lovehate: Web 2.0... whither 2.1?

Now that Web 2.0 has become a redundant term (after all, don't we expect the web to be interactive, feeding, streaming and end-user tweakable these days) when will the terminology move to the next step up the version hierarchy.
I have to apologize in advance, because while this lovehate will incorporate many open-ended questions that I invite people to answer for me, the majority of the discussion will not revolve around the real object of my derision: version-branding everything... but I digress 3.5.
When the Web 2.0 moniker became de rigeur around aught four, more people clamped onto the fashion of the version upgradability of the name as opposed to knowing what it was all about.
Remember the first time you could easily manage your RSS feeds, or the first time you got to move widgets around a page on the fly to create a custom portal experience? Remember the first time you Dugg something by clicking a simple button that updated on the fly, or giving a thumbs-up or down to a comment? Remember seeing your first REALLY cool freaky-styley Flash interface and then getting annoyed by them like so many animated gifs and beveled buttons of the past? Remember finding websites by designers that learned how to use flash for substance instead of style? Remember when social networks opened our eyes from a history of forums and newsgroups or even listservs?
Most of us remember all of this as the nascent signs that would be the explosion of Web 2.0 and yet, to me anyway, and I'm guessing many others, that seemed so long ago. Surely we've hit the version change or the upgrade somewhere along the way. We must be at Web 2.4.6 or Web 2.0 SP-1 by now. If we're going to buy into the branding of the Web as a version number, shouldn't we be willing to run with the entire procedure?
And here's a BTW 4.6: what ever happened to the Internet? Now, I could be wrong, but didn't the web used to be part of the internet? Wasn't "Internet" the global catchphrase dropped by politicians who wanted to seem too cool for their own good. Has Web 2.0 not only usurped "Web" but also "Internet" as well? Has the term "internet" become nothing more than a series of tubes? Have the words become interchangeable due to the Web's popularity?
And just by way of a WTF? 5.1, if Web 3.0 is supposed to be the advancement of server models that are not just storage and retrieval, but of execution as found in already existing web productivity applications like those promoted by Apple, Microsoft and, most prominently, Google, haven't we breached the outer vestiges of Web 3.0 already? Haven't we started to float through the Cloud? Surely we're starting to reach some of the potential if not benchmarks that would constitute a version shift, yet no one is ready to say we're officially at the Web 3.0 stage yet, but how about 2.5, 2.3, 2.1... hell, I'd even take 2.0.1 alpha at this point because it seems no version advancement moves so slow as that which evolves before our eyes.
And so if constant evolution is actually preventing a clean division between 2.0 and 3.0, who will ultimately be the voice responsible for leading us from the arbitrary muck and mire to the magic number? Will it be something as simple as a prompt from the social networker with the most followers? A well-placed tweet that gets re-tweeted ad infinitum until, by no fault, wish, cause, or ability of our own, we live in a Web 3.0 world and the first bloggers and eager tech column writers start heralding the advancements that are bound to be present in Web 4.0.
Maybe by then it will be called iWeb or MSWeb or GoogleWeb or The People's Web Republic of the United Provinces of China or Skynet.

Web 2.0 Table

lovehate: The CRTC and Protectionist Television

While I know that many readers south of the 49th parallel will have no idea what the CRTC is, and probably many Canadians won't either, I've had it with their ridiculous protectionist practices when it comes to primetime television.

I'm an avid television watcher. Some might call me an addict though I can't hear them because I'm watching Big Bang Theory. While many of you in the US are used to having local affiliates broadcast network shows and take advantage of being able to sell and show local ads to garner their revenue, the permissions of the affiliates only extend to their own channel.

The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission employs methodologies that have been prompted by the lobbying efforts of local Canadian stations and cross the line from logical to manipulative and destructive to the medium. In essence, the CRTC mandates that where a Canadian station is showing the same show as a US station that can also be seen by a viewer, the Canadian channel will "take over" the US channel for the entirety of the broadcast.

For example, I cannot watch Lost on WKBW from Buffalo (Cable 9) because at 9pm my local CTV affiliate is showing the same episode and Cable 9 becomes Cable 16 for the entire hour. Essentially, the cable providers have been ordered to redirect feeds to accommodate this protectionist regulation. Why shouldn't I have the right to watch to the show through a US feed if I want to? What harm does it do to CTV but for the chance their advertising will go down... and there's the rub.

Some of you might be thinking "what difference does it make if they're showing the same episode on both channels?" There are a few problems that are not clearly evident unless you are subject to it, but I'll try to illuminate:

  1. I should have the right to watch US commercials if I wish. Paying for cable gives me that right. While I admire the fact that the CRTC on one hand restricts the amount of paid ads a station can show each hour, this merely subjects me to the mind-numbing repetition of station promos every commercial break to fill in the gaps.
  2. Many primetime episodes from US networks are now tinkering with start/end times. Sometimes an episode runs for an extra one or two minutes (usually where a cliffhanger happens). Canadian stations don't only broadcast shows from one US network; they mix and match. If the 63 minutes broadcast of Fringe ends at 10:03 on Fox, but on Global Canada they've got an episode of Lipstick Jungle set to start at 10:00, the feed will often jump to the new show before the previous one fninished - ON BOTH CHANNELS. That means that even if I was watching Global, saw the switch, frantically switched to FOX, I'd still be watching the beginning of Lipstick Jungle instead of the end of Fringe.
  3. During a big television event (read: Superbowl, Oscars, etc.) US networks often debut new ad campaigns with high-end commercials that we will never get to see. I know that some of you can't understand the allure of seeing a new commercial, but trust me, it far beats seeing another promo for Corner Gas during the two minute warning of the big game.
  4. The Canadian uptake on HDTV has been very well implemented in some cases but annoying faulty in others. In watching the CTV-HD feed of the NFL yesterday the HD dropped out at least a dozen times down to SD for half a minute or more.

When I emailed the CRTC with this complaint earlier this year, they claimed Canadians wanted it this way and it was the law. First, if Canadians wanted to watch Canadian feeds, they could still do so. Second, laws evolve and are prone to change when people realize how wrong they are.

The CRTC has a place. The CRTC has a purpose. Its place should not be on a US channel that I pay for. Its purpose should be to offer me choice, not restrict it. If you're Canadian, go to the CRTC website, register a complaint and see how little they're willing to even discuss remedy. If you're American, be happy we don't spend billions of dollars each year on television programming, because if you wanted to watch our stuff, your government would probably be lobbied to do the same thing.

no crtc

lovehate: Monetizing Microblogging

One of the greatest things about the web is the freedom that it gives to explore and browse at will anywhere on the continuum between the sacred and the profane. That freedom is further enhanced largely by the fact that other paying for your PC and your monthly server usage, most things can be done for free. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter's hundreds of millions of users grow exponentially all based on the fact that someone is offering them up a service for free.

Now let's face it, free doesn't necessarily mean your eyes won't wander to the seeming wallpaper ads that start to creep up the sides of your profile pages on MySpace and Facebook. But the ads are just that - wallpaper, and wallpaper becomes fairly innocuous to us as time passes. Quite truthfully, while I know there are side-scroller ads every time I'm on Facebook, I can't for the life of me remember even one by name. And so I continue to equate my media desensitization to free Facebook.

With the expectation of Twitter monetization sometime this year, the question remains: how does one monetize a microblog?Imagine if Facebook could only monetize the status updates... what would they do? I, though not the first or last to wander through such meandering miasma, will try to offer a few possible alternatives for what you might be seeing in your Twitter (or tweets') future.

1) Offer up a Pro Version

Such a Pro version would be a subscription type of service that would offer a couple of dozen customization options, maybe an "official" Twitter client, a 12seconds or Seesmic-like video option, and an opt-out choice on Number Two.

2) Tweet Ads (full Twitter Corporate Accounts)

Whether only once, or once a day, big name companies will buy into forcing tweets onto your page. Picture a Coke or Pepsi ad coming up with a special image or flash animation. Companies could tweet links to Twitter-only coupons and special offers. Dell has done this to great success with it's followers. If the follow choice was taken out of the equation completely a company could ensure millions of direct views a day... maybe they pay extra to keep it at the top of your list for 24 hours.

3) Tweet Ads (specific users/follwers)

Full Twitter ads would cause an uproar, though this uproar could be alleviated if the Top 20 were enlisted to support such a campaign. Imagine if Kevin Rose or Leo Laporte was offered 10, 20 or $50,000 from a soft drink company to push one tweet a day on their followers. Imagine if Jason Calacanis was offered $100,000 for a month's worth of Tesla Tweets. What if Robert Scoble was paid the same amount for permitting Palm to pitch the Pre? Would the loss of the disgruntled followers dissuade from the money to be made? Twitter could act as the agent for such marketing and retain sole denial over any independent ad pitch.

Let's face it, if Twitter's monetization ideas are too harmful to the service, it will have to be the Top 20 who effectively kill them.

4) Expand services

Maybe, now that Twitter has ceased to be a real website presence and more of service, it's time for them to get into the Social Networking game full bore: profile pages, widgets, etc.. We're all looking for the next Facebook killer even before Facebook has outstretched MySpace in the US. Perhaps Twitter could provide the social networking platform for the upcoming decade.

While these choices may range from likely to out-of-reach, the simple truth is that VC funding doesn't last forever. With the initial round Web2.0 deaths or fade outs already at our door, Twitter may realize that while the writing's not on the wall, someone's has started to circulate Sharpies. They're stuck between the Scylla and Charybdis - a next step is imminent, but do your take the chance on monetizing, make a mis-step, and start to fade, or do you start to listen to buyout/merger offers while the service is still seen as pristine?

With Fail Whales behind and dollar signs ahead, someone's set to make a bundle if they can walk the fine line between mildly annoying users and plain pissing them off. Walk like a prophet, or run at a loss.

a tweet deal

thinglets: A Blogger's 12 Step Program

  1. We admitted we were powerless over blogging—that our opinions had become unmanageable... and then blogged about it.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than the web could restore us to sanity... and then Tweeted it.
  3. Made a decision to turn our keyboard and our webcams over to the care of Baud as we understood It... and then Facebooked it.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves... and then MySpaced it.
  5. Admitted to Baud, to ourselves, and to every other human being the exact nature of our wrongs... and then Pinged it.
  6. Were entirely ready to have Baud remove all the defects of character mapping... and posted a pic of it on Flickr.
  7. Humbly asked Baud to remove our fail whales... and waited for it to happen.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had ReTweeted, and became willing to Friendfeed them all... and so did.
  9. Made direct messages to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would deprive Followers... and so we Dugg their posts.
  10. Continued to take social network inventory and when we were wrong promptly went to Seesmic and apologized... in 60 seconds.
  11. Sought through webcam and keyboard to improve our conscious contact with Baud as we understood It, typing only for knowledge of Its knowledge of us and the power to carry that out... to Technorati.
  12. Having had a virtual awakening as the result of page views, we tried to carry this message to luddite friends, and to practice such messaging in all our affairs... until something better comes along.


DyscultureD Episode Fifteen: "The Quint" is up!


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Full Dysclosure
MacWorld Expo: The Show Before The Show
Phishing for the Fail Whale on Twitter
Facebook Says No Boobs Allowed - Unless You Are One Of Their Policy-Makers
Why Facebook is losing its status as “Treehouse 2.0″ - Parents Welcome!
Spotify: The Torrent Alternative

Tech Segment
The 6 Things That Kinda Shoulda Probably Won’t Happen in 2009

Wheel of Pop
Movies 1990

Websites Of The Week

Musical Selection

lovehate: Social Network Porn

Hot on the heels of a Reuters story that speaks of pictures of women breastfeeding being censored from the site, several question have popped into my mind regarding the future of social networking as a part of life... okay, the title was a bit of tagline baiting.

Obvious question: If it was a man breastfeeding (or at least portraying the act of breastfeeding) would the reaction have been different? (All Family Guy fans, here's the clip you're looking for.)

If it is acceptable for a woman to breastfeed in public, how is not acceptable that an online social network of the same people cannot accept pictures of said act?

Second obvious question: Censorship concerns aside, why would anyone want to post a picture of themself breastfeeding?

The article quotes a FB rep who claims"the photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain." ...which users? Doesn't Facebook work on the premise that those who can see your pics should be friends or acquaintances? Why is a stranger trolling FB profiles for breastfeeders?

If social networks are to become the consolidated evolution of social intercourse in our society, then surely the gatekeepers of these networks should reflect the global views of the people that inhabit them and not the outraged complainers.

Third obvious question: Does this mean we're going to have a rash of women posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding to make a point?

Now don't get me wrong, I fully advocate a website's right to dictate terms of use. I just think a platform like Facebook, which claims such acts are necessary to "protect children", has done little to curb pictures and videos of people drinking, smoking, or pulling stunts which cause bodily harm. Aren't these practices potentially far more damaging to children than happening to see a nipple or two? Wasn't Facebook supposed to be doing a better job at keeping children off it's site where they may be subject to predators... especially the one's trolling for breastfeeding pics?

Fourth obvious question: Why should Facebook get to define obscenity?

Let's put our cards on the table. Facebook and other social networking platforms and sites want to move a large chunk of our social discourse and intercourse online, and, I'll admit, I've bought in. I tweet, facebook, myspace, plurk, friendfeed, and ping a-plenty. But we are coming to a crunch where the line will either be drawn or crossed as to the degree I can take such online exchanges. I would hope that all things that would be acceptable in my everyday life, between friends, families and acquaintances, would be fine in my online dialogues. I would hope that I wouldn't have to live in fear of a stalwart social networking site, on whim, pulling the plug on a tool I have now turned to in directing much of my communication. I don't want to think of how many old friends I follow solely on Facebook that would be lost if my account was ever pulled.

I don't like a website having that much power over my network. And while I fully admit that I am the one giving them the set up for such a fiasco to occur... isn't that their goal? Isn't the idea that Facebook can go to investors and sponsors and say we've got this demographic at this percentage, and they would leave us if Barack Obama told them to on Twitter? All it would take is the following checkbox beside a newly-uploaded pic: "If you think a child under 12 or their parent could be offended by this picture, please check this box and we'll ask any viewer to confirm age before looking." Let the users police themselves!

We are not idiots. We are not disrespectful. We are trying it your way, but with a user-generated monetization model you'd best listen to most of us and not just prudish porn miners.

Don't become like television networks that refuse to allow real language, situations, or views of the human body for fear of advertising revenues. Be the user experience we want and need you to be and we will follow you to the end of the web... or the year... or until you sellout... or until something better comes along - hey, we're nipple - I mean FICKLE!