I've been trying to break my use of Google stuff for a while now, why? Because I really like Yahoo. I've gotten out of the habit of using Google search and Google news, but I still always use Google Maps. On Saturday I used Yahoo Maps and to my surprise, they did NOT have satellite images yet. I was bummed. Though I like the Yahoo interface a bit better than the Google one, 'ol Yahoo was letting me down. Reluctantly I went on to Google maps and wondered, "When oh when will Yahoo join the party and get their satellite imaging online?"
That day seems to be today (or yesterday or something). Russell Beattie posted about his joy in checking out his high school FROM SPACE. Well sweet, how does it compare to the offering from Google? I peeped my neighborhood in Campbell to see who the victor was:
From Yahoo Maps:
From Google Maps:
Ummm, well from a satellite imaging perspective I think the big G wins this one. Y!'s satellite images of my neighborhood kind of suck.
For now it seems I'll still be using Google Maps, Google Talk (only for work IM), and Google SMS.
hackoff.com the conclusion
Well my friends, I'm reporting this way late, but Hackoff.com is over. The initial
posting/reading of the book by Tom Evslin was completed (some time ago actually). All I can say is BUMMER! For months now I was used to getting a new episode to read every day of the work week and you know what, I really looked forward to reading that. Not only did Tom Evslin write a fun and interesting book, but he delivered it in a fun way as well.
If you like to read novels and if you like blogs I'd suggest subscribing to the hackoff feed. I tell you what, my feed reader is sitting in quiet anticipation of Tom's next blook.
Myspace on the cuts
My goodness, I hope he's right.
Remember when everyone had a GeoCities homepage? The junk that came from that was just terrible. Midi music on homepages, gigantic background images for entire pages, blinking flashing and scrolling text. Ugh. Myspace is the next evolution of that. Not to mention that man, myspace just seems like a meat market for teens.
Check the comments section of Fred's post, there's a pretty decent conversation going on there.
Ambition? We got yer ambition right here!
Russell Beattie posted a day or two ago about the lack of "show me ingenuity" with current web 2.0 companies and applications. The crux of the Russell's post/gripe is that none of these new companies are adding substantial value... in his opinion.
I can see where he's coming from and I really do agree with him to a point. Michael Parekh on the other hand doesn't agree. In fact, he took Russ's neatly categorized rant and provided at least one exciting example for each category. Michael is one of my "must read" blogs for a reason. This guy has his antenna up on EVERYTHING. He pointed to a bunch of cool companies. Some I know of like del.icio.us, Flickr, Answers.com, and bloglines. Some I didn't like Trulia (totally sweet mashup for real estate), Foldershare, and JotSpot.
At any rate, this is a great discussion. I had fun thinking on both sides of the argument. My opinion is that there really is a lot of cool stuff popping up right now. The problem that a lot of us geeks have is that we're right in the middle of it. When you look at a company like delicious or flickr and think, hmmm... I could have built that, it kind of loses its "oooh ahhhh" effect. Truth be told, if you explain the technology behind RSS/blogging to your average end user they're blown away... or completely lost. Remember how long it took eBay to catch on to the moms and pops of the world? Right. Give it time and cut some slack.
hackoff.com, a blook
What is a blook? Well, wikipedia has the following to say,
"A blook is a book serialized on a blog site. Chapters are published one by one as blog posts, and readers can then subscribe to a blook with an RSS feed, tag it, comment on it, etc. Blooks are believed to be pioneered by Tom Evslin in September 2005, with the launch of hackoff.com, a murder mystery set in the dot-com bubble."
Right, so a blook is a book published chapter (or episode) by chapter on a blog.
Now that we've established what a blook actually is, let's talk about hackoff.com. I started following this "blook" when it launched and made a decent splash in the blogosphere. Initially, I was intrigued by the novelty of the idea of a blook, but the story has pulled me in. Tom Evslin has done a great job of creating three dimensional characters that fit into an enticing story. Don't get me wrong, this blook will never place Tom in the ranks of Dumas or Thoreau, but it's already better than the last two Tom Clancy books I read (The Teeth of the Tiger and Net Force).
So far the only negative I've found with the blook is that I can't continue on to the next chapter at my own pace. As of today, I'm caught up through Chapter 2, Episode 2. Hackoff.com tells me that the next piece will be published tomorrow, and you know what? I can't wait.
My hat is off to Tom Evslin and his blook, you've earned the right to a badge on sweatyblog!
Sattelite image rss feeds?
I'd love to be able to create my own RSS feed from either/both of these services that would notify me when any of my selected/desired areas have updated imagery. Perhaps you could create feeds based on city, state, region, county, zip code, area code, etc.
What if: google, blog blacklists?
Who remembers a bit ago when Google blacklisted CNET? I sure do. It made quite a stir in the blogosphere for a while. And why did this happen? Because CNET was talking naughty about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Of course the story smacked with irony since the guilty CNETters actually gathered their dirty Schmidt secrets from... drumroll please: Google. Now, no one wants to be talked about negatively, but I read the article and didn't really see what Eric took offense to. And, come on Eric. You're CEO of arguably the most widely known brand on the internet. You'd think this guy would have thicker skin than this.
Anyway, I could spout on about Eric being a public figure, and thus fair game yadda yadda yadda, but I won't. I'd like to talk about a possible scenario involving Google blog search and blacklisting.
CNET is a reputable site with a lot of visibility and a pretty solid readership. It's proven a techie favorite over the years and thus has decent credability. How is that different from a high profile blogger who also has a solid readership, credability and influence? Guys that I follow like Scoble, John Battelle, Joel Spolsky, Jason Calacanis, Fred Wilson, Michael Parekh, and Seth Godin all meet the previously stated criteria. I'd bet that some of these guys have more industry influence than any CNET writer or editor. With that being said, what's the possibility of Google blacklisting a blogger? I know it would be political suicide for Google, but think about it. Let's say sweatyblog.com starts digging up dirt and posting about Larry Page and Sergey Brin, google will know about it. Heck I want them to know abou it. I need more readers. Seriously though, pretend I have thousands of dedicated readers who now start to create a negative buzz about the co-founders of google. These guys won't be too happy with Sweatyblog now will they? Of course I still say that people in executive management should have thick skin, but I still think they'd black list me. And what could I do? It's not as if they're trying to stifle my right to free speach, they'd just be indexing one less blog. My web traffic would all but cease and here I'd be left alone, posting to myself in a google-less world.
Perhaps I'm being paranoid, who would want to silence their naysayers? Exactly. Everyone would. Google is in a unique position that allows them to greatly muffle the negative cries of their peers, critics, and competitors.
Everyone knows that Google is the team to beat in web search (regardless of Yahoo says). Be honest, how many of you geeks use the word "google" as a verb? Google has done an amazing job of filling the search space. They brought simple and effective information queries to the web browsers and desktops of users across the globe. The majority of people I know (including my mother) use google for searches first and foremost. With that kind of influence and the ability to make someone totally disappear from their results, I predict the future will hold more blacklisting from google than we'd like to think. It's a scary thought, but entirely possible. You could be the next black listed CNET.
More RSS for the masses
Some are resistant to the idea because they're dorks like me, but I'll use good 'ol mom as an example again... My mom would listen to me talk about "web feeds" or "net feeds" more than "RSS". Acronyms can tend to turn people off in a techie conversation. Remember, we're talking about bringing RSS to the masses folks.
We have an "Orage Alert"
Link: Six Apart Status Weblog.
update: Longest 45 minutes ever. Stats are still down.
I went to check my stats to see what sort of terrible state my traffic is in (since I've been light on blogging recently) and seems TypePad has disables stats for now to save cycles or something. 45 minutes eh? Ok... GO!
TypePad: Application Performance Degraded
We are currently experiencing degraded performance on TypePad. We are aware of the issue and are working hard to resolve it. Thank you for your patience.
Update 11:10: We experienced a failure on a database machine. There is no loss of data and the replacement is in progress. Performance should be restored within 45 minutes. Until performance is fully restored, we have disabled the calculation of stats.
Posted by Six Apart Ops at 10:56 AM
Cashing in on RSS... with public approval
A co-worker sent this article my way from Fortune Magazine. David Kirkpatrick - Cashing in on RSS - FORTUNE. In this article David Kirkpatrick talks about Jim Moore's new investment firm, RSS Investors. David tells us that Jim spent time as a CEO consultant for Intel, HP and Qualcomm before heading to Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet & Society. At Harvard Jim was able to spend a good amount of time with Dave Winer. Dave obviously had a large impact on Jim.
"Having Dave as my office mate for a year is what led me to realize there was a big business opportunity here," says Moore.
The article goes on and explains what RSS actually is and how it is practically used. One of the things I love is that the atricle mentions Fred Wilson. Blogging isn't a popularity contest, but rather a contest of personal relevance. For me, Fred is ultimately relevant. Fred's got good technology taste and even better musical taste. If you haven't already, check him out.
This article made me say hmmmm for one big reason, they make RSS seem like a super graspable technology. I'd vote that it's still not. Why? Try to explain RSS to my mother, wife, sister, non-technie friends etc. It's near impossible. I've been preaching the value of RSS to a friend of mine at school for the past 6 or so weeks. She's computer and web savy as well as being over all highly intelligent, but all of the pieces of the RSS/blog/tagging world haven't quite fallen into place yet for her. Why? The technology is not at a place that it's been made intuitive by it's purveyors.
- Fred Wilson on Email vs. RSS - Blogs via email, give people what they know, not what may be the "hot new thing"
- Fred Wilson on Posting, Subscribing, and Tagging - Sounds simple right? It is, in theory. If you already know the basics of posting, subscribing, and tagging.
- Michael Parekh on Why is Tagging so Frickin' Hard? - Michael is a really smart guy, he's web-telligent and yet... he posts about taggin' being Frickin' hard. Again, if Michael if frustrated, how about those with less web-IQ?
- Michael Parekh on Amazon.com starting a blogging service...a hypothetical case - This is a great post about possible RSS feed integration into Amazon.com. The thing I love most about this idea is introducing a huge value add with RSS to a web application that regular consumers are already comfortable with. Showing value and ease of use to the populace is key.
- Michael Parekh on Tech too hard or too easy - This is a great post that outlines the real public's interaction with RSS.
So to David Kirkpatrick and "Cashing in on RSS" I say, "sure, it could happen." I don't believe it has yet, but I think it will. Right now the race is on with everyone (it seems) to create the "big RSS app" that will reach the masses. I'd say Flickr and iTunes are out front right now... I know people who listen to Podcasts that don't even know what RSS is. Delicious is a great app, but even I frequently have issues with that app. Obviously Jim Moore doesn't think it's happened yet either... Good luck to the firm, I'm excited to see what comes of these guys.
*NOTE* Fred had a great post that really hit home what I'm getting at above... RSS is cool, but it's not completely user friendly. Vague, I know, but if you know the post I'm looking for, send it my way please. Thanks.