Have you heard about the new Friendfeed page that is currently in beta mode? If you haven’t, you might want to check it out. The new home page design is a big upgrade from the current cluttered and disorganized Friendfeed site. And if you’re both a Friendfeed and Twitter user, you’d immediately notice the striking resemblance between the Friendfeed in beta and Twitter’s home page. [Read more…] about Friendfeed vs. Twitter, Which Side Are You On?
Digg.com is rolling out it’s own toolbar called DiggBar which I could simply describe as a uber cool web tool. Whereas other site toolbars requires you to install a plug-in or script on your browser and then let it pop out by activating it from your browser’s Toolbar Menu before you can start using it, the DiggBar offers a faster way. [Read more…] about Digg Rolls Out its Cool DiggBar Tool
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. More like an online resume, the website lets users interact with professional contacts which could lead to new employment leads and greater professional collaboration.
Almost an year back LinkedIn had started treading along the same path as Facebook with the announcement of its Intelligent Application Platform. The purpose of the platform was to make available access to Linked In from several other websites and now the recently announced applications that will be part of the users profile.
The Nine Applications that would be available are from:
- Amazon : A Reading list to share books with others in the network.
- Box.net : Application to manage files online.
- Google : Integration with Google Presentation to include presentation slides in your profile.
- Huddle : Online workspace for collaboration.
- Six Apart : Application to link your blogs to your profile.
- SlideShare : Sharing Presentation from Slideshare.
- Tripit : To know and share your travel plans with your network.
- WordPress : Another blogging platform application.
- Company Buzz : A linked In application to receive information on companies you are interested in.
What sets LinkedIn’s approach apart from Facebook’s Application Strategy is the way they are introducing applications with well defined utility from the professional perspective. This also means that the applications would be highly tried and tested.
The applications are intended to provide more functionality to users to portray their professional tastes. In times of growing distress in the job market, web sites oriented to help users find new opportunities will gain popularity. And LinkedIn’s recent announcement is well timed for that.
Much has been said about the Semantic Web and how it would make possible a whole new generation of applications that can provide utilities based on the connections between data. Twine, developed by Radar Networks based in San Francisco, is a new service that puts to work technologies that delve into the content that a user is interested, providing suggestions and also aiding in organizing this information.
An excerpt from Technology Review:
Twine uses artificial intelligence–machine learning and natural language processing–to parse the contents of Web pages and extract key concepts, such as people, places, and organizations, from the pages that a user saves. The site then uses these concepts to link information and users. For example, creating a twine–a bundle of bookmarks related to a particular topic–devoted to a specialized technique in computer game design quickly led to the discovery of twines (created by other users) devoted to other areas of game design and to twines devoted to a popular game that uses the technique. It also led to other users interested in the subject. Twine is also meant to automatically generate tags, descriptions, and summaries of bookmarked Web pages.
All the real hard technologies are working in the background. The caveat here is that users have to collaborate to let the system learn about the categorization for topics.
“Website owners can make any site social!” This is the claim of Google with it up and coming service, Friend Connect, which aims to aid in adding social features to a website without any programming involved.
Google’s director of engineering David Glazer described Friend Connect as plumbing for the rest of the web. “The Web is getting better by getting more social. We’ve baked social features into the infrastructure of the Web, and it is not tied to any particular site,” Glazer said. “Users can interact with any of their friends anywhere they go on Web, and with any app.”
As declared by Google in their Press Center, websites that are not social networks can still be social through Friend Connect. But with only a preview page to contain people’s excitement, many people still wonder as to how exactly would Friend Connect work.
Connecting With Friend Connect
Google’s Friend Connect needs to, of course, connect to your website for exchange of applications. Designed to keep you in charge of your website’s data, Friend Connect can link your website to social networks. However, Google prevented being compared to spamming malware by stating that they will “never store social graph data from other sites, and we never pass users’ social network IDs to Friend Connected sites or applications.”
Fears at rest, let’s explore what Friend Connect will allow us to do with our websites in the near future.
- Google Friend Connect puts users in control over whether they’re connected to their data on Facebook.
- Google Friend Connect only reads a small amount of user data from Facebook, and does so using Facebook’s public APIs. We read the Facebook numeric id, friendly name, and public photo URLs of the user and their friends. We read no other information.
- The only user information that we pass from Facebook to third-party applications is the URL of the user’s public photo.
- Google Friend Connect does not permanently store any user data retrieved from Facebook.
For more updates on these four, you can check out “How Google Friend Connect Works” by Peter Chane, Sami Shalabi, Mussie Shore.
Will people buy what Friend Connect promised to shell out? I really don’t know, because there are more and more about this application network being doubted by many.
First, it doesn’t really secure a user’s content for the user, so the control factor becomes somewhat questionable.
Second, Google relations to popular application-based websites like Facebook are still shaky that launching the whole Friend Connect service might just end up a flop.
Third (and the last for now), I don’t think that it would be easy squeezing all of those user data and chosen apps into that small iFrame. I mean, what happened to the simple read-write-execute trio?
Forcing all three on an app in that small iFrame, not to mention the multitudes of applications that the user would want in that iFrame, would spell out complexity for me. So much for interconnecting the web in an easy format, don’t you think?
Google has entered the emerging platform-as-a-service race with the announcement of its App Engine that would be the first incarnation of a Google product similar to Salesforce.com’s force.com platform and Amazon’s EC2.
Google App Engine gives you access to the same building blocks that Google uses for its own applications, making it easier to build an application that runs reliably, even under heavy load and with large amounts of data. The development environment includes the following features:
* Dynamic webserving, with full support of common web technologies
* Persistent storage (powered by Bigtable and GFS with queries, sorting, and transactions)
* Automatic scaling and load balancing
* Google APIs for authenticating users and sending email
* Fully featured local development environment
Google App Engine packages these building blocks and takes care of the infrastructure stack, leaving you more time to focus on writing code and improving your application.
Logically the offering fits perfectly in Google’s plans since it boasts one of the largest server infrastructures in the world for delivering real time platform services and also because it is a leader in the web application space. Having always tailored its applications to gain from the innovation that comes from the developer community, this product is one that would really get traditional packaged software makers thinking.
Its coincidental that this latest announcement from Google comes in the backdrop of some phenomenal topics – VMware predicting the death of the OS and Charles Cooper’s suggestion that Microsoft should train its eyes on Salesforce.com than chase Yahoo is a battle (search) it may never win.
Google had the pieces in place for such as offering. With the in-house developed products such as BigTable and the GFS, cloud computing was always on the cards. But there is still more that Google could do to lure enterprises.
There’s no question that enterprises would be interested in using the Apps Engine as a testbed and a hosting platform for even a few corporate apps. What’s missing is an appliance that could allow them to develop these Apps Engine projects and keep their Web software creations internal. Consider it a cloud-but-not-cloud approach.
The new service will perhaps see Google make more inroads to the enterprise. And surely that will raise some alarms on the packaged software industry front.