Archive for January 21, 2006

What happened to Ning?

January 21, 2006 Leave a comment

TechCrunch: “[T]he reality of Ning is that it’s lost whatever coolness it had, no one uses it and Ning is going to have a very hard time getting people’s attention when they finally do roll out better functionality.”

+1 here. I got another update from them by e-mail the other day (they’re no longer in beta). I hit the web site, and the “showcase apps” that I see are nothing more than something I could easily whip up with a blogging tool. I know that there is more under the covers to what they’re doing, but I don’t see very good examples of their service flourishing within the community. If the adoption of a service like Ning is limited, then it is hard to get momentum as a user. I’ve looked at it several times, but I’m probably done with it.

Categories: Blogging, Web

Fixing RSS?

January 21, 2006 1 comment

While I’m not convinced that RSS as a concept/name is broken, other people are. Suggestions on calling it “Subscribing” and encouraging people to downloads “Readers” seem pretty basic. The “Recommendation” concept is interesting as well, although isn’t that what blogging is for?

In the end, I’m not sure these suggestions really fix anything. At best, they probably sanitize the concept of RSS and remove references to the people and their ideas that have made RSS what it is today.

Categories: Blogging, Web

Privacy and Search

January 21, 2006 Leave a comment

MSN Search Weblog: “Let me start with this core principle statement: privacy of our customers is non-negotiable and something worth fighting to protect.”

In reading this post, I’m confident that Microsoft responded in the right way. Here are the facts (as I understand them) based on various media reports:

  1. The request from the Justice Department does not request any personal information from customers nor the IP addresses from which searches originated.
  2. The goal of the request is to prove that certain data is being searched for and to make some estimates on the frequency of the occurrence of certain search terms.
  3. None of the data can effectively be used to pursue criminal investigations and prosecutions. The data is incomplete at best, and no one would be able to prove the origin of the search requests even if they were criminal in nature. Even if the search data contains personal information, it is highly unlikely that any of this information could be used in an inapprorpiate manner.
  4. We’re talking about protecting children from pornographers and predators. This should outweigh some non-specific concerns about personal liberties.

I think that reasonable people can disagree about this issue, but I’m surprised that Google is taking the stance they’ve taken. I’ve heard the slippery slope arguments, but I don’t find them to be too compelling in this case. Either way, I’m sure that Google will be compelled to comply (at least partially) in the end. If they don’t, hopefully the use of the Yahoo and MSN data proves to be useful on its own. As the MSN Search General Manager has stated, Microsoft is trying to strike the right balance on a sensitive issue.

In the interest of being thorough here, these are my opinions and don’t represent those of Microsoft.

UPDATE- Between Lawyers has posted on this as well. I would expect to see some interesting (and informed) commentary there.

Categories: Google, Microsoft, Web

Taking a break

January 21, 2006 Leave a comment

I just read that Nelson is on a leave of absence from Google. I met Nelson back at Gnomedex 3 in Des Moines- he was clearly a great representative for the search company and gave an excellent presentation on Google’s hardware and software infrastructure to support search. That was pre-IPO as well, so there wasn’t the same level of scrutiny for Google. Everyone was pretty excited about the things they were doing.

So why do I bring this up? For two reasons. First, I think the leave of absence is a wonderful thing. Extended breaks are a wonderful thing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could take a couple of months off every few years to figure things out and make sure they were still on the right path? I know that isn’t feasible for most people, but I love the idea of it. While I’m not in a position to take such a break right now, I wish Nelson the best during his leave.

Second, I wonder what this signals for Google in the long term. At this point, while they’re still in the very early stages of the execution in their business their stock price has driven the business value to such a high-level that many of their employees no longer need to work. Again. Ever. So what does that hold for their business? Will they face a flight of their talent, or will those folks take a break as individuals, step back to make sure their priorities are still aligned with Google and then proceed with the same level of excitement as they’ve had over the past few years? It is hard to know, but should be interesting to see.


Categories: Blogging, Google

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