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Dec 13, 2008

Web 3.0 Has Arrived - Cloud Computing, Web Services, Microformats, Semantic Web, and Mashup Demystified

Despite the plethora of acronyms that confuse - and an aweful economy, the reality is that Web 3.0 has arrived. 

Let's simplify.

Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0

I've been involved with the Internet since 1968, at MIT, through the Multics project. The new Internet emerged in 1992 when HTTP, HTML and early browsers first emerged. I developed one of the first JSON projects in 2001. Despite the many possible definitions of web history, let's simplify the progress.
  • Web 1.0 used servers to host pages and intelligence. Browser software had little intelligence. Users benefit from easy access.
  • Web 2.0 transferred knowledge from servers to intelligent browsers that managed the presentation. Acronyms like AJAX, JSON, XML, and others described data transfer and control protocols. Users benefit from more interesting and varied user experiences.
  • Web 3.0 allows integration of data from many servers to the intelligent browser. Users will begin to see new services - that are no longer restricted to the content of one server provider.
Server-centric, client-centric, to multi-server integration - that's the gist of web progress.

Free Services Supporting Web 3.0

Thousands of services have emerged to support web 3.0. The trend is toward free services.
  • Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have opened their search robots for use by applications. This includes the treasure trove of pages, images, videos, music, and other data that are scanned by their army of robots and stored in their databases.
  • Microformats define information about people, companies, events, reviews, locations, and other structured data. Data is no longer locked into a database. It's available as data hidden in pages that robots can understand, extract, and process. Semantic web - it's the intelligent inference to deliver more value to users at websites.
  • Opensocial attempts to open the information about people, friends, and photos - locked behind garden-wall environments like FriendFeed, Myspace, and LinkedIn - available for use on any website. 
  • Other projects attempt to open databases of product information - stored at Amazon, eBay, and other locations - for use in web 3.0 websites.
  • Cloud computing offers services such that site creators no longer need computers as servers, databases to hold content, and sites to hold pages. Services such as Youtube host video, FlickR or Picasa hosts images, and Blogger or Wordpress hosts pages. All the parts needed for a web 3.0 website reside with various public providers. RSS feeds, a simplified web service, are the public transport for moving data from one server to the browser.
Where's the Web 3.0 Challenge?

The challenge for web 3.0 development is the overwhelming wealth of options - too much data, too many services, and too many options to consume. We're drowing in the plethora of sources.

This also defines the opportunity. Hundreds of language groups, thousands of topics, and hundreds of services - millions of niche communities can be better served. 

The crucial need is integration glue - what the industry calls mashups. Mashups include the software and expertise that access the available services and make it simple for users to deploy new websites. Unfortunately, those with enterprise integration experience know that integration can be the most expensive part of the puzzle. 

Fortunately, universities are graduating thousands of students who have the expertise to mashup websites and services.

Early Web 3.0 Services

Today, we see the rapid emergence of early web 3.0 services, both for desktops and mobile devices. Developers need little equipment, development tools, or capital - just energy and creative thinking. 

Are we headed to a recession? or a new renaissance of creativity? 

What do you think?

NOTE: MIT students build mobile applications in 13 weeks

Ed: Lessons learned.
  • Innovation is personal - guided by business realities.
  • One motivated MIT student is more productive than 100 politically-strapped enterprise workers.
  • Released into the wild, an enterprise worker can be 100 fold more productive.
  • There are no capital barriers to web innovation. Venture funding is not required.
What do you think?

MIT students build mobile applications in 13 weeks

MI 030

MIT professor Hal Abelson started today’s final presentation for the school’s “Building Mobile Applications” class by saying, “A course like this couldn’t have existed ten years ago… maybe not even a year ago. Courses like this right now are unique, but in two years they’ll be completely ordinary.”

What’s extraordinary is that on top of a full college course-load at one of the most challenging schools in the country, these groups of students built fully working mobile applications for Windows Mobile, Android, and Symbian devices while mentors from the likes of Google, Nokia, Bank of America, and Microsoft oversaw their progress.

Here are the ten applications that were presented today. Some of them might remain as small-scale projects, while others are full-blown, robust applications that have already undergone serious development and are poised to enter the marketplace..

Dec 11, 2008

Revamped "Festival Preview" Serves Value-Minded Music Festival Attendees With Online Festival Guide for 2009

Revamped "Festival Preview" Serves Value-Minded Music Festival Attendees With Online Festival Guide for 2009

Top music festival directory and blog is updated with rich profiles of more than 1000 festivals, regional navigation and more; Publisher forecasts resilient festival market despite economic downturn.

Piedmont CA (PRWEB) December 11, 2008 -- Festival Preview has rolled out new capabilities to help festival-goers make the most of their entertainment dollars during tough economic times, according to Daniel Ruby, publisher of the comprehensive directory and group blog covering all music festivals in North America.

News Image

 Smart festival managers are tightening their belts to ride out the economic storm. But the vast majority of festivals will come off as usual next year, though many can expect to see a modest drop-off in business.
"A big weekend of fun can be a great value, a small luxury to make up for other cutbacks at a time like this," Ruby said, explaining that a one-time ticket purchase covers three or four days of entertainment and as many as three dozen acts.

Local and regional festivals may be in the best position to benefit from this new environment. "As people cut back on travel, they will be looking more intensively in their own backyards," Ruby said. Festival Preview's guidebook-style festival listings, including lineups, amenities, special features, e-commerce links and more, was designed to be especially helpful to the festival-goer comparing a variety of live music events.

The freshly updated and revamped Festival Preview (http://www.festivalpreview.com) now lists more than 1000 music festivals, including almost 600 with confirmed dates for 2009 and many late-season festivals that have yet to announce. Each festival has a unique page with a detailed basic listing. Upgraded listings for top-tier and participating festivals include additional multimedia features.

The comprehensive database and rich detail pages are among the new features of Festival Preview that will appeal to budget-minded festival-goers seeking musical escape and adventure in leaner economic times. The site also introduced a geographical capability that allows users to access content by any of 19 North American regions in addition to five top-level music genre categories. The blog, directory and news aggregation functions of the site are integrated in a new, highly visual design and built on a robust publishing platform...

CLIP: WiFi ad network JiWire raises $11.1M


JiWire, a San Francisco WiFi advertising network, has raised $11.1 million in a second round of funding, according to Private Equity Hub, citing a regulatory filing. It has also sold another $1.53 million in warrants, which can be converted to stock. Comcast Interactive Capital joined the round as a new investor.

CLIP: Reed Business Auction: The Bungled Process, And the Possible Next Steps


So now that the closely watched auction process for Reed Business is off, what's the post-mortem, and what are the next steps? For starters, it is a horribly depressing environment within the company right now. It isn't pretty to not be wanted by your parent company, and be paraded by Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) management over the last year as the division that doesn't have a long-term future. Secondly, this was a "horribly bungled" auction process, as one source close to the process told me, from the way it was declared that the division was for sale, to disagreements over whether to sell it in one piece, or along geographical or divisional lines, to how long it took UBS to get the book out, to the arrangement of staple financing, to the departure of RBI global CEO Gerard van de Aast, to disagreements over whether the parent should keep stake in RBI, to well, the worst timing in the history of such processes. Likely that the $1.2 billion in staple financing in the end proved to be the undoing, as financing commitments from the six banks would have proved much harder to materialize.

The next steps? Reed Elsevier says it will sell off RBI in the next two to three years after the macro-environment improves. What happens to RBI, now run out of UK by Keith Jones, in the interim? Likely major job cuts, including in the U.S., and closure of some magazines/divisions within it. Then after this holiday season, expect some piecemeal bids for divisions within RBI: for instance, expect someone like Strauss Zelnick to want to own the high-profile Variety, which comes under media division...hence a possible bid for that division. His company was part of the Apollo consortium that dropped out late in the process. Then RBI's construction trade division could get some bids from the likes of Hanley Wood or McGraw Hill. And possibly UBM to come in and bid for the electronics titles. Also, expect some senior RBI management to think of other options, and possibly leave (the RBI site needs to be updated, by the way).

Meanwhile, Variety's still celebrating, incredibly, despite its recent layoffs. It has recently moved into a new, more expensive building, at 5900 Wilshire, and later tonight the new building developer Ratkovich Company will celebrate the completed move by "flipping the switch" to light the Variety red logo atop the 31-story tower for the first time, at 6:01 p.m. PST. RBI leased about 55,000 sq. ft. of space at the new building, with more than 200 employees, will occupy the top three floors there.Again, timing matters...


CBS Interactive To Merge CBSNews.com and CNET Newsrooms; Some Layoffs

CBS To Merge CNET, CBSNews.com Newsrooms (CBS)

from Silicon Alley Insider by 

cbs-cnet.jpgCBS (CBS) finally found redunancies between CBS Interactive and $1.8 billion acquisition CNET and will today announce it's merging the CBSNews.com and CNET newsrooms.

Paidcontent says there will be layoffs, but doesn't have a number.

Ealier this week, we learned CNET exec Mickey Wilson will take the top marketing seat in the combined company, pushing out CBS Interactive's former CMO Patrick Keane.

On Wednesday, CBS topper Les Moonves said that though CNET and CBS Interactive will earn $1 billion in revenues by 2010, he wouldn't do the deal again today.

'The CNET deal was in May. Life was very different," Moonves told a conference audience. "We would not be doing that acquisition today.'

CBS Interactive To Merge CBSNews.com and CNET Newsrooms; Some Layoffs


imageCBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS), under pressure to cut costs after what now seems like an even more costly acquisition of CNET, is announcing some more restructuring tomorrow, we have learned from reliable sources late tonight, and as part of it, will be merging CBSNews.com and CNET newsrooms. Not clear: if it is merging the two main websites CBSNews.com and News.com. As a result of this merger, there will also be some layoffs, but we couldn't figure out the extent of those.

CBSNews.com did do some layoffs a year ago, slicing its staff by 15-20 employees, roughly 30 percent, among other smaller cuts. The CBSNews.com site has been among the smallest efforts from any TV news division, and now that CNET brought with it a better online infrastructure and a great domain name with News.com, likely they will finally capitalize on it and broaden the mandate beyond tech...

Tumblr Pulls In $4.5 Million In Funding, Puts Out Premium Services


Tumblr_logoBack in the summer, Union Square Ventures invested in a small financing for Tumblr along with some of our friends.

We didn't blog about it because David Karp, the almost one man band behind Tumblr, has something new coming soon and he ideally wanted to announce everything to the world on the same day. Unfortunately when you make filings with the SEC, they get disclosed to the public and word leaks out. Which is what happened last week.

So what is Tumblr? It's the next logical step in the blogging phenomenon. It allows you to blog quickly, easily, from your phone or your computer, it encourages reblogging and pulling content in from twitter, typepad, wordpress, blogger, flickr, delicious, last.fm, etc, etc.

I have a tumblog at fredwilson.vc which you may want to read instead of this one. You'll get the same content there (or more) than you get on this blog.

Here are some more tumblogs that I like:

Bijan Sabet

Jakob Lodwick
Kevin Rose
Andrew Parker

And to highlight how much Andrew likes Tumblr, we asked him to write the Union Square Ventures blog post announcing the financing. Clearly it's a bit anti-climactic since everyone found out about this deal last week. But Andrew does a great job explaining why we like Tumblr so much and I suggest you all go read it and leave us a comment.

October 23, 2007 Venture Capital and Technology | 28 Comments

Tumblr Pulls In $4.5 Million In Funding, Puts Out Premium Services

Tumblr, one of the companies that significantly lowered the bar for starting a blog, has just raised $4.5 million in a Series B round led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, the same investors that put in $750,000 in the first round. CEO David Karp says the investment will give the startup a runway of at least two and a half years, and is introducing paid features at the same time.

Furthermore, former Time Warner technology SVP (and current CEO of Betaworks) John Borthwick is joining the board, while former CNET director John Maloney will act as the New York-based company’s President.

Tumblr serves zero ads on it pages, and generated an equal amount of dollars so far. Now, Tumblr will have premium services to make up for that, although it’s unclear what the services will be exactly. Karp did mention they were gonna be ’sexy’, so we’re moderately curious now.

In a release, Tumblr is claimed to have over 15 million monthly unique visitors, but those numbers sound a bit inflated if you ask us. ComScore measures 1.5 million global unique visitors in October, a 300 percent increase from a year ago (see chart). Nonetheless, it had great momentum from the moment it launched in 2007, and there’s still a lot of potential users out there. If they will continue to come, and if they will be able to make the company profitable, remains to be seen.

Dec 10, 2008

Brand Value of Social Media from Forrester Research

Report: Corporate Blogs Not Trusted

According to a new report by Forrester Research, corporate blogs are the least trusted information source of all. Only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs say that they trust them. You can grab a copy of this report for free by filling in a form at Forrester. The full trust scale is below, with 'Email from people you know' the most trusted at 77%.

We have some reservations about the findings of the report - and to prove our point in this post we check out a good and bad example of corporate blogging, from Dell and the Walmart blog respectively.

The report stated that regular blog readers and bloggers trust company blogs a little more, and those that trust corporate blogs are more likely to trust other media. Consumers are skeptical, says Forrester, because they view corporate blogs as unbalanced. So their advice is: if you're a company thinking of starting a blog "about your company and its products", you probably shouldn't bother. For those companies that already have blogs, Forrester says that "if your blog generates leads, links, positive reviews, buzz, or PR, it's probably worth keeping." Otherwise shut it down.

The Forrester report was noted by the Blog Council, an organization which is focused on "the business of blogging and social media at the corporate level." The council listed a number of its own member blogs which they (naturally) regard as trustworthy:



The Forrester report in the end is a little unsatisfactory. Trust has to be earned and some corporations are actively making the effort to do that. As a result, there are some corporate blogs that you trust more than others. To claim that corporate blogs are the least trustworthy information source on the planet seems unfair - and untrue in many cases. This is one instance where the stats don't tell the full story, in our view.

If you're a company wanting to find out how to do corporate blogging the right way, there are many great blogs that cover this - a couple of ones we recommend are the blogs of Debbie Weil and Jeremiah Owyang (who happens to work at Forrester and who has a post up on the report).

What do you think? Do you trust corporate blogs?

Dec 9, 2008

Walmart Could Sell 4.5 Million iPhones Next Year: Analyst (AAPL)

from Silicon Alley Insider by 

iphone-3g-duo.jpgHow big is Apple's (AAPL) reported deal to sell its iPhones at Walmart (WMT) stores? Pretty big, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says in a report today -- big enough that Walmart could sell as many iPhones next year as Apple's retail stores do.

Munster's estimate is still based on his very bullish prediction that Apple will sell 45 million iPhones next year, which is partly based on Apple expanding their iPhone line to more products than they currently sell, including cheaper iPhones. So consider this hypothetical.

He thinks Apple will sell 30% of those iPhones -- 13.5 million -- in the U.S., and about one third of those -- 4.5 million -- at Apple's 208 retail stores. For Walmart's 3,500 stores to reach that sales level -- also 4.5 million iPhones -- they'd each have to sell 6% of each Apple store's total volume, which he thinks is "achievable."

Munster notes that he's not jacking his 2009 iPhone sales guess from 45 million because new distribution deals like Walmart are already baked into his estimates. But he thinks Street numbers don't "accurately reflect the potential impact from Walmart stores on iPhone sales in CY09."

How about that $99 rumored iPhone at Walmart? Unlikely, Munster says. (We agree, but think it'd be a smart idea anyway.) But he does expect Apple to include a lower-priced iPhone next year -- as do we -- perhaps $99, which we think would significantly boost Apple's iPhone sales.

See Also:
Is The iPhone Apple's Key To The Living Room?
Wal-Mart Will Sell iPhones In December
Estimating Apple iPhone App Sales So Far: $50-$100 Million In Revenue

Dec 8, 2008

Did a Google AdSense Maintenace Phase Kill My Income?

Many webmasters have been complaining this past weekend about poor income earnings on Google AdSense. The mentality is that there are "terrible stats" and that the earnings are "ridiculous." Complaints range from "maybe the AdSense era is finished for me" and "soon, I'll be owing Google money from the poor return." And the timing is suspicious because we are in the midst of a holiday shopping period--regardless of the economy, earnings shouldn't be so low.

One individual has expressed sentiment that the Internet is a fad that's wearing off. That thought is repeated from a user who says that his behavior has definitely changed from when he started surfing in the beginning.

The world economy is bad, the net is maturing, people are out Christmas shopping, and my main sites cater to unnecessary travel - a real luxury at the moment that many will not even be thinking about.

I'm not over optimistic about 2009 either but think that things will start to get better in 2010.

On the other hand, maybe there's no economic correlation at all to this issue. It was suspected that maintenance may be the reason for poor earnings. n Barry's post about AdSense ads being served through DoubleClick tracking, it's thought that the maintenance was related to DoubleClick and hence the AdSense earnings are down. Maybe this is related to the new tracking tools DoubleClick can give advertisers -- or maybe not. This is not suggested in the particular thread I highlighted but it is mentioned in another WebmasterWorld thread.

Ed: Blind men and the elephant.

Holiday E-Commerce Season Sales Finally Match Last Year as Two Workdays this Past Week Each Surpass $800 Million in Online Spending

Sales Since Cyber Monday Up 9 Percent Versus Year Ago


RESTON, VA, December 7, 2008 – comScore (NASDAQ : SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today reported its tracking of holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 35 days of the November – December 2008 holiday season. For the holiday season through December 5, $14.92 billion has been spent online, essentially the same level compared to the corresponding days last year. For the five days beginning with December 1 (Cyber Monday), the kick-off to the heaviest part of the online shopping season, sales totaled $3.74 billion, up 9 percent versus year ago. Two individual days in the past week achieved more than $800 million in online spending: Monday, December 1 (“Cyber Monday”) with $846 million, and Tuesday, December 2 with $823 million.


2008 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2007

Non-Travel (Retail) Spending

Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore, Inc.


Holiday Season to Date

Millions ($)



Pct Change

November 1 – December 5




Dec .1 (Cyber Monday) – Dec. 5




*Corresponding days based on equivalent shopping days relative to Thanksgiving (October 27 – November 30, 2007)


“The online holiday shopping season has picked up noticeably since Thanksgiving as consumers have given in to the holiday spirit – and very attractive retailer discounts,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Particularly encouraging is the growth of 9 percent in online sales that has occurred since Cyber Monday. While this growth is certainly a positive development in this tough retail season, it also needs to be put into perspective. With the compressed time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year – five days shorter than last year – we need to see continued strong growth during the critical weeks between today and Christmas if this year’s shopping season is to at least match that of last year.”


Top Performing Retail Categories Since Cyber Monday

The fastest growing product categories during the period from December 1 through December 5 were Sport & Fitness (up 35 percent) and Consumer Electronics (up 24 percent), which saw sales surge as a result of significant price reductions on many items, including flat panel TVs. Apparel & Accessories, the second largest retail category in terms of dollar sales (after Computer Hardware) during this period, also experienced strong gains (up 16 percent). The softest retail categories include Music, Movies & Videos (down 24 percent) and Jewelry & Watches (down 22 percent).


Growth in Retail E-Commerce Categories by Dollar Sales Since Cyber Monday

Non-Travel (Retail) Spending

Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases

Dec. 1- Dec. 5, 2008 vs. Corresponding Shopping Days in 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore, Inc.

Retail Category

Y/Y Percent Change in Category Sales ($)

Sport & Fitness


Consumer Electronics


Apparel & Accessories




Books & Magazines


Video Games, Consoles & Accessories


Computer Hardware


Home, Garden & Furniture


Flowers, Greetings & Gifts


Jewelry & Watches


Music, Movies & Videos



Visitors to Top Retailer Sites Since Cyber Monday

During the five-day period since Cyber Monday, traffic to the retail site category is up 2 percent versus year ago, with many sites drawing a substantial number of visitors. eBay topped the list with 36 million unique visitors, while three of the top ten retailer sites saw gains versus year ago: Amazon Sites (up 10 percent), Wal-Mart (up 7 percent), and Apple Inc. (up 29 percent).


Visitor Growth at Top Retailer Sites

Dec. 1- Dec. 5, 2008 vs. Corresponding Shopping Days in 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore, Inc.


Unique Visitors (000)



Percent Change

Retail Site Category








Amazon Sites








Target Corporation




Apple Inc.




Best Buy Sites




JCPenney Sites








Toysrus Sites









comScore’s Summary of  2008 Holiday Online Retail Spending by Key Time Period

Online Non-Travel (Retail) Holiday Consumer Spending

Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore, Inc.


Millions ($)



Pct Change

January – October




comScore Holiday Season Forecast (Nov-Dec)




November 27 (Thanksgiving Day)*




November 28 (Black Friday)*




December 1 (Cyber Monday)*




* Versus Corresponding Shopping Day in 2007 Relative to Thanksgiving



About comScore

comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital marketing intelligence. For more information, please visit www.comscore.com/boilerplate.

Race is on for hot holiday products

Every holiday season we comb through our search data to find the season’s most popular products. Some are recurring favorites – like Ugg boots (much to my chagrin) and the Wii, but to help mix up the wish lists some new entrants swing through each year and for 2008 it isBakugan. These popular toys are based upon a Japanese anime television series Bakugan Battle Brawlers, using metal cards and round, magnetic miniature figures that spring open to fight. Over the past 5 weeks, searches on ‘bakugan’ have been driving increased traffic to the Shopping & Classifieds category as holiday buyers seek out the much-desired toy.

bakugan searches.png

Scarcity seems to make the heart grow fonder, so the demand for hot products always translates into searches to locate any retailers that may have the product in stock. The Wii game console has been the holiday challenge over the past few seasons and now the Wii Fit game has also become a hot commodity, with both appearing among the top 10 ‘in-stock’ searches.

In-stock searches.png

Variations of the Bakugan toys have also started appear in the ‘in stock’ searches, so we may see them follow the path of the Wii (although no Bakugan Finder websites just yet). Now is a good time for retailers with inventory of Bakugan toys to exploit their availability & capture sales. Don't worry, if your feet are cold, Ugg boots are still in-demand, with plenty of supply.

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