The Worthy Adversary

I'm finishing my coffee...

Friday, July 17, 2009

6 People Like Walter Cronkite's Death

About two and a half years ago I reviewed Google Reader and made a few suggestions around social features, especially the ability to connect with others by being able to read comments from within Google Reader.

I am still waiting for this feature to be implemented, and I am certain that it isn't an easy challenge to tackle, if they are even considering it. Pulling comments from completely different platform (e.g. WordPress, etc.) into the Google Reader experience seems like a gigantic challenge so I am not holding it against them. Aside from that, the Google Reader team seems to be busy at work bringing interesting improvements to their own product.

The other day I was checking in on my subscriptions in Google Reader just a couple of days ago and noticed their new "Like This" feature. "Great", I thought, "another way to connect with the Google community and especially with the readers who are subscribed to the same feeds as me." This could be a really interesting opportunity to discover new sources of web-content just by looking at what those with similar interests are subscribing to. I can't wait to dig in a little bit and explore what those who like stories in the feeds I am also subscribed to in Google Reader are reading.

The only complaint that I have is a fairly minor one and I will address it directly to the big G:

Google, how could you choose "like this" to be the idiom for this feature? First of all, Facebook has already been down this path (thanks to Passive Aggressive Notes). Second, you know what's going to happen when people like terrible news? It's going to look just like this:

Even if it's the most touching story about the late, great, Walter Cronkite, the deflating headline placed juxtaposed against a count of the number of people who "liked this" just seems a bit too raw. Perhaps just adding the word "story" to the end of the phrase would eliminate the concern... For the time being, I guess I will just have to accept that there are at least 6 really mean people out there in the world somewhere.

At the end of the day, I guess I would recommend that they invest in the ability to artificially systhesize the meaning of a feed and be able to inject the appropriate idiom for the context.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Muxtape Stumbler

A few weeks ago, I posted about muxtape, a relatively new website which allows you to create your own 12 song playlist in the cloud. I wrote about how it was a great tool to relieve iTunes fatigue. Now I have sumbled upon muxtape stumbler, which allows you to find posted muxtapes by browsing top artists or by artist search. Is this the cure for muxtape fatigue?

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Note in Google Reader, Goodbye & twitter

I just checked my Reader subscriptions after a long day of work. Top of the list was a post from the Official Google Reader blog about their new "Note in Reader" feature. I came straight here to post this cause I think it's pretty cool.

I have been an on and off user of to bookmark various things I happen upon around the net that I think are interesting and know that I wouldn't be able to find again if I tried to. I have also used twitter for the same thing (with the help of the awesome firefox extension twitterbar). These are both great services in their own right, but before today it was always a bit irritating how disconnected my own personal experience on the web is. The majority of my time on the web is spent checking my reader subscriptions and randomly stumbling upon sites (literally and figuratively).

In the past, when I have wanted to share a site with friends who use google reader I have chosen to tag them in and share them from reader once they show up (I subscribe to my feed in reader for this very reason). Twitter could be a similar experience, but I just haven't taken it that far yet. And now thanks to the good folks at Google, I can catalog my entire experience on the web (or the parts I deem important, at least) in my Reader and go back to tweeting my way out of egyptian custody.

They have made a simple javascript utility that you can throw in your bookmarks toolbar. When you click it, the script pops up a dialog allowing you to comment/tag the URL and post it to your Google Reader account as a note. By default it is set to share via Reader automatically.

The ability to tag/bookmark sites isn't quite as big a deal to me as the fact that you can do it from within Reader. All of the sudden, Reader becomes a great place to collect the content that is important to me. Subscriptions to RSS feeds that I find interesting, sites that do/don't have feeds that I have happened upon but may not want to actually subscribe to, sites that don't have anything, YT videos, etc. All connected and all within Reader.

Though it feels disconnected, there is one way in which still has the drop on Reader, community. One thing I really like about is the ability to check out links/tags from users who are bookmarking the same URLs or using the same tags. I suspect that through suggestions and some features that may come out over time, this will be less and less of an issue.

Also, I would still really like to see Reader add a post's comments into the posts within each story (at the very least for those blogs using blogger, right?). The experience of seeing what other views think is worth sharing via comments is something I really miss about living with Reader. Someday...

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Muxtape: A Fantastic & Simple Music Discovery Tool

I like a little background noise while working on my computer. When I am at work, I will put iTunes in random play mode, throw on my headphones to tune everything out and play some music.

I have about 15 Gigs worth of music in my iTunes library (about 8 days worth, according to iTunes). That's more music than I can really choose from and embarrassingly, if I don't put iTunes into random mode I get into ruts, listening to one of just a few albums over and over again.

Even in random mode, I skip a lot of songs because I am either not in the mood or am tired of the song (how can I be tired of songs that I haven't listened to in months?). I seem to have developed a case of iTunes fatigue.

Today I stumbled across Muxtape is a service that allows users to upload a muxtape (playlist) of up to 12 songs for the world to check out. It is extremely simple and though it appears to lack the social bells and whistles that many "web 2.0" sites are flaunting these days, the playback interface is clean and sophisticated. Users can use the arrow keys to skip forward and back, and the spacebar will pause the current song.

Muxtape was launched on March 25th, 2008 (according to their tumbler blog), and it definitely has that new site smell. There are just a few features that would add great value to the service that I would like to request:
  • Embeddable muxes
  • Add genre tag for songs, make searchable
  • Listener tags for muxtapes, make searchable
  • Listener ratings for muxtapes (this could be a display of how many times a muxtapes have been favorited by users)
  • Nested Muxes: Instead of looping back to beginning of the mux after the last song ends, loop to another mux (perhaps playing through a users favorites...)
  • Exposed stats for number of listens a muxtape has
  • Add album art for songs and links to where you can purchase a song (Since the RIAA just don't get it, muxtapes is probably going to have to appease them at some point... [Muxtapes terms explicitly state that users must have permission to use the songs they upload, but I can't see the RIAA letting go unless mux proactively works to prevent this from occurring or does something that will be of fiscal benefit to the music industry... though they arguably are doing that already!!!])
Currently, you can subscribe to the RSS of individual muxtapes. Presuming users will change their muxes over time and that you like their tastes, this will be a handy feature. Other than the few new feature requests I have, I think that they've hit the nail on the head with this service.

Nice work, Mux! I'll be listening, and cheering for your success!!!

P.S. Can anyone tell me if muxes will play on the iPhone/iPod Touch? That kind of device combined with geographical awareness (á la iTunes store @ Starbucks) could present some pretty awesome opportunities for audio guided museum tours, driving tours, you name it... (ever used one of those crappy green handsets they give out at places like Alcatrez and the Coliseo Roma [image from Ed_Aisela]).

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

New England Patriots: A Team of Destiny

Uh, oops. Did anyone tell them they actually had to win their last game BEFORE they got the trophy? It sure wasn't the press who all but anointed them 19-0 before the game even began.

It was an extremely drab game for commercials too. Not a good one in the bunch. Someone should tell the marketing groups that if they are going to spend a whole, whole lot on ad-time during the Super Bowl, they should at least entertain us. I don't remember a single commercial...

Were you as bored as I was?

I have to say that I do feel bad for Mr. Brady, but he really played poorly. Not to take anything away from the Giants defense--who clearly wanted it more. I have a hard time believing that he played so poorly, with the exception of one drive late in the fourth quarter.

Hopefully, this will be the end of the Patriots dynasty. As someone who watched them luck there way out of a playoff loss against the Raiders in the Snow because of a blown call (or was it just a really poorly defined rule, enforced to the letter?), I never hate to see them lose.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kaltura, the facebook, youtube, imovie mashup

If you can envision a facebook page that is centered around editing a video with iMovie-like editing tools and YouTube-esque delivery and you have envisioned Kaltura.

As if creating a server side application that replicates all the best qualities of iMovie wasn't enough, the creators of Kaltura have added a dash of social community to spice things up. After signing up, the best way to participate in this community is to edit an existing video project (called a Kaltura) or create your own.

It will be interesting to see if the über-social notion of group editing will be attractive to the community. The one thing I found a bit lacking when playing around with the service was the source content available. Like many of you, I don't have an existing library of content for everything I would like to make Kalturas about. When searching (and I really like the search tool they have built) I didn't find enough content to use as source. I hope they will be able to partner with sites like YouTube to make more content available as source...

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