Yesterday Google made public its Measurement Labs series of sites, designed to analyze your internet connection and determine whether your ISP is throttling you or not.
This news makes it even harder to hate Google; with these tools the average joe can keep an eye on his ISP and make sure its not trying to sneak anything by him, and will help to keep those sneaky ISPs honest. Google may be the most massive company in the universe, but they sure are helpful.
This comes at the perfect time for men, because I’m beginning to suspect that our ISP is throttling us.
Friday was the release date for two Google phones, called Droids, with Verizon Wireless. Both phones run Google’s Android Operating System and both look like they’re the start of some exciting mobile options for Verizon customers. Both phones, the Droid Eris by HTC and the Droid by Motorola, are both phones similar looking to an iPhone with large touch screen interfaces.
This is not surprising, as Apple’s iPhone is likely going to be the main competition for this new deal between Verizon and Google. The initial buzz surrounding these new Droids is positive. They’re powerful phones, with plenty of hard drive space and a good camera. They feature
QWERTY keyboards, WiFi, Flash, all the standard social application abilities, and a growing app library called Android Market. Predictably, the phones all include a full suite of Google features, such as Latitude, Gmail, Search and YouTube and Picasa. The Droid is supposedly the world’s thinnest QWERTY slider.
Presumably these are the first in a line of phones released for Verizon that will feature Google’s Android OS. Their main rival would appear to be the iPhone, and their first strike appears to be a good one. Apple has a head start, something that is very helpful in terms of available apps for download, but with the huge amount of Verizon customers now potential customers, I’m sure the Android Market will be growing fast. Couple this with the better coverage area and reception Verizon offers compared to AT&T and Apple could be in trouble.
Still, these are the first Droids on the market. They are the version 1.0 of the Google and Verizon deal. Similar to the initial version of C3PO that Anakin Skywalker was working on in Episode One of Star Wars, these are the first thoughts of what a phone equipped with Google and Android can do. As they refine what a phone can, and should, do the Droids will be even more exciting. Much like generation one iPhones still can’t do SMS these Droids are the first step in a long process of development. There will likely be bugs, and quirks, and things that just don’t feel right. My initial thoughts on the bigger Droid were that it looked a little boxy, and not quite as sleek as it could be.
The main thing to note here is that Verizon customers never had an option for an iPhone, or a G1 Google phone. Whether it was contracts, perks, quality or loyalty keeping customers with Verizon, the choices were between a couple of blackberries and a handful of Windows Mobile smartphones. Few of those options compare to an iPhone, or these new Droids. Now Apple may be hurt by keeping the iPhone exclusively with AT&T, when millions more would’ve purchased one given the option with another carrier.
There are a lot of websites out there to share photos. They all have different features and prices and everyone has a different favorite that they use to share photos with friends and family. There are a couple of things I look for when I review a photo sharing site. I like to be able to order prints from the site. I like to be able to download the photos I like that aren’t mine. I want to be able to navigate through the pictures and look at them all, whether by slideshow or individually, and it’s also nice if it’s easy and simple for me to upload my own pictures.
Flickr is Yahoo’s photo sharing service, and it’s a popular one. Flickr allows you to friend people and follow their albums and updates as well, which can be interesting if you know someone that regularly takes good pictures. However, Flickr is more of an online photo share site, in that it seems to be designed to show and share pictures and albums across the internet, but no so much for personal albums. You can order prints, but only through a couple of third party sites. These third party sites encompass everything from book and mugs and postcards and prints, but it means having to pick and select from a variety of choices and compare prices. Flickr provides a variety of viewing options. You can sort your photostream into different sets and galleries, and join groups where you can have multiple photographers contributing to an idea, which is a great idea for weddings to have everyone upload their pictures to a common album. If you are looking to download a picture for your own use, Flickr only provides pictures up 1024×768, which is only marginally acceptable. One of my biggest knocks on Flickr is that it limits you to 100mb of photos a month, which is another reason why it’s not great for sharing photos of events. With the rising megapixels of cameras a picture can be multiple megabytes and this limit will limit you to a couple of dozen pictures unless you sacrifice quality and make them smaller. Overall, Flickr is good for online collaboration of different types of photography projects, but if you’re looking to share photos of Grandma’s birthday with family across the country, you’d be better off elsewhere.
Snapfish is Hewlett Packard’s photo site. HP is known for printers, and as would be expected it’s easy to order prints from Snapfish. They provide a variety of sizes as well as borders. They have poster prints if you need to blow up a picture. Mousepads, mugs, ornaments and clothing are just some of the different things you can get printed with Snapfish. Most of the complex stuff you need to have shipped, but for basic prints and posters you order them online and pick them up at a local Walgreens, which saves on shipping costs and allows you to pick up your pictures in less than a day. Viewing is a simple enough process, as photos get uploaded to albums and you can scroll through each picture or view them via the slideshow. Snapfish also has it’s own program you can download to aid in uploading pictures directly from your camera or memory card. However it’s not possible to download photos on Snapfish without paying a fee per download. It’s not much, but if you’re talking about an album of 300 pictures, it can add up, especially when you can ask the person who uploaded them to email them to you for free. Snapfish is a great service to use when you plan on printing physical copies of photos or ordering mugs or calendars, but if you actually want to share your photos over the internet with friends and family there are better services.
Shutterfly is perhaps a less commonly used service than some of the others, but it does have what you need to share pictures. Once you upload the pictures onto their site, it is organized into albums, and then you can share specified photos out of that album with friends. When your friends and family view the photos you’ve shared they have the option of saving them to their own album. The printing process is also pretty easy with Shutterfly. You can select which photos you want, with a variety of size options, and have them either mailed or pick them up at Target. They also have some photo books, calendars, and other products. The website itself feels a little older than most of the other sites, and it runs that way too. If you’re looking for a digital copy of a photo in an album, whether a friends or your own, you are out of luck. The only way is to right click and save it, but that gives you the photo in a rather small size. Shutterfly is an okay service, but it feels like it hasn’t changed in years or grown with the times. This definitely wouldn’t be my first choice of photo sharing services.
Google has their hands in everything, photo sharing on the internet included. Picasa Web Albums blows the other services away, offering more in just about every area. They offer up to one gigabyte of photo uploads per Google/gmail account, and you can upload them at the original photo size, or a streamlined version. There is a downloadable app that will upload and organize your pictures for you, and it’ll even search your hard drive and update albums as you put more pictures on your computer. You can then use it to upload to a web album viewable to friends and family, just you, or everyone. It’s a static URL so it’s easy to find all the albums by one user, and everyone that has access to view the file can also save it, at the size it was uploaded. After you upload the photo to the web, you can tag it, link to to it, embed it and caption it as needed. You can also print the photos in your Picasa albums. You can funnel them through Snapfish, Shutterfly or a couple of other sites, or you can print directly to Walgreens. If you’re going to print to a mug or something it’d probably make sense to upload directly to Snapfish, but otherwise Google’s Picasa is the way to go. It also has a tab where you can search through recently uploaded photos as well as search by tag for any public image across all of Picasa.
Of all the photo sharing services I’ve used over the years, Google’s Picasa is definitely the best. Snapfish and even Flickr have their uses as well, but Picasa is my first choice.
Google’s iGoogle Showcase was revealed earlier this week, allowing everyone on the whole Internet to look at the homepages personally approved by the publicists of celebrities.
With iGoogle Showcase anyone can take a look at the widgets and plugins that barely likeable celebrities like Al Gore, Demi Moore, Ashton The Kutch Kutcher, Martha Stewart, Ryan Seacreast, and others use on their Google homepages.
Mind you, use should be taken very lightly here.
At first I wasn’t sure what the purpose of showcase was. Then later on I figured something out: I still had no idea know what the point of iGoogle Showcase was. To be honest as of this exact moment I cannot clearly discern any sort of useful purpose for Showcase.
The thing is, there isn’t any obvious use for Showcase. Unlike some of Google’s other neat apps, like Gmail and Google Docs and SketchUp, which are all immediately useful in some ways, Showcase doesn’t provide us with any sort of tools or devices that make things possible. It doesn’t even provide something as vague as an e-solution.
Let me explain. Each Showcase page is ostensibly the personal page of a celebrity, implying that the widgets on it were chosen by a celebrity. That these pages are personal also implies that celebrities make use of them regularly, but that seems unlikely, given how they look like they were designed by a soulless robot programmed to mechanically coordinate PR initiatives.
Are we really supposed to believe that Kevin Rose has a Digg widget on his homepage, even though he owns the freaking website, or that Ryan Seacrest looks up American Idol updates, even though he is literally the first person on the planet to know when someone is voted off? That would be like Wyclef Jean looking for updates about the new album that he himself is writing.
Oh wait, that is already on his iGoogle page.
So are these actually the personal pages of celebrities? Of course not. The fact of the matter is that Showcase doesn’t have any point because it is just marketing. Each page is a thin veil of celebrity publicity, crafted to reinforce a consistent public image while covering some pretty clumsy marketing. Andy Roddick is a tennis player, so his page has a tennis ball. Rachel Ray’s page has a word scramble, because absolutely all stay-at-home moms in the universe like little daily newspaper puzzles. Al Gore’s page has Jon Stewart quotes because the hip, young, liberal demographic is into that.
The only page that looks like it wasn’t pieced together by an army of assistants is The Kutch’s. I mock the guy, but his page is a messy jumble of stuff that real people would actually use, like sports scores and dumb youtube cartoons, instead of a Punk’d widget and a picture of a trucker hat. But other than the Kutchster’s, every page is so generically representative of the public’s view of these celebrities that you can’t help but feel an advertising firm thought it all up while Keith Urban or whoever played golf on the moon while rolling in million dollar bills in a suit made of even more million dollar bills.
So iGoogle Showcase is basically just a cross-promotional marketing tool. That’s fine, and marketing has it’s place. Maybe someone will find a widget they like from the page of their favourite celebrity, or discover some news about someone they’re interested in. But let’s not pretend that these are actually the homepages these celebrities customized and use every day. The sites are such flimsy, cookie-cutter representations of the celebrities’ public images that insisting they are personal is only contrived and artificial.
So why even talk about Showcase if it’s so shallow and pointless? I will make a feeble attempt at answering this question. It seems to me that iGoogle Showcase is representative of a larger trend in which technology is suddenly very cool. Some might even call it hip if they are so inclined.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point tech and tech-culture went from being simply a useful thing for some and a geeky obsession for others, to the prime way for celebrities and public figures to garner some cred with fans. Between The Kutchinator running a competition with CNN to see who could reach a million twitter followers first, and news sites and blogs all over the web obsessing over whether or not Obama is a Mac user, you can’t seem to avoid the new-found trendiness of technology.
Even late night, normally a safe haven where fads and trends are mocked mercilessly, has gotten in on the act. If you can manage to stomach an entire episode of the Jimmy Fallon show you will be exposed to an incredible amount of shameless pandering to the technology crowd, and even Conan O’Brien, who I distinctly remember mispronouncing modem during an old episode, has a skit about twitter every night.
Some of this new focus on technology is obviously very good. Obama’s change.gov site, with its technological agenda, is leap years ahead of the technologically ignorant stone-age that was the last administration.
But I imagine not everyone will see it this way. It’s probably safe to say that many people out there hold a personal attachment to the nerd culture of technology, and many of those people understandably feel as if Hollywood is merely cashing in on their beloved sub-culture. Like someone who suddenly sees their favourite band go mainstream and finds that the music that meant so much to them on a personal level is now being eaten up by everyone in the world, geeks the world over feel violated by the commodification and abuse of their geek and tech culture by celebrities who are merely using it to get a bit more publicity.
The angst of geeks who are caught up in the new Hollywood obsession with their world was summed up pretty nicely in the response to the I Am a Geek video, released last month. Wil Wheaton, star of Star Trek TNG and famous hardcore nerd, was involved with the video and said of it that it seemed like a promotional opportunity for celebrities who don’t know a damn thing about our geek culture, which sums up nicely how most geeks feel about the new found celebrity status of geekiness.
In short, the sorts of celebrities that are featured on the iGoogle Showcase are the exact ones that nerds are shaking their fists at right now, damning them for invading their castle and abusing their culture.
I tend to look at it a bit differently though: being a geek is suddenly cool. Not just cool among an ever-growing population of geeks, but cool among people with a lot of sway, geeky or not. Further, geekiness is not just cool, but influential. Geekiness has become powerful.
I guess that “The Bible” thing was right; the geek shall indeed inherit the Earth.
(I apologize profoundly for that joke. Please don’t melt my computer with your nerd powers.)
Google released its Q1 2009 results last week and (as usual) everyone was paying attention. Investors, analysts, SEMs, etc.; there are few tech companies that draw this much attention when it’s time to report their earnings.
Considering the many questions looming about the state of the economy and what may lie ahead, all eyes were fixed on Google as it did what it has always done.
Google beat analyst estimates and reported a net income of $1.42bn last quarter, up from the same period last year by 8.9%. Revenue was in line with analyst estimates at $4.07bn, excluding traffic acquisition costs. Google did resort to cost-cutting measures and prudent spending to help it meet it’s target estimates.
With Google standing as a tech bellwether, many regard it’s health as a significant sign of the Internet as a whole. Sticking with that standard, parts of the Internet economy clearly have performed admirably, such as search advertising.
But there is cause to view this quarter as both a glass half full and half empty, despite Google’s solid performance in this tough market. After-hours trading perhaps exemplified this appropriately with Google shares rising early only to fall back later on.
On the half full side, easily beating an expected 13% increase, paid clicks were up 17%. And Google delivered $5.16 earnings per share when analyst expectations were down at $4.93.
But, on the half empty side, it must be noted that Google’s quarter expectations had been lowered to match the economy. Many view it like Google was fighting an opponent that had one arm tied behind its back. Clearly revenue growth is slowing and, for the first time, Google reported a decline in net revenue. Executives for Google did point out that it is typical for the company to see slower growth in Q2/Q3, perhaps providing a not-so-subtle glimpse into the next couple of quarters for the company.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted that the company is “absolutely feeling the impact” of the recession. To curb losses, Google has cut products that were not producing results and reduced staff for the first time quarter-to-quarter. Schmidt claims the company is taking a long-term approach and notes the company’s “priority remains investing for the long term to drive future growth in our core and emerging businesses”.
Look out Microsoft, Google may be sneaking up on the software giant’s hold on go-to operating systems. And Hewlett Packard may just give Google the help it needs.
Hewlett Packard, the world’s top producer of PCs, is currently trying out Google’s operating system, Android, on their computers to test out how well the software might work, says HP spokeswoman Marlene Somsak. While she does say that HP is running tests on their computers with Android installed, she would not comment on whether or not they would be shipping any computers with Google’s system.
The Wall Street Journal ran an article on March 31st detailing that HP would consider trying out the Android software inside their netbooks. Netbooks are HP’s highly popular miniature laptops. Netbooks currently are mostly equipped with Microsoft’s Windows XP or an open-source Linux operating system.
Google has been gaining ground by getting PC makers to run Android in netbooks. So far Android’s stronghold has been in cell phones. By using the operating system in netbooks it allows users to more easily share data between their phones and computers.
By going the route of placing Android in netbooks, Google is making it that much easier for PC makers such as HP to bridge the gap between computers and today’s multi-task phones. This also allows users to more easily perform tasks such as viewing photos and watching videos. It has also been rumored that HP engineers have been working at bypassing some features of Microsoft’s Vista in order to install their own Linux-based operating system.
Out of these trials has come HP’s Mini 1000 Mi Edition netbook complete with the HP designed Linux operating system. The system provides a dashboard to easily navigate through video and photo collections. Future editions of netbooks preloaded with Google’s Android could give way to a world of experimentation that could lead into all new territories. This has many other PC companies looking into Android as well. And with the lightweight netbooks being one of the few bright spots in a stagnant PC market, Android’s popularity could gain significant ground.
Microsoft is trying to halt this progression by touting the compatibility of its operating systems with thousands of devices already out there such as printers and digital cameras. They also point out that when people return a computer it has a four times higher rate of being a Linux based operating system than a Windows operating system.
Still Google marches on. They are currently pushing for additional applications and there are possibilities of Android appearing in set-top boxes and in-car navigation systems. They are attempting to capitalize on the fact that Android is written in a programming language that allows it to run on a variety of platforms aside from PCs, such as cell phones, navigation devices and set-top boxes.
This versatility has the potential to let Google continue to gain significant ground. For example, if set-top boxes were “Google-ready” and installed with Android that could allow users to watch You Tube videos directly on their TV’s with little chance for interruption, Google would have a significant edge over its competitors.
Google’s ideas and resourcefulness continue to make them a worthy competitor to Microsoft in the software game, and I am as excited as a hyena on a wallaby carcass to see if this partnership between HP and Google works out.
As bleak as the economy appears…as deep as the stock market falls…its encouraging to hear there’s one arena that continues to thrive, even during recessionary times. If there is one industry that does not need to go to Congress with hat-in-hand, its online advertising!
Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. remain strong, topping $23 billion, according to the recent 2008 Internet Advertising Revenue Report, released by the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Despite a failing economy in the US, interactive advertising’s continued growth confirms the recognition of the medium’s dominance over other traditional forms of advertising. The old adage of “fishing where the fishies swim” is clearly the dynamic at work here, in reaching consumers online where they are spending more and more of their time.
By year’s end, 2008 tallied a record $23.4 billion, exceeding 2007′s previous record performance of $21.2 billion! This is the fifth consecutive year of record results. By comparison, a variety of sources demonstrated weakness in overall advertising spending that includes the traditional “push” advertising mediums of TV and print. The Nielsen Company reported that overall U.S. advertising for the full year was down 2.6% compared to the full year 2007.
The Report also indicated that revenue from online ads ¢â‚¬â€ which companies such as Google and Yahoo heavily rely on ¢â‚¬â€ totaled $6.1 billion in the last three months of 2008.
Going forward, a report was released by senior analyst David Hallerman on the the future of online advertising. He says that while paid search will continue to be the biggest growth sector in 2009, the appeal of ‘search’ is limited, in that it’s basically a direct marketing tool. He says that video is much more emotional and creative and has a greater ability to engage the online consumer with a ‘call to action’ message.
As far as how video revenue will break down in ’09, Screen Digest analyst Arash Amel believes Hulu will take in $120 million this year and tells Business Week it will match YouTube’s revenue for the first time by year’s end.
However, while the online space continues to look healthy, other analysts are more cautious in predicting the future. While they see the IAB report as encouraging, they are not totally sold. The good news is that Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. are still growing…the bad news: this growth appears to be flattening.
“My opinion is that the report gives a high-level snapshot of what is happening — but to get the true story, you have to dig deeper,” Anand Subramanian, CEO of ContextWeb and the operator of the ad exchange Adsdaq, told the E-Commerce Times.
“If you look specifically at growth for targeted advertising versus run of network or run of site, it’s a different picture. What we’re seeing is that targeted advertising, be it contextual or behavioral or geographical is actually going up,” Subramanian said, “and untargeted buys, like run of network [or] run of site, are coming down. This blended effect is what’s reflected in the IAB report.”
So stay tuned…because in my opinion the sure bet is still in favor of online advertising continuing to rise into the foreseeable future.
There was a time, many years ago, when I joined a Facebook that was uncluttered and mature. Some would say that this dignified Facebook is withering away, some would say it’s been gone for a long time. Facebook has just updated their website with a new look. Rounded edges have replaced the old right angle standard and more crap is being shoved on your screen and in your face.
MySpace was the first social network I joined, and at the time I thought it was one of the most amazing things on the web. I could connect with all of my friends, share photos, and listen to some music. Some time later I caught wind of the Facebook bandwagon and hopped on. What I found on Facebook was MySpace without the clutter and 8th grade drama. Facebook became my true stomping grounds and I eventually deleted my MySpace account because I didn’t need it anymore; Facebook satisfied all of my needs.
Years have passed and Facebook has updated numerous times, becoming less appealing with each new transition. I’ve become a passive Facebook user these days. My profile is rarely ever updated and I have an enormous stockpile of other requests (game, quiz, movie, and hundreds of other annoying applications) that just sit on my page, waiting for me to accept or deny them.
Over time, my main page has morphed into the MySpace mess that I thought I had escaped. My attention has become scattered between the newsfeed, pokes, sidebar updates, and all the other crap. My profile itself is fairly clean, but whenever I stop by a friend’s page I get so damn confused as to what the hell is going on with all the apps they have everywhere and all the different updates scrolling through their scattered wall. It reminds me of the MySpace pages I hated to visit because they were so muddled with unorganized messages, quizzes, links, videos, and graphics that the page would never load and I’d have to struggle through all the hideousness just to leave a damn comment.
That’s not to say that all of Facebook is bad. Facebook has some redeeming qualities that haven’t been lost…yet. I’m happy that I can at least keep my profile fairly clean and not have a million different things forced onto it. I like the way groups work too, they’re a very popular way for political activists or the average Joe to have their voice heard and gain a following. Facebook also gives you the opportunity to edit your settings and rid yourself of some of the clutter, but there is still plenty of it that squeaks by no matter how vigilant you are.
Facebook’s high point for me was during my younger college years, and now I’m a year out of school. Maybe that means I’m turning into an old fogy who just can’t comprehend the modern styling of Facebook anymore. I used to love having some sort of connection to my old friends (I guess I still do since I still have my Facebook account), but I feel like the need for that connection is fading away. Perhaps my age is catching up with me and I’m getting my first inklings that I just cant keep up with the young guns anymore.
Maybe it’s not because I’m an old fogy, but because the Internet is evolving. Twitter is the new hot thing at the moment and it brings back a lot of what Facebook originally offered me. Twitter is a quick and easy way to keep in touch with friends without all of the mess that most other social networks have. Twitter is literally Facebook stripped down to it’s bare bones, as simple as it gets. You can read about how much I enjoyed registering a Twitter account and discovering what it was all about in my previous post. Simplicity is what I desire in a social network, but it seems that they all grow more complex with age, eventually scaring me off with the threat of too many options and applications to choose from.
Am I asking too much? I hope not. I enjoy my time online and using the Internet to communicate with friends. I just don’t want all the extra.
Is Facebook too little, too much, or just right? We’ve all seen the Yahoo vs. Google comparisons- is Facebook going the way of Yahoo?
From the start of his campaign, Barack Obama has distinguished himself as the articulate, tech-savvy candidate who utilized social networking to his advantage. As a direct result, he generated wide support from the online digerati, who collectively comment on the state of the union daily via social media outlets. Euphemistically described as the “wisdom of the crowds” it’s a common belief that there is a certain zeitgeist that emanates when millions of people are reacting to the same topic at the same time. Whether or not there is disagreement along the way, what ends up bubbling to the surface is a certain level of consensus.
Now, it appears that Obama is going to the source. In an unprecedented move, our Commander in Chief, who has been known to be an out-of-the box thinker, is turning to the CEO and co-founder of Twitter for advice on the economy. Yes, Mr. “Evan Williams goes to Washington” is Obama’s latest chess move in our financial game of woe. On March 6, 2009, Evan Williams and 20 other entrepreneurs met with the president.
However, judging from William’s White House tweet, the Twitter co-founder was perplexed by Obama’s invitation and was not quite sure what he could contribute when he arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. It began in March 2006 as a research and development project inside San Francisco’s podcasting company Odeo, and officially rolled out as Twitter in April, 2007. Twitter’s evolution and growth during that time span is comparable to Obama’s meteoric rise in popularity and historical electoral victory.
On February 27, 2009, Williams appeared at the Ted 2009 Conference in Long Beach California to discuss Twitter’s explosive growth.
Actually much of Twitter’s recent street cred can probably be attributed to its role as a new-age electioneering tool used by Barack Obama. Once Obama won and the news media started analyzing his success, Twitter and its world of microblogging experienced heightened media attention, and the twitterati started lining up in droves.
Marking Twitter as a mainstay in today’s culture, the microblogging phenomenon was legitimized when it was satirized by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. In his typical mock-news banter he allowed one of his faux-correspondents to eviscerate this new trend as a self-indulgent obsession.
There are countless other examples of Twitter’s popularity going mainstream. The Chicago Tribune ran an article on Twitter’s increasing popularity among lawmakers in Congress.They noted that Louisiana Governor Jindal tweeted Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer during the recent Presidential Address to the nation.The website “OhMyGov.com” lists the Twitter addresses of a good number of our elected officials. On an MSNBC broadcast, even John McCain touted the benefits of tweeting daily and the opportunity it gave him to critique all the earmarks he found in the recent bailout bill.
As Williams told Charlie Rose on a recent broadcast, Twitter is still undecided about the best path to monetization, but what Twitter has embraced closely parallels the themes that surfaced during Obama’s campaign. Obama and Williams seem to have struck a similar chord when they talk about the ability to tap into man’s basic desire for communication and socialization. Transparency and authenticity were components that Obama reinforced as the essential needs of the American people. Evans illustrates how his social network embraces these core elements of our human nature.
While Twitter is lambasted regularly by critics for being supported by venture capital and having no real revenue model, with over 6 million registered users and 700% plus growth, Twitter is definitely on to something. But what?
Monetizing Twitter is especially interesting because of its size and structure. One can assume, when there is excessive user adoption, a revenue stream should follow. Conjecture however abounds as to how Twitter can become fiscally sound. Some indicate it will be acquired by Google. Others say that banner ads and keyword ad sales will become its cash cow. Currently, however, the consensus of opinion seems to be that Twitter will eventually monetize itself through the value of its real time search capabilities. But nothing is jumping off the page just yet as the next BIG IDEA, or one worthy of the president tapping into this resource as a potential cure for the economy.
Unless Barack Obama has determined that the best decision for the country is to base that decison on the “wisdom of the crowds!” While Bill Clinton favored polling as a decion-making barometer, this type of metric may not have elicited the most accurate results. Avoiding the filter of sample surveys, and by going direct to the people, the President can gain insight from not only those that put him in office, but also from those that voted for other guy. Perhaps the Obama plan is to examine the collective zeitgeist at this moment in time, so that his next chess move is in consort with general opinion. And perhaps the Twitterverse is the first stage in the mining process for that opinion.
Many predicted that some day the “Network will become the Computer” – and the IT giants of Microsoft, Amazon and Google are investing millions to tell you that time is now! The “remote” computing revolution in its simplest form means that PCs will eventually become antiques and all of our files, documents and classified information will eventually be stored literally online.
While weather forecasts aren’t always reliable, the digerati have come to depend on the services of the venerable top global search engine known as Google. So when its system fails, which it has been known to do of recent date, our collective confidence is shaken.
Most recently on February 24, when Google’s email system GMail ran out of juice, alarms went off throughout all of Cloud-ville. British users were the first to report that the system was down, and tests in New York at 7:30 AM EST revealed intermittent service where many users were unable to send or receive emails. Mobile Gmail service appeared to be down until about 8:45 AM EST.
Google did respond quickly with a posted apology: “We’re aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a number of users,” Google said in an advisory on its Gmail support site. “We’re working hard to resolve this problem and will post updates as we have them. We apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused.”
As we have come to expect, this news sent the twitterati into overdrive, with European critics labeling the incident another case of “Gfail!” A Dutchman with the Twitter handle of mmarjolein reminded us of Google’s monopolistic control by tweeting: “Dependence is a bitch.”
A subsequent update appeared 3 hours later, when Google ultimately resolved the problem: “Many of our users had difficulty accessing Gmail today. The problem is now resolved and users have had access restored. We know how important Gmail is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously, and we apologize for the inconvenience.”
The impact of such an event affects a multitude of users. According to comScore, Google is the world’s third most popular web mail service just slightly behind Hotmail’s 283 million and Yahoo’s 274 million e-mail users.
This is not the only time Google caused panic. On January 31, 2009, Google also caused the Internet world to stand still for a whole 40 minutes! At that time, Google’s core service came to a halt. If one was to conduct a Google search, the warning message “This Site May Harm Your Computer” appeared persuasively underneath each and every search, leaving millions of surfers stranded in cyberspace.
Initially, the “malware” warning made searchers fear that the entire Internet was infected – because, after all, doesn’t Google actually control the entire Internet? Subsequent reports indicated that Google’s security messaging experienced a major melt down and was being repaired.
Once again the Twitterverse went abuzz alerting fellow twitterers of the mayhem with tweets that included the hashtag #googmayharm. As the micro-bloggers fired off moment-to-moment and play-by-play updates, 1000s of tweets flooded the system! One blogger said the glitch showed the dangers of having the majority of Internet users in the world relying on the Google monoculture for searches. Another, one BradBrownDotCom, joked: “The Google outage frightened me like a schoolgirl, until I remembered an old technology called ‘Yahoo’.”
So what is Cloud Computing, and how unreliable is it?
Cloud computing is an emerging technology available to e-commerce and other site owners who don’t have the time or resources to handle an information technology infrastructure. Cloud computing allows merchants to buy computing services and pay for them as they need them. Merchants can store images, content and data in the cloud for very low cost and serve it directly out of the cloud without developing their own internal mainframe.
Cloud users don’t pay for overhead or services they are not using. So, when demand is high, they pay for more services and when the demand decreases, they pay for less. The flexibility of cloud computing can be particularly appealing for e-commerce companies that experience seasonal shifts in sales activity. More and more companies that don’t have the time to deal with IT issues look to cloud computing for the majority of their data storage and retrieval.
What does Google’s cloud look like?
It’s a network made of hundreds of thousands, or by some estimates 1 million, inexpensive servers, each not much more powerful than the PCs we have in our homes. It stores staggering amounts of data, including numerous copies of the World Wide Web. This is the engine that propels searches faster, helping to ferret out answers to billions of queries in a fraction of a second. Unlike many traditional supercomputers, Google’s system never ages. When its individual pieces die, usually after about three years, engineers pluck them out and replace them with new, faster boxes. This means the cloud regenerates as it grows, almost like a living eco-system organism.
Temporary failures like Google’s highlight the risks and challenges for IT decision-makers considering cloud computing. During this outage, while an estimated 113 million Gmail accounts were forced to resort to Google’s new offline mode, introduced last month, the balance of Google service users were forced to just wait in a stalled position or use an alternate email service.
Liability for Google?
Criticism is building and many users are questioning whether glitches that affect so many will damage Google’s reputation. Given their generally unshakable reliability, it’s hard to imagine that these two incidents won’t have some detrimental effect on our confidence in Google’s dominance in the search world. Particularly, considering the amount of potential business that may have been lost by business travelers that rely heavily on Gmail, when traveling.
While Cloud Computing is the wave of future, Google lovers who entertain fantasies of a world without desktop PCs may have their heads in the clouds. Yes, many people will run Google apps that access cloud-based data, but dependency is the issue we will we will continue to rant about when the systems fail. During the short term, while this new technology is attempting to perfect itself, storing your data on the Internet is risky business, particularly when the forecast is indicating cloudy, overcast and no Gmail!