Easy Exits … Again?

The problem with some of the “new Web” applications isn’t the application itself but the business model. Build an incremental feature, create some buzz in the echo chamber, and then sit back and wait for GAMEY (Google / AOL / Microsoft / eBay / Yahoo) to buy your company.

I suspect we all have some ideas about features that could fall into this category. But what if instead of buying your company, the big web portals built the feature themselves? Where’s your sustainable business model?

Specifically, all these N-person shops trying to grab a share of the podcasting world who were at first competing with Apple’s iTunes and now with Yahoo Podcasts

(Thanks to Brad Feld for the GAMEY reference. Brilliant.)

Easy Exits … Again?

Saturday Randomness

Spent a good hour this morning reading Mini-Microsoft, a recent phenom that’s actually been around a while. The comments are the interesting stuff. I don’t really care about the innards of Microsoft, but it’s making me think about how Yahoo works, including SDS and my own group.

Sheesh, blog spam is way up this past week. I moderate comments from all new commentators, so they aren’t posted until I approve them, but they do hit my mailbox. The increase is at least 10x what it used to be, although, fortunately I’m not seeing volumes like Ryan. There must be some new WordPress comment spam software in production. Like Ryan I’m not ready to introduce CAPTCHA.

Speaking of trends, I’m suddenly seeing the Three Letter Acronym “LMK” pop up in email and IM. This started about a few weeks ago. It’s not like I recently moved to a new team with their own lingo — this is from folks within my existing group, in other areas of the company, friends, and business contacts outside the company. It seems to be spreading like crazy. Wikipedia has had an entry for it since the spring. LMK if you’re only recently seeing it too, or perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention?

Finally, this Web 2.0 observation from Matt McAlister:

One [Yahoo] is facilitating community development. The other [Google] is facilitating data retrieval.

Saturday Randomness

On Web 2.0 and Punk Rock

I can’t escape the observation that a simple idea, executed well, can not only change the world (or a part of it), but can also be satisfying in so many ways (like financially). Witness Yahoo!’s acquisition of Flickr, Konfabulator, and upcoming.org. How long until somebody snaps up Ning? How about the rock stars at 37signals?

The ideas at work here are around sharing, either via “Web 2.0” kinds of ideas, or communication/community (ala Y 360, but more focused). Having all these cool Web apps is great. Having them all share information among themselves is another.

Great article from Chad Dickerson on the similarities between Web 2.0 and punk rock.

Like any social movement, it starts with a small band of rebels/visionaries. By the time it hits the mainstream, it’s been transformed into something the initiators no longer recognize and don’t particularly want to be a part of. We’re probably not at that point yet with Web 2.0. Wait until there are truly compelling reasons to have web application interoperability, and watch malware writers look for weaknesses, while the hucksters build robots to use these interconnected apps for personal gain…

Many observers of the punk rock scene said the death of punk was the 1980 movie Times Square. If that’s true, is the death of Web 2.0 the O’Reilly conference this week? Or perhaps it’s the Business 2.0 article that lists AJAX as its number 1 “technology that changes everything”? Fortunately Jason @ 37signals weighs in with The top 10 things that aren’t Web 2.0“.

On Web 2.0 and Punk Rock

The art and the science of user experience

Yahoo Home PageBusinessWeek online has an article about Larry Tesler, Yahoo’s new VP of User Experience, and the design of Yahoo’s front page.

It’s a perplexing read. For example, there’s the statement:

the front page has remained stagnant

Where apparently “stagnant” means unchanged since Sept 2004.

Contrast the “stagnant” quote with this one:

Yahoo researchers endlessly try to divine which are the most-used services.

Indeed, the front page changes in multiple ways every week, as the team tries new ideas. I know this because SDS runs the A/B test system that does all the analytics. In this way, “Yahoo researchers” are always trying new things. And “devine” is an interesting word – “study” is probably more accurate. The Yahoo front page is probably the single most instrumented, most analyzed page on the Web. When 44% of the Internet population sees your page every month, you don’t make changes for the heck of it.

Finally, let’s be honest: it’s not all about user experience. The art is about the design that balances user experience (or “delight” as Larry calls it) with the business needs of the site. The science is running the experiments on those designs, so the varied opinions give way to hard facts based on actual research.

The art and the science of user experience