Sunday, May 06, 2007

High Definition Mistakes

I'm going to refrain from a cute headline using "Digg" in some trite way.

In any case, if you're not up on the story of Digg and the HD-DVD stuff, you can find that in a bunch of other places. But here is just a little of my own analysis.

First, over on the BusinessWeek Tech blog Rob Hof tries to argue that this is a test of Web 2.0. He's wrong (though, he is correct that it's a test of Digg). Even if Digg gets sued out of existence something else will crop up in its place and that's the true power of Web 2.0. A number of sites are already trying to out-Digg Digg, so that is almost guaranteed. Over on ZDNet, Steve O'Hear tries to make the argument that Digg messed this one up big-time from a PR perspective, suggesting that the executives (Read: Kevin Rose) should have just stated the reason why the information was pulled down and that would have not lead to much. He's partially right.

Meanwhile, back on, Cliff Edwards points out that the AACS licensing body messed up by sending around notices "asking" that information be pulled down. They did, in effect, draw more attention to something they could have let die. They're not the only group that does this.

In any case, the real lesson here is that DRM encryption is going to be an arms race and those playing in the sandbox better get used to it. Hackers WILL try to find a way to break just about everything that comes up and then they WILL spread the word.

After all, sharing and collaborating on information is what Web 2.0 is all about.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Does anyone think this stuff through?

Today I got a new LG cell phone. For the 20 minutes I've used it I like it. I know people rave about all the features of cell phones, but for me it's basically just a phone that I can use to call my wife and say "do I need to get a kid before I come home from work?"

This one has all sorts of neat features (like a music player that I can guarantee I'll never use) and Bluetooth. I figured I'd get a Bluetooth headset to go with my Bluetooth enabled phone. In fact, I thought I may as well get the LG version just so it all matches and works together well.

So I charge my phone, set it up and then open the headset. That needs charging too, which is fine. But then I noticed that the charger for my LG headset, which is sold alongside my LG phone, is a different size. So I can't interchange them. Meaning that when I'm mobile, which is, after all, what a mobile phone is all about, I must carry TWO chargers. Also, these chargers are positioned perfectly to take up extra space on a powerstrip. So on the strip my wife and I use to charge our various phones and MP3 players I get to use one less plug.

Thanks LG. Great phone, but you really need to think this stuff through a little better. Why can't everyone just get along and standardize on the small USB slot for power?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Building the Community

I was talking to Doug Haslam the other day about the idea that in this blogging world people are talking to themselves. That is, the same group of people keep talking to the same group, we all nod in agreement then go off in our lives and try to convince others. And we can't figure out why the others "don't get it." His idea stemmed from a Chris Brogan post on the topic.

A key problem is the currency of the link. Because links are what make a blog rise in the search engine stats links become (over) valued. So we need to talk with ourselves in order to make ourselves important to the god that is Google.

But if we ignore Google (and Technorati and just about every other search engine out there) and start to look at what we have around us, things get more interesting. When Kristine and I started one of the first things we did was to tell our neighbors. We also sent emails around on our school mailing lists, so we brought in parents. We weren't looking for bloggers, we wanted members of the community. We did a little by way of traditional blogger marketing (writing on our own blogs, sending to Universal Hub, etc.) but we didn't go digging for links that would drive our rankings.

Things built over time and they continue to do so. Yes, links from other blogs do drive traffic, but most of our traffic remains organic. Without the community we're nothing. I don't care if anyone in Newton reads blogs, I just care that they care about Newton. Nothing else really matters. In fact, when Newton recently found itself among the "bloggiest" communities, Boston Globe Cyberscenes reporter Ralph Ranalli joked that we did so without much help from his column (we love you anyway, Ralph... we're happy you're a reader and sometime contributor).

So, let's extend this into the business world. When we talk about social networking we keep thinking in terms of technology. Yes, technology makes this easier but think about a user group. People attend user group meetings not only to learn about the latest a company has to offer, but also to network with their colleagues. The major change is that technology lets this networking happen at any time and from any location, not just every December in Vegas.

Yes, we need to stop talking to ourselves, but more importantly we need to stop thinking in terms of "online communities" and start thinking in terms of "communities that can benefit from the technology."