LeWeb, the major European conference (the equivalent of the Web 2.0 Summit in North America), just released their complete schedule for the next event happening in Paris on December 9 and 10. The theme of the conference is the real-time Web.

As I wrote about a month ago, I’ve been selected as one of their official bloggers. Here are the speakers I’m most looking forward to:

  • A fireside chat with Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator. Will be interesting to hear his vision about where Twitter is going.
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter. His background as a “local” expert makes him an interesting speaker for anyone interested in local media.
  • “The Platform Roundtable” with representatives from Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, Ustream, SixApart, MySpace and Twitter. Expect the discussion to revolve around APIs and open ecosystems…
  • A fireside chat with Robert Scoble. Always interesting perspective as a good observer of the Web scene.
  • Niklas Zennstrom (of Kazaa-Skype-Joost fame). I want to hear more about their new venture in the music industry Rdio.
  • The Money Roundtable with a group of very interesting VCs including David Hornik and Fred Wilson. Expect them to say they’re still cautious but that 2010 should be a good year.
  • “The rise of emotional Web” by Yossi Vardi. Should be a fascinating session.
  • Gillmor Gang Live. Always explosive!

Loic Le Meur, the organizer, often has surprise guest speakers as well. If you want to attend and haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can get a 10% discount if you use the following code: BLOG09 .

LeWeb, the major European conference (the equivalent of the Web 2.0 Summit in North America), just released their complete schedule for the next event happening in Paris on December 9 and 10. The theme of the conference is the real-time Web.

As I wrote about a month ago, I’ve been selected as one of their official bloggers. Here are the speakers I’m most looking forward to:

  • A fireside chat with Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator. Will be interesting to hear his vision about where Twitter is going.
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter. His background as a “local” expert makes him an interesting speaker for anyone interested in local media.
  • “The Platform Roundtable” with representatives from Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, Ustream, SixApart, MySpace and Twitter. Expect the discussion to revolve around APIs and open ecosystems…
  • A fireside chat with Robert Scoble. Always interesting perspective as a good observer of the Web scene.
  • Niklas Zennstrom (of Kazaa-Skype-Joost fame). I want to hear more about their new venture in the music industry Rdio.
  • The Money Roundtable with a group of very interesting VCs including David Hornik and Fred Wilson. Expect them to say they’re still cautious but that 2010 should be a good year.
  • “The rise of emotional Web” by Yossi Vardi. Should be a fascinating session.
  • Gillmor Gang Live. Always explosive!

Loic Le Meur, the organizer, often has surprise guest speakers as well. If you want to attend and haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can get a 10% discount if you use the following code: BLOG09 .

Sylvain Carle has a post on “distributed identity” today on his personal blog . As I noted last week in my Web 2.0 communities Trends post, “identity” is one of the key elements of Web 2.0 communities. Recent news (from the last few days in fact) shows that this a very hot topic. Facebook officially launched its Facebook Connect program (and its partnerships with Digg and Hulu), I’ve been playing with Google Friend Connect on Guillaume Thoreau’s blog, SixApart announced Typepad Connect, WordPress is quietly preparing Buddypress and the “open stack” with OpenID and oAuth is still out there as open options to those proprietary log-in systems.

What it means: controlling identity is one of the next big wars on the Web. Only sites/systems that have large install bases of users (Google, Yahoo, MSN, WordPress, SixApart, etc.) can hope to fight this battle. If you haven’t been collecting user information (like e-mail addresses), you will be dependent on these large identity networks. That’s not a bad thing though! This will allow you to jumpstart any initiative that requires your users to log-in. As long as users give you permission to access their data, you’re still ok. Main challenge: will users trust private companies will their identity information? Or will open standards triumph in the end? BTW, if you’re a media company and you’re still tied to a large ISP, you could be one of those big identity providers (even through OpenID). There’s still a play for you.

Listening to Stephane Delbecque, the person responsible for mobile at [praized subtype="small" pid="6c13dc7125598e5ad127dbb1ce541e82" type="badge" dynamic="true"].  For the San Francisco company,

Innovation = Openness + Mobile

Openness means:

  1. An open source Movable Type
  2. APIs
  3. OpenID
  4. Action Stream
  5. Facebook Connect
  6. Typepad antispam
  7. Multi and cross-posting (on other social media sites) through Blog it

As mobile is tied with communities and social networks, Six Apart’s mobile strategy is the extension of what they’re doing on the Web.

I’m at [praized subtype="small" pid="96423266cd5145552decb67454b13e4e" type="badge" dynamic="true"] this afternoon for the “Les stratégies d’innovation dans le Web 2.0” conference organized by the Association Marketing de Montreal in collaboration with [praized subtype="small" pid="ae55cb5e656ef5d6bdd3336678bd1663a6" type="badge" dynamic="true"], the SAT and Yahoo! Quebec.

Speakers:

  • Stéphane Delbecque, [praized subtype="small" pid="6c13dc7125598e5ad127dbb1ce541e82" type="badge" dynamic="true"]
  • Robyn Tippins, [praized subtype="small" pid="4ba3024afad224aed466c0367141ce59" type="badge" dynamic="true"] Developer Network
  • Austin Hill, [praized subtype="small" pid="ea95770ebf69708077cc009f1304286d" type="badge" dynamic="true"]
  • Hugh McGuire, Librivox.org

Ping me (seb AT praized.com) if you’d like to meet up.

I’m at [praized subtype="small" pid="96423266cd5145552decb67454b13e4e" type="badge" dynamic="true"] this afternoon for the “Les stratégies d’innovation dans le Web 2.0” conference organized by the Association Marketing de Montreal in collaboration with [praized subtype="small" pid="ae55cb5e656ef5d6bdd3336678bd1663a6" type="badge" dynamic="true"], the SAT and Yahoo! Quebec.

Speakers:

  • Stéphane Delbecque, [praized subtype="small" pid="6c13dc7125598e5ad127dbb1ce541e82" type="badge" dynamic="true"]
  • Robyn Tippins, [praized subtype="small" pid="4ba3024afad224aed466c0367141ce59" type="badge" dynamic="true"] Developer Network
  • Austin Hill, [praized subtype="small" pid="ea95770ebf69708077cc009f1304286d" type="badge" dynamic="true"]
  • Hugh McGuire, Librivox.org

Ping me (seb AT praized.com) if you’d like to meet up.

I’m at [praized subtype="small" pid="96423266cd5145552decb67454b13e4e" type="badge" dynamic="true"] this afternoon for the “Les stratégies d’innovation dans le Web 2.0” conference organized by the Association Marketing de Montreal in collaboration with [praized subtype="small" pid="ae55cb5e656ef5d6bdd3336678bd1663a6" type="badge" dynamic="true"], the SAT and Yahoo! Quebec.

Speakers:

  • Stéphane Delbecque, [praized subtype="small" pid="6c13dc7125598e5ad127dbb1ce541e82" type="badge" dynamic="true"]
  • Robyn Tippins, [praized subtype="small" pid="4ba3024afad224aed466c0367141ce59" type="badge" dynamic="true"] Developer Network
  • Austin Hill, [praized subtype="small" pid="ea95770ebf69708077cc009f1304286d" type="badge" dynamic="true"]
  • Hugh McGuire, Librivox.org

Ping me (seb AT praized.com) if you’d like to meet up.

PRAIZED MEDIA INTRODUCES FIRST COMMUNITY-FOCUSED LOCAL SEARCH PLATFORM FOR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
Technology Platform Enables Bloggers and Online Communities to Capture, Organize and Aggregate Local Conversations; Launches First Communities on MoCo Loco Design Blog and Facebook

MONTREAL, Quebec – July 9, 2008 – Millions of conversations about local places are occurring across blogs and social media sites every day, yet they are fragmented and unstructured. Online communities now have the tools to capture, aggregate and structure these conversations to deliver relevant recommendations for their users, thanks to Praized Media, the first distributed local search platform designed for social media. The new venture, founded by a team of social media experts and local search technology veterans from Yellow Pages Group, today announced the beta launch of its platform and availability of the first Praized communities on MoCo Loco design blog and Facebook.

Praized Makes Local Search Simple and Relevant

Praized’s platform is based on a distributed approach to ensure that each community delivers local results that are relevant to its users. For example, a Praized installation on a vegan blog will have completely different restaurant recommendations than on a meat-lovers’ blog because the two groups have fundamentally different tastes. Praized has developed a platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges associated with aggregating social media content around places and offers the following key benefits to social media publishers and their communities:

  • Expand Content, Ad Revenue and Page Views: Praized’s platform is free to social media sites and provides publishers with new sources of content, incremental ad revenue and increased page views. The platform enables site publishers to easily leverage their existing community to tap into the valuable, but difficult to execute local and social search space. It is also fully search-engine optimized to help drive additional local traffic to community sites from search engines.
  • Seamless Integration: Praized designed a white-label platform that integrates seamlessly with editorial content by using either an API or plug-ins that are compatible with SixApart’s MovableType and WordPress. Bloggers and site editors can embed snippets of merchant information within posts or news articles to drive traffic to their Praized-powered local section. Praized also designed its platform to be available to Facebook application developers and others through an API.
  • Rich Local Content: Partnerships with Yellow Pages Group Co. and Localeze provide each Praized community with access to more than 17 million searchable North American business listings. Each listing has a place profile with contact information, a map and default tags. As users contribute additional tags, the merchant profile gains added context and color.
  • Management Tools: The Praized platform is equipped with several moderation and content management tools. Editors can screen incoming comments about places to ensure that only appropriate information is shared with their community. A widget can be placed on a site’s home page, highlighting the community’s favorite local picks and letting users know about the local search section. A local search box can also be installed right on the home page for easy search access. These tools are deployed through either full-featured, customized blog plug-ins or Javascript.
  • Discoverability & Social Tools: Praized communities enable users to search, discover and discuss places with like-minded people. Users benefit from discovering the “long tail” of places via discussions on lesser known local merchants that struggle to be found through Web search. End-users also get real value from social tools that allow them to tag, comment, bookmark, share and vote on places that matter to them.
  • Centralized Database: An aggregated view of local conversations from all Praized communities is compiled at www.praized.com, enabling users to discover new like-minded groups.

“As social channels are becoming increasingly important for consumer research, users turn to their trusted communities, or tribes, for recommendations and opinions on local places to make better decisions,” said Harry Wakefield, chief executive officer at Praized Media. “Praized was founded on the principle of ‘trusting your tribes’ and provides the tools for social media publishers to capture word of mouth occurring within their communities, giving users a simple way to search, discover, and recommend local places with like-minded folks.”

Praized Powers Local Search for Design Buffs and Social Networking Enthusiasts

The first online community to use the embeddable Praized platform is MoCo Loco, the modern and contemporary design blog. The MoCo Loco audience will benefit from access to a comprehensive database that pulls together all conversations that have occurred on the blog and Praized’s searchable places database to deliver relevant recommendations. The platform’s integrated social tools allow users to discuss and discover new local places with like-minded people. While the blogging tools allow Moco editors to blog about local places easily and solicit their readers’ opinions.

Praized also announced today the launch of its Facebook Praize’n’Raze application, allowing Facebook users to create a unique local search experience that fits the context of their tribe of friends. Users will be able share their favorite local places with friends on Facebook and find out if they agree or disagree with their friends’ choices with the Praized application. Will you Praize or Raze their choices?

“We are thrilled to launch the first Praized community on such an active blog and also make our versatile platform available to Facebook users,” said Harry Wakefield, chief executive officer of Praized Media. “The MoCo Loco audience can truly benefit from a local search site because these folks share an interest and passionate discussions around modern design and furniture, while our Facebook application opens the door for any type of group or tribe of friends on Facebook to have a local search tool to deliver relevant, trusted recommendations.”

Praized’s founding team has extensive experience in local search and new media technology. Wakefield is the former general manager of Yellow Pages Group online directories, is the founder of a Technorati Top 1000 blog and was instrumental in the launch of Teleglobe’s global internet service. Sylvain Carle, once a Silicon Valley CTO for hire, is Praized’s chief technology officer and has been at the bleeding edge of new media and networked applications for more than 10 years with lead roles at LVL Studio, Messagia and My Virtual Model. Sebastien Provencher is the company’s vice president of product management and business development. Previously, Provencher developed Yellow Pages Group’s most successful online advertising product (DirectoryPlus) and striked a strategic deal with Google, helping create a new vision around local search for the company.

In an earlier announcement, Praized released details of its distribution agreements with Yellowbook in the US and Yellow Pages Group Co. in Canada. Praized communities now have access to direct links to relevant local search results on yellowbook.com and YellowPages.ca websites, providing truly comprehensive results and options for users.

To learn more about Praized and its products visit www.praizedmedia.com or search Praized’s network of communities at www.praized.com.

About Praized Media, Inc.

Praized Media, Inc. is the first distributed local search platform designed for bloggers and social media publishers to capture, aggregate and structure their community’s conversations about local places. Free to bloggers and community site publishers, Praized’s platform comes pre-loaded with over 17 million North American searchable business listings and seamlessly integrates with all types of editorial content. Praized’s platform is based on a distributed approach to ensure that each community delivers local results that are relevant to its users and also hosts a centralized database with its complete network of communities at www.praized.com, providing a unique, highly targeted social media based local ad network. Founded by a team of local search technology veterans and social media experts, Praized is based in Montreal and received funding from Garage Technology Ventures Canada in September 2007.

Update: you can find the French version of the release here.

A Look Back at 2007

December 17, 2007

In business blogs everywhere, it’s that time of the year again, when we start looking back at the year that was and we start to forecast what 2008 will look like. In this post, I look back at 2007 and discuss the most significant local and social media news of the year.

1) Facebook

Clearly, Facebook was the number one news of 2007. By allowing anyone to open up an account in the Fall of 2006 (at about the same time they introduced their newsfeed function), Facebook paved the way for the arrival of tech enthusiasts and early adopters/influencers. Silicon Valley got very excited in the Spring and the launch of the F8 platform in May, allowing third-party developers to build applications, brought more excitement. I believe early adopters’ interest in Facebook has peaked (and has even started to decline) but the job is done. More than 55M active users of all ages access the site every month. The social network had a couple of setbacks around the end of the year with the beacon fracas and the launch of OpenSocial by Google but I believe it does not tarnish their luster. Facebook retaliated by opening up their infrastructure. The biggest benefit to the Web in general: Facebook is introducing people to the social web (micro-blogging, blogging, pictures uploading, “friending”), people who will eventually graduate to more complex social applications.

2) The opening up of the social web

Symbolized by the publication of the OpenSocial standard, the web is becoming more social and more open. Additionnally, the announcement by Six Apart that Movable Type, their leading blogging software, is going open source and the launch of the DiSo initiative to create open source implementations of distributed social networking are also important projects. Social will be part of the fabric of the web.

3) The launch of the iPhone and the unveiling of Android

Apple created quite a stir in June by launching the iPhone, a beautiful device that changes the way we see mobile web access. It’s not a perfect machine by any mean (still very closed) but it’s a game changer. The Android mobile platform by Google is also potentially very disruptive and paves the way to an interesting 2008 in that field. Local mobile search, the famous holy grail of local search, is on the verge of becoming reality.

4) The acquisition of Ingenio by AT&T/YellowPages.com

This purchase is a critical move for YellowPages.com and it clearly signals to the rest of the directory industry that call-tracking/pay-per-call will be the unifying standard in local product bundling, allowing a single sales force to sell multiple media formats. In the same vein, Marchex acquired Voicestar earlier this year.

5) The Radiohead “pay what you want” experiment

Even though it wasn’t as radical as industry watchers wanted it to be (Radiohead is still going to release a CD version of InRainbows), this trial by one of the most preeminent alt-rock group generated a lot of discussions in the blogosphere. Consumers were allowed to pay whatever they wanted to pay for the download including not paying at all. ComScore released some disheartening information about the percentage of people who paid for the album but that was quickly shot down by Radiohead’s management. In any case, the music industry needs more bleeding edge experiments like this one to find their future business model(s).

6) Reality check in the local search industry

The last two Kelsey conferences offered a sobering and realistic look at the realities of local search. Local is tough, hasn’t been cracked yet but offers tremendous opportunities. Stakeholders are realizing that partnerships will be needed to succeed. Two senior executives from the print directory industry talked openly about the opportunities and challenges of being a traditional media publisher and it was the first time that we heard that kind of discourse publicly. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are all courting traditional local media companies that possess large sales forces to help them increase local revenues. I think we’re getting close to the “acceptance” stage of the Internet grief cycle and we should see a lot of action next year on the local search front.

I’d love to get your feedback on 2007 events. Anything important I forgot?

Following this blog post yesterday about my speculation that Google is building a mobile development platform, the whole blogosphere announced this morning that Google is leading an initiative called OpenSocial that will see the launch an open social web API. This new API will allow social networks and application developers to work together using a set of standardized instructions. Partners currently include Google’s Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster, Salesforce.com, Oracle, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, and Slide.

Opening the Social Graph Barcamp

Flickr photo by magerleagues.

As Marc Andreessen said this morning on his blog,

This is the exact same concept as the Facebook platform, with two huge differences:

  • With the Facebook platform, only Facebook itself can be a “container” — “apps” can only run within Facebook itself. In contrast, with Open Social, any social network can be an Open Social container and allow Open Social apps to run within it.
  • With the Facebook platform, app developers build to Facebook-proprietary languages and APIs such as FBML (Facebook Markup Language) and FQL (Facebook Query Language) — those languages and APIs don’t work anywhere other than Facebook — and then the apps can only run within Facebook. In contrast, with Open Social, app developers can build to standard HTML and Javascript, and their apps can then run in any Open Social container.

TechCrunch explains in more details:

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks:

  • Profile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

Hosts agree to accept the API calls and return appropriate data. Google won’t try to provide universal API coverage for special use cases, instead focusing on the most common uses. Specialized functions/data can be accessed from the hosts directly via their own APIs.

What it means: this is a major announcement, maybe the biggest announcement of the year. Standardizing the social web will go a long way towards the explosion of social as a key element of the Web operating system and one more step towards the web becoming a gigantic word of mouth machine. You’ll want to embrace these standards.

Update: According to AlleyInsider, MySpace will announce today that they join the OpenSocial “alliance”

Update2: Techcrunch reports that blog software publisher SixApart is also joining. Bebo also.

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