weBlogging

Blogging (short for ‘Web Logging’), takes an old idea of journalling and sharing ideas and uses a new and exciting platform… The Internet!
The main difference though is that blogs are generally accessible to the entire world (providing they have net access) which means it may not be the best idea to share your deepest, darkest secrets via your blog like you may have done previously with your personal diary.

Lots of people seem to think that this type of sharing is mindless and only for teenagers with nothing better to do etc. but this is probably mainly due to the lack of understanding some people have of the power of the internet and its usefulness to all of society. There are endless possibilities with blogging, and by just spending a few minutes a day browsing the most popular blogs or ones that fit into a category of your interest, who knows how many things you could learn and insights you could gain!

Businesses are now starting to tap into this medium which some would consider spam but it seems like a pretty good way advertise and especially appeal to the younger generation. I went out to dinner at a restaurant on the weekend and there was a card with a link to their blog, Facebook and Twitter fan pages which you could join to get coupons and things, this seemed kinda strange but im sure its going to get even more common in the coming years.

Blogging is going to be especially useful for this unit (as its what we are being assessed on) but I am going to make another personal blog for my recording studio that i am trying to establish. This will hopefully help me to get clients who would like to use my services as i am going to post regular blogs with studio updates, samples and videos of others bands recording and show what I can do. Hopefully by harnessing the power of blogging I will be able to secure some decent business for myself.

Sascha Chua’s blog is a pretty interesting concept. She releases a new post EVERY SINGLE DAY, which is a good way to keep people interested as there’s constant updates to read. If you were to subscribe and read her posts every day you would almost feel as though you knew her personally which is a great way to make a connection between the blogger and the readers.

While searching for other examples of blogs in the web 2.0 or enterprise 2.0 field i cam accross Web2Weblog which seems like a great blog featuring new trends in web2.0 and other interesting articles and links. (i have just bookmarked it also).

Hello World

Enterprise 2.0!

Lightweight Models & Cost-Effective Scalability

Starting a business (even an online business) used to require large amounts of money just to get started. Even once you had acquired this money through a loan or some other finance solution, the chance of failure of small businesses is something like 30% in the first 2 years. This type of commitment for a business that is not even guaranteed to make any money is pretty daunting but thankfully this is not required anymore in the web 2.0 business era.

When first starting a website, of course you are not going to have millions of hits and require huge and expensive servers and staff, this is why it is so important to plan for cost effective scalability solutions on how to most manage the birth of your business.

Youtube is a perfect example of how popularity of a website can take off and grow exponentially. This means that problems like bandwidth and hosting need to be addressed and Youtube has done this quite well. When the operation began in 2005, Youtube’s headquarters were situate above a pizzeria and Japanese restaurant. By 2006, Youtube was getting around 65, 000 new video uploads a day.

When the bandwidth used became too much for Youtube’s current hosting solutions they decided to use a service provided by Limelight Networks. “Limelight Networks‘ content delivery network (CDN) provides fast, scalable delivery of rich media, software downloads, webcasts, and entire websites”.  Services like Limelight are great for newly started online businesses because of the level of scalability they provide. You are only required to pay for the bandwidth you require which is much more flexible than being responsible for purchasing and running your own servers and constantly upgrading as your site grows or possibly being left with unused servers if your company goes bust.

In 2006, Youtube was acquired by Google which meant the hosting was once again upgraded and is now provided by Google’s own servers.

In addition to scalable content delivery, it is also important that the business revenue model is able to maintain effectiveness as the business grows. Youtube’s revenue mainly comes from the advertising model and recently they have expanded on this revenue model by adding promoted videos. This can be used by anyone but is targetted for business’ who pay a small amount per click to have their video linked at the top of the search results when someone searches for related keywords. This means that the advertising remains relevant and is in the same medium/format the user would expect (a video).

Here is a video explaining this concept

More information can be found at:

Leveraging the Long Tail

Although on the internet there are certain sites which account for huge portions of total hits, e.g Facebook and Google, it is safe to say that the majority of the web’s traffic is made up of the millions of other sites in existence which are not at the top of the charts. The collective power of all of these smaller sites easily make up the bulk of the internet traffic. Considering this concept really opens possibilities for businesses in particular to take advantage of these huge amounts of niche markets available which may be targeted less and often overlooked by the bigger corporations trying to sell popular products to the masses.

An example of a real life situation involving this concept is the retail industry. In the past before we had online stores, trying to appeal to these smaller markets was not always economically viable and people interested in obscure or less popular items would often have to drive out of their way to find a store which would physically stock things relevant to their interests. Thankfully this is no longer the case and many people are taking advantage of the power of the internet to make products like this much more readily available. With online stores, there is no shelf space to consider and no other huge costs like store rent which keeps prices high in specialty stores. This can be even further simplified by offering digital versions of what was once only physical products like offering music for download at a much lower price than retail cd prices.

This brings me to my example which is Rhapsody. Rhapsody is an online music service which provides it’s members with unlimited access to its vast collection of music for $10 a month. The long tail can easily be seen hard at work when looking at the number of downloads in the top100 on Rhapsody when compared with other retailers (especially physical ones like Walmart).

This graph shows that more than 75% of the total song downloads on Rhapsody lie outside the top100.

The longtail is the majority, even though it consists of smaller niche groups. This accounts for huge opportunity in retail and this window is made even larger by the introduction of the internet and e-commerce availability. No longer do people have to pay outrageous prices or struggle to find items which may not be considered mainstream.

You can read more about Rhapsody at http://www.rhapsody.com/welcome.html

More info on this topic can be found @

Perpetual Beta

Perpetual Beta is a very important and useful concept in the web 2.0 world. It allows companies to release their products early, gain feedback from users who basically work as testers and all the while be able to dodge criticism for any problems there may be with the application by using the “well it’s still in beta” defence.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this type of beta are the google apps:

Gmail has been around in Beta stage since 2004 and i was lucky enough to get an invite back then when they were in short number and high demand. Although i never really noticed anything actually wrong with Gmail the whole time I have been using it, Google insisted on keeping the beta tag on its logo for around 5 years. As i said earlier, keeping this beta tag on is a great defence against criticism should the application malfunction and cause some sort of issue for the customer (although applications are free anyway); but I’m sure the removal of the beta tag would make several companies who incorporate google applications (such as googlemaps), into their devices and software feel a bit more at ease.

Traditionally, software has been released as a package and several updates are applied at once and a new version of the application is then released for the user to upgrade their current version to. This is not the case with perpetual beta web applications. Developers are able to fix bugs and release new versions of the application much more often, usually without the user even noticing an upgrade had occurred.

Overall, Perpetual Beta is definitely a good thing, although there are definitely negative connotations associated with the word ‘beta’. These negative connotations come from traditional programming trends and how beta programs used to function but much has changed in recent years and people should not think this way about web 2.0 applications which are labelled as beta. Having applications in beta allows companies such as google to control the amount of initial users while they are still working on issues such as data storage and also allows them to collect feedback and suggestions from people who will be actually using the service.

Software above the level of a single device.

Ever since the internet started to take off in the 90’s, the PC has really been the #1 means of access due to the fact that pretty much everything on the internet was developed with the PC in mind. This is not longer the case as more and more everyday people are using alternate devices to connect to the internet which may better suit their busy lifestyles. To accommodate for this major paradigm shift, developers now need to keep in mind that there is a huge market for mobile device applications and other services which are no longer necessarily limited to the desktop PC.

Not only should the focus be on allowing applications to be viewable on mobile devices, but also to ensure that users are able to seamlessly synchronize their important data between multiple devices. An example of a service that provides this exact function is Apple’s MobileMe. This services basically allows the user to sync their data including Mail, Contacts, Calender and any other personal information with all their devices (PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad etc). This service is performed by harnessing the power of the web and cloud computing to allow this synchronization to allow without docking your devices or needing to worry about manually transferring updated files between them.

There are also lots of other great features and advantages of using this software. For example, if you misplace your iPhone or it is stolen, you are able to remotely lock or locate its whereabouts to get a rough location of where you may have left it (or where the thief is), this is a great security feature and also an excellent example of how this service can link multiple devices together rather than just concentrating on single instances.

More information about MobileMe can be found at http://www.apple.com/mobileme/

Rich User Experiences

As technology improves and our understanding of how to harness this technology grows; people expect more and more from websites in terms of functionality and usability. Providing users with a ‘Rich Experience’ is a great way to get them returning to your site and not using some other alternative site which does the same thing.

One great selling point of having a website which provides a truly rich user experience is when the site rewards the user for using them such as rankings/ratings of users and due to the human competitive nature makes them feel like they are achieving something by visiting the site.

So what technical aspects define a site as providing a rich user experience? Basically when we look at the sites that are described as this type, the majority of them will be using new technologies such as AJAX, silverlight or some other web 2.0 standard.

An example of a website that provides a rich user experience is Google wave. Google wave is basically a collaborative tool that Googlesays is like what email would look like if it were invented today. It is a live email environment where the receiver of a message can see the message as the other person is typing it; stroke by stroke. Although this hasn’t been officially released openly and is still in beta stage, its a major step forward in the way that technologies are being harnessed to provide a more interactive and rich experience to its users.