Investors left holding the worthless scraps of paper that the Pets.com stock became after the dot-com bubble burst can tell you that figuring out the worth of a Web property can be a tricky proposition. With companies liked LinkedIn, Groupon and Pandora going public and making millions – or billions – on an almost daily basis, media pundits are worried that another bubble may pop soon. Cautious investors trying to stay ahead of the game measure a Web property's worth by its users' worth. So what are you worth to some of the biggest sites on the Web?
“Websites have a responsibility to protect the people who depend on their services. They've been ignoring this responsibility for too long, and it's time for everyone to demand a more secure web. My hope is that Firesheep will help the users win.”
Is that true? Well, test the waters yourself with Eric Butler's Firesheep extension for Firefox--a one-button way to collect the unsecure logins and passwords being thrown across open Wi-Fi networks!
To write about the death of Digg would be to step into a time machine, back to the late August launch of the fabled “Digg version 4” which singlehandedly managed to unwind nearly six years of continued growth and excitement in one, crappy swoop.
Here’s the real secret though: In Digg’s grand quest to somehow reinvent itself back to mainstream acceptance (a code phrase for “profitable traffic numbers”), the site’s various, changing overlords fail to recognize that the pin on the grenade has already been tossed to the floor. Amongst the geeks and the traffic-shapers (more on them later), Digg is irrelevant. Its power to toss tens of thousands of users to a give site or piece of content has been nerfed nearly as badly as its submission system.
Yet, we really only have ourselves to blame. We helped Kevin Rose create his monster and, in doing so, forever proved that you just can’t have direct democracy on the Web without some jackass(es) screwing it up. We broke Digg.
Not a thing wrong with making some money. Right? Well, that's the great contradiction in both the open-source and freeware worlds. Everyone loves software that performs a unique task (or replicates the unique tasks of paid-for applications), but the second an aspiring developer attempts to tack a moneymaking scheme to an otherwise free program, said developer might as well call up the fire department and Internet police--there are going to be torches, pitchforks, and angry blog posts knocking on the front door within short order.
It's almost too easy to blame the developer. And for good reason: There's a definitive lack of add-ons, advertisements, and other such cash-generating schemes that actually deliver a valuable service to the user. But, to be fair, users share the fault--if you don't want to read the instructions, you only have yourself to blame for the various toolbars that have been installed on your machine as a result of your super-fast clicking on the "next" button in any given app's installer.
So what do we do? Is it fair of the open-source and freeware world to scorn any developer that tries to make a quick buck? Is it similarly fair for developers to pack their software to the gills with crapware in the hopes that you forget to uncheck a box or two whilst installing? How do we merge the capitalistic ideals of making money with the altruistic aspirations of consumer freeware and open-source development?
Woe to the open-source developer that doesn't showcase his or her work.
I'm speaking, of course, about the most important tool on any open-source project's landing page. It's not the feature list, nor is it even the download button--it's the screenshot. When I take off my Maximum PC hat, I'm an average consumer with simple needs: I need a program that does what I want it to do, is relatively easy to set up and maintain but, most importantly, looks good.
The thing about hunting for open-source alternatives is that it's real easy to find quite a number of programs that mimic the success of a popular program or treatment. Need an open-source Photoshop variant? Piece of cake. How about a Content Management System? Sure. Now, how about... an application that looks just like Adobe Premiere? Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
Try as you might, it's just not going to be same experience--even if a program performs as well as its closed-source variant--if the interface flat-out sucks.
With Google having opened Android Market to paid apps, users of the fledgling mobile platform are eagerly looking forward to an inevitable rise in the number of apps. Google, on its part, is trying its best to offer more reasons for Android users to exult.
And exult they will on hearing that the Android Market will let users return any application within 24 hours from the time of purchase. Google has stolen a march on Apple’s App Store by espousing an application return policy.
Also, users will be allowed unlimited reinstalls by Google. If any dispute arises - including billing issues - between a user and a developer, the two parties will have to settle it directly as Google is not interested in playing arbitrator. Another thing Google is not interested in is porn. The Android Market policies expressly prohibit “nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material.”