Thursday, December 29, 2005

Two obvious secrets

A great observation on Seth Godin's blog:

The two obvious secrets of every service business

every one...

1. Take responsibility

2. Pay attention to detail

The thing that's so surprising is how little attention is paid to these two, how often we run into people (business to business or b2c) who are totally clueless about them.

You'd be stunned to see a hotel clerk stealing money from the till or a bartender smashing bottles or a management consultant drawing on the client's wall with a magic marker. But every single day, I encounter "that's not my job" or "our internet service is outsourced, it's their fault." More subtle but more important are all the little details left untended.

All the magazine ads in the world can't undo one lousy desk clerk.

All businesses are service business and experience is the product...

He says 'every one' at the beginning of the blurb, and he's right. I also think there are a lot of software products out there that don't understand that they aren't actually products, they are services -- and this is especially true of social software. Many companies launch their web "products" and then walk away, not understanding that after launch their job has just begun, requiring daily -- sometimes 24-hrs a day -- hands-on management and unflinchingly constant attention. Social software only works when the trolls and spammers are instantly squashed, good contributions rewarded, people listened to and provided with what they need.

Another thing: props to Seth and team who have built out Squidoo, which I have been following for a while. Have a look around; they're doing so many things right.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mashup Camp

David Berlind is spearheading an 'unconference' initiative called 'Mashup Camp'. A lot of the so-called "Web 2.0" conferences have a traditional top-down talking head format, and he thinks that if all the hackers came, brought their laptops and hunkered down together for a few days, some great new things could be built, connections made, ideas spawned. I love it!

Watch the Mashup Camp site (nothing there yet) for future details.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Delicious and Digg

You can probably guess from the content here that this post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a long time. :-)

Yes! Yahoo has acquired Flickr's sibling company (which you may have noticed, is now accessible using the domain as well). We're whooping it up on the inside, from which vantage point watching the evolution of Yahoo is the most fun.

People have been discussing the parallel plots of Digg and Delicious, including my pal Marc on the O'Reilly Radar blog. He posted this map from Alexa, which, after the Yahoo announcement has put Delicious up in the peaks. But prior to the announcement they were neck-and-neck. I've been watching this too, having some interest in it myself.


Delicious is designed to be completely about the links. You can add text if you want, but most people don't: they just save the link, giving it their implicit "vote" or "seal of approval". Their "popular" links on the right side of the page is a look into their database. Digg, on the other hand, is explicitly designed to promote a link, and the links that are Dugg float to the front page. The author provides a title and description and the links with merit, having been Dugg by various Diggers, it rises to the top -- and some of this has to do with how well the user "sold" the link, i.e., did they write an attention grabbing headline and description?

I like Digg, not least because they have a beautiful UI, with the lovely "124 Diggs" in the big square box, a UI innovation I've seen replicated on bunches of sites, including Flock. My question is how long Digg can sustain the quality. Watching Slashdot and Metafilter, two similar sites whose members contribute links and descriptions, and sustain comments, it seems as if there is a sweet spot where the # of contributors vs. # of commenters are maximizing quality. And there seems to be a hazard with attention inciting inanity -- people write comments on Slashdot just to say stuff like "It looks stupid, I'm not even going to try it" just to get their name or POV up there, and these tend to take over after a while, as the thoughtful contributors move elsewhere. Individual blogs tend to maintain quality, especially in comments, as there is one benevolent dictator to keep the rabble in line. In some respects, a community site such as Digg's real value will come from the ferocious defense of quality, the weeding out of "It looks stupid" comments and relentless suppression of spam.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Blog Archives and Living Ideas

I was having a conversation with Bob Baxley a few months ago about how the structure of Flickr makes it possible for people to continue to discover and view "old" photographs -- photographs that had been uploaded months or years before. These usually surface through tag surfing, or searches, or groups, or personal tag maps, or the feature on the explore page that shows the most interesting photos from a year before.

Usually, in a blog format, old photos, or old blog posts don't get a lot of a traffic. Most traffic is reserved for the most recent post, and regular readers of the blog are assumed to have already read what is in the archive. Blogs don't really accommodate *new* users -- who are arriving for the first time. The tag maps that people have been adding to their sites (see the one at the top of We make money not art) help with this problem, while simultaneously providing a snapshot of the interests of the blog authors.

If you know of any interesting blog designs that address this kind of issue, please post it in the comments.