Web 2.0 and the Future of Pervasive Computing

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Zoom in on Your Location with Streetside

I just checked out the newest addition to the Microsoft Live Suite - Streetside. This is a really cool preview service that takes network-centric mapping technology to a whole new level. Essentially you can not only find a location using their Virtual Earth package, but you can also navigate through street-level photographs of the location.

The interface is a bit lacking (see screenshot), but the promise of the technology is clear. Take this a step further and you can easily envision being able to not only find the location/picture of a new restaurant, but also quickly checking out any associated reviews/blog posts, or even Stickies.

Hats off to Microsoft. It looks like the folks at Redmond have every intention of using their $50B treasure chest to give Google a run for its money. Oh yea, and I like the race car.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Web 2.0 + Mobile = Pervasive Computing

I recently discovered a neat project that promises to connect the world's most popular online information source, Wikipedia, with the physical world to deliver an awesome new user experience. The Semapedia project leverages Semacode technology to connect physical objects with information available in Wikipedia. For those of you that have not heard of Semacode technology before, here is a little snippet from their website:

Semacode's Software Development Kit is a system for ubiquitous computing. Using the Semacode SDK you can create visual tags for objects and contexts, and read them using a mobile camera phone. Our software running on your phone will then deliver you to the appropriate mobile content.

Semacode works by embedding a URL (web address) into a sort of two-dimensional barcode which looks like a dense crossword puzzle (pictured) — called the tag. The SDK software contains the capability to detect and decode the tag very rapidly with the camera on your phone. It extracts the URL and sends you to that address using the phone's built-in browser.

So here is the mile-high of how Semapedia works. A Wikipedia entry is associated with a Semapedia Tag. This tag, in turn, is then associated with a physical location. This enables mobile users to point their camera at a physical location - like the Hofburg in Vienna - and instantly view any Wiki information associated with the location on their mobile phone (as long as they have the software installed).

Wiki <--> Semacode <--> Physical Location <--> Mobile Camera

Pretty neat, right? This simple idea promises to help usher in the next generation of pervasive computing services that leverage existing networked services on the web. Hopefully this type of service will inspire more novel Web/Mobile mashups. For instance, it would be pretty cool to hook up Riya with a set of online information service in similar manner. I will have to run that by Peter Rip and crew at some point soon.

I love being a geek (sigh). I have to go now, my spidey-sense is tingling. Later Fanboys.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

153 Web 2.0 Services

I ran across a fairly comprehensive list of 153 services that fall under the Web 2.0 mast on Listible. There have been numerous attempts to list all the "Web 2.0 Services" on various blogs. This is extremely difficult given the fact that the definition of the term Web 2.0 is still rather amorphous (that is me being nice). If you are interested in keeping update on the newest information on products/services in the burgeoning Web 2.0 space, I recommend checking out Dion, Emily, Brian, Pete, or Mike's Blogs. For those of you that have not checked out the Listable service out as yet, here is some info I snagged from their "About" section:

Listible is a new way to get relevant resources quickly.

By using Web 2.0 features such as AJAX, folksonomy (tagging), social elements such as voting/commenting and the listible's listonomy (listing), resources can be sorted in a way that will be digestible. You can search what you need quick. You can contribute your resources easier.

I don't know how I feel about Listible as yet, but definitely will follow up to what kind of traction they end up getting as they mature.

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Android - A Google Acquisition I missed

I adjusted my Google Acquisition list to add Android, a former stealthy software startup that made software for mobile phones, and by making a slight correction for a double entry. For those of you that don't get the mobile strategy that Google has been attacking, you should check out this statement is made on their corporate philosophy page:

5. You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer.

The world is increasingly mobile and unwilling to be constrained to a fixed location. Whether it's through their PDAs, their wireless phones or even their automobiles, people want information to come to them. Google's innovations in this area include Google Number Search, which reduces the number of keypad strokes required to find data from a web-enabled cellular phone and an on-the-fly translation system that converts pages written in HTML to a format that can be read by phone browsers. This system opens up billions of pages for viewing from devices that would otherwise not be able to display them, including Palm PDAs and Japanese i-mode, J-Sky, and EZWeb devices. Wherever search is likely to help users obtain the information they seek, Google is pioneering new technologies and offering new solutions.

Anything else!? I am going to write about something non-google related next. Although that is becoming increasingly difficult as these guys have their hands in everything and anything on that has to do with pervasive computing and Web 2.0 these days.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Complete List of Google's Acquisitions

I have been spending this lazy Sunday afternoon organizing/planning/catching up at the office. Exciting things are happening at Clearspring as we continue to expand our team of renegade ninjas to build out our platform. We are pretty excited about what we are doing and, hopefully, you will enjoy the fruits of our labor come release. If you are interested in keeping posted on our progress, please sign up for our newsletter (coming soon) on our website. Also stay tuned to this blog, as I will have more to come on Clearspring soon.

In addition to doing fun work stuff, I have taken it upon myself to spend some serious time web surfing. I have not had the chance to do that in a long time and am WAY overdue. As I caught up with recent happenings, such as the Measuremap acquisition by Google, I noticed a couple other Google acquisitions that I had missed in my first sweep. I combined these findings with my previous research to create a fairly comprehensive list of their acquisitions over the last several years. In general, it seems that the boys at Google have tended to favor smaller players with the following competencies: search, advertising, web analytics, mapping, mobile services, and online publishing.
  1. Outride - Information Retrieval/Search - 2001
  2. Deja News - Groups - 2001
  3. Applied Semantics - Contextual Advertising - 4/2003
  4. Pyra Labs - Blogging - 9/2003
  5. Kaltix - Personalized Search - 9/2003
  6. Sprinks - Advertising - 10/2003
  7. Ignite Logic - 5/2004
  8. Picasa - Photo Organizer - 7/2004
  9. Keyhole - Mapping - 10/2004
  10. Where 2 - Mapping - 2004
  11. Zipdash - Mobile Service - 2004
  12. Urchin - Web Analytics - 3/2005
  13. Dodgeball - Mobile Service - 5/2005
  14. Akwan - Information Retrieval/Querying - 7/2005
  15. Android - Mobile Services - 2005
  16. dMarc- Radio Advertising - 1/2006
  17. Measure Map - Web Analytics - 2/2006
Their acquisitions have been fairly consistent with their mission and corresponding monetization strategy. Specifically their acquisitions to date have increased their ability to organize/provide access to more information while bolstering their distribution channels, ability to place and sell advertisements, and ability to analyze the web traffic driving both processes. The only acquisition that I am a bit in the dark about is Ignite Logic. From what I can gather, the company never managed to raise any real money and had a web-template solution targeted towards law firms. Not exactly earth-shattering - right? Battelle had some interesting thoughts on this a while back, but I am still not sure about this one.

If anyone spots something that I missed, or stated incorrectly, please let me know. Enjoy, Fan-boys. Happy Sunday.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Holy $#!t - Tranformers are Real!

I saw this video a while back and thought the folks that occasionally stumble by my little corner of the blog-o-sphere might enjoy checking it out. For those geeks that have not seen this video yet, prepare to be excited. Transformers are officially real. I don't know about you guys, but I used to love Transfomers, Voltron, and all the other wondrous cartoons produced in the eighties. In large part, these shows inspired me to pursue a career in technology.

I wonder if this bad-boy is powered by Energon Cubes?

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9 Things Yahoo Thinks about Web 2.0

Tom Coates, one of the social software gurus over at Yahoo, recently posted these 9 points. I am glad to see that some pretty smart folks, at some pretty big firms, are starting to realize that the world is changing. The web is no longer a publication mechanism, it is a platform for services - whether you like it, or not.

Tom was kind enough to put up a presentation for folks to run through on his site. See the links below for the HTML and PDF versions of this presentation. It is actually pretty interesting, especially if you are new to the scene. I generally agree with the vision set forth in the presentation and some of the high-level technical assertions. However, I think that some ideas, such as the notion of the "hackable" URL, might need a bit more thought. More on that later though. Time for this web-slinger to get to bed. Take care fan-boys.

1. PDF Version

2. HTML Version

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Technorati Slow as Hell Today?

Earlier today most of my requests timed out when I was searching for tags on Technorati. Anyone else notice the massive slow down? I wonder what's up.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

5 Tips for Creating a Popular Web 2.0 Service

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with some friends at a Pittsburgh-based start-up, Talkshoe. They are doing some pretty slick stuff that has the potential to change the way we communicate online. More on them later, as they are currently in stealth-mode (shhh).

After meeting with them, they asked me for some feedback pertaining to the release of a web-based service. Some of the points that I addressed were based on observations of Web 2.0 services (, technorati, youtube, meebo) that have seen some traction. As these are points generally applicable to most web-based service providers, I figured like any good Web-head, I would share with my friends online.

Many of these are "no-brainers," but for some insane reason, some people have not taken the hint! Enjoy, fan-boys. Back to work for this web-slinger.

1. User Interface - Keep it simple. Keep it slick. Patience is short on the web.
2. Developers - Service can be mixed, remixed, and mixed some more. See the possibilities.
3. Tight Feedback Loop - Stay in tune with users and actively leverage feedback in order to...
4. Release fast, Release Well, Release Often - Users will unlock your true value.
5. Create HTML Do-Dads - Enable power users to cut-and-paste services to drive traffic.

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