Thursday, March 25, 2010

First Google, Now GoDaddy - China Tech Attack?

Just a few days ago, Google made good (to the surprise of many) on an announcement that they were 'shutting down China'.

Many were skeptical that the search giant would actually turn off one of the fastest growing markets in the world.  Others cheered, as the move, spearheaded by none other than Google's co-founder Sergey Brin, became reality.

Google's reasoning was censorship of the search engine's results but also came just a few weeks after some  significant hacking of US companies (including Google) from what many believe came directly from Google's China headquarters in Beijing.

In the US, members of Congress applauded the move.  In China, reaction was mixed with some taking the Google 'side' and wanting an open Internet, while others were angry that the US-based company would target their country.

Google redirected traffic earlier this week from to (Hong Kong) with mixed results, as the 'mainland' began blocking various Google services.

Hong Kong was 'given back' to China by the UK in the 1990's and is a Chinese territory but still enjoys a thriving economy and much more open relations and trade with other countries. It was only until about a decade later that portions of mainland China began their direct and aggressive trade programs with the 'outside world'.

In a surprise announcement yesterday, GoDaddy, the largest domain registrar in the world, also said they're pulling out and stopping the registration of .cn domain names.  The reason given was a new set of regulations by the Chinese government for registering those domains.

The question now becomes whose next?   Will it work?

Will China open up?  More importantly ..... Will they float their currency making free trade fair trade?

Regardless, this chapter had to be one of the most fascinating in Internet history.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MSN New Look Now Live in US

Microsoft's MSN portal has been testing a 'new look' on a preview page for the past few months.  Comments from those that have checked it out have been somewhat mixed but mostly positive for the new simpler design.

Over the past few weeks, Microsoft has been sending e-mails and also running a banner at the top of the MSN page announcing the upcoming change.

The change is now live for most .... at least here in the US.

One of the things you'll notice immediately is geo-targeting.  Even if you are not signed in, the page will deliver news and other results based on your IP (or perceived Internet access location).

The other notable inclusion is a trend chart, not based on Microsoft's Bing xRank, but instead items that have been trending on Twitter:
MSN is also now embracing Facebook Connect directly from the front page. Microsoft is a minority investor in privately-held Facebook.

For now, the new MSN primarily competes with Yahoo and AOL.  Both companies launched new layouts as well, also embracing social media, in the past few months.

Microsoft's customizable portal, recently shut down and offers a page that redirects to the company's search product Bing.

The question that nobody seems to be asking (maybe there's no answer yet?) is what is Microsoft going to do with one of the best web addresses they own .... ?

Update 1 - Mar 22 - 12:21 AM ET: The new MSN page is apparently also now the default in Canada. (Thanks to Rebekah Jssn chiming in on Google Buzz)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Leo Laporte and Robert Scoble changed the game at SXSW

There were no satellite trucks with huge logos. No fancy graphics on the screen. It wasn't carried on any major news network ..... although the 'players' probably should have been watching.

Live webcasting isn't new. For more than a few years, there has been great live video and audio feeds from trade shows and conventions. has been at almost every event I have taken the time to attend ..... for many years. There are MANY others now, in a very crowded field.

In these rapidly changing times, there are more important meet-ups than ever ... as well as sponsored events by the likes of Google, Microsoft and Apple. If you're in this business, you want to be there. (Especially now that the three titans are literally at war in one form or another ..... ).

Many said they were going to opt out of SXSW this year. Many who said they weren't going .... did.

Networking face to face is vital, especially in these fast-paced times.

I hardly ever watch Internet videos longer than 30 minutes. Whether it's my attention span or just lack of value, when I am watching video on the web, it's usually catching up on an episode of 24 on Hulu.

A couple of nights ago, I was working on a project when I noticed a tweet from Scoble.

He was pumping up a live feed from SXSW by Leo Laporte.

I decided to 'click' and was immediately consumed.

LaPorte was using a get-up that looked like a jet-pack.

Live, untethered and feeding good quality video via 3G, the two web personalities (along with Tom Merritt, Molly Wood, Sarah Lane, Jeff Jarvis, Dr. Kirsten Sanford, Justin Robert Young, Mark Milian, and Brian Brushwood) were wandering around Austin doing spot interviews. A continuous stream in motion and live.

Locals, start-up reps (from all over the world), familiar faces as well as a few major players in the tech scene.

There was no AC. No DC. Just one battery change. A lower-power LED light panel provided the lighting and a cool set-up designed by FloTV which was using two connections each to three cellular carriers.

It was more than fun to watch. We were looking at a tiny piece of the future of the web platform, and as the numbers of viewers grew, it was pretty obvious that 'something' was working.

Was it a game changer? Was the combination of 3G Video, FourSquare and Twitter a hit?

The archive of the episode I watched is now posted to Laporte's here.

See what you think.

Note: The link to the video is now active.  Thanks for your comments / emails !

Monday, March 8, 2010

Techmeme adds Mediagazer

With two announcements in just two days (see our piece yesterday), Gabe Rivera, founder of Techmeme, the popular online technology news aggregator, today launched yet another product dubbed Mediagazer.

In a brand new blog space, Megan McCarthy made the announcement to the Mediagazer blog as Rivera also posted information and background on the launch to the Techmeme blog.

Notably late yesterday, staffer Mahendra Palsule made a subtle post that he was resigning from another job to work full-time with the Techmeme team.  The mention was not made on Twitter.  It was made on Google Buzz (which could signal a sign of things to come):

McCarthy, who has been with the 5 person Techmeme team (which also produces 3 others aggregators) will edit Mediagazer.

Other staffers include Rich DeMuro and Lidija Davis.

Rivera took Techmeme from a bot-driven aggregator last year, to one than uses a few 'real people' to fine tune the results.

With the literal definition of 'media' and related delivery platforms changing at a very rapid pace, it should be an interesting challenge to watch as this project as it unfolds over the next few months.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Techmeme adds Sharing Button

Techmeme has added a subtle yet powerful sharing option.

A small button now appears in the upper left hand corner next to the story headline for those who wish to share on Twitter or Facebook. In addition, the new button lets you share to Techmeme or directly to the original post:

Currently the functionality extends to Twitter and Facebook and offers both short and full URLs.

In the comments section in his blog post yesterday, Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera commented "Now that we have our new data center in Oregon up and running, we felt it was full speed ahead on the sharing buttons."

The new button uses the OpenShare Icons design and there's simply no doubt that it will increase the already popular aggregator's page views to a new and wider audience, and potentially more frequently to the many of us who go there each day for a quick take on the tech landscape.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Is Google Testing a User Interface Change?

About Noon today, I noticed a change in the left hand column of Google's Main Search Index:

It appears a lot more user-friendly as an invite to try the advanced features, many of which have been introduced over the past few months.

It only appears (at least here, for the moment) with cookies wiped and using Firefox (hmmm?).

Safari, IE, and Chrome are all rendering the standard Google page here.


The Title Of Your Blog Post Just Got More Important Than Ever

The Internet marketing landscape is changing.

It's changing at a pace that nobody would have imagined just a year ago.

Networks that used to drive traffic simply aren't. 

The focus of the tech community over the past year (and more) has been real-time.

There's is a lot of good there ... and also some serious drawbacks.

Then there are those 'pipes'.  You know, those imported (and in some cases exported) posts you see in your Facebook, Twitter, and other feeds. 

Since the advent of Friendfeed, I've counted over 50 'significant' networks where you can pull and push your content, and content from others.

Note: Exercise a little caution here ... If you 'share' too much, there's a good chance people will block you, unfollow you or whatever YOUR network of choice calls it.

A few days ago, I was called out on Google Buzz for importing my Twitter feed.  The young lady that made the call was right.  For me, they're two separate worlds. It was a bad fit in my case ... and I promptly turned it off.

So what's with the headline about headlines Charlie?

We're living in a sea of blogs and websites, not to mention major portals and others, that want your pageviews.  Some want them pretty badly to remain economically viable.

Assuming you want people to read your stuff and you're not just creating a blog for technical or other reasons, it's important to recognize (and embrace) change.

Headlines (SEO aside for the moment) have always been important.  If you work hard (or just make sense?), aggregators will include you.  You may actually get a play on voting sites (Digg, Mixx, StumbleUpon, others) without asking someone to post your piece (which, in reality, is really what happens in MANY cases).

Regardless, you want those eyeballs. 

Not tomorrow .... today.
I've been sharing my Google Reader picks a few times daily for a long time, as many others do. 

In my case, there are two reasons: (1) If I don't have time to post here, you can always find some fresh stuff the the Google Shared feeds in the right column ... even subscribe to the whole thing if you wish .... (2) There  are a lot of hard working bloggers out there that deliver value.  They deserve to be read, recognized and watched. If my shares gets them a few page views, well, hopefully they'll keep on writing.

Enter Google Buzz.  With the wholesale adoption of Google Buzz because of it's launch within Gmail, it is already a platform.  That platform is tied directly to Google Reader, where I've seen a five-fold increase in followers since Buzz launched.

Now, I not only have some excellent, fun and interesting feeds to look at in the morning (and sometimes evening ...) but I also have many of yours.  Some say it's out of control.  It's not, and easily tweaked whenever you feel like it.

You don't have to sensationalize your headline.  While MANY in the mainstream (and not so mainstream) use this vehicle to gain viewers, it's just not my style. 

What you DO want is for people to click and read what you wrote. Simple premise right?

Whether it's an aggregator, a re-tweet, an import to Facebook (or wherever), your title makes it MUCH easier for people to find what they want to read, especially now that all of these networks are interlacing and even more so, with the 'here now, gone in a few minutes' world of real-time.

What prompted this post is that there are some really brilliant bloggers out there that don't write topical titles (or worse).  I don't know if they're simply jaded and assume everyone already knows who they are and read them every day or what.

Those days are over.

Most people have x amount of time in a day for the Internet and if you lose their interest, you'll have to gain it back.

As far as I'm concerned, there are probably hundreds of blogging rockstars out there that I'd love to be reading, and maybe sharing. 

Make my discovery easier.  Use a good, solid title in your next post.

I'm pretty sure someone will share it.

It just works.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why Google's Acquisition Announcement today is HUGE (Updated)

I can't ever remember a year where 'sparring product and /or acquisition announcements' have come so frequently as they have from tech competitors Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook over the past 6 months.

Earlier today Google announced the acquisition of Picnik, an online photo editing service, perhaps  best-known for their inline implementation on Yahoo!-owned photo sharing service Flickr.

I have always felt that Google's growth strategy appears to be (1) keeping the search index the most relevant possible first (no easy task), and then (2) taking as many 'shots' as possible, some measured, and some not so measured, at the broader tech space ... to see what works, both quickly and over the long haul.

In recent months, many of Google's products started 'talking to each other' creating an ecosystem, that, for all intents and purposes, one could 'live in' without leaving.

Many of the company's products such as Google's (Flickr competitor) Picasaweb (which holds this blogs images by default because it's on Blogger ... a Google property .... get it??) are already small social networks within themselves.

Since the earlier announcement, many have tried to dissect what's next or lend commentary.

This is what TechMeMe looked like as I write this ...

For a change's important I think to point out, TechMeMe is where I first found out about the deal. Long overdue kudos to Gabe Rivera and his growing team.  TechMeMe is providing a very valuable service to many of us and is still, very much relevant.

I found Thomas Hawk's piece particularly interesting as a well-known web photographer.  Thomas has also been an avid Google Buzz user since the start.

So what are we actually looking at here?

It's interesting that a day or two ago, Louis Gray described his 'life in the cloud' since acquiring a new laptop and turning to his older Mac box when he needed to use Photoshop?  Hmmm.

Is this a shot at Adobe?  You bet.  It's a strategic shot at Adobe and Apple in a measured move, in an important component in the upcoming Chrome OS and the continuation of tying Google services together.

Think about this.

If Google decides to make Picnik totally FREE, this landscape changes overnight.

I'm guessing not only will this happen, but the spaces in the Google ecosystem where Picnik is deployed will simply be monetized by DoubleClick and Google Adwords.

Does this make them evil?

No.  It makes them smart ..... and in this environment .... very smart.

Google very simply just bought a piece of the future.

What's next?  Look for Google Chat to be integrated with Google Voice as a competitor of sorts to Skype.  Just a guess ... We'll see?

Whatever IS next, there's nobody that can say this hasn't been an exciting and game-changing year in tech.  I'm thinkin' it's just the beginning.

Updated for content / links Mar 1, 2010 10 PM ET