October 30, 2004

Yahoo Mail Pisses Off Google's Head PR Guy

Steve Rubel notes that David Krane has a blog on which he recently complained about Yahoo Mail:

Today, I tried to log-in to my account and received this. ARE YOU FLIPPIN' KIDDING ME, YAHOO????? So what if I haven't logged in for four months (I'm not even sure that's the case)?! I've filled out your detailed registration profile. You know a lot of information about me. You have my phone number. You have my IM handle. You have an ALTERNATE e-mail address. My wife even worked for you for more than 7 years! Why no warning of any kind that you were going to shut me down???

I didn't realize that we nuke the mailboxes of accounts that haven't been used in four months. One year is what I would have guessed. Surely we're not out of disk space. We just had that big increase in allowable mailbox size not long ago.

I'd like the record to note that this *royally* sucks. Those 200 or so personal e-mails I was keeping with you are going to be missed. Great user experience, guys.

Well said. It does suck in royal fashion.

Anymore, I use my Y! Mail account for one simple purpose: reading office documents (mostly Word and Excel) when I'm on a Linux box. I can just bounce the message to jzawodn@yahoo.com and then use the built-in converters to see a reasonable HTML version.

But that's pretty rare anymore, so I end up using it about as often as I use the newer jzawodn@gmail.com account. I guess I'm not really a web mail kind of guy.

Update: Check out Gary Price's story of My Blogspot Domain in which he is similarly screwed by Google. Is anyone else annoyed by all this customer screwing?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:10 PM

Charlene Li not Insightful on Yahoo! Mobile

I was a little skeptical when I first saw Charlene Li's weblog. Advertising itself as her "insights on technology developments in media & marketing", she'll presumably enlighten us about things from time to time. However, in her Yahoo goes mobile with search post, she does nothing of the sort:

Eventually, I expect Yahoo! to craft a partnership with wireless providers where location information is automatically fed into the search queries.

Funny, but I'm pretty annoyed that we're not already there. It's almost 2005! Why isn't my phone (which has GPS capabilities) able to tell services like Yahoo Mobile where the heck I am?

She doesn't really get into that.

Overall, I believe that the true value of Yahoo! Local and also, of Yahoo! Web Search on mobile devices is tie-in back to Yahoo! The instances when you would actually need this type of information will be far and few between, but when you need it, lo and behold, Yahoo!’s there to provide it for you.


What does that even mean? If this tie-in is something that she sees as valuable, why doesn't she explain that a bit. How is it valuable? Why? What are some examples?

The only mildly interesting or original tidbit in her post was about how Yahoo briefed Forrester about mobile image searching:

The example Yahoo! gave during their briefing with Forrester was of someone sitting at a restaurant admiring the art on the walls, and doing an image search to see the artist’s other works. Hmmm…I can think of better ways to spend a nice dinner with someone than waiting for images to render on a small phone screen. There are few instances that I can think of where I couldn’t simply wait to get back to my computer to conduct an image search.


Is that really the best example they could come up with?

What about pulling up product images when you're shopping? Or teenage boys browsing pics of the latest 19 year old fabricated lip-syncing singer? Either one seems more likely to me and I only spent 30 seconds thinking about it. I have to think there's some market research on the types of things people will actually search for.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:35 PM

Google Desktop Search for the Mac is Coming?

Thanks to Andy Beal for pointing at the Reuters story which says that GDS for OS X is on the way.

As for Andy's question of whether or not I believe him, the answer is still no. I didn't doubt that Google might release this. I doubted that it was going to be released later because Mac users "won't tolerate anything crappy".

I guess that wasn't clear earlier.

Now, I personally can't wait to get my hands on a Mac version of GDS. If it can properly index and search mbox files, that will kick much ass. I've got a ton of e-mail I'd love to be able to search. And it's not like we've got a Yahoo Desktop Search product available for the Mac. Or Windows. Or, well... anything.

By all accounts, Google has done a good job with the first version of GDS on Windows. If the Mac one is similar, I'll probably find myself using it on a regular basis.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:26 PM

When a moron screams for attention...

Don't give it to him!

I figured Jeff knew better than to do that.


Posted by jzawodn at 06:13 PM

October 29, 2004

Yes, we're serious about RSS!

Earlier today, Dave and Tantek took a bit of time out from Technorati to visit Yahoo and talk with a few of us about attention.xml. As anyone who went to Gnomedex or Web 2.0 knows, the idea of sharing "attention metadata" among various aggregators and applications is gaining some traction. Heck, Steve Gilmor sees it as the standard necessary to prevent a sort of vendor lock-in in the RSS aggregation world.

But that's really not the point of this story. I may get a detail or two wrong, but read on...

While we were all sitting around a table in URL's (the Yahoo cafeteria), Dan R (our COO) was walking by. Without stopping, he asked asked "is that an RSS meeting going on over there?"

"It is", one of us responded.

"I love you guys!" he declared and kept on walking.

After that, I looked at Dave and Tantek, explained who Dan was and said "that would not have happened a few months ago."

Anyway, the discussion went on and we talked about some of the really cool stuff that'd be possible with attention.xml adoption. I'll post more on some of that later--after I've had time to tinker with a few ideas.

After a while, the meeting ended. The other Yahoo folks headed back to their desks and I was chatting with Dave and Tantek a bit. I was describing the big increase in support for RSS that's been coming from the uppermost levels of Yahoo. I was talking about Dan as an example when he appeared again.

Noticing the meeting was over, he asked "is it done yet?" or something to that effect. We joked that we were making progress (we are). I then introduced him to Dave and we chatted briefly about RSS. Dan told the story [which I should write up later] of how he got a first hand taste for the way RSS puts each of us in control of the content we want to read. After that experience he knew we had to give that to our millions of users.

He finished by telling us do anything we can get there faster--to accelerate the implementation and adoption of RSS.

Amen to that!

In other words, we're serious about RSS.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:34 PM

October 28, 2004

What would you tell your CEO or founder about blogs?

Assuming you worked at a largish technology/media company and had the chance sit down with your interested CEO or company founder to help educate them about weblogs, what would you say?

You'd probably discuss what blogs are, how we use them, where they're headed, what opportunities they create, and so on. That's some of the obvious and general stuff.

Are there particular things you'd emphasize? Examples you'd point at? Predictions you'd make? Details or points you'd want to make crystal clear?

I have a lot of my own ideas on this (as you might expect) but don't want to bias responses. I will post my thoughts on it in a few days.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:51 PM

Is your email inbox a stack or a queue?

I'm starting to think there's something wrong with me. The majority of inbox views I've seen on others' computers have new messages coming in at the top. That is, they're sorted from newest to oldest. They're treating their inbox as a stack.

I, on the other hand, treat mine as a queue. I sort from oldest to newest, so the newest ones appear at the bottom.

Which do you do? Why?

Posted by jzawodn at 10:57 AM

October 27, 2004

Mary Meeker Smells the Yahoo Money in Syndication

As noted in the Marketwatch story Morgan Stanley's Meeker sees money in blogs, Mary's done an excellent job of putting together a document that outlines a lot of what's going on with blogs, microcontent, My Yahoo, RSS, and so on.

In the unlikely event that she reads this, I have two things to say:

  1. Thanks for helping to shine a light on what we're doing and validating it as the future of this business. It's good to know we get ahead of the analyst community now and then. I think Yahoo in a good position and it seems that Mary does too. :-)
  2. Money aside, your report does a very good job of introducing this crazy new world to new audience. Given the combination of self-publishing, syndication, aggregation, social networks, advertising, and new media types (podcasting, anyone?) the learning curve has been getting steeper.

One result of her publishing this document will be to make life even more interesting for some of us--if ya know what I mean.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:09 PM

Will we need a browscap.ini for RSS feed readers when ads take off?

Back in the late 90s when I was doing some Perl and ASP by day for the company and Perl/PHP by night, we had to worry a lot about the capabilities of the clients accessing our applications. At the time there was a small industry built around creating, selling, and updating a browscap.ini file which detailed the technologies a given client was known to support.

Nowadays you can do a lot of that with Javascript and whatnot. But I'm starting to wonder if we're going to need one of those for RSS feed based advertising too. The model of "choose either the ad-free partial feed or the full-content feed with ads" may become popular, but different readers strip varying amounts of HTML from the content in an effort to sanitize it.

Just a thought...

Posted by jzawodn at 12:49 PM

My Mobile Needs

I've never really tried very hard to articulate my mobile needs. But it seems that I don't have to. They're identical to Tim Bray's Mobile Needs.

  • good phone
  • bluetooth
  • unlimited and reasonably fast data

I suspect there are lot of people out there like us. So what's the solution? Russell, any ideas? Help us out here.

I haven't yet found much of a need for Mobile Search yet. But I can maybe see using local stuff to find maps, recommendations, etc. Maybe. It sounds cool but just haven't found myself wishing I had it.

Update: I get the feeling some are not reading what Tim wrote. I don't care about a device that lets me IM and whatnot. I already have my Powerbook. I just want reliable Internet access without data caps. And I want it via bluetooth--just like Tim.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:59 AM

October 26, 2004

MP3 Audio Recorder Recommendation Needed

I'm looking for a good, small, fairly inexpensive device that I can use to record conversations, interviews, and so on. It should produce MP3 files and ideally be something I can plug into a USB port and just suck off the file(s)--just like a digital camera. I'm only interested in voice, so quality doesn't have to be fit for studio recordings. And I'd really like 2+ hours of capacity.

Got a device you can recommend? I'd love to hear about it.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:39 PM

Am I an Event Blogger?

Heh. Matt suggests that I get invited to stuff because I blog about it later.

That's not so far-fetched. I went to Web 2.0 on a blogger pass (meaning that neither I or Yahoo paid the ~$2,500 entry fee--thanks John!). But you know what? I blogged every damn session and had tons of folks tell me they were reading every word of it. People at the conference, back in the office, and even folks in remote corners of the world.

And I enjoyed it. The applause would start and I'd hit the post button in Ecto.

That all made me feel good. This blogging stuff really works once in a while. And it means that the conference folks probably got their money's worth out of me. Maybe I'll be back there next year for Web 2.1 or whatever they call it?

Sadly, I may have to miss the Technorati party. This month's BASA meeting is the same night, and flying is pretty important to me too. Hopefully others will blog it.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:41 AM

October 25, 2004

Life in the Crazy Lane

Several folks (both at work and elsewhere) have been asking me how the new gig is going.


Fucking crazy.

But in a good way. There's just a ton of stuff going on, so many people to meet, projects to learn about, and so on. It's like a few weeks ago when I had lunch at Google. More than once, Chris mentioned how they had so many projects going on and so many ideas just waiting for engineers to implement them.

Well, I get it.

I looked up at the clock a bit ago and it was already after 9pm. I had a bunch of stuff I still wanted to get into. On my way home, I couldn't keep a lot of it out of my head. I had three things I wanted to write about on my blog, so I left myself voicemail to remind myself what they were. (I hate it when I forget good ideas.)

It has become exceedingly difficult to keep the inbox below 100 messages. It takes constant attention.

But you know what? I like coming home feeling like there's so much interesting stuff going on. It keeps me energized. It reminds me of what Yahoo felt like back in early 2000, when I was still a new kid on the block.

A few friends have commented (as the result of seeing me on IM at various hours) that I've been working a lot.

Indeed. And it's great.

What's even better is telling some of my coworkers what's going on. They ask "what's new in search?" and I tell them all the stuff I've been getting into. The reactions I get almost every time are along the lines of "wow! that's great." "All that?!" And sometimes, "damn... are there more search jobs open?"

Yes there are.

I wish I could talk details here, but you know how that goes. What I can say is that if the next couple months are any indication, next year's gonna be fun.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:15 PM

Microsoft Comes A Knockin' (again)

It was over a year ago that I wrote about the Corporate Panty Raid in which Microsoft becomes aroused as search jobs heated up to prep us for the next mini-bubble.

I checked my voicemail today to find a message from one of the folks that contacted me on behalf of Microsoft last year. She says she's working closely with the office of the CTO (as opposed to the CTO himself, I guess).

I wonder if she'll read this before I call back tomorrow? Maybe I'll ask her if I can write about our converstaion. It's not like she's going to give me any Microsoft secrets, right?

Andyway, this time around the pitch felt very different. She's looking to talk to folks who have passion for search and are technical visionaries--or something along those lines. I don't remember the exact wording she used. But it was clearly more humble and less combative than my last contact with Microsoft recruiting (a story that I recently told Scoble while we looked upon Lake Tahoe after Gnomedex).

How'd she get my name? Another blogger who writes about search a lot mentioned me to her. When she checked her list, she realized we'd spoken before.

Run and Hide?

Not long ago there was some debate at work about whether or not engineers at Yahoo should put their names on posts to the Yahoo Search blog. Some worry that it gives the competition a list of names of folks they can to try recruit away.

This is a logical concern.

But I put my name and e-mail address on my posts--at least most of the time I do.

I happen to think that engineers deserve to be recognized in public for the contributions they're making. And if Microsoft, Google, A9, Ask Jeeves, or whoever is able to recruit them away, that's life. They probably weren't happy enough at Yahoo for one reason or another. That either says something about Yahoo or the engineer. Probably both.

This feels too much like security through obscurity, and we all know how well that works. Hiding implies fear--it's something we do when we're scared. And fears are there to be faced and overcome, not to keep us in the corner.

Besides, what kind of engineer would want to work at company where they're going to be hidden behind a dark curtain?

Anyway, now you know which side of the argument I'm on.

Update: See Scoble's response, in which he agrees and gives his perspective on this stuff.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:56 PM

October 21, 2004

Competition in Interesting Times

Ross Mayfield, in Yahoo Acquires Stata Labs, has good things to say about Yahoo's acquistion of Stata Labs. He concludes his thoughts by saying:

Interesting to think about the combination of Bloomba, Oddpost and other Yahoo! assets. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! are truly going head to head, and almost in step, on search and communications.

And that reminds me of something that happened the other day. I was chatting with a friend of mine who works at Google. I complimented her (or them, I guess) on Google Desktop Search, having finally had the chance to try it out. She responded that she can't wait to see what we (Yahoo) will fire back with. Neither can I. :-)

We both agreed that all this competition is a great thing. Not only does it keep us on our toes, it makes things very, very interesting. And by "interesting" I'm pretty sure we both were thinking of the curse.

I also heard from an old high school friend today. He recently started at Google. Congrats on the new job, Kevin.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:16 PM

October 20, 2004

Miracles of Modern Banking

I'm rather amazed by our modern financial system. One the on hand, banks seem to go to great lengths to make life difficult for us: fees to visit a teller, minimum balances in accounts, annoying business hours, nasty IVR (interactive voice response) systems that pass for "customer service", and stupid procdeures.

On the other hand, there are a few things that are shockingly easy to do. For example, I'm in the process of consolidating some of my accounts. I asked my brokerage (Charles Schwab) to send me the necessary forms. It turns out that all it takes to get them to extract my assets from another institution is to fill out a one page form and mail it back in a postage paid envelope.

Saying it's a one page form is really not quite accurate. It's one page, but the amount of information required from me could fit on a Post-It note.

  • name
  • account number at each institution
  • social security number
  • date
  • signature


Oh, and I have to check a box that says it's a brokerage account, and another one that says "transfer all assets".

Now, the cynical side of me says that it's this easy because banks and brokerages really want you to put more of our assets under their roof. But I just don't care. It's so damned easy--like it ought to be.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:25 PM

Take This Job and Shove It

I headed over to URL's (our cafeteria) to get some lunch and started to hear music. There was a band playing. Normally, they'd be playing outside, but the rainy season has begun.

I would have taken a picture but didn't think to until I got back to my desk.

As I was getting my bowl of soup, I realized they were playing Take This Job And Shove It. That led me to wonder if this wasn't a ploy to try and solve the space crunch at work.

Who knows. Maybe a few folks were listening and thought "yeah! screw this! I'm gonna quit as soon as I'm done with my chicken sandwich."

Or not.

I suspect there are better ways. But if there's a company wide email tonight about a screening of Office Space, I'll know something's up!

Posted by jzawodn at 01:08 PM

My Book on Slashdot, or... Many of My Friends Have No Life

And here's how I know. Within 10 minutes of the Slashdot review of High Performance MySQL, many of them contacted me via IM, e-mail, and whatnot. It frightens me to think of how often they're reloading that page.

Anyway, the review is quite positive. I'm glad Steve liked the book and fully expected all the "MySQL SUCKS!" comments that appeared moments later. Apparently some nerds have an infinite capacity for fighting vi vs. emacs, mysql vs. postgresql, gnome vs. kde, and all those other stupid battles.

Oh, well. As long as half of them buy the book, I'm happy. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 12:30 PM

Met the Feedsters

I headed up to San Francisco last night with Mark (another Yahoo) to Meet the Feedsters. It was an enjoyable evening with good food and even better converstaion.

Feedster now has seven employees. And I even got a free dinner as a "finders fee" for referring Ray, one of the newest (and a former Yahoo). I also got to meet Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame. We talked of FeedMesh, Ping-O-Matic, MovableType, and so on.

Marc Canter broke out in song a few times, but luckily that didn't last long! :-) He also spoke of FOAF in Drupal and OpenReviews.

Several of us harassed Dave McClure about last week's PayPal outage.

Lots of other good folks there: Greg Stein, Niall Kennedy, Tantek, and so on. I should have made a list. I'm already forgetting.

Thanks to Scott for organizing the event. Hopefully we'll keep having dinners like this. With the Bay Area hosting a number of blog/syndication related companies and services now (Technorati, Feedster, Six Apart, Blogger, Rojo, Bloglines, My Yahoo, etc), I think the odds are good.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:03 AM

October 18, 2004

Andy Beal Drinks PR Kool-Aid?

I like Andy Beal. I've met him a few times and he's a good guy. But today, in Google Desktop for the Mac, he quotes a Google PR response to the question of GDS for the Mac and finishes with:

Translation, Mac users are a little more demanding than Windows users and they won't tolerate anything crappy.

Come on, Andy! Do you really think that any PR person in their right mind would have responded negatively to that sort of question?

Posted by jzawodn at 09:20 PM

Wanted: Web Services Geek for Yahoo Search

Yahoo Search is looking for a Web Services Geek. Here's the official job pitch:

Come be a part of a team working to revolutionize the search experience for our users. We are looking for a highly motivated and experienced engineer who is passionate about Web Services, platforms, and enabling a new generation of search-based applications on the Internet. Y! Search has a wealth of content and services, and we want to make it accessible to more people, more devices, and more applications.

I won't bore you with the whole job listing. Instead, I'll summarize by saying this: Ideally, you'll have a good deal of Web Services experience and terms like REST, SOAP, RDF, and WSDL don't scare you. Of course, programming is a necessary part of the job too. Perhaps you've got experience in a compiled language (C/C++/Java) and a scripting language (Perl/PHP) in a Unix/Apache environment? That'd be perfect.

If this sounds interesting, please send me your resume in a non-Microsoft Word format. ASCII, PDF, and HTML work well. If you have a record of your experience with or interest in web services on your blog or a public mailing list, point me at that too.

This full-time position is on-site at Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. As with many engineering jobs here, telecommuting happens but you're going to be in the office on a regular basis too.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section. I'll answer what I can. Or e-mail me if you're not comfortable asking in public.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:54 AM

October 17, 2004

Greylisting Opinions and Options?

I'm considering a greylisting setup for WCNet.org to help slow the influx of spam that we have to run thru the backend spamd scanners. It's pretty bad these days. I've read a fair amount about the topic, but figured I'd ask here for any gotchas or horror stories.

As a point of reference, my implementation will probably be Exim 4.xx and greylistd.

On the hardware side, the main mail server is dual processor Sun 280R with 1GB RAM. Exim hands messages off to procmail which calls SpamAssassin via the spamc client. There are currently 4 backend boxes that host spamd processes.

On a slow day, we handle 150,000 messages. On busier days it's closer to 250,000.

I considered just using Spey, since a greylisting SMTP proxy would drop in very easily, but it doesn't seem to be very battle tested yet.

We're staying with Exim, so please don't suggest a non-Exim solution. Thanks for any input on this.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:18 PM

My Recent Comments RSS Feed Template for MovableType

In my ongoing war against weblog comment spam, I've recently done two things. The first was adding a field to my comments form that asks the submitter to answer a simple and obvious question, such as "What's Jeremy's first name?" That keeps the bots out.

But about 40% of my comment spam is from humans, not bots. So the second thing I've done is to add a Comments RSS feed that I can subscribe to in NetNewsWire. I did this because I'd rather not see comments via e-mail. My goal is to keep my e-mail volume as low as possible. Besides, SpamAssassin was preventing me from seeing the worst offenders anyway. So I was unknowingly letting some really nasty stuff get posted.

My comments feed is located here. The template for it is strightforward (Safari doesn't render it well, but Firefox does). It's a simple RSS 2.0 feed which displays the N most recent comments (20 in my case), along with the submitter's e-mail address, URL, and so on. And, best of all, it contains a link to run each comment through MT-Blacklist. This provides one-click de-spamming without cluttering my e-mail.

Feel free to steal it for your own use. You'll need to customize it a bit, of course.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:10 PM

My Take on Desktop Search?

Scoble asks if Yahoo is working on a desktop search product. Of course he doesn't really expect me to answer that, does he? :-)

I'm reminded of the "I'd tell you, but I'd have to kill you." scene from Top Gun.

But it does remind me that several folks have e-mailed me to ask why I haven't posted anything on the Google Desktop Search tool. There are two reasons:

  1. I've been really busy. This week, being the first for the new job, has been like drinking from a firehose. So much to learn, think about, and do. And bad ideas to stop before they grow.
  2. I haven't used it. I own exactly one Windows computer for the purpose of running exactly one application: SeeYou. If it existed for Linux or the Mac, I'd sell that computer off. [1] Perhaps KFLog will get there someday?

However, I do wonder who's going to be the first to follow Google's example and build a decent desktop search tool for Mac OS X and one for Linux. Ideally, it'd also work seamlessly in the browser--just like I'm hearing Google's does. And who's going to be the first to make one that's home-network aware. One that can coordinate searching across my Powerbook, Linux boxes, and that Windows box too.

[1] The funny thing is that I just recently ordered a Windows notebook at work. After 2.5 years of not having a Windows box at my desk, I've regressed. Why? Because now I'm working with a lot of people who throw Microsoft Office documents around on a very regular basis. So it'll simply make my life easier. It also means that I'll be "officially" supported on the wireless network at work, instead of being an outsider with my Powerbook on the lame "guest" network that has surprisingly few ports open.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:50 AM

October 16, 2004

Another White Dash

I drove 700 miles today with Murphy as my co-pilot and navigator.

You see, I needed to head up to Air Sailing (in Nevada) to disassemble my glider, put it in the trailer, and take to Aviation Classics at Reno/Stead airport. They're going to install an altitude encoding transponder (so that Air Traffic Control can see me, as well as any big jets with TCAS anti-collision systems).

But instead of taking my normal route (87 north, 280 south, 680 north, 580 east, 205 east, 5 north, 80 east, 445 north), I wanted to try something new. The other two reasonable routes over the Sierra Nevada Mountains are either highway 50, which takes you to South Lake Tahoe and into the Carson Valley, or highway 88 which is a bit farther south than highway 50.

Since I've driven highway 50 to Tahoe and back a couple times, I decided to try highway 88. There was some discussion of using it as an alternate route for trailering a glider back from Minden, Nevada. So I wanted to check it out. I even left an hour and a half earlier than I would have otherwise.

Today was a little unusual though there was a lot of haze in the air. As I followed 88 into the mountains, it slowly got worse. I hadn't looked at the weather forecast (I had no plans to fly, so why bother?), so I figured there was just a low inversion that needed to either blow out or bake off.

But as I got deeper into it I noticed the distinct smell of burning wood. And then something in the back of my mind remembered reading something about a few forrest fires there were burning in the eastern Sierra--maybe a bit south of Grass Valley and/or Auburn. Who knows?

As I drove further, I was amazed at how little traffic there was--especially coming in the opposite direction. I was seeing one vehicle maybe every 3-5 minutes. It occurred to me that if this is typical, it'd be a great route for towing my glider back. There's only one lane each way, but so little traffic!

Then I saw the big electronic sign: Highway 88 closed 10 miles ahead due to forrest fire.Fuck!

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck...

I pulled off to the side of the road to study the map. My only option was to backtrack about 30 minutes of driving to the highway 49 junction. I could take 49 north to 50 and go that route.

Wait a minute. I have this vague memory of hearing the traffic reports on the radio Friday afternoon--they said that highway 50 was closed due to the fires.


Why I couldn't have remembered this 2 hours earlier?

Well, 49 was still the best option. I could either take it all the way to I-80 or hop off 49 at highway 16 to Sacramento and avoid some driving in the hills.

Not sure what to do, I decided to just hop on 49 and figure it out from there. It's always hard to tell how twisty a mountain road will be when looking most maps.

It turns out that highway 49 isn't that bad. Except that every 5 miles or so you have to drive 30mph through some stupid little tourist trap of a town. So it took quite a while to get anywhere on 49. Fearing the worst, I decided to cut my losses and take 16 to Sacramento where I could just jump on I-80 East to Reno as I'm used to.

I arrived at Air Sailing about 2.5 hours later than I expected. The disassembly went quickly after playing a bit of "glider tetris" to get my ship out of the hangar without moving the pickup truck that was parked near it. (No, I have no idea why there was suddenly a pickup truck in the hangar--but it added about 10 more minutes to the process.)

Oh, and it was windy. And getting stronger. By the time I hit the road to Stead, there was a good 20-30 knot westerly wind blowing. So I had to drive slowly and more carefully than I might have otherwise. This all added up to me arriving at Aviation Classics about 45 minutes after they closed. So I parked the trailer outside near the fence--right where they said to put it if I got there late.

I then hit Subway for dinner and headed back to San Jose, on the tried and true route of 80, 5, 205, 580, 680, 280, 87. And I made it home in nearly record time: 4 hours and 15 minutes, including one fuel stop.

As if that's not enough, I'm hoping to go back next weekend to pick up the glider and bring it back to the Bay Area for the fall/winter/spring seasons. I think I'll be a bit more careful about checking for fires.

How many white dashes are in 700 miles of driving?

A lot.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:58 PM

October 15, 2004

MSNBC Ripping off Yahoo News?

Apparently the lawyers at MSNBC would rather copy Yahoo's "terms of use" for RSS than start from scratch. Jeff Boulter has the details. Jeff is an engineering manager for Yahoo News and one of the driving forces behind Y! News RSS.

I had a roommate in college who once tried to pass off a moderately complex Pascal program as his own. The trouble is that he copied mine made only minor changes to it. Too bad I noticed and pointed this out to someone in the Computer Science department. He changed majors shortly thereafter and never quite explained why.

(I wonder if he knew how they figured it out... If not, maybe he'll find out by reading this post.)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:51 PM

October 14, 2004

Friendster Embraces... Blogs?!?!

A little birdie told me that Friendster (aka, the company that fires employees for blogging non-secrets) has launched a new blog/RSS oriented feature--presumably in an effort to remain marginally relevant.

I shit you not.

I can't verify it first hand, since I have no Friendster account anymore. And most of my friends don't either. (Imagine that!)

But they've published some help pages related to it, including What is RSS? and I entered my RSS link in my profile, but I still don't see my entries. Why?.

And, here's a screenshot of how they're advertising it.

So I guess blogs are a Good Thing now--as long as they're not written by an employee. Can you get fired by listing a blog in your profile if you're a Friendster employee? Or does that merely merit a demotion?

Anyone know what User-Agent string they're using? Does it respect robots.txt?

Posted by jzawodn at 12:25 AM

October 13, 2004

Honesty and Blogvangelism

Warning, this may a be a bit long and rambling...

I have to say, I expected varied reactions to my new job but was surprised by how much blog coverage it got and the number of e-mail responses I got. One of the most thoughtful reactions was from Danny Sullivan. In his post on the Search Engine Watch blog, he says:

What I find most significant is that the move positions him as the first notable blogvangelist employed by a major search company.

Several friends and coworkers have come to the same conclusion. Some, in trying to understand my new role, have asked "So you're going to be Yahoo's Robert Scoble?"

I explain that it's not quite the same but similar in some ways. (Maybe more than some, but I haven't talked with Scoble in detail about his job.) The comparison is probably quite reasonable. So it's no surprise that Danny made that connection as well:

Microsoft has had this type of blogger personality in the form of Robert Scoble. He's someone who works from Microsoft, is vocal about things there but doesn't necessarily follow the party line. He was also instrumental in pulling together Microsoft's recent Search Champs initiative.

Even though I don't always agree with Scoble or Microsoft, I think he's a great guy and really respect what he's done for Microsoft. I have hopes of helping Yahoo do similar things at some point.


There's another set of people who've approached me and said something along the lines of:

Wow, this sounds great. But be careful, dude. If it starts to look like you're just a company mouthpiece or cheerleader, you're credibility will vanish in no time!

No shit.

Going back to Danny's post, he touched on this in a different way when he said:

Search is also one of the things Jeremy has touched on in his personal blog, with some of the best reading dings at Google and even his own employer, at times.
As a long reader of Jeremy's blog, he's always been that way as well -- a personality who speaks his mind, regardless of what his employer may think. With his new role in search, we ought to hear more interesting firsthand accounts of someone on the frontline of the search wars.

He's right. I've picked on Yahoo and Google quite a bit. I'm a harsh critic--especially about things that are important to me. I get upset when a service doesn't do what I expect it to do. I don't expect that to change at all. You want to know why?

Two reaons:

  1. Because it works. Not always, of course, but sometimes the things that I point out get picked up and discussed--even fixed. Saying things in a more public way occasionally provides the motivation and attention necessary to get problems handled. I'm sure Scoble would back me up on this. :-)
  2. Because it's my job. Part of what Jeff expects me to do is point out problems when I see them. Sure, I'll be trying to get them in front of the right people first, but some of those are bound to show up here in one form or another.

In other words, I will not be toning things down. I will not avoid criticizing things that I think are wrong. You'll read what I think. If MSN comes out with some kick ass search product, I'll say so. Just like I may speculate on how link spammers will attack snap.com if it gains steam. (That'll be a fun one.)

It'll be harder than it used to be, because I'm more likely to actually know the people that I run the risk of offending. And that means toning down would be the easy thing to do. But would you be nearly as interested if I always did the easy thing?

Let me leave you with the profound words of Mark Pilgrim on corporate blogging:

A corporate blog is just like a personal blog, except you don’t get to use the word “motherfucker.”

This is a personal blog. I just happen to talk about work stuff more than is probably healthy.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:53 PM

The Community as a Platform, Part 2

Over on Beter Living Through Software Joshua, responding to my Adam Bosworth inspired post, says:

Zawodny must have forgotten that Bosworth ran the web browser team at Microsoft, and then the XML team (named “WebData”, which should imply something about the value proposition).  It's true that people sometimes go overboard about software “platforms” (and especially at app server vendors like BEA where Bosworth recently worked).  But it's just a bit contrived to talk about “information and community” as if it's something special and new that only the search engine vendors get.

I'm puzzled by his remarks.

First off, I know that Bosworth was at Microsoft for quite a while and had a big hand in IE development--that's exactly why I think he's in a fairly unique position to have an opinion on the platform vs. the community. He was, in a way, helping to create a piece of software that enabled this shift.

Going beyond that, I'm not sure who was suggesting this as something that only search engine vendors get. I wasn't. Adam didn't seem to be either.

A lot of companies are starting to see this--it has nothing to do with search. On-line communities, social networks, and the blog world are all valuable not because of the software behind them. It merely enables users to create and communicate in better ways than ever before. The software, in fact, is slowly but surely becoming a less visible part of these ecosystems.

But since he picked on "search engine vendors", let's think about that for a moment. Google owns Blogger. Microsoft (arguably an up-and-coming search company) has Channel 9 and IM. Yahoo has Groups and IM. Those are all services in which the real value comes from users connecting themselves with each other and not the software they're using. It's very different than Windows 2000 or Star Office.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:57 PM

AirPort Express Compatibility?

I'm thinking of getting an AirPort Express so that I can stream iTunes music to my stereo and use it as a portable access point when I travel. By all accounts, it does the job for these purposes pretty well.

However, I also like the idea of using it as a wireless bridge to extend the range of my existing wireless network. According to Apple's web site, it does this too:

If you already have a wireless network in your home and would like to extend its range, AirPort Express is your answer. Suppose you want to connect to the Internet with your PowerBook in an area that lies beyond the 150-foot range of your AirPort Express or AirPort Extreme Base Station. You can use AirPort Express as a wireless bridge to extend the range of your primary base station.

Excellent. But there's a footnote that I bothered to read for some reason. It says:

AirPort Express can extend the range only of an AirPort Extreme or AirPort Express wireless network.


You mean to tell me that this won't worth with my existing Linksys hardware? Is that true? Why would Apple do that? Are they really using a proprietary protocol for this?

This strikes me as the sort of detail that really shouldn't be hidden away in a footnote.

Luckily, Amazon.com's user reviews have an answer for me:

For apple users I imagine installation is a breeze... Well, I use XP and I have got this puppy hooked up to a Linksys wrt54g 1.1 router. Installation in this setting wasn't such a nice experience. Since the Apple Express Assistant will only automatically detect Apple wireless networks, you have to install the device initially (using an Ethernet cable from your router) as its own network. Once you have done that you can step back in using the Apple Admin Utility to join your current network (you will need to type the name of the network in manually). It is not a major problem but it took me a couple of hours to figure it out/install. Had the directions been clear would never have been the case. Apple tech support truly blows, but many of the user groups are pretty good, so use these if you have problems.

Why Apple didn't simply acknowledge the fact that there are millions of non-Apple base stations out there (Netgear, Linksys, Cisco, etc) and make that easy is beyond me. Isn't the goal to make the device easy to setup and, as a result, sell as many as possible?

Even so, why couldn't Apple's site have explained that this does work but requires a bit of manual configuration?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:18 AM

October 12, 2004

New Job (Again)

It seems like only yesterday that I last switched jobs. Last time I moved from my job on the Search Team to the Platform Engineering group to do MySQL stuff. And before Search, I worked on Yahoo Finance for about three years.

Well, believe it or not, I'm going back to the Search Team[1] but in a very different role this time. Instead of hacking away on software bits, I'm going to be working to:

  • make sure our products kick the necessary amount of ass
  • better communicate what we're thinking about and building
  • incorporate outside feedback and ideas into what we're doing
  • recruit more smart people

And other stuff as it comes up, I'm sure.

I've been a Yahoo nearly five years now and this will be my fourth role. It has been in the works for a few months now. The first evidence of that was the launch of the Yahoo Search blog and then our attendance at and sponsorship of Gnomedex 4 recently.

This change is one that I thought about for quite a while. And, quite honestly, it's the first time I've accepted a new role without a very solid idea of what I was getting myself into. It'll be very interesting to see how this evovles. I know that I have a lot to learn and hopefully a lot to teach as well. In some ways, this new role is experimental. I'm expecting it to morph a bit over time and so are the folks I'll be working with.

One thing I do know is that the folks I'm going to be working with really care a lot about what they're doing. (And I'm not just saying that because I know they'll read this.) I wish I could say I saw that in every part of the company.

And on that note, I love the fact that I can move around within Yahoo. Many companies talk about how employees are free to look at internal opportunities, but not all of them make it easy to pursue those opportunities. They throw up lots of barriers, seemingly encouraging their employees to look elsewhere rather than stick around. My experience at Yahoo has shown that mobility is a fact of life. I know of many other coworkers who've tried out various roles over the last few years.

I hope that didn't sound too much like a recruiting pitch or anything. It's just what's been going thru my mind recently.


Here are answers to a few questions I've already been asked, as well as some I anticipate.

Q: Does this mean I can complain to you about Yahoo Search?

A: Sure. But you've been able to do that for years. ;-) I'll do what I can to make sure your complaint hits the right people.

Q: Does this mean you no longer deal with MySQL stuff?

A: Not at all. Until I help hire my replacement (more on that in a future post), I'm handling MySQL stuff. And even beyond that, I'm a long-time MySQL user and fan who's starting to get pressure for a second edition of The Book. And I still write a monthly MySQL column for Linux Magazine. In other words, I'm not giving up on MySQL.

Q: What about all the RSS stuff Yahoo is doing?

A: I'm still going to be one of our biggest RSS advocates around here. It's technically never been part of my job but that didn't stop me from getting involved.

Q: Does this mean your blog will be full of "check out this great Yahoo feature" posts? Will you still complain about things Yahoo doesn't do well?

A: No, my blog will not turn into a corporate marketing tool. And yes, I fully intend to be honest about what I think we're doing well and what we're not. I'm still a harsh critic--both of our services and others. Hopefully anyone who has read my ramblings long enough knows this already.

Q: Will you still bash Google?

A: Heh. From time to time, I may. But I know a lot more people who work there now, so I've tried to tone it down a bit. They're not that evil. ;-)

Q: Did your blog have anything to do with getting this new job?

A: Yes. A lot.

Q: Do you know what today's earnings numbers will be?

A: I wish. And if I don't go to sleep soon, you'll know before I do.

[1] Technically I'm working with the whole Search and Marketplace business unit, but that's org chart trivia to most people reading this.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:38 AM

October 10, 2004

Yahoo Added to NetNewsWire

Brent says:

Remember how the other day I was picking on Yahoo because its search feeds had non-unique unique IDs?
Now today I notice that the bug has been fixed. (They also switched to using RSS 2.0.) Here’s the feed I was looking at in my previous post.
Thanks! Good job!
Now I can add Yahoo to the list of search engine feed providers in NetNewsWire, which is something folks have been asking for, and I’m glad to be able to do.

Well Brent, in case nobody else from Yahoo says this: You're welcome! And thanks for adding Yahoo to NetNewsWire.

In case any other aggregator developers want to add Yahoo support to their aggregators, feel free! (I wonder if we shouldn't be doing some sort of promotion or list somewhere on the Yahoo RSS site for stuff like this?)

It's also worth pointing out that the move to RSS 2.0 is something you should see reflected in most, if not all, of the Yahoo RSS feeds. We've hashed out some standards internally, so that'll mean more consistency among the thousands of feeds we're publishing.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:02 PM

October 09, 2004

Wearable Digital Camera - Philips KEY010

After reading about the Pilips KEY010 "wearable" digital cameara in a few places, I decided to get one. My experience is pretty much on par with the Engadget review:

This little camera doesn’t have an LCD screen or a flash, and the pictures aren’t that great compared to full featured digital cameras., but that’s not the point of this camera. The Philips Wearable Digital Camera is all about having a tiny instant-on digital camera that’s always with you and is always ready for some quick shots.

However, Nelson got one and is very unhappy about the image quality. In his review, he says:

I bought this after reading a review on Engadget. The gadget factor is good: USB interface, simple UI. But the photo quality is just useless.

He also points at the Digital Home review of the camera too, which is fairly negative.

I've only had mine since Friday, but I've managed to snap a few pictures with it. Here a are a few of the better ones:

I'm reasonably happy with it, due in large part to the low expectations I had going into this. For a camera that small, I expected pictures worse than a camera phone. Instead, I'm getting decent (not good, but decent) pictures at 1600x1200 from a device I can wear around my neck with a battery I never have to change.

I'm trying to upload everything I shoot on purpose to my Flickr photstream (which has an RSS feed).

I bought the 128MB version from Amazon.com for about $124 (using super saver shipping and the A9 discount).

Posted by jzawodn at 06:34 PM

October 08, 2004

Human AdSense?

Cory snapped a picture of me being a human advertisement for Google at Google's Web 2.0 party. Looking at it later, the phrase Human AdSense came to mind. Imagine, free t-shirts printed with contextual ads suited to the wearer's personality (or their social network).

Maybe that is what Orkut is all about? ;-)

Yeah, yeah... it's Friday and I've had an insane but fun week.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:27 PM

October 07, 2004

Jerry Yang, Closing Session at Web 2.0

It's been 10 years already.

Jerry had a baby recently. Having a baby is harder than running a startup.

Q: Did/do you want to do anything else?

A: It feels like a blink. The time has gone by very quickly. Yahoo is a constant work in progress. We don't want to look back too much because you can lose sight of the future. Some things are still true while others have changed.

Q: The very early days. He shows an old Yahoo home page. David has strict rules about the home page. He shows the current home page. How's the old one make you feel?

A: Old.

Q: What sort of decisions went into this?

A: It's about continuing to evolve Yahoo as a reflection of what's going on on-line. It's more about services now--not just content. The industry has evolved, but so have the users. The next generation of uses have completely different needs and expections.

Q: What dumb things did you do over the years?

A: To do it over again, we'd maybe not have taken it public so soon. The IPO was in 1996 (pre-bubble) but it would have been nice to wait. The tradeoff was letting competitors do it and get the money sooner than Yahoo? And the exposure helped too. The competition helps.

Q: What advice would you give to Larry and Sergey?

A: They've gotten great advice and are doing everything they can. I hope they enjoy every minute of it. What they've done is truly amazing.

Q: Did you learn something from them?

A: I think the world did. This is a different environment.

Q: When Yahoo was young, there was a lot of idealism. Why is the Yahoo brand so versatile?

A: It's the name. But it's not a right or entilement. We have to earn that privilege from our users every day. We missed some emerging trends a few years ago. And we'll make more mistakes--2.0 mistakes, hopefully.

Q: During that era (early 2002), campus was very sad. You got a new CEO. He got a lot of credit for the turnaround. Rumors about Disney?

A: I think that Terry's done an unbelievable job. But rumors are rumors (or speculation). As far as I know he's very happy and has a lot of Yahoo stock--that's a good motivator.

Q: What about the data lock-in issue?

A: Data is a very personal thing. Yahoo is in the trust business. We can only be viable if people trust us with their data and let them do what they want with their data. We have policies (beyond the law) about what we can and cannot do with user data.

Q: What won't you do on the Web?

A: Violate trust. There's a social contract here.

Q: In terms of products.

A: Not what Kim is doing [SpikeSource]. We hire people smarter than ourselves. But it's really about doing something that we can do better by integrating into Yahoo. RSS links you out to the rest of the Web--takes people off Yahoo. But we're being more open and transparent. Some things are better on our network, some not.

Q: What keeps you up at night? (Other than the baby!)

A: The Web 2.0 revolution and convergence. We need to figure out where Yahoo belongs in that world. Worried about the next 2 guys who are gonna drop out of the Standford PhD program.

Audience Questions

Q: Jeff Jarvis recruits Marc Canter but then asks Jerry about his old job: "get people in and out of Yahoo as fast as possible." That's changed now. There's a clutter now. Where's the UI going? Is Yahoo too clutered?

A: Yes. Our biggest challenge it finding ways to let users know what we have. The home page needs to offer users more control. This isn't about broadcasting what everyone wants. But we still need a way to inform users about what is new at the same time. And we're trying to figure out how to unclutter. Everyone uses Yahoo differently. The UI may change in this broadband world.

Q: Marc says things to Jerry about the one size fits all mentality. But then asks about Open Source infrastructure. Amazon, Google, eBay are examples. But we need non-big company standards. Marc wants a tiny big of the billions to help support Open Standards. What do you think about helping the world?

A: I like helping the world. We're big advocates of Open Source and employ Open Source folks (core commit). As for APIs, we're a 10 year old company with numerous other companies folded in, we've realized the necessity of getting our own services to talk to each other. We're working on this inside. It'll hit the public when the time is right. We'll keep pushing it. I believe in giving back. Giving money away is harder than making it. If it can make a real difference, I'm willing to consider it. It's less about the money and more about pushing this as a whole. Money is easy. What impact are we going for?

Q: Adam Rifkin asks for a good bubble story?

A: Trying to get a free version of a book.

Q: What will Yahoo look like in 10 years? What's it look like and what is it on? Predict.

A: 10 years ago today would have seemed like a disappointment on the UI front. But he'd have underestimated the impact. So 10 years from now, Yahoo will be a brand and service that makes people's Internet Life easier. Devices, entertainment, community, interaction, appeal to emotions. If people are still happy using Yahoo in 10 years, I'll be a very happy guy. Hard to set anything else in stone. "It took us 10 years to get blogs?!"

Q: Instant messenger. There was a hack that let you access AIM. Why not make it available?

A: That's up to them, not us. If the other side wants to shut if off, they can. IM has to interop in the future. It's like having three telephone networks.

Q: Esther asks about China?

A: I'm a Chinese American, but understand the industry and business in China. That society is changing very fast. There's what you see and what you don't see--what people are saying. They're saying hopeful things. They have new confidence. But they're on a path that's a one way street. The middle class needs more education, technology, freedom, and so on. Those will drive freedom of speech and communication. We operate in China. So we are helping the government but I don't agree with their government. There are other governments we don't agree with either. We're not a big player there today. We need to invest in the next generation there.

Time for the iPod giveaway now.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:58 PM

Kim Polese Introduces SpikeSource, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Kim is here to announce her new company: SpikeSource.

"From egosystem to ecosystem: Web 2.0 and Enterprise IT."

Brazil kicked out Microsoft. Same with other governments. They demand Open Source. China is doing a Linux distro. Vendors are getting kicked out.

The industrial egosystem has worked well for a long time. It produced many large companies that were big top-down organizations. It's worked well for software too.

Then the Net came along. It changed advertising, commerce, and the software business. It's a home on the range for software developers. This new ecosystem will be filled with lots of new software, much of it Open Source. This gives power to the users. It's a revolution that we cannot stop.

Why is this happening? How'd we get here? OOP, CORBA, COM, etc. were attempts in the egosystem. But they didn't work. We needed a new ecosystem. And that ecosystem has arrived as Web 2.0. Demand began to supply itself.

Programmers started it--"scratch your own itch." Users followed. Wikipedia. Blogs, RSS, PodCasting. The old egosystem doesn't like this. Microsoft doesn't like it. Larry Ellison loves Open Source but thinks the software industry is headed down. Nicholas Carr says that IT doesn't matter--it's boring and a commoidity. It's a cost to control.

The IT guy is the unsung hear of corporate america. And in this new ecosystem, he's a superhero inside the new ecosystem.

Examples: Verizon phone booths getting wifi hotspots. Many cities are getting wifi. IBM mainframes as Linux farms.

Three rules: Nobody owns it. Everybody uses it. Anybody can improve it.

When anybody can improve software, it gets better. People participate. It's filling the software market with commodities. Customers love it, but the egosystem hates it. In fact, there are too many open source choices. That's hard for IT.

SpikeSource is here to solve that problem. They're an open source IT services company. They're moving up the stack to solve the new problems in the ecosystems. They'll provide pre-assembled stacks. 35 employees and contractors. Public beta in December. It is: validation, integration, testing, supporting, service/upgrading.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:13 PM

Larry Lessig, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Free Culture is his new book. Someone at Forbes didn't like it and called him a moron. That was a remix! He took Larry's words and added his own to say something different. That's a freedom in our culture that we've had for a long time. It's free culture.

Writers know this when dealing with text. But what if you go beyond text into other media? Music: white album, black album, grey album. Film: $218 film at Cannes. Politics: political media remix videos. (He's showing us some hilarious videos now.)

The potential of digital remix. All you need is a $1,500 computer (or less). It's democratic. It's part of a bottom-up democracy. NYT to blogs, peer to peer.

Problem. Laws make this illegal. Permission required to use copyrighted works like this. But getting permission is far too hard to get. The laws have massively changed. Copyright went from opt-in to opt-out in 1978. That takes us from free culture to a permission culture.

Fox News vs. the movies Outfoxed.

Text-heads think this is an easy problem.

The Induce Act is not dead. It's a really, really big threat.

We need to make digital culture free.

BTW, Lessig has a great presentation style--compelling and engaging.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:52 PM

Brendan Eich (Mozilla), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

The Browser is Back!

Tons of people in the audience are using Firefox already. And it's a worldwide thing--not just in the USA. Demo of RSS auto-discovery on Jon Udell's blog. Tabbed browsing, all the great features.

"Worse is Better." The web has made it hard for anyone to pull another Windows off. Firefox runs on Windows 2003 - 98. It's a platform and it's compatible with the Web. Mozilla is about quick functional code (scripting), not big OO systems.

Standards bodies are too slow. Just using consensus of interested people, you can create new standards. On IE, just create a little plug-in. The <canvas> tag is an example of this. Easy 2-D graphics.

Mozilla is also involved in the W3C standards work.

Mozilla update works via REST. SOAP didn't scale.

E4X brings XML to JavaScript. It should have been there long ago.

Open Source and the Web are good enough for 2.0. Don't need a specific OS.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:32 PM

Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster (Craigslist), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Craig now calls himself a customer service rep and spokesmodel. Jim is the CEO.

Quick overview of craigslist, but most everyone here already know what it is. The site exists to help with personal and social needs--think of moving to a new city. They've hired a PR person recently. They have less than 20 employees but are one of the biggest sites around.

Much of craigslist comes from nerd culture and ethics. Be good to others. Make a culture of trust. Users can flag things. This forms a self-policing system that works quite well. Lightweight business model. They're un-branding (no logo or banner). They're de-monetizing because they don't charge for much of anything other than job postings. They're un-competing. They think of themselves as a public service.

The use Free Software all the way. Pine for e-mail. Apache. The simple stuff works very well. They're going slow and steady in these "internet time" times.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:20 PM

The Platform Revolution, a Panel at Web 2.0

Tim O'Reilly is leading a panel featuring: Adam Bosworth (Google), Kevin Lynch (Macromedia), John McKinley (CTO @ AOL), Halsey Minor (Grand Central Communications).

Adam thinks that Web Service is not yet a platform but is close.

What kind of clients will we use?

Kevin sees lots of non-browser clients: iTunes, aggregators, etc.

What's AOL going to do to get into the 2.0 game?

John says that AOL needs to catch the wave. They need to expose metadata.

Tim asks about IM.

There's an AIM SDK w/Macromedia. (News to me.)

Grand Central story?

Web 2.0 is about the business use of the Internet. SLAs don't exist yet on Web services.

Adam talks about the difference between things that are simple enough to work all over vs. the standards that standards bodies produce (REST vs. SOAP, RSS vs. Atom). He notes how important it is that blogs make self-publishing easy for everyone.

From industry standards to commercial standards. What is RSS? Adam says it's not a standard and it doesn't matter.

Tim asks what these guys are scared of? What's missing?

Chaos in usability as apps migrate outside the browser. We're behind in some areas, like wireless. Adam is scared of fragmentation. How do you build an app that runs on every phone? You can't. What if we have 1,000 different apps that each only run on some devices/platforms? We don't have that with the web. We have instant updates and easy deployment on the web.

Tim: You afraid of Microsoft?

Depends on whether Avalon and such are relevant. They might have IP issues that get in the way and slow down the rest of the world. Microsoft depends on machine upgrades. But will you really need to do that for Web apps?

Open Source?

Adam: when things become commodities (open source stuff) things get better.

Firfox? That's a case of open source really improving the world.

Audience Questions

Remember Netscape? They should they could outrun Microsoft. Open Source seems to think the same thing. What about Web Services and reliability?

Adam says that cell phones are unreliable. HTTP and browsers aren't either. But it still works. When the value is there, people deal with it.

Don't discount Microsoft. "Quality is Job 3.0"

Modern apps really need engineers and designers to work very closely together.

Adam says that Microsoft got it right by building great developer tools.

REST is good for query but not for transactions. But the big tool providers are making standards (WS-Security) that rely IP that's owned by those guys. That means the Open Source communities may be out in the cold.

Adam thinks that the complexity is more important than the IP issues. Is Microsoft really going to sue a random developer for supporting WS-Security? Unlikely. The problem is that the average PHP hacker can't figure it out.

What can PayPal do to push REST and security? Adam says just publish a spec!

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:31 PM

New Blog Category: Web 2.0

Since I've blogged a ton of stuff on the Web 2.0 Conference, I've tagged each entry into my web2 category. The archive page is located at http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/cat_web2.html.

Thanks to Atul for reminding me I wanted to do this. :-)

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:55 PM

The Architecture of Participation, a Panel at Web 2.0

Tim is leading a panel composed of Andrew Anker, Brian Behlendorf, Bob Morgan, and Allan Vermeulen.

Tim noticed that the best open source projects are architected for participation. Brian gives an overview of what makes Apache work: transparency is very important, so are general APIs (well known connection points) so that folks can build modules as separate projects.

Tim asks Andrew about how this affect's Andrew's business. What made blogs work was RSS: content and style sepration. Aggregators are big. They let you read many, many blogs. "Blogs are Geocities 2.0" (Are you listening Yahoo folks?!)

Tim asks about Amazon.com. Amazon is a technology company, unlike other retail operations. They've been thinking along those lines. What makes it easy for customers to get all the info they want?

Tim asks for figures but Amazon doesn't have numbers handy. Over 500,000 associates. Over 65,000 using Web Services.

Ofoto has nearly a billion images.

Photo sharing obstacles? Lack of interop. Too much friction. Users need it to be easier.

Tim asks about where the business advantage is in participation. APIs and plugins matter in software--they're a form of participation. A Wiki is a great example, since anyone can edit. Trust then starts to matter a lot.

Walled gardens are doomed to fail. People want to contribute. But what makes them willing to contribute?

Brian tells story about Jazz fans, Nora Jones, and Blue Note Records web site forums. The execs took the site contents down because they weren't happy. So the bad mouthed the label instead of her music.

Peoople optimize for the tools you give them. Today that means linking. And linking is authority today. But there's some gaming going on too. Politics often gets in the way.

Amazon doesn't worry much about negative reviews. But giving users ALL the informaiton, they're more apt to shop there over the long haul. Blue Note needed a community manager.

Software has names (people) attached to it nowadays. There's status.

Tim just called me a cross-over from Open Source to the Blog world.

Blogging is working the enterprise where KM failed.

Photo sharing is used by professionals too: real estate agents, for example.

Amazon uses MT internally.

Question about community longevity. Can communities outlive games, for example?There are different types of community, some specific and some general. What about explicit vs. implicit.

A former RedHat guy who did community management. RedHat management got blogs on the site but almost didn't turn on comments and they nuked posts at one point. Sun doesn't have comments. Where do companies draw the line? Should companies control the message on their own turf? Shutting that stuff off just means it'll happen elsewhere. Tim: This is the future. Get used to being more open.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:47 PM

Andrew Singer (Rapport), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Chips with thousands of processors and how they're going to change the Web.

Demo of a football video and decryption. The Pentium 1.8GHz gets about 15 frames/sec. The new CPU runs far, far faster. It's getting 55 frames/sec because they slowed it down. At max speed it gets 260 frames/sec. It's running at 33MHz and saves a lot of power. It consumes 0.5 watt at that rate. The Pentium is consuming 75 watts.

The new chip is 10% of the physical size of the Pentium. At full power (2 watts) it does 30Gops/sec. It's a box with the CPU power of a cluster. A cluster with the power of a farm. Think about battery powered devices.

This makes security and encryption far, far cheaper.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:04 PM

Bill Gurley (Benchmark Capital), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

MMORPGs in China are big--bigger than portals and whatnot. Big in Korea too.

Lots of facts and figures coming out about these on-line gaming environments, what they charge, and how much they make. Engineers in China cost about $1,500/year so it's very cheap to build these things.

Sony's Everquest is the biggest in the US, but it doesn't compare to China.In Korea, real police have investigated people for theft in the virtual world.

There's now revenge in the physical world for things that happen in the digital world.

There's re-sale (on eBay) of digital assets.

Some people are able to earn a living playing games.

Casual gaming, IM, Avatars. QQ IM in China.

Selling clothing on-line--clothing that decays!!!

Mainstream brands are crossing over too.

NeoPets is targeted at children. Very sticky.

SecondLife by LindedLabs build dev tools for people in the world to create the world. (Funky!) It's all user-developed content and there's a ton of it. Very good quality. Games within games. Classrooms.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:34 PM

Media is a Platform, a Panel at Web 2.0

John Battelle is leading a panel composed of Shelby Bonnie (CNet), George Conrades (Akamai), Martin Nisenholtz (NYT) , and Mike Ramsay (Tivo).

(Hmm, looks like more Suits On Stage. Let's see how this goes.)

John asks about copying, Cory's talk, etc.

Shelby says you can't fight the trends in technology. We've all had to figure out what the Internet is doing to us and what we really need to defend. News.com is untraditional--they linked to their competitors. Competitors thought it was stupid, but users loved it.

Martin says that giving away all NYTimes content on the Web was a crazy idea. They had a lot of business ideas at first, but they managed to do it. They're in the middle of opening up The Times.

John asks Mike about being in the middle of the cable folks (and content owners) and the customers. What would Tivo like to do and why's it hard?

Mike responds but not quite to the question. (I want to hear features and products.

Hmm. I'm trailing off again. They're not talking much about media "as a platform" as far as I can tell. This is about content and who owns it.

John asks what's getting in the way of offering customers what they want.

Everytime we try a new idea, we get kicked out of someone's office. Tivo was an example. "You're changing prime time! You're skipping my ads!"

John asks if the panel buys the premise that copying and the Internet really will destroy their businesses?

The industry doesn't understand some of the technical limitations. They're paranoid.

DRM helps the content providers feel a bit more comfortable.

Olympics example.

Switch from utility to emotion. Journalism is about story telling and that's emotional. NYT: "We have a massive UI problem."

John asks about the false wall between bloggers and journalists.

CNet says they want to bing 'em in. It complements the job they're doing. Bloggers create very rich content.

NYT wants to differentiate between news and opinion, which is how the NYT is structured internally. Blogs are very often about opinion. NYT wants to be used as a source in blogs, but they're worried about letting bloggers in because of the news/opinion boundry. Apparently reporters can't have opinions?(!)

John says that the editor's should be helping. Others argue that it's the reader's job--the readers are doing fact checking.

John asks about the advertising business in media.

CNet: Two years ago you couldn't convince anyone that on-line ads would work. Now we know better. And it's growing. Tension between what users want and what advertisers/marketers want. Users want diversity of sites, marketers want fewer big sites.

John things it's a tech problem that we can solve. AdSense was a first start.

Measurement is a problem on-line. And targeting--it's easier on-line than on TV.

Steve Gillmor is asking about PodCasting.

NYT likes the new My Yahoo and the traffic it generates. :-) Feedburner mentioned as pushing the business along.

Google news--good or evil?

Marc Canter suggests an on-line, open, free database of all other media.

Cory asks about Tivo and Replay. What if they had worked together?

(Holy crap, it's cold in this room!!!)

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:20 PM

Rick (Microsoft Labs), High Order Bit on Web 2.0

Microsoft has been using statistical translation too.

Democritization of Science. Get data into the hands of the people. TerraServer is a good example of this. 20 million hits/day. Upgraded imagery. They've got 10 inch resolution data. Topo data, maps data, web service.

SkyServer (SkyServer.sds.org) is a web server and web service. It's the Sloan Digital Sky Survey data. Lots of astronomical pictures, data, articles.

IOVA is at iova.net and contains lots of data for stellar data. It's a big federated archive exposed through a web service API. They want to do something similar with PubMed and the NIH.

World-Wide Media Exchange (wwmx.org). Geo-coded images. Travel data and photos. TerraServer and MapPoint integration.

Wallop. Social computing + email/sms + blogs and so on. Interesting stuff, but complicated.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:26 AM

Peter Norvig (Google), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Statistical machine translation. Looking at text in one language and using the information in another. You need to grok syntax and semantics of both, a big dictionary, etc. Google has access to lots of CPU and lots of text, so they took a statistical approach using world pairs, phrases, etc.

Example of a news story translated from Arabic to English.

Named entity extraction (people, companies, products, etc). Lots of relationships to find in the text they've got. They started with simple patterns in "easy" sentences. If text such "such as" they're using it. It helps them extract facts like "HP is a computer manufacturer."

Word clusters is next. They build a bayesian network of words and word clusters.

On-line demo time. Interactive use of word clusters. Using "george bush" and "john kerry". Amusing results. "That's what the web says."

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:13 AM

The Telephone is a Platform, a Panel at Web 2.0

Panel led by Om Malik and includes Jeffrey A. Citron (Vonage), Hossein Eslambolchi (CTO of AT&T), Charlie E. Hoffman (CEO of Covad), and Mike McCue (former Netscape, now at TellMe networks).

VOIP price war (AT&T vs. Vonage).

[Jeffrey] Vonage used to have three plans but customers didn't like that. Locality and distance was irrelevant. So they simplified it so that you either buy minutes (low volume) or unlimited. They had planned to do this anyway but bumped up the announcement when AT&T did. Voice is a commodity, yeah. But the other services are not. Portability, add on services, and so on--they're worth paying for.

[Hossein] ATT thinks competition is helping because it'll weed out companies that aren't making money. There's a fallacy that VOIP is a small market. He thinks about SOIP (Services over IP). PSTN was mostly about dumb phones. The switch did the work. But in the new world, that's not the case at all. And there's a lot of integration to come.

What about small and medium businesses?

[Charlie] Broadband is getting cheaper, both DSL and even T1 lines. In the small business world is where Covad does a ton of business. In the 5-250 phone installs, AT&T and Vonage aren't there. Those customers have varying needs. Some need monitoring, some needs lots of 800 lines, etc. But they like dealing with a single company for all of it.

What are the new applications we're going to see?

[Mike] 2.5 billion people have phones. They're essential, unlike PCs. The stuff people do on phones today has migrated from the PC (getting bits of information, contacts, etc). On phones we need a universal application language like we have on the Web. What is "HTML for the phone"? VoiceXML + VOIP is the combo he sees winning. Voicemail is a killer app. 411 and 1-800 numbers are killer apps. By opening up this platform, we'll have a flood of great applications.

(I just spaced out while the suits spoke many words and said very little. Ugh. Anyone got a good telephony buzzword drinking game?)

Layers. Spaces. Customer experience. Markets. Platforms. Migration. This Service. That Service. Mediation. Application Gateway. XML Infrastructure. Services. Core Competencies. Linux. Key Components. Global Network. Key Components. N to N. N Squared Model. Integrating Components. Chip Layer. N Squared Calculation.

AT&T debate going on now. Network this, endpoints that, value of network, endpoint math, blah, blah, blah. 4G wireless coming in 2006?

I hope this session ends soon. People look bored.

ADSL2, how's that affect things? Greater speed and reach. The last mile solution goes farther. (Yeay!) It combines voice and data on the same hardware in the CO and makes it cheaper.

Marc Canter wants VOIP interop. Audience applauds.

What if AT&T opened their billing system to developers who want to charge for VOIP and service apps they want to build?

"[AT&T] If it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features." :-)

Some 911 discussion.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:15 AM

Dale Dougherty (O'Reilly), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Dale develops the Hacks series of books and wants to talk about Make Magazine and Safari U.

Safari U let's professors hack or remix textbooks. He's showing us a demo of how to build a book (about Web 2.0 in this case). O'Reilly doesn't sell textbooks (normally), but this is a way to come in through the side door.

The book Hardware Hacking for Geeks showed them that hacking wasn't limited to software. People who work with their hands inspired Make magazine. It's a "Martha Stewart for Geeks" (heh).

Dale found old Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines and found a spirit that's not in today's magazines. make.oreilly.com is the site and the magazine will be published quarterly.

Kites as a platform for photography, for example.

There will be a way for hackers to comment on the projects featured in Make, using a sort of blog/wiki system. Photo annotations too. They will open source some of the software for this too.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:29 AM

Mitch Kapor, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Mitch is talking about how technology can help hear our broken political system. The system works well for some of us, but not everyone else.

Is self-government even meaningful anymore? Is it really of, by, and for the people these days? There are 13 registered lobbyists per elected official. So who's buying the politicians? Companies looking to game the system rather than really competing in the markets.

Big agriculture give $60 million and gets $12 billion in subsidies every year. That's a 200:1 return. These guys are like VCs. But they're not innovating or competing.

Bad business isn't the only problem, of course. But things are really out of control. Power is supposed to be in check among the three branches as well as state and local government. The problem is that Americans are dropping out of the system. Voter turnout has been down since 1955. And it's even worse at the local level.

People are just fed up and walking away. It can't survive this way forever. It's very broken.

The role of technology comes in here--both in fixing and breaking things. Broadcast media has been part of the problem. But the Internet has the potential to turn things around. Look at the Howard Dean campaign and the community it channeled on-line.

What lessons can we learn from Open Source? Centralization is not required for large projects. The best projects are based on practices that integrate tools and principles. Wikipedia is a great example of this. It's useful and stable even though every page is editable by anyone with access. The Wikipedia's neutral point of view principle helps to make this work--and some of it is enforced in software.

Transparency: source code, bugs (bugzilla), design notes, etc. This is essential for self-government. But the final draft of the Patriot act was introduced at the time of vote. (WTF?!) There are no transcripts of lobbyist meetings with officials.

Bloggers are helping to open things up--at least the discussions. They're challenging "facts" thrown about in the press.

The political establishment of neither party is going to fix this. It's gotta come from the people--a broad section of people.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:17 AM

Cory Doctorow (EFF), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Tech companies need to understand that easy copying of media on-line is not a bug to be fixed. It's a property of the Internet. They're convincing the world that this is a problem, and we need to fix that.

History of copyright. It all started with the piano roll. The only business model that the "music industry" knew were concerts. But then came radio. People fought that too. Cable operators did the same thing with broadcast TV. And they fought the broadcasters too. Sony and the VCR had the same problem. But Sony fought back.

Today things have changed. Intel is selling us out on digital TV, saying the Hollywood must approve all new applications run over digital TV. Now there's a push to make all analog to digital converters respect watermarks.

Upcoming copy protection meeting in LA before CES. DRM for digital TV under discussion/design, and it's pretty nasty stuff.

At the UN's WIPO, they're considering making copyright on proprietary databases of otherwise common information--facts. Upcoming broadcast rules will make even non-copyrighted works "protected" when broadcasted. And there will be a 50 year old statue.

What if that applied to the web? Search engines copy everything they see. Scrapers, comparison shopping, mailing lists, and so on. The so-called Broadcasting "Treaty" will cover the Web too. Email cory@eff.org to get your name on the EFF document opposing this.

Outsource your policy work to the EFF. Most startups don't have time to deal with it, so use the EFF. Otherwise the new laws may make your business impossible.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:05 AM

October 06, 2004

A Conversation With Marc Benioff at Web 2.0

Marc is the CEO of SalesForce.com.

The quiet period was "interesting" but the IPO went quite well. They announced customer and subscriber numbers. Over 185,000 subscribers and 12,000 customers.

He thinks the SEC needs to be changed. But he's unwilling to provide any concrete advice.

The process of coming up with recommendations for the government (he's the co-chair of a government committee on technology) is apparently very interesting work. There are a lot of smart folks on the committee and there's a ton of stuff on the horizon. Security, for one, is a big deal.

(Editorial note: What's this stuff have to do with Web 2.0 anyway?)

They're talking about ego jousting now.

Ah, they're back on track and talking about web services and software as a service. Marc says it's a massive opportunity. Really, really big. It's like the client/server revolution but even better.

They're still very, very early on the technology adoption curve. That means most folks in IT don't get this stuff yet. Not even close.

There's a lot of preaching to the choir going on here.

Marc is giving a platform overview now.

Can Salesforcce.com benefit like Amazon.com from web services? Too early to tell.

More preaching about how this is the future.

Jason Freed is asking about CRM for small businesses.

He thinks that small businesses can use their stuff too. And that competition is necessary in this market.

John notes that BoingBoing has twice the readership of The Standard with only four people.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:02 PM

Search as a Platform, Where is it Going: a Web 2.0 Panel

John is running a search panel with Steve Berkowitz, Udi Manber, Louis Monier, Christopher Payne, and Jeff Weiner. Google was a no-show.

Q: Search has gone (in the last few weeks) from a few search terms in a CLI style interface to something much more complicated. When will search become more of a conversation?

A: Udi often makes an analogy to music. If music had been invented when the web was, we'd all be playing one string instruments. We need evolution and skills and learning on the web yet. It'll take time. Need more powerful tools--and they're coming.

A: Other types of searching will require a more complex experience, BUT you can't train users. You need better tools.

Q: Ask, Snap, and A9 are all paying attention to search history. That's a longer conversation with the user. What have you learned?

A: It's too soon to tell, but Udi finds it very useful. It helps his memory.

A: Newsbot (MSN) does implicit personalization (recommendations).

Q: Search is big because it's the big money maker--it "saved the Internet's bacon" so to speak. Is that it for the business model? What's next?

A: The success of search is the ability to answer questions. We need to go after under-served markets--like local. If you do and do it well, the advertisers will come.

A: Jeff says that coverage is increasing, people are searching more intensely, more merchants are coming on-line, ad matching is getting better, and so on. Look at local, it's a $100 billion market. And 0.4% of it is on-line. As people shift their behavior, we'll take advantage of that. Broadband keeps computers on-line and that helps to power the change. But we need to help the merchants on-line and create better technology.

Q: When's Yahoo gonna monetize RSS?

A: No specific date, but we're going there.

A: Sponsored matches don't annoy the users and that's a big lesson to learn.

Q: What do you think of blogs and RSS? Good, bad, etc?

A: Jeff [Yahoo] thinks it's great. It's instant feedback. Beta launches get us feedback via blogs. And bloggers get this stuff.

Q: Can that be part of a ranking algorithm?

A: You have to learn from that. It's about authority. The hubs and authorities matter. The feedback loop is very important and search is helping that.

Q: There's a theory that really really good search would make eBay go away.

A: [From eBay] No. People come to eBay from search engines but there a lot of other ways and many reasons they go to eBay. But eBay provides feedback, resolution, trust, payment, etc.

Q: But search engines are becoming eCommerce sites.

A: eBay has a big community and many developers and it's fast. They're already very Web 2.0. There's more to it than just traffic.

Q: Google is getting into books (Google print just announced). Why did Amazon start a search engine?

A: [Udi] Search is important technology. He searches MedLine for medical info, not A9.

Q: [To everyone] What's the next hard problem in search that you want to fix and are working on?

A: [From Microsoft] Desktop search. Information is siloed. That stuff is harder to find than what's on the web. LookOut is a good example of working on that. Corporate intranets, inside books, etc. Personalization is hard too.

A: Udi wants context and searching your own information. There's context to everything. "Where's the beach?" is something we can't answer today. Need to know more about the user.

A: We need to get that 85% of the data that we don't reach yet, including desktop search. Structured databases aren't often indexed on the web. Open it up.

A: Jeff says context, desktop, etc. But we think about it based on the user's intention and helping them complete tasks. Intention matters a lot. Users search for a reason--they want to do something. But we need implicit personalization, collaborative filtering, and so on. Tivo is a big, live personalization lab for explicit stuff. Vertical searches (click the tab) is a good signal to intent. But the UI is going to need a lot of work. How do users interact with all this stuff that'll be searchable?

A: eBay has been hearing about personalization for a long time and thinks it's very hard (or we'd have it already). Something simple we need to do is guide the user in a search dialog.

Q: Snap tries to do some of that. Have you guys seen it? What do you think?

A: [Microsoft] I think it has a lot of great ideas and shows some new things we can do with the UI and behavior information.

Q: Google has kept their UI. Can that stand?

A: [Udi] Google needs to adjust and expand.

Q: Search has a cultural element. You can dig up dirt on anyone. Job background checks, etc. Your life is altered by this. Do you think about that?

A: Jeff [Yahoo] says you have to think about all the users, advertisers, and all the audiences. You need compassion for these folks. When this stuff becomes global, what's that mean?

A: Responsibility goes with this.

Audience Questions

Q: Esther asks about health care. Having your medical record factored into it would be great, but there's a bit privacy issue. What do you think about this? Getting records on-line.

A: Not sure if that stuff should be on-line. It's a very complex subject. Look at how long it took to get people to do credit cards on-line?

A: [Udi] on the flip-side, you can sometimes discern health trends by looking at search logs.

Q: Andy Beal asks about relevancy changes. How do we get beyond just using link strength?

A: Jeff [Yahoo] says looking at user satisfaction and time spent. We also need to look at something like playlists. PageRank is a self-fulfilling popularity contest. You need to tap individual authorities and see what they think is right.

A: The web is a big social network, so authority is important. But when you factor in personal preferences, it gets really good. But it's gonna take a lot of time.

Q: Bob Wyman asks says... We've been talking about searching the past. But what about searching in the future. Alerts. Saved searches and such.

A: Udi says that A9 has a "discover" feature that takes your history and compares it with others to suggest interesting new sites to you.

A: Jeff says that we have to capture real-time data better--conversations, whiteboard diagrams, etc.

Q: Scott Rafer [Feedster] is glad to hear about folks using the Blogsphere for feedback. How do you search the blogs?

A: Jeff says we use internal tools and the public search RSS engines.

A: Microsoft brought people in person.

Q: [From Canada] Since it's pointless to train users, why are we building more complex interfaces.

A: [eBay] clarifying that we need dialog and more query analysis smarts, not trying to teach the users how to search.

A: We need the user's intent. We need more info.

John notes that less than 1% of users use the advanced search features.

Q: On PPC advertising. Does personalization mess up PPC or complicate it?

A: Jeff says it's in beta, but since we own both the search and the ad engines, we can figure that stuff out while testing it. We can talk to the advertisers and the users both.

Q: Is this going to change TV?

Various answers. Time is up.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:26 PM

Geolocation: The Killer Map, a Panel at Web 2.0

The panel is led by Tim O'Reilly and features John Betz, Perry Evans, Kim Fennell, and John Hanke.

Tim is using the break time to talk about things necessary to build an Internet operating system. Location stuff. How should MapQuest, for example, get into this? It was a killer app but it's just one of many sites offering those services. It's not a winner take all thing like Amazon.com. Tim thinks that's because of there being no user generated content.

Keyhole.com demo going on. Very cool shit. Amazingly good high resolution data and a UI to control wandering through it. Traditional mapping data (and geo data) is overlaid on it. They have 10TB of data and are headed toward a 100TB model of the earth.

They've added user authored data to the mix too! Very cool. Users posts about location show up on the map. I must play with that later.

Tim has asked the presenters to introduce themselves and discuss what their businesses do, to illustrate the landscape.

Micorsoft MapPoint provides a web service.

Many web sites using IP based location services to lock their users out of content and services.

(Editorial note. This panel is not holding my attention very well. I'm not sure why.)

Tim thinks services need to figure out how to get user contributed data. MapQuest had TripNotes but AOL took it off.

Systems need more feedback loops now that we have location enabled devices like cell phone gps and triangulation. Need aggregation, tagging, and relevance for new services to work well.

Innovation in Google's and Yahoo's local services? Yes and no. There's a lot incremental stuff happening. Lots of local ad dollars. The next step beyond this is not just advertising--it's finding this stuff on the fly. That means the content providers and carries need to get together.

Cell phone triangulation. Is it being done as a web service and with standardized data? Microsoft with Bell Canada and Sprint to do some of this. GPS is part of the CDMA chipset, so there are millions of GPS devices out there.

Need permissions on location reporting too. Should apps be more aware of locations? How does that happen? Internet developers haven't really had to worry about the "where and when" of things.

Audience Questions

Q: Cameras that location stamp photos?

A: Yes, but don't know model.

Q: Going beyond street addresses, like stores in a mall?

A: Yes, we need to go deeper into this.

Q: VOIP phones and GPS? Does that solve 911?

A: Sidetracked a bit. But not every device will have GPS. Tim thinks they will.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:05 PM

Music as a Platform, a Panel at Web 2.0

The panel is moderated by Hank Barry and includes Mike Caren, Eddy Cue, Danger Mouse, and Michael Weiss.

The Induce Act is really bad. Call and complain.

Music Publishing is taking off. Virtual instruments are for sale--they're just software. Lots of music software. Listener supported Internet radio. DCI.org.

Q: [To Mike] How does the Internet affect your job?

A: His job is to find new music and talent. The Internet is part of everything he does. He finds music using scouts, talking to kids, reading blogs, web sites, independent radion, and all sorts of stuff. 90% of their recording is direct into the computer these days. The recording pieces can be created in different location and quickly shared. The Internet is a good leading indicator--mentions Launch.com. Can't think of an Internet specific artist.

A: Alex (of iTunes) says that radio stations are watching the iTunes charts. Self-publishing into iTunes happens with some artists.

Q: [To DM] How'd the Grey Album come about?

A: Was doing a lot of mixing of music, it was really just a fun hobby. People really liked it. So it was a natural thing to get into.

Q: Would you do it again?

A: Sure, I was broke anyway. :-) He was able to show his parents his talent with it--that it's not just screwing around.

Q: How'd you do it?

A: On a program called Acid (a Sony product). He still uses it and loves it--even bought a copy.

Q: [To Mike] NeoNet?

A: The copyright folks will hate it. It's peer to peer search technology. Finds every file in 3 hops or less.

Q: Why should we care what Ballmer said about iPods and stolen music?

A: Alex says they've build a tool that gives users what they want while providing music publishers what they need. But the real infrastructure (business models?) at the record labels needs to change.

Q: On-line music sales changing in the future?

A: Alex thinks so. Remember the big jump to CDs? The same will happen with on-line music. We need to make it easier for users to find the music they can buy. Need better search and easy purchasing.

Q: How do you find new music?

A: Alex is a fan. Lots of reading and looking around. Looks at radio station play lists, blogs, DJs, all sorts of stuff.

A: Danger find a lot via word of mouth.

A: Kids today find music through peer to peer and that creates sales for artists.

Audience Questions

Q: The cost of producing CDs has gone down but the price has not--they're still expensive. Why not charge $3 per CD?

A: In the latest issue of Wired there's some good info on this. The cheap stuff you see in the stores is a loss leader. The big box stores pay wholesale costs of $7-$10 to the labels. They're expensive because of the way the market works. MTV promotion, sell a ton of units fast, etc.

The Morpheus guy says, "if you could just work with us instead of suing us..." Applause follows. :-)

Q: Will we ever get a subscription service with an all you can eat model instead of per-track downloads?

A: iTunes was the first try at doing this. Others will likely try other things, but this is how it works today. Accounting to artists is hard without paying per track. Apple isn't selling, they're licensing. Re-doing all the artist contracts would be very hard.

Q: JD asks Danger Mouse about remix culture. People today expect to be able to do this with video, movies, music, etc. But copyright law gets in the way. What's going to happen? How do we fix this?

A: Lots of underground bands and musicians. There's a different perception about them--they need a label to combat perceptions. But creativity is good and it's best if this not get in the way. You never know what'll happen and when it'll really matter.

Q: Wouldn't cutting prices help sales? Lots of evidence says it would. Real did it.

A: Long-winded answer from the iTunes guy that boils down to "it's complicated."

Q: Cory wants to know how we're going to fix this shit--millions of americans who are now criminals. How does what's going on now solve the big problem?

A: Danger says it's really unfortunate that artists are selling themselves to The Man. It's catching up with us but will have to end eventually. "Stealing" music is different than stealing cars. It might be a slow but hopefully accelerating process--there's a lot at stake on both ends.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:19 PM

Lessons Learned, Future Predicted at Web 2.0

John is leading a panel of Marc Andreessen (of Netscape fame, then Loudcloud/Opsware), Dan Rosensweig (Yahoo's COO, previously at ZDNet and CNet).

Wow, Marc looks much older now.

Q: Are we going to make the same mistakes again?

A: Dan says there were a lot mistakes in a short period of time--very compressed. It wasn't people being stupid as much as it was greed and crazyness. But a lot got done during those times.

A: Marc says we'll keep making the same mistakes as well as some new ones. We're in a great environment where we can get away with mistakes.

Q: Yahoo has a browser (w/SBC). What's the future of the browser?

A: Marc says we're going to see some very interesting things in the next few years. Microsoft got its browser monopoly but didn't really use it that much. He thinks it will happens someday.

Q: Where's this going [the browser]?

A: Marc says browser innovation stopped in 1998 for the most part. But Firefox may be changing that. That'll get Microsoft's attention and maybe they'll start screwing with others.

A: Dan says he hopes Marc doesn't point Microsoft at this idea. :-) But Yahoo doesn't want to cage people up. My Yahoo uses RSS for that reason. The more open it [feels?], the more people use it.

Q: Does Yahoo need client software?

In some areas it can help: messenger, music, etc. Some things you just can't do on the Web easily. But they need to be connected to each others.

Q: Is Yahoo getting into the browser business?

A: Dan says we already have one!

Q: Owning data is one of the new lock-ins. Is this happening a lot on the Internet?

A: Marc, yes. Walled gardens vs. an open platform is where we came from. Open source has helped at the code and protocol level. The new game is locking in user data. eBay envy. Network effects. Your eBay reputation isn't portable. It's carefully owned. Plantation owner model.

A: Dan says we have in excess of 150 million registered users. Data is essential in this market. My Yahoo is about moving into the new world of "my media" and seeing what I want published to me. The walled garden of data lockup leaves companies vulerable. When the data is unlocked, businesses fall apart. On-line travel could unravel, for example. It's the application of data that's the weapon.

Q: Where do you see the Yahoo API suite?

A: Dan says it's going to happen but you cannot do it overnight. It's far from perfect, but we're moving that way.

A: Marc says it's just amazing when you look at the things you can't do. No portable recommendations, search history, profile, and so on. It's a strong lock-in!

Q: What about small companies doing this?

A: Marc says that deli.cio.us is a good example of this. You can get at most of the data, unlike most of the large Internet companies.

Q: Consumer habits. Don't want to assume that consumers will change their habits for you. Is that still true? Will people change their habits?

A: Dan says that people do change their habits. Look at search. Better products win. There are a lot of valuable services popping up on the web that get people do change. (Like what?)

A: Marc says look at cell phones. The latest cool phone is always from a different company. There's no real lock-in. No brand loyalty. Just like when search flipped a few years back. Switching costs are low, and communication about the new cool thing is easy and fast.

Q: Music business?

A: Marc, yeah. MP3s, for example, used to be hard. But lots of people jumped on it--even breaking the law when necessary.

A: Dan says we're living in a world where it's too easy to change, so people do. There's little loyalty in the younger generation. So you need to keep innovating. MusicMatch is a good example. 50 million users are already there. The barriers that Marc faced are not here today. Yahoo wants to leverage technology and experience (meaning user experience).

Q: The NetOS idea is back. What do you make of the WebOS meme?

A: Marc thinks it is fascinating. Google is being "led by the nose into a battle with Microsoft." He's seen this before! Everybody loves the fight. Sun tries to fight Microsoft but gets beat up by Linux instead. AOL and Microsoft never really competed. Not sure where the next battle will be. Google vs. Microsoft will be interesting.

A: Dan asks what users want. Better companies will serve the users better than others. We want to be relevant and matter, so we need to focus on users. Don't worry about the echo chamber and picking fights. And think about the long term value for users--the stock will reflect that over the long term.

Q: Will a Web-based OS create value for users?

A: Dan says it's entirely possible, yes.

A: Marc thinks so too. Big opportunity. But look at how MusicMatch and the iPod can't talk. Or you don't have portable playlists.

Q: Where would you build your next company?

A: Marc thinks Dan would start a blog.

A: Dan thinks blogs are great and with the My Media thing, he wants people to have what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and to be able to tell people about it. People won't be married to a particular device but the content that the device provides.

A: Marc sees three big levers. The number of users (broadband, mobile, etc). Costs are going way down for building web business are way lower now. People are cheaper too, given international markets. Advertising actually works now, and so do paid services and content. Very optimistic. You just don't need a big investment to start a big new service. People may not need VC anymore.

A: Dan says it's stable too. Advertising is growing. It's not the old days, it's a diverse advertising base that's supporting this.

Q: Steve Gillmor asked Dan if he'd commit to an open standard for attention metadata.A: Dan won't commit to anything today. Users can re-create whatever they want wherever they want (other services). We're still figuring this out. It takes time.

Q: FOAF and data interchange? (Marc Canter)

A: Marc says it's not money. Open standards are what we need. Many implementations that interoperate. But you can't convince companies to support it without user demand. AOL, for example, wouldn't let AIM and ICQ talk! This is a big deal for many businesses.

Q: Chris from Topix.net asks about Overture and RSS advertising. Is Overture working on that?

A: Dan clarifies the question. And says yes, we're going to do that. Yahoo is in the advertising business and in the business of creating incremental content value.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:31 PM

Mary Meeker, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

China is what she wants to talk about.

China was 4% of global GDP in 2003. But they get the Internet. China has 57 million Internet users, that's the 2nd highest in the world. South Korea has 70% broadband penetration. 236 million games on Shanda...

She's talking too fast for me to write it all!

Tons of data pointing at Internet services already big and growing in China. Interestingly, most are US companies (Yahoo, eBay, Google). 70% of Chinese users are younger than 30 years old.

Wireless messaging is already big there--207 million phones. 200 billion messages in 2003.

China needs help in eCommerce for many reasons. And China doesn't breed many great Internet companies yet. But there are folks there now who get it.

Damn, she has an assload of data.

Labor surplus in China. Mary thinks it's like the mid-1990s in the US was. This stuff will make life better in China ultimately.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:17 PM

James Currier (Tickle), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

James is going to talk about what people actually do on-line.

Tickle has self-assessment tests, matchmarking, social networking. Over 200 million tests taken so far (wow!).

5 Insights into Consumer Psychology.

  1. It's all about me. People are interested in themselves. (Heh, like bloggers?) Traditional media is about others--stars, but the web can be about me. Consumers expect personal attention.
  2. Sex and work. Work and sex. These are the two things that matter.
  3. Your minds are different than your consumers' minds. Us: power, technology, knowledge, code, gadgets, work, money, sex. Consumers: puppies, babbies, god, nascar, clebrities, money (less), sex.
  4. Psychology changes over time. People now buy on-line and post pictures of themselves. Personal info is going on-line. Match.com really took off in 2001 but was mostly flat-lined before that. Know where you are in the adoption curve.
  5. Understanding and mapping out consumer's motivations. Ages: 25 male "competition", 35 male/female "understanding", 51 female "affirmation". Change marketing to match, get more sales, customers, etc.

Tickle is part of Monster now. So what's that mean? He claims that matchmaking companies aren't making money anymore. (Hmm.) Web 1.0 was about walled gardens. Web 2.0 is about roaming in the wild. So they're building "web bars" for their service. People will build apps on this.

Qualty conversation needed. Email doesn't cut it anymore. RSS, downloads, other stuff.

Deeper matching using psychological measures (from the tests). Fix the job hunting process and the employee/company matching. Saves money.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:05 PM

Dave Sifry (Technorati), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Lots of people already know who Technorati is (show of hands). The track what's happening on the web Right Now, mostly weblogs. 4.1 million bloggers tracked. Seven minute turn-around from post to seeing it in Technorati.

They see the web as not the world's biggest library, but a piece of the social fabric of our lives. Weblogs are the exhaust of a person's attention stream over time. (Heh. A brain fart?) But you can see things on a micro (one person) and macro (many) level. They use authority (a PageRank like system to see who links to who) to rank. This is influence. It has nothing to do with truth.

The timing of links is important. You can figure out who really gets the new first. Who are the topic experts?

Weblogs are growing like mad. Doubling in size every 5 months or so. English is no longer 50% of blogs. A new weblog every 7.4 seconds (12,000 per day).

Looking at posts/day across all weblogs, you can see major news events as spikes in volume, such as the Nick Berg beheading. Today we see 400,000 posts/day or ~4/second. The Krptonite Lock story was big too. Bloggers beat the mainstream media by 5 days. The company had no idea until the mainstream got it.

Weblogs vs. Big Media chart. A lot of bloggers are getting similar attention and influence.

The rise of the corporate weblog. Sun, Microsoft, blog software companies, etc. 5,000 exec and corporate bloggers today. That's not many --yet. PR is shifting at these companies in a big, big way.

RSS adoption is low in the blogging world--31.2% of all blogs have RSS feeds. Full-text feeds are even less popular. Only 28.2% of RSS feeds are full-text.

Influencers produce RSS. RSS gives people more ways to pay attention to you!

What's coming? Make it easier for readers, developers, etc. APIs goodness. Technorati and SocialText Wiki integration. Hackathon tonight.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:52 AM

The Mobile Platform, a Web 2.0 Panel Discussion

The panel is led by Rael Dornfest and members are Russell Beattie, Jory Bell, Juha Christensen, and Trip Hawkins.

Rael introduces why mobile is important and how the Mobile Web is different than the traditional web.

Q: Is mobile a new platform? How should businesses be thinking about it?

A: The mobile web experience will be more fragmented compared to the PC. There are more browsers on phones than on computers. Much more diverse selection of applications, not just phone-based browsers.

Q: Intesting content?

A: Ring tones are obvious. But the vertical content will be killer. So there's not a killer application. But for specific segments, there are killer apps--like mobile e-mail on the Blackberry--always connected. This stuff is coming down from the enterprise to the consumer level. Everyone is carrying a little computer--a little connected computer.

Q: The unconnected PDAs are dying off. Where's this stuff headed?

A: Two devices: phone and computer. Which functionality goes where? Things like iPods will morph into one of those. The majority of Internet data is in "web form" today. That's important. Russ uses his phone for nearly everything with his Edge capable phone.

Q: Getting to the carriers?

A: Carriers are still dominated by voice thinking. But the mobile phone is turning into a social computer. (That seems like a very important observation to me.) Mobile phones are connections in the modern village.

Q: User interface changes needed?

A: Yeah, we need changes. It's hard to change simple settings and too easy to do the wrong thing. Usability and navigation are still a problem. Plastic skins change the physical UI. Battle between the UI the carriers want vs. what the phone maker wants. Flash UI provisioning is coming--let's the user decide. This stuff needs to be iPod easy. SMS is popular because it's Google easy (one input box, one button).

Interesting discussion of phone vs. really small PC going on. But will one form factor really rule them all? No, not really. It depends on the user's needs. Many carry a Blackberry and a cell phone.

Can you keep the same data on your PC and your phone? That's a worthy goal. Dodgeball for SMS is a great little app that completely changes how Soccer Mom's use cell phones.

Mobile phone customers are paying and may be willing to pay for other services. There's a credit card on file, so that makes it easier.

Large volume of camera phone output--that proves how users will figure out things they really want to use.

Traffic info is a great app for mobile phones. The "smart dust" info out there makes this doable.

Audience Questions

Q: Do apps funnel thru carriers or will be from outside sources?

A: It's hard because most users just think of their phones as phones. Pre-set buttons make discovery easier, but it's going to take time for people to go from a carrier-centric model to finding what they want, wherever it is. Carries are aggregation points that can handle billing. That makes it easier for developers who don't want to deal with it.

Q: Podcasting is the new radio. So does massive storage on these devices and broadband change things in terms of getting entertainment?

A: Russ has 512MB on his his phone and uses it to listen to streaming media already. UMTS is 200kbit/sec to your phone. Why store it when you can stream it? Phone sales vs. iPod sales, no comparison.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:36 AM

Sponsor Highlights at Web 2.0

John is telling brief stories about each companies.

Akamai. They're moving into the distributed computing world.

AT&T. They know where they're at in the world. John really likes their VOIP services.

Business.com. They were into vertical search early on in the Web 1.0 days. The survived the bubble.

Laszlo. They want the web to be an application delivery platform, not just content. They're open sourcing their stuff too (kick ass!).

Morpheus. It's legal in the courts. They won. New peer to peer technology announced.

Overture. Bill Gross's Goto.com is now all about on-line advertising.

Rojo. They're no longer secret. They've got an aggregator with extra sauce built-in.

Schematic. They do user interface design. They're buying drinks this afternoon. (Woohoo!)

Sxip. Dick Hardt's new compnay for on-line identity management. It's cheap and open.

Yahoo. We all know Yahoo, right?

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:12 AM

Is This a Bubble Yet, a Web 2.0 Panel Discussion

On the panel are Lanny Baker, William H. Janeway, Safa Rashtchy, Danny Rimer. John Battelle is moderating.

Q: Did the Google IPO get you guys excited?

A: It was remarkable to see the execution. It impacted the valuation and was a good opportunity for investors. Big investors wanted to know more about then auction model than the business model. Then they started asking about the lock-ups rather than the business numbers. The panel thinks the current valuation is reasonable and will increase nicely over time.

Q: Did this open the VC/IPO flood gates?

A: Google didn't need the money. The created money for their stakeholders. The next company that comes along with that kind of cash flow won't have a problem. This is not a bubble. Companies are making money, not going IPO on hopes and dreams without a business. We're not anywhere near a bubble. It all comes down to having a good business. And we're still in the early days.

Q: Is the eyeball metric coming back?

A: It's coming back in a big way because of search. Search traffic is directly related to revenue. That's different than random page views. But eyeballs aren't everything. User-created content is changing things, including the advertising models.

Q: What do you look for in new companies?

A: Look for businesses and services that pull the necessary data together to trigger transactions. Skype is "the fastest growing application on the Internet." Some big numbers just thrown out. 7% of Poland uses Skype. MySQL is another example company--charging 1/10th of the normal price for a database. Yahoo buying os MusicMatch is recognizing that music is a "pillar of activity", which I belive. Web 3.0 may be all about advertising. Web 2.0 is making money from services.

The bubble helped to overbuild the network (yeay!). We also funded lots of productive waste (trial and error, darwin style). Tons of lessons game out of that.

Q: Lots of small companies get to a certain size and then get bought by Yahoo, Google, Cisco, etc. Is that ecosystem taking way from IPOs?

A: Yes, things are changing now. For big companies, it's often easier to buy than build. So all these new little companies are helping to fuel some of the current growth and innovation. We have lots of scarred veterans from the bubble that now know what they're doing and get getting back into the game.

Q: How's it going being an analyst?

A: Lots of amusing disclaimers. ;-)

Q: So how's the job different?

A: Analysts are hand-tied. It's hard to get involved and start the process of getting money to folks who need it. But there's more time for fundamental research now too--and that's a Good Thing. People are far more sensitive to conflicts of interest.

Audience Questions

Q: [Marc Canter] Many folks who build great companies retired. The folks under them understand what it takes now. Is this really building the foundation we want?

A: Living through that sort of stress really does help. There is a pool of talent and experience out there as a result. And some of them want to do it again. Brief discussion of what it's like in Europe and other countries.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:03 AM

Andrew Conru (Friend Finder), High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Andrew is telling us how get got into this business and what we can learn from the adult industry. FriendFinder.com has 89 million users, 180 employees, etc.

Users began to upload more "interesting" photos, so they started AdultFriendFinder.com. They've branched out into intls, religious groups, etc. Users log a lot of time on their sites. They're close to Google based on those figures.

Adult sites know about making money TODAY. They're always looking for good conversion rates. Lots of cross-promotion.

Tricks they use: clients, toolbars, popups, spam, spyware, adware, affiliate marketing programs, etc. A Collaborative Traffic Network let's them track clicks across many sites. They really know their sales funnel and how to reduce charge backs from the credit card companies. They optimize the hell out of this stuff.

Rich media, live and streaming, etc. Why are they so innovative? Large number of publishers, so there's A LOT of contribution. Big tail. The traffic source controls the advertising, not the advertisers. There's a ton of money in this. $445 million spent in 2003 for adult content on-line. But margins are getting tighter--there's lots of content and hard to differentiate. Search engines make it easier to compete on pricing.

The industry is evolving. Registration and personalization (longer term view). Reducing entry/exit pop-ups. Using softer pitches and create a better user experience.

Over-optimization in the short term is a danger, so think long term.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:30 AM

Brewster Kahle, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Brewster (of the Internet Arcive) is telling us that universal access to all knowledge is possible. And that's what he's trying to do.

26 million books in the Library of Congress. Half are out of copyright. A book is about a megabyte. That's 26TB of data, which costs $60,000 to store today. Google announced this morning that they're digitizing in-print material and out-of-print material soon. It costs about $10/book to do scanning. That's $260 million to get the whole thing.

Copyright is an issue that we need to figure out. Especially orphaned stuff--out of print but still in copyright. It's about 8 million books that we can't digitize them. Lawsuit: Kahle vs. Ashcroft. (Heh)

Do we want to read books on screen? For $1/book, you can print and bind a black and white book. Lending from the library is supposedly $2, so it's cheaper to just give the books away!

Audio. 2-3 million discs exist. 700 bands, 1,600 concerts, lots of taped stuff that bands let you trade. It's a community. 200,000 different songs. Lots of fringe stuff is well served by the Internet. Non-profit record labels working well but need hosting. So the Internet Archive will offer unlimited bandwidth and storage forever for free if you use a Creative Commons License. It shouldn't be a penalty to give things away--but it is on-line.

Classical music is one thing they need--a good collection.

Moving images (movies). 100,000 - 200,000 movies. About half are Indian (?!). 300 on-line now w/out copyright. This is also doable. There are even Lego movies.

TV. Recording 20 channels in DVD quality 24 hours a day. They have around 1 petabyte already.

Software. The DMCA let's them do that too.

Web. The Internet Archive is already well known. 20TB/month growth.

Over 1GB/sec of traffic. Multiple copies around the world.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:20 AM

Joe Kraus Demos the JotSpot Wiki, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Joe is doing a short demo of JotSpot, a new generation Wiki that makes it easier to add structured data to the system in addition to pulling in external data via RSS, Web Services, and so on. Very cool stuff. Their Wiki is easily scripted, so I can imagine using it to protoype loosely coupled web applications.

He's showing SalesForces.com integration via SOAP right now. Nice. He's pulling in Yahoo News RSS feeds for topics on his pages.

So it's a Wiki with structure that you can evolve into a full-blown application. This feels like Lotus Notes re-invented for the web or something.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:06 AM

October 05, 2004

John Doerr, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Invested in Google in 1999. John was criticized then but the bet payed off. Did he just get lucky or was he smart?

John says he's nuts. Giving money to Standford graduates drop-outs pays off.

On going public, the company didn't need cash, so it waited as long as possible. But they wanted to reward employees.

On the two classes of Google stock, John says that the company has already changed the way they work. He thinks that the process of going public went quite well. It raised a lot of money and the auction worked well. The price didn't fluctuate much, which is good. The quiet period sucked, of course. So the financial press was picking at them and they couldn't respond.

The adjustment of the price right before the IPO was a reflection of the price discovery built-in to the auction model. But it was also a reflection of a mis-calculation.

John is giving out disclaimers. This is amusing.

John can see using the auction model for other stuff. But he wants to change the topic. He won't say anything specific about the future of Google--just the obvious stuff. Global, deeper, more ads, personalization. Growth.

John is talking about String Theory now. If you apply it to the web, you can have parallel web. Huh?

The near web (pc), far web (television), here web (cell phones), the weird web (future stuff--intelligent interaction), the B2B web (web services), D2D web (device to device, rfid, smart dust, etc).

Some of John's current investments map into those categories. Friendster, Visible Path, Akimbo (far web), and TellMe (weird web). He won't discuss two others.

All new services will incorporate search.

Many of the Web 1.0 services are being reinvented.

Are Amazon and Google on a collision course? John thinks not. They're partners toady and there's room for lots of 'em. He can't imagine Google driving Yahoo or Microsoft out of business.

What's the next Big Thing? John says clean, distributed energy. Cleaner transportation. Biotech and personalized medicine (at the genetic level).

The hand web is going to be big. Ring tones, tracking, etc. The Internet backbone will speed up with optical switching--he's invested in that.

What about data that's not on the web yet? Sure, that's opportunity there.

Audience Questions

Q: Something about the Web and politics.

A: The policy is what matters. Pay attention to the bills.

Q: Examples of the B2B/XML/RSS companies? (Steve Gillmor)

A: Wiki companies.

Q: Just got back from China. What about companies in China or elsewhere. Investing in any?

A: Web 2.0 will come from global companies or US based companies.

Q: From the EFF, Cory asks about Chinese operation. What's the non-evil case for this?

A: John doesn't have the answer. Censorship in China (unlike Germany) is less about law and more about executive order.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:48 PM

Gian Fulgoni, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

He's gonna run thru a ton of data, so I'll see how much I can capture here...

Their data based on watching 2 million users via an opt-in service. (Available on ComScore.com)

Broadband growth and penetration is impressive. 160 million users on-line in the US. Broadband is close to 50% and growing fast. On-line spending should hit $148 billion in 2004. Broadband users spend more money than on dial-up (50% more). The more someone is on-line, the more they spend too.

People are spending money on big ticket items (home furniture, jewelry etc). Consumers are clearly comfortable spending on-line. Over $1 billion a year in paid content. Personals/dating is big too.

On-line banking is growing fast. People aren't as scared of security issues as much. On-line bill payment is on a similar trajectory.

Bandwidth consumption changes. P2P vs. applications vs. other. P2P is decreasing--it's about 20% vs. 50% of bandwidth a year ago.

34 searches/month is average. 4 billion per month in US. Three buckets of searchers: heavy, medium, light. 20% of searchers conduct 68% of searches. What happens when the medium and light folks ramp up? More spending. The searchers are the buyers. Brand share among these folks is interesting. Cost seems to be a key factor in surviving in this market.

The Internet is going to have a bigger and bigger influence on spending decisions, career/lifestyle, and so on.

Looking at intensity of browsing to forecast auto sales. There's a strong relationship. People who look at cars on-line buy cars. Intensity of visits to job sites is reflected in government employment figures (interesting!).

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:19 PM

Bill Gross Debuts Snap, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

Bill started Overture and is now working on something new via Idealab. He's interesting in Web search technology. But we've just seen the beginning. Search leads to the start of a journey. So they want to improve the post-search part of search.

They've got: user control, user feedback, and transparency.

Demo time!

Search engine called snap. It is, of course, in beta.

User Control

He runs a search. Results have extra columns you can use to re-order the search results. You can use CTR, conversion rate, cost to advertise, popularity, satisfaction, domain, and so on. (This is very, very interesting.) There's a real-time reduction of the results as you refine the query. And re-sort. (Damn!)

He did a search for "camera" and we got structured data back--like camera features. It's a built-in shopping/product finding system.

User Feedback

He searches for "Walmart". He gets feeds of ISP traffic data. He find that most of the time when folks search for Walmart, their next action is to go to Walmart's web site. That's popularity. But you can also see average page views. This stuff is hard to spam, since it's aggregate data of millions of users. (This is really f%*&ing cool!)

He searches for cars and gets another set of great results.


Expose how the system works. They'll add an API soon, but right now you can get all the data they have on the sites they know about. You can buy ads based on various metrics too--even transaction data. Stats abound, including Snap's revenue from the site. (Crazy, huh?)

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:05 PM

Jeff Bezos, High Order Bit at Web 2.0

It's Web 2.0 but it's still Day #1. Jeff is showing the first every Amazon.com home page (Web 0.0). Search was not on the home page. No personalization. Web 1.0 (today's Amazon) is very different. Customized, personalized, nine years of evolution. You can buy live lobster.

Web 2.0 is different. It's about AWS (Amazon Web Services). It's not on the web site for users to see. It's about making the internet useful for computers. More APIs coming. AWS 4.0 is out. Lots more data comes back now. This all helps them sell more products. You even get paid for using them!

In Beta is Alexa Web Services--get access to the web crawl. (Excellent!) So this means you can find out if Alexa things a site is slow or fast. Adult or not. Links in, links out. Related web sites (based on usage data).

Demo time: MusicPlasma.com from France. A completely visual interface to Amazon.com product data (relate albums, etc).

ScoutPal is a service that uses cell phone with bar code scanners to lookup info on books in real-time (like at a garage sale). "It's like hunting with radar." (Very cool looking.)

A9 is completely build on top of web services too. Web results via Google, Image results via Google, Book results via Amazon.com, Movies from IMDB, Reference info from GuruNet, and so on. Even the search history service. Web services used internally are even a win.

Tim asks when this "rip, mix, burn" model of building web apps starts to stomp on someone's business model. Jeff says you ought to be charging for some web services. They'll evolve and good business models will emerge. Tim says Amazon and eBay have a built-in model, so it's easy for them. Tim asks about exposing one-click as a web service. Jeff doesn't know.

Tim asks about Amazon being a change junky. They're far beyond being an ecommerce site. All the user invitation makes them different. What's the secret ingredient. Jeff says you need to find the unique aspects of your company's offerings--but you can't give 'em away for free. Find a way to charge. Inviting customers to participate is very important for Amazon. If it improves the customer experience, they want to do it.

Tim asks Jeff about using his fortune for space travel. He's definitely going into space. :-)

Someone from Wired is asking about the book scanning and search inside the book. What kind of data does Jeff want to make this stuff really go? Jeff talks about data that's hard to get to becuase (1) it's not in digital form or (2) it's very valuable and locked away. They solved #1 for many, many books. The second one is far harder to crack.

Someone from Macromdia asked about Amazon apps in Flash or with fat desktop clients. Amazon likes doing the desktop thing themselves. Others can add on via the APIs.

The guy who designed the effects for the Matrix trilogy is here, asking Jeff about on-line games and multi-player universe style games. Jeff thinks its coming. Sims is just the beginning.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:40 PM

Web 2.0 Welcome: State of the Internet Industry

John and Tim are on stage. It seems we have about 600 people signed up for the conference. Wow. (Power strips coming tomorrow.)

John: The "high order bit" sessions will be short, impactful, and likely have announcements. BoF dinners tomorrow night. Signup board outside the big room.

Tim: Big themes for the conference. The web is a development environment. Content and retail sites are now software components that you can call via APIs (official or otherwise). PC application stack was intel at the bottom, others in the middle, and Windows at the top. However, tody we have NetSol at the bottom, Open Source (Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc) in the middle, and the Big Guys at the top (Google, Mapquest, Amazon.com, etc). The lock-in at the top is via network effects. (I don't completely agree, but I know what Tim's saying.)

Letting your customers build your business: eBay, Google, Blogging (Blogger, SixApart), Amazon, Flickr, and so on. Invitations to the user make Amazon very powerful. Tons of people are inputting content into the Internet.

Microsoft won the browser war but it doesn't make them any money. The value has migrated elsewhere (to the app layer). O'Reilly is doing Safari U. This generation has a Web Services API in addition to just the Netflix model. Now you can integrate into something like the Eclipse editor. Profs can build custom documentation sets or books.

The end of the software upgrade cycle. The web is always updating, so when you've got a good browser, you don't need to do anything before you can take advantage of them.

Software that runs above a single device: iTunes (and the iPod). "The Power of the Tail" means you can have a lot of small players that all survive. Google AdSense takes advantage of the tail.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:22 PM

Publishing 2.0 at Web 2.0 (Rojo Demo)

Chris Alden (formerly of Red Herring) is showcasing Rojo and talking about how it came to be. (The session title was John Battelle's idea.)

Publishing 1.0 was more about on-line magazines. We thought of them like magazines with structure and hierarchy, etc. Central planning of editorial content, display ads, brand was very important.

Publishing 2.0 is... suits vs. pajamas?(!) Publishing 2.0 penalizes those Big Media who publish first but get the story wrong. But how do you know who to trust?

It's about: forums, posts, memes, contextual ads, reputation, organic, merit-based, rapid-fire, self-correcting. "Every page is a front page." No single point of failure. But there is chaos too!

Aggregation is here. Yahoo News vs. CNN. Google News.

Feeds are The New Way. They're optimized for dynamic content. Feed are doing for reading what blogs are doing for writing.

Cool, nobody in the room will admit to not knowing what RSS feeds are.

Advertising in feeds IS happening.

Rojo is here to make that stuff more useful and accessible, via rojo.com and through partners. So it's time for a demo of the beta. (Yes, betas abound.) It's an invite-only trial, in the tradition of GMail--sort of.

Web-based RSS aggregator. Lots of color and some fancy DHTML tricks. Tabbed interface. Mark read/unread. E-mail story to someone. Looks fairly clean. Chris is speculating on the future market growth of RSS readers. The product has these sort of virtual folders that seem to be based on a search. Interesting. They're personal groupings of feeds (not posts?). Actually, no. They tagged by the user. They're tags, not folders.

They provide starter folders for users. All the views/folder can be exported as RSS for viewing in other aggregators (excellent).

There's a Social Networking Community component too. You can invite people, create a connection, and then see each others sub lists. You can see which stories they flag (mark as important). It's like a linkblog. (Yup, Chris confirmed that.)

Fine-grained permissions will let you control exactly what other users can and cannot see. Users control their own structure and taxonomy.

There's a "recommended channels" feature, of course. Cool, they have a feature like Bloglines citations.

Marc Canter is asking how "people discovery" works in the system. Since it's an invite only system (right now), that's built in.

What's the business model? They're saying it'll be a free service with contextual ads. But there's the notion of a human aggregation model they're tinkering with. When another blogger helps you find good blogs, etc. Maybe you could build the next Gizmodo on top of Rojo? Infoworld has something at infoworld.rojo.com to see what Infoworld folks are reading/recommending. It's an interesting blend of reading and writing.

It's a federation system.

Steve Gilmor is asking about syncronization and switching costs (as he does in every session). It's not there today, but they want to do it.

Want an invite? Mail web2@rojo.com to get one.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:32 PM

Aggregated Web 2.0 Coverage

There's a page on the Web 2.0 Conference site that's aggregating blog posts and coverage about the conference session.

They must be doing it manually or via a search query, 'cause I'm not pinging anyone special.

No XML button on that page. Is there a feed?

Update: O'Reilly has added feeds. That was FAST! Thanks.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:53 PM

Dialing on the App Tone at Web 2.0

Rich from Topix.net and Stewart from Ludicorp/Flickr are here to lead the discussion on "how the early Web OS is shaping up." Rich is summarizing his post on the Google OS.

Stewart is discussing how Flickr came to be and why they decided to use Web APIs for it. "App tones" like dial tones for the phone system. The APIs have been a bit help to Flickr so far.

Rich asked me about my Yahoo Web Services post and then noted that Topix.net gets a ton of users via My Yahoo... and they're making money from it.

How do APIs make money? eBay has a very good system in place for tracking API usage and how much money it makes. They can actually place a dollar value on individual developers. Wow. 40% of GMS (Gross Merchandise Sales) comes via the API. Holy crap!

Book recommendation: Platform Leadership.

Steve Gilmor asked how developers react to things like Sender-Id where some worry that the standards author may have other motives. Discussion didn't really go anywhere.

Flickr, GMail, del.icio.us are primarily about organizing your data. Flickr has a voting/reputation system for tagging (interesting!).

Lots of talk about why companies do APIs and small vs. big company innovation. Without standards, there's no way to stitch together various services (such as Yahoo and Flickr, since their photo system is better than Yahoo's).

Hey, there's a little Yahoo love-fest going on here. But it won't last long.

Lasting Web 2.0 companies should try to become a global platform for something or other? Does that imply always being big? It does mean APIs.

In some countries people don't use their own computers, they use cafes and such. How does that affect Web 2.0 companies?

Backing up photo archives "to the internet". Flickr, Gmail (!), and so on.

Syncing is important. Lots of devices. Data everywhere. Lots of it is moible.

There's nobody in the room from Google.

Someone just brought up IM technology. All platforms are closed except Jabber, which has no adoption. Skype uses the public network but keeps data private (encrypted). LiveJournal has security. Many services do not.

Who should provide centralized services like IM and so on when there's no clear business model? Government? Libraries? Bob Wyamn doesn't like libraries because of political interference.

The services that take off are those that operate around data we create ourselves. But syncronization becomes an issue again.

Uh oh, Steve Gilmor wants to beat up on me. I think I'll schedule the beatings for dinner time. :-)

I plugged FeedMesh briefly.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:35 PM

Lightweight Business Models Lightweight Business Models at Web 2.0

Jason Fried from 37 Signals is speaking first...

Lots of small advice tidbits on how to design products in the new world. For example, protoype the app quickly. Don't build a ton of features, build a few really great deep features and then move on from there. Don't worry about up-front functional specs and fully documented requirements. Faster development and better products are the result. Say no by default. New features must beg to be added. Make sure there's a real demand for 'em. It's an agile development model.

The hidden costs of "new." When you add a feature, it's re-training, updating docs, howto, training, maybe the terms of serivce, and so on.

Release a major update 30 days after launch. Have stuff planned for this, just keep in your pocked for the 30 day update. Builds momentum and good will with your users. Use it while you build it. Eat your own dog food as soon as possible. You'll learn (and fix) a lot.

Iterate in the wild. Put beta features on the real product and turn them on for users selectively. Don't have a separate beta site. Who'd go there? But how big should that group be? 5-10, Jason recommends. Plus the team. What about the power users. Be careful with then. Some may outgrow the product, so you need to expect and recognize that. Don't deal with novice users (huh?).

Listen to the usage data (logs) as much as the users themselves. But don't focus on it too much (of course). Hype features that have vocal communities (RSS, iCal (Mac freaks)) etc).

Marc is up now...

Flickr is good. Open Source means open APIs so that services become open [source] infrastructure. Smart email, blogging, aggregators, moblogging, location based services, etc. They're all new battlegrounds. Things are changing and evolving. John Battelle is a great example of this himself. From old media to new. Enterprise tech moving into home. People are also bringing tech into work, going around the IT folks. Why did Comdex die?

Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL are still the same. Haven't evolved yet. The new stuff doesn't necessarily need VC funding. Open standards change things. Blogging is the first kind of microcontent.

Quick overview of blogging (does anyone here not know this?). The future is new kinds of microcontent. "If you think blogs are big... wait until we have standards for meetings, people (friends), reviews, etc. We can build multiple ecosystems on top of this stuff. But the aggregators need to grok it. FOAF. Need a digital ID wrapper so we can build social networks around them. Sxip Networks may help this. They want to build the Digital ID infrastructure and make it ultra cheap. It's close to open source digital identity.

Now we see a network, where the center or "hub" is the DLA (digital lifestyle aggregator). It's based on open standards. Ourmedia is an outgrowth of this. It's a giant registry of Creative Commons licensed media. They're building APIs and schemas for open source jukeboxes, image albums, directories, and more.

OpenEvents is APIs and schemas for events, calendars, etc (ticketing, iCal, etc). Reviews too. OpenReivews.

So where's the business model? (It's about time someone asked!)

The business is in mining the data that's in the open. Build "compelling experiences on top of it", whatever that means.

There will be aggregator businesses and content or specific service businesses. (Or something like that.)

Hmm, I think Marc just dodged my question about sucking down all of Flickr's data. He switched to job listings and craigslist. I asked if Flickr (which he just used as an exmaple) is a service in this new model or one that's going to get all their data scraped (well, not scraped, but you can use their API) so that someone else can build one--and if that's an OK thing? Should Flickr allow it and/or be pissed if it happens?

OpenTrust? Doesn't exist yet.

Marc thinks the RSS wars are waste of time and effort.

Rich is using the Open Directory as an example of openness destroying a business. dmoz is rotting?

Someone just said: Jason is here to create value while Marc is here to destroy it! :-)

Got a question in about Sxip Networks. They're cheap. Marc says that for Yahoo it'd be $500/year. And for smaller operations, $50/year. Interesting.

Lots of discussion of making money vs. being open. This tension is not going away. Marc argues that there are many ways to make the money.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:04 PM

RSS and Syndication Business Strategies at Web 2.0

I'm in the RSS and Syndication Business Strategies workshop at Web 2.0. We're discussing how to slice and dice the publishing world: big business, small publishers, random people, etc. RSS has many uses, so it's hard to figure things out and explain it to users and publisher. Some use it to syndicate content to other sites, some use it in personal readers, and so on.

Is there a clear difference between "commerical" publishers and everyone else?

Ooh, some Yahoo bashing (I expected that--Steve Gilmor is here). Discussion of on-line aggregators reporting usage/sub stats back via User-Agent. Bloglines and Yahoo do this. Feedburner may solve the problem. Bob Wyman (pubsub.com) is reminded of when AOL first turned on proxies--some folks freaked out because there was an intermediary between the user and the publisher. From impressions to click-thru tracking.

I think Bob wants an affiliate model. My feel of the room is that it's all about the money. Given that this session is about business strategies, that's unsurprising. How do we share the money?

Does RSS destroy centralized marketplaces when commerce and marketing enters the picture? Or does it simply lower the barrier to entry? (I think it just lowers the bar.) Lots of discussion on the future of eBay. Will they stay the same or become a trust and recommendation engine?

Damn, this room is full of smart people! I'm getting sucked into listening more than writing (gasp!).

LiveDeal vs. eBay vs. craigslist. How can one subscribe to a feed of all sofas for sale within 5 miles of home?

Tagging matters. But people lie and are lazy. Google made it automatic--to some degree. Why does tagging work on, say, Flickr? (Because of the personal incentive.) Same with eBay and del.icio.us.

There are many publishing models and it's really too soon to tell who's going to win. AdSense gets things started. Jeff Jarvis calls it "the lowest end of the value chain." (I think.)

We need to get publishers and potential publishers to grok RSS and users to grok readers (not the technology).

As expected, the discussion has wandered quite a bit. But it's been quite interesting.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:20 AM

IRC at Web 2.0

Some of us are hanging out in #web2 on irc.freenode.net. Feel free to join in.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:41 AM

October 04, 2004

My Yahoo Search and Yahoo Next are Launched

Yup, it's another public beta. This time it's My Yahoo Search. And it's launching in Yahoo! Next, which is where we're starting to put stuff we'd like the public to play with.

Kevin says it best over on his Personal Search: My Yahoo! Search Beta post:

The shift from analog to digital technology is reshaping much of the world around us, perhaps most noticeably in the realm of media. It seems like some of the most profound and transformative product introductions over the last few years are technologies that empower users to consume media how and when they want to, e.g., Tivo (tv), Netflix (home video), ipod (music) and of course blogs (news and information).

If I didn't know any better, I'd think Marc Canter was behind this, wouldn't you?

Kevin continues with:

In the world of search, this means that you should be able to define your own search experience. Today, the Web is a read-only source of information for most users; our vision is of a very individual Web...

So there you have it. Ask Jeeves A9 recently started on similar paths, so now our horse in the race. As John Battelle says, watch this space.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:34 PM


I had lunch at Google today with Chris DiBona and Jason Shellen.

Jason was amused that I made myself a sandwich at the sandwich bar instead of feasting upon the gourmet food. But it's been a few years since Yahoo moved to our new campus and forever changed the way sandwiches are made. You see, a few years ago one could walk up to the sandwich bar, pick some bread, smear condiments upon it, and pile on as much or as little of the meat, onions, lettuce, etc. as you like.

But that was taken away. So I used my GLunch to re-live that experience. And it was good.

I joked that I half-expected the computer to refuse to print a badge for someone who typed in "Yahoo" as the company name. Maybe I threw it off by using San Jose as my city instead of Sunnyvale? :-)

Anyway, we had a nice outdoor lunch followed by Chris's penny tour of the facilities. I definitely got the feeling that Chris is doing great things there. I expect to see more cool stuff flowing out of Google.

On my way out, I learned that Chris has never been to Yahoo for lunch (or at all). We'll just have to fix that.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:51 PM

At Web 2.0 Conference This Week

I'll be up at Web 2.0 in San Francisco Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week. There's some really interesting stuff on the agenda and the lineup of speakers is mind blowing (good work, John). I'll do my best to capture bits of it on my blog.

I hope to also make the Technorati Hackathon on Wednesday night. Ping me if you're going to either. I'll be on the lookout for familiar name badges and faces.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:36 PM

MSN Messenger Search Integration: It's About Time

In MSN Putting Search in IM Beta, Ryan concludes by saying:

This latest search tactic could give Microsoft a leg up on rivals AOL and Yahoo (Quote, Chart). MSN Messenger currently jostles for market share with AOL AIM and Yahoo Messenger.

What he doesn't mention is that Yahoo Messenger has had search plumbing for quite a while (at least a year if Niall was on the ball), thanks to the Search IMVironment. The fact that MSN is just now talking about doing this in a beta product is hardly impressive. The fact is that they've been on a crusade to conquer the web search business for some time now. Or at least they've been making a lot of noise about it.

So what took so long?

Posted by jzawodn at 11:03 AM

Gnomedex Day #2 Afternoon

Wil Wheaton led the afternoon off with a bit of reading from his books, on the spot discussion, and some questions and answers. I won't try to relay the stories he told, but some of the stories are really really damned funny. I was skeptical of getting his books for some reason, but now I'm probably going to end up reading them.

After the talk, Wil sold and signed books after his talk. He sold out quickly and had a massive line of folks waiting to talk to him and get an autograph.

"The future of on-line advertising" was the topic of the afternoon panel discussion was led by Dave McClure from PayPal. Google on the issue of text vs. graphic ads says that "it's all about the targeting." Apparently the CTR is identical on text vs. graphic ads. Hmm.

Though the panel was composed of smart folks who know a fair amount about on-line advertising, I found it fairly uninteresting. I don't know if it's that we were mostly hearing things we already know, the fact that AdSense has no real competition, or the that the Google guy wouldn't really tell us anything. But it just didn't do much for me.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:37 AM

October 02, 2004

Gnomedex Day #2 Morning

The second day of Gnomedex got rolling around 11am (yeay!) with a panel discussion on "The Future of Online Content." It's clear that we're still in the very early stages of the changes introduced by the popularity of weblogs, RSS, and micro-content publishing. Lots of talk about the divide between techie folks who already get blogs and the rest of the world.

Engadget is a good example of "leaving money on the table" with 30%+ of their traffic being RSS only. Advertising always comes in one way or another. Content linking and blocking in mainstream media is evil. Big publishers vs. small publishers. What happens when the little guys get big? Do they lose their edge? What happens when the big guys sue the little bloggers?

The death of the home page. The "web services channel" is replacing it, notably RSS today.

This was the most lively and entertaining panel of the conference so far.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:44 PM

October 01, 2004

Gnomedex Day #1 Afternoon

This afternoon, we were blessed with a great keynote talk by Woz (co-found of Apple Computer). He spoke energetically and entertainingly of his life with electronics and technology. We heard many stories of the toys he played with, the pranks he played, and the people who influenced his obsession with electronics.

Steve is an inspiration. We need more people like him in this field. he's the Feynman of the computer industry.

His talk was followed by a panel discussion on Digital Lifestyle. It's clear that there's little agreement on what a digital lifestyle really is, what gadgets we need, and how gadgets of the future are going to work. Lots of talk on good vs. bad convergence--again, little agreement.

The evening was rounded out by dinner, a band, and much socializing.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:49 PM

Gnomedex Day #1 Morning

This is my quick summary of Gnomedex 4 day #1.

This morning started with a discussion on "The Future of Security" led by Chris DiBona. Much of it was focused on how less technical users are having trouble with security, what Microsoft is and could be doing about it, and so on. It's clear that better technology is a going to be a big part of the future of security, but there are policy and social issues to deal with too.

The second session was about Blogging Strategy (lead by Adam Kalsey) and was kind of all over the map--but in a good way. We talked about how to deal with information overload, what new users need to discover new and interesting feeds, audio blogging, podcasting, video blogs and lots more. It's pretty clear that this stuff is just starting to take off.

A quick show of hands during the second session revealed that there are tons of bloggers here--not that anyone is really surprised by this.

We just got back lunch and Woz is going to be speaking shortly. So I'll try to post about the second half of the day later today.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:09 PM