Oct 08

Blog and RSS studies

Yahoo and Ipsos Insight have released a study on RSS. (In pdf). Looking at RSS usage inthe US, it shows that many people who are using RSS do not know they are going so.

  • Awareness of RSS is quite low among Internet users. 12% of users are aware of
    RSS, and 4% have knowingly used RSS.

  • 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content on personalized start
    pages (e.g., My Yahoo!, My MSN) without knowing that RSS is the enabling

  • 28% of Internet users are aware of podcasting, but only 2% currently subscribe
    to podcasts.

  • Even tech-savvy “Aware RSS Users” prefer to access RSS feeds via user-friendly,
    browser-based experiences (e.g., My Yahoo!, Firefox, My MSN).

  • My Yahoo! has the highest awareness and use of any RSS-enabled product.

As a tool, it is working best when people do not know (or care) what the tool is, just what it can do for them. Convenience and ease of use are the sellers. Make the nuts and bolts invisible and just let it happen, make it easy and seamless for people to subscribe.

Another study out this week is the Edelman/Technorati study of bloggers. A self-selecting survey, it looks at why people blog, the trust factor that can be engendered thought the use of blogging and the interaction between companies and bloggers. Over 800 bloggers responded, over half from the US, and over 90% from English speakers so the use of results for business blogging can only be for certain markets. Unfortunately, there’s no analysis yet, but that is supposed to be coming.

In answer to why people blog, the biggest reponse was about being an authority in the field, followed closely by a record of thoughts (this blog obviously falls into the 2nd category, there being no ‘field’ here!) But when it comes to company interactions, people appear to want interactions – or at least free product. The contact would be trusted more if direct from the company, reflecting on PR being perceived as spin; the moot trusted contacts would be those employees who blog. Agree – I’d be happier talking to someone who believes in the product (they still work for the comany!) rather than those who are paid to promote it in a second way and also the contact would be better coming from soemone who understands the blogging world and how it is made up of people instead of consumers.

Finally, Google have released their RSS aggregator. Still feels very much in beta, I’m just not getting a feel for it. The lack of organisation in the listing pane, with new articles presented in date/time order as a single stream would not suit the number of feeds I read, I prefer to read sections separately instead of everything in order. I don’t see a way of rearanging the view or arranging the subscriptions. One ot keep an eye on, but no instant winner.

Oct 08


In the second Weblog sale this week, Dave Winer’s weblogs.com has been bought by Verisign. The ping server needs investment to cope with the exponential increase in blogs, plus the investigation and work on how to clean up pings from spam blogs. Verisign have put forward their vision for the continuation of the service:

  • Free‘Basic pings, the messages processed by weblogs.com, will remain free to submit, and free to retrieve from the service’. Although they will look at adding value-added services for fees.
  • Open‘In all cases, we endorse open formats, freely available, freely implementable by the rest of the community.’ ‘We want to excel in our execution and implementation of our services, rather than building a walled garden around a proprietary platform.’
  • Solid‘We have the skills, resources and experience in highly-scaled, high-performance infrastructure to deploy ping server services that will serve the blogosphere (and beyond) for the next stages of growth’
  • Informative‘we would like to make weblogs.com – the website – a useful destination for checking in on the infrastructure side of the blogosphere. We anticipate it being a handy place to check in for aggregated metrics’

So a vision of maintinaing an open, community service whislt strengthening the infrastrcutre and scaleability of the service to cope with increasing demands., Sounds good to me. Winer wrote about the day of the announcement, which appeared to be slightly ahead of schedule

Oct 06

Snippets 5 Oct

Jason Calacanis confirms that his Weblogs Inc has been bought by AOL. A great scoop by PaidContent.

BBC Radio 6 confirms (presumptively) that Aplle will be unveiling the new video iPod with a press event at the BBC. Ben talks about the leak. But maybe not, according to ThinkSecret.

Don Dodge writes about how Napster came and went, but the record companies lost anyway.

Gnutella was an open source program and we were already seeing new variants of it emerge. We told the record labels that we (Napster) had a loyal audience of over 50M users. We had servers that could control distribution. If they didn’t do a deal with us and put us out of business then Gnutella and its derivatives would become unstoppable. There would be no company to sue and no server to shut down. If we worked together now we could convert the market to a paying subscription or per download model. If we didn’t do a deal chaos would ensue. They didn’t believe us and didn’t really understand what this Gnutella threat was. The record labels lost billions of dollars in lost revenue over the next several years, and may never squash the free file trading movement.

. Via Rick.

Oct 04

Snippets 4 Oct

Astromoners display their TV preferences with the discovery of a moon orbiting Xena, the 10th ‘planet’. Predictably, the moon has been called Gabrielle.

Yahoo reveal their input into the digitisation of the world, supportting the Open Content Alliance in creating a digital archive. Unlike Google, Yahoo’s offerieng is opt-in, so they may avod beign sued by the Authors Guild who seem to miss the point about having their works searcheable for anyone instead of languishing on shelves.

Digital Music revenues triple, but the industry continue to crack down on piracy. With the number of people downloading increasing, how many of them are hitting the barriers created by DRM meaning that the music is restrained and it cna only be paid on certain devices.

The South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is encouraging his dozen secretaries to blog on an official group blog. It’s currently only availalbe in Korean. Definitely think we should get a blog from Number 10 now.

The Web1.0 do tomorrow night sounds interesting!

We will meet to discuss line breaks, spacer gifs, and the ability to launch links in a new browser window.

Read the comments from the last meetup to get a feel for how interesting this could be…and if we can get the secret list of 1998 wiords that trigger a drink, we should hold one in London.

Sep 29

Google Moonbase

In the unusual situation of an April Fools joke taking a step towards reality, Iread that Google has teamed up with NASA to co-operate in areas such as IT solutions, data management and nanotechnology. This includes such things as remote sensors – are they going to be doing a survey for the new base on the planned next trip to the moon in 2020 or just looking for the cheese?

Sep 28

ERP meets Wiki

Interesting to see that SAP, in my experience a large, process-driven, intricateand at times unwieldy piece of enterprise software, has invested in SocialText. SAP’s current offerings are what I would call the most malleable when it comes to sharing qualitative information across a workforce, so it would be great if they could offer a less rigid solution. You may have guessed that we use SAP extensively in the company I work for, and have some difficulties with it!

Sep 20

Shopping News

Yesterday I received my first order from ocado, the online supermarket. Looking through what I had received, I found that I’m obviously ignorant of what I actually buy when walking round a supermarket and do much of it out of habit. many of the sizes were just wrong, either too small (beans, oil) or too large (pasta, tuna) So I have little idea of actual size of the products that I pick up.

I was in Debenhams yesterday. The shop in Oxford street is going through a refurb and there have been some changes in the fitting rooms. All items are scanned going into the changing room and then the ones you decide to buy are scanned on the way out. I think this is so the individual franchises in the store know what they have to collect from the room, although it probably has a shoplifting deterence as well. If I was ever in town at a weekend I suspect the scanning would slow the entry of customers. In a further change, they have added scanners into each cubicle (as in the picture). The idea is that if you want to change the size or get something to match, you scan the barcode and call for assistance.


Whilst browsing, I came across an frustrating site, which I won’t name, however it is a large FMCG. First of, the job site won’t work in anything but Windows and IE.

Please note you will not be able to access this system if you are using a MAC or any other kind of Internet Browser software apart from Microsoft Internet Explorer (eg. Morzilla or Firefox).(sic)

After switching browsers, I find that I cannot easily navigate and I cannot easily view the jobs. It’s a SAP based website and is using Adobe Acrobat to present the jobs which does not want to display at all on my machine. Overall, not a good experience – a site built for the HR function not potential applicants.

Sep 16

One Note

I went to purchase OneNote today for my Tablet; I’ve been using the trial version for the last few months and decided i would buy it. But Microsoft won’t let me – because I am not in the US/Canada I cannot purchase on line direct from but have to a different vendor. And all I want is a 25 digit code to activate the version I downloaded from Microsoft. There’s no shipping, they don’t have to put overseas stamps on a parcel, they just need to send me an email. It’s very short sighted and adds a bbarrier; when there is code to download let me buy it.

Aug 31

VoIP for the masses

The Metro have an article this morning about VoIP phone services, giving a good rundown on those available in the UK market. Obviously triggered by Google Talk, the key message is that this is a good thing. It goves a brief write up o Skype, Vonage, 056me and BT Communicator.

For me, it’s interesting that for the 2 computer based services just states plainly that your computer needs to be turned on to use. Explainging some of these services to various family members, the difficulty was in the non-computer based services, ie how can an internet-based tool work without the PC being turned on, because internet=web=browser. Now my parents finally have broadband, I’ll be able to get them connected up.

I also now have a theory as to why the very mention of Google gets lots of people excited. Say it, then say it again a number of times. I think it triggers long buried memories of being a pre-speaking child and being ‘spoken’ to by adoring relatives- google-google-google. Just a theory!

Aug 23


Suw is looking to organise a UK equivalent of the Foo and Bar Camps that tookplace in the US last week. Suggestions for venues so far are London, Cardiff and Edinburgh (what, no-one for Belfast yet?) Go read – and commit to come along.

Aug 22

Medical Hacking

Intersting BBC article about an Vietnamese doctor who built his own endoscope. The machines normally go for $30000, but he put the home-made version together for around $1000. After 2 years perfecting the device, he;s now making them for colleagues.

Aug 12

Promise TV

PromiseTV, as seen at OpenTech, is gathering steam and, in conjunction with the BBC, looking at open-sourcing the project.

I’d love this – it means that I may have been able to watch Lost which premiered this week in the UK and by all accounts was brilliant.

Jul 24

OpenTech 2005

Spent yesterday at OpenTech 2005. A mixed day, some pretty good stuff, other stuff that was not so much fun. Things I found interesting:

  • OpenStreetMap. Mapping the UK using Satellite photos and GPS points. To provide an open source map in a country where most of the maps are Crown Copyright
  • Ewan Spence‘s Media Hacking Introduction. Get 5 people all with iPod Shuffles. Take the Shuffle, put them in a box, shake them up and see what you get back – hardware hacking. In this case no-one had identified their Shuffle, including the poor guy who’d put his PGP Private key on it :-o. It all eventually got sorted I think.
  • Launch of backstage.bbc.co.uk as it came out of beta. Take BBC content feeds (news, weather, TV programms etc) and remix them as you see fit. This is slowly becoming available for programme content as well as information. My favourite – the difference spotter for BBC News page, from Mathew Somerville.
  • Jeremy Zawodny‘s overview of an Open Future.
  • The fast runthrough of spacehijackers modus operandi, (a seemingly last minute replacement). Their next project – tracking Charles Clarke‘s every movement.
Jul 20


Via Metro, the ultimate iPod Accesory, the Audi-Oh.. It plugs into the iPod and translates the musical rythms into a variable vibration pattern; what you do with it is up to you, but the website subtly explains the reasons for it. It appears to have been around for nearly a year, must have missed it in John Lewis.

Jul 19

Fishy Business

The BBC has a lovely article about a piece of digital art that can be found at Tingrith Fisheries. Fish in the lake at the fishery are tracked hydrophonically and their movements translated into a soundscape and an animated representation of the fishes’ movements. How is this done? The fish are “slit open and miniature bio-acoustic tags are inserted into their bodies. The fish are then stitched up, woken up and returned to the lake where they emit a tiny acoustic signal every two seconds. ” Lovely. Just the type of detail you want to know.

The article is also notable for me in that its the first one I’ve seen where there is the option to download an audiofile and subscibe to the RSS feed for the podcasts, as part of the BBC Download Trial

Jul 17

BBC Interactivity

The BBC launch a new series next week about Britain’s coastline. To accompany this, they are releasing guided tours to 39 villages and towns around the coast. The tours come in 3 different formats. The first, a straightforward leaflet which can be ordered. Seocndly, there will be downloadable audio files, to play on your favourite player of MP3s. And finally there are walks delivered via your mobile phone for 12 of them. In this case, the towns have had sings put up around various points with a call number on it. Dial the number and a recorded talk gets played. When you’ve finished and you hang up, the directions to the next point in the trail are texted to you, so you don’t get lost. Great for those who have a phone but have not yet braved the idea of putting files on portable devices.

Jul 15

DualView TVs

There are a few articles like this one in the paper’s today about Sharp’s new DualView TVs, which uses LCD displays to allow people sitting at different angles to the TV to see different images, different programmes or different views of games. You could htink this is a good idea. But the one thing I noticed – in none of the articles I have seen do they mention how they intend to manage the sound. Do they expect people to wear headphones? One of the views on the story is that it will reduce arguments about who watches what – so it appears to do this by making sure they can’t hear each other and never talk. A step forward for family relationships.

Jun 27

Traffic Cameras

The AA today have released a road atlas detailing around 3000 speed cameras and known positions for up to 3000 mobile cameras. They are releasing this information for ‘safety purposes’ as the cameras are ‘usually’ placed in accident blackspots. But Transport 2000 have a problem with this, in that it will allow people to speed between cameras.

So, I could be really smart, plan my route, mark all the cameras and remember where they all are. Alternatively, I could download the £40 extension for the TomTom system and have the system tell me where they are!