It’s all change on the interweb

As always my plans to spend a weekend dedicated to catching up, and even getting ahead, on my blogging etc seem to have been destroyed before Friday is even over, thanks to a horrible noise from the exhaust on my car. I guess that’s what you get for buying something cheap and unusual!

And that clumsily links into the amount of change that’s occurring at the moment to major sites:

New look Facebook has been talked about a lot, and it’s now available. And to be honest, I’m really undecided about the design. It certainly makes it more blog/lifestream than profile page, and it moves applications out of the way, which is good for dealing with application addicts. I’m surprised the advertising is moved out to a column where it is easier to ignore over time, although it did catch my eye the first time it logged.

And there’s new look Delicious. Notice the lack of del.icio.us, as it’s now become www.delicious.com, as they were seeing all sorts of versions of the name being used. A bit of a shame in some ways, as it was one major way to stand out from the crowd. Ma.gnolia might feel a bit silly now! Again the design is cleaner and more modern, and a little lifestream-esque.

And you may have heard the tiniest of whispers around the web that tiny new startup Google is being challenged by a new search engine called Cuil, which claims to index more pages than Google, and return more linked results. One interesting ploy is that they promise information for each search will be anonymous – fine in theory but what will happen in the event of a court case? At the moment, returns a bit flakey, like this one for Dan Thornton. But I’m going to give it some time before making a judgement – I was initially unimpressed with Mahalo, but I’ve grown to like it more and more as time goes by. The best thing about Mahalo’s human-powered search is that the official plugin allows you to display an information box alongside your Google results – meaning it can save you a few clicks if you’re researching something which is covered.

And rounding off a pretty quick skim, is the news for social media marketing, research and business people that Forrester has bought Jupiter Research, which is pretty big news in that space.

Now if I can just stop the exhaust falling off the car, I might be able to catch up with a  few things.

Contributing to the internet for more than just recognition…

I’ve had several conversations about user generated content with my colleague and fellow blogger David Cushman (and you can read his take here.)

Any online submission or rating system needs to have some reward to make the time invested worthwhile. And most of the current models use recognition as that reward, including Digg and Del.icio.us.

But the idea of payment is most definitely spreading. For a while bloggers could monetise their work either with advertising on their site – or by submitting articles to sites like Blogburst. Or even by writing content for sites like Helium.

But the options are growing every day. (Note, I’m not vouching for the earning potential, or payments from any of the sites in this post)

You could earn by using a social network like Yuwie.

Or you could submit links and comments to social review aggregator (and Digg clone), Ximmy.

Or by submitting videos to the likes of Revver.

Or you could even submit pages of search returns for Mahalo.

What’s interesting is how these sites will fair, and how the payment system evolves. Is payment enough to tempt enough users to make Yuwie or Ximmy a viable alternative? Because currently the payment system is definitely aimed at keeping payments as an optional bonus rather than a viable reason to justify the time involved.

Mahalo, meanwhile, takes a more valuable view of the content provided – as it should if it will challenge the likes of the Google search algorithm. Whereas Yuwie or Ximmy offer miniscule amounts for micro actions, Mahalo pays a huge amount, by comparison. But it also expects a lot more work, and applies a rigorous judging procedure.

But the main risk I can see for any of these new business is that their success could easily pave the way for competitors to attack them in a simple price war. And that could lead to a lot of false promises and unmade payments until finally the payment equilibrium puts a fair market price of user submissions, participation, and content.

That’s why I wouldn’t advise anyone to build a system around payment alone. But increasingly payment is becoming an expected part of participation and has to be factored into any social plan. The only variable is whether 1000 links to articles is worth $10 of my time for Ximmy – or a page of researched and picked search returns is worth $10 of my time on Mahalo!

This is just the start of my research into the online user economy, and economics isn’t my main skill, so I’d be really interested in opinions, comments, and anyone’s experiences with using paid UGC sites of any type…

(For the record, I’ve signed up with almost every site mentioned, but I’m still working towards any actual payments!)

Post man flu quick catch-up…

I can finally sit and type long enough without sneezing to start catching up….so…

Something worth plugging is the ‘One Child, One Laptop‘ initiative, which has had fun poked at it, but is now here. $200 gives one laptop, and from November $400 gives a laptop, and gets you one for your own kids…or yourself… The great thing, as Seth Godin points out, is that a child in the 3rd World with access to knowledge can start contributing in millions of different ways and changing things, whether it’s using a website to diagnose a family illness, or new agricultural techniques. Or realising how loans have crippled their country…

Less worthy, but also getting attention, is the post by Jason Calacanis defining Web 3.0 in his opinion. Which appears to also be a definition of Mahalo. Could this be a lovely wind-up? See the follow-up…Or Techmeme

Finally, does anyone else have problems with the Java image upload on Facebook, if you use Firefox? IE runs perfectly…

Quick thoughts on three web 2.0 sites

I’ve been playing around with various sites recently, so here’s some thoughts:

www.mahalo.com : Human-powered search engine.
It’s a nice idea, to have valid results compiled by an expert, but at the current level of answers, it just isn’t going to provide what I need. Most times I’m searching I want to find a quick answer, but mahalo just doesn’t have the coverage I need, and I wonder how fast it’ll grow with the reliance on humans. It’s been running for a while and I’m still struggling to find anything I need which returns a result…Even then, the actual answer ends up being supplied by Google, rather than mahalo.

www.pownce.com : social networking meets file sharing. One question springs to mind. Why, with ftp, file upload sites, and file sharing via MSN etc, would I need, or want, to persuade people to sign up and download another application?

www.iminlikewithyou.com : dating site with bidding. The stand out feature of iminlikewithyou is that you create games to attract bidder to contact you. And bid on other games to get the right to contact them.
Which brings to mind one important question. Why? If I’m looking for friends and dates, I want to log in, find the type of person I’m looking for, and start interacting. Not spend a week constantly trying to bid to win the chance to introduce myself, only to find out that actually, they don’t really want to chat. Gimmick for gimmicks sake…That’s why sites like Faceparty and Flirtomatic continue to have an audience. Men, in particular, are simple people. Don’t confuse us.

Three web 2.0 sites. Three opinions.

I’ve been playing around with a few sites recently. Here’s some quick off-the-cuff thoughts.

www.mahalo.com : Human powered search engine. It’s a nice concept, to get search results filtered by someone that actually knows the subject. But at the same time it’s just too limited for the things I want to search for. I like going and seeing what’s been logged so far, but when I’m looking for something for work and pleasure, I need to know I’ll get a result quickly. And that won’t happen with most of the search terms I need, as they’re always too niche to have been covered early on.

http://www.pownce.com/ : Social network file sharing. Seems like a good idea, if you have an allergy to ftp sites, or file upload sites. But the real problem is that I now have to get everyone I’d want to share a file with to sign up and download the application. How many people are going to do that? And how many times more likely is it that I want to share files with a general audience, or people who aren’t a connection?

http://www.iminlikewithyou.com : It’s a new take on old fashioned dating sites. Not sure I see the point in dating becoming even more hard work!