Going real time

The next big thing would be the real time web. Friendfeed introduced a real real time, and Twitter has a real time which you do have to refresh every now and then via their web interface. However both are more realtime than ‘conventional’ sites and they contain a continuous flow of information. A real time web is nice, but how many hours a day do you have the time to gaze at your screen reading all the real time information. And also important: are all those real time events happening in your time zone and are you still awake when they happen?

Screen staring

I think just a very few people will have time to stare at their screen while all the news flows by in real time and since most people sleep approximately eight hours a day, you’ll miss a third of all the real time information (unless you tap in during your sleep). Therefore the real time web is something great, however it will not be used as often as we think or as we would like that it to be. Especially as you are not watching it real time (so you catch up every few minutes) it is not real time.

On demand vs real time

So the next big thing will be more like the on demand web: real time at the moments you want, available everytime you need it. It fits more in the snack size consumption that has become a trend in the last few years and gives you the possibility to tap in at the moments you want to snack. The pause button on friendfeed is a great example of their understanding of the on the demand web: you cannot do real time viewing all the time, sometimes you need a break. I even think that friendfeed without a pause button would be better: you shouldn’t be afraid to miss something in your information flow by not watching it. If things are really important to will come to you eventually, even when you missed it on forehand, your network will make sure you do not miss a thing, without that you have to gaze at your screen for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The only thing you have to do, is to tap in at the moments you need to and you want to.

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Pearltrees

At The Next Web Conference I was happy to meet Patrice Lamothe (CEO of Pearltrees). He told me about Pearltrees which is a collaborative project enabling Internet users to become editors of the Web, i.e. to visualize, organize and share their navigation. By building their own Web, they collectively build a living map of the entire Web. When I heard it at first, it flashed my mind it could be just another taxonomy, folksonomy or other bookmarking tool, however when Patrice showed me a demo it was clear that it was not.

Story telling

Pearltrees a great way to cover a subject since it offers context and provides a way to do some sort of storytelling. Besides that you can easily navigate between maps that have one or more web pages in common. A great example you can find on Pearltrees about The Next Web Conference. Why do I think that Pearltrees is such a great tool? It’s quite simple, Pearltrees provides a great visual way of organizing content (and context) about a subject. By creating a map with Pearltrees you can tell a story or explain a subject to somebody by just handing over the map to him. The map itself, and the sequences of the several pearls will guide somebody through the information, any cross references with other maps are highlighted, so it is a great way to spend hours reading about a subject (see an earlier blog post of me on discovering new things).

Another nice feature of Pearltrees is that it has a plugin with which you can record your journey towards information. When enabled it will create a map of your current browser session (for example: you start with reading a wiki page about Web2.0, click though to page A, than to page B etcetera).  This map you can reorder afterwards if you like and share to others (for example your peers) to explain a certain subject.

Some other great examples of subjects that are available in maps on Pearltrees:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Silentale

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

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

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

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

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

Mendeley says it is the last.fm 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

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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.

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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.

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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, Identi.ca 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.