Verified Accounts: Twitter’s Next Attempt at Making Money?

How much would you pay for people to know you’re really you? That the updates coming in every 2 minutes on that twitter page come from yours truly and not someone else… someone else pretending to be you?

If you’re like most people, the answer is not much. But there are people out there that really care, and with good reason. If you’re the FBI, Oprah Winfrey, or one of the million other celebrities currently on Twitter, you probably don’t want someone out there passing themselves off as yourself while posting fake updates to an account literally millions are watching.

Some people to whom money is not an issue already pay thousands of dollars for meaningless SSL certificates – something tucked away in the corner of your browser window that no one pays much attention to. But imagine if Twitter were to start offering “verified accounts” that have been authenticated as belonging to a particular person or institute… how many of these celebrity accounts would suddenly turn into cash cows for Twitter?

Continue reading

Excellent Customer Service Means A Lot

At a time when the human touch comes at a premium, it’s always a relief to find a company or two that reply quickly, politely, and efficiently to customer support requests.

And the two companies that have impressed us with their support? Pubmatic and Assembla – both excellent startups that we highly recommend in their individual fields. Pubmatic is an ad-revenue optimization service that intelligently chooses between different ad providers to maximize your ad impressions and CPM rates. Assembla provides quality hosting of SVN and other services that cover all aspects of the software development cycles for teams & small companies.

Continue reading

Facebook’s Staggered Maintenance Procedure

Facebook has one of the world’s largest server farms and for good reason – with all that traffic no amount of servers can be considered too much. While Facebook’s uptime is a lot better than many most of the other “Web 2.0” services, we’ve been seeing a lot of maintenance-related downtime recently (see possible reasons below).

You’ve got to hand it to the Facebook team though, they have scaling and uptime perfected down to an art. For instance, when servers are due for updates, the maintenance is performed in a staggered manner, updating one set of servers at a time as attested to by the unavailability of certain Facebook accounts while others can still be accessed.

If your account is on one of he servers being serviced/maintained/upgraded, you’ll see a message like this:

Continue reading

Making Gmail a More Welcoming Experience

It used to be that when you opened your Gmail account you would see a bland, blank page with the text “Loading…” in the upper-right corner of the screen, as you waited for your browser to download the Gmail scripts and to make contact with the mail server to download the list of messages and other content that appears on the Gmail “dashboard.”

We’ve long felt that Gmail’s approach was not befitting of the Web 2.0 service with all its sky-blue shades and flashy appearance – and now it seems that Google’s felt that way too.

Here’s the new loading interface… Subtle, simple, and effective:

(Click image to see more changes)
 Gmail Progress Bar 

After all, first impressions are everything!

Scribd Isn’t Flickr…

Scribd isn’t Flickr. Sure, they’re both similar: both are social “web 2.0” websites established on the principle that people love to share stuff, both let you tag and group objects, both give you unlimited space, and both are great examples of the internet being put to good use. And, let’s not forget, both seem to love to Murdr the English language (pun intended)… But that’s where the similarities end.

Flickr is for photos. Scribd is for documents. Period… Or at least that’s the way it should be – theoretically.

So why is that so hard for people to get? Something about Scribd’s ease-of-use and flexibility has made people forget – and it looks like the people up top don’t seem to mind much, either. For instance, “i LOVE Milla Jovovich,” a group with over 1500 photos pretending to be documents was one of today’s “Featured Groups” on the Scribd homepage.

But the thing is, Scribd isn’t only not intended for photos, it’s not optimized for photos either. Users are uploading photos as PDF documents – unnecessarily increasing their size and limiting the photos’ usages. It has limited tagging options, doesn’t support any form of EXIF implementations, and offers all the wrong tools.

Continue reading

Outsourcing Your Documents to Scribd and Gaining Exposure

Web 2.0 is about sharing stuff. No need to repeat that any more than it’s already been said. But for many “Web 2.0” sites/services out there, sharing is really the only thing they do. For instance, when you don’t really get anything by uploading a video to Metacafe or YouTube – you just share. But Scribd, the Web 2.0 “startup” (It’s been there for a while now…) for sharing text is a bit more than that. When you post content to Scribd, you tend to benefit in exchange.

When you upload a document to Scribd (which accepts almost all popular formats like OpenOffice, Microsoft Word, PDF, PowerPoint, and more), it’s automatically converted to .doc, .pdf, and .txt – and it comes with a converted-to-audio MP3 version as well. But most importantly – it’s a hell of a lot more convenient for your readers.

While you can embed a self-hosted video in your blog and have it streamed to your readers with little to no effort, inline and all, it’s a lot more complicated (rather, impossible) to embed a binary-encoded text file in a post or article. With Scribd, you can instantly embed a document like this:

Continue reading

Adults Don’t Belong on Facebook…

Just yesterday, Michelle Slatalla of The New York Times posted an article about her joining Facebook – where her daughter & friends have had accounts for quite a while. Her reason? Probably best put in her own words:

So last week I joined Facebook, the social network for students that opened its doors last fall to anyone with an e-mail address. The decision not only doubled its active membership to 24 million (more than 50 percent of whom are not students), but it also made it possible for parents like me to peek at our children in their online lair.1

But adults – and more specifically, parents – don’t belong on Facebook. Not because the system isn’t built for people over 30 nor because adults aren’t interested in moving existing relationships online, but only because Facebook and other Web 2.0 social network sites for students (and teens, too) are now what the mall was five years ago.

While Ms Slatalla goes off on a tangent, choosing to discuss the existence of mother-daughter ties online and her own troubled past (or something), there is a bigger picture there: why Facebook is so popular. Web 2.0 is all about taking things for real-life and putting them online.

Photo albums? Flickr. Diaries? Blogs. Home videos? YouTube. Book store? Amazon. Auction? eBay. And so on and so forth. So what does that make Facebook? Why Mall 2.0 of course!

Continue reading

  1. Emphasis added. 

“Spare Cycles” or Selfless Souls?

Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine, The Long Tail) posted an interesting article yesterday, comparing bored humans to spare CPU cycles – and more importantly, just how much they can accomplish. But while the article – as a whole – was really interesting and scientific and is a topic that has been discussed in scientific forums, dozens of publications, and is the basis for a lot of research, there was one paragraph that stood out:

Who knew there was so much untapped energy all around us, just waiting for a catalyst to become productive? But of course there was. People are bored, and they’d rather not be. [……]

That sheriff is watching a movie because he has spare cycles. Spare cycles are the most powerful fuel on the planet.  It’s what Web 2.0 is made up of. User generated content? Spare cycles. Open source? Spare cycles.1 MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Second Life? Spare cycles. They’re the Soylent Green of the web.

While we’re sure that Chris probably didn’t mean anything by it and it was just a passing reference made without much thought, it does beg the question: do people actually believe that open source exists only because we [the developers, the contributors, the testers, the documenters, and just about everyone else involved in the process] are too bored and have nothing better to be doing?!

Continue reading

  1. Emphasis added. 

The Real Reason Twitter Will Fail

Twitter is all the hype right now, you don’t need us to tell you that. For some odd reason, something as simple and basic as a one-liner blog site has captured the minds of the online world. For two minutes, put aside whatever feelings you may have on the matter. Good or bad, just set them aside for a couple of minutes and look at it from a different point of view.

Let’s take the best-case scenario here. Twitter continues to increase in popularity, and can handle any and all problems that come up with their system. Let’s assume Twitter keeps on booming. What happens next?

As with all other social networks, the goal of Twitter is connections. NeoSmart Technologies connects ideas, Twitter connects people. Now there are a billion people on Twitter: they check out each other’s profiles, and get to one-another. What then? They head off to each person’s blog, Facebook, or even MySpace to get in touch: leave one another messages, check out their friends, share ideas, photos, and videos.

At the end of the day, people are going to be leaving Twitter to go to their friends’ blogs and sites, and hooking up with them there. The point is, Twitter isn’t filling the void. It fills up a small portion of it, but not enough to satisfy. If at the end of the day, people are going to leave it for other sites, they’ll stop going back.

Continue reading

Yeah, It’s called TechMeme

Techmeme’s homepage currently has the following entry:


—  MySpace is getting into the news business with launch due in early 2nd quarter, according to inside sources and the company’s own sales materials.  — MySpace News takes News to a whole new level by dynamically aggregating real-time news and blogs from top sites around the Web.

Funny, isn’t it? Techmeme advertises that MySpace is launching a TechMeme of its own. At least, that’s certainly what it looks like from here. A “dynamically aggregating ….. from top sites around the web.” That description fits TechMeme to a Tee.

TechMeme (run by Gabe Rivera) is exactly that. A news aggregation service that works all on its own. It searches “elite” websites (news and blog sites alike) for breaking news and stories, spots what might be big, and posts a link for all to see. So how is what MySpace doing different?

Continue reading