You might not have heard of Airbnb, a feisty young startup out of San Francisco that lets users book lodging in the vacant homes of other Airbnb users, and rent out their own homes while they are away. The entire process is handeled by Airbnb, not directly by the users. In recent weeks, a firestorm of bad PR has hit Airbnb as a woman, blogging under the pseudonym EJ told the tale of how an Airbnb guest robbed and vandalized her home. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Airbnb has now offered an unconditional apology and a $50,000 insurance guarantee, but not after a few missteps.
It’s not very often that one sees one’s life posted on one of the larger news/technology aggregates/communities/linkdumps on the web. But there I sat the other day, idly browsing the web the other day, when up came a chat window from Future US co-star Andy Salisbury. Andy, as it turns out, had stumbled across a rather interesting picture in Reddit’s submission queue and was curious to know if I had any further details to share.
I clicked the link without really thinking much about what could lie beneath. And you can thus imagine my surprise in discovering that I was basically staring at the back of my car. Yes, my car. Somebody had taken a picture of my (extremely clever and/or witty) license plate and uploaded it for the world to see. The votes on Reddit were slowly a-climbing and, based on a quick scan of the third-party that was actually hosting the image in question, roughly 10,000 people or so had already checked out my car’s butt.
WikiLeaks has always been a popular source for anonymous whistleblowers everywhere, but we just caught wind that the founders are setting forth plans to abandon the project. The site has been unable to accept new "leaks" since the arrest of Specialist Bradley Manning who revealed classified army documents several weeks ago, and it looks like this policy won't be changing anytime soon.
The anonymous insider claims that despite the impending death of WikiLeaks, they will eventually be "launching a completely new site hosted in Iceland". It will likely carry on the torch that WikiLeaks dropped, but given the high profile recent arrest, it's unlikely it will be able to cull the same level of juicy leaks going forward now that people know the consequences.
Facebook users know how it can be. You log in and notice you have a huge number of notifications. You find yourself dismayed as it becomes apparent that most of them are just app notification spam. You know the sort: so-and-so just answered a question about you, or what’s-his-face wants your help in Mafia Wars. Well, hopefully you won’t see quite so much of that anymore now that Facebook has ended support for the ‘notifications.send’ API.
We’re happy to see Facebook take even a small step to keep the service usable. Sure, developers may not like this so much, but Facebook did just give them the ability to request user email addresses for notification purposes. They also have the new games dashboard to play with. It is currently unclear how this will affect the newsfeed. Currently, we are still seeing a few app posts in it, and we wouldn’t mind if that went away.
Overall, this is a good move by Facebook. Even with the massive success Facebook is enjoying, they have to pay attention to the experience of users lest they become the next MySpace. Just think, that would have sounded like a good thing three or four years ago. Internet people are fickle.
Making money with online video is no easy task, just ask Google. It's king of the hill video sharing service YouTube continues to operate in the red almost 5 years after its initial release, a reality which makes us wonder how anyone without Google's nearly infinite resources could possibly survive in this space. The latest competitor to bite the dust is Veoh, which if you haven't heard of it, was aiming to fill the void of copy protected content that was created when Google purged its archives at the behest of the TV networks a few years back.
The ultimate goal of Veoh was to give users access to major studio content and independent productions, but costly legal battles, primarily with Vivendi's Universal Music Group ended up overwhelming the good intentions of founder Dmitry Shapiro. Veoh had content agreements in place with CBS, ABC, Viacom, MTV, and even ESPN. At its peak the service was hosting almost 28 million users per month, but ultimately was unsustainable. Early investors in the service include some pretty big names such as Walt Disney, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner, Adobe Systems, and even some ex Viacom executives.
On Shapiro's blog he stated the company would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in response to the difficult economy, and also due to his ongoing legal woes with Vivendi, but the most likely scenario at this point ends with Veoh liquidating its assets and rejoining the internet ether from which all web 2.0 spawns.
Despite the social web's spectacular expansion during recent times, it is not uncommon to find those who abstain from social networking sites just as an austere monk clings onto his virginity. You may also know a few people who have bid farewell to social networking sites for once and for all (not to mention those who delete their accounts only to resurface on the social web and so on and so forth). Now there is a ridiculously easy solution for killing your web2.0-self: the web2.0 Suicide Machine.
Based out of Netherlands, Suicide Machine is a website that automates the process of deleting a person's contacts on social networking sites, besides making the social networking profile inaccessible to even its owner. Although Facebook is among the sites that are supported – MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter are the others, Suicide Machine is currently unable to “kill” Facebook profiles. This is due to the fact that Facebook has blocked its IP address. The site's administrators are working on “ways to circumvent this ungrounded restriction imposed on our service.”Those mulling a web2.0 suicide, be amply warned that once initiated the process can not be stopped.
The paper, which is titled "Government ICT Strategy: New world, new challenges, new opportunities," notes that many new technologies are poised to become mainstream by 2015, but that the above three stand out from them all. It says that Web 2.0 will provide the foundation to improve public sector interaction between citizens and businesses, while cloud computing will lead to different business models for the use and reuse of applications. Service oriented architecture, it says, will enable the delivery of the G Cloud and ultimately lead to an online store of government apps.
Other technologies discussed in the leaked document include the potential of semantic advancements, which separate data and content files from application code and meanings, location aware services, human-computer interaction which removes the need for a keyboard, and technologies to improve energy efficiency.
While the Cabinet Office doesn't comment on leaked documents, a spokesman did say that the paper is aimed at steering the government's approach to IT over the next five years, and that a it hopes to publish a final draft in time for Christmas.
Analytics services like Alexa or Compete have often been cited as good ways to rank a website’s importance. But these options only measure website traffic. A service called ://URLFAN, however, measures a site’s influence by analyzing blog mentions. In this way, it’s a bit like Technorati but for all websites.
://URLFAN is currently ranking the popularity of 3,783,534 sites by checking 302,607,392 blog posts from 5,962,353 individual feeds. This appears to be updated in real time along with the stats. So what site takes the top honor? That would be en.wikipedia.org. This isn’t terribly unexpected. Wikipedia has a wealth of readily accessible information people might want to link to.
Youtube comes in just behind Wikipedia, and Flickr right after that. In yet another bad sign for old media, there’s only one newspaper site on the list, The New York Times. ://URLFAN probably isn’t a perfect measure of influence, but it does take a unique approach, and is well worth a look. Check out the full top 100 list updated in real time here.
The report (PDF) reveals that 95% of comments that appear on blogs, chat rooms and online forums fall into two broad categories: spam and malicious content. Cyber scoundrels now seem more focused on targeting Web 2.0 websites with user-generated content than ever before. Many of the most frequented internet properties are sites that tolerate user-generated content. And 61% of the top 100 sites either host malicious content or link to it, according to the report.
Spam and malicious content seem to go hand in hand, for Websense Security Labs found that 85.6 of spam mails in circulation during the first half of 2009 contained links to malicious sites.
uSocial is currently offering all the friends/fans packages at introductory prices. While 1,000 Facebook friends or fans can be bought for $177.30, the price for 5,000 friends is $654.30. The current cost of adding 10,000 fans is $1167.30. Although many doubt the worth of buying friends, uSocial founder Leon Hill claims his company delivers targeted friends. "We are getting, basically, targeted friends and fans who are saying, 'Yes, I want information on this,” he told the Associated Press in a phone interview.