BlogStreet – Community and Analytics

We were discussing the strategy we should take with BlogStreet. Veer identified two possible approaches: we can focus on current affairs (like Blogdex, Daypop) or on Analytics (like what we are presently doing). In Analytics, we can take two approaches – the algorithm-driven approach (along the lines of what we do now), or make it community-enabled (what we intend to do soon).

The discussion thus helped in clarify how we want to grow BlogStreet – based on community-enabled blog analytics. Create profiles of bloggers, their expertise areas, categories, identify clusters, even perhaps trends among bloggers. More of a social network orientation. Essentially, emphasise on the most important element in the blogosphere – the bloggers, their expertise and relationships.

We started work on BlogStreet about 9 months ago. At that time, it seemed like a good idea to do “something in the world of blogs”. BlogStreet has achieved a small niche so far, and we hope it can continue to be useful in the times to come.

Word Bursts

New Scientist writes about how “word bursts” could be used to identify online trends.

Searching for sudden “bursts” in the usage of particular words could be used to rapidly identify new trends and sort information more efficiently, says Jon Kleinberg, at Cornell University in New York, who has developed computer algorithms that identify bursts of word use in documents.

While other popular search techniques simply count the number of words or phrases in documents, Kleinberg’s approach also takes into account the rate at which the word usage increases.

Slashdot thread

Think of this in the context of blogs as Wordex: analyse weblogs to see what are the emerging trends. Its something we should look at in BlogStreet.

One More Sun Article

Sun and AOL seem to be the favourites in the media in terms of suggestion on what’s wrong with them and what they need to do to fix their problems. This time, its the NYTimes on Sun:

Cost-cutting is the order of the day for corporate customers. And servers based on low-cost technology from the personal computer world – Intel-compatible microprocessors – are eating into Sun’s business.

Sun’s quandary is that its business appears to be alarmingly dependent on high-cost, proprietary hardware at a time when technology trends and customers seem to be headed in the other direction – toward inexpensive, PC-based hardware that is more like an industrial commodity, the computer equivalent of a piston ring.

Linux poses the more imminent threat to Sun because both Sun’s Solaris and Linux share the Unix heritage, easing the way for companies to move to Linux and the inexpensive hardware on which it runs.

Many industry experts say the trend toward commodity-like computer hardware is unstoppable. The profitability in computing, they say, will move to software and services, the direction I.B.M. has charted and Hewlett-Packard has begun following. Hardware, they add, will be a brutal business, with the main winner likely to be Dell Computer, a hyperefficient packager and distributor of technology.

Sun executives see their company as neither a hardware nor a software maker, but as a “systems” producer.

Sun’s strategy is the following, according to the article:

  • Bundle into the Solaris operating system increasing amounts of the software that corporate data centers need as they try to automate more operations and communications with suppliers and with employees.
  • A hard push to promote Solaris on inexpensive Intel-based computers as well as on Sun machines that run on its Sparc microprocessor.

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  • Lindows Notebook


    The Lindows Mobile PC will sell for $799. It includes a 12.1-inch screen and a 933MHz Via Technologies C3 processor, along with LindowsOS, a version of the freely available Linux. [It has] 256MB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive. Buyers can opt to increase the hard-drive size or memory allotment. The notebook also includes Compact Flash, USB (Universal Serial Bus), Ethernet and Firewire ports. A modem, however, is not included. External CD or DVD drives are optional.

    An interesting move by Lindows – to launch a branded hardware product for its software. Its what William Gurley had written about – Software In A Box.

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    TECH TALK: RSS, Blogs and Beyond: Beyond Search

    Change is afoot in the world of Internet content. A decade or so, the web browser in the form of Mosaic was let loose on an unsuspecting world by Marc Andressen and his team at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Taken together with HTML, the markup language to describe content which had been specified a few years earlier by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, the browser dramatically changed the way we accessed information in the years to come. Today, much of what we read on a computer screen comes from computers in different parts of the world and we dont even think twice about it.

    Right in the beginning, it wasnt so easy. We had to remember URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) of web pages we liked. Then, we started bookmarking these URLs in the browser. But we could only bookmark so many. The web was growing too fast. Yahoo came along to create a directory which organised sites in hierarchical categories. Next came search engines like Altavista, Webcrawler, Lycos and Excite which created a gigantic database of the web pages, and allowed us to search by keyword across these pages.

    And then came Google, which took search to the next level by making the results more relevant. It did so through a concept called PageRank, which looks at the importance of a page by analysing which other pages link to it. Google did something very interesting it no longer became important to remember URLs or even bookmark pages. If it was out there, Google could find it for us. In effect, Google has become our other memory.

    But there are still limitations. While Google is excellent for delivering results of relevant web pages, it is only still good as the search words that we specify. New and useful sites will still find it hard to show up in the top results until they get linked from other sites. Besides, Googles search does not cover sites which need subscription or registration like those of Wall Street Journal and the New York Time.

    Two recent developments are doing a lot to make the ocean of content out on the web easier to find. The first is RSS (Rich Site Summary) an XML feed akin to a Whats New page published by websites. The XML means that it can be read by news readers, which can therefore pull in the recent updates from sites whose feeds we subscribe to. Think of RSS as a format that makes content syndication easy. The second is weblogs, which are making the web two-way. Weblogs are making it easy for individuals and groups to publish content, in effect showcasing their expertise and opinions. Think of weblogs as people filtering web content.

    RSS and Blogs herald an era of microcontent and nano-publishing. Taken together with the spiraling growth of connected devices like cellphones and wireless PDAs which call for reformatting of content for display on their small screens, how information is accessed and consumed is about to change again.

    Tomorrow: RSS and News Readers