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2007 May Archive at Inside ontheinside.info

Monthly Archive for May, 2007

Facebook opens up

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Facebook opened their network to non-college users, and their platform to developers. Techies and companies alike are jumping at the opportunity to create applications for Facebook and their 24 million users. Beside the sheer amount of visibility, part of the appeal for developers lies in the ability to place ads within their applications, and collect direct revenue.

Critics argue that Facebook is making a mistake in that they will lose control of their interface and invite spammers to take advantage of the network, much like what’s happened with MySpace.

Here’s a New York Times article that describes Facebook’s ambitions to be a “social operating system”:

http://www.nytimes.com/…

Search Technorati

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Technorati, the blog search engine, just launched new features and redesign with the purpose to be more accessible to the mainstream. Previous versions assumed a fairly tech-savvy user base that was able to differentiate between keywords, blog directory or tag searches (these features are still available in the advanced search page).

With this relaunch, searches are simplified. More importantly, they not only output blogs but also user-generated content including photos (from Flickr), videos (from YouTube) and even music (from last.fm). Technorati calls this the “Live Web”,

the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

As we’re growing our Flickr page with our exclusvie photos of New York and local celebrities, we will also be more accessible on Technorati.

You can view our technorati listing here. It shows all the blogs that link to our homepage.

Family Network

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Geni is a social network for the family. Through an easy and intuitive online interface, you can add your family members, and include their emails so they can be notified and continue to build the tree. You can add photos and info about yourself to create a profile much like you would on a regular social network. You can also search to see if any of your relatives have already started a tree.

Nice idea and good execution. Most other social networks really cater to a young audience, but Geni is attractive to an older generation and doesn’t feel too tech-y or media heavy.

Apparently Charles River Ventures likes it a lot: they just invested $10million for 10% stake in the company.

Geni launched this past January.

Team OTI adds one

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Today, we welcome our first intern at On the Inside. Justine, a New Yorker who is a marketing major at the Univeristy of Miami, will be with us for the summer.

Welcome Justine!

Aggregate User Reviews

Wize is a site that combines expert and user reviews with a focus on consumer electronics (and a few other categories: Home & Garden, Health & Beauty, Video Games).

They compile professional reviews with user ratings to come up with an overall rating.
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In their About Us section, they describe: “Because it’s based on user and expert reviews and rankings from thousands of independent sources, Wize Rank is completely impartial, and cannot be manipulated.”

Metacritic has also been doing this for a while in the realm of Music, Movies and Videogames.

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Tech Crunch calls it Aggregate Reviews and they have a roundup of companies doing variations of this here.

I haven’t seen this proposition for a city guide yet. We don’t intend to aggregate pro city guide reviews, but we do consider our roster of personalities to be expert NY insiders and editorial contributors. Coming up in our next layout (in June), we’ll enable user comments and ratings so our audience can also weigh in on the featured recommendations.

OTI on random

As we’re building content and redesigning the layout, we’ve put the site on random for now. That means the website’s homepage rotates through different personalities. Lots of cool and uninterrupted new content is scheduled for early June.

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Democracy and the Internet

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Al Gore has a new book The Assault on Reason out on Tuesday (May 22nd, 2007). Time Magazine ran an excerpt. In it, Gore points to the rise of the television media as an assault on the first amendment. Not that television is necessarily censored but it has become such a visual stimulus of divertissement (take the rise of reality TV and pop celebrities in the last 15 years) as opposed to a source of knowledge and education in the affairs and direction of our state.

The Founders took great care to protect the openness of the marketplace of ideas so that knowledge could flow freely. Thus they not only protected freedom of assembly, they made a special point—in the First Amendment—of protecting the freedom of the printing press. And yet today, almost 45 years have passed since the majority of Americans received their news and information from the printed word. Newspapers are hemorrhaging readers. Reading itself is in decline. The Republic of Letters has been invaded and occupied by the empire of television.

But a new media might just bring a new day in the political process and the direction of society as a whole. Today, the Internet is making its mark. Anyone can be a publisher with public forums and open affordable lines of communication. We can see how social media sites (digg, reddit) are playing a part in the prominence of certain presential candidates who are not backed by big money (Ron Paul and Mike Gravel).

Not to mention civil liberties. Four people were arrested after the mob stoning death of a 17 year-old girl last month in Iraq. It was filmed on cell phones, broadcast online through blogs and made the front page of digg. Without online attention, one has to wonder if the murder of this teenager—who fell in love with someone of another religion—would have gone unnoticed, paving the way to more stonings. Now, reported by mainstream outlet CNN, along with the arrests, the top official in the Iraqi town is being removed from his position.

Getting back to the point of the Internet and democracy, Gore warns that we must protect the Internet at all cost:

We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it, because of the threat of corporate consolidation and control over the Internet marketplace of ideas.

The danger arises because there is, in most markets, a very small number of broadband network operators. These operators have the structural capacity to determine the way in which information is transmitted over the Internet and the speed with which it is delivered.

One could argue that censorship is occuring right now, as the US governement is restricting use of the Internet to troops in Iraq.