Web roundup: Feb 19, 2008

February 20, 2008

What’s going on around the internet world??? News and analyses from best and well-regard sources such as TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, etc.

Read the round up at www.unitedBIT.com


New Capital Connections For Entrepreneurs: Person-to-Person Lending

February 17, 2008

Credit-market carnage makes it all the more important for small businesses to understand the full range of potential sources for capital. A growing alternative to traditional sources: person-to-person lending Web sites.

Read at www.unitedBIT.com


HR’s struggle with Web 2.0

February 15, 2008

They’re born at a seemingly nonstop pace: Web start-ups offering new ways for businesses to connect with people. Companies large and small are furiously developing MySpace pages and Facebook applications, and hoping that the masses will beat paths straight to their doors.Some companies have leveraged the parade of Internet hot shots to their advantage, and many are still trying to find a way. They understand the value of connecting with people as customers. But when it comes to using the Internet to connect with people as potential recruits, it’s a different story.

Read at www.unitedBIT.com


Is the Web 2.0 Bubble Set to Burst?

November 20, 2007

By Jim Rapoza

In recent months, an increasing number of technology analysts and pundits have started to sound the alarm that we are on the cusp of another technology bubble burst—in this case, the Web 2.0 bubble. If you expect me to disagree with these pundits, guess again. Of course another bubble burst is coming.

All of this talk about bubbles got me thinking about the classic cycles of busts. Because when you analyze past technology bubbles, you’ll always see the same progression from pure technology to pure marketing. By paying attention to this progression, you might even be able to tell when a bubble is getting too big for its own good and is likely to burst.

So how does one begin to build a technology bubble? At the beginning of a bubble, it’s all technology. This is the point of entry of the inventers. These are the people who have the idea of a new groundbreaking technology, such as e-commerce, social networking, PC software, whatever. At this end of the spectrum, the participants are brilliant technologically but have no marketing skills whatsoever. The only people who are paying attention to their breakthroughs are those with similar technological inclinations.

The next phase is where the innovative entrepreneurs come in. These players understand the technology but also have enough marketing skills and salesmanship to build products that people actually want, and they are able to start real buzz around a new technology.

This leads to the equilibrium point for technology and marketing. This is also the stage in a technology bubble where the biggest, best and most enduring solutions are created—whether it’s Microsoft, Amazon, Google or eBay.

Unfortunately, this is also the stage in which the people who are all marketing and no technology decide that it’s time to get in on the action. You know who these “entrepreneurs” are. These are the snake oil salesmen. The people who talk a good game and can convince anyone from venture capitalists to the press to the general public that they have the biggest, coolest, most important new thing out there.

So what if their product doesn’t do anything, or has no way to actually make money, or is a bad version of another product that’s already out there? These players are so good at marketing themselves and their products that they are able to generate irrational exuberance.

But all these people are really supplying is a bunch of hot air. And you know what happens to bubbles when they get too full of hot air.

Pop.

And so the bubble bursts, taking down the shameful hucksters who caused the burst (though also typically taking down a few legitimate companies that deserved better).

But the bubble burst isn’t always a bad thing. For the technologies involved, it can be a cleansing experience. With all the hype and hot air removed, the technology can settle down to doing its intended job. After all, despite the damage of the .com bust, e-commerce is doing just fine.

So keep an eye on your bubble cycles and know when to avoid the hot air. And, remember: Somewhere out there right now is a technology-savvy and marketing-weak inventor who is starting the first puffs for a whole new technology bubble.

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What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software

November 15, 2007

by Tim O’Reilly

7 Principles of Web 2.0

  1. The Web As Platform
  2. Harnessing Collective Intelligence
  3. Data is the Next Intel Inside
  4. End of the Software Release Cycle
  5. Lightweight Programming Models
  6. Software Above the Level of a Single Device
  7. Rich User Experiences

Core Competencies of Web 2.0 Companies

In exploring the seven principles above, we’ve highlighted some of the principal features of Web 2.0. Each of the examples we’ve explored demonstrates one or more of those key principles, but may miss others. Let’s close, therefore, by summarizing what we believe to be the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies:

  • Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers
  • Harnessing collective intelligence
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

The next time a company claims that it’s “Web 2.0,” test their features against the list above. The more points they score, the more they are worthy of the name. Remember, though, that excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven.

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Web 2.0: Buzzword, or Internet revolution?

November 14, 2007

By Jon Brodkin

Web 2.0 could be a meaningless marketing buzzword. Or it may represent a whole new paradigm for the Internet, one centered on user-generated content that could hasten the death of the newspaper industry.

There are lots of opinions about Web 2.0, and some of them – mostly of the pro-Web 2.0 variety – were on display Tuesday in a panel discussion during the annual meeting of the Mass Technology Leadership Council.

“Meet the new influencers,” said Paul Gillin, a writer and commentator on the tech industry and a former executive editor of Network World sister publication Computerworld.

Gillin relayed the well-known story of Vincent Ferrari, a 30-year-old blogger who recorded a phone call with a rude AOL customer service representative who repeatedly refused to grant Ferrari’s request – actually, at least 21 requests in five minutes – to cancel his service.

Ferrari’s blog crashed when 300,000 people tried to download the audio file last year, according to Gillin. He ended up in the New York Times and on the Today Show, where the clip was played for tens of millions of people, Gillin says. AOL fired the employee and sent Ferrari a written apology, but not before its reputation took a hit.

“Individuals and small groups of people have the ability to move markets that didn’t exist a few years ago,” Gillin said. “Fark.com is doing 40 million page views a day, which is more than the Chicago Tribune. It has the full-time equivalent of two employees. Craig Newmark of Craigslist.com is quietly killing the newspaper industry.”

Gillin predicted a rapid decline in the newspaper industry over the next two decades, saying the industry’s market model is unsustainable because it costs so much to deliver information. Markets will be smaller and more focused on particular audience segments because of Web 2.0, he predicted.

But what is Web 2.0?

“It’s never really been adequately defined,” said panel moderator John Landry, chairman and CTO at Adesso Systems in Boston. “It is, in many ways, a meaningless marketing buzzword.”

The significance of the term “Web 2.0” has been dismissed by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium.

In an IBM podcast interview last July, Berners-Lee was asked about the common explanation that Web 1.0 is about connecting computers and making information available, while Web 2.0 is about connecting people and facilitating new kinds of collaboration.

Berners-Lee replied, “Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.”

Tuesday’s panelists didn’t offer any new definitions of Web 2.0, but Landry said the basic concept is that everyone can participate, everyone can be a publisher.

According to Landry, if Web 1.0 is symbolized by Encyclopaedia Britannica and similar expert organizations, Web 2.0 is about Wikipedia, and content generated by users who may or may not know what they are talking about.

Landry said Web 2.0 is also seen in software as a service (SaaS), with its continual improvement of services replacing traditional product releases.

The City of Boston is getting in the Web 2.0 game too. Last June, the city hired Bill
Oates away from New York-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. As CIO at the hotel chain, Oates said his team created a site called the “lobby” where customers could talk about the hotels and ask questions. They also built a “loft” and hotel in Second Life, a three-dimensional online world built and owned by its “residents,” of which there are nearly 2.9 million worldwide.

Second Life , which has inspired parodies such as http://www.getafirstlife.com/, allows users to buy real estate and build assets, and has its own economy. Starwood Hotels used the site to reach a younger audience, and now the City of Boston is considering Second Life as well.

“Trust me, in the city we’re not spending a lot of time thinking about Second Life,” Oates said in yesterday’s panel discussion. “But we are thinking about it as a way to do community events and meetings.”

Second Life may also be a place where Boston could unveil a design for a new City Hall, Oates said.

In the real world, Boston is pursuing a wireless initiative to give residents low-cost Internet access anywhere in the city, and using its Web site to let residents pay bills and connect them to various municipal services.

For Oates, sharing information and engaging Boston residents is the key to Web 2.0.

The panel also included Judith Hurwitz, co-author of Service Oriented Architecture for Dummies. Hurwitz talked about a connection between SOA and Web 2.0.

SOA is an approach to building IT systems that makes it easier to reuse applications for a variety of purposes across an enterprise. The ability to use Internet-based services inside an enterprise have led some to call Web 2.0 the “universal SOA.”
“We are now looking at Web 2.0 and service oriented architecture as a cultural revolution,” Hurwitz said.

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Silicon Valley Crash Course: 14 Startups

November 2, 2007

by John Foley

Dream Factory makes rich Internet apps for project management, presentations, document sharing, and other types of collaboration.

Ribbit develops software that integrates cell calls with Web-based Salesforce apps. It lets you, for example, attach a voice message from a sales prospect to a Salesforce “task” and store it for later playback.

Right90 provides a sales forecasting tool for manufacturing companies. The company, which had three customers a year ago, now has 17 (including electronics giant Sharp) since plugging into AppExchange.

StakeWare has an app that lets companies track their “social responsibility.” A dashboard provides views of company performance in areas such as the environment and human rights.

Vertical Response enables e-mail marketing campaigns using your Salesforce contact list. Because such e-mail blasts tend to be smaller and between known parties, more messages get opened (“open” rates can be as high as 30%) and fewer get blocked as spam.

Aggregate Knowledge, whose discovery software makes content or product recommendations to Web site visitors based on what like-minded people have done.

Agistix, a hosted logistics application that helps companies keep track of packages and freight through various channels.

Gydget, which provides a widget-building platform for entertainment companies and sports franchises, with potential application in other industries.

Mino Wireless, which cuts costs for BlackBerry users who place overseas calls by routing calls over VoIP and providing centralized administration for groups of users. (Mino won InformationWeek‘s first-ever startup competition in September.)

Rebit, maker of a foolproof PC backup appliance that works by simply plugging into a USB port. (Not to be confused with Ribbit, the Salesforce incubator company, both of which have a green frog as their logo.)

Ruckus Wireless, whose 802.11 access points extend wireless signals greater distances and around obstacles.

Stratavia, a developer of data center automation software.

Untangle, which offers no-cost network access and spam filtering software based on open source.

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