Re: The Big Moo(lah)

I got together enough people to make it cheap enough for me to go for Godin’s latest book, a whole box of 50 galley prints to give away.

The players so far are: Brandon, Kinman, Matt Ray, and, of course, myself…our man JP might chip in a few bucks himself. (We’re still waiting on this guy, and then it’ll be The Usual Suspects.)

I’ve got a handful of people in mind of to give them too, but if you’d like an advance copy of The Big Moo, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do.

Re: Why is Scheduling So Hard

(Disclaimer: if you see brown spots blow, that’s because I pulled most of this out of my ass.)

The problem with calendaring is that it’s an enterprise app: it’s not a consumer app. Things like blogs and RSS were (if only to dorks) consumer applications.

To standardize on calendaring — and make it easier to share scheduling cross-organization/system — you’d have to get “millions” of people using the same system/format. This seems to be how blogs and RSS became the de facto standard: people just started using them, and it was too late to do otherwise once Anyone Important started paying attention.

But, since consumers aren’t really interested in calendaring (thus, no mass-market for it), only enterprises are willing to pay for calendaring. And…we all know that enterprise software doesn’t result in universal apps: at best, it’ll work on all the systems behind-the-firewall, and those systems might talk to each other.

For me, Exchange works just fine…as long as I have an app that can suck data from it, and put data back into it. (I hate Entourage on OS X! Why doesn’t it just work with iCal?!) I think the rest of The-People-Who-Pay-The-Bills think the same way: Exchange works, what’s left to innovate?

Commoditize It.

There’s not enough wood behind the payoff-arrow to make calendaring work across different systems, ubiquitous…commoditized. Indeed, I bet MS fights tooth and nail to keep it from becoming commoditized, and companies (The-People-Who-Pay-The-Bills) probably don’t care.

The best response to this is for The Others to commoditize the market just like The Others did to IM. Now-a-days, it doesn’t matter if you have Y!, MSN, ICQ (GAH! IDIOT!), SameTime, whatever: you just install a GAIM client (like Adium), and you can talk on all those networks, seamlessly (except for the horror of setting up an account on ICQ).

That’s what we want with calendaring: we can use whatever app we want and get the full-effect: Exchange, iCal, Sunbird, or some other whacky thing. To do that, some folks just need to start hacking up Exchange interfaces: you work with the incumbent for a long time, bending to it’s will. Then, when enough momentum builds up, you can start making demands on it, and then, you’ve got a de facto standard (the Exchange interface). And then, someone(s) develops a whole new app to that standard.

BLAMMO! First you latch onto the de facto standard, write clients for it, then you replicate the once incumbent technology. That seems like a plan. Then maybe we can all finally be on the same calendar page.

Re: The Big Moo(lah)

I got together enough people to make it cheap enough for me to for for Godin’s latest book, a whole box of 50 galley prints to give away.

The players so far are: Brandon, Kinman, Matt Ray, and, of course, myself…our man JP might chip in a few bucks himself. (We’re still waiting on this guy, and then it’ll be The Usual Suspects.)

I’ve got a handful people in mind of who to give them too, but if you’d like an advance copy of The Big Moo, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do.

Blocking Honest People

Speaking of people being annoying with the Web 2.0 stuff, flickr has introduced the idea of “blocking” other flickr users from doing stuff with your photos: see the 30th July, 2005 entry in Flickr news (no <a name/> tags to link to).

What’s interesting about this feature is that it only works if the person is logged in to their flickr account. I suspect that if they’re either logged out of the account, or (of course), if they start up a new account, they’ll be able to much with your fotes full force.

So, if you really wanted to fuck with someone, you could get around this blocking stuff. This doesn’t mean that blocking is broken, per say, and it doesn’t infect other key features, e.g., you still have to be logged in to do things like add tags to other people’s photos.

Bobby-Jo’s Soppy Head

What’s interesting to me here is the question: does the blocked user value their flickr identity enough that this blocking feature would work?

That is, let’s say I’m a disgruntled ex-boyfriend who, until that big fight last night, was marked as a “friend” of sweet, sweet Bobby-Jo’s in flickr. Now, being an asshole, I want to go to each of Bobby-Jo’s pictures (esp. those of me and her together! yeah!), and add in notes that say things like, “check out the fat-head on Bobby-Jo!” or comments like, “my grandmother’s bacon grease cup has more character than your soppy head, Bobby-Jo! (Take me back! Plz advise.)”

Instead, because Bobby-Jo has blocked me, I can’t add any of these things. Now, if blocking works, I’ll have the following thought, “damn it! that mawkish-twat has blocked me! I only have this one identity on flickr, and there’s no way or reason I can switch it or use another one! The state of being that person is too valuable to me, even when I want to go graffiti up sweet, sweet Bobby-Jo’s fotes.”

The Identity Roach Motel

That is, it’s an interesting study of using roach-motel lock-in, via identity, to control an online user’s behavior. In this case, the flickr identity of the above asshole, is so valuable, that they only want to take on/use that identity online. So, you can use that fact to derive feature implementations, like this blocking business.

Whether it’ll work: we’ll see. It certainly works (?), on the classic example of this identity-lockin, eBay.

The Big Moo(lah)

I’m a measurable Seth Godin nut. So, I’m pretty interested in getting into this weird book marketing trick he’s doing. Problem is, it coss a $100. That’s quite a lot. A little too much for my fun-spending. (For a non-Apple product, that is ;>)

Is anyone interested in going in on it with me. If my cut of the price got down to $20, or even $30, it’d be no problem, and we’d have a box of 50 books, in advance, to give to people and try out all that idea virus, markets-are-networks suff.

Anyone? Anyone?

Re: Tags Suck

I agree completely: technorati tags suck*.

On the other hand, you’d have to pry my del.icio.us tags out of my cold dead hands, after a long drawn out fight, followed by many attempts on my part to run away with my tags intact. I love those things! And I use them all the time. You’d also have to pry Google and Spotlight (which I use to search my mail on OS X) away from my cold dead hands.

I don’t buy that you only need really good, unstructured search. Or, that you only need tags. You need (or, “I want”) both. Sometimes I want to search, sometimes I want to browse (by tags).

Now, sure, if you were to tell me, “but Coté, right now you we have search technology that will take any URL, and generate the same tags you would have applied to them! You can still look things up by tag, there’s just no need for you to type them in!”

Then I’d be all, “who do I write my check to? Do you accept Visa?”

(…or maybe not.)

Action Tags

Now, that’s just for taxonomizing things. I also use tags for other things like: rating stuff, telling myself that this URL is to_read, pushing URLs onto other people, and other stuff, like an easy way to create a filtered list of systems management stuff that Feedburner can suck into my oh-so-exciting Systems Management and Monitoring feed.

Thlinking

The other thing I try to do with tags, and want other people to do, is use them to express my thoughts (or theirs) and intentions about something. It’s a short way to label something with a tag that describes what I think about the subject of the URL. I love that kind of semantic thing: an RSS feed of people’s thoughts…in a sort of half-ass way. Someone(s) call this “Thlinking”.

Overloaded

In short, I overload tags as much as possible. They’re good for ad hob to do lists, for establishing network links between me and others, as a good enough web service for tying together content across different CM’s of mine, etc.

This use of tags probably wasn’t intended by the original idea, but it’s supra-powerful. With all the categorization and rationalization data-store, content-management-y things out there — CMDBs in my 9-5 domain — I and others (that I hang out with in my little echo chamber) look at tags and we think: “oh, that’s how I can stuff my data into something.”

Spammers

Yeah, you’ve still got all the spammers if you move outside your “namespace” (in most of the cases above, my del.icio.us or flickr tag clouds). I won’t deny this fact at all.

But, I really don’t care too much about spammers. People get all worked up about them, but I’ve never had the thought “damn those spammers!” I just delete their email, or fix my wiki pages when they fuck them over. Maybe it’s just my general nature of being glib and aloof (which, I understand, some find to be a major character
flaw), but I just figure it’s the cost of doing business.

On the other hand, spammers (and those dumb-asses with their never-ending questions where they should just RTFM or read the FAQ! Whew…calm down…) destroyed USEnet. Tragic!

Tags Rulez the Schoolz!

So, yeah, if we wanted to replace search with tags, I’d be upset. If we wanted to get rid of tags, I’d be equally upset. And, blindly aggregating tags only “works” (has more signal than noise) when The Evil Doers can’t profit from gaming the system.

But I sure do loves me some tags!

(* OK, technorati tags don’t “suck” as in “someone should wipe that code off the face of the earth! It’s terrible!” They just “suck” in the geek sense, i.e., “man, what a good idea! I wish it did more! I want MORE!”)