June 16, 2008
Google’s Joe Kraus explains the social Web
Joe Kraus, Google director of product management, gave a brief talk about the social Web at the Supernova 2008 conference without a single mention of Google's own social-networking service, Orkut. However, he did focus on Google's Friend Connect service, which lets Web developers add social features to their sites. Webware chief Rafe Needleman did a thorough job of covering Kraus' remarks, and below is a video of his presentation.
Google’s Joe Kraus explains the social Web
Al Gore backs Obama, says U.S. needs new vision
OneSpot launches news crawler widget for media sites
OneSpot, a news aggregator reminiscent of Blogrunner, Sphere and other media widgets that pull in news from around the web, is launching today with two high-profile pilot clients, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Each of which will run a widget containing story headlines provided by OneSpot’s algorithm.
This launch is the latest move in a molasses-like battle between traditional media websites and independent news portals like Google News and Techmeme to become the news homepage of surfers. The OneSpot widget helps newspapers offer content from other sources — a strategy that most have been loath to adopt, following a hundred years of zero-sum, mine-or-theirs battling for readers.
That attitude is evidenced by the way the two papers are rolling out OneSpot: In very small, risk-free implementations. The WashPo is using The Root, a news site it owns that caters to black Americans with an interest in genealogy. The WSJ is implementing the widget on its own site, but only on its law blog. Clearly, these newspapers are still most interested in keeping a self-confined ecosystem that readers never leave.
By contrast, one of the more forward-looking newspaper companies, The New York Times Co., is light-years ahead. Last year, the company launched BlogRunner, which it owns, across the entire technology section of its site. Another paper, the LA Times, recently invested in social news site Mixx.
OneSpot is likely banking on convincing its clients, which include other, unnamed companies, that the NYT and LAT have made the correct bet. While dozens of sites have launched to independently aggregate news, most, with some notable exceptions like Digg and Techmeme, have failed to get traction. By contrast, there are only a few companies that are attempting to cater to other media sites, although there are recommendation tools like Aggregate Knowledge that newspapers most often use to pull content from within their own site — in effect, perpetuating the closed system newspapers prefer.
Matt Cohen, OneSpot’s founder, thinks that more in-site aggregators will appear — and that the competition will be a good thing for his company’s future. Media sites will ease their attitudes toward outside content once they see more traffic coming in from aggregators on other sites, he says.
In the meantime, he claims that retail store sites may help prop up his business, because they can see the use in having a content widget. “They market to millions of people but they don’t see themselves as content creators,” he says, noting that having links to outside content can help retailers fill out their sites, and keep clients coming back.
OneSpot has raised about $1 million in seed funding from two angel investors. The company is based in Austin, Texas.
HP MediaSmart Connect brings digital media to your HDTV
Filed under: HDTV, Home Entertainment
Gallery: HP MediaSmart Connect brings digital media to your HDTV
Nokia launches new phones, vows to stay number one (AFP)
AFP - Finnish telecom giant Nokia has launched two new email-capable handsets for business users and vowed to defend its position as the world's leading mobile phone maker.
Changents: “Agents For Environmental Change Are the New Rock Stars”
If you use the internet on a daily basis you are slightly aware of its mysterious power to, basically, do everything you want. Everything you ever need is there, it helps you, you use it at your free will. But it’s not so easy to harness the internet’s power and channel it towards a greater good.
The newest site that is hoping to take on this task is Changents, a social media start-up that has partnered with The Timberland Company in hopes of helping normal everyday people team up with extraordinary environmental “Change Agents” from around the world. Their plan is to create a green revolution and take the world by storm with an abundance of eco-friendliness.
Prior to the internet, it was a daunting to think of rounding up people to support a cause. Where do you begin? How do you get in touch with large numbers of people? Well, the internet has solved that problem and it’s about time that websites and companies start using social networking for important causes like saving the environment.
But Changents isn’t just any old charity. It’s a platform through which anyone can team up with the biggest faces of change and collaborate to become their own “rock stars of change.” The site was started a year ago by two entrepreneurs, Alex Hofmann and Deron Triff, when they set out to connect entertainment, social media, and change-makers.
The site, which is still in beta, allows users to broadcast and document their experiences as they take on their tasks through blogs, videos, photo albums, Flickr photo streams, Twitter dispatches and phoned-in podcasts. The possibilities for users to keep a record of their progress in change and for connecting and mobilizing friends around the world are infinite with Changents.
According to the site:
Participants can back a Change Agent by assuming the roles of “Fan” (a shout-out of support), “First Responder” (being on-call if their Change Agent gets in a pinch), “Buzz Builder” (promoting their Change Agent’s stories and Action Requests through viral sharing), “Angel” (helping fill their Change Agent’s piggy bank) and “Advocate” (influencing policy makers with respect to their Change Agent’s cause).
Changents makes it totally cool and productive to be a groupie. In this case, the band members are the Change Agents. The people who go above and beyond to make good things happen. There’s no telling how successful Changents will become, but hopefully it will be a catalyst for a world 2.0 makeover.
OneSpot feeds publishers content
If you don't have content to populate your site, OneSpot has some for you. The Austin-based startup joins a host of other companies in the business of delivering contextual links for publishers. OneSpot CEO Matt Cohen makes the claim that OneSpot "democratizes vertical or affinity publishing, helping anyone find, select and deliver links to the best content on the Web."
OneSpot sifts through over 200,000 RSS feeds to make content selections. Users provide the system with a set of sample sites, and OneSpot identifies related feeds, looking at link overlaps, Cohen told me. The selected content can be delivered via Web pages, widgets or through email newsletters. For example, OneSpot can supply a retailer with relevant content links for a newsletter to customers.
An optional edit interface allows editors to curate the content, blocking or approving different feeds and pieces of content.
In addition, OneSpot offers its customers Digg-style ratings and discussion pages. Fees are based on the number of topics, page views or emails, Cohen said.
OneSpot currently has less than 20 customers. For example,TheRoot, a Washington Post site for African-Americans, uses OneSpot to fill out the site with a relevant content feed.
TheRoot pulls stories from around 9,000 feeds crawled by OneSpot to surface on its news page. Every story has its own detail page and a permanent URL optimized for search engines.
OneSpot has many competitors who offer some form of contextual content aggregation. They include memetrackers, such Techmeme, Reddit and Blogrunner; keyword-oriented and linguistic analysis-based services that provide related content such as Sphere, Inform and Smartbrief; and feed aggregators such as NewsGator and Netvibes.
Cohen believes that the link structure approach, similar to what Google does for search, to selecting sources and content provides the best results. But the choice of content aggregation service will depend on what a publisher wants to accomplish. Other services could be better at finding timely content related to a particular article, rather than for a topic area. OneSpot is currently angel funded, and plans to raise an A series round this summer, Cohen said.
Update: IBM says it has ‘no plans’ to open-source DB2 database
IBM said Monday that it doesn't plan to open-source its DB2 database, despite a published report quoting a company executive in the U.K. saying that an open-source move might become necessary.
Chris Livesey, IBM's director of information management software in the U.K., told a ZDNet UK reporter that changing conditions in the database market could eventually prompt the company to open-source its flagship database.
"We have a light version of the product offered for free, which is a step towards exposing our core technology," Livesey was quoted as saying in reference to the company's DB2 Express-C software. "Looking at IBM's heritage in contributing to the open-source market, we've been particularly keen to lead that market.... As the future unfolds, and the economics become clearer, there's going to be more commitment to open source by everybody. We've made good steps towards that."
Among large IT vendors, IBM is widely considered the strongest supporter of Linux and open-source technologies. It has open-sourced a number of products, such as its Cloudscape Java database, Eclipse application development framework and Lotus Symphony office suite. It has also created proprietary versions of popular open-source software, most notably those from the Apache Software Foundation.
But in an e-mail sent on Monday, an IBM spokeswoman wrote flatly: "IBM has no plans to open source DB2."
Led by DB2, which debuted 25 years ago on mainframes and now runs in different versions on various hardware platforms, IBM is the second-largest database vendor worldwide by revenue, according to 2006 sales data from Gartner. It trailed behind Oracle and was ahead of Microsoft in Gartner's rankings for that year.
IBM, which also owns the Informix database technology and holds a small stake in open-source database vendor EnterpriseDB, last led the overall market over Oracle in 2003, based on Gartner's counts.
Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate.