Web Identity

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Om Malik’s blog carried a guest column on The Power of URLs.

As we all know, the URL is a powerful and extensible concept… it represents the most fundamental element of the web and it continues to grow in breadth and depth of its utility.

People rely on names or URLs in the blogosphere. And it doesn’t end just with blogs, for, podcasts, photos, videos, and as the writer mentions, profiles on social networking sites of a particular blogger too are being followed by readers or readers.
As a tangent,

Aggregation can now be customized, and it can be done by machine.

Most bloggers link their Podcasts, Videos, Comments, Tags pertaining to them and just about anything they’ve contributed to the web, and so blogs really aren’t just what blogs were intended to be; they are more like Portals.

So there is News, Commentary, Opinion and Links that stand testimony to arguments, Audio, Video and a whole community of several readers who religiously follow those. Astonishing what a few random alphabets are capable of!

Inventions & how societies view them

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Been reading “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond for some days now. Quite a fascinating book I should say.


Writing about the “Necessity is the mother of invention”, he gives some examples where the opposite has been true – like with the airplane, the automobile, the internal combustion engine, the phonograph & the transistor. Was surprised reading that Edison didn’t intend to use the phonograph for replaying music, it took almost 50 years (and World War I) for Otto’s engine to be adopted in a mass scale & how untrue it is to say that James Watt invented the steam engine. (apparently there were earlier designs & working models before Watt’s).

He then elaborates upon of how hard it is to persuade a society to adopt a new technology. Some good examples given are of the USA finding it reluctant to use transistors instead of vacuum tubes & Sony taking advantage of buying the transistor licensing rights from Western Electric and of Japan falling back to using swords even after guns being introduced there in 16th century. There has been cases of anti-engineering succeeding too like with the QWERTY keyboard.

If you are interested in knowing more about what makes different societies think/do this way or that, “Guns, Germs and Steel” is a real good book to read.

Issue with posting to Blogger.com blogs

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David Torke strives for saving & preserving Buffalo’s architectural heritage. David’s a regular Zoho Writer user using it to post to his fixbuffalo blog at Blogger.com. Got a mail from him yesterday saying that he’s unable to connect to his blog from Zoho Writer. Checking with the Blogger Status blog got us this :

Some users are experiencing problems creating new posts via our Atom API. We are working to get this fixed. In the meantime, you can create new posts via the web interface.

Thanks David, for alerting us & the Zoho Writer community. Zoho Writer users, please post to your blogger blogs through blogger’s web interface for now. And, do post your thoughts on Zoho Writer at the Zoho Writer forums. You can mail us too at feedback(at)zohowriter(dot)com.

Update: As David confirms in the Comments, the Blogger Atom API is working fine & you should be able to post to your blogger.com blogs from Zoho Writer.

Foulplay in the New Age Web

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Newsvine recently had been seeded with reports that several profiles and objectionable content being removed from My Space. Many concerned parents also wrote in to express their fears. Although there were hints of paranoia, any service on the web is exploited, despite clear instructions on the web. It is not uncommon that most users fail to read, atleast a few lines of that “Terms and Conditions” before adding a tickmark in the Checkbox.

While the whole essence of new age web is Social Networking, Social Bookmarking, and requires an active participation from the users, it is of great importance to validate and verify the authenticity of the content that is being contributed to the web. Digital Signatures and Privacy Policies have no respect at all, for every user takes them for granted. But with something close to 250,000 users a day, it remains to be seen how this can be done.

Atleast to start with, the trustworthiness of any person can be established on how many people link to her in the case of Social Networking sites, based on the frequency of posting, based on how many people publish similar items. Something akin to PageRank. It is not an entirely fool-proof system , but can be done as a preliminary measure, for, this would atleast persuade a person from providing fake information. Much as Data Security is impotarnt, accuracy of information is important too. Wikipedia faced a similar problem.

No extreme measure can be done to check the authenticity too, for the entire world will then cry foul – as many already do with Google. That would be branded as a threat to privacy. So where do we strike the balance? Unless ofcourse, each contributor realizes the social responsibility and the ethics of the Virtual World.

Shortcomings of existing online storage solutions

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There are atleast 10 online storage solutions today and this has been the case for a long time. Most of them are excellent solutions offering great set of features with good UI and price tag. I really dont think they received enough attention they actually deserve. My theory on why they lack great attention…..There are no online apps to view/edit documents/images etc. If you have all your documents/images online in an online storage space, to view/edit them, you’ll have to download the documents to your local desktop and open it with the document specific application.

I think this is going to change with the emergence of online applications which will allow users access/view/edit documents online without having to download any of these locally. As the number of applications keeps increaing, the cost of storage keeps decreasing. This is a good sign for complete online storage solutions.

With online word processors, spreadsheet apps, text editors etc I think we will see good adoption of online storage. I hope to see more online image editing apps that will further help the online storage market. 

Raju

Re-ordering of Todo’s

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The most asked for feature in Zoho Planner is finally there. Yes, now you can re-order the todo list items & the todo lists themselves. And this has been done the typical AJAXy way with easy drag & drop. Check this out with your Zoho Planner account.

Update:  In case you don’t see the re-order feature in your Zoho Planner account, clear your browser cache.
Note: Page re-ordering is on the way

Riya

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Many people have a common memory problem. Associating the name and face. It is not rare that one fine day you meet someone you know and are left wondering her name. Also, a long lost friend sends you an e-mail and you try best, only to no avail, to remember the face. So when Riya introduced something like Face Recognition which (to the best of my knowledge) no one else has offered before, many people quickly caught on to it. It’s a great service, a bit heavy, and I’ve never been so glad to drag and drop :)

It was great to know that Riya could identify Michaelangelo’s David. It would be even nice if there were Riya communities or public forums like Keyhole community where users can upload such photos, recognize them and have some fun like what people do in “Where in the World” contest.