Open House

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Scenes from Tyler’s open house where parents got to wander around and see what our kids have been up to for the past year. For his big project, Tyler created a planet where “math would be different” and “2+2=22 and 4+4=44”

Netsquared Mashup Toolkit

net2-logo.JPGThanks everyone that was at the mashup session today at the Net Squared conference. If you’re here because of the session, the url where I’ve gathered some starting links to get you started on learning about mashups is on delicious under the intersection of the “net2” and “toolkit” tags. If you tag anything on delicious with these two tags, they’ll end up here.

Delicious is a great way to pull together a list of links for your community. Instead of emailing your members a list of links, get in the practice of keeping your links in delicious and emailing them a delicious url instead. The url will never change but the links behind the url will always be fresh and up-to-date. You can also add a delicious linkroll to your site to always keep your visitors up to date on the latest links you’ve added to your collection.

For those who did not go to the conference, Net Squared is doing great work promoting the use of technology to non-profits as a way for them to do more with less. Much of today’s discussion was around the use of social networking tools, tags, blogs, rss, and the apis to broaden the reach of non-profit organizations. The Net Squared site is a great source of information and community for folks at NGOs that have some pretty specific needs (open source fund raising software anyone?).

It was also interesting to listen in on the Social Software session and hear questions on how to interact with communities and debate the question of if an organization should set up a MySpace profile to try and get in front of the younger generation that no longer uses email. It sounds exactly like the conversation PR professionals were having at the New Communications Forum 17 months ago – how to inject yourself into a conversation without coming across as disingenuous.

We all know the answer to that question. Be yourself but listen first. The most convincing conversationalists have the best listening skills.

Blog Search Shootin’ Match

Bit of a blog search shooting match going on between old standby Technorati and new kid on the block, Sphere.

Technorati’s signed on ap.org and will work with Edleman on international expansion. Meanwhile, Sphere has embedded their bookmarklet into Time.com.

Technorati looks at link structure while Sphere casts the net a bit wider looking at the text on the page to get more contextually matched pages that may not be linked via an explicit url. 

I’ve have both Sphere It! and Technorati This! (sheeesh, that was hard to find that link) bookmarklets side-by-side and find the two actually compliment each other. I use "S" when I am looking for conversation around a very broad topic and am looking for the fuzzy cloud of buzz around it and I use "T" when it’s a specific topic (or flash/video site with little or no textual info such as the new nikeplus.com site) and I want to hone in on just the people linking-to-that-very-URL.

Two things I like about Sphere are the narrow time windows (last hour!) and the cool flash-based measuremap slider thingy that comes up when you select custom date range. By the way, this widget is available under a Creative Commons license from the kind folks over at Adaptive Path who worked on both Measure Map and Sphere.

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nikeplus.com, a social network of iPod-enabled runners

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Apple & Nike launched a new joint service that combines a wireless sensor that you put in your running shoes that uploads pace and distance data to your iPod Nano which you listen to while you run. After your run, you can sync with your nikeplus.com account and share your stats with other nikeplus.com members. Nike is also making special shoes with the sensors built in available in mid-July.

It’s worth looking at the video on the nikeplus site. Apple and Nike have done this integration very well and there are many little touches that make it clear that they’ve thought this through very carefully. On the nike site there’s an audio clip of Lance Armstrong talking about how listening to music helps him power through his workout and then there’s a link to the iTunes store where you can eventually purchase Lance’s “Sport iMix.” This channel might even kick off a whole new genre of Sport Music Playlists.

Looking forward to when Apple hooks up with someone for a cyclists’ version. My mix tape of the Cocteau Twins & Sundays helped push me over the Pyrenees.

Chinese Blog tops Technorati 100

Technorati has been keeping track of the increasing number of blogs in languages other than English reporting at their last State of the Blogosphere that English is no longer the dominate language of blogs; the majority of blog posts are now in Japanese.

The number one blog on the Technorati 100 is now, 老徐 徐静蕾 新浪BLOG by Xu Jing Lei taking over the number one spot from BoingBoing earlier this month. Using Yahoo’s updated Babel Fish service, this title of this blog translates roughly to, "Old static flower bud." I think there’s  a cultural nuance that I’m missing here. Anyone know what this blog is about?

Tivo serving up advertisments to 30-second skippers

tivo-commercials.jpgDavis Freeburg has a long post about Tivo’s new Product Watch service which allows people to subscribe to advertisments. I’ve signed up for the service and will post more about it once I’ve had a chance to try it out.

Davis writes:

Advertising, ironically enough for an ad zapper, is probably more important to TiVo than just about anything for them right now. While TiVo makes far more money from a standalone subscriber, the explosion of TiVo users in the years ahead are more likely to come from the major cable deals that they are striking with folks like Comcast (and many more surely to come shortly). In these deals TiVo makes much less money per subscriber but is entitled to valuable advertising revenue from a far greater audience.

We’re seeing an honesty in the dialog between advertisers and their audience that I hope will unleash a new wave of innovation in marketing. Tivo teaches us that people resist interruptive advertising. This tends to be the case with most advertising (that’s why we have pop-up blockers on the web) unless it is highly relevant or entertaining.

If you want to reach a specific audience for your products, why not just ask them to identify themselves? If I understand it correctly, Tivo’s Product Watch is giving advertisers room to stretch out their creative and offering 2 – 6 minute segments. In return, users are directing their interest and are explicit about what products they are interested in. Tivo’s already got the “thumbs up/thumbs down” rating buttons on their remote and this feedback can be used by the system to serve up suggested advertising just as they do with their existing programming suggestion engine.

Just as we all went to the web to view clips of the best Super Bowl commercials along with commentary and discussion, Tivo’s Product Watch has the potential to be the place to go to view the most informative or creative advertising on television. Instead of being something you skip, this showcase may actually be a reason to sign up to Tivo.

NSA Wiretaps and AT&T

Dust off the conspiracy books – this one’s getting juicy. Tonight Wired posted the full memo from the whistle-blower at AT&T in San Francisco that tipped off the recent firestorm around suspected domestic spying by the NSA. It gets pretty technical but deep in on page three the writer hints that there may have been some deal-making going on.

The USA Today story that broke this news last week leveled charges that Verizon, Bell South, and AT&T had all cooperated with the NSA spying program. Since then, both Verizon and Bell South have come out with carefully worded statements denying that they had handed domestic phone call records to the NSA. I have not heard a similar statement from AT&T.

Mark Klein, the whistle-blower, writes that the wire-tapping was coordinated out of a Mississippi AT&T office,

As a sign that government spying goes hand-in-hand with union-busting, the entire (Communication Workers of America) Local 6377 which had jurisdiction over the Bridgeton NOC was wiped out in early 2002 when AT&T fired the union work force and later rehired them as nonunion “management” employees.) The cut-in work was performed in 2003, and since then new circuits are connected through the “splitter” cabinet.

I wonder if the US Govt. cut a deal with the AT&T to coorperate on the NSA wire-taps in return for going easy on them while they busted up their union during restructuring. It’s unlikely that the many branches of govt. are coordinated and monolithic as Mark supposes but it does get you thinking and would be great grist for a movie plot.

UPDATE: eff.org has posted a full summary of their case against the NSA along with links to all the relevant legal documents.

flickr goes gamma

I have a confession to make. Although I’ve been using flickr for a good long time (I’ve posted over 500 photos since July 2004), it was only several months ago that I clued into the Recent Activity feature. I had mainly been using the site as a way to stream photos to friends and family and only viewed photos from others via my RSS reader so I really didn’t explore the website that much.

One day I did happen to login to the site and found this feature which let me see who had commented on my photos, which ones were "favorited" and which were the most viewed. There were a few comments from family that I noticed (I felt horrible that I never acknowledged these!) and then someone had commented that one of my photos of a lego-encrusted car should be submitted to something called the "Pixel Art" group.

I had discovered the wonderful world of flickr groups which leads me to the topic of this post. Flickr took the wraps off a major redesign today that cleans up some of the rough edges a bit but also makes it easier for newbies to get introduced to the great communities living on the site. I’m really happy to see the Groups we’ve noticed feature because it highlights all the great groups that are out there. People that photograph interesting signs, classic cars, or strange uses of English. There are also gaming groups like the GuessWhere groups (I play the SF chapter) and the now famous squared circle group. There is really something for everyone here.

There are a ton of other features rolled out like a revamped Organizr but I’ll point to my all time favorite flickr photographer, Thomas Hawk, who gives the best run down.

Oh, and why Gamma? It comes after Beta of course.