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Feb 12, 2009

Clouds, Open API, Twitter, Facebook, and Realtime Collaboration

The more we learn, the less we know. 

Despite the bad economy, innovation has been moving at accelerated pace. I have been busy innovating and not writing. Here is an announcement of our work and lots of questions.

Photokit Announcement

Regular readers have noticed the many photo channels on this blog. Here is the formal elevator pitch.
Photokit crowdsources photo and video content; automates activities such as slideshows, marquees, games, survey questions, iqtest questions, and others using public content; and shares user comments, likes, and dislikes publically over social networks like Facebook, OpenSocial, and Twitter. 
  • The photokit mashup platform uses public, cloud resources - such as Google, Yahoo, Youtube, Live, Blogger, and FlickR - to host pages, photos, videos, comments, and data. This reduces capital investments to essentially zero cost. 
  • User actions are shared on Twitter timelines, Facebook feeds, and other networks - creating a viral community for publisher controlled activities, contests, and events. Results are near realtime. 
  • Users submit content using hashtags. It's online in seconds. Users tag content. Their interaction refreshes the page in seconds.
  • Skins, layouts, and filtering control creates sites that complement existing template themes.
As one example, 'Media Life' crowdsources user interactions to compile and maintain information about the top 1000 media personalities, globally. We've recently added embedded video viewing and Twitter integration. Users recommend personality adds, upload relevant photos, and/or post to Twitter or Facebook. 
Whether personalities, companies, places, or products - the photokit platform can be applied to thousands of local and niche communities. Take a look at http://media.tearn.com
Market Changes

Our new leader has moved quickly to pass a huge economic stimulus package. It's time to spend - or invest - depending on the party line. Whether the plan works or not, time will tell.

Obama has also led with more social media activities - direct to his armies. This has stimulated greater interest in everything social. Not surprisingly, Facebook and Twitter, two social networks, have grown dramatically. Obama leads both with the number of fans at each.

The future is strong for web2.0 - web3.0 - semantic web - what ever we decide to call the clear trend.

Technical Trenches

There has been huge changes in the technical plumbing. Building Photokit has provided an upfront view of these developments.
  • Data everywhere. RSS and API feeds abound - data is increasingly open. The NYT has opened their news archive for external use. Yahoo's strategy hinges on shared data silos. Microsoft has released their army to work on the shared web. Obama will push government data transparency. Thousands of data silos have made themselves available. 
  • Integration challenge. Of course, each API is a little different. Like political parties, we can't seem to agree on the fine-print. Photokit services to unify the many languages into one consistent interface. 
  • Not every API makes sense. Those that solve real problems, like Twitter, has won big. Those that don't understand the full issue, like Yahoo, loses. Ironically, Yahoo authored the mRSS specification in 2004, but failed to support it. Google and others are closer to true deployment - and Google made it simpler.
  • Cloud computing is today. The Media Life website sits in the cloud, pulling resources from hundreds of computers over the Internet. We use AJAX, thus tapping the computing power of the user computer, not servers or networks. The UX is rich and simple, including transparent, embedded play of video. 
  • Real time. Users expect real time results. Whether transparent photo, video streams; satisfaction from a badge that lets them join the elite community of media personalities; or comments to Twitter that immediately feed back to the site - it's real-time and simple.
  • Data cloud. Photokit sources multi-media streams from many sources - like the ticker source on CNBC or sports scores on CNN. We'll also able to store user data in the cloud. Whether comments, scores, or recommendations - information streams to Twitter, Facebook, and back for consumption at the destination site. We call this the data cloud.
Complex web projects - without servers, networks, or databases - is it possible?


What does this mean? The more we learn, the less we know. We're doing dozens of projects - with many more to come. Yet, the consequences of the many technology changes are unclear. 

Like the Obama stimulus plan, we need to have faith that the best efforts lead to the best results.

Your thoughts?

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