Whats the Buzz ?? It still just tastes like chicken

Almost a year ago now I blogged about the impending death of innovation when it comes to the user interface and asked “Does everything have to taste like chicken?”

My point was that in the rush to get the next great Web2.0/Social Networking/collaborative toy out into the market, developers were just copying each other and no one was being really innovative. Rather than celebrating the fact that one could be genuinely different, the prevailing view seemed to be that if you simply just throw more and more familiar stuff into into the same pot then the customers will be happy. Its the equivalent of the one stop shop…. the BlueWater approach to development. Just put as much as you can in one place and then the punter doesn’t need to think – they can just do. So as a result; Facebook updates Twitter which can update Facebook and set your status automatically in Linkedin which can pass the information to Plaxo and so on. Tweetdeck can be a browser and can now do embedded Picasa and YouTube, Disgby can look like Google Talk but actually update everything – aggghhhh !!!

Well, here we are almost 12 months on and its no better – infact to my eyes its getting worse…. and the most recent offender in the tastes like chicken stakes is Google Buzz. Who in the name of all thats good and true though we needed yet another social networking tool and then, worse still, who thought it would be a bright idea to embed it in a really good email client. Jeez, it must have been ‘Chicken Tonight’ over in Mountain View when they came up with Buzz. Now I don’t intend to go into the well documented privacy concerns here – you can google them – but just pause for a minute on the approach. Did we really need another status setting tool ? Did we really want to grow our already impossibly large contact lists again ? Did we really want our finely tuned and pimped Gmail client messed up with yet more notifications ?? ….. and wouldn’t an add on to Gtalk been just as useful (sic) ?

To my eyes, and granted they’re getting on in years now, it seems that there’s no value in being innovative. First mover advantage has all but disappeared and now we can all be fast followers – even Google – by just incrementing what already exists. Call me an old cynic but everything really is starting to taste like chicken

What d’ya think ?

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5 Technologies that CEOs intend to invest in next year

Amid all the CIO and vendor hype about where the next round ou IT investment should be focussed, it was hugely refreshing to read on Silicon.com the 5 technologies that CEOs will invest in next year. Not a mention of cloud computing, virtualization, web 2.0 > enterprise 2.0 and all that jazz, just some very basic fundamentals that will driver their businesses forward

  • Better data collection and retrieval systems… to directly drive business growth and find more savings as well as new business opportunities’.”
  • Home and remote working… to get more performance from their existing workforce whilst reducing travel overheads at a time when unemployment is on the rise.
  • Mobile commerce… CEO’s are starting to believe that, after 10yrs of hype, this might just be ready for prime time
  • Business intelligence… track and responding to customer behaviour – if you’re not doing it then you competitors sure are and implied customer loyalty is long gone.
  • E-discovery systems …. “In difficult economic times, legal challenges tend to increase” … so how good are your retrieval and analytical systems ?

Now clearly I’m not saying that cloud computing, virtualization, web 2.0 > enterprise 2.0 et al don’t have a part to play in many of these priorities but shouldn’t we be focussing on the problems – as articulated by our most important customers – rather than the technologies and their somewhat abstract labels

JMHO

New York Times appoints social media editor

I have to admit I didn’t really know what to make of this when it first hit the wires.

My initial reaction was “contradictions in terms” – surely the whole essence of social media is that is is self generating, self managing and ultimately self perpetuating so why would anyone need to be an editor ?

Dig a little deeper and you find the role, according to a memo from  deputy managing editor Jonathan Landman is “… someone who concentrates full-time on expanding the use of social media networks and publishing platforms to improve New York Times journalism and deliver it to readers”. Laudable indeed. The memo continues that the role will   “… work closely with editors, reporters, bloggers and others to use social tools to find sources, track trends, and break news as well as to gather it”

So there it is. Not exactly an editor – more like an evangelist and mentor to the collective editorial wisdom at the NYT. No bad thing at all…. and the holder of this illustrious title is one Jennifer Preston.

As of 27/05/09, Jenifer had over 2500 followers but surprising was only following 165 of us. I guess she’s getting plenty of input and just being selective 🙂 but we should probably all wish her good luck.

Newspapers failing web 2.0 challenge

Newspapers need to find innovative ways to embrace web 2.0 – or face a perilous future

(Originally published 12/05/09 – silicon.com)

For too long now people have talked about the decline in newspapers as if this was something slow and cyclical – worse still, something that they can actually manage.  I’m sure the people who ran chemical based photography at Kodak thought the same. The music industry clearly also had this perspective on life. Look, this might well just be a “decline” that has been accelerated by a recession but equally we may be approaching a structural, social and generational cliff face. Either way, you surely don’t want to be just another lemming?

Newspapers are facing the most fundamental period of change in their history. Some would say that until recently nothing much had actually changed since the town crier used to wander into the market square, ring his bell and shout “hear ye, hear ye – plague, death, taxation, fat-cat bankers and the worst recession in living memory …. local vicar involved”.

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Apple to buy Twitter – really ???

As wild rumours go its right there with the best of them but ….

According to Trusted Reviews (and a heap of less reputable websites)….. “Apple, yes Apple, is apparently locked in “serious negotiations” to buy Twitter for $700m. Quoting a “source who’s plugged into the Valley’s deal scene and has been recruited by Apple for a senior position” ValleyWag claims the duo want to unveil a deal by 8 June in time for WWDC 2009″

The article also points out that

  • Apple has no ad model
  • Apple is hardware and OS focused
  • Apple doesn’t do ‘free’
  • Apple image is slick and expensive- Twitter image is cute and bumbling
  • Twitter has already stated it will not sell for under $1bn

The FT has an equally sceptical position (though from a slightly different angle)

….. and as for me …. I just cant see it but stranger things have happened

Wikipedia 1 – 0 Microsoft

Microsoft today ran up the white flag in the battle of the online encyclopedias

“On October 31, 2009, MSN Encarta Web sites worldwide will be discontinued, with the exception of Encarta Japan, which will be discontinued on December 31, 2009. Additionally, Microsoft will cease to sell Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium software products worldwide by June 2009…”

Interestingly they close with ……

“Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past. As part of Microsoft’s goal to deliver the most effective and engaging resources for today’s consumer, it has made the decision to exit the Encarta business.”

Is free and socially networked the only way to survive ?

Does everything have to do everything nowadays …

Time was when being unique was a bit special; when being different was something to be celebrated. It seems now that when it comes to social networking solutions and tools, everyone just wants to be the same.

A few weeks back facebook announced that they were opening up their status API to “… make sure the ability to share this content was available through our standard APIs….. and opening new APIs for you to post links, create notes, or upload videos etc”. So there you go then, in no way a response to the mega growth of twitter and its impact on the usage of facebook.

Earlier, and in a move that angered many users, LinkedIn added a status element (aka “what are you doing now”) to their offering, mirroring both Twitter and Facebook

Today we hear that social contacts platform Plaxo “…is adding two new stream aggregation features to its stream service Pulse which tries to build a social network around third-party data, allows users to stay connected to their friends’ updates” – sounds familiar.

More worrying though is the conundrum that may soon face many software developers. Is there any value in being unique and developing something new or do you simply just throw something together based on what already exists? What sustainable value is there in being new and first anymore? Don’t get me wrong, mash-ups are cool and many of the best ones work because, through a combination of different solutions and ideas, you actually do create something new. It seems to me though that the current trend in social network solutions is just to do more of the same and shamelessly steal from the competition.

Oh well – looks like everything really does taste like chicken

JMHO