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 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

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."