What a wonderful world that open and closed platforms have created on the World Wide Web. I can have an untold number of features and applications inserted into my Web browser without having to lift much more than a finger to access them. I can take my favorite Web platforms and expand their usefulness by linking them to other Web-based services. I can even download a variant of my Web browser of choice that bridges the best of two worlds under one new roof: new innovations mixed with standard familiarity.
So, what happens when these architectures fight back?
It's a stupid thing to say on its face, because I don't believe that it's up to a particular program or application to breach your defenses and fight its way into your cyber-life. Most, if not all instances of malware, spoofing, and hijacking (to name a few) can be directly traced to user stupidity in some fashion. Either a person leaves the ol' back door unlocked, fails to frisk the guests as they enter the home, or actively invites a heap of trouble to come on over for a party.
Simplified examples, perhaps, but the underlying fact remains a constant: You are the gatekeeper for your PC. Unfortunately, as we begin to adopt an "everyone's allowed" mindset for Web integration, we're only making it easier for the bad guys to do what they do best. Unfriendly, if not downright hostile bits of malware can be pushed back with but a few simple changes in behavior--are you as security-focused as you should be in today's cross-platform world?
So, we’re all tired of hearing about Twitter, right? Well, strap yourself in because it isn’t going away anytime soon. It seems that ComScore showed a 6.7% worldwide rise in Twitter visitors in September. This amounts to 58.4 million visitors, and a 949% increase in the last twelve months. That’s a lot of tweets. Curiously, US visits have been flat since June.
None of this data includes applications that only access the API, so these figures may even be underreported. While these numbers seem staggering, they are nothing compared to Facebook, with its 411 million visitors in September.
Twitter’s best bet is the recent deal with Bing and Google to provide its “firehose” of tweets to the search engines. This should drive more hits to the social networking site. Even with the help of Google, can Twitter avoid being crushed by the behemoth that is Facebook?
Hard times come quickly for social networking sites. One minute you’re on top, popping open bottles of vintage sparkling mineral water and picking up the tab for another round of tofu burgers. The next you are head-in-hands wonder how it all went so horribly wrong. Today’s patient on the couch is MySpace, with parent company News Corp. none to pleased with what’s going on.
Jonathan Miller, who keeps the watcher’s eye on News Corp.’s Internet services, put it pretty plainly: "The thing you see in this space more than anything else is that if you don't keep innovating and moving forward, you get in trouble. You can't stop. And MySpace stopped." MySpace’s stopped and, since being number one in 2006, has been outpaced by more popular alternatives: Facebook and Twitter.
Time, again, to reinvent the wheel, according to Miller, and return to what MySpace does best: music and gaming. MySpace recently purchased the online music provider iLike. And it has announced a new music video service which will allow labels and artists to see how well their music is doing on MySpace.
To expand gaming opportunities, Miller believes MySpace must open up its system to external developers. He also hinted that some paid premium services to be in the offing.
"Everybody in the company is upset that we didn't keep going when we had the real momentum. Regaining momentum is always much harder than keeping momentum going,” Miller stated. That, and keeping an eye on your rearview mirror to see who’s about to overtake you.
You are reading this on the Internet, and it wouldn’t be possible without Sir Tim Berners-Lee. You see, back in the 1980s Berners-Lee came up with a little thing called hypertext. Connect hypertext with TCP, and you get the “world wide web”. Now Berners-Lee is trudging through one of the newer areas of his invention; namely, twitter.
Berners-Lee was just about to get on stage at the Web 2.0 summit recently, but apparently decided he didn’t feel hip enough. He joined Twitter on the spot and you can follow him here. The Internet did not spontaneously explode, so we may be out of the woods. Berners-Lee started off using Tweetie and appeared to be unhappy with the interface. Sir Berners-Lee is the director of W3C, a web standards board. If he trashes your interface, you have some explaining to do
Mozilla’s newest project takes a stab at taming the new era of the hyper-personal news stream. It’s called Raindrop, and it just might change the way you communicate with people on the web. Raindrop allows users to follow conversations from a variety of sources in a clean, manageable UI. When you get right down to it, Raindrop filters out the noise.
As an example, a Twitter feed is categorized by highlighting DMs and @ replies, messages from certain contacts can be given precedence as well. The rest of the stream is minimized and kept out of the way while reviewing these. Emails can be sorted by type in Raindrop as well. Anything recognized as a mailing list could be separated from personal emails, or work emails could automatically move into the background at 5PM. The app could also be used to track your comments on various blogs. Mozilla will be encouraging the addition of front-end widgets and third-party code as well.
Raindrop is currently only open to developers. Hopefully we’ll see a full downloadable installer in the near future. If this sort of content aggregation/sorting sounds interesting to you, keep an eye on the Mozilla Labs site for details.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, was quick to offer some assurances about what would, and what would not become public. According to Ms. Sandberg “only people who have agreed to share their updates with everyone on the web will have their updates streamed to Bing.”
Facebook, which tallies over 45 million status updates per day from 30 million unique visitors, is following a path forged by Twitter, which earlier announced a deal with Microsoft and Google to make tweets searchable. Unlike the Twitter deal, however, Facebook says no money will be changing hands between it and Microsoft.
Microsoft announced today at the Web 2.0 Summit that it would integrate Twitter and Facebook streams into its online search engine, Bing.
So what does this mean to you the average interweb surfer? Well, it’s bringing closer to realization the idea of a “real-time web”. When you search for things now, you will find content that could be days, months, or years old. However, in a real-time web scenario your searches could yield results with up-to-the minute accuracy. Expos with revealing keynotes, product unveilings, and travel information all can benefit from minute-by-minute updates like tweets and Facebook status updates. The Facebook integration is still a work in progress, but twitter results are live as of today.
By the way, did I mention Google also signed the exact same deal with Twitter today? They will be working tweet results into their regular search results over the next few months. They haven’t given any indication that they are working on a deal with Facebook.
It is worth nothing that Facebook and Google do not get along very well. Therefore, hanging on to Facebook exclusively might be Microsoft’s ace-in-the-hole by providing results you can’t get anywhere else, inevitably driving up its market share.
You and I might call it spam, but small businesses who promote their products on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter call it smart advertising. No matter what you call it, don't expect those product plugs to go away any time soon. In an online survey, Internet2Go found that 45 percent of some 2,400 small business respondents with fewer than 100 employees said they use social networking tools to push their services or wares.
"For these guys, costs was a big factor," said Greg Sterling, an analyst for Internet2Go. "They either need to hire a dedicated person or need more resources and don't have it.
We're talking really small businesses here, as most of the respondents -- 8 out of 10 -- had four or fewer employees and annual marketing budgets less than $5,000. Nearly half of all respondents said they spend less than $1,000 on advertising and marketing, so it makes sense they would flock to Facebook and other essentially free venues.
"We are going to see more and more of this behavior from other small businesses because it's free and you don't have to have expertise to set up these pages," Sterling said.
There's been a lot of talk of net neutrality as of late, mainly because the FCC plans to release details of its proposed net neutrality rules this Thursday. Last week the FCC was bombarded with letters frkom net-neutrality opponents urging new FCC chairman Julius Genachowski to take a cautious approach toward the new rules, but not everyone feels this way. The FCC also received another letter, this one in support of net neutrality, signed by several prominent Internet company founders.
"We believe a process that results in common sense baseline rules is critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a key engine of economic growth, innovation, and global competitiveness," the group wrote. "An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail. This allows businesses of all sizes, from the smallest start-up to larger corporations, to compete, yielding maximum economic growth and opportunity."
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Evan Williams added their signature to the letter, as did Digg founder Kevin Rose. So did Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, Google's Eric Schmidt, and a bunch of other recognizable names included among the 24 CEOs and Internet company founders.
Maybe you're not afraid to fly, but chances are, someone in family or circle of friends probably is. So that means every time you take to the skies, someone out there is worried about you, Put your loved ones at ease by allowing them to follow your flight on Facebook or Twitter.
The updates come courtesy of the new MySkyStatus service, which works with both of the aforementioned social networking sites. All you have to do is input your account information and list your flight details, and MySkyStatus will take care of the rest. While you stretch out in First Class for a mile high nap or pop a pair of earphones in your ears to drown out that whiny brat in Coach, MySkyStatus will keep busy periodically updating your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
DownloadSquad reports that there's quite a bit of branding associated with the service, which includes "powered by Lufthansa" with every status update, so you'll have to decide if that's enough to turn you off to the service or not.