If Web 2.0 is about web applications and social networking, and Web 3.0 is said to incorporate the semantics of data interpreted by machines, what the heck is Web 4.0 going to look like? If we are in the midst of an evolution, what have the big thinkers been able to conjure up about our futures online? Let’s take a look at some of the insights and theories put forth by the futurists, as us mere mortals breathlessly await the next big shiny thing to capture our hearts, minds and soul.
“What the BLEEP Do We Know,” a movie first released in 2004 went on to become one of the most successful documentaries of all time. Now distributed in over 30 countries, it has stunned audiences with its revolutionary mind-jarring blend of quantum physics and evolutionary thought. While widely popular and panned at the same time, this film is not a journey for closed minded, limited thinkers, or faint-of-mind folks. This is a mystical journey that leaves you curiously rooted in an upside-down-world of invisible unknowns that challenge every belief you’ve ever held sacred. I post it here, because in searching for answers to web 4.0 in our future, sometimes you need to take a trip down the rabbit hole, before you settle down to some more concrete realities.
In 2006, Jeff Moriarty, a Community Manager for Intel was bold enough to suggest that Web 4.0 was an “impending state at which all information converges into a great ball of benevolent self-aware light, and solves every problem from world peace to why Lost stunk last season.” However Jeff also had a small part on the “X-Files” so you might not be so inclined to agree with his epiphany.
On the Brave New World front, Nova Spivack is a technology visionary and entrepreneur with nearly two decades of experience in pioneering ventures. In 1994, he co-founded EarthWeb , one of the first Internet companies, where he helped key cultural institutions and businesses develop their first large-scale Web presences, including the New York Stock Exchange, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, BMG Music Club, Sony, AT&T and US West.
As a futurist and publisher of Twine, Spivack has been contemplating the past, present and future of the Web for quite some time. His timeline of technology from our prehistoric desktop era to our synchronistic future is depicted here.
As you can see, according to Spivak’s predictions we are currently at the tail end of Web 2.0, just starting to lay the groundwork for Web 3.0 or semantic technology which arrives in 2010 (start your stop watches). Web 4.0 or WebOS will be like middleware, where the Web will start functioning like an operating system,or what he calls, “the Intelligent Web.” Nova says he isn’t sure about exact dates or technologies on the top end of the map, but in his view each phase runs in approximate ten-year blocks.
E-Learning Queen is a company that focuses on real-world e-learning issues and emerging technologies. Susan Smith Nash, the founder who goes by the title “Queen’s Assistant” believes that Web 4.0 will include a array of sensors that will gather information from one’s environment to create a deep profile of our behaviors and activities.
Raymond Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist. He has been a pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. predicts that by 2029, the WebOS will be parallel to the human brain. By that time, according to Kurzweil, “intelligent machines will combine the subtle and supple skills that humans now excel in (essentially our powers of pattern recognition) with ways in which machines are already superior, such as remembering trillions of facts accurately, searching quickly through vast databases, and downloading skills and knowledge.”
So are we approaching a moment in time when the Internet will actually transform into a “Learning Web,” where the Web is actually learning by itself, unprompted by humans? Seth Godin, popular speaker at Google and TED conferences and the man who popularized the topic of permission marketing believes Web 4.0 or Web4 (as he calls it) is all about “serendipity and the network taking initiative.”
Some of the future examples he conjures up sheds light on the potential innovation Web4 will be able to add to our lives…
- As a project manager, my computer knows my flow chart and dependencies for what we’re working on. And so does the computer of every person on the project, inside my team and out. As soon as something goes wrong (or right) the entire chart updates.
- I’m late for a dinner. My GPS phone knows this (because it has my calendar, my location, and the traffic status). So, it tells me, and then it alerts the people who are waiting for me.
- I visit a blog for the first time. My browser knows what sort of stories I am interested in and shows me highlights of the new blog based on that history.
- I can invest in stocks as part of a team, a team that gains strength as it grows in size.
- My PDA knows I’m going to a convention. Based on my email logs, it recommends who I ought to see while I’m there–because my friends have opted in to our network and we’re in sync.
As Godin sees it, Web4 is “coming from the edges (we see all sorts of tribal activities popping up in blogs, communities, rankings) as opposed to from the center. Web 2.0 happened in largely the same way…and it’s
entirely possible that Web4 will get here before the semantic web even though Web 3 makes it work a lot better.”
Well, there you have it, sports fans… some of the greatest thinkers of our day all looking into their crystal balls for answers to our digital futures. However, before leaving you, one additional theory did surface that I thought worthy of note. “Gnardonkeys” who describe themselves as “two funny guys from San Diego who naively think Twitter can make them famous” offer some gnarly insights into Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 and why we can’t afford to let Web 4.0 happen…
So which ever fork in the road you decide to take…happy travels down the Rabbit Hole or the Brave New World!
It’s been said about Julia Allison… “She can’t act. She can’t sing. She’s not rich. But thanks to a genius for self-promotion, she’s become an Internet celebrity.” Ms. Allison has learned the art of personal branding and specializes in distinguishing herself from the pack with a joie de vivre and an innate sense of knowing what to leverage when?
Marketing may be a dated term in this Web 2.0 world we live in…a hackneyed meme attributed to the billboard boys, TV execs and those Mad Men who ran fast and furious in the second half the 20th Century. With all the changes we have experienced in this last decade, Internet branding may have taken the place of Marketing while reputation management and its economy have definitely become the new black!
Like muscle building in fitness training, exercise is essential in building up one’s specs! Brand reputation is a discipline separate from traditional marketing campaigns. It recognizes that due to increased transparency and access to information, ‘traditional branding’ can no longer be fluff unsubstantiated. It can however be fluff substantiated as long as there is an audience to lap up the pablum that is being fed; e.g. the Paris Hilton syndrome. That is not… however… the case with Julia Allison.
With attention comes power and control over one’s destiny. People are now viewed in terms of their identification where personal branding now trumps actual products. In the case of Julia Allison, she learned early on that to make it in today’s field of journalism, she had to not only know her craft, she had to differentiate how to best use her craft to become her own story.
In a recent interview, when I asked Julia what prompted her to become an Internet Celeb, she quickly denied that such an unlikely path was her goal. “I think it would be a bit inane to say ‘Oh yes, I set out to become an ‘internet celebrity,’ as if I checked a box my senior year at the career center, next to ‘aimless law student’ and ‘soulless banker’,” she postured.
She also believes that “Internet celebrity is arguably the least useful media vocation one could fill, although some could make a case that “reality show star” trumps it, if only by sheer ridiculousity. And yes, I realize “ridiculousity” isn’t a real word. I couldn’t think of anything else that quite captured that genre’s inherent absurdity.”
With that said, there was a time early on in her career when it occurred to her that the conventional methods of query letters and job postings were not going to get her a job in journalism. “I had just graduated from Georgetown in May of 2004, and I moved to Newport Beach, California with my then fiance.” I thought, “I can write from anywhere. Which is true, technically. But what I didn’t realize was that editors gave assignments to writers they knew. And I couldn’t meet editors from anywhere but New York.” So she moved.
What followed was a number of humbling years of interning. where countless story pitches were overlooked by editors. “And that’s when I had that one ‘triggering event’ inasmuch as there was just one. I remember seeing a magazine cover featuring Tom Wolfe (in his signature white suit), and hearing from my friend Lloyd Grove, gossip columnist at the Daily News that Wolfe made $6 per word for his writing vs. my $50 per 700 word column.” It was at that moment she had her epiphany: “People would read Tom Wolfe simply due to their familiarity with his byline. Tom Wolfe had transformed himself into a brand.”
So a plan to brand herself was put into motion. “I thought – somewhat unconsciously at the time, later much more consciously – if people were familiar with me, and with my byline, I could: A) be able to publish my writing in a wide variety of publications, B) be able to write about what and whom I wished, and C) be able to make a decent living off of my writing.”
And she was correct! While familiarity can sometimes breed contempt, in today’s Web 2.0 environment it can also nurture micro-fame. “But, like any wish fulfillment scenario, it also comes with a multitude of unintended consequences.” Reputation is definitely a double-edged sword. While the public’s expectations are constantly changing, the very things that create celebrity status can sour and fall out of favor in an instant similar to the fluctuating fortunes of political careers.
Linked romantically with former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., her relationship was used in attack ads by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Ford’s unsuccessful run for United States Senate in 2006. Allison tells the story without regret: “I went out with Harold a few times when I was a sophomore & junior in college. It wasn’t serious, but I was beyond naive about press (and hell, the world, really!) at the time, and I think quite a few people took advantage of that. But, you know … those were lessons I needed to learn, one way or another. Life hands you whatever lessons you need for the evolution of your consciousness (Eckhart Tolle) and in this case what I needed was a lesson on why you shouldn’t date politicians.”
She also put several publicity events together that spotlighted her ability to be innovative and controversial at the same time. On Halloween 2006, when Allison was dating a columnist for the newspaper AM New York, she solicited the costume designer who created the wardrobe for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (as she puts it: “no one has better costumes than Drag Queens”). What she ended up with was a Halloween costume made entirely of gold Trojan XL condoms, complete with a condom wand and pumpkin for distributing said condoms. She called herself the “Condom Fairy,” and as a result, the story has become the urban legend she “has never been able to live down!”
The press has said that “it’s easy to dismiss Julia Allison as little more than a rank narcissist” ¢â‚¬â€ and many of her vocal online critics have agreed. However, in Wired Magazine’s August 2008 cover story entitled: “Internet Famous: Julia Allison and the Secrets of Self-Promotion.” it details how she managed to storm the Internet with other unique events that received widespread attention. Once she invited handbag designer Mary Rambin and Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to dance in Jazzercise outfits in Times Square to Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘”Dancing in the Street,” which was filmed and documented by cameramen.
Here in a YouTube video following the cover story in Wired, Julia describes how she invests in her own “reputation economy” with Wired’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson.
However as previously mentioned, Julia isn’t the “Paris Hilton” fluff that sometimes gets applied to Internet Celebrities who reach for notoriety. In fact in early 2007, Julia expresses some of her own thoughts about the one-note overexposed wonder on Fox News…
Yes, there is rhyme to her reason and methods for her madness. Utilizing her brand awareness, she’s been hired in the “legit” world of corporate events – including keynotes and speaking engagements to top execs at Unilever, A&E, at DLD in Munich, at Next 6.0 in Denmark, at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, and at MediaBistro’s personal branding seminar.
She’s also been hired as a social media consultant for several companies, and as a brand ambassador with NonSociety for Kodak, Cisco, Axe and a handful of other entities. She’s an unofficial evangelist for Blueprint Cleanse (“I don’t receive payment, but do receive trade”), and was recently hired by Sea World in Orlando to launch their new roller-coaster, the Manta. “I believe in supporting companies and products I think are great, and I also believe that online entertainment has to pay its bills, and smart, ethical sponsorships are the answer to that,” she notes.
When asked what Internet fame has brought her, she thinks “it’s a bit early to say what it has or hasn’t brought me … but it certainly isn’t as if I’m now living in a West Village penthouse, paying for my Manolos with my black Amex while my bodyguards polish the tinted windows on my custom Escalade. I mean, I live in a studio. But you know, I’m pretty psyched that I can now afford health insurance.”
“The most important thing to me is to be able to share my life – my energy and enthusiasm and questions and confusions – through the work that I love – whether that’s a column or writing my blog or TV segments or my little chat show. And that is what the internet has allowed me to do, and so for that I am very, very grateful.”
“Listen, bottom line: there are consequences to every choice we make – each lifestyle we decide upon, whether public or private, whether as a lawyer or a journalist or a scientist or a hippie. Everything has pros and cons, and it’s up to you to do a cost/benefits analysis. No one else can do it for you. Anonymity and its accompanying privacy confers incredible freedom in one sense – you can make your life choices without a chorus of judgment. But there are some wonderful parts about being a bit more public – the ability to have a large scale conversation, to reach many people, to (hopefully) entertain, to think and wonder and learn and grow along with your audience. The opportunity to meet people you would never have met before, to embark upon experiences you couldn’t have imagined – the chance to have every day surprise you.”
In business school we learn that the ‘goal of management’ is to increase shareholder value. As it turns out, the definition of a ‘shareholder’ are those folks that have a vested interest in a company. While traditional business practices focus on the bottom line, brand reputation takes a more holistic approach on the importance of the individual. It recognizes that people can create value through excitement, buzz and celebrity leverage. Ms. Allison has learned to turn the old adage “its not personal, its business” on its head. In the world according to Julia Allison, “getting personal is her business!”
She poignantly sums it up as “I think everyone has a purpose in this world. Many times I’ve wished that mine were something more straightforward: to make people happy through song or dance or acting. Well. It’s quite clear I didn’t get any of those talents. But I can talk. I can write. I can wonder and I can share. It’s not much, but hopefully my little corner of the Internet gives people a bit of joy. I think that’s my life’s purpose. And for that I feel incredibly blessed.”
(Note: Also see my other Internet Famous stories on Nick Thune and Marina Orlova. If there is one common thread that connects Julia, Nick and Marina, it is their ‘joie de vivre,’ the joyous spirit they all bring to life, the roles they play and how they have all have found a unique way to fit into the grand scheme of the Internet landscape).
Apparently, the new Ghostbusters video game isn’t enough ghosts for gamers, as Swedish developer A Different Game announced a new kind of ghost game with Ghostwire.
The game is an augmented reality game designed for the Nintendo DSi. For those of you who are not familiar with augmented reality, you should know this: do not use the terms augmented reality and virtual reality interchangeably.
According to Search CIO, Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. Augmented Reality is a type of virtual reality that aims togenerate a composite view for the user that is the combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the computer that augments the scene with additional information. (Definition obtained from Webopedia.)
When I was at CES last January, I saw a demonstration of Augmented Reality from a company called Total Immersion. A TI representative took a K’nex box and waved it front of the webcam. The image on the screen was the box, but a digital effect of the assembled K’nex model floating above it. Special sensors within the box allowed the image to be manipulated in 3-D space by simply moving the box. It was easily the coolest thing that I found at CES.
The augmented reality program in Ghostwire allows a player to use their DSi camera to look a around a room for ghosts. Think of it as a portal to the astral plane to find and collect ghosts that exist all around. The game will even use the microphone so you can hear them. From there, the gamer uses the touchscreen to figure out why the ghost is haunting the world.
Many of my sources compare this game to Ghost Hunters, that SCI-FI channel show which gets as much flack as Crossing Over did a few years ago.
However, I think a better comparison would be made to the hit M. Night Shyamalan flim The Sixth Sense. It’s hard to believe that the I see dead people film is a decade old this year, but if the studio had ever wanted to make a television series out of this now-classic movie, then it would be a lot like Ghostwire.
Man, I’m really surprised that those crazy TV network execs didn’t ever try something like that. I mean, they made My Big Fat Greek Life for crying out loud. I personally would have enjoyed a series about a little kid who has to figure out what the ghosts in his life want. Of course, they already have Medium and Ghost Whisperer.
Those shows are pretty popular, so why not create a game where the player can interact with the citizens of the hereafter from a first-person point-of-view?
Ghostwire seems to be one of several games that have been coming out that involve much interactivity on the gamer’s part, but usually involve some sort of accessory. In the case of Ghostwire, the DSi allows the use of augmented reality brings the player into the game, which should be the goal of the entire video game industry for the future.
Remember the political refrain “it’s the economy, stupid!” first uttered in the 90′s and probably more applicable today then it was then? Well, while we are all wringing our hands trying to survive the financial ills that have blanketed our land, there is another economy sapping up just as much of our energy as the monetary one. And I’m not talking about the Information Economy. By definition, economics is the study of how a society uses its scarce resources. And information is no longer scarce. To the contrary…it is not only abundant, but its cup is forever running over. The Internet took care of that!
What is more scarce today however than the world’s diminishing oil reserves… is man’s attention.
So in case nobody formally informed you, welcome to the Attention Economy, where value is based on drawing attention to oneself. To understand this better, let’s contrast the Attention Economy to that of other economy: the wallet economy. In the wallet economy, instead of competing for a share of people’s attention, you’re seeking a percentage of their disposable income. Capital One built a whole advertising campaign around the value of not only carrying hard currency, but the clout that comes from credit cards… hence, the “what’s in your wallet?” ad nauseum TV ads.
The term Attention Economy was invented by the first introduced by Michael Goldhaber, who wrote a remarkably prescient piece in December 1997 in which he described a new arrangement in which the “flow of attention” metaphorically replaced money as the currency of the Internet. A book on this topic has since been written by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck, with some of the basic principles laid down by Goldhaber.
In the Attention Economy, your value is no longer determined by your net worth… but more importantly…by your NET worth. Since the Internet encompassed our lives, think about how inexpensive it is for an individual or a corporation to disseminate their message to the masses. The paradigm has shifted. All of sudden talk is cheap, and it’s listening that garners significant value. Man needs interaction to determine his or her self worth. And no fat wallet is going to make us feel better about ourselves unless it is coupled with a little ‘attention currency.’
If this is a hard concept to swallow, just think about a world where you receive no acknowledgment from your fellow man. As Goldhaber puts it: “Living without feedback, even in the lap of luxury, would be for all (but a few recluses) barely living at all.” And that statement was made over ten years ago when the Internet was barely coming out of its digital womb. So how much cheaper is it to get your word out today and why is it so much harder to be heard. Because of the information explosion online, we no longer read – we skim. The news that lasted days now becomes old news in just a few hours.
Attention Economics is primarily concerned in getting consumers to consume advertising. Traditional media advertisers retained a model that follows consumers through a linear process called AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Attention is therefore the primary first step in the process of converting non-consumers. Since the cost to channel advertising to consumers is now sufficiently low and more ads can be transmitted to a consumer than the consumer can process, our attention becomes the scarce commodity to be allocated.
When information is abundant, the false positives are very costly and basically deal breakers. Web-surfers happily leave web sites, knowing they have plenty of alternatives. Unfortunately, this becomes a lose-lose situation, because if potential customers are not satisfied then sellers lose revenue. The idea behind the Attention Economy is to create a marketplace where sellers make buyers happy by providing them with relevant information.
It is important to realize that the key ingredient in the attention game is relevancy. As long as consumers see relevant content, they are going to keep coming back – creating more opportunities for sellers to sell. Statistics show that the longer a user stays on a web site absorbing content, the greater the odds they will be swayed by one’s brand message or sale of product.
Twitter with its medieval-like armies of “followers and followed” is a fitting example of how the Attention Economy works. The value of one’s fiefdom on Twitter is based on how many followers we have and thus how many people read our words. In essence we grow our power base as digital feudal lords by winning the attention of a huge army of followers. In place of food and shelter provided in the days of feudalism, we exchange information for one’s loyalty.
To put this in perspective, think about how many articles have been written about the “monetization” of Twitter, and the reluctance of the Twitter brass to roll out a business model just yet. I believe one of the reasons for this hesitation is based on the current state of Twitter. Since attention is the valuable commodity Twitter can offer its users, its enrollment growth has exploded exponentially. And the fiefdom of the Twitterverse continues to be a marketplace for the attention-deprived to thrive and connect.
According to Goldhaber, “if money becomes less reliable or less useful to prop up our standard of living, we would could be heading fast for a pure Attention Economy, whereby goods and services would flow directly to those who have attention from those who can provide the goods and services.”
While all of this is very abstract, how does this work in the real world? Well
some companies have been hard at work trying to hit the mark. Goldhaber offers up Apple and Google as two role models that have captured our imagination for years. But lesser known is the Yamaha Corporation of America, Band & Orchestral Division that recently announced the launch of a new Facebook application called “Harmonize.” Here you have a platform that provides instrumentalists with the ability to connect with other artists worldwide in addition to presenting interactive advice from Yamaha artists, technique tips and performance opportunities.
Developed in a collaborative effort with R2Integrated, a leading creative digital marketing firm, CEO Matt Goddard noted that the goal of this application was predicated on “developing a tool that was not a time taker? The ability to share wisdom and tips with other artists quickly using the efficiency of the web was targeted as a time saver.”
So in an attention-deprived milieu, Harmonize was not trying to change behavior but rather provide another set of tools for an already existing behavior. According to Goddard, “our goals were long term. Not to try and create a one-and-done viral campaign, but for Harmonize to be the foundation for many customer related engagement activities, over the long-haul.”
Goddard believes, “the only way to overcome any distraction in our Attention Economy is to find the things that matter to your customers and get that piece right. Tools will come and go, mobile will soon take over and then something else. Getting people’s attention is going to be harder and harder over time.”
In a recent NY Magazine article,”In Defense of Distraction,” Sam Anderson notes that “Focus is a paradox¢â‚¬â€it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin to stretch out or reach toward, distraction from to pull apart. We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.”
David Meyer, one of the world’s reigning experts on multitasking, says there’s a subset of Buddhists who believe that the most advanced monks become essentially world-class multi-taskers ¢â‚¬â€that all those years of meditation might actually speed up their mental processes enough to handle the kind of information overload the rest of us find crippling.
Anderson also underscored this point by noting that, “we recently elected the first-ever BlackBerry president, able to flit between sixteen national crises while focusing at a world-class level.”
According Goldhaber, Obama, in addition to managing the nation’s financial economy is also a master at managing the Attention Economy. “His whole campaign was strategic, where it netted him money, volunteers, and much loyalty. “There’s No One As Irish As Barack O’Bama” is a humorous folk song written in 2008 by the Corrigan Brothers. “The adulatory quality of this video, coming from Ireland, made Obama’s fan base seem that much larger, which also helped expand audience loyalty further, and win new fans for Obama domestically and internationally,” noted Goldhaber.
Similar to the Buddhist monks ability to multi-task, it appears that we are evolving as the Attention Economy matures. The next generation will have an easier time adapting to the ebb and flow of this phenomenon. Our kids will be able to juggle multi-levels of challenges while also conducting mindful web-surfing, dedicated Twittering and perhaps as Anderson sees it, the ability to live in syn ch with a world that offers a “zen-like state of focused distraction.”
Well, if you’ve made it to the end of this article, I give you props for providing me your undivided attention. Now if I can impose on you for comments and feedback, I promise I will give it my utmost attention as well. Also I welcome you to follow me on Twitter, where I run my own little fiefdom of presently 3334 followers!
Featuring some of the most useful applications that will definitely help you improve your productivity on Mac. These utilities are available totally free of charge and can be downloaded right away.
SketchBox is a multifunctional sticky notes manager for your Mac Desktop. Unlike other Sticky notes it doesn’t limit itself to just writing text but you can even draw and set individual reminders for each sticky to use them as visual alarm clock.
SketchBox Sticky notes consists of three layers: The drawing canvas, a little text editor and an intuitive alarm timer that combines the best of analog and digital clocks. While editing text you can still see your drawing in the semitransparent background and vice-versa.
Anxiety is an excellentt To-do list application for Mac OS X Leopard that synchronizes with iCal and Mail. It is extremely lightweight and aims to provide a streamlined, easily accessible interface to add and check off your tasks, while remaining poised to melt into the background at a moments notice.
Anxiety’s sleek interface provides just what you need to jot your tasks down, without burdening you with cumbersome large windows. With a tiny desktop footprint and clean minimalist aesthetics, the application is simultaneously small, beautiful and effective.
Camouflage is a tool that allows you to hide all icons behind the wallpaper. If you were looking for Camouflage you probably have a messy desktop, so you should put this window in list-view to have a much better overview over the tons of files
Key features include
- Perfect system-integration: change your wallpaper and Camouflage will show the change instantly.
- Works with multiple monitors: attach new monitors and the icons will instantly be hidden.
- Drag & drop: drag files on the desktop and they will be copied onto your real desktop.
- Finder integration: click the desktop and Finder will be activated and opens or selects a separate desktop window. (You can disable this with the Popup Desktop option of the menu. To still open a window, press the option-key while clicking the desktop, or by double-clicking on the desktop)
- Support for Path Finder
- Ability to show and hide the icons
- Works with desktop managers
- Ability to ‘click through’ Camouflage to get the normal Desktop-Context menu
iClockr is a simple tool to show you a simple way to track your time. The concept of iClockr is based on 3 columns including
Projects: A project is a bundle of tasks
Tasks: A tasks is a bundle of durations
Durations: A duration is the smallest brick to calculate your total time.
iClockr is a great tool to Track Timeline for Different Tasks and Projects.
Appointments is an application designed to keep record of customers, contact persons and important events related to them. Information is collected in a structured way: there are separate dictionaries with customers data, contact persons, appointment managers etc. which are used to create appointments record. The application provides convenient user interface tools for sorting and filtering stored data.
Key features include
- Document based architecture
- File based datastore and
- Multiuser access
To take screenshots of the entire page I personally use Fireshot. It is like the perfect add-on for Firefox that also provides editing tool. On the other hand Mac users like to take advantage of a small utility known as Paparazzi.
You can grab a free copy of Paparazzi from here.
iStat pro is a highly configurable widget that lets you monitor every aspect of your Mac, including CPU, memory, disks, network, battery, temperatures, fans, load & uptime and processes.
It even allows you to filter out specific disks, network interfaces, or fan sensors, if you’d like.
AppFresh is responsible to keep all your applications,widgets, preference panes and application plugins installed on your Mac up-to-date. AppFresh works by checking the excellent osx.iusethis.com for new versions and lets you download and install available updates easily.
AppFresh provides a central place to control the software updates available to your Mac, integrating most popular and most common update checking technologies such as Apple Software Update, Sparkle, Microsoft AutoUpdate, Adobe Updater, osx.iusethis.com and more.
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool. You can use this text editor for a wide variety of tasks from cleaning up data, to editing configuration files on your Mac or server, to writing HTML or coding.
Key features include
- Powerful single and multi-file search & replace
- Flexible ‘grep’ style pattern-based search and replace based on PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression)
- Sort Lines and Process Duplicate Lines plug-ins offer grep pattern support for sorting, extracting, and handling text
- Find Differences to compare two versions of a text file and merge the differences
- Support for a wide variety of BBEdit plug-ins
The Unarchiver is a much more capable replacement for “BOMArchiveHelper.app”, the built-in archive unpacker program in Mac OS X. The Unarchiver is designed to handle many more formats than BOMArchiveHelper, and to better fit in with the design of the Finder.
It can also handle filenames in foreign character sets, created with non-English versions of other operating systems. I personally find it useful for opening Japanese archives, but it should handle many other languages just as well.
These applications can definitely come in handy in everyday life routine.
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”.
From credit card companies that rate based upon where you shop, to pay-per-click advertisements based upon Google searches, behavioral targeting has become an ubiquitous, if effective marketing tool. This issue has become a hot button topic for many publishers, advertisers, and privacy protection groups like the IAB and NAI. Even the FTC in Washington has taken an interest.
Critics are concerned whether or not behavioral tracking agencies are effectively disclosing how the targeting works, and whether or not they are offering consumers the ability to escape their radar by opting out of tracking. Despite numerous discussions on the regulation of behavioral marketing, no solution has been found that satisfies all parties.
Until this point, privacy disclosure enforcement has fallen to the networks, behavioral marketing publishers, and providers. While some progressive efforts toward transparency have been made, there is still a long way to go. Advertisers, however, have not met any restrictions, while at the same time reaping an obvious benefit. It is long past the time for advertisers to disclose their behavioral marketing practices, and allow customers the option not to participate. There is a lot of debate on the most appropriate way to do this. Some options are to tag each ad with an opt out feature, or to place a disclaimer on the manufacturer’s page, with a full explanation.
There is still no solution on how the advertisers can best disclose this information.
In today’s highly connected, media-driven world, it has become very apparent that creative thinking and design matter immensely in marketing strategies. Most important in these campaigns is the ability of marketing talent to correctly gauge consumer interest based upon quantitative data generated from market research.
The true debate begins in the data vs. creative aspect of social marketing. Anyone can read data, but it takes a true critical thinker to read that data and correctly anticipate what consumers will respond to. Caroline McCarthy (“Facebook, Google, and the Data Design Disaster”) predicts an upswing in the attention marketers pay to creative art resources over strictly following data charts of past market research.
Design will feature prominently in the current and upcoming campaigns of online marketers on the web. In the social age of Facebook and Myspace, attractive ads that people will want to share and pass on will be highly preferable to the old advertising methods that consumers are now desensitized to. In the past, marketers have relied heavily on data reports, but these reports don’t tell the entire story of why the consumer purchases, only what they purchase. Marketers will need creative teams of critical thinkers who can plug this data into the social world of the web in such a way that it gives them new answers on who the consumers are and what they want. It is vital that customers are given new and exciting forms of advertising, and this cannot be done by following old formulas based on outdated information.
Consumers now are incredibly connected to one another. They share links, videos, images, and all forms of media available through the net. A successful marketing strategy will take this into effect, and create intriguing and even viral marketing to further embed themselves into the social culture of the web.
Marketers often lack the ability to adjust their strategies mid-campaign. Much like a movie that is doomed to be a hit or a flop even before release, marketers often rely on predetermined strategies that cannot be altered once the ball gets rolling. The most successful marketers in coming years will be those that can adapt to current market trends on the fly, and adjust their campaigns accordingly, using the information they get during the campaign.
Campaigns that rely simply on market data are doomed to fail, because they cannot change course mid-stream. They are based on old formulas that the consumer will overlook, because they are inundated with similar advertisements every hour of their waking lives. Only creative and fresh approaches will spur any kind of interest from a numbed audience. Only excellent and unique design can win over the jaded consumer.
Only during the campaign will the most effective strategies reveal themselves, and if marketers wait until the end of the campaign to implement new ideas, it will already be too late. Advertisers must act while the consumer is still engaged, rather than taking the approach that it will work next time, rather than implementing the new technique now.
Social design means using a strategy that people will want to share with others, and one that can easily be shared. It will allow people to interact with one another by promoting topics of conversation or interest. It is also a design that is easily translatable to other media, and can pass to and from different formats easily. This does not always translate to good artwork. Good social design is based in ideas that can be passed easily from one person to the next.
This article isn’t really a review of Sci-Fi channel’s newest reality show, but more of a criticism of how the world of television sees video games. Since WCG Ultimate Gamer is one of the only shows that I know that is about video games, it had my curiosity. Too bad it wasn’t a better attempt.
WCG Ultimate Gamer showcases twelve gamers competing to compete. The winner will represent the WCG at worldwide competitive gaming events including the 2009 Grand Final in China. So technically, they have to win this reality show and the Grand Final to be the Ultimate Gamer. So basically, the whole title is a lie. By the way, the winner will also get $100,000.
This show doesn’t really care about gaming, but it is just another excuse to get another needless reality show on air. The game follows all the conventions of a reality show as it puts these characters under one roof for some odd reason or another.
Why in the world would a fair and unbiased competition put all the competitors in the same room? There is only one explanation: to intensify the non-existent drama. Common sense has shown that if you stick twelve mice in one small space, and then shake the cage, there will be fights. Nonsense has shown us that it is fun to watch tiny furry creatures beating each other up.
I mean, if this is supposed to be a fair competition, then these people shouldn’t be in the same room where they can develop personal angst against each other. Maybe the next Olympiad should have all the contestants of an event stay in the same room before they go out on the field to compete.
Of course, they have the stupid shots where they show something happening, and then they show a contestant talking about it. Those of you who love reality shows will probably think it is more of the same, and those who love video games will not find it complementary to gamers or the gaming industry at all.
Granted, they didn’t show gamers as the traditional stereotype: the overweight man-who-won’t-grow-up living in his parents’ basement. Instead, they went out of their way to find attractive people in good physical shape.
Well, even though I’m saying that this isn’t a review, I am saying that I believe that video games deserve more of spotlight on television than this. I’m not the type who believes that gaming will always be a geek thing. It is widely known that many professional athletes play video games on their downtime, and not just the sports-related ones like Madden. Games like Guitar Hero and Rockband have shown how games can turn geeks to rock gods, overnight.
If you are going to do a show about people playing video games, then shouldn’t most of the action be devoted to the game itself? After all, when you watch a football game, ninety percent of what you see is the players on the field, and ten percent showing the reality behind it. On this WCG Ultimate Gamer, it is just the opposite.
Wouldn’t it have been better if the show was about the gaming? Maybe that’s just not as interesting, like the last scene at the end of The Wizard. By the way, that film was just one big ad for Nintendo.
How about this? Maybe they could do the show around a group of people playing an MMO game. Just make sure it is ninety percent gaming, and less than ten percent about their personal lives.
So here’s how it is: don’t give us drek like The Ultimate Gamer, but something that treats video games, gamers, and the gaming industry with a modicum of respect.
There’s no denying that the videogame industry is becoming a powerhouse, and with that we are seeing more high-budget, blockbuster games coming from massive developers than ever before.
But what about the smaller games, from smaller developers? The games with charm and style and character? The games that take risks and experiment with gameplay styles that big developers might be unwilling to try?
Luckily, with the seemingly unstoppable growth of the industry is coming something of a renaissance for indie-style gaming; online gaming portals like XBLA are not only giving us a way to get the little guys’ games easily, but they’re also giving those smaller developers a way to make a living of their games, by harnessing the profit-making potential of the throngs of console gamers out there.
The result is that some of the smartest, most exciting, most experimental, and most interesting games are making their way to the mainstream. So without further ado, here are nine of those games!
BOUNCE (Tentative title) (Strawdog Studios)
Not a lot is known about the tentatively titled Bounce, other then that it may have cute little cartoon animals in it and may also involve bouncing.
What we do know for sure is that it’s from the same developers as Geon, which is described on its XBox Arcade profile page as a “fast-paced abstract sports game that lets you explore your emotions as you compete against opponents.”
Sound weird? Well, it is. But it’s also a lot of fun. With Geon, Strawdog Studios made a game with the simple gameplay and charm of old-school classics like Pacman or Marble Madness while managing to keep it relevant to today’s gamers. It’s safe to say we can expect some of the same entertaining, frenetic, off-the-wall interpretations of classic arcade-style play in Bounce, which is definitely a good thing.
According to Dan Marchant of Strawdog Studios we can look forward to some updates about this game in the near future, including a name change, so stay tuned for more info!
In the meantime a video of Geon’s gameplay ought to tide us over!
Wallace & Gromit, Aardman Animation’s popular dog and inventor cartoon duo, are pretty much the perfect characters for an old-school point and click adventure game in the same vein as King’s Quest and the Lucasarts series of games; Wallace & Gromit’s charming style, whimsical humour, and wacky adventures in invention mean the game is pretty much half done already.
All that’s left is for someone to develop it, and that’s just what Telltale Games is doing. Telltale Games are the same people who brought us the Sam & Max and Strongbad episodic adventure games, so you can rest assured that Wallace & Gromit are going to get a great videogame treatment.
Classic adventure-style games have almost become extinct in this day and age, so it’s good to see this game bringing back the fun, puzzles, and story-telling of this style of gameplay. Plus XBLA is pretty much the perfect forum to distribute episodic games with, letting people buy the game in discrete chunks at a reasonable price.
And on top of all that, this will probably be the first instance of the term ‘cracking toast’ being used in a videogame, which in itself is noteworthy.
Cletus Clay is essentially a platformer like any other, with sidescrolling, shoot ‘em up action through a series of different worlds, except that the main character is an inbred, alcoholic redneck who regularly kills aliens with a shotgun.
Oh, also, every character, monster, and environment in the game is rendered completely with real clay and stop-motion animation.
This very uncommon approach to game art gives Cletus Clay an unmistakable style, and was enough to win Cletus an award for Excellence in Art at the Independent Games Festival. It’s great to see smaller developers taking novel approaches to graphics like this, and even better that we get to see them professionally distributed on XBLA; so few big-name developers would be willing to take the risk of taking such a radical approach to game art.
But Cletus Clay is not just pretty, it also looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun too. If you’re a fan of enemy-filled side-scrolling action in the same vein as Super Mario, then keep your eye on this game. If you’re also a fan of XXX hooch, then this game will be a must play!
Darwinia was originally released on PC a few years ago to critical acclaim, but is still difficult to describe. Essentially it is a blend of the real-time strategy, action, arcade, and god-game genres. But this description probably doesn’t do it justice, as the game manages to blend all those different genres seamlessly to make something that doesn’t quite resemble any of its individual influences. To put it simply, it has to be played to be understood.
The goal of Darwinia is to save the Darwinians — little digital life-forms who live in a virtual world — from attacking viri. What makes the game unique is how you go about doing this; controlling the little Darwinians involves more than just clicking on them and telling them to attack, because you have to manually choose where they shoot, making the game more than standard RTS fare.
The entire game is full of this sort of genre-twisting gameplay, but it doesn’t stop there. Darwinia’s award-winning graphics and art are also striking and original. Its portrayal of a virtual, wireframe world with 2-dimensional inhabitants is both sparse and lively, and somehow manages to give the world’s simple-looking inhabitants more character than the most painstakingly rendered models.
Darwinia has all that, and for the XBox release will even include Multiwnia, the multiplayer version of the game!
From Jeff Minter, sheep enthusiast and developer of the insane, trippy, sensory-overloading, musical sort-of-shooter Space Giraffe, comes Gridrunner+++.
The original Gridrunner++ was a vertical space shooter for the PC that was released long long ago. Since then, Jeff has developed a very unique, psychedelic style for his games that is one of a kind, and the new Gridrunner+++ looks like it is going to embody that development, both in visual style and gameplay.
So what can you expect in Gridrunner+++? Well, “sheepies” that you use as powerups, non-stop streams of abstract bullets all over the screen, and a vertical shooter experience that is far from conventional. According to Jeff, “rather than dodging through bullet hell you become bullet hell.”
By using gravity points, players can make their bullet streams arc, which will combine with the beautiful, colourful and kinetic graphics to give a classic arcade shooter-on-3-hits-of-acid look, making Gridrunner+++ a game that is not only a fun reflex space shooter, but also a graceful and beautiful experience.
But my mere words probably can’t do it justice. For an idea of Jeff’s style, check out the video of Space Giraffe below!
This game just looks like it’s going to be downright enjoyable. Looking kind of like Worms put through an old-school, real-time, 2D console blender, Rocket Riot may just be the game that will remind you of what it was like to play videogames when you were a kid.
The game will include, among other things, some very neat, pixelated 2D-in-a-3D-world graphics that look like a love letter to 8-bit gaming, hilarious sound effects, and destructible levels with tons of different missions to accomplish.
It basically looks like a charming throwback to days when games were a straightforward affair of firing rockets at enemies and collecting powerups, but it also looks like it is going to be a genuinely strong game that can compete with any modern blockbuster in entertainment value.
As usual it’s hard to describe just how fun this game looks, so check out the video!
Zombies!!!, the cult hit tabletop game that has spawned loads of expansions throughout the years, is set to make its debut on XBLA in 2009, bringing with lots lots of zombies (and exclamation points.)
What is Zombies!!! about, you ask? There’s not a lot of info on the videogame version just yet, but if it’s anything like its tabletop predecessor it’s going to involve an ever-growing horde of zombies for a group of players to escape from, and plenty of opportunities to mess those zombies up. And who doesn’t love messing up zombies?
Nobody, that’s who.
It’s always great to see an underground classic tabletop game make its way to a big-time forum, and it’s good to see that XBLA is making it happen. A lot of these tabletop games are well-crafted examples of get-together party games, but don’t get as much exposure as they deserve because of their unusual (and nerdy) medium.
But with a release on XBLA, more players get exposed to a great game they might never have known about before, the developers get some serious support, and alternative styles of gameplay get just a bit more mainstream love.
Plus, I mean, there’s zombies in it.
Continuing with the tabletop gaming theme, we have Quarrel. Quarrel is a game about words and strategy, like a mix of Scrabble and Risk. This probably sounds insane, but the combination of the two is actually quite ingenious.
Denki is a developer focused almost totally on making games that are fun. They go about this by fashioning games to be digital toys that are entirely designed to entertain and engage, and Quarrel is no exception to this strategy.
The goal of the game is to take over as many territories on the map as possible, like in Risk. The difference between this game and its tabletop influences is that instead of rolling dice to see whether you succeed in taking a territory, you play a word game and try to out-vocabulary your opponent in order to claim your stake on a piece of the map.
Clever game mechanics like these — that re-imagine the way classic games work by finding the crappy parts of good games and replacing them with fun parts — are what creative game development is all about. By removing the random element of dice-rolling from table-top style gaming, Genki are making Quarrel a game that is all fun and is accessible to everyone. The results look like they’re going to be a truly entertaining party game that will get everyone fully involved, by making the outcomes of the game depend on simple and familiar mechanics.
Plus it looks downright charming!
Finally on our list we have Blobbies Wars. Originally a DS title, Blobbies is ostensibly a cute little game about little blob things that eat each other to death. But there is much more to it than that.
As Blobbies makes its way to XBLA it will become what its developers are calling the first ever turn-based tactical party game.
Like Quarrel, Blobbies Wars is a blend of two seemingly disparate game mechanics, and just like Quarrel it looks like it’s going to combine them to draw the maximum amount of fun and minimum amount of suck out of each.
Blobbies Wars is made up of two parts. The first part is a tactical strategy game: Teams battle on a hex-based map by getting their blobbies to attack one another each turn, with the goal being to eat the other team’s blobbies. By using magic, special abilities can be performed to give your blobbies an advantage.
The second part, which sets Blobbies apart from other strategy games, is the mini-games. During the downtime of your opponent’s turn you get to play rhythm and reflex-based mini-games in order to get yourself more magic.
This is a brilliant twist on the genre that gets people involved with engaging mechanics, kills boring downtime, making everyone have fun all the time, brings an exciting and visceral aspect to the normally very dry turn-based genre, and finally, forces players to take their turns quickly, so that other players only have a short amount of time to accumulate magic.
I’m a big fan of turn-based games, but even the most die hard fans have to admit that turn-based tactical games aren’t exactly accessible to the average gamer. Blobbies looks like it’s going to bring turn-based to the masses, and I’m proud of the guys at Fishing Cactus for having the ingenuity, understanding and foresight to do it.
And with that concludes the list of games to look out for on XBox Live Arcade! Keep an eye out on our site for updates on these games and their release dates. And if you have any suggestions for games we missed, let us know in the comments, because we always want to hear about games we’ve missed!