Monday, December 31, 2007

Round-up of tech predictions for 2008


At this time of year there is no shortage of predictions what will happen in the tech industry over the coming 12 months.

From Bill Thompson's 'Cloudy visions of the future' on the BBC, to CNet's Top 5 tech predictions of 2008 to The Economist's 'Three fearless predictions' critiqued on Slashdot, it will be fascinating to see how tech developments evolve over the next year.

Also worth catching is John Battelle's view plus Mike Arrington on CrunchNotes pointing to Loren Feldman's thought provoking 2008 predictions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On-demand service from BBC, ITV and Channel4

Broadcasters the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have joined forces to offer a unified on-demand service. First reported five months ago in June, today more news of the on-demand joint venture code-named 'Kangaroo' was announced.

The existing VOD services
iPlayer from the BBC, and ITV's video player are reported to continue on their respective channels, however Channel 4's 4oD is said to be due to be incorporated within the new service.

Pricing is reported as "all three broadcasters will be available for free download, streaming, rental and purchase via the internet, with expansion on to other platforms planned."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tumblelog evolvement

On April 12th 2005 the tumblelog came into existence. Jason Kottke described tumblelogs as:
"A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing...really just a way to quickly publish the "stuff" that you run across every day on the web"


Thanks to the maestros of usability: 37signals for featuring a post on the latest version of Tumblr, one of the most effective tumblelogs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Liberate Media PR celebrate

There was a big turn out for Liberate Media's first birthday party in Soho on Thursday night.

A smattering of technology and social networking cognoscienti from New Media Age, BBC Technology Online, Creative, Pushbutton.tv, Spannerworks, and many more raised a glass to Wendy McAuliffe and Lloyd Gofton at Liberate Media PR for their first year in business.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Journa-list, an online resource by subject and author


Thanks to Bobbie Johnson in Technology Guardian for drawing attention to Journa-list currently in beta.

It aims to be a collection of online journalism currently being written in the UK.

Search by name or topic and see cloud-style the most covered topics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to Westmonster


Thanks to Mike Butcher at TechCrunch UK for news of a new professional blog publisher in the UK called MessyMedia formed earlier in September by Lloyd Shepherd, formerly of Guardian Unlimited and Yahoo Europe, and Andrew Levy, formerly of Yahoo Europe.


MessyMedia's first blog 'Westmonster' focusses on British politics and is described as irreverent, clued-up and scurrilous. It is edited by 'Westminster insider' Sadie Smith.

Shepherd said: “There's a yawning gap in British political coverage, between the established media, which have fallen into the “us-and-them” trap, and the partisan political blogs like Iain Dale's Diary and Guido Fawkes."

Monday, September 10, 2007

TechCrunch UK relaunch and Seedcamp winners

In November 2006 TechCrunch UK and Ireland launched with Sam Sethi as publisher and Mike Butcher as editor bringing much needed focus to the UK tech start up scene.

Just one month later Le Web 3.0 conference organised by Loic le Meur in Paris sparked off a series of 'misunderstandings' that led to Michael Arrington editor of the US parent site effectively shutting down TechCrunch UK. Much heat was generated in the blogosphere about who said what and why.

Following the suspension of TechCrunch UK, Sam Sethi and Mike Butcher worked together at Vecosys, then separated to run their own tech blogs at blognation launched 8 weeks ago (currently in 9 countries) and Mbites respectively.

So to bring things up to date it is refreshing to see Techcrunch UK up and running again with Mike Butcher once more working with Mike Arrington. The important stuff is after all spotlighting new tech in the UK rather than the individuals blogging about it.

This week Techcrunch UK covered Seedcamp and focused on the 6 winners that each received €50k of funding :
First up is Project Playfair, a Scottish project still in development described as "hypertext for numbers";
next is Zemanta, a 'content intelligence platform' from Slovenia;
Kublax
is a hyper-encrypted personal finance application syncing all your bank accounts and utilities in one user-friendly place;
Swedish Tablefinder is an online restaurant searching and booking service;
UK-based Buildersite is a trusted marketplace for construction services based on 5% of the project fee;
Lastly is rentmeonline which has been described an eBay for renters.

If anyone has inside info, or experience of using the applications mentioned here share your thoughts on them below.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

3D fly-through a social network

Beautiful visualisation via infosthetics and Open showing the network relationships of groups, members and content, plus the 'long tail' gets a mention.

Friday, July 06, 2007

New York Times on the iPhone hype

David Pogue of The New York Times looks at the features of the new iPhone, as furtively as possible.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sam Sethi launches Blognation across 16 countries


Today ex-TechCrunchUK publisher, and more recently Vecosys editor Sam Sethi launches his ambitious Blognation network covering the startup/ web 2.0 space.

With 16 editors onboard already Blognation will initially launch in : United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark Portugal, Italy, Iceland, Netherlands, Japan, China / Taiwan / Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, South America.

Deliberately the US is not being covered by Blognation as Sam says 'because there are already enough excellent blogs reporting on the start-up ecosystem over there and one more wouldn’t make the slightest difference.'

Future expansion of Blognation is planned to cover Canada, Russia, India, South Africa, South Korea, South-East Asia, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey and Greece.

Blognation's About Us page states ' blognation is backed by undisclosed venture capital funding, by vendor advertising and through affiliate advertising.'



Best of luck Sam and to all involved.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thanks to


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CBS buys Last.fm

Big news for the UK tech scene as CBS today bought London-based Lastfm for £140m ($280m). The Guardian describes this as 'the largest UK web2.0 acquisition to date'.


With 15 million current users in 200 countries, the founders Martin Stiksel, Richard Jones and Felix Miller write on their blog about what a good match working with CBS will be.

And how they understood "putting the listener in charge, the vibrant and vocal community, the obsession with music stats, and our determination to offer every song ever recorded."

Martin Stiksel said "We have a lot more ideas in the pipeline that we can now put into effect and also we have a strong partner on our side."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

'The day the web changed' :: Scoble on Silverlight



Robert Scoble talks with Scott Guthrie, who runs several teams at Microsoft who develop developer tools and platforms. He gave a keynote at Mix where he got a lot of attention with Silverlight and other developer initiatives.

Guthrie recommened seeing the Top Banana video which is a new starter kit that lets developers add sophisticated and streamlined video editing to their content sites. It lets their users easily upload and edit video snippets into movies in a fun and free-form manner.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Architecture of Flash

Ely Greenfield, Flex architect, David Wadhwani, vice president of Flex Product Line, and Mike Chambers, senior product manager, developer relations, walk to the whiteboard and describe Adobe Flash's architecture and give further details about what is being open sourced. via Scoble


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Joost disappointing

The prospect of a peer-to-peer IPTV application from Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis founders of Skype and Kazaa would seem to be something seriously worth experiencing.

So vast numbers of potential users flocked to sign up for the Joost beta. Months elapse then one day the invitation arrives. Understandably most Joost beta users come with high expectations.

Here is my initial experience based on the first few attempts using Joost. Once the download completed and my PC's specifications were assessed as worthy to run the application, the trouble began.

Joost describes itself as 'Easy to use, just like regular TV'. But how many people have to login to their TV before they can use it? So logging to Joost was the first pain. Auto-logging in with cookies would have been preferable. The application appeared very unstable, splashing a full screen message with plenty of small text for less than half a second so that there was no chance read it. Then there was approximately 30 seconds to one minute gap with no indication or task bar evidence something was about to happen.

Once past these hurdles your entire screen goes black and it is filled with the Joost application, with no minimize or 'close box' option. You are then subjected to a 'coming next' graphic and force fed the content. No browsing or selection is obvious at this stage.

There is in fact a control panel on the lower section but it doesn't appear to be constantly available or easily accessible. The quality of the 'video' in my experience was more or less one frame per second with equally poor stuttering audio when tested from two different broadband networks and locations.

To be generous, perhaps this woeful experience is untypical. The majority of hands-on beta-test feedback is in fact positive.

In my opinion Joost needs to hand control to the user much more obviously. The login needs to be less clunky, the controls have to be far more accessible, the frame rate has to speed up. At the moment there are so many failings in this user's experience of Joost that the incentive to continue is remote. Presumably many of the bugs mentioned above will be eliminated from the next release of Joost.

What is your experience of Joost?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

TechCrunch nuttiness

Regular readers of TechCrunch may remember that editor/owner Mike Arrington has form when April 1st posts are concerned.

Rather than inventing semi-plausible spoof Web 2.0 start up company reviews, cramming in all the requisite buzzwords, this year Arrington appears to have gone for a different approach. CNet reports 'TechCrunch: When April's Fool is no joke' regarding the acquisition of FuckedCompany by TechCrunch.

FuckedCompany started in 2000 by Philip 'Pud' Kaplan and gained a following in the wake of the dotcom bubble burst, when disgruntled employees of failing dotcom start ups, and the recently redundant spilled the beans making for juicy reading.

Arrington who currently deposits failed companies he has written about in the TechCrunch 'Deadpool' cites his rationale for the acquisition of 'FC' as "the current trend in blogging, led by Valleywag and others, is to “go negative first, and ask questions later.” That tabloid-style journalism tends to generate a lot of eyeballs and, subsequently, advertiser dollars. This is something we just can’t compete with. By acquiring FC, we can go more negative faster than anyone else out there, when and if we need to.

With the combination of these two companies, we can now effectively cover a startup from the idea stage, through the hype and funding stage, and then cover its inevitable bankruptcy and liquidation as well."

Approximately half the 233 comments on TechCrunch regarding the acquisition believe it to be a joke. Whatever the truth is you have to hand it to Arrington for his ability to continually generate and sustain a high level of interest in his ventures.

----------------------------------------------------------

Update: Now confirmed as an April Fools joke to draw attention to how ' Techcrunch is the best-known site announcing new "Web 2.0" companies, while FC chronicled the fall of "Web 1.0." The joke being that Web 2.0 is "officially" over.'

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The lawyer, the trainee plastic surgeon and the imaginary girl

Interesting interview describing the creation of a fictitious teenage videoblogger called Bree, who generated humongous traffic, got exposed as a spoof and still milked the fan base turning a niche idea into a viable YouTube offshoot business model.

Rocketboom field correspondent Chuck Olsen interviews 'medical dropout' Miles Beckett and ex-attorney Greg Goodfried the creators of lonelygirl15.

Despite the international exposé between June and August 2006, the lonelygirl15 phenomenon shows no sign of flagging. They have a partnership with video revenue sharing site Revver,'spin-off shows in foreign territories' in development, plus 'branding and integration deals for long term success'.

There are currently 88,000 lonelygirl15 subscribers on YouTube; lonelygirl15.com gets 25 to 30,000 unique vistors a day, and about 150,000 unique vistors over a month. The five videos a week generate about 1.5 million weekly views.

To sustain and increase interest levels, there is plenty of interaction available for fans to comment and interact with eachother on the lg15 forums.

Jessica Lee Rose who plays Bree was voted the top web celeb by Forbes.com and after a bit part with Lindsay Lohan in 'I Know Who Killed Me', she now has a 'movie deal'. Touchingly, Jessica also recorded a United Nations anti-poverty commercial since her career went stratospheric.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

map messaging


Instead of passé email, combine a smoke signal or crop circle message with a location via http://www.mapmsg.com

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ning, the social network from Andreessen


Way back in October 2005, Ning launched with an intent to let anyone create social networks without programming skills, for free.

Ning is backed by Marc Andreessen, the 'wunderkind' of the Internet bubble generation and has Gina Bianchini as CEO.

After an several kickings from TechCrunch they at last appear to have ironed out the usabilty issues that got them the earlier bad press with Ning version 2, released on 27th Feb '07.

It was good to see Andreessen and Bianchini interacting with every pertinent comment asked on TechCrunch (161 so far) and being so open. Andreessen was happy to talk about what was happening under the hood and said amongst much other detailed answering that Ning was 90% built in Java. He stresses that Ning is designed to let people customise any aspect of their social network either in the Ning environment or outside using Ning's API's.

Scalablity is often an issue when apps get the TechCrunch spike and aim to go mainstream. Despite a few instances of recently being swamped the concensus is that Ning is coping well and the majority of the feedback is positive.

In my experience it took less than 20 minutes to set up a test social network using Ning without a single glitch. So top marks there for usability. See below, Gina Bianchini giving an impressive demo of Ning, filmed by Robert Scoble.


The Ning business model allows free usage being supported by ads with plenty of premium services available where there is demand.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Arrington calls for the BBC to be dissolved

Via Ian Forrester at Cubicgarden
Yesterday (21st Feb) at the future of webapps there was a Panel Debate about what Europe could learn from American in regards to the startup culture. We captured the whole debate on a small camcorder. Including the part where one of the most prolific voices of the valley, Michael Arrington from TechCrunch.com showed his true feelings for the BBC's efforts online. He added... "The BBC should be dissolved"

Future of Web Apps heats up London

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chelsea FC on YouTube

Via Reuters : Chelsea have signed a deal to show archive footage and daily news on the popular video-sharing site YouTube, becoming the first Premier League club to do so.

Under the deal, Chelsea will have a branded channel on the site, showing daily updates and other content. It will not show live footage due to restrictions under Premier League rules.

"We are delighted to work with YouTube," Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon said in a statement on Friday. "Chelsea is the first football club to move into what is clearly one of the fastest growing new media platforms."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Yahoo! Pipes 'a milestone'

Here's a screengrab of Yahoo! Pipes launched last week.

Nik Cubrilovic at TechCrunch explains "the product name is taken from the world of UNIX where a pipe is a conduit for the transfer of data between applications, while with the Yahoo product it is a conduit for data between web services.

In a basic form Yahoo! Pipes allows you to take data from one or more sources and to bring it together, for example - to aggregate a group of feeds."

Tim O'Reilly describes Yahoo Pipes as a milestone in the history of the internet and is openly excited at "the enormous promise in turning the web into a programmable environment for everyone." O'Reilly points out that many people might be thinking that 'pipes' are just another way of mashing up data. "But to develop a mashup, you already needed to be a programmer.

Yahoo! Pipes is a first step towards changing all that, creating a programmable web for everyone."

One minor glitch in this wonderful new Internet milestone from Yahoo! is the apparent lack of user documentation. However 'MrsSpeaker' has an easily digestible introduction to Yahoo!Pipes here.

Reddit's influential 12 year old

Mike Arrington at TechCrunch highlights a recent Wall Street Journal article called “The Wizards of Buzz” which looks at the power of the top users on Digg, Netscape and other “social bookmarking” sites.

One of the top 'influencers' on Reddit, (bought in Ocober 2006 by Condé Nast, turned out to be a 12 year old boy called Adam Fuhrer who lives near Toronto. His father restricts Adam's access to sites such as YouTube, yet Adam has enough time on his hands and nous to reach the top users list on Reddit.

Adam tracks 100 sites searching for news about criminal justice, his local hockey team and software. Recently he focussed on the security vulnerabilities of Vista, Microsoft's much hyped new operating system, gaining approving votes from more than 500 users.

Microsoft having spent five years and an estimated $10bn developing Vista their first operating system since XP, must have concerns that the fruits of their massive investment can be shaped to some extent by someone who no matter how bright they are, is not yet a teenager. It is worth poiting out that Adam is merely linking to established sources such as Robert Vamosi, senior editor at CNet, whose credibility is less of an issue.

One outcome of the Wall Street Journal revealing the identities and ages of some of the top posters to user generated sites, is how regular users of these sites will now feel having been influenced by someone eight years below the lower end of the typical reddit/digg user demographic of 20-30 years old.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

TechCrunch20 reignites conflict of interest row

Last December an enormous row erupted between Sam Sethi, publisher of newly setup TechCrunch UK and Mike Arrington the owner/editor of TechCrunch.com.

One of Arrington's gripes with Sethi was
"Sam's ethical lapse in trashing a competitor while simultaneously promoting his own events."
Fast forward six weeks with TechCrunch UK still on hold and Sam succesfully relocated to his own site Vecosys with co-editor Mike Butcher.
Today Arrington posts a curious announcement from DEMO outlining its deficiencies and high entry costs while promoting TechCrunch20, his zero cost startup launch conference in partnership with Jason Calacanis, founder of highly popular tech blog Engadget.

Guardian technology journalist Bobbie Johnson was one of the first to point out:
"wasn’t the reason you got irritated with TCUK because they criticised Le Web and announced a competing event at the same time? If so, so what’s with ragging DEMO and launching your own competitor in the same post here?"


Arrington is yet to respond to this observation, but replies to Robert Scoble's accusation of being 'tactless' hours after having lunch together today.

Sam Sethi magnanimously resists having too much of a dig writing:
"good luck Jason and Mike, we already know it’s a great idea! I look forward to reading more about the “original” ideas presented at TechCrunch20."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shiny Media sells 50% for $4.5m funding


The UK's largest blog network Shiny Media, has secured $4.5m in funding from Dan Wagner's venture capital arm, Bright Station. Dan Wagner bought the tech remnants of ill-fated Boo.com and built e-commerce supplier Venda and search engine Locayta.

Shiny Media set up by Guardian technology contributor Ashley Norris, Chris Price and Katie Lee has grown from the initial Tech Digest to now 22 blogs with 3 million readers monthly.

Their blogs are grouped in four main sections. Shiny Tech including 'James Murdoch's favourite' HDTV, Shiny Sport featuring Who Ate All The Pies, Shiny Fashion with Shoewawa and Shiny Lifestyle with the exquisitely named Bayraider.

Commenting on their funding, Ashley answers the question why they need $4.5m at a cost of 50% of the company:

1) competing with mainstream media.
2) developing the commercial side of our business.
3)
video is the future for blogging.
4)
expanding our range of blogs.
5)
eyeing up new horizons.

"Why Bright Station Ventures? Well we have worked really hard to develop Shiny and we wanted like-minded entrepreneurs who were prepared to ‘sweat’ with us, not just look over our shoulder. Shaa and Dan are both dynamos who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They don’t just bring the backing of an exciting new fund to Shiny, they also bring experience, contacts and the kind of commercial nous Shiny needs to achieve its goals."

The significance of this deal is likely to be resonating around the blogosphere for some time to come.

Photo of Ashley Norris courtesy of ProBlogger

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tainted cookies from Downing Street


Like many people, part of their routine is running anti-spyware and adware programs to bolster their firewall and anti-virus defences.

So last night trawling through the usual suspects picked up by Ad-Aware, I found a couple of quarantined files from The Guardian and one from CNet plus a few clearly ad-related. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But lodged amongst them was a first appearance from "uk.stat.com/primeministersoffice/downingstreet."

Hunting down the cookie details shows it allegedly expiring at the end of the session as opposed to many that optimistically expire 35 years from now, such as Google's. (Show me a PC in regular use that will function and be active 35 years from now and I'll be impressed). As Simon Willison points out 'How many people are going to go a whole ten years without losing their browser’s cookies, through a browser upgrade, PC upgrade, change of job or just wiping the cookie directory?'

The question remains why would a cookie from Downing Street appear as spyware? and more generally 'when do cookies become spyware?' Stefanie Olsen at CNet looked at this way back in 2005. She defines 'Spyware as denying people reasonable control over the application -- the ability to easily uninstall it, for example. And, as its name implies, it typically spies on people while they're surfing the Web. It can collect passwords, bank statements and other personal data, down to the keystroke.'

Olsen reports that Richard Smith, a privacy and security consultant said "some anti-spyware audits are padding the potential threat to create the impression that they're doing more work than they really are to protect consumers."

It is curious that Ad-Aware picked up 'primeministersoffice/downingstreet' and makes one wonder why an 'innocuous cookie' would be quarantined as spyware. 10 Downing Street has a detailed Privacy Policy page that states 'Ned Stat, an independent measurement and research company gathers non-personal data regarding the visitors to our site on our behalf using cookies and code embedded in the site'.

Yet why
the Prime Minister's Office's cookies and code appear as spyware is not clear.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Does the iPhone live up to the hype?

First impressions of the iPhone are pretty damn good. After years of speculation regarding the iPhone, endless rumours and plenty of creative visualisations, the big day arrived.

Steve Jobs at Macworld in San Francisco unveiled a credible touchscreen device, with a high degree of innovation. It has 200 patents including the intriguingly named 'Accelerometer', plus Proximity sensors and Visual Voicemail. Priced at $499 for the 4GB version and a very steep $599 for 8GB Flash storage capacity.

Thankfully Engadget blogged the keynote in real time, with enough galleries to satisfy Apple's most enthusiastic fanatics. (Engadget had 10 times normal traffic during Job's keynote peaking at nearly 10 million page impressions, although there is still some confusion whether or not this takes into account page refreshes).

Mike Butcher also has an easy to digest round-up of the iPhone's key features gleaned from TUAW, Paidcontent, Crunchgear and Engadget.

In a refreshing note of balance, Ben King at Channel 4 asks "Why are we so obssessed with Apple?"






Tech Paparazzi's Verdict
: Without personally having used the the iPhone, this is mainly based on Steve's keynote: While there are always going to be detractors predicting failure it seems to exceed the hype, appearing to carry the iPod wow-factor and usability to the iPhone. Guy Kewney at the Reg thinks there will be a demand for the abandoned scroll wheel and reckons it will reappear in hardware version 1.5. But surely the scroll wheel could appear on the touchscreen in an upgrade.

Europe will have to wait until Christmas '07 or early 2008 until it ships this side of the pond.

Monday, January 08, 2007

on the way to Las Vegas for CES


There was no fog that day.
Originally uploaded by Tolka Rover.
from Flickr, tagged CES, originally uploaded by Tolka Rover

Sunday, January 07, 2007

keeping faith


keeping faith
Originally uploaded by stoneth.
Second image from a set of photos titled Poverty by Tom Stone (via kottke)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

life and death


life and death
Originally uploaded by stoneth.
From a powerful set of 161 photos titled Poverty by Tom Stone (via kottke)