Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The fast pace of change on Internet even makes Google Reader stale

I’m a bit shocked, really. I did not see this coming. Well, at least not so soon. In May I wrote a post about how Google Reader changed my way of consuming information on internet. I praised Google Reader and the good things it created.

Now, in July, the Google Reader starts to feel cumbersome and stale. I still though like the fact that I can read the material on my own terms - when I want and wherever I want.

What has happen? The first obvious reason is that I have added to many feeds into my reader. I can not cope reading all the interesting material. I therefore can not add anything any more to the reader. That is annoying because I find all the time new interesting material which I would like to cover. Okay, I’m behind in my reader and I have not yet learnt to prioritise among different feed sources. But that is not the whole explanation.

The second reason is that Social Media seem to be a more effective way to satisfy my need for information. I’m now thinking of FriendFeed (FF). By following FF I can be much more effective in covering a big base of what is happening. I can do this without running the risk of getting bogged down as with the case of the reader. I can more easily and directly pick what interest me in the stream. This compared with the reader case where I have to go through so much material to find what for me can be called gems.

Okay, for me Google Reader is tumbling and FF seems to be an alternative solution for the future. Yes I will still use the reader but it will not be my main source of information. As always a combination of the two is maybe the best.
Will I have to write a post in the somewhat near future and complain about FF feeling stale? Most probably. The scale and pace of the change on Internet make a lot of things redundant rather fast it seems.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Readings on Sunday 27/7

Two articles as link share this Sunday. They are somewhat outside of the normal blog topic as usual.

1 The first reading tip is from Lifehack on how you e.g. as an entrepreneur should confront your assumptions.

2 The second tip is an post is from Social Times. It is about the test of a good product idea.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tumblr.com is swell and refined

I have started to use Tumbler. It is an interesting life streaming concept. Even if it is an aggregator of your feeds it is very different from e.g. FriendFeed. The founders of Tumblr are from New York and not Silicon Valley, and the headquarters is in New York. I believe this creates a little different atmosphere on the blog (or maybe this is imaginary from my part).

The idea seems to be that it should be something between micro blogging and blogging. The simplicity of creating Tumblelogs is stressed as a big advantage. This compared with normal blogs.

The positive is that you get material from all your feeds presented on your page. It is very clearly presented and you have a god overview of your activities. The quality of the published material on the site is high. It is funny, inspiring and easy to digest. It is as much mp3, pictures, and video as text on Tumblr. The model seems also to foster very active Tumblogers.

There are several things which I miss in the service. To mention some negative things is that the feed do not handle duplicates from two of my feeds. Comments are in form of so called Rebloggs. It is not so good for communication I think. But it is easy to install Disqus on Tumblr. Unfortunately, not everybody has done that and that can hamper the communication. It is also difficult to mark favourite’s tumblogs. This I miss, when you want to go back to earlier log. It is also difficult to search on the material and among the tumblogers.

Gives Tumblr some great insights in technology or marketing? Not really. But it is fun and gives you some laughs and thoughts about life and being a human. Tumblr seems today be very popular and I am sure it will keep on developing and prosper in the coming future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Success factors in executing business models – some tentative reflections about the case of FriendFeed and Twitter.

I read a post from Rebkin where she – among other things - reflects upon how the founders of FriendFeed (FF) and Twitter can afford working with their business without seemingly making any money?

That is an interesting question! I think it is even more interesting to connect that question with the question of success factor to successfully execute business models on internet. A hypothesis is that the chances to a successful execution of a business idea increases when you as a founder have a lot of different forms of resources (Financial, knowledge, connection, social captial, vision etc). Yes, not a particular controversial statement but indeed relevant – especially if we compare the cases of FF and Twitter.

We are now talking about success factors behind executing business ideas on internet - not about the actually business ideas, which have already been proven as very successful. This is a big topic which demands several blog posts. But here is my first tentative reflection of it. The information for my sketchy discussion about FF and Twitter is mainly build on what I have read on Techcrunch.

The important founders of FF are former employees of Google. That explains a lot I think to the FF success. I suspect they got well of from their stay at Google. This gives them leverage and freedom to do new risky things. The stains from the Google brand also help when you as a new entrepreneur want to attract investors. Another factor is the obtained work experience from Google. The design of FF and way of working seems be very much coloured by Google. This has created a service with high quality I think.

Twitter has a great idea but do not seem to have the resources of FF or the work experience in how to execute the idea (even if there also here are former Google employees involved). The execution of the idea was very much dependent on one person – and he dropped of (or whatever) some months ago. Lack of resources can explain why they had too few computer resources to run twitter on – and such circumstances do not help when your service becomes in demand. The lack of experience is well described in Michael Arrington’s post where he imply amateurism. I believe you can see all these factors in the now pending quality of the service. This compared to the FF case.

Tentative conclusions? Resources are crucial in execution on markets where speed to attract a lot of users and monetizing them is everything. If you as an entrepreneur do not posses them yourselves, you can not wait to slowly build them up within your emerging organisation. Instead, you have rapidly to create a network around your business idea where you can access all needed resources.

Finally, FriendFeed or Twitter seems to be the question on everybody’s lips? If I have to choose one of them, it would of course easily be FF. It has much more going for it than Twitter. However, in my world there is not about black and white. Twitter it is fun, sexy, and carless and that is always in demand. On FF it is a little more serious because it is about topics, discussion, and comments - whereas on twitter it is simple more about “what do you do now”. Therefore right now, I think FF and Twitter fills different needs and thereby complement each other. My answer is therefore neither or - it is both!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Readings on Sunday 20/7

Two articles as link share this Sunday. They are somewhat outside of the normal blog topic as usual.

1 The first reading tip is from Lifehack. It is about what personality you are and connected to setting prioritise right.
2 The second tip is an article from Court's. It is about not hesitate to change path in life when you notice that the present one is wrong.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Swurl.com is crude but not without potentials

Swurl is a new aggregation service which I have connected my feeds to. It is a type of service which definitely has potentials Right now though, mostly in the concept of aggregation in itself. However, it gives to me value both as an author and a reader. I like that the service cleverly avoids duplication when aggregate many different feeds. I like the overview it gives over all my activities on the Internet. For me as a reader of others’ activities, I can very easily and fast apprehend and follow what they do.

But in its present state, I think the positive stops there. One has to say that Swurl in its present state is rather crude and raw. If you want to find other "Swurls" and communicate with those, it gets a little more complicated than or at least not as refined as on other services.

The aggregation of everything takes place in a crude form. It published whole of the feed text – you can not chose any usurps or similar. To have all published in it’s entirely form is not so good if you want your readers come to your blog for instance. It also aggregates your friend and their material but because of its scale that that implies, it is not so easy to follow.

All this said, I have good hopes for this service. I think that it is on to something which fits the future.

Photo source

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The schedule service of Blogger makes my life manageable but also out of sync

Bloggers has introduced a relative new schedule service. The service is an excellent addition to the service of blogger. Now I can plan my blogging in a much more efficient way. It keeps my life in balance.

However, blogger writing is very much an “in the moment” thing. It is the spontaneous and unpretentious which is fun about blogging I think. You read something, you get an idea and you want to write about it – here and now! You write one post and then you rush fast on to write the next one. Often in my case, the impulse is to publish the post right the moment it is done. But I know I have to pace myself. Blogging it is not a 100 meter race, it is a marathon. I try to concentrate my writing moments. With the schedule service I get a steady flow of publishing. But schedule also means that there becomes a separation between my writing and when its shows up on the blog. Publishing becomes stretch it out in time. Sometimes I’m maybe three weeks ahead.

Many would argue that this is a good thing - both for the author and the readers. One avoids publishing things in a rush which maybe is not so well though out. The schedule service calms everybody down on Internet and reduces the risk of eco chamber effect. It creates a possibility that the quality of my writing will be improved. More time for reflection of what I have written. When it is writing in a spur of the moment, the line of arguments is clear in my mind but they do not necessary come out that way on text. If you have some time to reflect before the text is published, you often detect these jumps in logic. Okay, this was only positive words of the new schedule service of Blogger.

But a strange feeling has appeared. The risk is that the arguments in the blog post feels awkward at the date of publishing – not wrong in content but wrong in time. Well you could argue that this should not be a problem because I should strive to write timeless posts. Yes, but that is not what I’m after here. It is that scheduling separated the three parts of my present thinking, the discussion on Twitter, Friend feed etc, and what is published on my blogger. It is a feeling of my blogging being out of sync to the stream of “collective consciousness” on internet. I publish something whereas my mind is already occupied with something else and the debate has also change since I wrote the post.

The post is detached from here and now. This is of course imaginary on my part. But still, for me it is a real and unsettling one. The spontaneous and “spur of the moment” of blogging fades somewhat.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Readings on Sunday 13/7

Two articles as link share this Sunday. They are somewhat outside of the normal blog topic as usual.

1 The first reading tip is NYT and about the importance to eat continually to keep the diabetes in check. The research is now making progress around this important area.

2 The second tip is an article in WSJ about the future of US workforce. It stresses that most of the work force are going to be self employed. These ideas are a little bit to far even for me. I though think it is interesting to take in such ideas.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The concept of free arouses strong feelings

Dan Moren, in his article, seems to long for earlier times when it comes to the question on how the producers should be paid on internet for their efforts. It also seems that many of the commentators agree with him. I also would like to agree with Dan Moren, but I have some problems with that.

Models of pricing in the old physical world are not the same as models of pricing in the new digital world. These two worlds are in many ways working under different logics and they are therefore not the same. To try to apply the model of pricing in the physical world on the digital world is a losers game in many situations for producers. It is a model which satisfies neither the needs of the producer or the consumer.

However, nothing is really free. The present solution of pricing in the digital world is not satisfactory. It hampers the development of the Internet. We need more alternative pricing models. But here are we very much in a limbo state still. We do not yet know the new solutions and how they should be materialized. However, we can be pretty sure that the solution of old pricing model in the physical world will only be one among many models in the future digital world

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Customer to Customer (C2C) is what is on the marketing plate in the Internet environment

What is changed with marketing when it comes to Internet? The answer is usually the phenomenon of Word of Mouth.

When we deal with marketing in physical markets, we mainly talk about Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B). But also when we deal with after sales and customer satisfaction we talk about Customer to Business (C2B). But there have always also been a fourth communication component in marketing and that is Costumer to Customer (C2C). The best example on C2C is Word of Mouth. However, this C2C, and also C2B, has always been difficult in the physical markets. But now on Internet, it is all about C2C and C2B. We talk e.g. about viral marketing and Buzz marketing. However, on internet one has to be sensitive with how one design B2C activities. One should try to find ways to influence in an unobtrusive manner – not to disturbed or anger the ongoing conversation (C2C).

In a Forrester blog post, Josh Bernoff discusses the problem with finding profitable business models on internet. Most of the innovative business ideas have problem to generate profit. He argues that there are four types of business ideas which have proven to be successful. All of these four is mostly about business markets. A producer asks a company to investigate some aspects of their consumer market:

1 The first example is companies which listen to the consumers’ conversation.
2 The second is companies which talk to the consumers in the market. This is tricky but valuable if the player can find the right tone.
3 The third is companies which tries to energize the consumers to act. This is about doing reviews and ratings.
4 And fourth and final is companies which try to embracing ideas in the market and try to make something out of them - i.e. new business ideas.

The reason for these four models’ profit success is that they add real value. I see all these successful business models to have an important focus on facilitate and tap into the Consumer to consumer communication (C2C). It is C2C which are the driving force on internet. This is an important lesson for the marketing industry. C2B, B2B, C2B has to adapt to C2C. Marketing has to rethink the approach and try to blend in the former three into C2C. We maybe have to come up with some new labels. We could talk about BC2C, B2BC or something similar along that line. Another, and more constructive, suggestion is that we give upp the concept of Business and customer and instead talk about different forms of co-producers and value creaters.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Readings on Sunday 6/7

Two articles are presented this Sunday. They are somewhat outside of the normal blog topic.

1 The first reading tip is from Toxel.com. They present pictures of 24 clever advertisements. And amazing they are in its blending of design and creative ideas.

2 The second tip is Divice.com. They write about the stuff of the future – which is a fascinating and useless reading at the same time. It is though a rich source of inspiration and amazement. You can e.g. Read about 10 high-tech barbecues or cutting edge bathroom design.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Google Adsense will tell you the topic of your blog

I m not so used to write blog posts. I have therefore read somewhat on several blogs about what kind of mistakes many beginners do according to the more experienced.

One problem for beginners seems to be what topic they should write about. This is not any minor or silly problem, which you should just wink away. It is a strategic choice which may have long term effects for your blog. So it is important to put in some thinking into this choice.

But it is difficult to decide a topic or discern a topic. It is questions about what a topic is, when is it to narrow, and when is it too wide? This creates a lot of uncertainty. Many start to write without knowing exactly what their topics should be about. For some it becomes clearer after a while. Maybe one gets some input from the readers and that can help to create a clear picture of what your topic you write about is.

But all are not so lucky or have that patient. After long time they are still uncertain about what their topic is. You are maybe one of them? In that case here is a somewhat unorthodox suggestion to solution to the problem. Many of us let Google decide everything else in our lives (smile), so why not also this?

We have learnt that we always can trust Google algorithmically search. It is not build on any subjective methods. It is a machine which unbiased tells us e.g. which articles, books, blogs, and search word is most popular. The principle behind it is the beauty contest – the one who receive most votes are the most “beautiful”.

Okay, my point. Why not let Google Adsense (or similar) decide what your topic is? Go to Google Adsense and fetch as many ads you can to your blog. Then follow what kind of commercials turns up on your page. Do this for a week, maybe two. Voila! These will tell you what topic you write about.

On my page, I received commercials about market analysis, trend tools, and market analytics. They seems to be pointed towards readers in form of producers and B2B markets. Not so sexy if you ask me. But this is how Google perceived my blog I guess.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google’s dominance is always under pressure and siege

Google has created tremendous value added for users on the Internet. They have also been well rewarded for it. But many are afraid of the dominance of Google. That this force of good should turn into a force of evil - the reference is often here Microsoft. I do not think this is a danger. Even though Google has a strong position in search and will have that for a long time, the Cyberspace is vast and there is a lot of space for other competitive players.

Google is under pressure from many directions. As always it begins with the smaller things and changes in life -peripheral to the centrifugal search force in the centre.

New small players have to tread lightly. There is no use to try to play a hostile game when you are a new player in a big guy's playing field. Both from a market and a competitor perspective, it is better to build on the existing business ideas and innovate out of that.

I do not want to say that Google have spread themselves to thin. I think Google have to master many functions of the Internet market. That is one of the reasons to their success. But it is always difficult to defend the many angles of a fortress. It is even harder to innovate and develop all those angles. Here are four examples of angles of Google where new players innovate.

1 OneSpot and Feedly build and innovate on Google Reader.
2 Wordpress seems to innovate much more than Blogger is, and thereby attract the influential part of the blogger market.
3 Twitter and FriendFeed seem to have the upper hand of Google’s Jaiku.
4 Powerset and Cognition technologies try to be a part of the innovation of future search on the Internet, which Google now dominates.

I do not think that we should see these examples as just only scrap from the dominant's dinner table. Many important changes begin in the small. Why is it so difficult to defend all angles for the dominant player? Many players know intellectually the direction of the trends and what is needed in the market. But it is one thing to know and it is another to see how the next new thing should be played out in action. It is first when you act, you become aware of how it can be materialized.

Members of a big organisation have a lot of mental and physical restriction of their actions. Usually we call this history and tradition. This influence in form of “how we do things around here”, it tends to limit and funnel the members’ action into already known paths. This even if they are mentally capable to see these new paths. This situation creates possibilities for new small and innovative players. Paradoxical, this can also be good for Google itself, where it helps them to stay sharp. But most valuable is this situation for the consumer on Internet. Many new innovations will come out of this pressure on the market.

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