Web 2.0 to Be Bought Out?

Updates: 1. Add to this list the rumored sale of Weblogs.com ping service to Verisign. Hmmm…Wonder if they’ll do something about the spam-blogs. Pingoat is great about that. Maybe someone should give them millions of dollars. 2. The Gawker Media Empire (owners of the rad LifeHacker blog, is loud and clear about not being for sale. In fact they’ve made a deal instead to get their content translated into multiple languages to reach more readers. Cool.

A series of interesting developments in the world of corporate acquisitions over the last few days:

So what does this mean for Web2.0? This is certainly becoming the dominant business model – build something cool, get a large user base, then sell to a larger company. (Like eBay buying Skype just last month.) It kind of makes me sad. Isn’t independence a viable business model? What examples are there of such acquisitions not slowing innovation, openness and responsiveness to a crawl? Please tell me if you know.

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Web2.0 is Exploding!

For some indication of how intense the explosion of web based services and applications is, check out these pages:

What do the things highlighted on these pages have in common?

  1. They reley on serious bandwidth
  2. cheap data storage
  3. storage done on the network and not on your computer
  4. user supplied data and network effects( Amazon.com’s users’ book reviews, Craig’s List classified ads, and items tagged in social bookmarking services are some traditional examples)
  5. AJAX (asynchronous javascript and XML) a programming method that loads more into your browser than is shown at any one time, so your clicks can be responded to immediately without sending a signal back to the host server. Slick.

Those are some of the key components of Web2.0 and the number of new tools being created, mixed, mashed-up etc. can be overwhelming. I’m here to help you figure out ones work best together in the service of your non-technological interests.

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Web Apps That Don’t Seem to Work

While I do have lots of fun learning how to use new web tools, I also spend a lot of time frustrated with things that don’t work for me. But the beauty of that is that I can spend time learning the hard way, and turn around and tell my readers and clients what I’ve learned without them spending that time. So in such a spirit, I thought I’d write today about some things I’ve found that don’t seem to work.

Now I recognize that starting a new web service is hard, success can be a bandwidth problem and there’s so many factors to take into consideration. So no hard feelings, I just don’t want my clients and friends to have to spend as much time being frustrated with the services discussed below as I did. Maybe they will be improved soon and we’ll all fall in love with them. But for now, here are three new services that I have not been able to make work.

  • Pod-o-Matic a free service that will allow you to record, mix and host up to 250 MB worth of podcasts. Interesting concept for sure. With some minor trouble shooting I was able to record a one minute talk, chose from their 10 preselected intro-outro clips and posted it. Unfortunately: the sound quality was bad, long sections of the file were cut out and it doesn’t appear that you can edit the files. Bummer. Guess I’ll have to stay with the fat-client, desktop-apps for podcasting for now. Particularly Audacity. Also worth looking into is Castblaster.
  • Ning.com says it’s a “playground” you can use to build your own web applications. Powerful idea. Has major login problems that persisted for me after the company blog said they were fixed. You have to get an account and log in to use the applications other people have created (things like a different version of Craig’s List). But you have to have a “Beta developers’ account” in order to develop your own applications, and who knows how long it takes for one of those to arrive. So it’s unusable for me right now at least. That’s a shame, because I’d really like to try and find a way to build a good cross-platform tag search engine like TagCentral.net Update: I have a beta developer invite now, but haven’t had the time to figure out wether the php involved is over my head or not. So the invite took about 24 hours, just so you know.
  • Blinklist a social bookmarking system that I have been unable to use. The site in unclear as to what’s different here from del.icio.us or Furl.net or any other online service. I tried to import my archive from Del.icio.us and got an error mssg, though a company rep emailed me and said he wasn’t having any problems doing it. Once I finally got logged in this morning the site recognized I was using Safari, but neither bookmarklet to tag an item does anything. Yes I’ve got my pop-up blocker turned off, and yes my other javascript bookmarklets are working just fine. The User Interface is pretty, but I can’t use the thing at all. For now I’ll stick with social bookmarking services Furl.net, Spurl.net and Del.icio.us.

I hope this has been useful, perhaps as feedback to said companies, perhaps as a time saver for other users and perhaps as informative regarding the kinds of problems that new web applications sometimes have. In other words, if things don’t work for you it is quite possible that it’s not your fault. Few things work perfectly the first time, and I’m up for figuring out what a lot of problems are and how to solve them, but I think it’s time for me to move on from the above three services and dive back into the incredible stream of Web2.0 developments that just keep coming. Perhaps I’ll see these three again later when I can actually use them.

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My Services

I work as a trainer and consultant in the use of Web2.0 tools. These include:

  • Blogging – publishing short writings online, quickly and easily, as part of the interlinked conversation in the blogosphere
  • Social Bookmarking- get your bookmarks off your browser, make them richer, reusable and sharable or private
  • Advanced Search – find what you want quickly, even automatically (before you know it’s there to find)
  • RSS (rich site summary/really simple syndication) – create your own personalized newsdesk for headlines, updates, emails and anything else you want delivered into one place to save time and know more, faster
  • Podcasting – listen to and create “radio on demand” for communication with the world or members of your organization, whenever and wherever is convenient for them to listen
  • Wikis – webpages that anyone with permission can change, with all previous versions saved and automatic notification when changes are made. Great for group development of documents.

Seperately or used together, these are incredible tools that open exciting possibilities for research and communication. I can teach you how to use, integrate or upgrade your application of any of these tools. In some cases, I can be hired to use these tools myself to assist in your projects.

I like to work with:

  • Non-profit groups
  • Small businesses
  • Individual activists and academics
  • Other web2.0 enthusiasts and technologists

The easiest way for me to help you is to have me perform a blog or web site optimization or evaluation for you. Send me an email about it!

Blog optimization is one of the things I’m best at. Be sure to check out a selection of feedback from my previous clients and my list of recent citations elsewhere on the web (sidebar).

Client Feedback

This is what some of my recent clients have said about my work with them:

“We’re very excited at the expertise and experience Marshall brings to our blogging enterprise.”
-Curt Hopkins, Director
The Committee to Protect Bloggers

“Invaluable…very informative and very well thought out.”
-Emily Howard, anti-racism organizer

“Since I’ve been in communication with Marshall, I feel like for the first time I have a clear picture of what’s really out there on the web.”
-Justin Kistner, Founder
The Portland Internet Company

I hope you’ll contact me to work with you or your organization. Or attend one of my online training sessions in the use of new web tools.

My Contact Info

I can be contacted in the following ways:

  • by email: marshallk@marshallk.com
  • Skype: marshallkirkpatrick
  • Gizmo:marshallkirkpatrick (another VOIP program just like Skype, but with one-click record.)
  • AIM: MarshallKirkpatr

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have. Or, if you are interested in recording a conversation together as a podcast, send me an email with whatever ideas you have. Wouldn’t that be fun?