Blog posts tagged "community"

Yelp Feature Request

May 25th, 2006

I’d like to be able to filter Yelp reviews to only those by self-identified vegetarians. Yelp could you make this happen please? Or at least allow people to flag themselves as such (I could imagine other categories, like “I keep Kosher”) and perhaps decorate their profile icons with a little glyph.


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SF Techsession, Vast, April 1, and Verticals

April 1st, 2006

SF Techsession 2: Communities and Interaction was a vast improvement over the previous one. Better presenters, better products, better questions, better venue, better food, better open bar.

I confess that I was mildly disturbed that I was able to make it two instances of a monthly even in SF given that I love 3000 miles away, but I can’t imagine there is a third topic as close to my heart as community or calendaring.

Vast on April 1st

Apropos, one of the participant, Vast, the “vertical search platform” has the only funny April Fool’s gag I’ve seen. (I’m not a fan of the holiday) They announced their Credit Cards vertical search today, and its a nicely done implementation. (Vast’s trademark low budget web design adds credibility to the whole gag)

Vast is making noise by “giving it all away”, they’re catchy “Steal this Site” link at the bottom of each page captures the imagination. Except they aren’t giving me the one thing that would be most valuable for both of us. I want to build vertical of data I care about, and Vast wants to learn about new segments, talk about an architecture of participation waiting to happen.

My take away was an idea with the same sense of inevitability that Epinions had, and I worried about similar deep conceptual flaws.

Home Rolled Verticals and Blogs

Speaking of which why aren’t any of the blog search engines distinguishing themselves by providing a search platform ala Amazon’s Alexa Web Information Service? While its relatively challenging to figure out how do something cool with Alexa’s raw index (hence the need for DIY interface to Vast), everybody seems to have a story about what they would do if could convincing crawl the blog/conversation space.

The Others

Skobee is a slick and simple as it seems, built by ex-PlumTree’ers (the folks who also built O’Reilly’s Connection. Also presenting Songbird, and Mozes

Suppressed, an alternative to Private

February 12th, 2006

The “public by default” nature of blogging, Flickr, and has been key to their success where earlier attempts have failed. Still there is a huge amount of info out there that is sensitive. In particular there is a large swathe of it which is time sensitive: research for a present or a presentation, research for a new product or a new job, information which gives away too much information about current intentions or physical location or security vulnerabilities, .

In fact I would argue that there is a significant overlap between the information we’re not yet ready to share, and our best, most in-depth research. The information we’re most likely to make private is the information that would most likely be useful to others.

Opaque, for a little while

So what’s an alternative to making the information private? Suppressing it; push the information down below the transparency level, and let it bob back to the surface at a later date. In 6 months the birthday will be a distant memory and the issue of a present a done deal, your Web2.0 startup will have already launched and been acquired, and so on.

Right now the public/private spectrum is 2-dimensional, if we take the time to build, maintain, and garden our social networks then we can add a dimension of public for friends/family/colleagues, but currently that requires serious investment. Time is a simpler dimension (it progresses largely without intervention), and yet adds a great deal of flexibility.

A Couple of Refinements

Re-suppression. Once information has been made public on the Web, it’s nearly impossible to remove it again. So systems with suppression need to be proactive about notifying before information slip into the public, and giving you the option to push it down for another 6 months.

Variable translucency. Once the rubber ducky of secret information has been pushed down, it might not be seen again until the privacy window expires, but it is also possible that as it gradually bobs it’s way back to the surface it will become start to become visible through the translucent bath water, gradually revealing more over time.

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bbPress vs. Vanilla?

February 6th, 2006

I’m not really a web forums type guy, but the light weight interfaces of bbPress and Vanilla do a lot to redeem the medium. Anyone got a preference from using them?

Also anyone have a mbox import script for importing old list traffic?

Part of the very slow, long running process of re-launching the Magpie site, and breaking my Sourceforge dependency.

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Community at Etel: Emerging Telephony

January 24th, 2006

Etel started this morning, so if this the first you’re hearing of it, you’re too late to check the RAGI: Ruby on Rails with Asterisk talk, but not too late to check Evan and Blaine’s Phone Communities and Activism Showcase (you might have seen the preview at Foocamp), or Tad’s Speakeasy: Using Open Source to Overcome Barriers and Promote Community Development in an Immigrant Neighborhood. Conveniently they’re back to back Thursday afternoon.

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On Book Listing Services

November 6th, 2005

For years I’ve wanted a decent website where I can manage my relationship with books. (not especially complicated, but voluminous)

For a while there was largely nothing, then there was Allconsuming which was wonderful, but slowly died, and went dark before being re-incarnated in the mold of a 43x tool. And I have this memory of there being a nifty little $14/mo tool, back in the days when I didn’t pay for websites, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Last Fall, I started sketching down notes towards building my own, and in the intervening year its become an interestingly crowded space. (who knew so many other people felt the pull) Even in the 6 weeks since I first started jotting down sites for this blog post, the space has evolved with LibraryThing coming out solidly on top as the most active: most actively developed, most actively used, and most actively engaged developer.

That said, in a cursory search (mostly of my links) I turned up 5 other very similar services

Also the Bookshelf example app from 24L, and the intersting related services What Should I Read Next?, and Library Elf

None of them are quite there yet, and I want more, more, more!

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Interestingness, Community, Infrastructure, and the Academy

October 28th, 2005

In the “few thoughts, loosely joined” school, Anil’s recent post The Interesting Economy, got me revisiting worn grooves, thinking about community.

Anil posits that Flickr’s users, creators of value and “interestingness” are getting short changed, or at least in the future our understanding of Flickr’s value proposition will lead us to conclude their users are being short changed. It’s part of an ongoing struggle to define our norms around participation, community, hosted tools, and ownership. (On a side note, syndication can mix into this explosively, as with this thread last Summer on Meetup and EVDB)

Actually Anil’s point was more interesting and more subtle, and worth reading, but as the signal bounced around the echo chamber, it degraded into “Hey, I make Flickr interesting, pay me!”.

I mean as software tends towards commodification (as t approaches 0), clearly Flickr derives its value from its participants, yes?

No. Quite the opposite.

I could replicate Flickr’s software (call it Flickah, a Boston Flickr derivative), give it away free, and still people would pay to be part of Flickr. And in fact if I ever managed to grow the community to a fraction of Flickr’s size I’d be in trouble. Flickr isn’t a photo hosting site, it’s a salon, and unsurprisingly value accumulates most quickly to the salon owner. Value arises from the centralization.

Community Service Models?

So assuming software, what alternatives models exist for a community to host a service they find useful? How do communities gain and support the values of centralization without handing over control? A Flickr, an Upcoming, or an Audioscrobbler provide value in direct proportion to the size of the community, while the centralization of a Google Maps (or a Geocoder) makes an expensive resource affordable. It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for a while (community+service). And a question I asked at techdinner recently to surprising results.

I expected to hear about grid computing, alternate economic models, p2p, etc. Instead it was suggested that maintaining such a resource, or at least some subset of such community resources is the role of the Academy in the 21st century. (less surprising given the presence of Berkman-ites in the crowd)

Perhaps not a Google Maps, or Flickr but maybe Harvard should be hosting the definitive URI for books? I was intrigued. (not to mention a little appalled given my stint doing tech for Higher Ed.)

Last thought, in the multitude responses to Anil, it was pointed out that interestingness can be gamed, as can most deployed reputation systems. Yet eBay works? How? By making buy in into the system cost real cash, something Flickr print is poised to do. As a print service not terribly exciting, but what a great way to quantify interestingness.

Upcoming to Yahoo

October 5th, 2005

Congrats to Andy, Gordon, and Leonard, and about damn time. I first saw Upcoming almost exactly two years ago and thought “Wow, now that is how to do calendaring.” (and apparently I was jealous even back then!) Good luck!

Now we can all speculate on what will be, but I’m thinking this round might be going to Yahoo.

update: And dear god, where I can get some of whatever Gordon is on, Upcoming and Ning!?!? No kidding “bred for skill in magic.”

update2: Flickr, Upcoming, and Ning, all built on PHP.