MySpace and Attention

Om Malik writes:

The utility of MySpace is that it is more than a social network. It is a platform, which puts users in charge of taking and assembling their pages, regardless of where the content comes from. It became one, just because it did not care what and how people put their MySpace pages together. Wild wild web? Sure, but millions saw it as the page they started their day, and spent most of their time on it.

In other words, MySpace is an “attention page” not a portal page. For millions of users, MySpace is their most important page, the one that has all their attention. That attention is why MySpace accounted for 10.8% of Google’s search traffic, and the reason why News Corp subsidiary, Fox Interactive Media was able to craft $900 million deal with the search engine giant.


Techcrunch writes:

Its a real time research suite tracking RSS, deep web, static web changes and many other sources with multiform alerts, semantic analysis, extensive domain knowledge concerning financial markets and high profile VC backing.

Monitor110 gathers information from 40 million sources of various types (100 million by the end of next year they say), ranked by financial market knowledge through a proprietary algorithm that takes 50 factors into account – inbound links being just one reputation metric. Users can chose between top sources preselected for their market sector and subscribe to sources of their own. Static sites can be monitored for changes with good granularity. Premium subscription and other deep web sources, blogs, forums, news and regulatory filings are among the sources included. The end results will be delivered through the companys RSS reader with email, IM and SMS alerts as appropriate.

Facebook Improved

Liz Gannes writes:

Sometimes Mark Zuckerberg and his crew of big-picture thinkers try too hard to separate themselves, calling a blogging tool notes or adding a company blog without a feed. But other times they seem to really get it for instance, todays new features: news feeds that show, chronologically, your friends most recent activities across the site, and your own most recent activities across the site. In 30 seconds, I can find out what my family, my college friends, my current friends, and even some of my work contacts have been doing. If I think my own mini-feed has too much information in it, I can adjust it item-by-item to leave no trace.

Programmed Personal Home Pages

Niall Kennedy surveys the evolution over the past 20 years. “The web is changing, but it all starts with your personal home page. What is the first thing you see when you start your browser? Is it useful and tailored to you, or a collection of advertisements and meaningless promotions for portal services? The recent $15 million funding of one-year-old startup Netvibes combined with the ramp-up of Microsoft’s and iGoogle are changing the worldwide web doorway into a customized experience combining many brands and services. In this post I’ll summarize the history of pre-programmed start pages and take a look at where we might be headed in the near future.”

MyWSJ writes about a new, personalised subscriber-only service from the Wall Street Journal:

The new effort has a lot in common with the others: users can add any RSS feed, click and drag modules, drill down through a variety of site feeds. (Click on the pic on the right to see a bigger thumbnail)
But MyWSJ has its differences, particularly its scope across DJ properties. The add content list includes feeds from Barrons Online, MarketWatch, SmartMoney, and the various non-sub Journal sites an emphasis on the WSJ as part of a broader Dow Jones Online network. Its also done a better job of working in tools like stock charter and quotes, local weather and traffic, saved searches and even press releases. Its separate from the Journals first personalization service, My Online Journal, but the two are supposed to be combined eventually. It offers multiple layout choices and, shades of Excite, four different styles; in addition, each feed module an be edited for number of items shown and choice of headlines or summaries. Hovering over headlines shows the summary. Plans include allowing subs to see and share feeds.

The combination of aggregation and personalization allows users to create a mini news portal and gives the sites a shot at increased stickiness and an additional way of targeting ads.

Filters, Agents and Aggregators

Russell Beattie writes:

I was wondering if anyone has done a mashup of an RSS News Aggregator and a SpamAssassin like filtering algorithm yet? For two reasons. First would be for referrer links to filter out splogs so I only see real referrers from real blogs. As a person, you quickly get a pretty good idea of the domains that are real blogs, and which are, no? Itd be nice if my news aggregator (Ive been using NetNewsWire lately) would grey-out the junk for me.

On the flip side of this, it be great if I was accessing my RSS news via my mobile phone if only the stuff that is most likely interesting to me showed up. Or if I was using my desktop, the stuff that I thought was great (because I trained a filter with my clicks) would be highlighted or moved to the top of the list, so I read that stuff first. And conversely, the stuff that I rarely if ever click on would float down to the bottom of the order where I dont have to worry about it unless Im really bored. Since I interact with my aggregator quite a bit – choosing which subfolders to read in which order, clicking through to both articles and to links in those articles, etc. it seems like a no brainer to funnel that stuff through a proxy to train a filter, no?

Dashboard Pros and Cons

WSJ writes:

Dashboards themselves don’t do complicated number crunching, but they do offer quick and easy access to tons of real-time data generated by other software. As a result, they are changing financial planning and employee oversight at many businesses. About half of 470 financial and information-technology executives surveyed recently by Hyperion Solutions — a software company that makes dashboards — had them, and another 30% expect to be using them within the next 12 months.

Not everyone is happy about this latest corporate tool. Some see the dashboard as just one more device that keeps people focused on only this minute, overreacting to short-term realities while ignoring the big picture of productivity and innovation. It also has the potential to spread a “gotcha” culture by closely monitoring managers. In turn, managers under increasing pressure could become so obsessed with the bottom line that they ignore product quality or customer service.

Browse to Search to Subscribe

[via Robert Scoble] Charles Fitzgerald (general manager of platform strategy at Microsoft) writes:

The browser jumpstarted mainstream Internet use and made browsing the user paradigm. You could type in a URL or follow links and it worked pretty well as long as you knew where you wanted to go or someone else had the foresight to provide a link to where you might want to go. But this approach couldnt keep up with the hypergrowth of the Web. Even if you surfed all day long, the unknown was growing exponentially faster than the known.

Enter the search engine. Instead of being limited to what you knew about or could find a link to, search engines allow you to query across millions of Web sites and billions of Web pages. Search makes vastly more of the Web accessible, but it too has limitations. Simple queries return preposterous quantities of links (as opposed to answers) while complex queries go unanswered. Personal relevance and understanding user intent are, to be charitable, in their infancy.

Both browsing and searching are about discovery, but have little to do with consumption. Discovery is work. You navigate and enter queries. Consumption is when you get something valuable. Browsing or searching by themselves are just a means; the end is consumption. The way these terms get used everyday reinforces this gap. Can I help you? No thanks, Im just browsing. Did you find what you are looking for? Nope, Im still searching.

The subscribe model allows software to act on our behalf and significantly improve consumption. RSS is obviously the first successful taste of the subscribe model (well conveniently forget the whole “Push” episode of the late 20th century). Subscribing doesnt replace browsing or searching any more than searching replaced browsing. Both will remain common activities with continued growth and innovation. Theyre probably how you will find most of the things you subscribe to.

Attention Importance

Jonathan Boutelle writes:

Attention is a hot topic on the internets. Most of the metadata that is used in cataloging and searching the web is very labor-intensive to create.

Google made it’s first quadrillion by being the first to use the metadata inherent in hyperlinks to catalog the web. This was, of course, awesome. But the only people allowed to contribute metadata in a google-based world are web publishers. and Flickr have made it easier for people to play along at home. Instead of using links, they use tags, which require much less effort to contribute. But lets face it, the people tagging are, for the most part, the same people who are blogging.

Attention is the general idea of paying attention to what people _read_ on the web, and using that to give better search results.

Dashboard Widgets

Jeremy Wagstaff writes about an alternative to RSS:

They’re called widgets, or dashboards, or both, and they do more or less everything RSS feeds do, but they also do a lot of things RSS feeds don’t do, or at least don’t do as simply. Which might make them perfect for you.

One of the downsides, to me, of newsreaders is that they pretty much take up the same amount of desktop space as your browser or your email program: namely, most of it. And you need to switch from what you’re doing in Microsoft Word or Outlook, or wherever you spend most of your day, to see what’s going on in the RSS world. This is OK for folk like me who read RSS feeds like they were my daily newspaper. But what if you just want to check the sports results, any updates to your company Web site, or the weather?

This is where the widget works well. Widgets are basically little jigsaw bits of software that sit anywhere on your desktop, taking up very little space. Once you’ve installed the basic software, you select the widgets you want from the program’s homepage and you’re ready to go. Each widget is a self-contained feed, delivering its own bits of information to that corner of your screen. But what kind of information? Well, depending on what kind of widget you’ve installed, it could be anything from newly arriving emails for you to a video stream from a traffic camera on your route home. It could be any outstanding auctions you’re interested in at eBay or a shipment from FedEx you’re tracking. All of these little slices of data could appear on your screen in separate little unobtrusive windows, placed wherever you want them, updating automatically.

I think of widgets as single-item RSS feeds — where the permalink stays the same and the item gets updated in-place.