TypePad has been a pretty good service all the way around. I understand the pains of rapid growth and understand that from time to time things don't work quite right.
But I haven't appreciated the inability to save draft blog posts in anything other than really annoying ways. Whether I write something in Notepad or in Word, copying and pasting has been unrewarding. So I'm testing w.bloggar.
I'm also hoping this will solve the problem of the really awful spellcheck feature in TypePad which doesn't recognize words like "blogger". Neither did this spellcheck, actually, but at least I could add it.
So far it seems to be working rather nicely. This will also let me post without fear of some glitch destroying my post mid-save.
I'll come back with a full review later.
I've used LivePlasma's tool for looking at music recommendations. It was okay, but it was really hard to see what linked to what. After a while of trying to figure out where the lines really went, I gave up.
But tonight I was reading about Holographic drives on CNet and see that they are using LivePlasma's app to track what stories were related to other stories. This is a much better looking and more usable version of LivePlasma's capabilities. I played around with it and found a few other article that were interesting, found some companies I didn't know existed, and learned a few things. All in all, a nice surprise.
This poses a certain challenge then - stay "on message" with what you want to say, but do it within the bounds of bloggers and mailing list organizers and other influencers who don't owe you anything and who you can't trade favors with.
So the purpose of PR becomes maintenance over a message aesthetic more so than a central message. In other words, the message becomes softer.
For example, what is Google's "Message"? Right now Google's message is something like:
Google creates interesting and surprising Internet infrastructure that fosters innovation.
That message is soft enough to be manageable. Starting with that message, the cost of failure is low because it's assumed that Google isn't necessarily trying to dominate a given market.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has a history of other, more finessed messages. One can argue that these messages require more finesse to the degree that one is doing damage control. Damage control becomes more necessary as the perceived cost of failure rises.
Therefore, one could argue, that the more universal your message - the less need for damage control. As the message becomes less strict and as your management of your employees become less strict, the amount of overhead expended on damage control PR diminishes.
Experimenting publicly (a little different from the willingness to
experiment but, I think, what both Nancy and J. LeRoy are getting at)
means that you have to consider public mistakes a part of your
devleopment and release path.
And Beth says:
I think in our culture we tend to view someone who has made a mistake
as being "dumb." Maybe it has something to do with our upbringing or
our educational experience. We were not taught at an early age that
"reflection" is a good thing, let alone how to do it. The message was
that a mistake is an opportunity for shame, not an opportunity to
reflect on how to do something better.
People often look for mistakes as a sign of weakness or a sign of ineptitude. But with the number of mash ups happening on the net and the low cost of experimentation, the value of a mistake is greatly diminished.
Before, if you started a start-up with $26 Million in VC money and your experiment didn't work, you had a pretty high cost. Your mistake cost someone a lot of money and left a lot of people scrambling for a new job. That's a big failure and it gets written about in books.
Now, your experiment is something that you slapped together using an XML feed from some data source and mixing it with GoogleMaps and augmenting the result with Flash. It took you an evening, you slapped it on the net, and people had a reaction. That's the real beauty of something like Yellowiki. The cost of experimentation and the overall value of failure are very low, the benefits of success are very high.
All-in-all, that creates an atmosphere where experimentation and imagination will be common.
The catch here is that the experimentation relies on platforms provided by people like Google or Flickr or even Microsoft. This will put pressure on platform providers to create systems that are flexible and extendible and lend themselves to interesting mash ups. That requires companies to open their APIs for all sorts of uses.
In the end, innovation rarely happens in a vacuum. Innovators needs someone to riff off of. Innovation seems to happen best in an enviroment charged with imagination and nearly devoid of criticsm. Systems we are seeing evolve remove the cost of failure and therefore the perceived negative value of failure.
My intrepid cousin Robert recently blogged about his growing consternation with the amount of time people spend hating Microsoft. His company, Digipede, has created a GRID computing solution for the .NET platform. Being based in the bay area, he and his group are in ground zero for anti-microsoft sentiment.
We discussed this at length when I was in the Bay Area in early November.
So I've been mulling this over. So I've been working through some questions:
What is Microsoft?
What does it represent?
Are these two things coordinate? Is microsoft the entity that people believe it to be?
Why is Google not Microsoft? Why isn't amazon or apple?
Is Microsoft Big Brother? Is Microsoft a Monopoly? Is Microsoft a Bully?
If Microsoft sucks so much, why doesn't someone suck less?
Are they just really big and successful - like the Yankees? And therefore hated for their success?
Microsoft gained a lot of negative press in the 90s by pressuring OEMs to support only Microsoft, buying and killing competition, and bundling elements with the OS that hampered the operation of third party sofware. Later, they began to include rigid DRM in Windows and its bundled software.
So ... they're starting out in a bit of a hole.
Microsoft, despite recent interesting and somewhat publicly distributed innovations, will have a hard time digging out of that hole. Their continued closed source, high cost model breeds contempt among developers and innovators. Justified or not - as most companies are at least somewhat closed source. Google and Amazon aren't just handing out their source.
The Office Suite of Related-ware reveals Microsoft's historic focus on a single user paradigm. Worksharing and collaboration (the central tenets of Web 2.0) in the Microsoft Office world are a nightmare. One must use the notoriously unreliable SharePoint, the recently acquired Groove, or other not-for-the-timid apps to work together.
One can only pray that Groove comes built-in to future versions of Office and that it's enhanced to allow true real-time multi-user editing of a particular document.
The Office Suite has several individual apps, all of which treat basic UI issues differently.
These things aren't meant to pick on Microsoft, but rather to note that since Microsoft started in a position that some consider antagonistic - that everything else that they do will be hyper scrutinized.
However, if Microsoft were universally reviled to the extent that people like to claim -- no one would be using MSN, no one would listen to Robert Scoble, and no one would be awaiting the next release of Windows.
Their integrated apps will likely never match the level of integration shown in the Adobe suite. Their collaboration model may be antiquated. Solving both these issues will require a level of redesign that would greatly challenge backward compatibility.
They did, however, take a horrific line of Operating Systems (NT and Win 95) and make them fairly stable, usable to the great unwashed, and of improved security. Microsoft did this in a situation where hackers had called a jihad against them and spent a lot of time pounding on the (admittedly porous) Microsoft platform.
And, as the largest company in the field, Microsoft should welcome people hating them. If Linux users didn't hate Microsoft enough to make a different OS that could conceiveably challenge Microsoft, better versions of Windows would not have been as necessary.
We might all be stuck with Windows ME and rebuilding our machines every 6 months -- real monopolies have no need to improve their products.
Microsoft needs people to identify when they step over the line or when they release poor product. If no one hated Microsoft, we'd really be in trouble.
Personalization, community, choice, experimentation, integration, transcendence, collaboration, cooperation, trust, networks, disruptive, anti-microsoft, next-google and so on. These are the keywords that make up a myriad of Web 2.0 mantras.
But much like religions whose peaceful gods are justifications for war and class division, the Web 2.0 priests preach to a population perhaps not ready to accept their roles in Web 2.0's crusades.
For the early adopters, Web 2.0 is the best of all possible outcomes. We love new ideas, new technologies, new toys, and we love to talk about them with people.
We love to hold the new, reflect on the old, and envision what's next.
But we forget something, most people love to watch television. Exclusively.
Web 2.0's connected new world carries with it responsibility. I used to just go to the store and buy a can of soup. That was pretty easy. Then I could go on line and click on a can of soup. That was a little easier. But now, regardless of where I buy my can of soup, I'm going to need to review it on Yahoo Shoposphere in order to share my opinion with my trusted network.
Okay, so that may be a bit of a red herring, but the point here is that people are lazy. It will take a culture shift for people to review, to grade or to even note their actions.
Web 2.0's ultimate success will be based on its effortlessness to the end user. Current Web 2.0 apps are great for collaboration, but most are still very invasive and non-intuitive. No wiki is effortless.
This is why Dion Hinchcliffe's Web 2.0 search was underwhelming for him. It's also telling that his list didn't include, say, Flock which was last month's hype leader.
Since Web 2.0 is an evolutionary step and not a revolutionary step, the killer apps we are looking for will be more subtle. They will always include both pre and post Web 2.0 elements. For those of us who have been watching these technologies evolve - there will be few real surprises.
My point was that Google was creating infrastructure and that people could come and use that infrastructure as the spirit moved them. Bill's quip is insightful (inciteful?) though.
Google provides the mike and the PA and lets people sing. The worst thing that can happen to people when they sing is that they might become embarrassed. The best thing that could happen is a promoter could hear them, give them a contract and they would become the next Rudy Vallee.
The DIY / Label hating / punk rocker in me says that people should build their own labels and manage themselves and avoid all the hassle with deal with people owning their IP. But open mike isn't about the final outcome, it's about experimenting. I go to a coffee house and sing a song and find that not only does Devil Went Down to Georgia not translate to the bongo very well, but I also can't hit the high notes. But it was fun to try. Much better than buying a PA and building my own coffee house and then trying it.
Nancy White mentioned of the same post that she liked the definition of Web 2.0 (or partial definition) as a willingness to experiment. Google experiments by providing the mike, people experiment by using it.
I have said before that Google doesn't do this as a public service. They can put the infrastructure out there, watch the experiments, spot trends or nascent killer apps, and then acquire or copy. They seem to like to acquire more than copy. So, you go to the GoogleCafe and sing your rendition of Bad to the Bone and hope someone likes it.
But GoogleCafe, especially now, is a vital part of our development.
Googlebase has launched. Everyone is wondering what to do with it. Some people fear it will be a spam haven and horribly abused. Some people think it is like dBase and dull dull dull.
I think that Googlebase is amazing. I have no plan to utilize it in any way. I do not feel compelled to go out and use it right away.
Why, then, do I find it amazing? Because Google's in the "Throw this at the wall and see if it sticks" business. Googlebase probably won't stick, and that's great.
I think another part of Web 2.0 is the willingness to experiment. Google is coming up with ideas, putting them through rapid development, and launching them. Most people are willing to play ball. Google's APIs are open, people can mold and shape their offering.
It's sort of like Kinda Open Source. Google's model, whatever their agenda, is participatory. So, even though GoogleBase isn't working for me .. I love GoogleBase.
Danah Boyd posted about a young Berkley student who was tragically killed recently in an automobile accident. Her post was less about the young woman in particular, but more about how her friends chose to remember her - on line, in her blogs, with comments. This article shows that there were vigils and other activities, but Danah's interest in the personal statements left in a public place accessible to those who did not know her is valid.
Comments to Danah's post indicate that this whole thing sort of creeps some people out or puts them off altogether. The memorials signed into the blogs are often glib and, from the perspective of an outsider, disrespectful.
I comment in the post that when I was working with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, I saw a lot of this. People being remembered in strange ways. But I saw a lot of community indicators there. More than any other time probably. More often than not, I saw people with three or four panels in the Quilt. I sort of got to know them just by the panels.
At a large display I'd see someone looking at one, then another, then the third (they usually weren't contiguous), then the fourth would utterly freak them out. I was with a woman who just didn't feel what had happened to her friend until she reached one particular panel with a particular element in it. It was unremarkable to most, but to her it was the world. It was a symbol of their community.
But the Quilt is a cultural icon. It is a cultural indicator. Inside it, it holds countless powerful community indicators.
The lines between community and culture are blurry enough to make both concepts lose definition. Wikipedia has some, well, fairly horrendous, definitions for Culture and Community.
But as I was mulling over Danah's post and the ensuing comments, I started to wonder, is this a community indicator or a cultural indicator? The on line world is part of these students culture, its beyond community.
As we allow these tools to become more and more ingrained in our daily life, they become cultural tools as well as community tools. Maybe that, and not the actual content of the messages to the deceased woman, were what caught some people off guard.