Previous month:
February 2008
Next month:
April 2008

8 posts from March 2008

TechCrunch: Is OpenID being exploited for PR purposes by the "Big Internet Companies"?

BBA831C6-CAD7-498F-9164-AC5BA8FEADD7.jpgAre the Big Internet Companies (AOL, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) really committed to OpenID or are they merely exploiting it for PR purposes? That's the question Mike Arrington asks today over on TechCrunch.

When I last wrote about OpenID back in January, that was pretty much my same question in: "Yahoo supports OpenID... Yaawwwnnn... when can I *login* to Yahoo! services with OpenID?". As I recounted in that post, I have no problem with getting an OpenID identity. In fact, the problem if anything is that I have too many options for OpenID identities! I can use my own site, my LiveJournal account, my Yahoo account, my AOL/AIM account, etc.

But where can I use my OpenID?

That remains the key question. I want to consolidate my various accounts behind one (or a few) OpenID accounts. I want to be able to login to my Google account with the same OpenID that I use to login to my Yahoo account, my AOL/AIM account, my LinkedIn page, other websites (and heck, why not Facebook, too?)

This is Arrington's point, really. The "Big Internet Companies" are issuing news releases about their support for OpenID, but are only going halfway. So his point is... is this really just good PR for these companies? That they can use it to look good, but not actually help move OpenID along.

The challenge, of course, is that the "Big Internet Companies" would all like to be that "one account" that I use. They would like to be your "home" on the Internet. So on one level there is a severe DISincentive for them to start accepting OpenIDs for login. If they start accepting OpenID logins, users might potentially use an OpenID account of one of the other Big Internet Companies that have not yet opened up. So if Google opens up first and lets logins via OpenID, users might all use Yahoo accounts as their OpenID. If Yahoo opens up first, users might use a Google account.... and so on.

It's almost like there needs to be an "OpenID Big Bang Day" when all the big players start accepting OpenID logins. At the agreed-upon time, all the Big Internet Companies start letting people login with an OpenID URL. No one is disadvantaged. Users can just start using whichever account they want. (In fact, maybe the Big Internet Companies might then start offering reasons why they are the better OpenID provider?)

In the meantime, I expect we'll probably continue in the current state.... many Open ID providers... not as many places to use them. (And yes, I do realize there are an increasing number of smaller sites that are accepting OpenID.)

More coverage today:

Technorati Tags: ,

LinkedIn rolls out "company profiles" with unique data mining info

2DC0C213-CDAD-44ED-B925-F386524AFF7D.jpgHow could you improve on the basic "company profile" if you had access to a ton of information about the employees of companies? LinkedIn this week aims to show what can be done as they rolled out their new "Company Profiles" feature that provides information about companies in LinkedIn's massive database of users.

In the past, when you looked at someone's "full" profile in LinkedIn (here's a pointer to mine, but you need to be logged into LinkedIn and click the button on the bottom of the page to see my "full" profile), the names of each company listed in your "Experience" area were links that, when clicked, did a search of LinkedIn for other users who included that company name in their profile.

linkedincompany.jpgToday, clicking on a company's name in someone's profile may instead give you a "Company Profile" page if that company is one of the 160,000 companies profiled thus far (as mentioned in LinkedIn's blog entry). If the company is not one of the 160,000 profiled so far, the link will perform the same kind of search as before. How do you know if a company has a profile? As shown in the image to the right, in my profile there is a "document" icon next to "Voxeo Corporation" but not next to the "Voice Over IP Security Alliance (VOIPSA)". The icon provides a visual cue that Voxeo has a company profile while VOIPSA does not.

The company profile begins with the typical kind of information you would see on pretty much any "company profile" on the web. It has a standard description, some stats about where the company is, the number of employees, etc. But then the company profile goes beyond what you might see in other places and makes use of the incredible amount of data that LinkedIn users have entered in to all their profiles. You get a list of employees at the company in your LinkedIn network... and then the "New Hires", listing new people at the company. Also "Popular Profiles" based on who has visited various profiles within LinkedIn.

LinkedIn_ Company Profile_ Mitel.jpgThere is also an interesting section showing where people have come from before joining the company and after leaving the company. The image on the left shows this section for Mitel (which was more interesting than Voxeo's). From looking at a couple of company profiles, I'm guessing that the before and after lists are probably compiled based on the number of LinkedIn users joining and leaving a company. It also brings out some interesting stats - who know that Mitel employees are most connected to Brasil Telecom Internet?

The Company Profile also contains interesting info about job titles, top schools, median age of employees as well as median tenure for employees in the company. (Again, see Mitel's page for an example.) Now, obviously, this is only calculating this info based on employees with a LinkedIn profile so it's not 100% accurate. Still it is indeed interesting data about a company.

How widely used will these profiles be? I don't know, but I could certainly see them being used by candidates evaluating a job with a company (or by people looking to understand the background of someone being considered for a position).

Regardless, I find it an intriguing use of data mining to make use of all the info LinkedIn has by aggregating all the information we are putting into the site. Cool to see. (As my mind thinks of all the other statistics they must be able to glean from their massive database.)

By the way, here's a video the LinkedIn folks put up to describe the feature:

What do you think? How useful do you see these company profiles being?

Technorati Tags: ,

Is the "Puppy Toss" video for real? Or is it a setup? Is there a rush to judgement?

37A02020-B9AD-43B6-8D45-5EF9B5CD04A0.jpgAs I would expect (hope?) the VAST majority of you all reading this would be, I was thoroughly appalled when I learned by way of the Bryant Park Project about the horrid "Puppy Toss" video. In this 17-second video, a solider appears to be throwing a puppy off a cliff. The soldier is referred to as "Motari" which has led to the subsequent potential identification of this soldier as a David Motari of Monroe, Washington.

This appalling video has of course spawned a feeding frenzy in the blogosphere and a strong stream of stories in the mainstream media. News reports indicate that Motari's family has been threatened and has had to disconnect their phone while local authorities in Monroe, WA, attempt to deal with the attention. Motari's page on social networking sites has apparently been filled with hateful messages (one assumes on "wall" types of message boards). The US Marine Corps has meanwhile condemned the behavior and indicated that they are investigating the issue.

But with the thousands of hate messages flying around the Internet, the techie in me who knows how easy it is to create this type of thing can't help but wonder:

Is the video real? And is the perpetrator really David Motari of Monroe, WA?

Right now the conclusion of the blogosphere seems to be that it is real and that it is this particular guy. But I would suggest there are at least four potential possibilities:

1. IT IS REAL AND IT IS MOTARI - If it is, in fact, real, than Mr. Motari and his colleagues certainly deserve some form of punishment. Motari also needs to do some serious groveling and apologizing to his family for all the stress he's putting them through!

2. IT IS REAL BUT IT IS *NOT* MOTARI - What if this is a setup? All that people are going on to identify the soldier as David Motari is a brief mention of "That was mean, Motari" by an off-screen voice (possibly the cameraman). What if it was someone else? What if it is a malicious setup? What if someone wanted to get back at this David Motari and set it up so that his name was mentioned? What if someone staged this to tarnish the reputation of the Marines?

3. IT IS A HOAX BUT STILL MOTARI - It could be fake. It could be not a real puppy. There are some analyzing the video saying that it's not real or was exchanged before the throw. If it was, though, David Motari, he certainly has some explaining to do to the USMC and also his own family.

4. IT IS A HOAX BY SOMEONE ELSE - It obviously could be a hoax by someone else. But why the hoax? Is someone trying to hype something? Again, is someone trying to damage the military's reputation?

My point again is this:

In an era of near instanteous access to some information, are we rushing to judgement?

The "cybervigilantism" of posting the guy's address and phone number... of harrassing his parents and family... of barraging his social networking pages... are they deserved?

What if it turns out to NOT be him but rather some other Motari?

Can the phone calls, hateful emails and hateful posts be taken back?

What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

Should we not all just step away from the keybards for a little bit and wait to see if in fact the authorities determine it was him?

What if it were YOU who were mistakenly identified as being in a video like this?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

A 2.5 minute video explaining Twitter - great for those who don't understand!

How many people do you know who don't "get" Twitter and can't understand why those of us who do use it find value in it?

Well the folks over at Common Craft have done it again with a great short video that explains much of the allure of Twitter in 2.5 minutes:

Definitely worth sharing in my opinion. (Digg users can also give the video a Digg!) I love see great short explanations like this! Kudos yet again to the Common Craft team!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Stanford's lessons - and using Facebook to teach application development

facebook.jpgInteresting piece out of Read/Write Web: What Standford Learned Building Facebook Apps. Here's the intro:
Dr. BJ Fogg and Dave McClure taught a class last semester at Stanford on Building Facebook Applications. In 10 weeks, the 80 students had created 50+ applications and in total had over 20 Million installs - with 5 having more than 1 million users.
For the lessons, you need to read the article, but I was more intrigued by what they did in the class. One of the challenges for an instructor is always to "engage" your students and make the class both interesting and relevant. To make the students want to do even more and learn further. To make whatever you are doing "real" so that it applies to the students' lives.

To that end, what a great way to use Facebook to teach application development! The students:

  1. Can very easily see their end result (their app) in usage;
  2. Can compete with each other to see whose app gets more usage (which may drive further development/innovation);
  3. Can get real feedback from users outside their regular sphere (i.e. "regular" Facebook users not just Stanford students);
  4. Gain excellent experience and job skills for post-college employment;
  5. Potentially get job offers now if their app is cool enough;
  6. Learn all the other skills outside of just programming, such as metrics, marketing, customer interaction, etc.
Now I don't know how the class actually went... and I imagine that there are other colleges/universities doing this... it just was the first time I have ever thought about the potential of using Facebook in this way. How very cool!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

FriendFeed's bug with lumping blog entries together

I've been experimenting a bit with FriendFeed and so far find it quite intriguing, for reasons I'll write about in another post. (Those of you who are already FriendFeed users can subscribe to my page if you wish.)

However, one little detail that I can't seem to find anywhere on their site is - how do you report bugs? I'm guessing it's the "Everything else" on their contacts page, but since I don't want to email in images, I'll post a blog entry and email the link.

So, friendfeed folks, consider this my bug report! I have added the RSS feeds of 5 different blogs to my own friend feed. When I space out my blog postings over time, the posts correctly appear individually in my friendfeed saying "posted a blog post on (blog name)". All is good.

friendfeedglitch.jpgHowever, when I have several blog posts across multiple blogs, the algorithm to collect the data for the friendfeed seems to take the name of the first blog in the title. For instance, as shown in the image to the right, it says "posted three blog posts on Voice of VOIPSA" but in fact only the first post was in "Voice of VOIPSA". The other two were on "Speaking of Standards" and "Disruptive Conversations".

Now perhaps the FriendFeed designers weren't thinking that someone might post rapidly across multiple blogs. The reality is that most times I don't. Today was an exception. I'm not entirely sure how the FriendFeed folks should solve this issue. On the one hand, they could simply put in a new "posted a blog post on (blog)" for each blog. Or they could say "posted three new blog posts" and leave off the blog names if the blogs are different.

All I do know is that this current way doesn't work well. I had a momentary gasp when I read the FeedFriend page and thought that I'd posted the piece about Obama Facebook ads to the VOIPSA blog! (After a quick check of my MarsEdit window my heart rate dropped back down to normal. :-) I would suggest the FriendFeed folks fix this somehow.

My second suggestion to the FriendFeed folks would be to somehow more clearly indicate how we are supposed to report bugs. (Or clue me in to something on the site that I missed.)

Technorati Tags: ,

Chris Brogan's new site design...

chrisbrogan.jpgOrdinarily I would probably not bother to note that someone has a "redesigned web site"... I mean, that happens all the time, right? But seeing Chris Brogan's new redesign is also a good time to mention Chris again. If you are interested in social media and aren't reading Chris' blog, I think you really owe it to yourself to check it out. Chris posts great pieces on all sorts of topics related to social media... and he's a great writer, too, which helps. (He's also become a friend over the last few years, so I'm admittedly biased. :-)

He's also got a great story about how he met the people who helped with his site redesign... through social media, of course!

Technorati Tags: ,

Seeing Obama ads in Facebook, with VT primary tomorrow...

obamaadinfacebook.jpgGiven that the presidential primary here in Vermont is happening tomorrow[1], we've naturally been subjected to a heavy dosage of advertising in all mass media. I was, though, rather amused to see ads for Sen. Barack Obama appearing on my Facebook page when I was visiting the site today (see image to right). I haven't seen any ads for Sen. Hillary Clinton, but perhaps this is because, according to, the Clinton campaign is apparently NOT running any web advertisements! Seems a bit odd in this day and age, but given the degree of expertise within the Clinton campaign I would have to think they have their reasons for doing this. (I would also note that TechPresident was trying to reach the Clinton campaign but had not done so before running their article.

In any event, I thought it was great to see a presidential campaign using a site like Facebook to send out messages. Because I've provided demographic data in my Facebook account they can obviously run very targeted campaigns (such as "all residents in Vermont").

By the way, if you haven't checked out, I've found it a very useful site to stay up with what all of the various campaigns are doing with regard to technology, social networks, etc.

[1] Yes, we in VT are one of the two "other" states (the other one being Rhode Island) who are voting tomorrow in addition to Ohio and Texas. However, due to the tiny number of delegates we have we don't get much mention and in fact neither Clinton nor Obama have visited VT.