Wikipedia

The New York Times writes:

Love it or hate it, though, its success is past denying 6.8 million registered users worldwide, at last count, and 1.8 million separate articles in the English-language Wikipedia alone and that success has borne an interesting side effect. Just as the Internet has accelerated most incarnations of what we mean by the word information, so it has sped up what we mean when we employ the very term encyclopedia. For centuries, an encyclopedia was synonymous with a fixed, archival idea about the retrievability of information from the past. But Wikipedias notion of the past has enlarged to include things that havent even stopped happening yet. Increasingly, it has become a go-to source not just for reference material but for real-time breaking news

Adobe’s AIR Plans

Robert Cringely writes:

In terms of software applications, I can think of only two that have reached the point of ubiquity and hence invisibility — Flash and PDF, both of which come from the same company, Adobe Systems.

Adobe is moving into developer tools in a big way to support its grab for mindshare in the interactive/rich web application space where much of the excitement lately seems to be. Some people think of this as Browser Wars 2.0, but I think it is more fundamental than that. Here are the players. Microsoft is putting massive resources behind Silverlight. Sun is trying to take Java to the next level with Java FX. Mozilla is trying to improve its position through AJAX, Canvas support, and better offline support. And Adobe is leaning hard on Flash, Adobe Integrated Runtime or AIR (formerly code-named Apollo), and Flex. My money is on Adobe simply because of those two invisible weapons, PDF and Flash.

Social Sites and Class Divide

BBC writes:

Fans of MySpace and Facebook are divided by much more than which music they like, suggests a study.

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college.

By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education.

In India, a teenager I know put it thus: “South Mumbai uses Facebook, North Mumbai uses Orkut.”

Foxmarks

TechCrunch writes:

Mitch Kapor likes to solve problems. In the 80s, he was the guy behind Lotus 1-2-3, the first killer app for computers. More recently he decided to tackle a a simpler problem – synchronizing Firefox bookmarks across multiple computers. His popular Firefox plugin, Foxmarks, has been downloaded 700,000 times and has 350,000 active users.

All those users create some very well organized bookmark data. Unlike Del.icio.us, where people throw thousands of bookmarks for later reference, users tend to have fewer, but more important, bookmarks linked directly from their browser. And they spend more time properly annotating those bookmarks, Kapor says. So far, Foxmarks is tracking 250 million bookmarks, from 20 million unique URLs.

Two Webs

Liz Strauss discusses the Information and Relationships Webs:

Two very different world views one informational, one relational. Each point of view defines the experience differently. Static or dynamic, take your pick.

This elephant is standing on the web.

What is a link? Is a link clicks and traffic and Google rankings? Or does a link represent that I know you, that Ive read your content, that youre relevant and of value to me? Is a comment conversation or something I can buy or rent?

Were living in two Internets. It looks much like the companies we find in the world of brick and mortar. One is about places, information, and data. Its the buildings in which people work. The other is about people, relationships, and conversation. Its the people who work in those buildings. One is a structure. The other is social.

Yahoo’s Social Graph Search

Dan Farber writes:

[Yahoo’s] Speiser described search and social networks as dealing with two different problems. Search is more like the index of a book, with keywords with pages references. A social networks, like Facebook, is like a table of contents, and more about discovery and easier navigation.

We know who is winning on the search front today, and if Google were to acquire Facebook, we know who would be one of the leading table of contents, at least in terms of user profiles and relationship connections, in this second (Web 2.0) round of the battle.

We can be a giant table of contents for the Web, Speiser contended. We intend to be one of the players providing a social graph.

New News

HipMojo.com writes:

If news is still wide open, this begs the question: what would constitute the perfect news product of the 21st century?

I think I can sum it up with three things: Topix + TechMeme + Digg. But, theres something missing, or rather, all of those things have something to be desired. Oddly, none of those are search engines!

Freemium for Facebook Apps

Don Dodge writes about how widgets can be monetised:

What is the business model for widgets?

* The Freemium model, upselling from free to premium services seems to be the best bet, at least for now. Many of the widgets provide a free service with options to buy premium services such as more detailed traffic statistics, more powerful services, enhanced customization, or higher levels of service.
* Sponsorship might make sense. A simple “Sponsored by Big Company” tagline across the bottom of the widget might fit well. I don’t see how larger advertising units would work for a small widget, and I doubt the “hosts” would allow it.
* Revenue sharing with your host – Facebook and MySpace don’t need to share their advertising revenues with the widget guys, but a smaller social network might want to. If I were the owner of a social network and wanted to build an ecosystem of developers building cool widgets on my platform I would indeed share some advertising revenue with them.
* Syndication network – If your widget distributes content widely,, think YouTube, then the content owners might want to pay you to get their content on your widget.

Never Forget

Nicholas Carr writes:

The unexamined life, said Socrates, is not worth living. Today, we seem to be operating under a new and very different dictum: the unrecorded life is not worth living. Thanks to digital technologies, we now have the tools to chronicle our daily actions and thoughts in the minutest detail – and to share the record with the world.

The desire to bear witness to one’s personal experience isn’t anything new, of course. Long before words and pictures turned into strings of ones and zeroes, people set down accounts of events in their lives. They painted on cave walls, wrote in diaries, took snapshots and collected keepsakes and souvenirs. What’s changed is the scale of the effort. Whereas in the past we tended to record only important events, today we can, and do, record pretty much everything. Nothing we do or think, it seems, is too insignificant to be preserved or broadcast.

Relationships, Conversations and Transactions

JP Rangaswami writes:

Relationships first. Then conversations as a result of relationships. And finally, only where necessary, transactions.

Cluetrain. Markets are conversations. (Doc has a Nigerian pastor story that shows how universal this structure is. I will link to it when I have something more than a BlackBerry to use as my internet connection.)

A few hours ago, I read that Facebook now has more transactions per day than eBay does. Given that eBay has 8 times the number of participants, this is a fascinating trend.

Normally I would expect conversations to be a multiple of relationships, and transactions to be a subset of conversations.

Language Teaching

The Economist writes about how Skype, podcasts and broadband are transforming language teaching:

Tens of millions of people in 110 countries now download the free ChinesePod podcasts, Praxis’s flagship service, says Mr Carroll. About 250,000 listen regularly and several thousand pay for the premium services, which include individual Skype chats with teachers. A second service, SpanishSense, is out, and more will follow.

The customers are everywhere from Berkeley to Alaska and the Vatican. In the past, when language instructionalong with haircuts and massageswas a non-tradable sector of the economy, many people would not have found a native Mandarin speaker as a teacher in their town at all. Now they need only a broadband connection.

Danal and Mobile Payments

WSJ writes: “In South Korea, Danal’s popular service lets people charge such items, as well as tangible goods like books or cosmetics, directly to their mobile-phone bills using an authentication code they punch into their personal computer. They receive the code as a text message on their phone when they are ready to buy something online. There is no need to install special software on the phones. In heavily wired Korea, 70% of all digital content — valued at more than $1 billion last year — is charged directly to cellphone bills instead of traditional credit cards, the company says.”

In India, mchek, in which I have an investment, is also working in the mobile payments space.

Children of the Web

Business Week writes:

Flying blind is the unavoidable consequence of coming to terms with today’s most important demographic group: the tens of millions of digital elite who are in the vanguard of a fast-emerging global youth culture. Because of smartphones, blogs, instant messaging, Flickr, MySpace, Skype, YouTube, digg, and de.lic.ious, young people scattered all over are instantly aware of what’s happening to others like them everywhere else. This highly influential group, many of whom are also well-heeled, is sharing ideas and information across borders and driving demand for consumer electronics, entertainment, autos, food, and fashion. Think of it as a virtual melting pot. As the population of the young and Web-savvy grows into the hundreds of millions, the pot is going to boil. “This kind of globalization is happening. It’s still a young phenomenon, but it’s growing fast, and it’s going to take a lot of companies by surprise,” says Soumitra Dutta, a professor at graduate management school INSEAD in France.

We’re now at the busy crossroads where globalization meets Web 2.0. This presents both a challenge to the old ways of doing business and an opportunity to gain tremendous leverage via the right goods and services.

Facebook Apps

WSJ writes: “Facebook now offers more than 800 new services — from photo slideshows to online file storage — up from fewer than 100 a month ago. Meanwhile, those who are creating the Facebook services can access information about their customers and make money by selling related items and ads…Facebook is actually borrowing a tactic pioneered by Microsoft: Rather than building every piece of technology yourself, let others build on your “platform,” much the way Adobe Systems Inc., Intuit Inc. and others built software for Microsoft’s Windows operating system in the 1980s. Using this strategy, Facebook can nurture an ecosystem of developers who can create services far faster than Facebook could build them on its own.”

Identity System

Dave Winer writes: “The features of social networks are due to deconstruct into simple services that can be recombined by skilled users in an infinite number of ways. At the core of all of it is an identity system. So what is an identity system? Is there a good definition somewhere? How many features can you add before it becomes more than an identity system? This is important because in this area, it’s important to strip it down to its bare minimum, so that the first component of any network of people, events and resources can be maximally combined with features that depend on identity. The goal is to give the user the most options with the fewest identities.”

Weakening Network Effects?

Rich Skrenta writes:

In an environment where travel is free and instantaneous, you get flash mobs.

If a place is cool, or new, or interesting, you go there to check it out.

A place might be interesting simply because there are a lot of other people there at the moment. We’re instinctively drawn towards crowds. “Why are all those people gathered over there? I’ll check it out too.”

A swarm of bees clumped on a particular tree branch doesn’t mean that the branch is some magical bee-place with a lock-in for centuries.

Sure, maybe they stay there.

Or maybe the bees move to a new hive.

Targeted Online Marketing

WSJ writes:

“The future of digital media is less about distribution and more about understanding the audience’s interests and being able to project that anywhere,” says Bill Gossman, president and chief executive officer of independently owned behavioral-targeting firm Revenue Science.

Similar targeting is what made search-related advertising so popular: Advertisers could buy links to key search words so their ads show up only when people search for a particular term. This technique extends that concept to display, video or other “rich media” ads — such as animated characters dancing across a screen. Spending on behaviorally targeted ads in these categories reached $350 million in 2006, according to a recent analysis by eMarketer, which predicts the category could reach $1 billion in 2008 and then nearly quadruple to $3.8 billion by 2011.

New Social Media

Robert Scoble writes about Jaiku, Twitter, Facebook, Kyte and Plaxo. “Why am I using these services nearly every hour of my waking life? Because they are being talked about and I want to learn what is making people so passionate nearly everyone in the industry I meet either loves these things or despises them. It seems that every conversation lately is about one of these five services and how theyre potentially changing how we communicate with each other. Translation: theres a lot of hype here and were trying to figure out what they are good for and whether the hype is justified. In my opinion: it is.”

Advertising’s Evolution

Knowledge@Wharton writes:

As online and traditional forms of advertising evolve, new measurement techniques are likely to emerge.

According to Werbach, online advertising will at some point be able to more accurately measure what consumers do and what they value. “Online advertising has the potential to be radically more efficient, responsive, and measurable than traditional advertising, so ultimately it will be valued using different metrics. At the macro level, advertising will eventually track user attention, which means online advertising will grow substantially,” he says.

Although these new metrics are also likely to be applied to traditional media, Williams says these will be harder to track relative to Internet advertising.

New Devices

Forbes has an article by Elizabeth Corcoran:

A bevy of new devices are emerging, machines smaller than a laptop computer, bigger than a cellphone. Like variations of Darwin’s finches, each of these is evolving its own specialty:

–Steve Jobs’ iPhone will let you talk.

–“Mobile PCs,” based on Intel’s (nasdaq: INTC – news – people ) chips, will let you run the software written for PC on lightweight, portable machines.

–The “Foleo,” Palm’s (nasdaq: PALM – news – people ) new machine created by Palm Pilot and Treo inventor Jeff Hawkins, aims to be a “mobile companion” that sits somewhere between a PDA and a full-fledged laptop.

Each of these design efforts–and I’m sure there are scores more–are scratching away at the environment, trying to figure out what it will take to survive. What will consumers (and businesses) buy? At what price? With what usage caveats?