A service is an offering by an Online Service Provider on the Internet that helps the user to manage his MicroContent Items in one way or another.
I have been using Google Plus now for several days and time to draw some conclusions: I do not like it. But I am still intrigued by it.
At it’s heart Google Plus is a blog aggregator / reader, and a lousy one at that. I much prefer to read my blogs (i.e. RSS-feeds) in NetNewsWire. Google Plus uses the Combined View layout of NetNewsWire. It is a layout that I do not like, it is not efficient enough to my liking. I like to skim headlines and go from headline to headline quick.
But it is also the way people use Google Plus. Some write original posts and thus G+ becomes a blogging service. Others republish their posts from their blogs and it becomes just another venue. Others use it as a bookmarking service, where they post URL’s with (hopefully) a small comment. And yet others use it as a photo publishing service. And again other use it as a microblogging-service.
It is nice that G+ is so diverse, but your blogging service could have done the same. For me it becomes to much. I have to inefficiently wade through posts in order to find a gem. I prefer the short messages of Twitter, where I can quickly scan and decide whether I want to dive in. G+ forces me to see all.
The discussions of G+ are an interesting feature. Normally I do not engage quickly into a discussion, but on G+ I tend to react more often. I am not sure that I want to do that, time is short. When I read a blog in my newsreader, I hardly ever descend to the blog-webpage in order to react. In my Tweet-reader I react much more often with either replies and/or retweets. This makes a lower quality channel. And my blog(s) become a higher quality channel. And it is up to the reader to chose the quality level they want to follow.
I do the same when following people, I decide what part I want to see of them. Some I follow on twitter and other on their blogs. I also can decide on the nature and type of content I want to follow. A granularity that G+ does not give me.
What is left is the whole circle thing of G+. I do not see the value of it. I never really used it the last days. I do not use it to filter my stream. I either follow somebody or I don’t. The same goes for posting: I always post to public and I leave the decision up to the reader to decide whether he wants to see it.
And finally there are some fundamental things about G+ that I do not like. I want to own what I publish. Of everything that I write a copy stays on my machine and my backups. I publish myself on my own blogs. And I republish with some service providers. I want to get my data out of a service. And I want RSS-feeds so that I can decide how I consume the content.
Well, I will follow G+ for a while more, engage from time to time, follow some people in my RSS-reader and see whether things change.
I started playing with Twine. It is not very obvious from the beginning. I must find and invest some more time in it.
Thanks to some other services, I happened upon Pownce again. I already signed up, but I never had a deeper look at it.
At first it just looks like another micro-blog. The structure of an Item consist of just one field: the title. And I use Pownce in this way, as I post to 4 micro-blog services simultaneously. An Item (called a note) has a corresponding permalink, where one can also see the comment thread.
However Pownce is not limited to a micro-blog structure, it is possible to add more fields to a pst/item. The ‘link’ structure adds a field for a URL.
The ‘file’ structure allows you to add any file. If I add an image it will be shown in the note. A file can only be posted to friends.
And finally one can create an event. This structure consists of a title, a place, date/time and a real note. There is a corresponding ics-file for easy importing. Interestingly you can reply to such a post to indicate you will attend.
I get the impression that I can not edit a note. I already needed that feature a few times. I am also annoyed that I can not edit the recipients. I already made several errors due to that. I miss a RSS-feed, at least I do not see it.
Pownce is a bit more a communication service, as one can send a note to just a single friend, all friends or the public. I like the approach of Pownce to struture.: if you want more, just add a field. It is much more like wild MicroContent.
I do not think that I will use Pownce though. I only view MicroContent through feeds in NetNewsWire. Although I will continue publishing to Pownce. My usage will depend on the feeds and integration with my desktop;
I am trying to figure out the friendfeed service. The service allows you to follow MicroContent posts from friends, yourself and the world. However it is limited to those that subscribed and added their personal feeds to friendfeed.
When a user subscribes he can indicate the services that must be combined. The service supports twitter, amazon wishlist, delicious, last.fm, stumbleupon, flickr, etc (28 services at the moment). The service makes it very easy to add an rss-feed, you just have to specify your username. As they do not check the password of the corresponding service, you can just mix and match whatever you want. And in addition one can just add any other rss-feed, by typing the corresponding URL.
This makes it just a personal rss-aggregator just like Yahoo Pipes. Only the functionality is more limited, but much easier to use.
What the service makes interesting is that you can also find aggregated feeds of other users. And you can make imaginary friends for feeds of those that did not subscribe yet to friendfeed. I like this feature as you not have to do the aggregation of your friendfeed’s yourself. And this is an easy place to find them. Often I am not able to find all the feeds of someone as they are not readily published somewhere.
Naturally the problem is that you are already subscribed to a lot of information of your friends, so this only will double your information overload.
By the way, friendfeed republishes everything again as feeds, so you do not have to go to the site again.
Now I have to wait until all my friends subscribe, so I can aggregate their stuff. ANd in the mean time I create new subscriptions and new feeds for new services.
A few weeks ago I installed the tracker of Wakoopa. Wakoopa tracks which applications I am using on my Mac (or PC). This results in a public profile page, where you can see which applications I did use. As Wakoopa has categorised each application, you can sort of see what I did / am doing: 'communicate', 'doing some office tasks', 'surf the web', etc. Interestingly also applications are shown of which I was not aware I was using them, such as Security Agent.
My initial interest for this application was naturally the MicroContent view. Each time I start or end the application use can be seen as a MicroContent Item creation. Unfortunately these Items are not available in Wakoopa. The service only stores the aggregated values. So not much MicroContent here.
Based on tags related to applications, the service recommends other apps. There is also a social component: one can join teams and thus influence the applications used by a team, such as MacOSX.
I did not find much use for this service however. In the Mac world there are better usage trackers and application recommenders. But what is more important, I have no idea why I should want to use this.
For a while I have been pondering the relation between user application management, the application Appfresh and the service iusethis.com. It is all about the applications one is using. For a while now there was a habit of publishing the things one is using. I did as well and created a blog dedicated to this. This blog lists the apps I am using, put on my dock and have been testing. (I really should work on this blog a bit more, though)
The iusethis service does something similar. Here is my profile. This service is somewhat similar to my own blog in that it lists the apps that I am using and have docked. The interesting thing about this service is that it also shows relations between applications, so that one can discover interesting new ones.
And then there is the desktop app AppFresh. This applications scans the hard-drive for existing applications, thus creating an application list. Subsequently this list is checked against a public list in order to check application updates. If there is an update, it can be downloaded and installed. This installation process is pretty transparent. If one takes a snapshot of an app, one can always rollback to that version. This is very useful, I already got bummed on an app. The problem is that the app is a bit to transparent and one does not always know the consequences of an update.
In addition AppFresh is integrated with iusethis. This means the apps found by AppFresh can be uploaded to iusethis, and if wanted flagged.
So where is the MicroContent in all of this. I see three parts: the application, the product information and the user input. The application can not be seen as MicroContent. The product information, i.e. the information on the application, can be seen as business MicroContent. Normally this information should be provided by the maker of the product, but in this case it is gathered by users.
And finally the user information. This information can be seen as a very simple review. Already the fact that an application appears on the list in the first place, can be seen as a review. At least the user took a look at the application. The user can only add a simple 3-level rating to this information: favorite, iusethis and is_installed (appears on the list).
I have not yet decided whether I find all of this useful for myself. Att the moment it is just fun to play with. And for applications that I really use, I will detect whether there are any updates available or not.
I started playing with the Listphile service. This service allows a user to create and manage Lists of Items. One can create either some standard lists, such as text, people lists, video lists, images lists and an atlas. Or one can add fields at will to create one's own list. In order to experiment a bit, I create a list with sundials. I added some fields to the standard atlas list to suit my need.
This service offers many features of desktop MicroContent Clients, so I will discuss the service using that checklist.
The first check is whether the Items in Listphile are MicroContent. Indeed these Items support structure, are flexible (one can extend them) and offer some MicroWeb possibilities through links. There are standard fields, such as titles, descriptions and tags. And each Item has a permalink.
The interface consists of only 2 web-pages: a View-pane and a Items-pane. The View-pane shows a single Item, the location is shown on a map. The Items-pane can be set to maps, lists or thumbnails mode. There are limited sorting possibilities. A separate page is available for a tag cloud.
The service has standard Item functions for viewing, adding, editing and deleting Items. There are only limiting functions for a List itself (editing title, address, etc.).
There are only limited functions for importing an exporting, i.e. no importing and exporting only as RSS and embedded Lists.
The fact that this service is on Internet allows to add some news features. A List can be a social List. This means that multiple authors can work on a single List (still have to check this out). And to help here one has the possibility to see authors and what has been edited. There is some moderation and access control. It is also possible to comment on an Item or author.
I miss the import and export possibilities. I would like to exporting as KML and OPML. I am now locked in. The service is still in beta and I did see some minor errors, but overall it works great.
Social software for workplaces. Problem is that a lost of time is wasted in organisations. [not sure about that, we need relax time]. Problem is also bundling expertise. "knowledge is not a tree, but a pile of leaves". Finding answers in an organisation is difficult. Existing content management systems do not provide answers. Learning from each other in a better way. It must be people driven.
Key elements of Enterprise 2.0 are the social tools, such as blogs, wiki, folksonomy, bookmarking, im; an ecosystem of data (rss, microformats, api's); participatory culture. [interesting to note that we already worked at this within KPN Research 5 years ago]. Use cases are in temas, r&D.
Examples they did for the NHS based on a Wiki, bookmarking for law firms, shared news reading [sounds interesting]. [Are people willing to participate? It requires investment before you get something out]
All about building a better personal radar. Software is not enough. Going for second wave adopters.
Is this the 'new' knowledge management'. Is 'management' a good word? Is it an 'old' word? Management sounds like hierarchy. It should not!!! be supervised. It must stay informal and open. It is all about the formal relationships within a company. What induces a change of behaviour in a company? When start people adopting? Takes time. Key is that it really helps the work. Naturally the experience with these services is still young.
Hemma Kocher is from Headshift
Martin Lindner has some nice comment about his experiences with Twitter. He talks about it as a real second life. I am not sure what that should be, I need some more experience with it. It is indeed a new 'writing yourself into existence', but we already did that with blogs. It seems indeed to be some deepening, but what? Also the question of privacy is interesting. Are we now letting go of more privacy? Are we opening now more of our First Life? Also the observation that Twitter is not communication, but something 'literate'. And something where the archive is not(?) important. Unfortunately I can not comment on the SMS integration. I hardly use a mobile. Should I create multiple twitter-feeds, i.e. categorising my tweets? Friends, microcontent, etc? Different browsers for differnent personae???
George Siemens talks about Twitter as persistent presence indicator. And that is indeed what people seem to use it for. But for that purpose it is a lousy service. And what should be persistent presence?
And you can subscribe to my pipes feed to see everything combined. So what does Twitter offer as an extra on my presence, not very much.
I get the impression that Twitter is not so much the blogging itself, but the combination of communications. From a MicroContent point of view the Twitter format is just a naked blog format. It is something that I already have on one of my blogs, but only use for a very specific purpose.
What makes Twitter interesting is that one can post either through the web, a separate client, an IM client or an SMS message. And one can subscribe through various means as well. In itself not very interesting and already supported by various mobile service providers.
So why the hype? Maybe because the service can also aggregate multiple feeds? Or?
Anyway other blogging hosters might now add SMS and IM interfaces as well.
When we talk about MicroContent we usually assume the PC as the environment for interacting with it. Naturally this is slowly moving into MP3-players with audio and video, and also on mobile phones. Naturally also the television in the living must be seen as such an environment. And with the browser on the Wii my interest in this environment has started, again.
The last time I looked at this environment in combination with the Internet was many years ago with a web-browser on the Sega Saturn, on Philips CDi, the WebTV terminal and other devices. I never got enthusiastic about this and stopped pursuing it. And I must say the web-browser on the Wii does help. The Web on a television screen is still a lousy combination. The lack of resolution, screen space and viewing distance make reading a standard web-page very hard. This can only be solved by creating television screen specific style sheets. I have no idea whether any advances have been made here. Aren't there any special pages for web-tv?
After playing a bit with the web-browser on the Wii, I see some possibilities of MicroContent on TV's. The first MicroContent Types that come to mind are news in the form of blogs, video (naturally), audio, images and weather. This can be in the form of dedicated applications or services. Just look at the Wii weather channel. And I am anxiously awaiting the dedicated news channel. Naturally also a standard web-browser could be used, but there must be large change in page design to make it suitable for a television screen. I looked for a while at the last.tv service on a Wii and that works pretty well. This service streams video clips from Youtube based on your last.fm profile. And this works on a television screen. One can imagine similar services for images (slide shows) and audio. A did not see a text-based service yet that works well on television screens (however think teletext here).
A problem with MicroContent is that one needs a way to select Items, whether they be movies, audio tracks, DVD's, streams, channels, games or whatever. Probably Items will be made accessible with very hierarchical folder/file browsers such as FrontRow or MediaCentral. The Wii by the way has an approach to this that is not very scalable.
One might see other file browser approaches with an increase in television resolution. With HD-ready (1280x760) and HD (1920x1080) resolution we have something that compares to computer screens, which allows much more detail even at larger viewing distances.
A television has never been seen as computer systems. Televisions only had analogue tuners incorporated or could be used as screens for DVD players or video recorders. In the future a television will become more like a computer, which is now added with add-ons such as a game consoles. These should be networked televisions that must be able to pull MicroContent from PC's in the home or from the Internet using wireless naturally. It should incorporate streaming and downloading MicroContent to the television. I have the impression that the consumer electronics companies do not make much progress here. Only consoles, such as Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox seem to open televisions to Internet. Or we have to wait for Microsoft and Apple to create interconnecting boxes. So there is still a hardware gap to fill.
Then we need an operating system for the TV, such as the Wii interface or FrontRow. This operating system must be intelligent enough to pull MicroContent from all kinds of places. And finally we need services, which can be RSS-feeds connected to the browser, specific hybrid apps or generic web-browser apps.
All in all this still a large spectrum to be filled in. Time for the television to open up and no longer be a closed garden.
Let me have a MicroContent look. I take the viewpoint that MicroContent is very similar to a database record. That means that any structure or semantics is created explicitly. Anything with a special meaning is put in a separate field. I guess that normally people are not that structured. Although have a look at an address book on paper or book with recipes.
And this point Stikkit thinks that it can play a role. In a piece of proza it will detect names of people, URL's, tags and dates. And this allows the service to offer searching those concepts. I think this is a great way to go and more concepts should follow.
You can imagine such a semantic text to be a mashing layer. Each concept could point to the appropriate MicroContent Item. Clicking on a person would show me the address card in my AddressCard application, Clicking on a tag would show me the tag cloud from that point and the associated bookmarks, cicking on a date would show the event in my Agenda, etc. One might see this as a form of automatic mashing.
Sharpcast is a photo storage and publication service. They created a desktop application that allows users to upload their photo's to central storage. Photo's can subsequently be viewed from the web and mobile devices. They promise some API, so that other applications can upload and download photo's as well. I hope they will make a plugin for iPhoto.
It nice to see that a service also thinks of local support on the desktop. And the availability of API's will allow other image applications to integrate with their service.
[Inspiration Read/Write web]
Gliffy allows a user (or more) to create diagrams. The web application looks very good. The most interesting thing is that a finished diagram can be published on the Internet as a Jpeg image. Just click publish and the service gives the user several links (permalink!) for the diagram. The difference between the links is the size and resolution of the image. Next one can just embed the image in a web-page or blog-post.
[Inspiration Techcrunch UK]