December 9th TiE SIG meeting

I took notes at the inaugural meeting of the new TiE Special Interest Group focused on the internet. The event was titled, “Wikis, Blogs, and Other Four Letter Words” and put together by Manish Chandra who wants to create a program, “to educate and inspire people to innovate and enter the next dimension of the Internet.” If you have ideas for the future meetings (located in Santa Clara, CA), contact Manish at mchandra1@yahoo.com.

Panel Members included:

Reid Hoffman, Founder & CEO of LinkedIn
Andrew Anker, EVP, Corporate Development, Six Apart
Stewart Butterfield, President, Flickr/Ludicorp
Joe Kraus, CEO, JotSpot

What about the uploading of video files and audio files?

Andrew – it’s already happening with Podcasting where people are uploading audio files to blogs. It’s just a question of the bandwidth catching up.

Andrew – blogs are my filter. I let the interesting stories filter up through the blogosphere and use popularity rankings to point me to things I should read from the traditional media, I leverage the emergent intelligence of the blogging community. Bloglines, Feedster, Newsgator all help me filter the blogs. Better to leverage the collective intelligence of the 5 million blogs out there.

Scott Rafer invited up to show how Feedster works. As a “search engine for developers” so that less and less of their traffic will be from individuals running searches and more and more from machines that are coming to Feedster to getting information. Each search has an XML output that can feed into an application. Feedster will soon launch their job postings service that will run on the same model. The engine will be used to create streams of location-specific job postings that Feedster will sell to publications that want to repurpose it.

How do you make money on all this?

Andrew – TypePad is integrated with the Amazon Associates program. They will also integrate an ad program with Kanoodle in Q1 2005. Six Apart’s job is to enable people to use our tools to make money for themselves.

Joe – JotSpot makes money on direct revenue. By also making tool development easy and accessible, we’ll enable all the small IT shops out there to quickly develop customized apps that solve specific problems. This enables them to charge for more billable hours.

With all these tools, is this reducing face-to-face interaction?

Many hands go up to say they use IM at work to communicate to people less than two feet away.

Stewart mentions the example of someone’s son talking to a computer screen expecting to talk with his grandfather in Estonia. The computer is less a box and more a window. More and more people are looking at the cell phone screens and not talking on them.

Will Flickr, TypePad, JotSpot merge? They’re all about sharing information.

Reid – it’s the next generation of Yahoo! broken up into many different pieces.

Stewart – the average Yahoo user uses 2.1 of the 40 sites on Yahoo.

Andrew – they have already merged. You can have a Flickr sidebar on your TypePad blog. You can point to wiki post from within a blog. Integration is already there, it’s better to have things interchangeable as needed.

What challenges are there in “crossing the chasm?” Where are you on the scale of 1 to 10?

Andrew: the blog is on a “2” – Instapundit.com is now in the top ten in terms of pageviews next to all the big media sites. People are learning to read and in the process of reading, they begin to think, “I can do that too,” then, they will begin to blog. We’re still really in the “people learning to read” stage.

Joe: We’re still very early days. We believe in nerd power but we’re still way out of the mainstream. We’re maybe a “1” but other wiki tools are maybe a “0.3”

Stewart: We’re a “3” but our challenge is not to alienate the core users by taking the app to the mainstream. We’re getting close to the point where most everyone will either own or be related to someone that owns a digital camera – they will all want to share these pictures and that is when the market will really grow.

Reid – What will blogging look like three years from now?

Andrew, it will push into families just as email and IM has done so in the past. Blogs are really the third leg of communication. Blogs are used to document the “full record” of a conversation that’s going on.

Reid – What will be some of the cool apps on JotSpot?

Joe says people are now running call centers, project management, a number of other traditional apps on JotSpot. The best ones are the micro-solutions that solve specific problems for a small group of people really well. Picking up on the three years from now thread, he says that the Wiki will be just another app just like email and a shared network drive.

400,000 people make money on eBay. Joe would love to spawn a network of small time developers to create and make money off apps that they sell that run on JotSpot.

Reid – What of photo sharing in three years?

Stewart says that photo sharing will become a new notification method. Instead of a phone call to say that she arrived safely, someone might post a picture of their luggage arriving. Photostreams will act to document movements (he cites the example of him taking a picture at a Giants game and then someone in San Francisco giving him grief for not stopping by while he was in town).

He goes on to say that he likes the fact that whole communities are developing around specific tags. Vintage 50’s toys and these groups sharing their favorite toys via Flickr – people connecting.

Reid: Isn’t a blog just another way to publish a web page? Why is Six Apart charging?

Andrew answers by telling the story of how Ben and Mena were pulled into supporting Movable Type for enterprises by their customers that wanted an upgrade cycle and official support for the product.

Reid: What of Open Source? What do you tell developers? Why should they develop to your platform?

Joe says that you can do much more on JotSpot as far as integrating with enterprise systems than you can using open source tools. One attraction of open source is that it’s “hackable,” JotSpot has tried to retain this so that applications that are built on it are easily modified. They also have made JotSpot inexpensive so that it is easily accesible. They were inspired by Six Apart’s pricing for TypePad where you can get up and running for under $5.

Reid: Where does the money come from? Flickr doesn’t charge like other photo sharing sites such as Ofoto or Shutterfly, what’s the financial plan?

Stewart says we don’t really think of ourselves as a competitor of Ofoto, Snapfish, etc. because photo finishing is expensive. These finishing sites give away sharing as a way to sell finishing services. Flickr will sell better sharing tools as a way to differentiate. Many households have digital cameras so there is a market for the pro-sumer digital camera geeks that Flickr can address.
82% of the 2 million photos on Flickr are public – there is an opportunity to sell advertising around tags related to the public shared photos.

Reid is posing the questions. Are these new apps, (JotSpot, TypePad, Flickr) a platform?

Andrew is talking about the TypePad app as being an extensible platform off of which simple applications can be built. He talks about how Typelists that list books from Amazon tie into web APIs but via a simple, web-based front end.

Joe talks about two articles. The first is the Chris Anderson’s Long Tail piece in Wired. The second is Situated Software by Clay Shirky. He believes there is a long tail in the software business. A vast majority of business is run on the backs of simple Excel spreadsheets that are shared via email, not the large, bulky CRM or SFA apps. Joe feels that there is a need for a platform to share information quickly and easily.

Stewart talks about what happens when you release your API into the wild. Within a few days there was an iPhoto plug in that allowed Mac users to upload photos to Flickr. Leveraging the talents of the community has helped him support the larger community with better tools. In general, outside developers can do a better job that you can yourself.

Stewart is showing his Flickr page.

55% of their users came to Flickr via blogs that were pointing to Flickr pages.

He is showing how to search and add metadata. The process of adding metadata is “collaborative and social,” because Flickr can bring together commonality through your network of contacts or common metatags. He also is showing how you can add tags to photos of your contacts.

Stewart has 400 contacts.

The ability to tag needs to be social – the failure of current machine translation shows that automated tagging has a long way to go.

Now he’s showing the top tags on Flickr and then is drilling in on tags associated with India.

Andrew is now showing BoingBoing as an example of a blog that runs on Movable Type.

He then shows Mighty Goods as an example of how a blog can be turned into a front end for an affiliate business.

As an example of a quick & easy extension of a developer network, he is showing the Pay Pal site that runs on TypePad. This shows how developers can quickly get the word out to their developer network without investing in an infrastructure to support it..

He then points to his own site where he’s moblogging this event from the perspective of a panelist.

The event is going to be back-to-back demos. Joe is currently demoing JotSpot.

He is showing how the JotSpot version of a wiki can easily transform itself into a platform for “rapidly building lightweight, customized application” that integrate data from your local hard drive, your network, and across the internet.

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