth, it's just a kind of signal which can be used to help identify good ideas and channel more resources to them. On the internet we are increasingly finding alternative ways of identifying and signalling what things are worthwhile.

And the better the network does this, the less need there is for money to be involved at all.

This is gonna be the ultimate platform war. All the stuff about Windows vs. Apple, or RSS vs. Atom or Google vs. Yahoo are minor skirmishes. This is the biggie : TCP/IP vs. the dollar.

Which will pull your strings in future? Which will motivate you?

Question of the Day

Why doesn't Google invest anything in Blogger?

Blogger accounts are not integrated with other Google properties. There's no note of GoogleBase or Orkut or Gmail integration. There's a simple AdSense connection but nothing else has changed in years. There's certainly no sniff of cool Ajaxy makeover for the UI.

Is this simply extreme "federalism" in Google? Do they want to let each part explore for itself? Have they decided that, strategically, blog-hosting isn't something important to them? (Blogs elsewhere host AdSense.) Have they essentially decided to allow Blogger to atrophy and die? Are there no, actual, people at Google who really get (or have ideas for) blogging?

Buzz.blogger is OK at telling you what other people are doing, but no news of Blogger themselves.

Perhaps none of this matters. We can move to WordPress.com or TypePad or some other new blogging tool. Or stick around as long as the hosting holds up.

But it's kind of weird too, no?
Donna Bogatin : � Google Base integrates Google Checkout for 'monster' sales

July 09, 2006

Something else to think about when it comes to application development platforms. Mobile phones. And, of course, Eclipse :

RedMonk Blog: Briefing: Nokia, Carbide, Eclipse