Twitter to Structure Conversations Around Places

From the Twitter API developer group:

i wanted to give you all a heads up on some big changes we’re making to our  geo-tagging API. (…) people, we find,inherently want to talk about a “place”. a place, for a lot of people, hasa name and is not a latitude and longitude pair. 37.78215, -122.40060,for example, doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people — but, “San Francisco,CA, USA” does. we’re also trying to help users who aren’t comfortable annotating their tweets with their exact coordinates, but, instead, are really happy to say what city, or even neighborhood, they are in. annotating your place with a name does that too. (…) for this first pass, we’re only going live with United States-centric data,  but that will quickly be expanded geographically as we work out the kinks in our system

What it means: in a move that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Twitter will now enable attachment of “place” information to individual tweets (messages). It’s a brilliant move as people talk about places all the time but they don’t know their latitude/longitude coordinates. By the way, I think lat/long coordinates are for machines, i.e. auto-geolocation tagging. Humans mention “places” when they talk about geography. This means Twitter is starting to embrace structured local data in a way that’s much closer to the DNA of directory publishers. This crystallizes even more the importance of “local” in Twitter’s strategy.

Developer Creates Nokia N900 Mapping App Using Praized API

The nice thing about having a public API at Praized Media is that people are using it to do all sorts of great “local” projects. Pierre-Luc Beaudoin, a developer from Montreal (Canada)  just launched the first version of a mapping application called “Map Buddy” for the Nokia N900 device using the Praized API.

Nokia N900 Mapping Application Map Buddy Praized Media

He writes about his experience building the application on his blog:

Well, I finally got my hands on a N900 (given as a Christmas gift by Collabora to Gabriel). This gave me the occasion to observe first hand that the Ovi Maps, while having a lot of features, is slow and that the Hildon Emerillon port is less than perfect. It is hard to use with fingers and feels alien to the platform.

To solve this, I created Map Buddy: a map application specifically designed for Maemo 5. It is quite simple to use and works out of the box (no configuration or selection of plug-ins required!). It also has something other apps don’t: it uses web-services to provide business search capabilities.

You can download the app here.

On a related note, the Ovi Store just went live on the N900.

Twitter Makes Four Announcements At LeWeb Including The First Developer Conference

Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform at Twitter, took the stage this morning at the LeWeb conference to discuss the developer roadmap and make four big announcements. Sarver mentioned that Twitter application developers have been very vocal about four key themes. They are:

  • Transparency. The need for Twitter to be more public, how they engage with 3rd party companies, etc.
  • Communications. Be out there when there are problems or new features or give previews.
  • Utility. Providing robust APIs to create all sorts of applications.
  • Profitability. Provide money to the ecosystem partners, through a shared business model. More details in early 2010.

Ryan Sarver Twitter  LeWeb Paris December 2009

With this background, came four big announcements.

  1. The launch of a program to provide access to the Twitter content firehose to everyone in early 2010
  2. The launch in a few weeks of a Twitter developer site in a few weeks including documentation, known issues, API console, status dashboard, etc.
  3. The move to OAuth for identity authorization (with its positive impacts on rate limits & authentication). Sarver says that application developers using OAuth will see an increase in rate limits of 10x. They will also introduce an API for browser-less apps to get the OAuth token. Given that announcement, basic auth deprecation will happen in June 2010 (which means all applications will need to use OAuth by that date, otherwise they’ll stop working).
  4. The first Twitter Developer Conference, “Chirp” happening in 2010 in San Francisco. They want the conference to be affordable (around $400 a ticket).

Qype: "People + Algorithm Better than Algorithm" (EADP 2009)

Heard from Stephen Taylor, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e05a4250d652484974e47fda5bd84b6b” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s CEO, this morning in a presentation titled “Competition from new business models”. As most of you know, Qype is a social local site in Europe (we could say it’s the equivalent of Yelp there).

Here are some interesting data points about them:

  • The largest local review site in Europe (also present in Brazil) – 6 languages
  • Reviews in 140 countries (I think they allow anyone to add listings from any country)
  • 9M+ unique users in May 2009 (+350% in 12 months)
  • 1m+ reviews
  • They monetize using display advertising, Google AdWords, eCom and transaction revenues and premium business listings

As Taylor said, their business leverages the fact that anyone with a keyboard is now an author, that anyone with a browser is a publisher. With the rise of social media, presentation of facts/data is not enough to sustain an audience. It’s now about sharing, community, connecting with other people. I think he described it perfectly when he said “people + algorithm is better than algorithm”. Today, we’re in the fourth phase of the evolution of search (he calls it social search) which includes editorial, automation and topology.

As for future developments, Taylor offered the following advice: recognize where audiences are and he mentioned the long tail of the Web (smaller sites, blogs, forums, etc.). He said that’s where people are connecting. Qype is ready for those new opportunities via their open API currently in v1 (which exposes geo content). v2 will allow content to be written.

What it means: I think Qype is a very interesting company. They’ve been able to corral the voice of the European consumers. I agree with the future direction, of trying to embed yourself in smaller web sites. I was a bit disappointed by their monetization strategy. I was hoping they would have been further ahead in terms of sources of revenues.

Microsoft to Unleash the Social Networking Power of Outlook?

Just read this interesting snippet of information regarding Microsoft’s current R&D efforts in social networking

One project, known as Salsa, aims to use one’s corporate data to piece together their social network, or at least their network of co-workers. In its current form, the software is a plug-in to Outlook that shows social-networking information such as a photo and profile next to an incoming e-mail message. The program also pieces together a list of “friends” based on e-mail frequency and other data.

The Associated Press also reported on this news and added that Salsa”(..) integrates public social networking data such as Facebook.com entries, Twitter.com activity updates, and other information into the email windows of Microsoft Corp.’s Outlook email application. The tool allows people writing and responding to email to know more about the up-to-the-minute status of people they are corresponding with.”

What it means: finally, Microsoft is starting to explore the social networking power of Outlook, possibly the place where most people live their online social lives. I remember, at Mix06, Tim O’Reilly asking Bill Gates when they were going to leverage that installed base (“Outlook for many people is a reflection of their real social network”). I wonder if anyone can work on something like that with the Outlook API? There are reams of data ready to be mined in outlook e-mails (travel information, e-com transactions, events, merchant recommendations, etc.) but you need to show consumers you’re bringing lots of value, if you want them to add your plug-in.

MySpace Announces Launch of Developer Platform

As read on TechCrunch this morning,

MySpace is finally getting ready to pull the trigger on its long-awaited platform for developers. Starting today, programmers can sign up to register for the MySpace API program, which will go live on February 5th. The APIs will allow developers to create social applications for MySpace much like they can already for Facebook. The platform will be compatible with Google’s OpenSocial platform, meaning that applications written for OpenSocial will work on MySpace with a few minimal tweaks.

MySpace Developer Platform Logo

More details will come out later about what exactly the APIs will allow developers to do, but at a high level they will allow for deeper integration into MySpace than can currently be done with Flash widgets. The APIs we believe will support Flash, iFrame elements and Javascript snippets, and give developers deeper access to MySpace member profile information and their connections. Developers also will be able to make money from advertising associated with their applications.

What it means: with all the talks about Facebook in the last 6 months, we tend to forget MySpace is still a major force in the social networking world. According to this recent eMarketer article, “The site received 72% of US visits to social networks in December 2007 alone” with Facebook a distant second at 16.03%. In terms of reach, MySpace had close to 72M unique visitors in October 2007 (source: eMarketer quoting ComScore) giving the site 40% reach of the US online market (Facebook is at 18%). In November, Compete data showed that only 20% of MySpace members were also on Facebook. So, if you’re interested in reaching these 72M users, get in line to get a developer access.

LinkedIn Revamps Home Page, Announces Closed API

Best summary is on Read/WriteWeb:

To summarize: today LinkedIn announced some cool new features and made more promises about what will be a closed platform for select 3rd party partners, built on top of an API of questionable worth and targeted at business users with a history of disinterest in social applications. It’s not ready yet. Did we mention that the users will be people with money, though? I imagine that for that reason if nothing else, widget developers will remain very interested. I’d like to see LinkedIn do something better than this, though.

What it means: although the announcement is still a bit “vaporware-ish”, I think there is tremendous potential in tapping into the LinkedIn user crowd. If developers can build useful B2B-oriented apps, strong adoption could follow. But LinkedIn needs to open up the API to a larger developer base before it happens. Another developing story to keep on your radar screen but no short-term action.

Google is Spearheading the Launch of an Open Social Web API

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.

Google Opening Its Social Graph?

TechCrunch reports on a secret meeting that happened at Google in the last few days. It looks like Google is about to “out open” Facebook by allowing developers to leverage Google’s social graph information.

The short version: Google will announce a new set of APIs on November 5 that will allow developers to leverage Google’s social graph data. They’ll start with Orkut and iGoogle (Google’s personalized home page), and expand from there to include Gmail, Google Talk and other Google services over time.

On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more – such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs. And Google is also considering allowing third parties to join the party at the other end of the platform – meaning other social networks (think Bebo, Friendster, Twitter, Digg and thousands of others) to give access to their user data to developers through those same APIs.

And that is a potentially killer strategy. Facebook has a platform to allow third parties to build applications on Facebook itself. But what Google may be planning is significantly more open – allowing third parties to both push and pull data, into and out of Google and non-Google applications.

That big rumor comes on the heels of another big announcement from Six Apart about open sourcing the Web’s social graph (a la OpenID). If you thought the Web was fragmented, wait until you can start building application on top of Google, Yahoo or MSN’s social graphs…