Google Drive (finally!)
So, this week, Google launched Google Drive. Finally. It gives you 5GB of cloud storage, which already contains your Google Docs and stays automatically synced with a local folder on one or more of your computers or devices (not iOS yet, but they're working on it). Despite a torrent of unfounded dismay over its Terms of Service, which is actually very straightforward and logical, the singular thing that stands out is how much it is an identical clone of Dropbox. So, what is different? The ecosystem. A future version of Chrome OS will use Google Drive as its system drive, and Google Drive launched with an SDK providing Chrome applications to be built on top of Google Drive. Like this online fax and email signing app, which launched its Google Drive functionality on the same day as Google Drive itself. For the time being though, it's just some extra Dropbox space.
Twitter destroys Facebook on sharing
A new study claims that links shared on Twitter are clicked much more than on Facebook. Since Twitter is a weak tie network, it makes sense. However, it does not follow that Twitter is a better bet for brands than Facebook. Fashion brands for example would be crazy not to use Facebook.
The future of Online Video
Youtube is great, and Vimeo is beautiful, but we have yet to see a "Twitter for video". Color wanted to be it, but failed. A Norwegian newspaper is currently doing something very interesting with online video. Dagbladet, a liberal tabloid, has launched the Dagblated Nyhetsstudio ("News Studio"), which puts the viewer in control of 7 video feeds (most of them realtime). Only one video is maximised at a time, but if you hover over any of the other thumbnails, you hear its audio, allowing you to "preview" it. Their field reporters walk around with backpacks full of video streaming gear, collecting the footage in real time. If this is not the future of online video, it is dangerously close.
Display ads are dead?
An interesting article in AdAge makes the case that display ads' days are numbered because everybody's attention is switching to platforms like Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. We don't agree – more nuanced and correct is this article which argues that because of the blurring between ad units and shared content on these platforms, it will require a shift in skills towards 'content'. Buyers would have to have a nose for a story and a finger on the pulse of what's going down on social platforms.
All this connectivity and no conversation
Like Evgeny Morozov, celebrated MIT professor Sherry Turkle is one of the people pining for the early days of the internet. Analysing a considerable body of research, the author of 'Alone Together' this week again claimed that our relationships are suffering because of social networks and mobile phones. As per usual it was Zeynep Tufeckci who pointed out that social media is 'a counterweight to the ongoing devaluation of human lives'. Tufkekci takes the debate a step further, pointing out that a small group of increasingly disconnected people do indeed struggle to use new technologies (for various reasons). And they could increasingly find themselves at a social disatvantage.
The power of Guest Blogging, the Buffer way
It is no secret that we love Buffer, and the way they do things. This week, another one of those things intercepted our radars: 70% of Buffer's initial traffic was created by guest blogging. How did they do this? Mostly by guest blogging about Buffer! If you have an amazing application, why not? If you don't, why are you still working on it? This is one of those things that just seems so obvious, once you've heard it.
Creatives of the Week – Matt Richardson & PicturelessPinterest
Who needs images when you've got words? That's the core thought about both of these projects. PicturelessPinterest is a cheeky Twitter account that narrates the best of Pinterest, but without the pictures. Simple but funny. Matt Richardson makes it a bit more complicated: he's developed a camera that doesn't produce an image but a text description of what you're trying to capture. Wait a minute – how does that work? He uses Amazon Mechanical Turk, a service that uses real humans behind to do things for machines that machines can't easily do. Very cool!
There’s a War coming
This week Sergey Brin, Google founder, launched a broadside against government censorship of the Internet (and added some concerns about Facebook and Apple to boot). This of course echoes the thoughts of Sir Tim Berners Lee, who has exhorted all of us to ask Facebook et al to give us access to our data. But perhaps the most comprehensive call to arms was made by science fiction writer and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow in January, but since it will define our Internet futures it is still worth a read.
Speaking about War …
… the war between Apple and Amazon started in 2007 after Apple made a deal with major book publishers, that smells distinctly of price fixing, is reaching a new apex as the Department of Justice has filed antitrust cases against Apple and its band of book publishers. Apple has decided to go to trial. Which is fair, because this is by no means a one sided argument. This post by Charlie Stross points out the predatory nature of Amazon's way of doing business, by trying to create a Monopoly and a Monopsony (one buyer, many sellers) at the same time. Very interesting.
The not so great firewall of China
The current political upheaval in China is a great test to see whether the Chinese government can keep a lid on their great unwashed. It seems that, despite being one of the most comprehensive filtering regimes yet, the Chinese government has not been successful in keeping a lid on information. In fact, some now argue that the only way for them to do so, would be to switch off the Net completely, which would have large economic and social consequences. The central government could rather use social media as an important tool to fight corruption – it is networked authoritarianism.
Facebook becoming dearer
As demand for Facebook advertising rises, prices are going up. In fact, CPM's (or cost per thousand ads served) have risen by 41% over a one year period. The same report recommends brands use sponsored stories, "the type of ad that offers the strongest return on investment of all promotions on the social network." Sponsored stories are not unlike promoted Tweets, pieces of content which can be seeded by media buying. A past report by TBG found that sponsored stories yield a 46 percent higher clickthrough rate than all other ad types.
Thinking about the next big thing
Speaking of Facebook – Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic provides brilliant insight into the future we envisaged in the late 90's. It is here. It's been done, with Facebook right at the epicenter of it all. To quote:
"The platforms that have seemed hot in the last couple of years — Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest — add a bit of design or mobile intelligence to the established ways of thinking."
And he stomps on hardware too. Yes, even Apple:
"The most exciting thing to come along in the consumer space between then and now is the iPad. But despite its glorious screen and extended battery life, it really is a scaled up iPhone that offers developers more space and speed to do roughly the same things they were doing before."
Without trying to point out what it should be, he urges the great minds of today to put their mind to new things, and especially new business models. Something other than thinking about how to make people click ads. Food for thought?
Path gets a new capital injection
Speaking of the next big thing, Path is not quite it, according to Om Malik. It has, however, secured another $30 million in funding, thus we can be sure to see renewed effort coming from them in the next few months. Despite being designed absolutely exquisitely, Path still needs to define a singular addictive behaviour, and as a result it lacks the draw and engagement of something like Instagram. It can also not harness the viral power of celebrities, because of its 150 friend limit. It surely has a tough job ahead – let's see what happens.
What's in a tweet?
Back to the status quo: the beauty of Twitter is the fact that users are forced to keep their messages down to 140 characters. Despite this fact, as we noted in a blog post last year, each tweet holds twice the amount of data than a standard mobile text message (which can be 160 characters long). What is the rest used for? The economist has published a very handy graphic, detailing all the data contained in a tweet. This is why a single tweet can mean so much.
Creatives of the Week: Agency Republic
Here at RAAK we're completely in love with the mini-computing revolution, stimulated by platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi. That's why this project by Agency Republic plunged straight into our radar with a splash. It is a poster, which … wait for it … when you throw something at it, skips to the next track on the office's Spotify. Nice!
When Google Search turns semantic, what should you do?
According to Econsultancy, that date can't be too far in the future anymore. Semantic search will see Google doing their best to provide direct answers to users' search queries, instead of supplying them with a list of links. This means you'll have to provide answers to questions in your field of expertise in your content's markup, to keep scoring high in Google's eyes. This will see a complete revolution in SEO, where SEO will mean turning your content into perfectly 'minable' data. And this, at last, might finally sign in the dawn of Sir Tim Berners-Lee's big idea for the web: the ability for machines to 'understand' content.
Does Klout measure your social capital, or something else?
Brian Solis has just published a paper on Influence. He rightly points out that we'd be silly not to take services like Klout and PeerIndex seriously, despite their flaws. Solis also points out that they don't really measure Influence, but rather "social capital". We think he is right and wrong.
A public Chatroulette
The Internet is interactive, but broadcasting tends to be one-directional. So whither internet TV? Brand new startup OnTheAir has a novel approach. They will enable conversations to be broadcasted: Ideal for celebrities, bloggers and the like, looking to include their audience members in their broadcasts.
Kickstarter's funding dollars have a lasting effect
Kickstarter has an amazing case study on their blog. In short, before the 3.3 million dollar breakaway success of the game Double Fine Adventure on Kickstarter, the Video Games category averaged 629 pledges per week. After Double Fine, the category boasts an average of 9755 pledges per week. This behaviour was mirrored in the Web Comics category. This means, instead of having an exhaustive effect on the available pledges, a surge in pledges seems to attract even more.
The problems of popularity beset Pinterest
A few weeks after Tumblr banned content that promotes self-harm, like bulimia and anorexia, Pinterest has done the same. However, the so-called Thinspiration content is still freely available. In other news, pointing to how tough life can be at the top, Pinterest has been infiltrated by spammers who are making as much as $1000 per day from their spam bots. They claim Pinterest is by far the easiest network to spam these days.
Does Tumblr have an SEO problem?
It would seem so. In a detailed blog post Dan Zambonini details why he moved his websites from Tumblr to WordPress. He reckons that if the simplicity of Tumblr is not key, WordPress's SEO makes it the 'must have' choice.
Creatives of the week – Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg
Take one designer, one mathematician, a desire to invent new ways for people to think about data and you get Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg. The pair have been working on data visualisations since 2003 and currently lead Google's Big Picture environmental initiative. But in their spare time they make nice things too, like this gorgeous map of wind patterns in the US.