Dec 12, 2009

TEDxSV: Reid Hoffman On Philanthropic Movements On The Web




We're at TEDxSV, a Silicon Valley outpost of TED's conferences on innovation, which is taking place today at Stanford University. First up is LinkedIn founder and angel investor Reid Hoffman, who is addressing the concept of iMovements on the web. I'll be live-blogging his remarks.

Hoffman says that one of his ambitions is to be a public intellectual, to be able to influence millions of people with innovations and change. Hoffman thinks that the internet, which is scalable and low-cost, is the optimal platform for cause-based organizations. The web is more about people than technology, Hoffman asserts.


We’re at TEDxSV, a Silicon Valley outpost of TED’s conferences on innovation, which is taking place today at Stanford University. First up is LinkedIn founder and angel investor Reid Hoffman, who is addressing the concept of iMovements on the web. I’ll be live-blogging his remarks.


Hoffman says that one of his ambitions is to be a public intellectual, to be able to influence millions of people with innovations and change. Hoffman thinks that the internet, which is scalable and low-cost, is the optimal platform for cause-based organizations. The web is more about people than technology, Hoffman asserts.


When Hoffman invests in a startup, he looks at three things: scalability, margins and the structure. These three attributes are the same things that make web-based causes or philanthropic movements more effective. Three types of cause-based organizations have developed on the web because of this potential, which are non-profits (Hoffman highlights micro-lending platform Kiva.org as an example of this), hybrid infrastructure organizations such as Mozilla or Creative Commons, and companies developing their own cause-based movements on the web.


One of the things that Hoffman finds interesting is that corporations, because they have the reach of millions of people, they can make cause-based initiatives part of their web based platform. This is exemplified by Facebook’s Causes application.


The causes that success capitalize on the internet “peer play” says Hoffman. So how do you coordinate the actions of millions of people in the world to make social change? Hoffman says that micro-groups on the internet can help organize these causes effectively.


The key part of the future of cause-based movements will be the boiling up of problems and issue and the coordinated intelligence and collective ideation on how to tackle these problems. There is a value in the crowdsourcing of ideas to help make social change, concluded Hoffman.


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WordPress Makes Blogging On The Fly Easier, Integrates With Twitter API




This morning, a blogging platform and a microblogging platform have become more symbiotic. WordPress has enabled posting and reading the blogs the platform powers via the Twitter API.

This means any Twitter app that supports a custom API URL can be used to either post updates to your WordPress.com blog, or to read updates from blogs you've subscribed to. Tweetie 2, an iPhone and desktop Twitter client, will be one of the first third party apps to implement this.


This morning, a blogging platform and a microblogging platform have become more symbiotic. WordPress has enabled posting and reading the blogs the platform powers via the Twitter API.


This means any Twitter app that supports a custom API URL can be used to either post updates to your WordPress.com blog, or to read updates from blogs you’ve subscribed to. Tweetie 2, an iPhone and desktop Twitter client, will be one of the first third party apps to implement this.


As Twitter’s traffic continue to grow, WordPress sees its growth also rising. It makes sense to become more symbiotic with the Twitter ecosystem, considering the rapid growth of the use of third party applications. In fact, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg told ReadWriteWeb recently that WordPress was trying to develop more ways for Twitter and its platform to overlap.


The integration of WordPress functionality with Tweetie is actually pretty cool. All you need to do is add your WordPress account to Tweetie’s settings and you will then be able to post a status update to your WordPress.com blog and also have it displayed in the blog reading view. You can also enable geotagging to show the location of your status update.


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The Medium Is No Longer The Message, . . . You Are




We are witnessing a profound change in the media and advertising industries due to the emergence of social media.  Companies that did not exist ten years ago, like Facebook and Twitter, have captured significant share of the attention economy from traditional publishers.  Underscoring this trend is the fact that at the same time that Businessweek was selling for less than $5 million (plus assumption of debts) to Bloomberg, Foursquare’s pretty cousin Gowalla drove up Sand Hill road and collected $8.4 million for a minority stake.

Amidst this disruption, media companies are chasing after “their” audience in order to continue to broker the attention of that audience to marketers.  But just at the moment that media has mastered the art of blogging, search engine optimization and CPM yield management, they are now faced with a new set of consumer behaviors that elude their programming faculties: mobile devices, location-based services and the social graph. Driving this change in consumer behavior is the emergence of social media as a means of content production.

Editor's note:  This guest post is written by Seth Goldstein (@seth),  the Co-Founder of socialmedia.com, which is building the first ad server based on people not pages. Its platform provides authoring, serving and reporting across different types of social media. All of its ads are real messages from real people. Seth is also the Co-Chairman of the IAB's Social Media Committee.


Editor’s note:  This guest post is written by Seth Goldstein (@seth),  the Co-Founder of socialmedia.com, which is building the first ad server based on people not pages. Its platform provides authoring, serving and reporting across different types of social media. All of its ads are real messages from real people. Seth is also the Co-Chairman of the IAB’s Social Media Committee.


Social Media and Identity


We are witnessing a profound change in the media and advertising industries due to the emergence of social media.  Companies that did not exist ten years ago, like Facebook and Twitter, have captured significant share of the attention economy from traditional publishers.  Underscoring this trend is the fact that at the same time that Businessweek was selling for less than $5 million (plus assumption of debts) to Bloomberg, Foursquare’s pretty cousin Gowalla drove up Sand Hill road and collected $8.4 million for a minority stake.


Amidst this disruption, media companies are chasing after “their” audience in order to continue to broker the attention of that audience to marketers.  But just at the moment that media has mastered the art of blogging, search engine optimization and CPM yield management, they are now faced with a new set of consumer behaviors that elude their programming faculties: mobile devices, location-based services and the social graph.


Driving this change in consumer behavior is the emergence of social media as a means of content production.  Social media started more than ten years ago with online personal communications tools such as Evite, Shutterfly and Blue Mountain Arts.  Since that time, systems have been built to support broader and more subtle social interactions.  This has been achieved primarily by the introduction of new creative formats that make it easy for individuals to express information about themselves (such as status updates, tweets and check-ins) and new distribution models that enable this personal information to be shared easily among friends and followers.


Social media’s ascent has led to an Internet experience based less on pages and more on people.  As a corollary to this (and counter to Marshall McLuhan’s thesis), the medium is no longer just the message.  The permanence of words and images and their meaning in context has long been promoted as a foundation of media theory.  In an increasingly real-time environment, however, content gives way to identity, and traditional contextual analysis gives way to dynamic social interactions.


The medium is the message . . .  is the member.  This is why there can be no discussion of social media without a simultaneous discussion of identity, and why the growth of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are one and the same with the growth of identity systems online.  There are a number of technology and business trends that are converging around this thesis.


Here are some that seem to be of particular importance as we head into 2010:



  • The only check and balance for Facebook is Twitter.  Twitter is significantly smaller than Facebook in terms of users, and its social graph is asymmetrical and therefore looser.  But what it lacks in terms of the size of its contributors, it makes up by offering a broadcast media model.  Celebrities find it easier to reach large audiences directly by using Twitter.  Even though Twitter follows far more of a media model than Facebook, it too is being pulled into the identity space by  Google who is unlikely to integrate Facebook Connect under any condition. Google is bringing the Twitter API to the fight (while Yahoo and  MySpace drop their identity ambitions and happily incorporate Facebook Connect).  The interesting question here is Microsoft.  Although it is impossible to imagine Microsoft siding with Google on anything these days, integrating Facebook Connect may end up doing to Windows what Microsoft itself did to IBM many years ago.

  • Agencies are tired of being treated like commodity procurement organizations.  They want to increase their margins through the application of data to media and become demand side platforms (DSPs).  This is the strategy of IPG’s Cadreon unit and Vivaki’s “audience on demand network” which both look to add proprietary data from sources such as cookie exchanges and re-targeting databases. In addition to leveraging new data to better target existing creative assets, agencies wish to also transcend the one-off  “give me a big campaign idea” business.  Consumers will increasingly ignore the high-bandwidth, homepage-takeover distraction tactics of traditional online marketing.  The average social media users have trained themselves to focus on real messages from real people.  Agencies will need to learn how to produce low bandwidth advertising content that can be shared and distributed in lots of different ways by lots of different social groups, all the while preserving some underlying essential brand equity.



  • Publishers don’t want their quality audiences sold cheaply outside of their sites.  Their expensive sales organizations have no chance of maintaining high CPM rates from an agency that can offer the same audience to its client at a fraction of the price by sprinkling some cookie data on top of a remnant ad network buy.  This will embolden premium (top 100) publishers to align themselves with consumer advocacy groups looking to erase cookies and anonymize users.  ESPN and the WSJ would love it if all of their readers were rendered anonymous as soon as they clicked away.  This echoes Murdoch’s supposed interest in removing his content from Google’s search engine index. The value of “free” distribution is materially impacted when the distributor is able to separate a user’s identity from the context of his consumption.



  • Advertisers will recognize that they have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain their own social graph.  Until now social media has been an ROI-free playground for brands looking to experiment with new formats.  Marketers have built Facebook and iPhone apps, only to learn that distribution is not free.  Now they are managing Twitter accounts and Facebook brand pages that deliver more scale, but still with limited insights that they can own and apply to the rest of their marketing initiatives.  Consumers, meanwhile, are constantly talking about brands within their communities and are expressing their affinities for commercial products and services.  Advertisers can no longer afford to cede knowledge about these interactions to the social networks within which they are occurring.  Inevitably, companies will require their own social graph data that includes all mentions of their brands and information about the identity of users (and their friends) discussing them.


So what are media companies and advertisers to do as the former audience use their social identity as a fulcrum for content creation?  To prepare for this change in the media economy, companies need to establish an identity framework that integrates Facebook Connect and/or the Twitter API.   And in order to profit economically, startups might want to address one of the agency, publisher or advertiser challenges listed above.


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The Google Phone: This changes everything (mostly)


We don't have much information on the Google Phone just yet. In fact, it sounds more like a party favor than anything else. However, if and when Google starts selling this thing, prepare for some of the strangest - and coolest - times in mobile we've ever experienced.

What do we know? It's an HTC phone - probably the Passion, a distant cousin to the beautiful HD2 - with large touchscreen. It's GSM unlocked and everyone at Google has one so whatever the super secret specs are, they won't stay super secret for long.

But what if Google starts to sell this thing? This is "a big deal" on the level of Neo learning Kung Fu in The Matrix. This means Google is making hardware.








Dec 9, 2009

There Are Already 500 Chrome Extensions. They’ll Work On Mac Chrome By Week’s End.


Tonight at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Google held an event to formally unveil and showcase the new Google Chrome Extensions. The browser add-ons, which launched just yesterday are already proving to be quite popular among both users and maybe more importantly, developers. Tonight Google announced that while they launched with around 300 extensions yesterday, that number has already grown to 480, and will hit 500 tonight.

And it's easy to see why after tonight's presentation. Two software engineers on the Chrome team, Aaron Boodman and Erik Kay built a working in extension live from scratch in front of the audience in about five minutes. And it wasn't just a demo "Hello World" extension, it was a useful one that can pop-up a Gmail message window populated with a link to the page you're on.

Screen shot 2009-12-09 at 7.19.02 PMTonight at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Google held an event to formally unveil and showcase the new Google Chrome Extensions. The browser add-ons, which launched just yesterday are already proving to be quite popular among both users and maybe more importantly, developers. Tonight Google announced that while they launched with around 300 extensions yesterday, that number has already grown to 480, and will hit 500 tonight.


And it’s easy to see why after tonight’s presentation. Two software engineers on the Chrome team, Aaron Boodman and Erik Kay built a working in extension live from scratch in front of the audience in about five minutes. And it wasn’t just a demo “Hello World” extension, it was a useful one that can pop-up a Gmail message window populated with a link to the page you’re on.


The reason they’re so easy to build is because they use the same technology that any web developer will already be familiar with. “Extensions are just web pages,” Kay noted.


Another thing of note said tonight was that Chrome extensions will be working on the new Chrome for Mac by the end of the week, Google expects. To be clear, this will be on the dev channel (which you can find on this page) and not the beta channel just yet. Full support (and the first actual release of Chrome for Mac) is expected by early 2010.


This dev channel Mac support of extensions shouldn’t surprise users of Chromium, the open-source browser that Chrome is built-off of. Extensions are currently working in the latest Mac builds of Chromium, but Google accidentally shut off the ability to install them (you can learn how to easily turn them back on here). And with the beta channel now out for Mac, the dev channel versions of Chrome will be built directly off of newer Chromium builds.


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