Google News goes local


Google has launched a local news service that scans local news items for context and then lists them according to relevance to your city or zip code query at Google News.   Testing this today on a few Oregon cities I’ve been  impressed with the results as they seem to pull from some obscure but relevant sources and if Google eventually starts using most of the tens of thousands of local newspaper online sites and other sources this could be a superb tool for mashing up news with websites and blogs.

Amazon unearths some great startups


The Amazon startup contest here has a video profile of the seven finalists in their contest which I think was to showcase users of Amazon Web Services (AWS).   I think  Jeff Barr  will have more about this on his blog or on Amazon’s blog.

These look like some really interesting companies.    One is measuring brain networking, another is providing 19 usability testing (this is brilliant for the small website market!)  One is optimizing PPC campaigns (hmmm – but won’t Google analytics do that extremely well?.)

Programmable Web continues to rock


If you are interested in how mashups are shaking up the web world, or interested in mashing up your own content, John Musser’s Programmable Web is the best place to start.    This is a  very well-designed website with enormous content depth.   John’s listed thousands of mashups and APIs and categorized them in helpful ways.

Mashups are reshaping the internet in very interesting and dynamic ways and will continue to do this for some time.    For me it’s interesting to see the model of the early internet kind of “swing back” and again be characterized by information sharing rather than the “closed walls” that came about when big money started to flow into the system.  However this poses a challenge for new companies based on mashed up content because ownership of the content that results from a mashup is not always easy to define.   At Mashup Camp 2 I remember talking with Venture Capitalist Peter Rip who at that time felt that mashups *of themselves* were not the key value proposition, rather how the mashup might enhance the prospects of an existing company.   I’m still digesting his notion because it may lie at the heart of how most websites will shake out in the future.

As a user I’m inclined to want an internet that is free or very cheap, very open, very rich with content, and has few restrictions on the use or mashing up of content.   However as a travel website entrepreneur I don’t relish the thought of creating a great site only to have it’s content and ideas nabbed without any compensation.

Blinkx


Blinkx is a brilliant video search program that allows people to search *within* videos for specific content.  This has become one of the holy grails of search because the internet is now awash in video content. Tastes vary but almost everyone would agree that most of the clips out there are garbage. With routines like Blinkx users can rapidly search the tidal wave of video that pours online every day for things that interest them.

Check out the Blinkx home page with it’s “wall” of tiny video clips reflecting content they have recently indexed.   It’ll keep the attention of even the most stubborn A.D.D. sufferer.   Some cringe at the sensory overload of dozens of videos, but massive input reflects the new ethos of the internet, and I predict we’ll see desktops and applications become increasingly overwhelmed with content.    As a superb tool that will manage the most rapidly growing and complex part of the digital maelstrom – video clips – Blinkx has a rosy future indeed.

The New York Times reports on this today.

Yahoo: Piping hot content to websites near you. Brilliant.


Yahoo Pipes (site may be down at the moment – I think they didn’t anticipate the instant global attention) is a perfect example of why I’m so bullish on Yahoo’s prospects as a company. Yahoo Pipes is a premier mashup enabling application coming along at a very opportune time.

Yahoo’s developer team is second to none, and in my opinion has a remarkable understanding of “Web 2.0” sensibilities. Pipes will simplify the process of connecting content, websites, and applications.

In an ideal world, innovation is constrained only by the human imagination, not by the limitations of technology. Yahoo pipes is a profound step in that direction.

More about Yahoo Pipes:

Jeremy Zawodny

Tim O’Reilly (is this guy ever *wrong* about stuff? I don’t think so. )
… enormous promise in turning the web into a programmable environment for everyone.

Matt Cutts

Anil Dash 

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Disclaimer: I  have some Yahoo stock and as of Monday some short term Yahoo calls.

BarCamp USA 2007


Wow, if BarCamp USA <<too bad… it’s been cancelled >>really pulls in 5000 technology enthusiasts it could be the best conference of the year, and in Wisconsin no less. At a cost of $50 it’ll also be close to the cheapest.

What? You don’t know what a BarCamp is?

I love the unconference formats. After attending about ten computer conferences over the past 18 months including Microsoft’s MIX06 and WebmasterWorld’s in Las Vegas and Boston, my favorite conference was MashupCamp 1, a dynamic gathering of startups and mashup developers down in Silicon Valley at the Computer Science Museum. Dave Berlind, Doug Gold, and supporters did a fantastic job with these Mashup Camps and I’m sorry I missed the one just held in Boston and will miss Mashup Camp IV in July because I’ll be in Pennsylvania for our family reunion.

Organizers of the BarCamp USA say they expect 5000 but could handle up to 20,000. I sure hope this approach prevails in the conference space rather than the expensive and exclusive conferences that are tailored primarily to support existing large companies and sales efforts. I should say that Brett and his crew do a fine job making WebmasterWorld an inexpensive and great conference compared to the alternatives.

Fancy Las Vegas parties at nightclubs like TAO and PURE are really fun and neat, but the really profound changes in technology are only partly happening over cocktails in Las Vegas. They are ALSO happening inside laptops plastered with goofy stickers, handled by young geeks who haven’t even learned how to do laundry. BarCamps cater to that crowd, and that’s a crowd you want to pay attention to if you want to better understand where tech is headed … and headed fast.

Who, what, which Wiki?


There’s a new search in Internet Town called WikiSeek that is creating a search within Wikipedia and sites linked to by Wikipedia. It’s an excellent idea though I’m not clear it’ll lead to better results than a normal search engine query. Wikipedia is generally better than the snail paced DMOZ at reflecting “related sites”, but like DMOZ the politics and anti-commercial concerns of Wikipedia often get in the way of good articles. Wikipedia is notoriously sparse when listing “related” sites. Like many open source driven projects there is a “NO COMMERCIALIZATION WHATSOEVER” bias that gets in the way of providing the best available information which is increasingly found on commercial sites and blogs, which are not treated favorably enough by DMOZ or Wikipedia.

As TechCrunch noted today WikiSeek is going to get confused big-time with Jimmy Wales Wikimedia Search project which is destined to become a huge addition to the search landscape. Formerly known (well – sort of formerly known?) as the Wikiasari project and still called that by most, it’ll be a robust, community driven search that used human editing to keep out the junk and bring in the jewels rather than the algorithmic approaches taken by Google, MSN, Yahoo, Ask and most other major players. Confusing things further is the fact that projects like WikiSeek above are not primarily a Wiki, they are, wishfully, a way to work with Wikis.

What?

I think somebody might want to clue in the Wiki crowd to the following challenge:

Few people, even total immersion code crazed onliners, are really comfortable with Wikis. Most pretend to be but when it’s time to collectively participate in a wiki I’ve *never* seen it work nearly as well as the collective results from blogs, which reward individuals with attention rather than reward the collective with information. MashupCamp1 and 2 were filled with very capable internet programmers. In fact even the *inventor* of the Wiki, Ward Cunningham, was there (he’s a great Oregonian fellow who invented the Wiki as a collaboration tool for on computer projects). Yet even in this potentially Wiki-rich environment the lack of updating of the Mashup Camp Wiki was conspicuous. Rather it was blogs, Flickr, and huge sheets of paper that kept people well informed during these intense and infoManiacal extravaganzas.

So, I think big Wiki projects like Wikipedia and the upcoming Wikimedia search have huge potential, largely because they constrain the organization of things such that the big project benefits from huge community participation.

Little bitty Wikis? Let’s just scrap them and have everybody crosslink the blogs, OK?

The Gadget Revolution. Gadgets of the world, UNITE!


A nice ZDnet interview with Google’s Adam Sah suggests the increasing importance gadgets will play in the online landscape. I met a brilliantly enthusiastic Adam at Mashup Camp back in February when all this was just starting to take off and it’s great to see Google is now allowing the gadgets to be used on any website.

In March, at Microsoft’s MIX06, the innovative LIVE team was also very bullish on their LIVE Gadgets which clearly are destined to become a major focus over there as well.

Gadgets create some very interesting complications in terms of website stats and monetization. Google has not focused on monetizing this environment yet and it will be interesting to see how they approach that, though it’s easy to predict they’ll create some revenue share with the gadget publisher to keep everybody happy.

The legal fun may come from compatibility issues with IE7 and Vista. Microsoft would have some incentive to prefer their own sidebar gadgets, which will run on the Vista Desktop, to whatever Google gadgets are developed for that same niche. Yet Google as always is ahead of the marketing curve. Pushing gadgets to be compatible with websites, and not just those with Google desktop installed, may diminish what would have been a big MS advantage with Vista.

Hey – that’s a bit too cynical on my part – I think as they often have done Google is just expanding on a great concept that happens to be a good marketing route as well.

Mashup University – Windows Live Messenger Applications


Ken Levy from Windows Live

[ I’m really impressed with the MS Live team. They have the kind of enthusiasm and drive normally associated with …. Googlers and some of the good startup and Yahoo folks.]

Build interactive multi users aps, 240 Million Audience, APIs are free, serve ads and share revenues [sharing is good].

Activities, Bots, Alerts

Bot becomes like a virtual person with whom you are conversing. Bot has it’s own email which is how you communicate with it.

Demos:

Shared map via IM. He “invites” the other person who now can control things.

Encarta Instant Answers. Build your OWN bot that uses your own database.

Movie scout lists local films and theaters.

Sign in is integrated, but I think he means ONLY with other MS stuff.    This is the problem Plaxo seems to be solving = cross site address book integration.   MS, if I recall from MIX06, has “identity card” but I have a feeling that is not catching on?

Tech Ed RSS feed was integrated into a web page via the bot.   Looks like this included the interior mapping stuff Steve was talking about earlier.

IE specific?   Support for XMLHTTP.

Follow up at the online video and these sites:

Live Dev

Live Ideas

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Also check out CodeZone.com