I like the idea and I like the two founders, at least in the video introduction. But there are many companies trying to apply the Wikipedia model across the long tail of topics, Wikipedia notwithstanding. Moreover, Wikipedia founder and wiki-evangelist Jimmy Wales is trying to apply the Wikipedia model across topics through his new venture called Wikia. Read my Net Sense column on MarketWatch for my take. Google is also trying to dig into topics with the help of the audience through its Co-op service. And, others -- including search startups - are trying to help people put together the ultimate reference page for any topic with the contribution of everyone on the Web. I call these topical pages - online brochures. Don't get me wrong. Brochures are valuable. I pick them up, or some sort of flyer, all the time when I travel to various places. It's just unclear which of these sites will attract the 1% of active creators to help build out these online brochures. As I said in one of my columns, regarding Plum (read Bambi.blogs.com for that column), most people grow tired of creating, or they'll need far more incentive to create. They'll start projects without finishing, resulting in half-baked Web pages and would-be news sites that ultimately are nothing more than one-off snapshots in time. Like the many cardboard folders I've created and then shoved in my desk or into storage boxes. At some point, they lose their value, and we end up with a bunch of useless Web pages or dead blogs just taking up space and clogging up searches. But, hey, each is an individual user's media portal, and users can do -- or fail utterly to do -- whatever they want. Now, I tested out Zimbio. I added my blog as a resource in its "Tour de France" page. It was pretty simple to add. In fact, the site works pretty smoothly. But many sites do. As I've written in the past regarding news sites that require audience participation, it's not the features of the site but the people in the joint that matter. Interestingly enough, when I signed up to Zimbio, I received my personal dashboard page where I can organize my collections. I'm seeing a lot of these personal dashboards these days. What that says to me is that there will be a lot of personal dashboards sprinkled across the Web with very little activity on them. In like vein, there will be a lot of half-baked topical pages created by many people across a number of services that want to wiki-rize (made-up word) the Web.
This is yet another social network, but the difference is that the content or focus is around movies. Flixster is building upon the popular features that have helped Netflix rent more movies. Those features include the ability to see or make recommendations and see which movies are the most popular among friends or in the Netflix community. Netflix said that some 60% of the movies rented come from recommendations. Clearly, recommendations help people discover new movies to rent. Unlike Netflix, however, on Flixster, you don’t get the great service of receiving movies in the mail. Of course, you don’t have to pay $10 a month either. To that end, Flixster can be a nice complement to the many movie-download services emerging, such as Amazon’s unBox. So, let me share my experience on Flixster. First off, I have to say that this service (more than others) is set up in such a way that it’s easy to invite friends – a form of grass-roots marketing that can have exponential affects on growth. It’s no wonder that in 10 months, Flixster has signed up 5 million registered users who collectively have posted 190 million movie recommendations written. That’s pretty fast. But a lot of that has to do with the way Flixster is set up. One of the smart ways Flixster is making the grass-roots marketing far easier for us is by integrating our address books immediately upon signing up. After I signed up with my gmail account, Flixster displayed my gmail email list and an automated email invite that, with one click, could go to all of my friends (and other random emails) in my email list. Smart move. With one click, I could have invited the 135 emails recorded in my gmail account. The only problem is that the automated invite said: “Hi, I just took a movie quiz at Flixster.com. If you come take it too we can see if we like the same movies.” Since I didn’t just take a movie quiz, I didn’t think it was honest of me to send this email. Besides, it did feel a bit like I was spamming. The one thing I didn’t like was that I couldn’t easily choose which email accounts I wanted to send an email to. Rather, I had to check off each box (next to an email account) that I didn’t want to send an email to. This was rather annoying, and ultimately a turn-off. Another way Flixster is making the invite process easier is by integrating with News Corp’s MySpace. With 115 million members worldwide, it’s a smart integration. At one point in the sign-up process, Flixster asked if I wanted to send a bulletin on my MySpace account inviting my MySpace friends.
The social network features are great. There’s even a feature that lets you upload videos and images related to a particular movie. There is also, of course, the requisite “profile” page. (I think I must have two dozen profile pages by now.) The site also seems to have some pretty useful reviews and recommendations. But I’m not sure I’d create a social network just around movies. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of movies – having seen three in the movie theaters just in the last week -- but I wouldn’t build a social life around my movie preferences. That said, I did click onto the tab that said “Meet people like me.” The No. 1 person that showed up was a 13-year-old girl.
Nick Denton, the founder of the popular Gawker blog, and Silicon Valley gossip site -- ValleyWag -- will begin writing for ValleyWag beginning Monday. The founder says that the 22-year-old writer, who Denton hired to write for ValleyWag since it launched in February, has stepped down from his post. He wouldn't comment on whether the writer was showed the door. Let's jus say that Denton is happy to take on this role of reporter, a position he's not been in for eight years. He's looking forward to changing the perception of ValleyWag, as a gossip site about "sex" in the Valley, to a site reaching a broader audience with less interest about trivial scandals and far more interested in the financial impact Silicon Valley has on the world. Denton is looking to bring more "money" gossip into the mix.
Read the rest of the story on my MarketWatch blog.
It's Web 2.0 week at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. About 1,000 people were allowed to attend, after more than 6,000 requested an invitation. Attendance was up 25% from last year's gathering of 800 people. The number of sponsors doubled to 37 from 15 last year, and 14 in 2004, the year Web 2.0 debuted. The ad figures are confidential. All I got from Ben Stricker was that the conference producers have seen a "significant increase in advertising." Stricker is PR director at CMP Technology, the co-producer with O'Reilly Media of the Web 2.0 Summit. For more on the event, Read my MarketWatch blog