Web 2.0 and the Future of Pervasive Computing

Monday, July 31, 2006

Part I - WTF is a Widget ?

Fellow Web-Slingers,

It is 2:51AM EST and the question that plagues me is, "WTF is a Widget?"

Many folks have been throwing the term around, but few and far between have cared to go the distance and create a definition. Is a Widget the same as a web page? Is it more like a rich media advertisement? When does code trancend into Widget-status? I feel like we are back in the same place we were last summer with the whole Web 2.0 definition slug-fest on Timmy O's Blog. Ok, so it is not that bad, but it is still annoying.

Anyway, I would love to know what YOU think. If you are so inclined, please post your definition. If you have nothing to say, or are generally useless, no problem - don't share. Either way, I promise to hit you kind folks back and take a stab at something that might make sense.

Stay tuned for our next episide: "Part II - WTF is a Widget?" Have a wonderful evening.

Hooman 2.0

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Rise of VBlogs: The Show with Zefrank

Zefrank makes Hooman happy. He is the host of the popular vblog "the show with zefrank." This video blog offers video summaries of the news wrapped up with a comic bow. Think of him as Jonathan Stewart for Long Tail geeks. His most recent discussion of YouTube was pretty much the best thing ever. Here is a snippet from the transcript:
YouTube, the popular video-sharing site recently updated its terms and conditions. It now reads " hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube website and YouTube's (and its successor's) business... in any media formats and through any media channels."

That means they get to make money off of your ass however the fuck they want!

YouTube presents the ultimate DVD collection: World's Stupidest People, starring you!

But, who reads terms and conditions anyways?

I don't know what the folks at YouTube think of that little piece. Probably not to thrilled I imagine. Anyway, it is awesome that folks like zefrank are getting some buzz Vblogging. It will be interesting to see what feature changes, if any, blogging platforms make as this format takes off.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

MyBlogLog Communities Unites Bloggers!

For those of you bloggers that have been living under a rock, check out MyBlogLog Communities - the social network for bloggers. Now before you get all huffy that there is yet another social network out there, hold your horses - this one is different. Why? MyBlogLog Communities has the potential to transform the blogosphere into a distributed social network.

Ever want to drop a comment to a fellow blogger about some random topic? Ever want to know the blogs your favorite bloggers get their dish from? Ever want your readers to know who else reads your blog? The answer is here - MyBlogLog.

MySpace requires you to host your profile, social network, and blog on their site. If you want to publish anything, you have to do it their way. Moreover, with all the hub-bub about security at MySpace, your ability to customize pages there has become exceedingly limited. On the flip-side, blogs enable tons of customization. Unfortunately, blogging platforms tend to lack good community features. Bloggers have been left to fend for themselves in the cold reaches of cyberspace...until now.

After signing up for a MyBlogLog account, you have access to JavaScript code snippets that enable you to track you blog's usage. Not only does the service enable you to track your blog, but it also enables you to connect with fellow blog-geeks. This is where it gets interesting. MyBlogLog gives each blogger a "space" that shows blogs he/she authors, other communities they are following, and a place for folks to leave general comments. They also offer cool widgets to enhance your blog with social functionality. In short, MyBlogLog communities gives blog-geeks the cool community features offered by MySpace, without forcing them to give up their right to publish the way they want.

, Ed, Pete and many others have already started to actively use the service. I hope it continues to pick up - it is one of the few interesting social network plays out there. Best of luck Eric!

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p.s. Todd Sampson stole my avatar! JK :)

Friday, July 21, 2006

MySpace Squelches Spead of Widgets

MySpace, the self-appointed "Place for Friends" has officially decided not to be friends with a whole bunch of folks - Widget Consumers & Vendors. According to Marshall on TechCrunch:
MySpace has taken a step to increase security that disables a key method for third party vendors to spread their services inside the online social network. The company is using new code in a new version of flash that disables outgoing links from flash widgets and it is pushing users to install the blockable version of flash by requiring that they do so in order to view MySpace hosted video. Widgets will operate, but users who have upgraded to Flash 9 will be unable to click to the widget vendor’s site and get a copy of the widget for themselves.
This measure was taken in response to the whole Flash virus fiasco on their site. I understand that MySpace has a legitimate obligation to protect their site and users from the spread of viruses. On the other hand, the very same mechanism that they are using to protect their users is also hurting them (and potential 3rd party developers) as it blocks the user experience (spreading widgets) that they clearly demand.

As the interest in Widgets continues to explode, aggregators like MySpace will have to make some tough choices. These choices will not only shape the emerging "WidgetScape," but also determine who is in the winner's circle at the end of the race to own the next generation of aggregation platforms.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Our Senate on Net Neutrality...

Check out this video.
Jon Stewart is awesome.
I pray for us all.

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BLaugh Every Day

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Fold - What's Next?

Does anyone know what is up with Fold? They surfaced as a competitor in the StartPage category and then vanished before you could say “Web 2.0.”

A number of notable bloggers mentioned the rise and fall of Fold, asserting that it was one of the first Web 2.0 companies to go kaput. I did a little digging recently, however, and found that there might be more to the “fold of Fold" than we all thought.

Google "" and you will find a rather cryptic result listing stating, "Everything you read about Fold is wrong." Also, their web site has some weird barcode stuff on display. There is probably nothing behind the whole thing, but I have to admit that I am absolutely intrigued. If anyone has any dish, let me know.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Interested in Avatars and Virtual Worlds?

Then I highly recommend that you read some of the works of Edward Castronova.
He is currently a professor at Indiana University Bloomington. I used to read his economics papers when he was at Cal State Fullerton. It is amazing to read these papers again in light of the exploding interest in avatars (Meez, Oddcast) and virtual worlds (SecondLife, Habbo) - Ed definitely was on the ball.

Just to give you an idea of how ahead of the curve this guy has been, back then he had difficulty getting his ideas accepted by the academic community. Now he has a person that handles media inquiries.

If you are still hungry for more check out his book Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, or his blog Terra Nova.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

6 Reasons Why You Care About Flash

There are more than 6 reasons, but this is all you get for now because I have work to do. Here comes the core dump...


1. Only way to really feed MySpace Beast
2. Becoming dominant video format (YouTube)
3. Macromedia steering standards for JavaScript.
4. Actionscript & Javascript converging (see 3)
5. Laszlo & Dojo outputting to Flash format.
6. Replace Flash programming model w/Flex Model.

Flash is coming into it's own in a big way. Although I am not a fan of creating media using the traditional Flash methodology (animating frames), the Flash FORMAT should undoubtedly be on your mind as you think about the future of your web-based service.

P.S. Thanks to the rest of the Clearspring team for guidance on this topic.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cell Phone Privacy Invaded

School administrators in Framingham, MA have recently instated a policy that enables them to seize student cell phones and search their contents. According to this article the policy was designed to:
...improve security and stop the sale of drugs and stolen goods, but students said that the edict is an invasion of privacy.
I agree with the students - this policy is a clear violation of their rights. What if a student has sensitive personal information on their cell phone, such as information pertaining to a health condition or their sexual history? Are you telling me that a school administrator should have on-demand access to potentially damaging data on the CHANCE that they may find information pertaining to the sale of drugs, or stolen goods?

I am no expert, but doesn't the 5th Amendment of the constitution state that as American citizens we will not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law? Local law enforcement officials observe this constitutional edict when they await judicial approval prior to the attainment of a search warrant. Are we to believe that the school administrators at Framingham are so wise that they should not be subject to the same principles as the rest of America?

As digital communications technologies continue to proliferate, the debate surrounding the bounds of digital privacy will continue to escalate. At every turn, it is our duty as American citizens to defend our inalienable rights, or risk fundamentally destroying the foundations upon which this nation was built.

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