Does layout matter?

No layout does not matter for readers. Most of my readers on my blog read its contents by its RSS feed and I think almost nobody even noticed that I did a complete redesign (read: installation of a new template ;)). Same goes for my twitter page. Hardly anyone will visit it often and I think the layout of this page is the same since I started to tweet. So does layout really matters?

Yes it does

Yes layout matters for strangers and it matters if you offer another service than ‘content’ (a service in which user experience is important). If you offer just content (like I do via my blog and via Twitter) than layout only matters for people who do not know who you are. Layout helps strangers to identify if you are someone they want to spend time with (by for example reading your content, not necessarily by watching hours at your layout). If you have a layout which they cannot relate to, they are likely to not invest time in you. The reason why Scobleizer can claim that his basic layout has no impact on traffic, is because due to the fact people already know him and people can use other sources to identify him as someone who they want to spend time with.

Categorized as Opinion

Web3.0 is not about Web

The next web (call it what you want, you can call it Web3.0 if you like versioning) is not about the Web. It is about removing the gap between the desktop (offline at a device (laptop, PC etc)  installed software such MS Office) and the Web. Currently the web is more and more present on the desktop, due to tools like Prism but also due to the immense growth in web application development.  However desktop presence is still key, it is a typical kind of intimacy if you are able to be present on someone’s desktop.

Post-OS era

A trend which is emerging is something like a post-OS era, people use a device, and what the device is running does not matter. It might even go a bit further: the OS has become something like a commodity, people assume that it is part of an ecosystem without realizing that it is something you can choose to install. The next step will be to become more browser agnostic. Browsers are not a yet a commodity, people know there is difference between them, and they are still a separate application which you have to launch to get to your favorite web application. Besides that, broadband wireless internet connections aren’t a commodity either.

However the gap is closing thanks to frameworks which make it possible to create cross browser (or should it be mentioned browser agnostic) solutions. Also Google Gears is a real improvement to have the ability to use your web application both online and offline (which will be more standardized when HTML5 and ARIA is implemented by most vendors). The fact that we all get faster CPUs, but also that JavaScript interpreters such as Squirrelfish have gained a lot of speed on the client side is something that closes the gap.

There used to be a really big difference between performance on the desktop and performance on the web, this gap is also closing. It is just a matter of time before you cannot tell the difference between a client application and a web application (or mixtures). The user experience of both will be exactly the same and it becomes less important if you are running Windows and IE8 or Ubuntu and Firefox3. The only thing you really need is a screen and a broadband connection.

Web3.0 will not be there

Many identify the Semantic Web as Web3.0, however if it would be really Web3.0, it would have probably already occurred. Especially since we are already talking quite a while about the Semantic Web (the Semantic Web roadmap is from 1998 (PDF)). Perhaps the Semantic Web will even never happen since nobody really thinks it is important, or not important enough (if it was really important it would have already been there, wouldn’t it). What surely will happen is closing the gap between desktop and web, it is happening already.

Categorized as The Web

New security risks by new services?

The last few weeks I have see a remarkable increase of claims that some services are increasing potential security risks for its users. The security risks aren’t online issues, but things that can happen in real life, like for example stalking, burglary, theft and other not very nice things that can happen to you.

Change is scary

However this is all the result of some people being very scared of new things. Even more: this is not new, thieves already used obituaries to pick a house and to take everything that was there while others were grieving over their loss and the last few moments together. The fact is that if I mention in for example Brightkite that I am in Utrecht (a city in the Netherlands where the office of Capgemini is) does not necessarily mean that I am in Utrecht. The only thing you know for sure is that I entered in Brightkite that my location is Utrecht.

Same goes for Twitter, when I say I will be leaving for a swim at a certain time and I do not tweet afterward, did I then leave for a swim? Or am I still at home? And even more important for a thief: where would my home be (ok in my case it wouldn’t be too hard to retrieve since I am rather open about such data, however for a lot of other people it is a lot harder to track).

Last service I mention: there are quite a few services that track where you are in real time (Latitude, but also many others). The only reason I am not using one is because there isn’t one available on my iPhone. However if you look at the map where I am (data provided by such a service). The only thing you know that there is some kind of device on that location which is logged in via my credentials.

There are no issues?

Aren’t there any issues at all? Well it is an issue, but it isn’t a new one. I think you will hardly hear any discussion in the bus that someone is telling he has € 100k in his suitcase and is going for a walk in the park in the dark with that suitcase. Just be careful what you say via those services, however keep in mind that the biggest security issue is YOU, the input provider. You decide what to tell and what to share. The service only shows the input you are sharing.

Categorized as Opinion

The Next Web: Start ups

One of the great things during the Next Web was the Rising Sun Startup challenge. Every start up has five minutes to pitch itself and there are quite some start ups that might even be around for the next two or three years:


Conversations are fragmented, not only on the web, but also in your inbox and on your phone. Silentale created a solution that collects all these conversations and shows them all together. You’ll have on entry point to (re)read the conversation again (even better: it is searchable!). A business model is also already in place: four dollar a month for an add free version.


Citisins does travel guides, which is not very special on first sight, however on second sight they add value. They offer fully customizable user guides containg the data that is important for you and they add the experiences of the users in your social networks. The travel guide is available via paper (on which their business model is based) or for free on your phone.


E is removing the gap between online and offline. They launched a digital business card (a replacement of the paper one) which you can use both online (via the site) and offline (via the connector). An answer on what the difference is between the Poken and my name is E, is that E is for a more grown up audience. Their business model is based on on branded connectors however they got many other opportunities to make money.


Yunoo is about your money and the way you spend it. They offer the possibility to upload your financial data and to analyze it. They even help you to change your telecom subscription for a cheaper one. It was very interesting to hear that banks in the Netherlands did not want to adopt their solution since it is not the core business of the banks (which is quite stupid, because Yunoo is a great service for its users and would have been a great ancillary service for banks).


Prezi finally finishes the Powerpoint and Keynote era. Not only because it is completely webbased (there are more presentation tools that are web based) but the  unique concept of presenting information.. Prezi is by far more visual than other presenting tool (even better: you can use your Wiimote to navigate). The best way to get to know Prezi, is to play with it, or to watch the samples. The business model is very simple: they offer a paid desktop version for offline presentations.


Mendeley says it is the for research. The connect research libraries in a social way, so it is easier to discover relevant research papers on any topic. They have a specific target audience (academics) which will enabled by Mendeley to share their research papers and connecting with like minded people.

Rick Mans is Information Architect and a social media evangelist within Capgemini. You can follow and connect with him via Twitter or Delicious

Categorized as The Web

The Next Web: Googley

Last week I visited The Next Web Conference which was a great experience. Great speakers, great atmosphere, great people and Wi-Fi that worked! Jeff Jarvis (what would Google do) was one of the speakers and his main message was: create a platform which enables others (your customers) to get success. Jeff Jarvis is
also known about Dell Hell and he also mentioned it shortly. Dell is one of the companies which successfully adapt to a new way of doing business (the Googley way?): “Your worst customer is your best friend. Your best customer is your partner. A company the size of Dell cannot survive on the ideas of two or three people”.

You can’t create a community

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s CEO) is quoted by Jeff in relation to a request a big newspaper had for Mark Zuckerberg: “How do you create a community”, Mark’s answer was: “You don’t create a community. It’s already there. You help them do what they want to do”. He also points out what a real issue for most news media, they do not think distributed. He shows this by presenting the following quote: “If the news is that important, it will find me”, most papers do not go to
theur customers, but want to guide them to their own site. You should think distributed: “I’m not a mass, you’re not a mass – we are all individual”. He also add that you should manage abundance and not scarcity.

Record your life digitally

The other speaker which centered his talk around Google was Bradley Horowitz (VP for Google Apps which is formerly knows as Google NSA (not search and ads)). He talks about a big problem: currently it is possible to record your life digitally. However you do not have a second life to view the data you collected in your first life. How this information overload can be solved is by adding meta data. This can be done automatically, however as Bradley stated: software is not always
as good as humans are in a certain tasks, therefore a combination of man and machine is better than man versus machine. He also provides three elements to create meta data:

  • Don’t ignore the easy stuff: capture in anticipation of usage. (for example someone calendar, the time a picture was taken etc)
  • Use wetware and software. Wetware (the human body) provides a lot of signals if things are important and interesting.
  • Collective intelligence. Use aggregation of data, a huge spike of people at the same locations means that something is happening there.

Another big problem that everybody dies (eventually) and therefore time is an issue. Google tries to give back time to people, by using less of their time. Bradley says that this is the direction the next web should be solving. He advices everyone who is working in the Internet business to pay attention to this issue, it is a problem of today and it is problem of tomorrow.

Categorized as The Web

Going to The Next Web Conference

This week is The Next Web Conference this week and am I looking forward to it. Not often do I have the opportunity to see speakers like: Jeff Jarvis, Matt Mullenweg, Andrew Keen, Bradley Horowitz and Chris Sacca. Besides that, it is a good event to meet some people I have talked with online for months, but have never seen them in person.  As any proper conference about these subjects, there is W-Fi available, and therefore I will tweet from the conference (using the hashtag #tnw).

If you are at The Next Web Conference and you want to meet up, just drop a comment or a tweet, I will contact you! See you in Amsterdam.

Categorized as Opinion

Twitter just died a little

Twitter is very close to be no fun at all anymore. Why? Because Twitter is going to be mainstream, because everybody joins Twitter and because Twitter is now something you can talk about with people at a bus stop and they know what you are talking about. It is becoming mass media and a marketers playground. Is it a bad thing? Yes, a little bit of Twitter died because of the mainstream adoption, it made it a little bit less exclusive and created two new problems:

Mainstream adoption

Not only did a bit of Twitter die due to mainstream adoption, its platform is having a hard time too. Twitter was not build in mind with the immense follower numbers of Britney, Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneres and many other celebrities. I am not claiming they are the issue for outages and other issues, however scaling a growing platform to these kind of numbers is a lot different than scaling a platform for something that is 10 times smaller and the number of issues increased the last few weeks according to the status blog of Twitter.

Changing Social Graph

The existing social graph has changed completely in Twitter, perhaps it is even destroyed by the celebrities and the people on the suggested people page of Twitter (the suggested people are total random and are not linked to your interest, profile or tweets in anyway). There are now people that follow 19 others and have 200k followers. What kind of value will add that to the social graph, will it add any at all (and how much of an issue is it)?

Is Twitter dying bit a bit? Or is it just a maturing platform with some growing pains.

Distributed microblogging

Microblogging has almost become a commodity in most (social) networks and has become a lot easier since almost each microblogging service has their own (open) API. The fact that you no longer need the interface defined by the network to microblog but you can use another third party tool (for example TweetDeck or Twhirl) of your choice to do it is an immense step forward compared to social networks four years ago. The downside of all these tools and APIs is that they can be misused for distributed microblogging.

Doing it wrong

What is wrong with distributed microblogging you might wonder. Simply it adds more noise than necessary to the already noisy microblogging environments. It adds this extra noise because all of your networks are different in a certain way. Compare it to the moments in your life that you are communicating with other people face to face. When I talk to my grandmother I talk to her about different subjects in a different manner than I would be talking to my colleagues and friends. My grandmother would even be confused if I would talk to her about the wonders of social networking or new features on Twitter.

Different networks

Now lets go back to distributed microblogging: there too are the exact same situations as mentioned above. Your network on Yammer, Twitter, Facebook, are different networks with different people and different contexts. If you just blindly publish all your content through all the channels you create extra noise (content your connections are not always able to relate to, or in the worst case do not want to relate to). Therefore: do not push all your content to all the possible network your tool might support. Publish your content on the networks on which it adds value and do not publish it everywhere because is it so easy to do so.

‘IE8 is already obsolete’

As many of you might have noticed today Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8. Tristan Nitot (founder and chairman of Mozilla Europe) made the statement ‘IE8 is already obsolete’ in the podcast ICT Roddels (the podcast is Dutch in general, however the 1 hour session in episode 257 with Tristan Nitot is in English).

Why would IE8 be obsolete? Because IE8 has not implement at least three important things:

  • SVG which enables drawing lines and shapes in your browser (it is used in Google Earth).
  • HTML5 Video tag which enables native open video, without e.g. flash. (see also this previous blog about the video tag)
  • HTML 5 Canvas which also enables drawing on a screen and rastering images. It is pixel based instead of lines and shapes as in SVG.

The implementation of canvas and the video tag in most browsers (except IE) makes it for example possible to do special effects in video via javascript and canvas. Which is really a great improvement and gets on step closer to a browser based netbook OS.

Microsoft has a hard time to keep up with the other players (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari) in the market, especially since Microsoft stopped (or did very little) working on the browser for some time after IE5.5 / IE6.0. Can Microsoft still compete with the other players? Is IE8 already obsolete, although it has new features as accelerators, web slices and visual search? Is Tristan Nitot right when he says “old slow Microsoft”?

Categorized as Opinion

Facebook owns your content

Since yesterday, Facebook owns your content you published on Facebook and the content you link on, on Facebook. They removed a tiny section in their terms of service and changed somes lines. It now states:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.
The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

All your content on Facebook now is owned by Facebook even after account termination. You gave it away, for free, without probably even knowing it. Well it isn’t a new phenomon. Facebook already owned your content till the moment you decided to terminate your account. Something identical happens at LinkedIn, LinkedIn can use your content for commercial use.

Each User grants LinkedIn a license to use the content supplied by each such User for the purposes of disclosure on the LinkedIn website.

This license includes, inter alia, the right for LinkedIn to reproduce, represent, adapt, translate, digitize, use for advertising purposes, whether commercial or non-commercial, to sublicense or to transfer the content concerning each User (including information, pictures, descriptions, search criteria, etc.) over all or part of the Services and/or in any mailings of LinkedIn and in general through any electronic communication media (email, SMS, MMS, WAP, Internet, CD Rom or DVD).

If you are user of Facebook and LinkedIn you’ll probably never noticed these sentences in the TOS, or you did not care. The service PatientsLikeMe provides a platform on which patients can share their personal health data. ‘Patients embrace the open sharing of personal health data because they believe that information can change the course of their disease’.

Do you like the barter you have with Facebook and with LinkedIn? People participating in PatientsLikeMe thinks it is worth to share their personal health data. It adds value for them and for medical institutes, it provides new insights that would not have been discovered if people did not share their information.

What do you want to give away to get some value out of a service?