The purpose of Spellr.us is to review your website and find all your spelling errors. Now in beta, spellr.us has opened to a few beta testers, and I was lucky enough to be selected to test the service. I have posted a screencast showing the service in action.

spellr.us screencast

A service like this should be very important to most blogs. Most people are going to search for terms that are correctly spelled. Therefore, having the correct spelling is essential to getting good placement by google in the search rankings. Of course, misspellings are unprofessional as well.

I am a horrible, horrible speller… and mightyq is constantly correcting my destruction of our language. Thus, I was very excited to use the service.

Sadly, right now, there is no way to create a custom dictionary. Therefore, instead of easily finding my misspellings, I was flooded with words and jargon that were not in the simple spellr.us dictionary. Of course, without the ability to add words or to filter these common terms, finding the misspellings among all the other tagged words is almost impossible.

However, the custom dictionary is coming. If it will be enough to find the misspelled needles in the haystack remains to be seen. My fingers are crossed, and I bet they will succeed.

Addendum: Kevin from spellr.us has already commented on at our higher resolution podcast on this topic.

The Ten Internet Trends of 2007

December 17th, 2007

When we look back on 2007 in a few years, these ten topics and companies will be the milestones that will be referenced and debated:

  • 1. Google Pushes Its Power
  • 2. Aggregators Polluted by the Mobs
  • 3. Mobile Web. Why?
  • 4. User-Submitted Profits
  • 5. Apple Leaps
  • 6. Microsoft Tumbles
  • 7. DRM. Die. Die. Die.
  • 8. Main Stream Media Invasion
  • 9. Politics’ Internet Fruitfulless
  • 10. Social Network Assimilation

1. Google

Google is currently the most powerful technology company in the world. With dominance in search and advertising, profits and stock prices have been impressive.

This year will be remembered as the point that google starting flexing its power to change people’s actions on the internet. Matt Cutts confirmed that google would punish people buying and selling links to influence search engine placement.

Google decreased the clickable adsense area which decreased some publishers’ income by well over 50%.

Google has openly started attacking social networks such as Facebook by joining the smaller networks through the OpenSocial API and by socializing Google services such as Google Reader. This dilutes the power that any one social networking system has. Google’s purchase of Jaiku is a direct competitor to IM candy Twitter. Google’s Android dilutes the potential power of a cellular network as well.

Wikipedia and squidoo will soon be feeling the google crunch next. Collaborative content is one of the most amazing products being created and delivered on the internet. Google’s Knol wants to compete here as well. Like many others, TechCrunch is worried about the conflict of interest:

Google says that Knol pages will be indexed into their search engine but will have no special ranking. That’s a little bit untrue, since they’ll be hosted by Google and will have the advantage of Google’s hefty PageRank to lift them in search results. And since no one will be auditing Google to ensure that Knol pages are treated just like everyone else, there are bound to be claims of conflict of interest.

This first started by competing with Microsoft through online services. Is Google’s strategy to dilute any potential collection of power?

2. Web 2.0 Aggregators

Digg and Reddit have moved away from tech. Sad.

Mob Rule. Tyranny of the Majority. Ochlocracy. Whatever you call it, these sites are the weak, fluffy versions of what they used to be. As the less-geek have moved in, the content of these aggregators have followed. Even the creators cannot control the sites anymore.

Unless you have a large social connection within these sites, you have no chance of getting an article viewed… (unless you pay for it.) Socializing is more important than quality.

Although I view both of these sites on a daily basis, they are frequently gamed, overcome with political manipulation, often filled with spamish links, and are utterly unrealiable as news sources.

What’s the alternative? You can always read what the A-List boys’s club is echoing about on techmeme. Or you can watch the main stream news… which is frequently gamed, overcome with manipulation… You get the idea.

3. Mobile Web

The mobile web is growing and growing. However, unless you are selling ringtones, nobody has figured how to make money from it. Even mobile web experts are puzzled on the exact nature of making money through mobile devices.

Plus, does there have to be a special “mobile web” anymore? The iPhone displays regular web content through a cell interface. Instead of manipulating content to look pretty on tiny browsers, manipulate the cell web browser to view existing content well on the cellular interface. When was the last time you remember visiting a mobi site?

4. User-Submitted Profits

Everybody is making money on the back on the users.

NewsVine, Squidoo, Wikipedia, Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Facebook. If you really think about it, none of these companies would work without the public building content for them. You are building content for them. Congratulations! When do you expect your check?

Even blogs and forums get boost from comments and discussions created within their communities. (Please comment, please, please, please…)

How long will people continue to sow content in the sites of others for free?

5. Apple

I personally believe that this was an amazing year for Apple. Apple stocks are certainly booming.

The iPhone has changed the cellular landscape that parallels how the iPod changed the portable musical player market. Apple’s commericals are painfully clever in their attacks against Microsoft. Leopard’s problems have been far less damaging than Vista’s which has helped as well. Overall, more and more people are considering moving to Apple’s platform.

Apple has shown areas of weakness, however. The AppleTV push has really died for the general public. With an anorexic iTunes movie selection, the AppleTV has little appeal to the nongeek. iTunes itself is having growing pains with content providers. NBC/Universal have decided to play hardball with TV shows and music. It’s difficult to know how it is going to play out. Apple is understandingly becoming weaker and weaker for DRM as well.

Being less ambitious than Vista has played well for Leopard. However, the new OS X is still causing growing pains for a lot of people. Feeling the vapor, we are still wondering where the much promised ZFS is?

6. Microsoft

As a one time Microsoft zealot, I am pained to see what has happened to Microsoft this year. Vista is failing because it has taken users too many steps as once. We all had to throw away most of our old hardware when XP rolled out. Most of us accepted this because the pre-XP experience was so unstable. XP was the successful promise of easy usage and stability. I wanted to install XP for my parents because I knew it would make things easier for them.

Today the market is different. Things worked pretty well before Vista. People do not want to sacrifice most of their hardware to get things working correctly. Plus, now we have 32-bit versus 64-bit discussion and “ultimate” products that add little except confusion.

Away from the OS, Microsoft’s search engines and ad networks are stagnant, and Microsoft certainly seems to be trying to kill html email usability. From my experience at FOWD, Sean Siebel is not an impressive “User Experience Evangelist.” At least Scoble tried.

Microsoft has made a few positive steps this year. The Microsoft Home Server is a new idea for a new market. If done well, it could be an essential box in every household. IE7 is a large improvement over IE6. Microsoft is investing in Facebook. Even the second Zune release (and the free software upgrade to the first version) is finally generating a little positive Microsoft buzz. Silverlight and Surface are sexy and innovative.

7. DRM

Could 2007 be the year that DRM finally starts to die?

Die. Die. Die.

Shawn Fanning’s original idea of drm-free Napster could exist in several different forms over the next few years. iTunes Plus and Amazon’s DRM free shows that the big guys are creeping into this direction. Steve Jobs thinks this way, too.

Radiohead’s In Rainbows “pay us what you want” experiment is exciting. Saul Williams and Trent Reznor are doing something similar.

Give them the music for free and sell them on the other stuff. It’s coming.

8. Main Stream Media

How about give them the content for free, too?

The New York Times is finally free. Online circulation is having to make up for the dying dead trees distribution:

Nationwide, average daily paid newspaper circulation declined 2.6 percent in the six months that ended Sept. 30, compared with the previous year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an independent organization that monitors the industry. Sunday circulation dropped 3.5 percent nationwide during the same period.

As the main stream media looks to supplement eyeball views with online content, their articles are appearing more and more in news aggregators. How long until we figure out that some of digg’s top users are on the payrolls of popular newspapers or public relations companies?

As advertising dollars move from TV and newspaper to the internet, the main stream media is following. How much this will drown out the current boom on citizen journalism is unclear.

9. Internet and Politics

Howad Dean’s success and subsequent failure seemed to grow from within communities within the internet. Was online activism a good idea too early? Will the traditionally nonvoting, young, internet crowd actually play any role in the upcoming elections? These are the questions that campaigns are asking .

Campaigns are on MySpace, FaceBook, and YouTube. You can not read digg or reddit without reading about Ron Paul or Kucinich. Of course, strike911 received active buzz throughout the internet without getting support from the general public or receiving any real main stream press.

This campaign cycle should be a great test to see if online voting and protesting will cause any offline results.

10. Social Networks

Online social networks have continued to grow throughout 2007. The large players like MySpace and Facebook are ubiquitous. How they are changing our interactions with our personal worlds are staggering. The influence and entertainment role of TV is being largely supplanted by these social networks. For many, offline social interactions are first initiated and planned online. Small niches of personalities and beliefs can find like-minded partners.

The success of YouTube and Flickr is obviously dependent on their social interactions. Digg and reddit are driven by social interactions. Dating networks are thriving.

As more of our social lives are played out online, more of our personal information is accessible online as well. More of our personal actions and characteristics are targeted by advertisers. More of our actions can be collected and used against us. Will an insurance company be able to find out that you are a member of a tobacco social group or a Huntington’s disease facebook group? The ultimate balance between profit and privacy will be difficult.

11. Memes?

Oh wait.. I left out lolcats. I am not sure if that’s a trend or a plague, but 2007 is certainly the a year of it. Or maybe it’s not a trend, maybe it is a meme. Who knows anymore…

Conclusion:
As I reread my article, my overall feeling is that our experience on the internet is becoming more complex. The name “google” no longer gives most people warm and fuzzy feelings. Digg and reddit are often manipulated more than main stream media. Facebook is looking to trade privacy for profits.

The idea of a “do no evil” company is more likely an untruth than an oxymoron. Previously, we thought it was possible on the internet. No more.

Of course, I would not want to do without Facebook, Digg, Reddit, or Google. We all benefit from the battles between Apple and Microsoft. Companies need to make money to survive. The balance is tough.

The real world continues to invades our idealist internet utopia. “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” but I would rather be here than anywhere else.

Today I discovered one of the weaknesses of badges, gadgets, and embeds. Users who are behind restrictive web filters may never correctly see a web page that contains an “include” from a blocked site.

On my XP machines at work, the Facebook Badge does not time out in a graceful manner. This has been the source of my thinking that my blog has not been working incorrectly. Today I installed firebug and yslow for firefox and noticed the following…

slow facebook badge

The site was stuck on waiting for the facebook badge — eternally. This is likely because of the websense restrictive filtering policy of the hospital. If I try to directly visit facebook, that never resolves either. I receive an eternal “Waiting for…” message in the tray in both IE6 and firefox.

Eventually, IE6 just quits waiting for the badge and never renders the rest of the page. After a minute or two, firefox gives up and does render the page; however, it is such a long delay most people would give up ship and move to another page.

Certainly, you can complain about the way the browsers handle timeouts on javascript. However, the more important point is the following:

How many users are we missing because we are using these embedded objects?

The huge spikes in internet traffic during the work portion of the week suggests that a large majority of internet traffic is from people at work. People at work often have some type of internet filter between them and the rest of the world. It makes sense to me, then, that these hot new embeddable objects may be making many web pages inaccessible to many users.

If a browser fails to load an image, it fails gracefully. If a browser fails to load a gadget, the rendering of your entire page may choke.

If Digg is a young teenager, Slashdot is its parent.  Slashdot is now developing “Firehose” to keep up with Digg’s success.

The story of how Slashdot inspired Digg is well known.  Now, digg has surpassed slashdot, and slashdot traffic is actually slipping.

Now, the old fogey slashdot has announced a new (dare I say, Web 2.0) youthful, digg-like voting system–Firehose.  If you are a paid subscriber to Slashdot, go login and check it out. 

( Leave a comment to this post and you will be eligible for a slashdot subscription too. )

Firehose in action…

Here is slashdot’s description of what Firehose is…

The Slashdot Firehose is a collaborative system designed to allow users to assist our editors in the story selection process. Try tagging and voting on the entries below, and by using the ‘feedback’ menu by each entry. The hose can contain submissions, RSS Feeds, bookmarks, journal entries and Slashdot stories. Please send your feedback to hose@cmdrtaco.net but be forgiving of beta code!

Here is a break down of the various components:

SlideFilter:

Sliding this filter toward the red isolates the more popular, more voted articles.  In contrast, sliding the filter toward the darker colors increases the noise.  This compares to Slashdot’s current ability for users to view comments at a certain moderation level or higher.

Control Bar:

  • a — Play or Pause the Updates
  • b — Sort by Popularity or Time
  • c — Sort by Ascending or Descending
  • d — Toggle Abbreviated or Full

Voting:

The thumb up and thumb down allows users to vote on an article.  Once a user has voted, the icons dynamically change to show a user’s vote.  I believe the color highlight on the left side is a measure of an article’s popularity.  These colors likely correspond to the colors in the slidefilter.

Once an article is accepted for front page submission the title bar turns from gray to the traditional slashdot #004F50 green.

Different Views:

I showed an example of the expanded view in the examples above.  Here is an example of the compressed view. 

This view will likely increase the ”catchy title” popularity effect that already weakens Digg’s effectiveness.

Coding:

What was probably the most surprising to me is that the new slashdot layout uses yahoo’s ajax developer toolset.  The yahoo references can be found throughout the source code:

<div id=”firehose” class=”aduserbox”><script type=”text/javascript”>
  YAHOO.slashdot.App = function()

YAHOO.util.Dom.getElementsByClassName

Display Bugs:

True to the beta tag (and to slashdot tradition), the new layout is not yet IE7 friendly. 

More User Generated Content / Socialization:

Slashdot users are famous for generating content.  Their superior comment system has been the cornerstone of their success.  Early adoption of a blog-ish journal system has helped as well.  Slashdot also developed a primitive friend/foe system long before social networks became popular.

Slashdot seems to be continuing to build on this process.  Now journal entries can be automatically added to the firehose.  This will encourage people to post in their journal and thus generate more content for the slash lords.

Discussion2 is slashdot’s introduction of ”JavaScript/CSS” into its well known threaded/moderated comment system.

Discussion: 

I think everybody saw this coming.  I have mixed feelings about it.  Do you remember the first time you parents did something to appear “cool” to your friends?  I can remember when slashdot users slamming javascript as a security weakness were the norm; now slashdot is sliding into AJAX.

The strength of slashdot IMHO has always been the comments of its expert users.  The stories were just an excuse to read the opinions of the real, non-journalistic experts. 

Will these changes promote more interesting stories and increase the interest?  Will the quicker pace scare off the hardcore experts that are powering the place?

As a slashdot fan and subscriber, I hope these changes make the system stronger and more successful.

If you have a slashdot account but do not have a subscription, maybe we can help.  If you leave an insightful or funny comment (and your slashdot ID), we’ll pick a couple of give away 1000 page view subscriptions.  Then you’ll be able to play with Firehose too!

Flash. Charts.

February 8th, 2007

I think everybody in the world knew that this would be coming.  You give them your data, and they create pretty flash charts with it.

You can try without giving your email, username, social security number, or anything.  Very smart.  Free if you let them put their name on it.

Rich Chart Live

It will gladly read excel, CSV, and other common spreadsheet formats.

I tried entering a year’s worth of techrx traffic, and it coughed and sputtered big time.  However, to its credit, it did load.  Turning off the display of labels improved the read-ability of the chart in a large way.  By default, it loads each point one at a time with full animation as well.  Turning off the animation, therefore, helped as well.

You can save to flash or as an blog-embed item.

I made a quicker, simple chart here.

visits normalized for last year…

The Machine is Us/ing Us

February 7th, 2007

Wow.

I’m not sure that it is as educational as it is impressively done. Expressing information in a screencast is always very difficult. This guy is brilliant in the way he does it.

You gotta view the video…

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Recently a post appeared on the front page of digg suggesting that Fox would purchase YouTube.  Nobody yet knows if this rumor is true or not; however, it should be.  YouTube must combine with a media giant in order to develop the next killer facet of their project — YouTube TV.

In combining with a media network, YouTube could easily convert its content into TV channels.  With tagging and classification, most of the work has been done already.  Just like satellite radio, users would select a TV channel based on the genre they want.  Want to watch a stream of funny video clips? Turn on YouTubeTV Comedy.  Want to watch the most popular videos on YouTube?  Turn on that channel instead.

YouTube will be the first internet media company that can immediately make a large impact on ”old school” media such as television.  Content is king and YouTube has plenty of it. 

However, YouTubeTV will not be funded through traditional content surrounded and interrupted by commercials.  YouTubeTV will have integrated videos that in many ways will be indistinguishable from the normal YouTube content.  YouTube actually does this already, in fact.  Ethical or not, the best performing adsense sites are those that have adsense that appears to blend in with the content.  In the world of DVRs and TIVOs, integrated commercial content will even be more vital.

Imagine it.  You are getting your ADHD fill of YouTube content sitting on your couch.  One short clip after another after another.  Imagine how easy it will be to slide in a video that continues with the channel’s theme but really contains a commercial message…  

You are watching the Sports YouTube channel.  Currently you are in the middle of a 15 minute run of the best YouTube submitted slam dunks.  In this dunk, you see a player 5’6″ guy slam over a 7 foot giant.  Amazing slam!  In the replay now, the camera pauses just a brief second on the logo on the player’s shoe.  YouTubeTV has just fed you a commercial.

Of course, google already has a TV station.  It is a cheap option that cable companies can add to their channel list.  Current TV, however, displays the high end, better-than-amateur, safe content.  YouTubeTV should not be so foolish.  Most people do not watch YouTube to see documentaries on albino, multilingual sock puppet performers in Seattle.  (I think that one has run on current.tv like four times now.)  YouTubeTV will just take the best of the submitted content, strip out the material they can’t get copyright permission, and then will gladly feed the rest to us.  Raw.

We are no longer a TV generation.  We are an internet generation.  Previously we would have used the internet to get a torrent of one of our favorite TV shows.  Soon YouTubeTV will allow us to get our internet fix — our YouTube fix — with a remote control in our hand and a high-def TV across the room.

And what about Fox buying YouTube?  From the company that brought us MySpace and American Idol, Fox might be the perfect schizophrenia media magnet to pull all of this off. 

May God help us all.  (Now where is my remote?)

Tech-Recipes has had the privilege of being placed on the front page of digg and the shoutwire-related pages several times now. It is always a thrill and honor to experience the massive traffic effects of being highlighted on these sites. Our sites have generally tolerated the traffic very well, and many people have contacted me regarding these experiences. I have written about the unique nature of digg traffic in the past–Digg Effect: The Top 10 Things Webmasters Should Know. Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to contrast and compare the traffic effects of these two very popular sites.

1. The Shoutwire Effect can be as big as the Digg Effect. For many years now, people have feared the slashdot effect . This is basically the overwhelming deluge of traffic that a site gets when posted on the front page of slashdot. With the recent climb in popularity, the “digg effect” frequently knocks servers down as well. Shoutwire traffic (or at risk of coining a new term, the “shout effect”) will throw just as many hits onto a site as digg. However, this traffic is not as intense.

The digg effect peaks within a couple of hours. The shout effect plateaus over about half of a day. The net effect is about the same amount of traffic; however, since the shout traffic is more spread out, servers seem to tolerate it better. Overall bandwidth requirements are similar between the two.

2. Shoutwire traffic clicks rarely clicks on ads. So all you freaking scamming webmasters, quit posting your crap trying to make a quick buck! Just like digg, shoutwire traffic visits and leaves without clicking on ads. You are more likely to owe money paying for extra bandwidth than to actually make a profit on your post… so please stop!

3. Being on shoutwire can get you the same amount of traffic as being on digg. It is a common belief that being highlighted on digg will lead to much more traffic that being on shoutwire. In many cases this is not true. As mentioned above, the digg traffic is so dense and sudden, a server really feels the strain. However, the more steady shout traffic ends up yielding a similar amount of traffic. Here’s another way to look at it: digg has more users than shoutwire; however, an article on digg stays on the front page a shorter amount of time than shoutwire. Here are the stats from one of our tutorials that was on both digg and shoutwire:

shout versus digg traffic

4. While Digg is solo, Shoutwire is a multi-headed hydra. When digg is slamming your site, all the traffic is coming from digg. If you want to throttle it, it is easily done. However, shoutwire traffic comes from multiple sites: Shoutwire.com, torrentspy.com, ircspy.com, packetnews.com. In reality, most of the traffic really comes from shoutwire and torrentspy. From a theoretical SEO standpoint, being on multiple sites might be better.

5. Articles hitting the front page of shoutwire are more varied than those on digg. Digg users pride themselves on just promoting technology related articles. Shoutwire users have a tendency to promote interesting news of a much wider variety. Both sites hate the “blog bounce” which is when a user submits a link to his blog post which in turn just links to the main article. “Blog bounces” never get promoted to the main page on either site.

6. Shoutwire’s abuse protection is more robust than digg’s. Shoutwire prevents multiple shouts on an article from a single IP address. This prevents one user with multiple accounts from promoting the same article over and over. Likely, soon digg will improve its abuse protection as well, but for now, Shoutwire’s is more impressive.

7. Shoutwire traffic does not generate new users, comments, or posts. Just like digg, shoutwire brings “drive-by” traffic. They come, they look, they leave. In google analytics, this is called bounce traffic. They bounce in and out. When compared to traffic from search engines, users from these sites are much less likely to participate in the site’s community. If you think about it, this makes sense. People are visiting torrentspy and just surfing through the shoutwire links as they wait for their torrent to download. In contrast, google traffic are focused visitors who are actively searching for the information on your site.

Alexa bump from shoutwire traffic

8. Shoutwire visitors are more likely to use alexa than digg users. We have shown previously that digg does not greatly influence alexa ranking. In contrast, being highlighted on the shoutwire suite of sites seems to give you an alexa bump. This is likely because more shoutwire users than digg users use IE and the alexa plug-in.

Now, before you slam me, this is not placebo-controlled, double-blinded, scientific research here. I am comparing the characteristics from the shoutwire sites to digg. These were different articles posted at different times so there could be other variables in play. However, I believe this is one of the first comparisons between these two very cool and innovative sites.

Hopefully this information will help you as webmasters better prepare for getting your site on the shoutwire sites. Personally, I hope our research will stress to those self-promoting, spamming webmasters that sites such as shoutwire and digg will use up your bandwidth without increasing your ad-clicks.

In the war between google and microsoft, two distinctly different strategies are appearing.

The historic game of Chess is played with 32 pieces on an 8×8 board. The purpose of the game is to protect your king while capturing your opponent’s. Although complex, most advantages are established by attacking a focal piece with more pieces that it can defend. Typically, Chess strategy is a combination of forming protective structure around the king while forming attacks on the opponent’s protective structure. In many ways, chess is how we think of modern combat. Protect your home base while attacking with overwhelming strength.

The game of Go is played on a 19×19 board with an unlimited number of pieces. With no central figure such as the king to attack, Go is much more fluid than Chess. Trying to keep your pieces together while fragmenting the opponent’s structure is vital. Limiting the opponent’s movements and attacking his/her weakness are keys to winning. Although Go has influenced Chinese and Japanese military for the last two thousand years, the contrasts here are very obvious. Chess uses focal protection and attack to gain victories; Go uses diffuse influence to acquire territories.

Microsoft plays chess with Bill Gates as king. Their strength is their dominance in the desktop platform. They attack their opponents openly and directly. If a small company had promise in the desktop market, they were swallowed by Microsoft’s overwhelming resources. Those that were not bought soon saw an improved clone of their idea integrated into the OS. It has been a brilliant strategy and has allowed Microsoft to grow.

Other than geeks like myself, most people do not know that Sergey Brin and Larry Page are the founders of google. No king here. Although their foundation is being a search engine, they have done very little to protect this foundation. They are not mass buying other search engines to reduce the market. By improving and improving their strength, they know their foundation cannot be broken. Although somewhat difficult to assess at times, google too is always on the attack. Their growth is amazingly impressive.

To attack google, Microsoft’s predictable strategy was to build a better search engine. By throwing money, resources, and hooks into the desktop operating system, Microsoft directly tried to power in on google’s search throne. Google created a desktop search; Microsoft in turn produced an equal product. Google releases the revolutionary google earth platform and Microsoft counters with the equally impressive MSN virtual earth. Microsoft directly neutralizes google’s advances.

Now, google has the same ambitions as microsoft. Growth and the defeat of competition is essential to survival. However, google’s attack is much more subversive. Google has been aggressive at recruiting talent away from microsoft. Without the elite programmers to perfect the desktop OS and to clone competitors, a large portion of microsoft’s attack is at least greatly slowed. At the same time, google is busy releasing unique, free software and services that Microsoft is forced to counter. For example, Picasa is a beautiful piece of software eye candy that Microsoft has yet to equal. Google’s software give-aways have the added benefit of supporting google’s “do no evil” reputation. I work when I am looking at Microsoft Word. I am playing when I am looking at Picasa. If people simply like google more than microsoft, then the battle is well on the way of being won already. Go’s theme of diffuse influence is powerful indeed.

Google is not only trying to win with users’ emotions however. By releasing software such as google web accelerator, by offering free wi-fi, and by buying unused dark fiber, google is finding unique ways to get access to users other than the desktop. This obviously goes toward deflecting microsoft’s OS strength.

Indeed it appears that Microsoft is playing Chess while Google is playing Go. As an actual fan of both companies (and both games), watching the battle has been extremely interesting to me. I imagine as google matures they will eventually employ some of Microsoft’s buy-up-to-attack strategy. Likewise, Bill Gates is not the fool. If Microsoft were to buy some sexy web 2.0 projects and keep them free, microsoft would establish a new, google-like dimension to their attack.

Addendum:

Nine months have past since I originally posted this. Since then Google has purchased YouTube, and Microsoft has been working on Vista. Sure Microsoft is dabbling in more social/web 2.0 environments (msn soapbox, for example), but what is new and innovative about their attack? Nothing.

Microsoft continues to improve its OS base with Vista; however, Microsoft is way behind in the realms of search and video. Google continues to buy up and develop hot, innovative projects. The google realm of influence grows and grows.

The battle continues…

Flickr is one of the great web 2.0 success stories. Not only was it bought out by yahoo, but it also actually has a way to make money–by selling pro accounts.

As a photo service, you would think that it would expect the holiday rush. Heck, it’s even owned by yahoo, a company that knows traffic. Well, Flickr has sucked this holiday season.

Traffic Issue #1: Several times this season people have noted that pictures are not being displayed. A warning at the top of the page will tell you that the server is “running hot” and that you should come back another time. Great job scaling your service, guys.

Traffic Issue #2: The integration between flickr -> yahoo -> Target has not been a smooth one. The one hour wait described on the purchase page has often turned into a day wait. The target branches I talked to said that delays receiving the images from yahoo were the problem. In fact, Target often does not even know that the purchase has been placed until hours later.

Technical Issue #1: Digital pictures are too big to print on 4X6 paper and need to be cropped. A crop preview option is supposed to appear in the cart so people can make the correct edits. As this picture demostrates, this option frequently does not appear.

Technical Issue #2: Target reported to me that over Christmas many people unsuccessfully tried to purchase Christmas cards through Flickr. The purchase would go through, but only the picture (and not the card) would print. What a pain!

Social Issue: Paying for a service typically gets you support. I have messaged Flickr regarding issues this week and have still not received a response of any kind. None. Zip. Nada. Very poor form.

Maybe my favorite,cranky, anti-web 2.0 site Go Flock Yourself will be proud of my research…