Archive for the ‘Open’ tag
Today Google has their final logo for the Olympics, the London 2012 closing ceremony logo (aka Doodle). It is a nice basic Doodle but I wanted to share all the past logos from Google over the past couple weeks.
Google had logos for Open Ceremony, archery, diving, fencing, rings, hockey, rafting, tennis, shot put, pole vault, synchronized swimming, hurdles, basketball, slalom canoe, soccer/football, rhythmic gymnastics and today’s closing ceremony. The hurdles, basketball, slalom canoe, soccer/football logos were all addictive interactive logos that probably wasted countless hours of employee productivity.
Here are all the logos on one page…
Google Closing Ceremony Logo:
Slalom Canoe (interactive):
Google Closing Ceremony Logo:
Pinterest has removed their invite requirement! Now everyone who wants a Pinterest account can sign up and get one instantly. Exciting news, right?
At least half of you are now scratching your head saying, ‘funny, I didn’t know you needed an invite to get on Pinterest.’
Technically, you did. But unlike other soft launches, you didn’t have to get one from a friend on site or wait weeks to have your request approved. You requested, you were approved – no muss, no fuss. Now, I’ve heard from others that this wasn’t always the case. I’ve heard reports of waiting weeks for an approval and that might have been the case when I built my first Pinterest site. Honestly, I don’t remember, so the process couldn’t have been too painful.
Still, to the average person hitting the page, there’s a bit difference between “Sign up now” and “Request an Invitation.” A large portion of interested visitors wouldn’t have bothered to ask for the invite, and even more wouldn’t have followed through on the approval. (I wonder how many approvals landed in the spam folder?) By removing the invite, Pinterest has allowed for the drive-by signup. The, I heard about this place, I’ll check it out, signup. And since you can register using Twitter or Facebook, the process truly does take under a minute.
After you signup, you’re given a waterfall of images to choose from. Pick the ones that catch your fancy and Pinterest automatically populates an opening page for you to match your choices. The test run I did was spot on. So kudos to whomever designed their recommendation engine.
Once I was in, I noticed another change. Pinterest used to start you out with five default boards: “Products I Love,” “Favorite Spaces and Places,” “Books Worth Reading,” My Style” and “For the Home.” This clearly defines who they saw as their average user at the start. Now, they’ve removed the defaults, giving you four empty board templates that are easily customized.
Pinterest was already coming on strong, but the removal of the invite requirement and the open template should not only boost their numbers, but it should bring in a more diverse crowd. That’s great news for any marketer using this graphical wonderland to promote their brand.
Are you on Pinterest yet?
Last Wednesday, Pinterest announced in an official blog post that the online pinboard is now open for everyone. As stated on the blog post:
“For those of you who haven’t joined Pinterest yet, this means you can sign up without waiting for an invite: all you have to do is go to Pinterest.com to get started. In addition to using Facebook or Twitter login, we’re also opening registration so you can sign up with just your email address.”
Prior to this, users had to click the “Request for an Invite” button first, before being able to create their account. After Pinterest dropped their invite-only approach, users can now sign in for the social photo-sharing site using their email address, Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Pinterest: History and Beyond
In addition to this, Pinterest announced last July that they’ve added new categories such as Quotes, Tattoos and Weddings. There are also old categories that were tweaked: Pets became Animals, while Prints and Posters is now Illustrations and Posters. It was also reported that the virtual pinboard improved its old categories, so that users see less mis-categorized pins.
Pinterest enables its users to organize and share images of their favorite things on the net. According to previous reports by Experian Hitwise, the social photo-sharing website is the third-largest social network in the US after Facebook and Twitter.
Earlier this year, researchers found out that Pinterest got 21.5 million visits during the weekend through January 28. In relation to this, the website has 60:40 ratio of women to men visitors. However, the report is only based on web traffic rather than unique visitors and mobile users.
In May, the virtual pinboard raised $100 million in a round of funding. In turn, the funding values Pinterest at $1.5 billion. It was led by the Japanese commerce giant Raukten with a $50 million investment. As stated by Raukten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani:
“We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest’s vision and Raukten’s model for e-commerce. Raukten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world.”
As of the moment, Pinterest is looking to expand their overseas market, such as France, Germany and Japan. Previously, the online pinboard is enjoying a mainstream recognition in US, but is making a little headway abroad. The investment they’ve got from Raukten could open doors for Pinterest in Asia. To date, social photo-sharing site has raised $37.5 million in venture capital.
Source: Pinterest Home Page
There’s nothing better than unwinding with friends after a long week of work. Start early in this week’s open thread. More »
Interestingly, I’ve been meeting more compliance, legal, and governance professionals in meetings involved in brand side discussions around social business strategies. To understand the needs of this specific role’s goal is to protect the company but enable business to connect to customers Altimeter conduct an Open Research project
My colleagues Analyst Alan Webber and Researcher Jaimy Szymanski interviewed 33 professionals and vendors on the front end of social media risk management and surveyed 92 professionals who said social media risk management was either a significant part or the primary part of their job. The result is our report Guarding The Social Gates: The Imperative For Social Media Risk Management which looks at the newly emerging field of social media risk management.
If you’re a social strategist, (or serve one on agency or vendor side) it’s important you know how to manage risk as you roll out social business programs. Please forward this research report to those who are guarding the gates.
This report includes
- Interviews with 33 professionals of vendor and risk management, including those from top brands.
- Survey of 92 professionals who have a significant part or the primary part of their job in risk management
- Nearly a dozen frameworks, graphics, charts, and flow diagrams
Bob Evans has a colorful past. He works at Oracle these days as what I would call a king’s blogger except that he isn’t doing very well even with the apparent influence of the king himself.
Bob used to write for SAP where he penned his own gems about Oracle. The watchmen at Oracle thought Bob did such a good job that they decided to hire him. Now Bob turns on his blog flame against Oracle’s critics.
Bob decided to attack me yesterday in a post he wrote. It’s an odd one about how “TechCrunch is Clueless About The Cloud.” It’s their attempt to rebuke my post last week about how Oracle will be the big loser when IT gets virtualized.
I have been critiquing Oracle for some time about its cloudwashing, the way the company has acted in the open source community and Larry Ellison’s general bombastic antics. The consistent critique from the industry overall has had its effects. Oracle is a company that is trying to distract the market from some considerable flaws in its long-term strategy. The cloud is important for Oracle but only because the company has to make it sound like they actually have something there. They are not seen as a significant player. Yes, it has Fusion, what it calls cloud-based apps. But it is all tied to on-premise and thus the almighty Oracle database.
But there is no real platform as a service environment. There is Java Service, which has not been released yet. The Oracle cloud is not elastic, nor mulit-tenant.
My thought is that Larry Ellison got so pissed off that he ordered Bob to write the post decrying my so called baseless claims. Larry is deeply involved in acquisitions so the post struck a nerve. There are shareholders out there who may have questions like mine.
Bob’s post has all of Larry’s markings. The attacks, the double talk and the rule of opposites that I always apply to Larry. Whatever Larry says, think the opposite. If he says cloud, it is not. If he says open he means closed. And so on.
Bob rants about my baseless remarks, my sloppy work and my audacity for writing such outrageous claims. Whew. What a reflection of Oracle’s insecurities about how it really is threatened by the new movement to distributed infrastructures and open, loosely coupled cloud environments.
Let’s look at the facts: I have talked to several people since Bob wrote his Larryesque post. The consensus is overwhelming that Xsigo is a closed, proprietary technology that Oracle will use to optimize its own stack.
Eric Johnson, CEO of Adara Networks stated to me that it is apparent from Xsigo’s own publicly available information that Xsigo’s NIC does not have any open APIs. Xsigo works off a proprietary driver. You have a switch and a server with the Xsigo device in between. The device is not fully open to be programmed. It is a proprietary device with proprietary I/O that Xsigo is seeking to patent. With this closed environment, Oracle can easily plug it in to its own converged infrastructure.
The point of software defined networking (SDN) is that you have software that can program the hardware, Johnson said, That’s what you can do with OpenFlow, the effort to open software defined networking. Companies that use OpenFlow include IBM, HP and Google.
“There is nothing apparent that allows the core functionality to be programmed externally,” Johnson said.
Xsigo does not fit with open or the principles of SDN.
Bob has a nice quote from Oracle Product Manager Raju Penumatcha. Of course, Raju says there is no truth to my story. It’s funny because he also says that Oracle would tune other company’s products to work well with its own stack.
Of course! But read what he says carefully. Oracle is optimizing Xsigo for its own stack. It is not optimizing for other platforms from Google or IBM for that matter.
Open would be anathema to Oracle. Oracle has proprietary infrastructure, databases and apps. Opening it would mean right sizing its stack to other apps. That would cave in its business model that relies on a closed, proprietary model.
It’s also why the cloud is really not what Oracle is selling. The cloud is about being modular and interoperable. OpenStack lets any hypervisor run on any set of machines. That does not fit with the Oracle way of doing business.
George Reese, CEO of EnStratus said Oracle is still openly hostile to running anything besides Oracle virtual machines in its environment. For years the company has battled with VMware to keep its virtualization technology off the Oracle stack.
George aid Oracle does not have a story for the way the market is going.
“Oracle’s cash cow is its database engine,” he said. “Everything else is irrelevant.”
Bob says Oracle runs on Amazon Web Services. He writes:
Oracle has committed very publicly to offering best of breed open products that allow customers to integrate at any layer of their cloud deployment: PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS, says Penumatcha. This open-cloud policy applies for both public and private clouds, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said Oracle’s cloud products can run on the Amazon cloud as well.
That’s true but it would be stretching it to say that Oracle running on AWS has any value. George says what you can run in AWS is essentially crippled. It is not what customers want. They want the Oracle stack in the cloud but that’s not available.
Oracle put the “cloud” name on its products. But that’s just cloudwashing. Now if Oracle came out in support of OpenStack that would be another matter.
Bob also brings up IBM. Here’s the difference between the two companies. IBM has a legacy product portfolio but its behavior is entirely different. IBM is associated with the Linux movement. Oracle has been a terrible steward of Java and MySQL. Reese makes that point and it is what you hear often in the open source community.
I contacted an Oracle spokesperson for comment but have not yet heard back.
I could go on and on. But I’d like to end with saying that I am honored the king’s blogger took the time to attack me.
For me, it shows I am doing something right.
Today, Facebook is announcing Developer World HACK 2012, a two-month series of hackathon events for software devs.
Given the world’s rabid interest in events like f8, the company’s developer conference, and its Mobile HACK Roadshow earlier this spring, bringing more Facebook hackathons to more developers makes a ton of sense. Since demand for these events is so high, register soon to secure your place at the upcoming hackathons.
“The World HACK series is designed to bring the Facebook Developer story to a new set of cities — homes to some of the world’s most vibrant and fast-growing developer communities,” writes Facebook developer advocate James Pearce on the company blog.
“This year, to recognize that talented developer communities we meet around the globe, the best team we see on each continent will also win a trip to San Francisco to visit our campus and meet the Facebook team.”
Facebook’s got a soft spot for hackers, to say the least. The developer-centric company wrote an open love letter to the “hacker way” in its official IPO documents, and it hosts the annual Hacker Cup contest, a programming competition that brings the best of the technical best to Silicon Valley to compete. And its new campus sports multiple signs, both hidden and obvious, paying homage to the art and science of hacking.
For the World HACK series, each event will last a full day. Teams (or solo developers) will be asked to hack on the Facebook Open Graph; the best Facebook app will win its team the prize.
Devs in attendance will also get facetime with Facebookers, including technical sessions on social gaming, Open Graph, mobile apps, and more. Demos and code samples will also be available, as well as hands-on help from Facebook engineers during the event’s eight-hour hackathon.
HACK events are taking place in cities in every continent, starting now and stretching into early October. The first event is August 23 in Austin, Tx. The only other event in North America will take place in Vancouver, Canada. In South and Central America, the tour will make its way through Mexico City; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and São Paulo, Brazil, during the rest of August.
The HACK tour will make its European stops in Berlin, Germany Barcelona, Spain; Warsaw, Poland; and Moscow, Russia. Events in Asia will take place in Taipei, Taiwan; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Bangalore, India.
If Facebook could collect its 30% tax on what we pay monthly for Spotify, Hulu, or Netflix using the subscription payments system it’s rolling out today, it’d have nice new revenue stream to swim in. But that’s a deep cut for developers to give away just to smooth out friction in the one-time subscription set-up for material services.
So far, the only partners listed in the subscription payment beta started in June Facebook has listed are game companies like Zynga and Kixeye offering discounted virtual good and currency packages as beta partners. Facebook is a huge lead generator for media and web services too, though. It needs to leverage its powerful discovery channel to get into the payment stack, but 30% might just be too steep.
That’s not too far fetched, considering Facebook’s CFO David Ebersman explained in its pre-IPO Roadshow video that it’s considering charging less than 30% outside the games vertical.
Right now, Facebook’s business plan revolves around gathering content into an omni-news feed straight from users and from third-party apps via Open Graph, and then monetizing eyeballs with ads. Meanwhile, the money sucked in through the 30% tax it levies on in-web app payments has plateaued this year, become a much smaller percentage of total revenue.
This is happening for two big reasons. 1. Gamers are moving to mobile where they pay Apple and Google, not Facebook. 2. The 30% tax has deterred adoption by a growing class of subscription apps. See, 30% isn’t outrageous for game companies. Though they have big expenses on originally designing virtual goods and the games that house them, the per unit cost of selling them is effectively zero. But apps that rely on content licenses where they pay out per play and that have significant streaming costs can’t afford 30%.
There’s only a handful of media app developers like on-demand movie renters Ooyala and Milyoni who are surviving the current tax structure, and they aren’t thriving. But the newly rolled out subscription system lets set up recurring billing through your credit card or PayPal account.
Now that it can process subscription payments, though, Facebook needs to sign on the world’s most popular music and video streamers, specifically Spotify, Netflix, and Hulu. News is another potential vertical where it could try to join the payment stack, plus there’s also professional and web-hosting services., and personal fitness apps. Facebook even hinted at some potential partners, showing Spotify, MOG, and RunKeeper in mock-up of user’s subscription payment dashboard.
Sticking with music, lets take Spotify for example. Every user must sign in through their Facebook account, and Open Graph auto-sharing of every song they listen to has helped the service grow from 1.3 million daily active users in September and 3 million paying subscribers in January to 6.6 million DAU and 4 million paying subscribers today. At an average monthly fee of $7.50 each, Facebook would have made $27 million in a year on the 1 million new paying subscribers it helped source if it could get users to set up their subscription on Facebook where they discovered the service.
Spotify might balk at 30%, but 10% or 15% could be a better fit. And if Facebook wants to play hardball in getting the music service on board, it could always hint at turning down Spotify’s presence in the news feed if “relations deteriorated”. Earning $13 million might not sound like much, but Netflix has almost 5X as many paying subscribers. Those millions stack up.
It might be a bit messy trying to divide between who’s a game developer pay 30% and who’s an app developer paying 10% or 15%. Facebook should make a choice, though. Either lower the fee and convince established digital subscription services to pay for the discovery Facebook offers, or focus on ads while exploring social gifting to earn more and save its shattered share price.
Since it first appeared earlier this year, Boston-based educational startup Boundless has been on a mission to ensure that college students have a free alternative to the pricey and bulky world of physical textbooks. The startup believes that an oligopoly of textbook publishers has been driving up costs for years (as the four top publishers currently control the lion’s share of the market) and so it set out to change that. Naturally, as a result, Boundless has found itself on the receiving end of litigation — courtesy of three of those top textbook publishers.
Leaning on the $8 million it raised in April from Venrock, Nextview, Founder Collective and Kepha (and nearly $10 million total), the startup has since gone on the offensive, filing a motion to dismiss two of those claims last month, as it buckled down to fight its accusers.
“We aren’t intimidated by the lawsuits,” says co-founder Ariel Diaz, “as their sole purpose seems intent on stifling innovation from edtech startups like ours.” So, in spite of a legal morass, Boundless has pressed on, focusing on developing its product and push forward with its plans to overturn the textbook establishment.
Today, Boundless is officially coming out of private beta and launching to the world, which includes a brand new website, interface, additional content as well as the launch of its first “Open Textbooks,” which are available at the outset in seven subjects.
But to give you some quick background on Boundless: During its private beta, the startup emerged as a product (or proponent) of the Wikipedia Era. In other words, if we can say that the free, open and crowdsourced encyclopedia has played a significant role in democratizing (and lowering the price) of the world’s information, then Boundless can be seen as carrying that torch on to education.
In practice, this means that the startup works directly with Open Educational Resources (OERs) to curate and then connect college students to the openly-licensed and free educational content that’s been created by educators and institutions over the last two decades.
OERs, for those unfamiliar, make an enormous amount of educational content (including courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals) available through open-licenses, which we’re now seeing increasingly make their way into open and distance learning solutions. The startup takes the best of the material from those resources and offers a free educational platform/portal that helps students select their class and walks them through what they should be studying and how, while pushing interactive multimedia content and class materials to their mobile devices.
With its public launch today, Boundless is expanding on its earlier iterations with a set of new features, including improved navigation and intuitive search options to make studying faster and easier as well as a customizable Notebook that students can use to study and prepare for exams, highlight content and take notes. The startup has also converted its tools to HTML5 with the goal of providing a user experience similar to that of a native app but which allows students to open their materials, coursework and textbooks in any browser while working on their iPad or any other mobile device.
At the outset, Boundless offered a small group of subjects, including Biology, Economics and Psychology, and today the startup is expanding its suite to include Writing, American History, Physiology and Sociology, bringing its total to seven — with more on the way.
During its year-long private beta, Boundless tested its platform with students at over 1,000 universities, with students rating the experience 50 percent higher than that of physical textbooks and, on average, receiving a grade of B+ — with 80 percent of users saying they got the grades they wanted (or higher).
While these results have been encouraging for the startup, it still has a long road ahead. Last month, it filed a motion to dismiss two of the initial claims (for false advertising and unfair competition) from textbook publishers. But it has to sort those out before moving on to three copyright claims, which Diaz said he believes “have no merit,” and will be formally responded to after the current motions are resolved.
The startup will be tied up in litigation for the foreseeable future, and on top of that, it now has to leverage back-to-school season to find new users for its platform and open digital textbooks. Because all of the above is free, the pricing will no doubt be appealing to students buried under textbook and course fees. However, the startup still has some work left to do to prove that that its interactive platform and device-agnostic functionality can overcome any stigma there might be around choosing free, open educational content over the trusted (walled garden) world of the top textbook publishers.
Students may prove easier to convince than teachers and parents, who might be given more toward skepticism, but that remains to be seen. Boundless, naturally, is convinced that open and free are the future:
“In 10 years, we’ll look back and think how crazy it was that we forced students to pay over $1,000 per year for general textbooks,” Diaz said, “just like how today it now seems silly to ask someone to pay for a general encyclopedia.”
More on Boundless at home here.
If you’re doing more than a simple search on Google, you probably want those links to open in a new tab instead of the current one, so your original results are always available. Here’s how to make Google open your results in a new tab every time. More »