Posts from October 5, 2004

Web 2.0: Bill Gross

Web 2.0: Bill Gross

: Bill Gross of Idealab is going to introduce a new company.

He says he has been passionate about search because of how powerful, useful, and technically challenging it is. He says there were three big breakthroughs in search: The audacious notion to index the entire web, then using price, then link as relevance tools.

When you get the page back “that’s when the search really begins,” he says. “We looked at what we could add value to in that part of the search.”

Three keys:

: User control

: User feedback – take what other users have done nad their post-click actions.

: Transparency – exposing every action and transaction to help the user avoid dead ends.

The new service is called Snap. He types in a search for “jaguar.” The search has columns for popularity, satisfaction, web popularity, web satisfaction, domain.

He modifies the search live. He types on “os” and it reduces the results to just jaguar OS immediately, before our very eyes.

“Camera” brings up many more columns of choices: zoom, storage, resolution, etc. So the search knows these are factors and allows you to specify what you want. So go to the resolution column and type in 4 and it gives you just cameras that have more than 4 megapixels.

That is user control.

They licensed data about what users did after their search. So when people searched for “walmart” they now know how often they wanted to buy something or wanted a stock quote. Thus popularity. That is feedback.

Type in cars and you get four basic categories: buy, research, loan, insurance.

As to transparency, they are allowing people to see the conversion rate for sales because that is valuable data to consumers. He’s opening up the stats for the site, even his revenues, what people are paying for ads, and so on.

He said they hadn’t planned to open that up as an API but after hearing Bezos, he will.

Try it here.

(Battelle says it kills him he’s not blogging this right now on his Searchblog.)

Web 2.0: Jeff Bezos

Web 2.0: Jeff Bezos

: Jeff Bezos shows Web 0.0: the original gray-and-blue Amazon page with no search box on the home page, nothing dynamic, nothing personal. Web 1.0 is Amazon today, he says. Humans create the content but computers place it all, allowing the whole site to be customized. Web 1.0 was making the “interface better for humans,” he says. Web 2.0 “is about making the Internet useful for computers.” He says we’ll see a lot of APIs opened up to do more sophisticated things. He shows Amazon Web Services, now used by 65k developers.

They also just announced in beta Alexa web services. (If only they could get it placed on enough users’ sites to make the data more valuable and reliable.)

He shows off things created with Amazon web servces. MusicPlasma.com, from France, allows you to search a favorite band and see the relationships. Try it.

This is “clustering.” See earlier post and quote from Esther Dyson on “clustering.” This is the 2.0 future. It’s about trust and authority and organization….

Another: Scoutpal allows you to scan a bar code of a book so you can see whether it’s cheaper on Amazon. He charges $10 a month for the service. “If this was something somebody at Amazon.com thought of”… they’d have to hire a developer and let it compete in priorities and who knows how long it would take.

Instead, let the people create.

Next: A9 plug. New and not yet “exposed” is a sophisticated history service that lets you search your search and site history. I wish someone would let me search my existing browser — not a9 — bookmarks, too.) What’s most cool is that in searching from multiple sources of information, you can mix web results with results from Amazon’s full-text book searches.

Bezos says it’s Web 2.0 but it’s still Day One.

O’Reilly asks where we will hit the point of tripping over each other with ripping, mixing, and burning all this content and people will complain that their businesses are being hurt. Bezos says there have to be business models for these things.

O’Reilly says that he and Bezos first met when they were butting heads over the 1-Click patent. He suggests that it should be opened up to similar Web Services development since he has millions of customers in a trusted relationship.

Bezos says the wallet is also open. Is it?

[We haven’t heard the patented Bezos laugh once yet. I’m in the room when it happens. It’s like Mt. Saint Helens erupting. I guess it’s a more serious time.]

Bezos says he has a strong incentive to keep inventing because his customers will be loyal to him only until someone offers them a better service.

O’Reilly says the search got worse when full-text books were added. Bezos says they can tell whether they’ve hurt search because they see immediately whether they’ve hurt sales.

O’Reilly mentions Rutan’s space effort and asks whether Bezos plans to go up in space himself. “Absolutely,” he replies.

Bezos says searching inside the book is all about sampling at the point of sale. If you give a sample of ice cream at the store, it’s that. If you give it away at a park, it’s branding.

The guy who designed the effects in Matrix says to Bezos that he’s good at thinking in 10-year chunks. So he asks Bezos what’s coming in massive multiplayer gaming. Bezos says we may be in such a universe right now.

Web 2.0: The big time

Web 2.0: The big time

: We’re out of the intimate workshops and into the big room with the big names. John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly are kicking it off with their view of the web as the new operating system with an internet application stack.

Hell, the web is the new operating system of life, no?

They say that profit is migrating down to data suppliers and up to companies that can take advantage of network effects.

They like the architecture of participation with companies that grow as your customers build your business for you: Google, Flikr, eBay, Amazon, Blogger, Linux, Apache.

O’Reilly says Amazon is amazing because it overlayed network effect on an old, only OK business.

Yes, the advantage of this is that the people bring you (a) content but also (b) marketing and (c) valuable data.

“Data is the Intel Inside,” says the slide. O’Reilly says Microsoft won the browser war but couldn’t turn that into money; it gained them no leverage.

Next: “Innovation in assembly.” (Don’t you just hate overly abstracted PowerPoint headlines? Hey, in the news business we learned that headlines must inform.) O’Reilly explains as an example his new company that allows users to deconstruct and reconstruct text books.

“Lightweight business models” is the nirvanna of today, the cure for the ’90s.

O’Reilly says we come to the end of the software upgrade cycle. So innovations are introduced a small bit at a time instead of a ton at a time. Amazon, eBay, Google add innovations that way; Microsoft takes a half-a-decade to come up with a new OS.

Software “above the level of a single device” is another trend they see…. e.g., the iPod.

Next they emphasize the “power of the tail.” See Chris Anderson’s story in Wired, which just went up online today.

Those are the themes of the confab, they say.

Web 2.0: Socialtext

Web 2.0: Socialtext

: I’m at Ross Mayfield’s SocialText and wiki session.

Ross says enterprise software has failed us. 90 percent of collaboration is done with email; knowledge management software goes unused by many. His view is to give people simple, bottoms-up tools to let the people all join in.

“It’s actually worth the risk to let users step up and create something.” The’s the moral of the web, eh?

Mike Pusateri at the Disney ABC Cable Networks Group uses Socialtext and he’s going to tell us how.

Note that Disney is also the company that is using RSS as a transport mechanism for video content and commercials in ESPN Motion. Note, too, that Disney has employee blogs. Who would have thought that Disney would be so advance in technology and vision?

Pusateri says these tools are “multiple orders of magnitude cheaper.” That will go a long way bringing this new grammar of interaction to the enterprise and then the world.

He said they didn’t call blogging blogging when they introduced it. They said here’s new software, period.

They use these tools, for example, for a “shift log” to share information from one shift to the next. Switching to blogging software was better than a proprietary solution; it was cheaper; and it added functionality — e.g., search. Then they added RSS to give people alerts. They didn’t call it RSS. They just used it. The architecture is invisible, as somebody said in the prior session on RSS.

It was also a corporate benefit that they could hack at the software to make it fit in with other software.

Now Ross is demoing the software.

(They rescheduled this session and so lots of people didn’t know it was here now. Somebody just told me that he saw this post and so he came over here. That’s knowledge management at work.)

Veep-off

Veep-off

: I just sent this to the producer at the CNBC show where I’ll be gabbing about the Veep-off as an email preinterview:

I’d say that no one will decide to vote FOR one side vs. the other based on the debate and the vice-presidential candidates. But this could make some decide to vote AGAINST.

And that is the problem with this entire election: It’s mostly about ‘against’ rather than ‘for.’

There will be the Cheney conspiracy theorists who hate or fear him and hold him against Bush.

There will be the Edwards dismissers who think he’s inexperienced and slick and will hold that against Kerry.

Each group will see each man’s ills as symptomatic of what’s wrong with the ticket and presidential candidate they don’t like.

Will that affect the vote? I doubt it. The folks who already hate Cheney hate him; the folks who don’t know but mahy get to like Edwards won’t come to like Kerry as a result.

What I’d rather see is a debate of each side’s secretaries of defense and state and treasury and such.

That would be not only entertaining, it might actually be informative and meaningful.

: The more I think about it, the more I’m guessing that Edwards will try to spend the debate calling Iraq “your war, Dick.”

: I’ll be on with John Hinderaker of PowerLineBlog and Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette. It’s on CNBC at 7p ET, I believe.