"Today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.
But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
Create personalized, annotated, customized maps using Google Maps.
"My Maps, a new feature that makes it quick and easy to create your own custom Google Maps just by pointing and clicking. You can add placemarks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos and videos -- all using a simple drag and drop interface. Your map automatically gets a public URL that you can share with your friends and family, or you can also publish your map for inclusion in Google Maps search results." (Official Google Blog: Map-making: So easy a caveman could do it)
"Website Optimizer, Google's free multivariate testing application, helps online marketers increase visitor conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction by continually testing different combinations of site content (text and images). Rather than sitting in a room and arguing over what will work better, you can save time and eliminate the guesswork by simply letting your visitors tell you what works best."
Just received an email notification that a coworker had sent me a file via YouSendIt.
YouSendIt Strike One: So I clicked the link in the email and was then required to create an account in order to access the file. I understand why you would need to create an account to SEND a file, but why to RECEIVE it??? Especially since the file is accessed only by a long specially encoded link that was sent via an email generated from the service itself?! And yes, by having an account, you could login to see older files that had also been sent to you (even though the default apparently is for them to "expire" in 7 days - so what's the point?), but why not, at the very least, also just have a way to come in and download a file that someone sent to you without having to jump through hoops?
YouSendIt Strike Two: Then I had to wait upon an account confirmation email, click on the link in that email, and then log in. Ok, so YouSendIt wants to make sure my email address was valid, but they already knew it was because I got to the site in the first place via a link that was sent to that exact same email address by YouSendIt! If YouSendIt spent a moment on usability (but still inexplicably insisted upon file recipients having an account) they could at least skip this email confirmation step if the email address provided for the account matched that of the email address that YouSendIt sent the file link to in the first place. And, if you just provided an email address and password to create the account, why 30 seconds later, after clicking on the link in the confirmation email do you have to log in? It is the same friggin session! I can see if you came back an hour later or such, and I know many other services make you do this as well, but why make users go through extra steps when they are not necessary? Why not take the extra few hours to code it right and save each user a few minutes?
YouSendIt Strike Three (which is the big one that led to this rant): Then I was presented with the following page (see below or click here for a larger version). Where on that page would you click to download your file? Perhaps that big blue Download button in the middle of the page? Nope that is an .exe file that they are apparently hoping to trick you into clicking on and downloading to your computer. Ok, YouSendIt is a business and they need to make money, but if they need to trick people into clicking on a button to download an .exe file, they really have crossed the line into outright annoyance.
YouSendIt now has my email address (which they had anyhow, courtesy of my coworker who sent me the file through them), but they will never have my business.
"A new generation of hidden influencers is taking root online, fueled by a growing love affair among Web sites with letting users vote on their favorite submissions. These sites are the next wave in the social-networking craze -- popularized by MySpace and Facebook. Digg is one of the most prominent of these sites, which are variously labeled social bookmarking or social news."
Some of the main social bookmarking sites on the Web according to the Wall Street Journal:
Digg: One of the largest social-media sites in terms of submissions, San Francisco-based Digg.com launched in late 2004 and now has about 900,000 registered users and 20 million visitors monthly, the site says. Digg's content leans heavily on technology and science, but to help broaden its appeal, the site recently added new sections for entertainment and podcasts.
Reddit: Reddit works similarly to Digg, with people submitting stories and the wider community voting on them. The submitter receives one "karma" point for each positive vote and loses one for each negative vote. Cond� Nast's Wired Digital acquired the Cambridge, Mass., company in October.
StumbleUpon: Unlike most other social-media sites, StumbleUpon requires users to download a toolbar onto their Web browsers. Click the "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" buttons when you visit a site you like or don't like and it will automatically post it to your page on StumbleUpon.com. You can also click "Stumble" on the toolbar and be redirected to a site another user has voted on that matches your interests.
Del.icio.us: Del.icio.us is essentially a database of users' bookmarked sites. The more other users bookmark a site, the more popular it becomes, and the more likely it is to land on the "hotlist" page. Started in 2003, Del.icio.us was acquired by Yahoo in 2005.
Newsvine: Seattle-based Newsvine launched last March with a focus on what has become known as "citizen journalism," amateurs reporting on the news. Users post links they think are interesting, and also post their own articles and opinion pieces, on which others in the community can then submit comments.
Netscape: One of the first major Web browsers, Netscape relaunched last June as a social news site similar to Digg. A unit of AOL, it caused a stir last year when it began wooing top users from other social-media sites and paid these "navigators" $1,000 a month to submit links.
(The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2007; Page P1)
"You have to love this sweet, satisfying machine," wrote David Pogue in his New York Times review of the Squeezebox. The sweet machine in question is a $300 device that lets audiophiles take digital music from their computer hard drives or from Internet-radio streams, and play it with impressive clarity on high-end speakers in their living rooms. "Its creators have sweated so many details, you want to hand them a towel."
Ah, but who actually did that sweating? Not just the handful of engineers on the payroll at Slim Devices, the startup that makes the Squeezebox. The player, which has sold an impressive 50,000 units, is largely the brainchild of its customers around the world, who have done much of the vital engineering and design work--for free. They've been motivated by their passions--for great audio, for cool products, for the art of engineering--and also by the satisfaction of being admired and relied on by a global community of their peers."
"BuzzMetrics maintains that blogs and their attendant message boards and forums are tuning forks for consumer sentiment that threaten to upend traditional branding efforts. An influential blogger can undermine a brand faster than any grapevine ever before encountered in the marketplace, as the computer maker Dell discovered. The company’s level of service and quality was denounced by bloggers this year, and the complaints found broad exposure when one popular media site added its critical voice.
At the same time, positive word of mouth magnified by the Internet can be a boon, as Toyota discovered with its hybrid Prius sedan, which has been praised by admirers on sites created just for that purpose.
“There are winners and losers,” said Paul M. Rand, a partner and the global chief development and innovation officer at Ketchum Public Relations. “Companies adapt or go to the bottom. Consumer-generated content on the Internet is a complete disruptor. It forces companies to work smarter and listen harder. Consumer-generated content on the Internet is a complete disruptor. It forces companies to work smarter and listen harder."
"The New York Times has decided to let users post stories directly from their site to Digg, Facebook, and Newsvine. As of Monday, the paper will embed links to all three sites to most of their online stories... Although you could always manually add The Times stories to news sharing sites such as Digg and Newsvine before, the capability to do it directly from the story means that The Times is paying attention to where its stories are shared, who reads them, and, more importantly, what they are saying about them. Currently, The Times offers limited ability to comment on its stories. The world of readers’ comments can be brutal (believe me, I know this first hand), and by dealing directly with the sites that facilitate this, The Times exposes itself to far more reader interaction than they have ever had before." (Techcrunch - New York Times Surrenders To Social News)
"When Katrina struck New Orleans on Monday, August 29, notices began to appear online—on craigslist, on Yahoo, on the Red Cross Web site. But that information was too scattered to be useful. The queries were everywhere—on dozens of sites. So it was almost impossible to report that someone had been located and be guaranteed that the information would reach the people who needed it. On Saturday, September 3, as the catastrophe worsened, a handful of tech-savvy volunteers led by David Geilhufe started gathering data from these sites by "screen scraping," an automated process that involves grabbing the relevant information for each person—name, location, age, and description—and depositing it in a single database. Geilhufe and his team concocted a standardized method of organizing the data, which they called PeopleFinder Interchange Format.
Still, there were thousands of missing-person notices online the next day that hadn't been converted into the PeopleFinder format because they were not machine readable. Typically these messages were quite simple: for example, "I'm looking for my uncle John who lived in the Ninth Ward—Sarah Bowen." That requires a human to parse the syntax. So that morning two well-regarded online figures—Jon Lebkowsky and Ethan Zuckerman—decided to team up to coordinate a volunteer effort, with Lebkowsky recruiting people to scan through all the online posts and Zuckerman dealing out chunks of data to be analyzed.
By the next morning, PeopleFinder had attracted the attention of a few widely read bloggers. They spread the word to their readers about the need for volunteers. By the end of the day, thousands were volunteering. The group was briefly hamstrung by the database's being overloaded with activity. But by Tuesday night 50,000 entries had been processed, and the number continued to rise dramatically in the days that followed. Meanwhile, people looking for relatives or friends could visit www. katrinalist.net, where the PeopleFinder team provided a search tool that made it possible to enter a name, a zip code, or an address and get a list of names matching the query within seconds.
PeopleFinder was the kind of data-management effort that could have taken a year to execute at great expense if a corporation or a government agency had been in charge of it. The PeopleFinder group managed to pull it off in four days for zero dollars.
"The goal was not to overengineer our tools for the data-entry effort," Zuckerman says, "but to build something very quickly that would let people lend a hand. The solution we came up with was adequate to let 3,000 people participate. And 3,000 people, lightly coordinated, can do impressive things." Zuckerman is reluctant to compare the speed of PeopleFinder with the slow government response to Katrina. "We weren't pulling people from toxic waters," he says. But he does think that the decentralized nature of PeopleFinder has advantages: "One of the reasons PeopleFinder was deployed so quickly is that we had no one to answer to. When no one is approving your work, it's an invitation to solve problems in whatever way you want. I suspect there are many folks involved with the government response who wished they'd had that much flexibility and freedom."
There were other decentralized responses to Katrina. Barely 48 hours after the hurricane hit, two Web designers in Utah launched a site called www. katrinahousing.org to connect evacuees with people all across the country who had a spare bedroom or a guest cottage or even a foldout couch. Two weeks later, 5,000 people had found temporary homes through the site."