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    Tuesday, September 29, 2009


    A new study says 99% of US Online Retailers are planning to have Facebook Fan Pages, and 91% are planning to have Twitter accounts. Theoretically this is to both build a fan base and keep in touch with their customers about upcoming products and sales.

    I've always seen the attempt to build "fans" around a retail outlet rather disingenuous. Consumers generally shop at one retailer or another because of low prices and convenience. I imagine there is generally no one who are actual fans of retailers, outside of Sharper Image/Brookstone gadget enthusiasts. I'm sure this massive move to online representation will separate retailers along those two lines: those who see this as a real opportunity to give their customers the information they need, and those who use this to attempt building an imaginary retailer fan base.

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Twitter Widgets

    I'd like to update my Twitter feed, and find a nice clean way to post it on various sites. Right now my feed sits at the top of this blog, as a plain RSS feed. I've tried using the official Twitter widget but it becomes misshapen and weird when I try to place it in the sidebar on this page. There's also an interesting looking batch of widgets I found on a site called Wish-a-Friend, but it's much busier than my page:

    Twitter Widgets - Twitter Backgrounds

    What Twitter widgets do you use? Have you seen any nice, clean ones? How does my plain RSS Twitter feed look? Do I even need to change it?

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Facebook, Twitter, Internet Gossip

    I've been thinking a lot lately about slander, and particularly the pettiness to which it sinks in the political and entertainment arenas. We're barraged by "breaking news" about divorces, infidelity, drug use, slip-ups, or even just a bad photo. Minutiae that are blown up to operatic proportions and evidence of why we can no longer put our trust in this or that person.

    At the same time, we are a generation living through changes in the definition of privacy. Most of us are aware that our Tweets and Facebook posts are publicly available, and most of what we do online can be found one way or another. There are the stories of people losing jobs over Facebook and blog content, and reports that organizations now thoroughly research prospective employees' online presence.

    I wonder what's going to happen in ten to fifteen years when the majority of our celebrities and politicians have been raised in this culture. I'd like to think we will become desensitized to this brand of "news", but I'm not sure. How will it change our definitions of privacy and our expectations of behavior when the people we look up to and choose to lead us have every past mistake documented for our scrutiny? How will the news media adapt to such a readily available source of gossip? Will we become more forgiving as a culture?

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Google Captchas

    Google has been on another round of purchases lately. They've snapped up the popular identity verification service reCAPTCHA, and there are rumors that they're looking to acquire the Brightcove video service as well.

    Both are interesting moves. Google's reason for their acquisition of reCAPTCHA was not neccessarily as a security service, but apparently the software uses advanced scanning to take those words from old newspapers and books and make them readable to the services' computers. This is an effort to increase the viability of their Google Books project. Acquiring Brightcove is an interesting parallel to their acquisition of YouTube in 2006. The video service is popular among major news sites and this could shore up Google's dominance of online video.

    There's a lot of promise here for these companies to expand their business. Google's proven record of acquiring companies and letting them continue to do what they do best has paid off. I'm excited to see these services helping Google's own projects as well.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Where Do We Go From Here?

    I think Twitter has just about reached the market saturation where first adopters will start looking for something new. It's considered a legitimate news source and most social networking users are hip to it, if not our parents yet. With Twitter becoming mainstream what could be next?

    Posterous,Tumblr, and similar services have been slowly gaining popularity for a while. Situated somewhere between Twitter and a blog, these are ideal places to upload brief clips of text, day-to-day snapped photos, and the occasional short video. While they're a brilliant amalgamation of current web communication they seem to be a bit too involved for the average webizen. is a service between Posterous and Twitter. It's in my opinion a simple step above Twitter, adding Facebook and blog integration and a short, 30-sec looping video of yourself. While enjoyable I think the reason it hasn't taken off has been the webcam feature. Yes it's incredibly fun and an innovative integration but as curious tech users have found since the debut of webcams we aren't always looking our best when surfing the web. As much as I love I rarely update it because most days I'm sitting in front of the computer in frumpy pajamas and with wild, unruly bedhair.

    What these services and most speculation don't take into account however is that the next "hot" webapp is bound to be something we can't quite imagine just yet. As much as Facebook is going after Twitter because they believe them to be competition, they really aren't. True, the service is taking FB's place in the internet spotlight, but it's proven itself more of a news service than a social networking platform. The next big thing may bear some passing resemblance to the two giants, or may take one of their features and expand upon it to the point of a worthwhile, brilliant service in its own right, but it will be an unlikely service we did not instantly recognize for its similar potential.

    Taking that into account, what are the basic characteristics of both Facebook and Twitter that it may have? Both services let users share simple, small content broadly and include a networking component. While we may not recognize it's form, it's a good bet the next web service hit will fit these basic criteria.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Chrome +1

    Google Chrome is one year old today. It's been a year of the fastest, slickest browser around which apparently hasn't gained the Google-like popularity the search engine enjoys.

    I use both Firefox and Chrome myself. Firefox is the traditional, loyal browser that I prefer for it's enormously varied plugins and addons. I like being able to tweak my web browsing experience and finding new addons that do things I didn't even know I needed. Chrome, on the other hand, I use for quick simple tasks like checking out a YouTube video link or checking my Gmail. I enjoy it's lightweight nature and the separate-processes-per-tab. It's set as the default browser on my system, even though it's not my main browser, so I can use it to quickly view links. Even though I enjoy features of both, they occupy separate needs on my system.

    I don't think Google Chrome will become my main browser in the near feature, but that could change. I'd like to see them open up the plugin API to the public. I'm sure if they did the diligent, and Google-loyal, programming community would produce some very awesome plugins for the browser. I'd like to see them support themes as well, which I understand is coming in the next version of Chrome. While the default look is clean when I'm browsing late at night I like something a bit easier on the eyes.

    While the 2.84% market share Chrome currently enjoys in no way reflects Google's dominance in other web-related arenas there's still hope for the browser. Google has proven time after time that they have the innovation and the strength to completely change the way we view the web. I have confidence they'll make something revolutionary out of Chrome yet.