Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yahoo! attacks Google

On the Yahoo! search blog, Tomi Poutanen from Yahoo! Social Search posted "Today we learned that Google Answers is closing. That's a shame because some great knowledge was created on that service by the Google Answers Researchers". Tomi invited Google Answers researchers to join the Yahoo! Answers community. I´m not sure if this is rather an inofficial invitation to former Google Answers Researchers (exGARs) to join the Yahoo! Answers team and work for Yahoo!!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Google Answers vs. Yahoo! Answers

Yesterday, Google will soon shut down the service Google Answers. Later this week, they will stop accepting new questions and they will stop accepting new Answers to questions by the end of the year. The existing Qs and As will however be available.
This decision comes one week after Yahoo! announced the merge of Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! Answers. I believe that the main reason why Google Answers didn´t succeed as compared to Yahoo! Answers is that it is a charging service. People are not willing to pay to get an answer to a question that they can get for free just by using Google or Yahoo! powerful search engines. This might explain the success of free question-answer services that mainly rely on users who can ask and answer each other questions (the wisdom of the crowd) such as Yahoo! Answers, its German version Yahoo Clever, or Amazon´s Askville.
I even argue against the success of the free question-answer services e.g. Yahoo! Answers. To be honest, if I have an open question, especially if it´s a question related to my work, I would not post it to Yahoo! Answers or Amazon´s Askville and wait for hours or maybe days and weeks to get an answer that might not meet my expectations. I would rather use Google or Yahoo! main search engine which are getting increasingly better to get a quick answer, or directly ask someone that I know s/he might have the answer. Additionally, I would not waste time to browse through the questions posted and answer them even if know the answer. I think Yahoo! is aware of this problem, that´s why they are hardly trying to give a push to Yahoo! Answers by e.g. including search results from the Yahoo! Answers page to the main Yahoo! search page.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Edublog Awards 2006 - nominations open

Josie Fraser announced the third international Edublog Awards , "the independently run, community-based awards programme which recognizes and promotes excellence in the educational use of social software".

"The main purpose of the awards is to demonstrate the huge variety of excellent practice going on across the world, to provide a showcase site for everyone interested using social software to support informal or formal education, and to have some fun along the way. If you aren't familiar with the awards, check out 2005's amazing roll-call".

This year there are ten categories:

  • Best audio and/or visual blog
  • Best group blog
  • Best individual blog
  • Most influential post, resource or presentation
  • Best library/librarian blog
  • Best newcomer
  • Best research paper on social software within learning and teaching
  • Best teacher blog
  • Best undergraduate blog
  • Best wiki use
Nominations are open from 8 November to 30 November and can be emailed to the awards address: Head over to the awards blog for all the info.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Eclipse ATF Webinar

On November 30, 2006, the Eclipse community is organizing an Eclipse AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF) webinar. Presenter will be Robert Goodman, Eclipse ATF Project Leader. Register by emailing

" The Eclipse Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF) provides exemplary tools for creating and debugging AJAX applications. These tools include enhanced JavaScript editing features such as edit-time syntax checking, an embedded DOM browser, CSS Tools, JavaScript debugger, a JavaScript console, and an embedded Mozilla web browser. The goal of ATF is to provide an ever-expanding set of high-function tools for AJAX developers. The AJAX Toolkit Framework is an extensible framework that supports using arbitrary AJAX runtimes through the Personality Builder function. This webinar will demonstrate how to use ATF to create, debug, and deploy an Ajax application on both Apache and J2EE servers."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Google Book Search and AJAX

Nathan Naze, Software Engineer at Google announced the upgrade of Google Book Search with new features for better browsing and other interesting changes. Naze mentioned JavaScript and DHTML as technologies used for these changes and I don´t know if he means AJAX!

  • Zoom in on text and images. Here's a cool full-page sketch of a ship from an 1898 book on steam navigation. Looking for something less dated? Perhaps this colorful page of a room from a book on interior design. Want a better look? You can now zoom in and out — just click on the zoom in and zoom out buttons. Play with it until you find a size you like.

  • One book, one web page. No more reloads! In one-page mode (just click the one page button), pages appear one below the other, like a scroll of paper. For full-view books, there's also a two-page mode (two page button) in which pages appear side by side, just like in a physical book (perfect for two-page images). In both modes, you'll be able to use previous page button and next page button to turn pages.

  • Scroll, scroll, scroll your book… using the scrollbar or your mouse wheel, or by dragging (in most browsers, you'll see a hand). You can also use the keyboard (try the spacebar, page up, page down, and the arrow keys). Or you can click on a link in the table of contents or your search results to jump right to that page (like this photo from the 1906 book Geronimo's Story of His Life).

  • This page was made for reading. We've tried to tidy up the clutter to leave as much room as possible for what's important — the book. We've put all the information about the book in a scrollable side menu. Still not enough room? You can put the screen in fullscreen mode with fullscreen button, so you can use the whole window for browsing. Try it with a nice illustrated book of Celtic fairy tales or, for some lighter reading, electromagnetic wave theory.

  • More on this (and other) books. Find other books that interest you. Just click on "About this book" to find more books related to the book you're reading. If the book How to Draw Comic Book Heroes and Villains interests you, you'll probably like Comic Book Artist Collection, Vol. 1. We also revised our "About this book" page to provide better information for in-copyright books, from which you can just see short snippets or a limited preview.

  • Explore citations and references. You can also find other books that refer to your book of interest. If scholarly works from Google Scholar have references to the book, you'll see them too. As an example, see what other works have referred to Aristotle's works or the 1922 book All About Coffee.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! Answers

Some time ago, I wrote about question-answer services and Yahoo! Answers, the free service that rely on users who can ask and answer each other questions. Today when browsing through the Yahoo! Search blog, I came across this post announcing the merge of Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! Answers. With this service, Yahoo! provides us with an innovative Web 2.0 driven search approach, based on the wisdom of the crowd and the important principle of harnessing collective intelligence. Ya-Bing Chu, Product Manager at Yahoo! Search states "we have been integrating knowledge from the Yahoo! Answers community into search to enhance your search experience...if you're looking for personal experiences with tennis camps, finding places off the beaten path, or researching the best hybrid car, you'll now have an extra option on Yahoo! Search (scroll down the results to see them)". Well worth a try!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Travel Mashups

Geojoey is a new mashup of maps and experiences. According to the Geojoey team, the aim of this application is to add best experiences and vote on experiences others have added. Other travel mashups are available at the programmableweb Website. For example Geowalk with embedded data from Google Maps, Google News, Wikipedia, and Flickr.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yahoo! UI version 0.12 released

The Yahoo! User Interface team announced the release of the Ajax Framework Yahoo! UI version 0.12 with new interesting features:

  • The TabView Control: Written by YUI Animation and Dom author Matt Sweeney, this dynamic tab solution is the newest YUI addition and features robust support both for progressive enhancement and for high-gloss richness. Check out Matt’s roster of TabView examples for an idea of what the new control can do; view source on the examples to see how they’re implemented.
  • Improved Documentation: YUI developer Adam Moore (Event, Drag & Drop, Slider, TreeView) has created a new tool for generating API documentation, allowing us to generate unified, crosslinked API docs with an integral AutoComplete-powered search control. The new API documents provide developers with a clearer picture of class structures and provide separate categorization for properties and configuration options. You may never go back to Cheat Sheets again…
  • …But in Case You Still Like Cheat Sheets: Cheat Sheets are updated for version 0.12 and include new sheets for TabView and for Nate Koechley’s CSS Reset, Fonts and Grids foundation. You can download all the YUI Cheat Sheets from the YUI Library website.
  • Speaking of CSS Grids: Nate has rev’d the Grids package with baked-in support for 750px, 950px, and full-viewport ("liquid") layouts. Grids 0.12 triples the number of supported layouts and still weights in under 3KB before gzipping. We’ve built the YUI website on the Reset/Fonts/Grids foundation now and we’re making use use of the new full-viewport support.
  • Improvements Throughout the Library: There are enhancements to be found throughout the library, from Event’s new onContentReady method to a significantly improved Calendar Control with a simplified interface for creating multi-month calendar displays (if you’re upgrading from a previous version of Calendar, check out the step-by-step upgrade guide). For a full list of changes, see the release notes documentation that accompanies the distribution.

Monday, November 20, 2006

GWT 1.2 released

On November 16, Bruce Johnson announced the official release of Google Web Toolkit 1.2. GWT 1.2 comes with dozens of bugs fixed, but the most important feature is that you can now develop and debug with GWT on Mac OS X. "As we mentioned when we released the 1.2 Release Candidate, you can now develop and debug with GWT on Mac OS X in addition to Linux and Windows. We are pretty proud of this particular feature because GWT is now about as "platform independent" as you can get: develop on Windows, Linux or Mac OS X and deploy to IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera on any platform, without any special cases in your code", Bruce writes on the Google Web Toolkit Blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Applying Social Software for Knowledge Management

On the next days I´ll be on the 2nd International Symposium in Media Informatics - "Cow Paths: Agency in Social Software". More informations are avaiIable at the Symposium homepage. I´m organizing a workshop there together with Claudia Müller from University of Potsdam, Germany. The topic of this workshop will be "Applying Social Software for Knowledge Management".

Workshop Backgound:

An increasingly important resource for companies especially in an economic sense is knowledge. Knowledge is bounded to a person therefore a person as knowledge worker plays a key role for a company. From this is follows that the greater the importance of people for a company’s success, the greater the importance of interaction based on social relations within a company. Social networks describe these social relations of individuals. Due to the application of social software in companies existing social networks of persons become a technical equivalent. At the moment social software account for describing these human social networks. In current research the question of how social software can be applied to support existing social networks is still insufficient answered. The workshop aims to discuss social software applications in companies, and how they can capture the real social networks. Applications of social software include social sharing, e.g. Flickr, social collaboration, e.g. Wikipedia, social bookmarking, e.g., social communication, e.g. Skype, and social networking, e.g. OpenBC. All these examples are positioned in the Internet. Companies like socialtext use the idea of social software to carry on a business. But to prolong the success of social software a affordable and effective application in companies must be visible.
Following questions are discussed in the first part of the workshop:
*Are existing Social Software applications transferable to business applications? If yes, how?
*What are requirements, e.g. for the company’s structure, the people, the culture for applying social software in a company?

The second part of the workshop deals with relationships between Knowledge Management (KM) and Learning Management (LM). This topic have been widely discussed by many researchers. Some of them go a step further and argue that KM and LM can be viewed as two sides of the same coin, since the two fields have as primary goals how to connect people to quality knowledge as well as people to people. In the past few years, there has been an increasing focus on social software applications in learning environments as a result of the rapid development of Web 2.0 technologies. In this workshop, we discuss how LM and KM solutions can merge and explore the potential use of Web 2.0 technologies and social software in workplace environments to leverage professional learning and enhance work performance.

Online poster
Online flyer

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Web 2.0 Summit

The Web 2.0 Conference initiated by O´Reilly in 2004 has been re-named Web 2.0 Summit. According the Summit homepage "The Web 2.0 Summit focuses on emerging business and technology developments that utilize the Web as a platform and defines how the Web will drive business in the future. Now that the Web has become a robust platform with countless innovations driving its ongoing development, widespread disruptions in traditional business models are well underway. But within the chaos of disruption lies the seeds of opportunity. We'll focus on the startups and financiers tending those seeds, of course - including the second annual Launch Pad. But we'll also highlight how the incumbents are also taking advantage of disruption, or, at the very least, how they are responding to it so as to protect their market positions". The 2006 Web 2.0 Summit has been held last week in San Francisco.

In a recent
post, Dion Hinchcliffe has written about this event "It's been a bustling and busy three days in San Francisco with sessions and discussions on a wide variety of Web 2.0 topics, from Advertising 2.0 and Net Neutrality, to the World of Warcraft and Enterprise 2.0. Given that the Web 2.0 Summit is an executive level conference, the discussion of business models and company strategies around Web 2.0 has dominated the conversation and not the specific techniques and approaches for actually designing and implementing Web 2.0 services and products. Those subjects have been moved to the upcoming Web 2.0 Expo next April, which will be a much larger event expo-style conference at Moscone Center".

Dion mentioned that
the leadup to the conference was John Musser's 100-page update of the famous five page Web 2.0 description from Tim O'Reilly, that I wrote about in yesterday´s post.
In the same post, based on
Web 2.0 Summit discussions, Dion presented 5 strategies for creating open Web sites and platforms:

  1. Liberate content and services via a public, open API. Content will continue to be separated from the experiences that mediate access to it, this makes adaptable experiences possible. Example: RSS readers let users consume content in the ways they choose and have control over. Doing this turns your Web application into a platform and is one of the most important habits of highly effective Web sites .
  2. Syndicate as well as use Web services to open up data. Each method has clear strengths such as discoverability, ease of consumption, or on-demand control. Example: This means RSS or Atom as well as REST or SOAP.
  3. Make it legal to reuse content. Don't charge if you can help it, consider monetizing it via advertising, transaction fees, or subscriptions. Don't cripple unintended uses, such as Yahoo!'s limits on their APIs, vs. Amazon's profitable emphasis on unlimited use.
  4. Diligently build trust and credibility. No one will use your open data or services unless there is trust and credibility in the site. This is very hard to establish and is easily lost. This is one of the hardest intangibles of openness to manage.
  5. Expect the unexpected. Opening up a site means that others will dream of ways of using your data and services in ways you couldn't imagine. Often this means they'll use it as a free resource to achieve something that wasn't possible before in terms of scale or volume. Be prepared for extreme situations and be sure to monitor your feeds and open services and be prepared to throttle them for mailicous or inadvertant waste.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices?

I came across this article when browsing through the O´Reilly Radar blog. In a recent post, Tim O´Reilly announced "a special report that he´s been working on for the past few months with John Musser of fame, entitled Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices".The article can be purchased for $375? This is not a typo!
This must be a joke, but for sure not a good one. It´s ironic that O'Reilly coined the term Web 2.0, based upon a set of important principles such as collaboration, community building and harnessing collective intelligence and then ask for $375 to give us the chance to read a small article with some stuff that is not new anymore (everyone who is familiar with the Web knows what Web 2.0 is about). I believe now more than before, that Web 2.0 is just a marketing term. O´Reilly coined the name to garner large registration fees at his Web 2.0 conference and now expanded his What is Web 2.0? paper to a 101 pages article and ask us to pay $375 to have a look at it...
I find it a bit strange that someone like George Siemens provides us with a whole and very intersting book for free, and O´Reilly ask us to spend $375 for his article? Is this part of "Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices"; not to forget, this was the title of O´Reilly´s new article...

Friday, November 10, 2006

ConceptShare and Thinkature for Real-Time Collaboration

TechCrunch pointed to 2 real-time collaboration products: ConceptShare and Thinkature. "Both products let users create shared visual workspaces that can be marked up and chatted in".

According to TechCrunch, "Conceptshare workspaces can include multiple concept pages, comments appear in individual threads that can be clicked through one at a time so they don’t become overwhelming, images can be drawn on and zoomed into. Screen captures can be imported by simply providing a URL. All the modules of the workspace can be resized by dragging their borders; so if I want to see the last 15 lines of chat instead of having the image being discussed taking up the bulk of my screen I can easily make that change."

"Rather than Conceptshare’s Flash interface, Thinkature is built entirely of HTML and Javascript and uses a persistent http connection for synchronous communication. You can place images and text in the workspaces, connect boxes and chat in real time. Only the most recent chat messages are visible unless you click a tab to pop up a box with the full chat history."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

YouTube and Copyright Violations

The acquisition of YouTube by Google, which is the most expensive acquisition to date in Google´s history (Google had to pay 1.65 billion US dollars for the most popular online video portal), seems not without its problems. As I mentioned in yesterday´s post, many voices pointed to the problem "Who profits from user-created content?". Additionally, onother critical problem has been recently raised namely copyright violations on the Internet and the protection of proprietary rights. Heise online has recently published 2 news, dealing with that problem: "Bundesliga shows YouTube the red card", and "Bayern Munich takes on YouTube". As stated in the heise online news, "the DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH) has been keeping a close eye on copyright violations on the Internet. The DFL's communications director Tom Bender told said: We have discovered that the dimensions are shocking. Apparently, even live broadcasts of Bundesliga games are being offered, some even for a fee. And downloads of game recaps are all over the place...YouTube is the main problem... The DFL says it will take all of these illegally shared videos seriously." and "The soccer club Bayern Munich club was not prepared to countenance any violations of its exclusive marketing rights by online platforms, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the board of management of Bayern Munich, said".

The questions now are ...

  1. Why those issues (though I do agree that they are very crucial problems) have only been raised after Google paid the 1.65 billion US dollars to YouTube?
  2. And the more important question: Is this going to be the Web 2.0 problem?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Who profits from user-created content?

In a recent post, George Siemens pointed to a real problem "Who profits from user-created content?". "Over the last several years, end-user created content has been increasingly commercialized...and individuals are starting to ask for a piece of the revenue", George said. This issue has also been discussed in a post by from Henry Jenkins about the Youtube acquisition. "This is an issue I raised here a few weeks ago. At the heart of the Web 2.0 movement is this idea that there is real value created by tapping the shared wisdom of grassroots communities, composed mostly of fans, hobbyists, and other amateur media makers. I have often celebrated these efforts as helping to pave the way for a more participatory culture -- one that will be more diverse and innovative because it expands the range of content we can access. Yet, as I suggested here a few weeks ago, there is a nagging question -- if these grassroots efforts are generating value (and in fact, wealth) and their creative power is being tapped by major corporations, at what point should they start receiving a share of revenue for their work?

We have all seen major media companies telling us that file-sharing is bad because it takes other people's intellectual property without just compensation. So, why are these same companies now taking their audience's intellectual property for free? Do we understand their profits primarily as a tax to support the infrastructure that enables their distribution?", said.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

GWT 1.2 RC1

The GWT team has announced the first release candidate for Google Web Toolkit 1.2 with Mac OS X support. As stated in the GWT blog, GWT 1.2 RC1 has a number of highly requested features and bug fixes:

  • Full support for OS X development
    Develop with GWT on OS X as easily as on Linux and Windows
  • Much faster hosted mode
    Debug your GWT apps much more quickly. Hosted mode startup time has improved significantly -- and even better, refreshes are now lightning-fast -- even when your source code changes.
  • New HTTP request module
    The HTTP functionality that you've been asking for (custom headers, status code, timeouts, and more), all wrapped up in an API that's easier to use than the JavaScript XMLHttpRequest object
  • Widgets in TreeItems
    Tree items can now contain arbitrary widgets -- finally, it's easy to create trees with checkboxes :-)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Google Acquires JotSpot

Google has recently acquired JotSpot, a Wiki maker system. On Google blog, JotSpot co-founder and CEO Joe Kraus wrote "As we built the business over the past three years Google consistently attracted our attention. We watched them acquire Writely, and launch Google Groups, Google Spreadsheets and Google Apps for Your Domain. It was pretty apparent that Google shared our vision for how groups of people can create, manage and share information online". It seems that Google is now targeting wiki-like collaboration tools. First Google added Writely to its Web 2.0 suite and now JotSpot.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yahoo! Bookmarks

Yahoo! has recently launched a new beta service: Yahoo! Bookmarks. According to the Yahoo! bookmarks team, Yahoo! Bookmarks allow people to store their favorites from across the web and get to them from any computer connected to the Internet. New features of Yahoo! bookmarks include:

  • Advanced search functionality
  • Thumbnails for quickly recognizing sites
  • Convenient drag-and-drop management
  • Organize bookmarks with folders and tags
  • Ability to save page content along with the URL
  • Editing abilities when saving
  • An end to the 1000 bookmark limit
Yahoo! already has 2 other services dealing with bookmarks: the well known and MyWeb. The Yahoo! bookmarks team states that Yahoo! Bookmarks will focus on personal saving, organization, and recovery while will concentrate on meeting social bookmarking and sharing needs and that users of MyWeb will in a few months be able to roll over to either Yahoo! Bookmarks or