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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Google Wave: 5 Ways It Could Change the Web

Google Wave arrives on September 30th. On that day, Google (Google) will start sending out 100,000 invites to non-developers to its much-anticipated real-time communication platform.

It’s not even released and it’s generating more hype than almost any other web product in recent memory. The reason stems from its game-changing features and their potential applications on business, education, customer service, email, social networking, and more.

So with Wave on the way, we wanted to explore some of the potential of Google’s upcoming product. We have a few of our own ideas and included some from Google Wave (Google Wave) developers, but more than anything, we want your ideas, so be sure to leave your great Google Wave invention in the comments! Who knows, maybe we’ll feature them in the future!

1. Wave-Powered Forums

This idea’s actually been in my head before, but it’s articulated with some depth by Andrew Camel in the Google Wave API Google Group:

“So I thought that it would be an awesome feature of google wave to have it power a forum. Each thread, instead of being multiple different posts, it would just be a google wave. So, instead of having to try a discussion by posting and going back to the page and checking for new replies and while you were posting, you missed a new part of the discussion, you can post like you are having an instant-message session and you can also save the posts like forum threads. I really think that this would be a great use of the google wave api.”

Real-time threads? Saving waves like forum threads? Google Wave?! Sign us up!

2. Wave-powered Commenting System

wave photo sharing image

We actually alluded to this possibility in our Google Wave Guide when we discussed Wave Embeds:

“One possibility: Google Wave Embeds may be a real-time replacement to static comments. If Google perfects wave embeds, you could even see YouTube (YouTube).com comments replaced with waves, although it is way too early to make any calls on the potential of this.”

Now that we’ve had some time to play with Wave, we think more than ever that Wave as a commenting system is a real possibility. Each blog post or YouTube video could have a new wave, where users could converse about practically anything in real-time. Anybody who comes in late can just play back the wave and get up to speed. It could be a whole new era for commenting.

3. Wave-Based Content Management System

A thread in the API group discusses the possibility of using Wave as a project management system. I’ll be honest – even I’ve been toying with this idea. Here’s what Jason Salas said in the thread:
I think that maybe many of the major CMS vendors will create extensions (if we don’t do it ourselves) to integrate their products with Wave. That’s what I’m working on now. But that is a neat idea to actually use Wave as its own CMS platform, with assumed features
like document creation/management, scheduling, RSS feeds, (micro) blogging, archival/search, etc.”

Can’t you see it?

4. Wave for Customer Support

This idea actually comes from a thread in the Google Wave development preview titled “What Will You Use it For?” It’s a remarkable discussion and brainstorming session over the potential of wave. One of the most fleshed-out ideas in the thread, though, is Wave for customer support. Here are some of the bullet-points for how Wave could be used in customer support:

- Sending trouble tickets
- Incident tracking can be a wave
- Call center analytics gadget
- Distribution list gadget
- Customer meta-data gadget
- Surveys can be a wave

Real-time customer support? Yeah, someone please build that.

5. Wave for Education

We reported a few days ago that Google is giving some schools and businesses an early look at Google Wave. But why? What could Wave possibly accomplish in the realm of education and business? A lot, we firmly believe.
harendrasingh rajput

I refer once again to the “What Will You Use it For?” Wave in the dev preview for some ideas for how Wave can be used in education.

- Building a more interactive / creative learning environment
- Proofreading / writing papers
- Brainstorming potential project ideas
- Interactive tutoring from home
- Collaborative Environment for Cyber Schooling

With more widgets, you could embed streams and communicate with professors in real-time. We’re excited about Wave’s potential to transform education.
What Are Your Ideas?

We’ve highlighted some of our ideas and many ideas from enthusiasts across the web. So now it’s your turn. What is your idea for Google Wave? We want to hear your thoughts and your opinions in the comments.

Oh, and if you need a little inspiration for your idea, be sure to check out our comprehensive Google Wave coverage:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mobile Melodies: Top 10 Musical Performances on Cellphones

September 5th, 2009 | by Barb DybwadComments

iphone-concert-260There’s a lot of creative energy out there. And we live in a world now where tools to help us express those creative energies can live right in our pockets.

It’s in the spirit of celebrating this marvelous age that we bring you this collection of mobile music performances. All of the music here is being generated by a cell phone — think about that for a minute!

While most (but not all) of these performances are on the Apple iPhone, we hope to see some AndroidAndroidAndroid orchestras sprouting up before too long. We tried to get a mix of instrumentation in here, as well as serve up a mix of great covers and creative originals as well.Computerinfo Cellphones

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Google’s Orkut Drops Support for IE6

Microsoft may be opposed, but the campaign to kill off Internet Explorer 6 has gained a powerful ally this week: GoogleGoogleGoogle’s OrkutOrkutOrkut, the leading social network in Brazil, has vowed to stop supporting the browser.

If you visit Orkut using IE6 today, you’ll see a warning message that says Orkut is ending support for the browser, while recommending other browsers to try: Internet ExplorerInternet ExplorerInternet Explorer 8, ChromeChromeChrome, and FirefoxFirefoxFirefox:


Given that Chrome is Google’s IE challenger, it could be seen as generous that Google would push IE8 ahead of its own product. Nonetheless, the greater effect is to push many Brazilian web users away from the outdated IE6 and consider the benefits of a modern web browser: a move that’s good for Google and great for the web design community.
“IE6 No More” Campaign

IE6 No More ImageGoogle’s move comes immediately after the formation of IE6 No More, a group of websites united to accelerate the switch away from the outdated IE6 browser. Last week we reported that more than 75 sites had joined the effort, including DisqusDisqusDisqus, and PosterousPosterousPosterous. All the sites in the group display a message to IE6 users asking them to switch to a more modern browser.

See also: IE6 Must Die for the Web to Move On computerinfo more..

Tips for Getting Crawled Faster by Google

Probably the most important step in getting your site found in a search engine is the one in which the search engine crawls it. There are things that can be done and things that can be avoided to make this process as painless as possible for the search engine, which will in turn, make it as painless as possible for the webmaster.

Since Google dominates the search market share by such a large market share, it is always a good idea to listen to what they have to say about such matters. So when they post a presentation with tips on optimizing crawling and indexing, you'll probably want to pay attention.

Google has done just that, highlighting things to stay away from, and things you can do to enhance your site's crawlability. Here is that presentation with specific examples of URLs.

"The Internet is a big place; new content is being created all the time," says Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Susan Moskwa. "Google has a finite number of resources, so when faced with the nearly-infinite quantity of content that's available online, Googlebot is only able to find and crawl a percentage of that content. Then, of the content we've crawled, we're only able to index a portion."

"URLs are like the bridges between your website and a search engine's crawler: crawlers need to be able to find and cross those bridges (i.e., find and crawl your URLs) in order to get to your site's content," continues Moskwa. "If your URLs are complicated or redundant, crawlers are going to spend time tracing and retracing their steps; if your URLs are organized and lead directly to distinct content, crawlers can spend their time accessing your content rather than crawling through empty pages, or crawling the same content over and over via different URLs."

If you want to get crawled faster by Google, you should remove user-specific details from URLs. Specifics of this can be viewed in the slideshow. Basically, URL parameters that don't change the content of the page, should be removed and put into a cookie. This will reduce the number of URLs that point to the same content, and speed up crawling.

Google says infinite spaces are a waste of time and bandwidth for all, which is why you should consider taking action when you have calendars that link to infinite numbers of past/future dates with unique URLs, or other paginated data.

Tell Google to ignore pages it can't crawl. This includes things like log-in pages, contact forms, shopping carts, and other pages that require users to perform actions that crawlers can't perform themselves. You can do this with the robots.txt file.

Finally, avoid duplicate content when possible. Google likes to have one URL for each piece of content. They do recognize that this is not always possible though (because of content management systems and what have you), which is why the canonical link element exists to let you specify the preferred URL for a particular piece of content. computerinfo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Email Marketing Remains Reliable

hree misconceptions refuted

Keeping up with the latest marketing techniques is a good thing; new stuff can be very useful. At the same time, the process of keeping up can act to prevent a person from ever getting ahead, and an expert recently spoke up to say that email marketing remains effective.

Gail Goodman named three misconceptions about email marketing, with the first being that the inbox is irrelevant. She wrote, "It's true that consumers are getting more e-mail now than ever before. That's exactly why permission-based e-mail marketing is so valuable in reaching customers overwhelmed by inbox overload. . . . [W]hen someone signs up for your mailing list, they're giving you a vote of confidence that your e-mail content is valuable to them."

The second misconception relates to Facebook, Twitter, and all that: "social media has replaced email marketing." Goodman posits that email is a better way of reaching potential customers on a one-on-way basis than, say, a passing tweet that 300 other people may or may not view.

Finally, if you're concerned that young people don't use email anymore, you might simply be wrong, according to Goodman. Many young people use their email accounts to keep track of important, more formal, stuff, including work- and school-related communication.

Unless you've got some serious data to support a switch, then, try not to completely abandon reliable marketing methods for flavor-of-the-moment approaches. More

Microsoft and Yahoo Finally Announce Deal

Well, they've finally gone and done it. Microsoft and Yahoo have partnered to "change the search landscape." The two companies today announced a long-awaited deal, in which Microsoft will power Yahoo search while Yahoo will become the exclusive search advertising provider for Microsoft's search engine, Bing.

You know this history by now. Here's what the companies have to say:

Carol Bartz "This agreement comes with boatloads of value for Yahoo!, our users, and the industry, and I believe it establishes the foundation for a new era of Internet innovation and development," said Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz. "Users will continue to experience search as a vital part of their Yahoo! experiences and will enjoy increased innovation thanks to the scale and resources this deal provides. Advertisers will also benefit from scale and enjoy greater ease of use and efficiencies working with a single platform and sales team for premium advertisers. Finally, this deal will help us increase our investments in priority areas in winning audience properties, display advertising capabilities and mobile experiences."

Steve BallmerMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "Through this agreement with Yahoo!, we will create more innovation in search, better value for advertisers and real consumer choice in a market currently dominated by a single company," said Ballmer. "Success in search requires both innovation and scale. With our new Bing search platform, we’ve created breakthrough innovation and features. This agreement with Yahoo! will provide the scale we need to deliver even more rapid advances in relevancy and usefulness. Microsoft and Yahoo! know there’s so much more that search could be. This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search."

Key Terms as highlighted in the announcement:

- The term of the agreement is 10 years;

- Microsoft will acquire an exclusive 10 year license to Yahoo!’s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing Web search platforms;

- Microsoft’s Bing will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo! sites. Yahoo! will continue to use its technology and data in other areas of its business such as enhancing display advertising technology;

- Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers. Self-serve advertising for both companies will be fulfilled by Microsoft’s AdCenter platform, and prices for all search ads will continue to be set by AdCenter’s automated auction process;

- Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business and sales force;

- Yahoo! will innovate and “own” the user experience on Yahoo! properties, including the user experience for search, even though it will be powered by Microsoft technology;

- Microsoft will compensate Yahoo! through a revenue sharing agreement on traffic generated on Yahoo!’s network of both owned and operated (O&O) and affiliate sites;

- Microsoft will pay traffic acquisition costs (TAC) to Yahoo! at an initial rate of 88 percent of search revenue generated on Yahoo!’s O&O sites during the first five years of the agreement; and

- Yahoo! will continue to syndicate its existing search affiliate partnerships.

- Microsoft will guarantee Yahoo!’s O&O revenue per search (RPS) in each country for the first 18 months following initial implementation in that country;

- At full implementation (expected to occur within 24 months following regulatory approval), Yahoo! estimates, based on current levels of revenue and current operating expenses, that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual GAAP operating income of approximately $500 million and capital expenditure savings of approximately $200 million. Yahoo! also estimates that this agreement will provide a benefit to annual operating cash flow of approximately $275 million; and

- The agreement protects consumer privacy by limiting the data shared between the companies to the minimum necessary to operate and improve the combined search platform, and restricts the use of search data shared between the companies. The agreement maintains the industry-leading privacy practices that each company follows today.More..

Will Twitter Search Be the Next Wikipedia Search?

After checking out Bing's explanation of how it handles reference searches, it got me thinking how big of a role Wikipedia plays in search. Wikipedia entries are often among the top results in Google, and clearly they are a big part of Bing's strategy as well.

By this time next year, these are the only two search engines we're going to be talking about as far as who has how much market share. Yahoo of course will be using Bing to deliver its results, so essentially the big 3 will become the big 2.

If Twitter plays a significant role in the search market, than Wikipedia sure does as well, because it gets a lot more unique visitors than Twitter. In fact, at this point it gets more than Bing too, although that looks to be on pace to change pretty soon.

Twitter results are useful (can be at least) for timely information. Wikipedia results are useful for reference information. These are two very different niches, yet both important ones. I think it's fair to assume that Google drives a great many of those unique visitors to Wikipedia, and Bing will drive an increasingly large amount too. The question is how many people just go to Wikipedia and search?

Right now, we're assuming that people are and will just go to Twitter to search when they want to see what people are saying "right now" about something. That's why Twitter's homepage redesign is significant. Google and Bing don't have real real-time search offerings in place...yet.

Twitter Search is significant to the industry right now, but that significance could dwindle once Google and Microsoft start incorporating true real-time search into their own results. We don't know exactly how either search engine will handle this, but I think it's safe to assume that it's coming sooner or later. I tend to believe real-time results will eventually make their way into Google's Universal results for example.

Once that happens, Twitter Search may not be as important as it appears to be now. I liken it to the importance of Wikipedia search. You can search Wikipedia when you want, and it is helpful. Users will still be able to do the same with Twitter, but chances are, most will search Google or Bing in the future and get their Twitter results from there (based on relevancy), much like they get their Wikipedia results now.

What do you think?

Note: When I say that Twitter Search's significance could dwindle in the future, I mean with regards to how people search in general. I do think that Twitter Search will continue to be incredibly significant to Twitter itself, and that the new homepage redesign will highlight it and show the public some usefulness that they may not have seen before. More...

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