Google and Jaiku - the puzzle is getter clearer

jaiku logoGoogle has acquired the mobile microblogging service Jaiku for an undisclosed sum, fueling some speculation on Google’s future plans for forays into the social networking space, particularly via mobile devices.

For right now, existing users of Jaiku will carry on as usual. New users will be able to join in future, through an invitation, according to the official Google Blog.

There is further speculation that the Jaiku mobile service will be bundled in with the yet to materialize but highly hyped Google G-phone.

jaiku mobileTwitter, Jaiku, Pownce and other mobile chat applications give people one more way to communicate. The advantage to these applications is that the communications can be (and have to be) brief, so people do not feel they have to write long volumes, or stand on literary ceremony, such when writing emails - or have the need to make idle chit chat when calling acquaintances on the phone. It conveys “thinking of you” while providing a “what’s news” highlight in the briefest way possible.

Twitter is a very simple application geared at providing “What I am doing” updates - rather like the status updates on Facebook. People who travel frequently tend to embed Twitter into their web pages or blogs, to send quick bulletins on what they are up to. However, it is hard to say anything really meaningful within 140 characters.

jaikuJaiku, the more complicated cousin of Twitter, allows users to create an “activity stream” where they post Jaikus (a variation of the word haiku which means a short poem), as well as add pictures and contacts lists. The brain child of Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen from Finland, Jaiku was founded in February, 2006 and launched in July of that year. This is indeed a quick turn around for selling a start up that is only a year and a half old!

Google’s acquisition of Jaiku also came hot on the heels the acquisition of Zingku, the mobile social networking networking service, along with Google’s much publicized bid on wireless spectrum in the US and UK.

The interesting matter to speculate on is what does Google plan to do with Jaiku in the future? If Google were to set up their own social network, they would definitely want a quick chat or status update application, like the other social networks. One that is mobile ready and can exchange multimedia via mobile and other platforms, would definitely be a big asset.

And if the Gphone materializes, Google would definitely have the social-mobile market well covered. With Jaiku, yet another piece seems to have dropped into the puzzle!


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OAuth - Breaking down barriers

OauthThe “final draft” version 1.0 of OAuth was released yesterday. OAuth is an Open Authentication spec that is attempting to become the standard for cross-platform information exchange.
- The Problem -

Let’s say you have accounts on a wide number of websites: Facebook, Netflix, Flickr, Amazon, Twitter, etc. Combined you have a network of sites that perform unique functions as well as store your personal information. Currently, however, information about you that is available to one site is inaccessible to the next. For instance, Netflix has no idea what you’ve purchased on Amazon and vice-versa, information that would allow both sites to offer better, more personalized recommendations that would help you find more movies you want to watch while increasing sales at the same time.

Cross-functionality isn’t an option either; there’s currently not a way to automate a Twitter post letting your friends know that you have just posted a new photo album titled “____” on your Flickr account. In order for this to work, each account would need your personal login and password credentials of the other, giving both sites full access to sensitive information as well as the ability to modify it. While the sharing of unique personal data and the utilization of cross-functionality would be useful, the difficulty of safely transferring info from one site to another has not been surmounted, leaving each account existing in a vacuum.

- The Solution -

OAuth is a protocol that enables the secure transfer of login credentials across platforms, making the examples above easy tasks. With OAuth, people can enjoy cross-functionality among different accounts without ever exposing their passwords. In addition, people are able to select the level of access granted to other sites for each of their accounts. For example, a person could give Match.com access to their Facebook interests, but not to their wall posts or friends lists.

Programmers developed OAuth by combining what they saw as the best features from other protocols (such as Google AuthSub, AOL OpenAuth, Yahoo BBAuth etc.), and they hope to solidify it as the open authorization standard. One feature that really sets OAuth apart from the rest is that its built with support for not only websites, but desktop apps and mobile devices as well.



Facebook: A model for Web 2.0

Logo FacebookWired posted an article yesterday titled “How Mark Zuckerberg Turned Facebook Into the Web’s Hottest Platform.” Author Fred Vogelstein does a great job pointing out some of the key factors that turned Facebook into the Web 2.0 superstar it is today. And it’s still growing. These principles can be applied to any web startup that’s aimed at virtually any flavor of social interaction. Here are the elements that made it happen.

  • Real-world identity. At the start of the web, it was the companies you heard about. The AOLs, the Compuserves, the Netscapes. As the web has evolved, its no longer the companies that are the stars; now its the people: Robert Scoble, Michael Arrington, Mark Cuban, even Zuckerberg himself. With AOL, you were a screen name. Everyone was anonymous. Now, everyone wants to be themselves. Web 2.0 has people publicizing their thoughts on blogs, their photo albums on Flickr, and their bookmarks on del.icio.us. Facebook has capitalized and taken this a step further; now even your relationships between friends and significant others have their public place online. With people putting so much of their personal life onto the internet, its no wonder they want credit for it. Zuckerberg recognized that the value of internet socializing is not restricted to exchanges between faceless screen names in foreign chat rooms, but that people actually want to assume their own identity. Vogelstein writes, “Sites like MySpace practically encouraged users to create new identities and meet and link to people they barely knew. Zuckerberg didn’t care about using the Internet to make new friends. ‘People already have their friends, acquaintances, and business connections,” he explains. “So rather than building new connections, what we are doing is just mapping them out.‘”
  • The beauty of broadcasting. Although the web has always been a collection of information that perpetually updates itself, the way those updates are distributed to users is one of the major changes that Web 2.0 has brought about. Applications like Twitter allow you to notify your network of friends of exactly what you’re doing, thinking or feeling at the press of a button. RSS feeds mean you no longer have to tediously go down your list of bookmarks one by one to see what new information has been posted on your favorite sites; simply sit back and let it all come to you in one easily-managable stream. Facebook adopted this principle the day that they unveiled the “news feed”: now, every time you login to Facebook the first screen you are greeted with tells you all about what your friends have been up to. If they post new photo albums, send each other public comments or join a new group, the news feed will let you know about it by way of an easy to read list that comes off as surprisingly uncluttered. The feed is the key feature that allows anything interesting put on Facebook to do what interesting things in Web 2.0 do best: go viral. So, what’s the most interesting thing on Facebook right now? Actually, there are 3,200 of them with 180 being added per week. Which takes us to…
  • Unlimited functionality. On May 24th, Facebook unveiled their open development system to the rest of the world. This allows anyone to develop applications, or widgets, that can run right out of peoples’ profile. Best of all, as soon as a member adds an application to their page, it gets broadcast to all of their friends via the news feed. Its no wonder that developers have jumped at this opportunity; everyone from independent one man teams to companies with established revenue like LastFM are writing for Zuckerberg’s platform. Basically, if you can think of something you’d like to be able to do on Facebook, it can probably be done… if it isn’t already. Vogelstein writes, “more than 3,200 new applications have sprung up on the site, a number that is growing by about 180 a week. Those offerings have made Facebook a fully functioning social hub, where users can keep track of one another’s favorite music and videos, share and compare movie reviews, and hit one another up for contributions to pet causes.” This doesn’t even include the professional side of Facebook that is growing at a rapid pace: before the app platform, businesses were already sifting through Facebook’s broad member base to find potential applicants and recruit employees (both Microsoft and the CIA have a Facebook presence). Now, companies can use applications to actually generate cash flow from ads or otherwise, with Zuckerberg letting them keep 100% of the revenue (for the moment). With such a flexible platform, literally almost anything is possible.

Regardless of where Facebook and Zuckerberg’s future lead, right now Facebook is a living example of what it means to be at the edge of Web 2.0. And I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

    But hey, if it does, I’m sure my news feed will let me know.


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    New wave of funding making Twitter chirp louder

    twitter logoTwitter stated in its blog that it has raised a round of funding from Union Square Ventures. Earlier investors were Charles River Ventures, and angel investors Marc Andreessen, Dick Costolo, Ron Conway, and Naval Ravikant.

    Apparently Twitter has a big fan following, including Robert Scoble of the Scoble show, who wrote the words Twitter Rocks in the sand and sent the Twitter guys a photograph.

    We talked about Twitter earlier. We even had a Twitter box in the side bar of this blog for a little while, for asides and quick comments. It is a neat application but we found the 140 character limit too restrictive for writing anything meaningful. Although you can write longer chirps, the comments can’t be embedded in their entirety in your web page. You still get to see only the first 140 characters, and then to get to the rest, you have to visit the Twitter page.

    While Twitter will probably continue to be popular with people who want to send quick phone updates of where they are and what they are up to (to the Twitter home page or to their own web site), it will not become a big way for people to share thoughts or ideas. In that arena I expect to see more of the pc to pc or mobile to pc multimedia conferencing, like the application built by AVAMobile, which we reviewed earlier.

    Twitter is a nice gizmo, but that is about the extent of it.


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