Tag Archives: google

Wave And The Future Of Blogging | Techgeist

Now a full twenty four hours into the Google Wave preview, you have to sit back and wonder how the hell you are going use Wave. For all the bluster, what is actually useful? It’s anyone’s guess, or really any developer’s ability, to guide the product’s future. But, from a blogger’s perspective, Wave opens up seemingly one hundred doors for future and current use. If you do not blog, you might find this post a bit stultifying.

Live Blogging For An Audience:

If you have enough contacts in Wave, you can allow in an audience while you write. TG tried this today, as intrepid reporter Holden Page attempted to write a post on Cliqset live for some of the technorati elite (Scoble et al). He described it as feeling naked. Make a mistake, everyone sees you goof. Not pretty, but I did learn a lot about how other people write. I nearly never delete a whole paragraph. Holden did twelve times. Aside from the human aspect, the live post felt like watching a concert, but with words. For the more straight-shooting blogger, this might become a normal thing to do.

Also, when writing for an audience, they can chime in below and ask questions, clarification, even point out errors. Also, the nice ones could hop in a correct your grammar. If the text move from Wave to WordPress is simple, I will start doing this soon. Other thought: build Wave into WordPress or vice versa. That would solve the movement problems.

Team Posting Collaboration:

At least at TG, we often have more than one person write a post. During the TechCrunch50, Michael and myself burned through 50 writeups together in two days. It was a constant annoyance to have to choose between Google Docs or using WordPress one after the other. Wave solves these problems in one movement.

Versioning of Posts:

If you leave a post in Wave, it is constantly in play. Anyone involved in the Wave can tinker. So, add your whole team to the post on a breaking news article, and anyone can hop in and make the changes as the news comes in. It frees the work from one person. Again, the ability to comment is important. Now, if there was WordPress integration, you could tinker with the Wave, and hit “update” to let it get back online. You could even have a script that tracked the “UPDATE #” in the title as the post was republished.

One Post Per Topic:

If you are tracking major topic, why use multiple posts? Have a single wave, and use each comment section as a post on the topic. You can even imagine that the wave could be copied, and actually be a post on your blog.

Community Interaction Into Breaking News:

You could select the power readers of your blog and give them edit access to posts, bring in the people at the event, and get everyone on the same page at the same time writing the same post heady stuff.

Really, this list could go on forever. You could use Wave to interview someone. You could make it public, and have the other wavers be able to chime in and ask the interviewee questions. Wave is going to change the way that we wok, and interact. What are you using it for?

Still havent got my invite 🙁

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A More Serious Look At Google Reader

Google Reader has been getting a lot of attention lately. This attention is due to the newer social features that the team has been adding. Given that my attempt at humor failed as usual and did not really explain what I was thinking. So, I decided I should write a more serious post about what Google Reader needs to improve. My goal is not to ask Google Reader to become FriendFeed, but more to use the features they have in better ways.

Group and Contact Management

I like the idea that new Reader followers need to be in a group to comment on your shares. That gives the user a level of control on what can happen. However, the management of groups and contacts leaves a lot to be desired. First, Google Contacts needs some cleanup to really handle groups better. If I add a follower in Google Reader, that contact should have some flag denoting the source of the addition, even if it is from GMail itself. This allows people to understand where a contact came from without having to scroll through their entire list of contacts.

The contact and group settings in Google Reader need to be more obvious. The settings are somewhat buried, and generally hard to find. Why not just add a tab to the Google Reader settings? The contact management tab in the Reader settings could be a miniature version of Google Contacts that only lists Google Reader followers, with the required “invite your friends to Google Reader” link.

Lastly, if we have to put people into groups, those groups should be included in the user interface. So, in the “People you follow” section, why not have the groups look like folders instead of just dumping a user list. This is more of a selfish request as I am an organizer of data. I would like to put people into related groups, not just a “reader shares” group.

Comments

The comment feature is quickly gaining acceptance in my group of followers. However, they are not really part of the feed items. The comment view is a good idea when you just want to go back to the comments for some feed items, but there should be more integration with my general feed reading.

A small addition to Reader could be comment notifications. I would like to get an email when someone comments on one of my shares or a comment stream that I am involved in. This is one feature from FriendFeed I would love to get.

Notes

Notes are another feature that I see being used more often. The big problem with notes is that they are not integrated into everything that I do. I am also not sure what the general purpose of the note feature is. I understand the “share with note” feature, as it is a nice way to initiate comments on a share. However, the standalone notes are like an outsider. They appear similar to a share just without an RSS item. I am thinking that notes either need to be a first class user interface item that always appears (making Reader more of a microblogging application), or removed in favor of only “sharing with notes”. I do not think there can be an “in between” for that type of feature.

API

I have been hoping for a proper API for Google Reader, and now that there are likes, comments and followers it is entirely needed. Take the example of Twitter and build a solid API that allows people to search for feeds, items, people and anything else that is stored. Given that you are Google, people would likely flock to the API and build some really cool applications. I also have my own selfish reasons for a good API :)

Overall, I think this is a fairly reasonable list of requests, without trying to make Google Reader turn into FriendFeed or Twitter. Are there simple improvements that you would like to see?

If the Google Reader team reads this, feel free to contact me via email (info AT regulargeek DOT com). I would gladly have a chat if there is any confusion on what I have suggested. Otherwise, feel free to comment.

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The Battle For Your Attention: Google And Facebook

As much as people talk about Twitter, we must realize that Twitter is only a tool (or infrastructure as I have argued). It is not a destination that people will focus their attention on for hours of the day. Destinations have been the goal for many startups, but to be a true, complete destination you need to supply a wealth of functionality. The battle for your attention, and which destination you focus on, is ramping up quickly. There seem to be two major players in this battle, Google and Facebook. However, they are taking different routes on their way to the destination.

The Facebook Route

Facebook started as this cool little social networking site for college students. Now, non-technical people like my wife use Facebook for hours at a time. Why did this happen? Basically, Facebook took your “real life” social graph and asked to store it for you so you might be able to find some long lost friends. People love nostalgia, and this really pulled people into the site. Add in some cute games and quizzes, and you have effectively rendered half of the internet obsolete.

So far, this does not sound like much more than a playground. However, look at all of the recent redesign and feature work. The redesigns have all been focused around real time information and making it more pleasing to the mainstream user. They have made sharing information much easier than before, and provided hooks into Twitter as well. People have started to spread rumors regarding the “news feed” features again, so it is very possible that they will start including RSS feed reading in some way soon. In one of the more interesting changes, they cleaned up the Facebook Inbox. The “messaging” features of many applications are typically “bolted on” as an after thought. Facebook’s inbox looked no different. The new design changes this and almost makes it look like a simple email program. If you then add in all of the work with Facebook Connect and the mobile applications, Facebook is trying to ensure that you either never leave Facebook, or you take your Facebook identity with you everywhere.

The Google Route

Google may be headed for the same destination, but their route is definitely starting from a different direction. Google started as a search company and has been adding new applications for years. One of the earliest applications they built was GMail. Everyone uses email in some way, so Google decided to create an email service that worked a little different than normal, using tags not folders, and provide it for free. In addition to email, we now have a wealth of “office” functionality from Google. GMail is slowly moving into the “Outlook” space by integrating Google Calendar, Contacts and Tasks. We also have Google Docs, which can be bundled with GMail to create Google Apps, an application suite offering for people and businesses trying to get away from the traditional Microsoft offerings.

Like Facebook, this was all nice functionality, but it has been the more recent developments that make this interesting. About a year ago, Google released Chrome, initially thought to be just a new browser, but now being seen as the basis for a Google operating system, ChromeOS. So, we can start to see the grand plan from Google, where all of your applications are cloud based and conveniently run best when using their operating system. Another company took this direction a long time ago and is still making boatloads of money from it.

However, Google realized that it did not have much of a handle on the social media space. So, we get a redesigned contact management application, iGoogle (their personalized homepage) gets social-enabled gadgets, Google Reader gets a bunch of new social features, and Google Docs adds some simpler sharing features. Lastly, we have Google Wave which is meant as a totally disruptive communications tool. It is taking email, Twitter, threaded conversations from sites like FriendFeed, and mashing it all together to create something completely different. In addition to combining all of the communications features, it takes your original social graph, your email contacts, basically converts them into a social network like Facebook.

The Battlefield

So, Facebook is trying to get closer to a real email client and generally be the only site you visit on any given day. Google already has your email, but wants to provide all of the functionality you could possibly need and make it all social for you. Both companies know that communication is the key to winning. If they provide the easiest and best communications tools, they will likely become the destination of choice.

The real question is whether there is something missing. Is there some key piece of functionality that we do not have yet that could make either of them the clear winner? Is there some other player in this game that could overtake them? Can a small startup find some way to compete? Personally, I think there is enough functionality in both sites that raises the barrier to entry far too high for a small startup. I also do not think Twitter can compete as they are not focused on adding a bunch of features, and really just trying to stabilize. Yahoo is probably one of the few companies with the manpower and the traffic to compete, but they are trying to find their focus. Is there anyone else?

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– originally posted on Regular Geek

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