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Dec 27, 2008

CLIP: USA Today Will Be Sold On Amazon's Kindle

Gannett (NYSE: GCI) flagship USA Today is the latest paper to be sold through Amazon's Kindle. The top-selling U.S. paper has yet to show up in the Kindle Store but Amazon told Kindle subscribers on Christmas morning that they'll be able to download the Dec. 26 edition for free. USA Today, which doesn't publish on holidays, only offers weekday editions so the first issue for sale will be Dec. 29.  We're checking on the subscription and single-issue prices. Single Kindle copies tend to go for 75 cents while monthly costs vary: the New York Times, published daily, is $13.99 a month, while the Wall Street Journal (six days) and the Washington Post (daily) run $9.99. Publishers get the bulk of the revenue share with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). Update: USAT is $11.99 a month.

Often requested by Kindle users, USAT is only the 21st U.S. paper and the 28th paper overall to show up in the device store. Some publishers, including the NYT, have talked about their surprise at the service's success but it's hard to gauge just how meaningful that it. Amazon also has received considerable publicity from the likes of Martha Stewart raving about reading the Wall Street Journal on her Kindle (no ink to rub off) and others who talk about substituting print editions for Kindle subscriptions. (I don't subscribe to any Kindle newspaper editions, preferring to keep my print subscriptions and download single issues while traveling.)

Kindle launched in November 2007 in time for the holidays but what should have been a breakout season for sales this year has been hampered by recurring supply problems credited, in part, to a popularity boost from an endorsement by Oprah Winfrey and a discount through her show. New models at $359 are currently out of stock at Amazon, with shipping estimated in 8-10 weeks; refurbished models are available sporadically. Amazon is encouraging would-be owners to sign up now to get a place in line when delivery resumes. The company doesn't release the actual number of units soldPublish Post or the volume of Kindle content sales.

Top five newspapers on Kindle sorted by bestsellingNYTWSJWaPoFinancial TimesChicago Tribune.

CLIP: The top 20 game stories of 2008

2008 has been a big year for the games market. Game sales soared to new heights this year and resisted the onset of the recession. Here’s a recap of our biggest game-market stories this year (including some links for related stories) for those of you who may have missed them:

1. The Nintendo Wii broke all sales records and expanded the market for gaming beyond nerds. The Wii tapped into a need to play more casual and social games. We had a Q&A with Nintendo of America’s president, Reggie Fils-Aime, about the phenomenon.

2. The industry hit a record $22 billion in the midst of a recession. A census estimates there are 44,400 people working in the U.S. game industry.

3. The iPhone emerged as a game platform. With companies such as Ngmoco making iPhone-only games, the market took off. Thousands of games are now available on Apple’s App Store.

4. Activision closed its merger with Vivendi Games, which included the crown jewel Blizzard Entertainment, maker of World of Warcraft. In post-merger life, the crown jewel was left to operate as its own independent company.

5. VentureBeat uncovered the behind-the-scenes story of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death hardware failure. Microsoft fired the game tester who talked to Venturebeat.

6. Electronic Arts struck out with its holiday line-up. Spore disappointed, and EA was forced to lay off 10 percent of its staff.

7. Both Microsoft and Sony tried to make console games into a more social experience. Sony launched Home virtual world for PlayStation 3, while Microsoft debuted its new Xbox Experience including movies from Netflix. Sony was able to get a bunch of partners to launch inside Home, but users overwhelmed Home in its early days.

8. Electronic Arts courted Take-Two Interactive with a $2 billion hostile takeover bid, but the maker of Grand Theft Auto IV wanted a higher price and the companies gave up on merger talks.

9. Microsoft cut console prices, finally addressed Red Ring of Death with Jasper-based models of the Xbox 360.

10. Advanced Micro Devices took leadership in graphics chips back from Nvidia. It did so by shooting for the sweet spot of the market. Previously, Nvidia owned the gamer market. But now the tables have turned.

11. World of Warcraft expansion pack Wrath of the Lich King sold 2.8 million units in 24 hours.

12. Google launched, then buried, Lively virtual spaces. But it got off the ground with in-game advertising.

13. The redesigned E3 trade show — once a signature extravaganza that drew 80,000 people — was a train wreck, drawing only a few thousand underwhelmed media and business people. Afterward, the game industry vowed to bring the old show back.

14. Music video games overtook sports games, thanks to Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises.

15. Nintendo DS ran away with the portable market, outselling the PlayStation Portable by two to one. Then Nintendo announced the DSi improved version of its handheld.

16. Grand Theft Auto IV sold 10 million copies, despite the criticism of anti-violence critics. The biggest game industry critic Jack Thompson was disbarred for unprofessional conduct.

17. Scrabble clone Scrabulous took off on Facebook, Hasbro sued, the game was shut down and the replacement Scrabble tanks.

18. Wii Fit broadened the video game audience and brought the exercise genre — which had been just a niche in the past — to mainstream audiences.

19. Funware — the use of game mechanics in non-game applications — expanded the game industry’s reach beyond games.

20. YouTube became a huge channel for game marketing.

Please check out our link to VentureBeat’s inaugural game conference, GamesBeat 09, on March 24.

A Wii Christmas: Console Finally Gets VOD; Pumps Up Amazon's Holiday Sales

Two news bits about the Nintendo Wii snuck out during yesterday's Christmas Day lull: Nintendo announced that the Wii would finally be getting video downloads, and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) said that the console topped its holiday best-seller list.

Nintendo teams with Dentsu for Wii video service : Nintendo has partnered with Japanese ad agency Dentsu to roll out a video distribution service on the Wii. Reuters says the service will offer both free (ad-supported) and subscription-based shows, though no specific series were named. NewTeeVee reports that the VOD feature, tentatively named the Wiinoma Channel, may not appeal to console owners that have become accustomed to broad show libraries: as it stands, the Wii won't be used to access third-party content over the Web, just the clips that Nintendo approves.

There also weren't any details about when the service would be available outside of Japan, though it's in Nintendo's best interest to scale it out globally at some point. The company has sold roughly 34.6 million Wiis worldwide, and just 7 million of those units were sold in Japan (per Gamespot)—compared to 13.4 million in the U.S. alone.

Wii fuels Amazon's "best ever" holiday sales : What recession? Online shoppers helped Amazon rake in its best holiday sales season in 14 years—with nearly 73 items ordered per second on Dec 15, its peak day—per a company press release. Amazon called out the Wii specifically in terms of its holiday success, saying: "the Nintendo Wii dominated the top sellers in video games and hardware including the Wii console, the Wii remote controller and the Wii nunchuk controller."

Dec 25, 2008

5 Hints for Personal Productivity Using the Internet

Happy Holidays. Here is my updated, email signature:

Connect! Strength through growth. 
 tEarn Exitmercial (http://tEarn.com

Social media strategist:  
Hundreds of friends have asked how I keep up with so many projects. The answer is productive use of the Internet. Here are the key aspects.

Social Networks

Use social networks as your secretaries. The networks automate tracking of friends, emails, phone numbers, and status changes. Christmas cards become a simple post to all friends. 

Conversely, use blogs and feeds to keep your friends informed about your progress. 

For boomer friends, get over the privacy concern. Join networks, connect with friends, and save time to focus on important themes. 

RSS Feeds and Readers

It's simple to do. When you see the orange icon on a worthy site, click and choose your RSS reader. Content flows from the site to your RSS reader.

If the feed produces garbage, it's easy to stop the subscription. 

I use My Yahoo, iGoogle, and Google Reader - with no specific preference for any of the formats. Each allows scanning of interesting headlines, reading clips, and drilling down to more details. In a typical day, I scan thousands of articles by subject, read hundreds, and clip dozens where I've learned something new. Also, I clip content that substantiates or refutes a current personal project or theme.

I've experimented with Twitter and Friendfeed. Lifestreaming seems like a hula-hoop - too extreme and distracting for my personal productivity. That's just a personal opinion. For certain clients, these services can produce huge value. 

Team Up with Worthy Partners

Dozens of partners work together for mutual benefit. For each substantial project, one or more partners work together to start, maintain, and expand the project. 

Leveraging the ideas, execution, and connections of partners expands personal reach. 

The chinese fable says, "you can break a chopstick, but not a bundle of chopsticks." Already, cross pollination of talents have targeted bigger and better projects. 

Stay Flexible

My signature changes every month. New ideas lead to new projects. 

The Internet changes rapidly. Even leaders like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and eBay are constantly reinventing themselves. If they succeed, they stay  in the lead. If they fail, like Yahoo, Microsoft, and eBay - they lose market share. 

These changes imply that slow-adapting enterprises and businesses need help. Web 1.0 commerce sites look old, unfashionable, and unappetizing to the massive wave of Internet users. Web 2.0 is everywhere - except enterprise sites - but we're moving on to web 3.0.

Create IP to Protect and Automate

My unique strength is to quickly convert ideas into solution platforms. Platforms produce solutions that scale across millions of sites, not just for one client or one project. 

For example, Flash animators create interesting pages, but they don't scale. The Flash platform itself scales well. 

Content management, social media, or advertising networks - these are the 3 key themes for web 3.0; and our library of IP is growing rapidly for each theme.

Does This Work?

Our collective projects reach over 1 million UU per month. It's been doubling every quarter. The growth could accelerate. 

Cloud computing, RSS integration, microformats, semantic web, and mash-ups - drop the acronyms. Web 3.0 has arrived and we're having fun.

Suggest your ideas. Tell us why we should become partners. Let's get to work.

CLIP: Kids and teens have pushed at least 6 immersive online worlds to over 2m UU/mth in the US

Ed: Exludes casual gaming at Yahoo Games, Facebook, and Microsoft Live.

April 23, 2007Posted by jeremyliew 

Wagner James Au has a great post on GigaOm about GaiaGaia is a casual immersive MMORPG that describes itself as:

“The world’s fastest growing online world hangout for teens.”

In an interview with Gaia’s CEO, Craig Sherman, he quotes that Gaia has gone from 0.5m unique users/month midway through last year to 2.5m UU/mth last month. (nb Comscore only has them at 700k UU/mth in March). Furthermore, he claims 300k users log in each day for an average of 2 hours per session, and in their forums area they are getting an average of 1m posts per day for a total of over 1 billion posts so far. And its mostly (85%) US traffic. Impressive stats. Gaia has been pretty quiet about its growth until recently, but Susan Wuwas finally able to get them to break their silence by getting Craig to speak at her panel at Web2.0 Expo last week.

Casual immersive worlds have not previously been as popular in the US as they have been in Europe (Habbo Hotel) or Asia (Cyworld). ( I draw a distinction between casual immersive worlds and games such as Runescape and World of Warcraft). Even press darling Second Life, currently reporting 1.7m log-ins in the last 60 days, is lagging Gaia’s usage.

Interestingly enough, Gaia isn’t the only casual immersive world that is getting meaningful usage in the US. The original casual immersive world, Neopets, is still going strong, with 4.2m UU/mth in March according to Comscore.

Neopets® is the greatest Virtual Pet Site on the Internet. With your help, we have built a community of over 70 million virtual pet owners across the world! Neopets has many things to offer including over 160 games, trading, auctions, greetings, messaging, and much much more. Best of all, it’s completely FREE!

Club Penguin, who Susan also got to speak for the first time on her panel at web2.0 expo, is also growing like crazy - 4.1m UU/mth in March.

Club Penguin is a kid-friendly virtual world where children can play games, have fun and interact with each other.

* Kid-friendly chat
* Lots of fun games
* Nothing to download
* Lots more!

Webkinz, who I mentioned last week as one of the few sites getting their users to visit more than 10 times per month, is also at 4.1m UU/mth.

Webkinz pets are lovable plush pets that each come with a unique Secret Code. With it, you enter Webkinz World where you care for your virtual pet, answer trivia, earn KinzCash, and play the best kids games on the net!

And a dark horse entrant that I was unaware of until recently - Millsberry, run by General Mills (the manufacturer of cereals), is getting 2.2m UU/mth.

Millsberry is a fun virtual city for you to explore. You create a citizen of the city and discover Millsberry through his eyes. You’ll need to make sure he takes care of himself, so you’ll need to get food (from the shopping area) and make sure he exercises (by playing games), but you’ll also get to go on adventures, solve mysteries and have all kinds of fun while visiting Millsberry!

Even Lego has announced its plans to release a casual immersive world in 2008

These worlds are all exploring different business models. Some are mainly ad supported (Neopets, and effectively Millsberry), others rely on subscriptions (Club Penguin) that deliver certain privileges, and others rely on transactions, either in the real world (Webkinz) or for digital goods (Habbo HotelGaia.

Its worth noting that all of these are websites with no download required. This has likely helped them grow more quickly than other casual immersive worlds such as Second Life and IMVU, which are also growing fast, but not as fast.

One can’t help but notice that all of these immersive online worlds are targeted at kids and teens. If demographics are destiny, then we can expect more and more people to interact with each other in casual immersive worlds over the next few years. Susan Wu thinks so too, and her prediction about web 3.0 (are we there already?) is that it will be:

continuing down this path of improving the user experience of living and socializing online. This story is about human context, social proximity, and a sense of place.

I think she is right. What are your thoughts?

UPDATE, April 26th, 2007: Barbie is now also getting in on the action withBarbie Girls.

UPDATE, April 29th, 2007: Techcrunch reports that IAC’s Zwinky is also launching a casual immersive world. In this case, they are also employing a different business model than the other virtual worlds as the toolbar that enables much of the functionality includes a search box and will be usable both when the user is and is not “in world”. Note that the search box occurs to the LEFT of the URL box… This tactic worked great for previous IAC products such as Smiley Central and Cursor Mania.

Dec 24, 2008

CLIP: A Tipping Point for Online Coupons?

By Gian Fulgoni

I’ve often wondered if and when the Internet would become a major distribution medium for cents-off coupons issued by CPG manufacturers. Sure, I realize that there are concerns about the possibility of fraud if hackers figured out some way to print millions of coupons and some unscrupulous retailer tried to submit them for redemption. But, since the gang-clipping of coupons from newspapers appears to have been stymied, I figured that it was just a matter of time before manufacturers got to the point where they felt comfortable using the Internet. Today, I’m wondering if we’ve reached that point.

To begin, here are some interesting – even remarkable -- statistics about coupons. PROMO magazine reported that CPG manufacturers distributed 302 billion coupons in 2007, up 6% and representing a whopping 16 billion more coupons relative to 2006. The face value of the coupons was $387 Billion, a big increase of 16% over the $337 Billion in 2006 and representing a 9% increase in face value. Free-standing inserts in newspapers continued to lead the ways in which marketers distribute coupons (88%), followed by handouts (5%), direct mail (2%), magazines (2%), newspapers (1%), in/on-pack (1%) and the Internet (0.4%), according to NCH Marketing.

According to CMS, a promotions logistics company, the boost in value and sheer number of coupons available helped improve redemption in 2007. Consumers turned in $2.8 billion of the total $387 billion in available coupon value. That added up to 2.6 billion coupons redeemed in 2007, the first time since 1992 that redemption volume did not decline.

Economic pressures and consumer-friendly tactics combined to guarantee continued consumer and manufacturer engagement with cents-off offers in 2007. In fact, comparing coupon response to key economic indicators over time has shown a strong link between the economy and coupon redemption. Most notably, as unemployment and prices rise, coupon redemption increases. So, with today’s challenging economic conditions, I don’t think we should be surprised if coupon redemption increases again this year and next.

So, what’s been happening to the use of coupons online? Well, it certainly appears that surfing for coupons is growing in popularity. comScore’s data show that 27 million people visited coupon sites in October, up 33% from a year earlier (that’s 18% of the 148 million Americans who use any coupons in a year). The number of searches conducted using coupon terms also increased by 100% from January to September of this year. On a global basis, we saw a 42% increase in the number of pages viewed at coupon sites, so it’s certainly not just a U.S. trend...

CLIP: Animoto’s iPhone app makes instant slideshows from your junky pictures

iPhone fart app pulls in nearly $10,000 a day

Apple’s App Store is currently experiencing a plague of fart applications. Last week, I detailed one day in which at least 14 new fart apps were accepted into the store. And now, just in a quick search, it looks like there are about 50 apps all dedicated to making fart noises on your iPhone or iPod touch. Classy, I know, but why are there so many?

Because apparently there’s big money in fart apps — nearly $10,000 a day for the most popular ones.

Developer InfoMedia (Joel Comm), which makes iFart Mobile [iTunes link], has been releasing download statistics for the app each day since it launched. The $0.99 app has been in the top 100 paid apps every day since its launch, and has seen great growth. In fact, yesterday it hit thenumber one overall position with over 13,000 downloads. MacRumors ran the numbers, factoring out the 30 percent cut Apple takes from each sale, and determined that, yesterday alone, iFart Mobile made its developers $9,198.

Certainly, a part of this onslaught of fart apps is that Apple, which had previously rejected all crude apps, changed its policy to let them in. But now that they glimpse the potential for big business in fart apps, expect even more to come.

Of course, not all fart apps are going to make it to the number one paid app position, but a number of them are selling well. Personally, I prefer Pull My Finger [iTunes link], but it’s hard to argue with iFart Mobile’s icon, which simply reads “Best Fart App!”

Animoto’s iPhone app makes instant slideshows from your junky pictures

Everyone loves slideshows. You sit back and watch as the images before you help you reminisce about a past event. But why wait? Now you can make a slideshow minutes after taking photos thanks to Animoto’s new iPhone app.

You simply select between eight and 16 pictures, arrange the order you want them to show up in, pick a song and let Animoto encode a video pulling it all together. Once you’re done, you can watch the video on your iPhone (in Quicktime format), edit it or share it via email with anyone. By far the longest step in the process is the encoding, and that only takes a few minutes.

But it’s not perfect. First of all, a maximum of 16 photos is a bit low. That’s not going to cut it for say, a wedding. But then again anyone who is expecting a professional wedding slideshow made on the iPhone probably deserves some 16-shot, blurry (thanks to the iPhone’s 2 megapixel camera with no flash or autofocus) footage set to music by some band no one has ever heard of.

And that’s the second problem — despite one of the iPhone’s key features being that it holds your music, Animoto won’t let you use any of it in your slideshow. Instead, it has a collection of songs from artists I’ve never heard of. Some of the stuff isn’t bad, but for sentimental slideshows, isn’t it a requirement to at least have Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”?...

CLIP: Turning Page, E-Books Start to Take Hold - Kindle, iPhone, Jetbook, Iliad, Eslick


Published: December 23, 2008

Could book lovers finally be willing to switch from paper to pixels?

Alan Zale for The New York Times

Although Amazon will not disclose sales figures, the Kindle has at least lived up to its name by creating broad interest in electronic books.

The New York Times

For a decade, consumers mostly ignored electronic book devices, which were often hard to use and offered few popular items to read. But this year, in part because of the popularity ofAmazon.com’s wireless Kindle device, the e-book has started to take hold.

The $359 Kindle, which is slim, white and about the size of a trade paperback, was introduced a year ago. AlthoughAmazon will not disclose sales figures, the Kindle has at least lived up to its name by creating broad interest in electronic books. Now it is out of stock and unavailable until February. Analysts credit Oprah Winfrey, who praised the Kindle on her show in October, and blame Amazon for poor holiday planning.

The shortage is providing an opening for Sony, which embarked on an intense publicity campaign for its Reader device during the gift-buying season. The stepped-up competition may represent a coming of age for the entire idea of reading longer texts on a portable digital device.

“The perception is that e-books have been around for 10 years and haven’t done anything,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. “But it’s happening now. This is really starting to take off.”

Sony’s efforts have been overshadowed by Amazon’s. But this month it began a promotional blitz in airports, train stations and bookstores, with the ambitious goal of personally demonstrating the Reader to two million people by the end of the year.

The company’s latest model, the Reader 700, is a $400 device with a reading light and a touch screen that allows users to annotate what they are reading. Mr. Haber said Sony’s sales had tripled this holiday season over last, in part because the device is now available in the Target, Borders and Sam’s Club chains. He said Sony had sold more than 300,000 devices since the debut of the original Reader in 2006.

It is difficult to quantify the success of the Kindle, since Amazon will not disclose how many it has sold and analysts’ estimates vary widely. Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex Group, a book market research company, said he believed Amazon had sold as many as 260,000 units through the beginning of October, before Ms. Winfrey’s endorsement. Others say the number could be as high as a million.

Dec 23, 2008

CLIP: Project Gutenberg Releases Mobile eBooks

Project Gutenberg, the longtime home of free eBooks on the web, has just introduced a mobile-ready version of their hosted content. Called PG Mobile, or Project Gutenberg's Mobile Edition, the software transforms the plain text of the files on the Project Gutenberg web site into a format that can be read easily on mobile devices with small screens.

About PG Mobile

In case you're unfamiliar, Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort where contributors digitize, archive, and distribute cultural works. Because of copyright law and restrictions, the majority of the site's content comes from public domain books. Unbelievably, the project was created in 1971, when founder Michael Hart keyed in The United States Declaration of Independence and informed the first 100 internet users.

Given the popularity and ubiquity of mobile phones, it's somewhat surprising that Project Gutenberg didn't already have a mobile edition until now. We suppose it's better late than never, though. And considering the vast size of their catalog, any effort to transform the books into mobile formats was surely not something they took lightly.

The PG Mobile software is based on the common Java file format (JAR) readable on nearly all handsets. The mobile books are downloaded as a Java applications and can be installed either using WAP (over the air), Bluetooth, serial connection, infrared, or data cable. There's no size limit to how many you can store - you are only limited by the storage capabilities of your handset. To access these books, just visit Gutenberg.org and click on the JAR link to have the mobile book installed on your phone...

ScrollMotion Partners With Major Publishers To Turn Popular Books Into iPhone Apps

Tired of lugging around paperbacks, but don’t feel like dropping the extra change for a standalone e-book reader when you already own an iPhone? ScrollMotion has announced that they’ve partnered with Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin, Penguin Group USA and Hachette to begin selling e-books repackaged as iPhone applications, or “books-as-apps”.

Serving as the core of all of these app-books is ScrollMotion’s Iceberg Reader, which they promise provides a “natural book-like reading experience”, with pagination, cover art, adjustable text size, and margin notes.

CLIP: XBRL: Mashing up Financial Statements

Mashery: Measuring API Program Success

MasheryEditor's note: this is a "Sponsor Post", by one of our long-term sponsors. These posts are clearly labeled as such, but we also want them to be useful and interesting to our readers. We hope you like the posts and we encourage you to support our sponsors by trying out their products.

API publishing is no longer the future; it has clearly arrived. Companies from Best Buy to MTV Networks have jumped into the game, and more are taking the plunge every day. But what differentiates a successful API program from one that "never leaves the station"? ...

XBRL: Mashing up Financial Statements

Amid the dark days on Wall Street and in global markets, it seems to be up to technology to step up and deliver solid analysis and rational scrutiny. The US market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ratified a proposal on Wednesday for public companies and mutual fund companies to file their financial statements in XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language). The XML-based language is also known as "Interactive Data" in financial circles and promises faster analysis with wider coverage. All things being equal, it will mitigate the poor analysis and regulation that's been contributing to stupendously bad financial decisions.

This is a guest post by Derek Abdinor.

Companies have traditionally filed on paper, in ASCII, or in HTML: all essentially lifeless formats for conducting any meaningful comparison or analysis. With XBRL, every line item is given a tag that identifies it and its role in the financial statement. Imagine that a line item -- say, "Net Income" -- is tagged like a migrating goose (which frequently happens, I'm told). That goose is part of a flight of geese, which may change their course mid-flight, fly over national borders, have babies, and even join another flight. But thanks to the vital information on the goose's tag, we never lose the original information, and we are even able to see it in the context of other information.

Financial accounts are the same. Figures get re-purposed all over the place, which leads to input errors, or worse. It's easy to cover up information or fail to notice business risks when the analysis is relegated to a footnote somewhere, and you're reading the annual report like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.

When financial data is tagged, it's begging to get mashed up. Take a look at this comparison of executive pay, this dynamic charting, and the SEC's own repository and viewerSoftware exists that can be first used upstream with the creation of management accounts and go all the way through to taxonomy design, document tagging, and viewing. One would be able to call up income statements of two or more companies in different sectors and different countries and compare line items in seconds.

But to see XBRL simply as a means of marking up financial statements at the end of a financial reporting period is to miss the rest of the iceberg. If financial items are automatically tagged upon their creation using a system like SAP, the rich analysis can be filtered through the enterprise and to suppliers. Triggers and reports can be generated on the fly. Knowledge workers will be manipulating XBRL without knowing it by its accurate, albeit consonant-heavy, name.

XBRL, by its nature, has largely escaped the wave of Enterprise 2.0 functionality. But the openness of the data, its ability to be mashed up and displayed in previously unthought-of ways, will impress itself upon a public disillusioned with poor financial management -- management that has itself partly relied on poor data. It's time for some developer rock stars to step in and make those spreadsheets sing.

More about XBRL

Often described as being simply complex, XBRL should be approached from a technological, as well as an accounting, perspective. XBRL is simply a flavor of XML. Financial line items, totals, text, and metadata are XML elements that are mapped to a predefined schema (called a "taxonomy" in XBRL). In all cases, these taxonomies are the financial rules of accounting for that jurisdiction. Throw in XPath, XLink, and more, and you have a mature language for tagging and submitting your financials.

An introductory resource to begin with is Wikipedia, which links to the various regulatory bodies, IT initiatives, and current issues. The "XBRL in Plain English" video is specific to executive summaries.

This was a guest post by Derek Abdinor, a divisional director at motiv - the Investor and Branding agency of Ince, a large communications concern from South Africa.

Add Stock Quotes To Every Post With Upcoming Wikinvest Plugin

Financial bloggers are going to like this one. Wikinvest is getting ready to release a Livequotes plugin that automatically adds a stock quote every time a publicly traded company is mentioned in a post. It auto-detects company names and adds the ticker symbol, price, and the percent change in parentheses after the name, with links to the Wikinvest page for that stock. It also can add links for financial terms and definitions such as “PEG ratio” or “price to book.”

The plugin works on Wordpress and Blogger right now, and will launch officially in a couple weeks. But Wikinvest will give 10 TechCrunch readers early access. State in comments why your site or blog is deserving and how your would use the plugin, or email Wikinvest founder Parker Conrad (parker [at] wikinvest).

The plugin works automatically, potentially cutting out a few steps for financial bloggers who often include links to stock quotes in their posts. For ambiguous company names, there’s a backup to the auto-detect feature: simply put the desired stock quote in double brackets like [[AAPL]]. It will look like this:

But instead of just spamming your blog with a bunch of links back to Wikinvest (because, let’s be honest here, that’s what this is really all about), it adds a box inside the editing pane of Wordpress or Blogger that previews the links it will add. Any links a blogger doesn’t want can be unchecked before the post goes live.

Wikinvest will soon add support for other financial quotes beyond stocks, such as for currencies, commodities, and interest rates.

Scrapplet: Powerful Social Web Canvases That Are As Easy As Drag-And-Drop

There are a few sites out there that let you aggregate your entire online presence into a single place, but for the most part they offer little control over the way your information is actually presented. Today sees the launch of Scrapplet, a powerful new website/platform based entirely on JavaScript that allows users to design pages combining all of this information to their liking using a WYSIWYG interface. The site also offers a dizzying array of options - so many, in fact, that the site could be used by experienced developers to create pages that go far beyond showing off your interests and favorite photos.

CEO Steve Repetti stresses that Scrapplet isn’t another social network - rather, it’s a place for you to compile all of your information from sites across the web and present it however you’d like. The site gives users a blank canvas, allowing them to import information from sites including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, RSS feeds, and a number of other sources. You can also embellish your profile with music, embedded videos, and images.

Once you’ve imported all of your content, you can drag and drop each item wherever you’d like in your canvas. Each item also has a properties menu that allows you to customize how it should behave (for example, you can determine if it should have a border or if it should “stick” to another item on your canvas, or if should move independently when it’s dragged). More advanced options include a Timer, Rollover, and OnClick actions that allow you to execute commands accordingly.

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