Saturday, August 12, 2006

Flickr account

I've tended to create my own websites, or at least one-off web pages for my photos, but I've been revisiting some of the way I do things in light of the wide variety of free, or inexpensive, services. To that end, I've setup a Flickr account. I'll probably continue to put together trip collections in a somewhat more organized manner, but I figured this would be good for the odds and ends.

Why YouTube >> Google Video

I was wondering about this and did some searching ("googling" :-)) and came upon this post by Nate Elliott of Jupiter Research who has this to say:

I asked Benjamin Lehmann, who covers European Content for Jupiter, and he cited two factors. First, he says the fact you can embed YouTube video on any site you want (your blog, your MySpace page, whatever), whereas you can't do that with Google Video, is an enormous advantage for YouTube (I agree). Second, he thinks the slight head-start YouTube had over Google Video was a factor (I personally don't think it was).

Nate goes on to say that he "can't think of anything great they've [Google] built outside of search. They're a one-trick pony; but it's one hell of a good trick." That seems about right. Without having delved into all the numbers, Flickr (now owned by Yahoo!) is likely #1 in photo sharing, Google doesn't have a social tag-sharing site like, Google's Orkut is clearly back-of-the-pack when it comes to social networking, lots of people have Gmail accounts but it's hardly dominant and my sense is that Gmail chat is not widely used, Froogle is far from a dominant price shopping engine, and so forth. The Google brand is essentially universally known--and generally admired--but it hasn't vaulted Google into leadership in new businesses. Indeed, what's remarkable is just how well Google as a whole does in spite of all these (relative) duds.

There's one other interesting dynamic here to. Whatever barriers to access the Web may lower and level, there's still a very strong tendency to have real category winners--at least until someone comes along with a markedly better mousetrap. (That's one reason I think, contra the above analysis, that being first may have been a factor in YouTube's favor. On the other hand, YouTube wasn't really a household name by the time Google Video hit the scene, so I could be persuaded either way on this one.) We could have a myriad of photo sites, but Flickr is the one. It's a combination of social network effects, the way that ideas and services spread virally and unpredictably, and just a limit in the time and energy people have to continually evaluate a lot of different things. If "everyone" else is using Netflix for DVDs-by-mail, I guess I will too.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Own Your Own Pacific Atoll

Dominic_Chama_cloud_1962-6x4.jpgIt looks like a charming place, And, as the U.S. GSA Office of Property disposal notes, it could even be used for ecotourism! Well, yes, there is the little matter that "it was used by the Defense Department for storage of chemical munitions and as a missile test site in the 1950's and 60's." But I'm sure it's been thoroughly cleaned up. What's more, although the GSA inexplicably forgot to tout this selling point, it also turns out that Johnson Atoll has a historic past, having been the site of thermonuclear testing including "Tightrope"--a Nike Hercules missile with a W-31 warhead missile defense system test, regarded as the last true US atmospheric nuclear test--conducted 2 miles from the atoll on November 4, 1962. Pretty sand beaches and a piece of history--how could one lose building an ecotourism lodge on a place like that?

via Howl @ the Moon and Missing Links

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Schrodinger's Cat and Websites

James Governor over at RedMonk has some interesting thoughts on "Why Building Scalable Web Sites is only Half the Problem." It's a sort of Web 2.0 Schrodinger's Cat which he explains thusly:

As many of you are aware, is completely lame from a portal stickiness standpoint, which is why we're working on a redesign right now. But our feeds rock, because the content is rich. So when it comes to Feed/Portal duality we're definitely skewed to Feed.

Intriguingly - Google is considerably stronger on Portal than feed/APIs. That is - people go to Google to do things. Yahoo would appear to have more APIs and feed-based services available, but hasn't found a way to successfully turn its Feediness to dollars.

It's a useful organizing notion. I'm not convinced that Google, or at least, belongs in the portal category. Google News perhaps, but the search engine has always assiduously avoided the flashy piles of complementary drek that characterize all the (best?) portal search engine sites. Yahoo--and, especially, My Yahoo--would seem more portal-ish in this regard. The difference becomes even more pronounced if you consider that many (though perhaps not most) people access Google search through a browser toolbar--a Web services-ish form of interaction rather than a portal-oriented once. But classifications of particular sites aside, the basic notion makes sense even if the classification difficulty suggests a certain quantum fuzziness.

My other question is whether it's a duality or a tri-ality or something even more complex. Are feeds and a broader set of mashup-oriented APIs really the same thing? Is delivering RSS/Atom-style content really some mashed-up conglomeration of data? In one sense, I suppose it is; as defined by the negative, all of these things involve not going to a single site and viewing its content. On the other hand, from the perspective of business models, including AdSense and its brethren, a more complex taxonomy of "feed/APIs" may be, at the least, useful to understand the potential economics of various approaches which, after all, is a major driving force behind increasing Website/portal "stickiness."