Web 2.0 Summit – Launchpad

The Launchpad session last year was one of the more exciting sessions at the Web 2.0 show. This year they had a panel filter through hundreds of candidates to arrive at the “baker’s dozen” below: – music practice as a video game. Play along to background music and get realtime feedback on how you’re doing. Like Guitar Hero but you play with real instruments. – like Make Magazine for the web (O’Reilly, publisher of Make, is an investor). A collection of rainy day projects with community features built in. 30k members.

Klostu – Their other product,, tracks 300 million bbs members posting 50 billion posts/day. Klostu ties all of this together and works like a Trillian that manages your identity across all the systems. Simplifies signing up for an account, let’s you cross post messages and search across bulletin boards easily.

Sharpcast – their product, Hummingbird, syncs files across mac, pc, web, and cell phone.

Stikkit – Rael Dornfest’s first product, universal input for short notes that parses unstructured data and tries to make sense of it and organize it for you. Type something in manually into their post-it like interface or email your notes off to a stikkit-specific email address tied to your account. “Simple, not simplistic. Clever, not smart. As close to paper as you can get without involving trees.”

Turn – applies searchlike technology to advertising. No keywords, bidded cost-per-action (CPA). Turn is network neutral and can optimize across graphical and text ads. 1000 advertisers, 5M ads, 21M unique page views.

Sphere – launching contextually related features. Added as a footer to articles on Marketwatch, TechCrunch, GigaOm and others. The results page is a pop-up (that somehow gets by my popup blocker) which brings together results from Sphere, the publisher’s site, and contextually matched advertising. Downplays links for matching looking at content on page. Installs with just one line of javascript on your template.

Omnidrive – a “storage aggregator” that pulls together all your online storage capacity. Drag & drop simplicity.

Adify – a platform for publishers to self-organize. Matchbin is aggregating small town newspapers who group together to land national advertising accounts. Ready to Rare, a comic book collection network. Washington Post is using adify for it’s sponsored blogs initiative. Has a community element because ad networks are, to an extent, communities. – 3d browsing and chat, browsing becomes like walking through a mall or trade show. Works great for flickr and shopping sites.

oDesk – free to post jobs, free tests for certification, profile histories of potential contractors look like World of Warcraft profiles (number of missions, levels, talents, etc). Includes teamroom software to help you manage your relationship with your remote team. Work Diary is a way to track your provider with real time snapshots (at the interval of your choosing) of your remote contractor’s desktop. The snapshot feature was met with groans from the crowd but it’s important to overcome very real problem of trust.

Venyo – solves problem of “lack of trust” of blogs. Developed universal reputation management tool . Once registerd, adds little rating chicklet to your blog – users can than tag and rate a blogger. In some ways it’s like a mybloglog for reputation.

Timebridge – syncs calendars across systems – allows you to peer into people’s schedules to find out when they are free – get’s rid of the back and forth of trying to schedule meetings.

Don Tapscott – The Digital Generation

Don Tapscott wrote Growing up Digital and the Digital Economy

We’re going through an echo of the baby boom but the echo is actually louder because there are more kids than there are boomer. 80 million. No wonder we have a crises in the school system. This generation is the first to grow up “bathed in digital” and the first one to know more about something important than their parents. It’s not a generation gap, it’s a generation “lap” where the kids are lapping their parents.

He then went through several major characteristics of what Don call’s the NGen.

Freedom of choice – choice is important, “like oxygen”

Freedom to customize – 52% say that they change or modify things they buy. Pimp my Ride is teh #3 show for this generation.

The New Scrutinizers – 42% of those at the top of the adoption pyramid write reviews online.

Search for Integrity – the bullshit detectors are actively scanning.

Relationships/Collaboration – no concept of a barrier to sharing. 65% want a two-way interaction with brands they buy. Consumers are now producers.

Experiences/Entertainment/Fun/Playfulness – everything all becomes the same thing. 74% believe “fun” is a vital ingredient in any product.

Speed – immediate gratification allows you to better multi-task and get more done.

Other quotes:

“MySpace is not a social network,” that’s just the technology, “it’s a new form of production and distribution of music.” (and culture).

Christmas Shopping 2.0 and Riya

A little tidbit I picked up from a fellow at Riya. They will be announcing Riya 2.0 in the next few days which will take their face-recognition know how and apply to finding similar things when out shopping. He pointed to the rather ornate carpet on which we were standing and said that Riya would be able to recognize the pattern and find matching objects that have similar patterns. Apply this to things you see in the store and you have a nice little comparison shopping device.

I asked if I could blog about it and he said that it’s already being written about by one of the founders so no beans are being spilled:

Riya 2.0 would help most in hard to describe items for which searching inside photos was most important. Objects that had this property tended to be soft goods like clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes, home and garden, etc. Looking at Hitwise we realized that while there were $15-$30B worth of these items sold on the Web, almost 65% of the buyers for these items were women.

We knew we need to reach more women. We would talk to the fashion bloggers who were had the largest audience online, but in addition, I wanted to talk to the traditional fashion magazines like Instyle, People, Lucky, Jane, etc. Millions of women each day read their articles. The reporters at these magazines were not reading Techcrunch or my blog and had never heard of Riya.

Use case: You spot a kitchen appliance you like at the local Williams-Sonoma. Take a photo of it with your camera phone and search for the same product online or from other retailers. For more on the impact of such a device, see John Battelle’s post, The Transparent (shopping) Society.

Just in time for Christmas. Tie that into the Jellyfish Smack reverse auction and you really have something!



Widgets Live


Put together in just a couple of weeks by Niall Kennedy and Om Malik, the Widgets Live conference was a timely event that capitalized on the catchphrase of the day and the fact that a lot of folks are in town for the Web 2.0 conference. The sold out crowd of 200 leaned towards the developer crowd which many of the sponsors said were just the type of people they were looking to reach.

Arlo Rose of Yahoo! Widgets traced his inspiration for the desktop widgets ecosystem he created to his early work on a product called Kaleidoscope which allowed people to “skin” (there wasn’t a word for it back then) their Mac OS environment. He reminded me that I didn’t really become aware of the concept of plug-ins to extend functionality of a product until the advent of the Mac OS Control Strip which, if you think of it, are the first instance of a widget as a small, graphical control for installed software.

Fox Interactive Media announced the launch of the SpringWidgets community (which I’m told will become a marketplace in a few weeks) and a partnership with Feedburner which will make it easy to turn your feeds into self-contained mini-readers that you can place on a web page as well as drag onto your Windows desktop. Very cool.

Photobucket’s Peter Pham shared some of their metrics on their growth (28M registered users, 80k new registrations/day) and how important widget developers have been to the widespred adoption of their photo hosting services. Most telling was a blip in their uptake which coincided with their renaming of Slideshow to Widget. We have to remember that the rest of the world has no idea what a “widget” is and that sometimes the more descriptive (but less trendy) names are better. Once they renamed it back to Slideshow, their growth recovered it’s old momentum.

The afternoon sessions featured panel discussions which explored each of the major instances of widgets. Desktop Widgets, Ajax Homepages (which are made up of widgets), Blog sidebar widgets, and widget aggregator services (such as Widgetbox).

Monetization was only touched upon but it was telling to hear that both Microsoft and Google are not really concerned with direct monetization and see the distribution of bits and pieces of their content as a way of spreading their reach and driving traffic back to their site. Affiliate models as well as a marketplace for premium widgets were discussed but it’s still too early to tell. Kevin Burton mistook the Google AdSense Gadget for a desktop widget that runs Ad Sense contextual ads on your desktop (it’s not) to which the room erupted in laughter wondering why anyone would want to give up desktop space to such a thing. In the Photobucket presentation, they mentioned that you need to be careful of running advertising on your web-based widgets because users that install them on hosted blogs may end up violating Terms of Service agreements for some services which do not allow for third party monetization.

A recurring theme for many was the prospect of widgets interacting with each other. The example I think of is taken from the old intranet portal days when you could drag a stock quote from one module onto a news module and run a news search using that stock’s ticker symbol. The Microsoft Sidebar team is thinking about this the most as they seem to have the deepest penetration into the stack to make this a reality but doing this on with third party information sources brings up all sorts of security problems which need to be resolved.

Sessions on Mobile and Hardware widgets rounded out the afternoon with a look at the devices that can serve as important endpoints for widget consumption. Cellphones are obvious so long as the syncronization and context problems are solved. I only want to look at a subset of my information on the cellphone and want to do it in a way that’s not only optimized for the mobile experience but also takes advantage of the features of my handset. The Chumby “squeezable interface” is my new favorite design idea.

Finally came a round of lightining sessions where several folks got up to announce things they were working on. I put in a plug for YPN’s new enhance page which we will continue to update as a publisher-focused catalog of the latest and greatest that Yahoo has to offer and loaned my laptop out to the Zazzle guy whos battery was dead. I found KlipFolio’s demonstration of their integration of desktop and mobile a compelling way to drag things into your cellphone a compelling way to move data around.

All told, a worthwhile way to spend the day if just to underscore the point that we’ve only just begun. The endpoints are beginning to define themselves (desktop, homepage, blog sidebar, cellphone) but, as someone mentioned, the most popular widgets are the same calendars, weather, and stock quotes. The real killler app is some totally rad social media app, “sitting on someone’s cellphone in South Korea that no one has discovered yet.” The platform is ready and waiting to pull such an app in and redefine the concept of a widget and how we use them.