Updates from April, 2008 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Joe 09:54 on April 9, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , cssnakedday,   

    What, no design…? 

    Yes, the third (if I’m not mistaken) CSS Naked Day has been moved to today, April 9th!

    You can participate as well, if you’re using wordpress. Check out Lorelle on WordPress for an unstyled theme and an easy procedure to participate.

    • Lorelle 17:20 on April 9, 2008 Permalink

      Thanks for joining all of us naked bloggers. This is so exciting to see everyone working together to honor those who make our blogs pretty. Thanks!

  • Joe 17:52 on April 4, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: Amazon, Amazon Services, business to business, Chris Saad, conference, E2C, ethernet, Faraday Media, friends, Garrett Camp, innovation, Media 2, nextweb, recommendation services, Robert Scoble, S3, server infrastructure, , Werner Vogels   

    The NextWeb, second day 

    Two day conferences with Geeks have their own challenges. Showering habits are not always that, well, thorough, so you get an idea of how the after party yesterday evening ended by the smell.

    At the another hand, they are very nice folks, and pass ethernet connection cables around as if they were joints.

    On with the show…

    Social Media

    Robert Scoble started with a historical overview of networking online and then went on with what it means today. Interesting observation: networks start becoming interesting only after they get being used and shared. Twitter really sucks when you first log on and have no network (yet).

    In fact we know this already since way back, in the ’90s, when every small-medium business was required to have their own forum on-line (user interaction, you know!) with two odd posts lingering around. How sad!

    Scoble about social media: “The first experience is a crappy experience


    Werner Vogels of Amazon

    This keynote was in fact one big sales pitch for the Amazon Services like S3, E2C and friends. But it was a clever and enjoyable pitch.

    He focused on Push & Pull models in contrast. Traditionally, we had only the push model, where companies produced goods and forces these top down onto consumers.
    Relations have been reversed, customers find what they need and go after it (also in the B2B marketplace).

    An example; about a Chinese company, that selects subcontractors on products they make already (no development, just build more of what is already there.

    Push vs pull

    • demand is anticipated – vs – demand uncertain
    • top down design & control – vs – emergent design
    • centralized – vs – decentralized
    • procedural – vs – modular
    • tightly coupled – vs – loosely coupled
    • resource centric – vs – user centric

    And then the Pull model life cycle, which goes like this in a circle:
    find – connect – innovate – reflect – (find, new selection based on reflection)

    So, swap out resources which don’t perform well enough instead of redesign new products yourself; syndicate the innovation at the product- or part level.

    Statement: “you are the missing puzzle piece in a map of connected pieces; that’s your added value: you make the connections”

    Resources is becoming a dirty word in this setting, because you don’t know when you will need them. The pull model requires that you can acquire and release resources on demand. Pay as you go and only for what you use.

    Running a server infrastructure (as a startup) is waste of money. Focus on inovation instead.

    “The eXtreme Amazon.com” organization is service oriented (in small teams). So they developed a service oriented, on demand architecture, which now forms the basis for the Amazon services s3, e2c and friends.

    This – indeed – is a nice infrastructure of building blocks, and others are doing very nice things with it. Like this: Scalr – a fully redundant, self-curing and self-scaling hosting environment utilizing Amazon’s EC2.

    One note from myself: there are alternatives providing on-demand resources. We are using slicehost, where you can order “slices” of managed servers – and upgrade them on-demand in a matter of minutes.

    Werner Vogels: “Everything fails all the time” (after the fact that the internal Amazon infrastructure copes gracefully with constant loss of components, up to complete data centers)

    The Future of Search and Discovery

    Garrett Camp – StumbleUpon.com
    His keynote was all about Search vs Explore, which in itself is an interesting theme. StumbleUpon is supposedly a real expert in discovery, but disappointingly Garrett talked about almost every theme around search, advertising and finally just a bit about discovery.

    He foresees a great future for recommendation services like Pandora and Digg, without going into great detail of their characteristics.

    Garrett Camp: “one-size-fits-all in search is history”

    Data Portability

    The last session: Khris Loux interviews Chris Saad about Dataportability

    Chris Saad, Co-Founder and Chairperson at DataPortability.org and CEO of Faraday Media. Also Co-Founder at Media 2.0 Workgroup and APML Workgroup

    A well done interview and lively discussion.

    Chris raises the question: “If all services collect data about me, why not make it explicit, open it up (to me, the user – make me owner again) and merge it all together?”

    This will lead to better search at google (e.g. books) and better recommendations at Amazon (context aware). And I’m in control to remove (part of) my data, if this is going to improve my experience. Guess what: if the enhanced services live up to their promise, I will leave my data in, in order to benefit from the better service! But at the same time I stay in control.

    We (end users) should request from our vendors that we get open data. And OpenID for login, instead of yet another proprietary login on yet another service’s system. Which means that the provider will have to do another effort, in parallel to their traditional login system, if only for a transition period when not every user will have an OpenID account. If…

    Also, open data is about open standards, so use OPML, Microformats, RDFa and so on and start using/producing open data. These technologies enable users to esport and re-import their data in other services and applications if they want to.

    User lock-in should be based on great service, not on a technical / artificial barrier.

    Oh, and we get another overloaded buzzword for free: data 2.0!


  • Joe 11:26 on April 4, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: artificial intelligence, basic semweb technologies, central blog site, data smarter vs make software smarter, , internet ventures, Leah Culver, netxweb, Nova Spivack, online, pure mathematical algorithms, radar networks, , real estate brokers, , , , social networks, software builds, twine, twones, Twones.com, Web approach   

    The NextWeb 2008 (day one) 

    Although last year’s NextWeb conference had good coverage in the blogosphere, this year everything has been professionalized around the yearly event. One of these improvements is the nextweb.org, which has become a central blog site where professional bloggers keep up with the developments around new internet ventures.

    You can read about all noteworthy and sometimes even anecdotal events there, so I limit myself ot some personal observations at this place.

    Noteworthy was the first keynote by Adeo Ressi, “Get Funding for Your Dream“. According to him, now is the best time ever to start a new venture. But at the same time, there are many dangers luring in VC funding, which you should be aware of.

    One of the most central statements: you ore strictly on your own for reviewing the contract terms when it come to closing a deal. Your legal advisor will be honest with you up to the point when you sing a contract with them, as they have just one incentive left afterwards: close the deal and get the percentage of the value you negotiated earlier. Every delay is just wate of time – so forget about honest advice on VC terms.

    This reminds me of the peculiar situation we have with real estate brokers and financial advisers over here: these people all work for a percentage of the deal, so nobody is at your side when it comes to choosing the real best option, let alone a careful review of the terms.

    The rest of the talk was about what to expect when going through the movements, from choosing investors, preparing your references (they will be interviewed, even the unlikely ones, and should always be unconditional positive about you) and, indeed, bad terms vs acceptable ones.

    Interesting – and enlightening – it looks like we are doing pretty well regarding our own startup Twones.com.

    The keynote by Leah Culver of Pownce was charming and gave most of all insight in the networking aspects of starting a online business. Her suggestion to talk more about the how and why around OAuth was not accepted by the audience. Regretful, I would have liked a quick introduction in this emerging standard as an alternative to all those proprietary solutions for all those social networks.

    Nova Spivack of Twine held the keynote I was looking forward to the most. This time, surprisingly, the audience chose for an introduction into the semantic web, rather than a presentation about Twine.

    And this presentation was well done. No new or surprising elements for those who follow Nova Spivack’s blog (his “CEO blog” at Radar Networks), but I am sure that many people in the audience will have “got it“. And from personal experience I know how difficult it is to explain the relevance of the highly abstract and often complex elements of the semantic web.

    What I liked was the perspective in which Nova places the semweb:

    Tagging approach
    pro: easy to do
    con: easy to do (inconsistence, no “meaning“)

    Statistical approach (Google)
    Pro: pure mathematical algorithms
    Con: no understanding of the content

    Linguistic approach
    pro: true language understanding
    con: computational intensive, scales badly, one domain at a time

    Semantic Web approach (radar networks, dbpedia, metaweb, talis)
    pro: more precise queries (metadadata)
    con: lack of tools, who creates the metadata?

    Artificial Intelligence approach (cycorp)
    pro: this is the holy grail!
    con: never finished and always outdated (the holy grail)
    Now the Semantic Web approach is in the middle:
    Software needs some improvement and you need metadata
    But: advantages add up to a network effect; if I enhance my data, I get the benefit inr eturn that my data now can be linked automatically in all kind of related contexts, especially those I never could imagine myself.

    And this is taking off at an increasing speed, see the updated graph on open, linked data on the web.

    The Growing Linked Data Universe
    Characteristics of the semantic web approach:

    • Make data smarter vs make software smarter
    • Metadata vs AI & linguistics
    • Open data enables network effects


    • Bottom up (you need to learn RDF and such) – this is not going to happen (note: basic semweb technologies exist since around 2000).
    • Top down: software builds all the RDF and OWL and stuff for you. Not surprisingly, this where Twine aims at.

    Some notes on the practical side. Nova dislikes the term Semantic Web as being to vague, “Web of Data” would be more appropriate. And then, already an old theme, he adapts the popuplar but heavily overloaded term “web 2.0” to mean “the second decade of the web” en so, web 3.0 as the third decade, roughly 2010 – 2020. So we got a timeline. And right now the early adopters are emerging, the first killer apps will be launched roughly between now and the next two years.

    Finally, a critical not on business models: how do protect my business if all data has to be open and free?

    The bottom line is taht every entrepreneur needs to decide for themselves, but in the long run people will move away from closed environments where they only put effort in, without being able to get the value back of their own data, let alone benefit of the network effect.

    Again, this is an area were Twones will shine: our business model scale along with the network effect, the more open and the more shared each user’s data is, the more value everyone will get out of it.

    Oh, and I got my private Twine invite (looks good, many thanks Nova!).

    Got curious about Twones?

    We will lanuch an invitation only beta at the end of the month, you can register for the beta waiting list at http://www.twones.com

  • Joe 00:13 on April 3, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: linkspam, Mark Pilgrim, pretty solid solution, ,   

    WordPress 2.5 and link spam 

    Yesterday, I upgraded to the much improved WordPress release 2.5. There are so many improvements that I won’t even start to talk about them. You better watch this 4 minute screencast instead.

    But something else happened as well: link spams started to flow in by tens per hour, while this normally was at a stable, low rate of about one a week. I think this is pure coincidence, some spammers having found a new way to massively abuse wordpress blogs. But nevertheless, it;s very annoying.

    Luckily, there’s a pretty solid solution around the corner: the plugin Bad Behavior seems to catch this kind of spam very effectivel, at least for now. Let’s see how long this will stand in the spammers’ arms race.

    Some links from my little research on blog spam:

    The OpenID post learned me about the term Club Solution (Club vs. Lojack solutions, Mark Pilgrim). Nice!

    • Lorelle 15:12 on April 3, 2008 Permalink

      You are not alone and it has nothing to do with WordPress 2.5 as some of my blogs not upgraded, including WordPress.com, were slammed over the last couple of days. It’s a new comment spammer on the loose. Since their information is not in the Akismet database yet, it’s up to us in the community of Akismet users to help each other and mark all of these comment spam so the information will get into that database.

      New comment spammers get through because they have changed how they work and it’s up to us to teach Akismet to recognize them. There will always be new monsters lurking in the corner spending way too much time trying to waste our time. The fact that it happened a few days after the release of WordPress 2.5 is just a coincidence.

      Just start marking them and we all win!

    • Joe 15:21 on April 3, 2008 Permalink

      @Lorelle: I already thought that the upgrade to 2.5 was sheer coincidence, so I’m glad that this is not the cause.

      The Bad Behavior plugin does block the new spammer pretty effectively (not a single one went through last 24 hours), but I feel almost guilty not being able to mark these comments as spam anymore.

      Be sure I contributed my deal already by getting rid of some 50 of them through akismet before!

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