Archive for September, 2007

In June I gave a short talk at a conference called Essential Web at the London IMAX. The organizers of the conference had recorded an interview with Tim O’Reilly about the future direction of Web 2.0, and they played back clips of the interview with Tim between the talks.

I was a bit surprised when the clip before my talk rolled. In the video Tim argued in his characteristically soft-spoken but irrefutable way that the mobile phonebook was the killer Web 2.0 application.

In all honesty I wouldn’t have expected the father of Web 2.0 to name the phonebook as the next killer app. Maybe something involving Rails, AJAX, or mashups… but straight off the bat it’s hard to imagine anything more distant from a Web site than the
contact list of a mobile phone.

Today Tim has posted an elaboration of his argument on O’Reilly Radar. As he abandoned his Nokia S60 phone for an iPhone, he found himself missing the presence-enabled phonebook we created for the Nokia handsets. It’s flattering to get acknowledgement for the work the team members at Jaiku – first and foremost our two towering S60 developers Mika Raento and Teemu Kurppa – have been delivering.

Allow me to quote Tim a bit here:

"This is the way a phone address book ought to work. I continue to think that the address book is one of the great untapped Web 2.0 opportunities, and that the phone, even more than email and IM, and
certainly more than an outside-in, invitation-driven "social networking application" represents my real social network. On the series 60 phone, Jaiku was able to embrace and extend the address book. That’s just not possible on the iPhone."

I couldn’t agree more with Tim about the crippling effect the lack of third party applications has on the iPhone. But I worked on a device at Nokia, so I know it isn’t trivial to open up the handset platform to developers. Inevitably, you end up compromising a seamless user experience. Apple, of course, doesn’t like to compromise much there.

Still, I’m optimistic that the iPhone will open up. Apple has all the Web geeks rooting for it. It can’t afford to lose them to a competitor who delivers an equally compelling device with an open platform.

UPDATE:  I elaborated a little on how Apple could open up the iPhone to social web apps in the comments to Tim’s post on O’Reilly Radar

Today’s FT has a piece on the Blue Monster Reserve, a special wine label created by winery Stormhoek for Microsoft and its employees. The label on the bottle features a sharp-toothed blue creature and slogan "Microsoft – change the world or go home."

Since its inception by cartoonist Hugh McLeod, the cartoon has been adopted by microsofties as a symbol of the company’s and it’s people’s aspiration to innovate. I’ve heard Microsoft employees refer to it as the company’s unofficial mascot.

McLeod has a knack for looking at the world through the lenses of object-centered sociality. “Wine is a social object, and so is the Blue Monster: they both inspire conversation,” he is quoted saying in the article.

Besides the fact that Hugh is a killer cartoonist, he has helped traditional entrepreneurs turn tailored suits, and now wine, into social objects. This makes him a valuable of envoy or persona grata who traverses the digital divide which still too often cuts Web geeks off from the rest of the world.

It’s good to see theory brought to life in practice this way.

Joseph Smarr (Plaxo) has put together an influential group who yesteday posed a proposal for a Bill of Rights for "users of the social Web." Read Joseph’s post about it.

I like the way the traces users generate is now increasingly getting described as an activity stream. There’s a shift taking place from fixed pages to a flow of actions on objects.

Here’s the text:

A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web
Authored by Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington
September 4, 2007

We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

  • Ownership of their own personal information, including:
    • their own profile data
    • the list of people they are connected to
    • the activity stream of content they create;
  • Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
  • Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.

Sites supporting these rights shall:

  • Allow their users to syndicate their own profile data, their
    friends list, and the data that’s shared with them via the service,
    using a persistent URL or API token and open data formats;
  • Allow their users to syndicate their own stream of activity outside the site;
  • Allow their users to link from their profile pages to external identifiers in a public way; and
  • Allow their users to discover who else they know is also on their
    site, using the same external identifiers made available for lookup
    within the service.