Why Zoho will survive – Part 2

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It is perfectly natural for all the Web savvy people to get carried away. And at times like those, when you feel like there needs to be a reality check, people are around. Dead 2.0 has been calling that the web is getting hyped for a while. Dead 2.0 also felt that Zoho Show, when it first released, was primitive to put it mildly. While it was a bit too early to ‘judge’, this recent post sheds light on bubble-bursts. While laying down survival-tips, the author (unintentionally, ofcourse) mentioned these points, which would serve as an addendum to these posts on why Zoho will survive:

Affect real people, not just bloggers.  If your entire business is about giving away plugins to bloggers, you aren’t a business, you are an open source or closed source software pool. That might be fun, but it has no legs.  If you can sell your widget, then you license technology.  Anything short of that and you better be something that is used not just existing for its own sake.  Finally, and most importantly on this issue, remember that bloggers aren’t really spending much money to blog, and will probably continue this trend.

If you are evolutionary, then there needs to be a big enough market to address with a “we’re a little better than them” vision.  Not only that, you need enough of a differentiator to get users to make a switch in existing patterns, which is not easy nor is it cheap.

Zoho Teacher

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No, we haven’t released another product, nor do we promise a weekly product release. ;)  While tracking back the blogs that mentioned Zoho, we came to know that there were a good number of teachers who use Zoho for various class-room related activities. Alan, a Zoho user compiled a post on how he uses Zoho tools for teaching or other tasks. As an addendum to that post, here are a few more ways in which teachers can use Zoho effectively as educational tools:

(1) Zoho Creator with its form-building capacities can be used to survey, or gather comments from people. A form can be embedded in your blog or you can provide a URL to the form. Here’s a sample.

(2) Zoho Planner can be used to plan lessons over a period of time, provide homework- reminders, assign a to-do list for students. You can then share it by e-mail or publish it as a public page.

(3) Zoho Chat can be used to encourage conversations and discussions.

(4) And with our recent Zoho Writer update, more than two students can simultaneously work on a homework or a project report. Or a teacher can work alongside the students and guide them. All this online! 

Coming soon: Team-Planner which will be an extension of Zoho Planner for teams working on projects. Stay tuned!

Making 2.0 tick

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What makes Web 2.0 tick? Sample this:

As I’ve said in previous posts, it’s their direct contact with the users that makes 2.0′s so much greater than the “old school” way of taking care of users. I know that as their user base increases that won’t be so easy for them, but their blogs and forums are another way for users to interact with them and with each other, and help each other along.

Another user wrote:

This kind of touch is exactly what more tech companies should have, regardless of specialty. I understand, yes, busy people can’t respond to all their email, but even getting back to some—especially if it’s on an external blog and wasn’t sent in directly—is really warm and sends more good vibrations than 100 clones of Brian Wilson in a marching band on a midspring’s dusk.

Usually, we have seen companies respond by saying, “We’ll get back as soon as possible”. At least in the 2.0 days, “As soon as possible” is measured in hours, not days. I’ll be damned if I post a query and don’t get a reply in a few hours, either in a forum, or a comment in a blog. After all, the user could be working on a presentation at the office a few hours away and requires to embed a chart. It would blow up everything if the application doesn’t respond or gets buggy; worse than that, you report the problem at the company’s forum or blog and they don’t get back soon.

Usually at Zoho forums, we reply queries and work on bug-fixing within hours. However, at times, things to go wrong (as Zoho Writer had log-in problems recently). Worse, it might happen on a weekend or a holiday (as it did), so that it might not possible to receive user feedback immediately. At times like those, we hope the users bear with us. Ofcourse, the solution lies in embracing more stable technology and we soon expect to do the same. Oh yes, unlike “Old-school”, it’ll be really soon. ;)

Conversations or not

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The Economist carried a story on Blogging. And the bottomline was:

Blogging is just another word for having conversations

Tom Raftery wrote a few days back that in his blog that Blogging was starting to become monologous as some of the most popular bloggers closed down/moderate comments.

And this is what Guy Kawasaki had to say regarding comments:

7. Acknowledge and respond to commenters. Only good things can happen when you read all the comments in your blog and respond to them. It makes commenters return to your blog. This, in turn, makes commenters feel like they are part of your blog’s community which makes them tell more people to read your blog.

It is rather ironical that comments are not “wanted” anymore, because in the early days of blogging, comments were an indication of how popular a blog was! With the advent of feed readers and trackbacks, popular bloggers have decided to shut down a window; one crucial channel of communication, blaming it on the trolls. Added to that, we have spams, word-verifications, comment moderations resulting ultimately in conversation-killers. Sad and sorry state, indeed. As Tom Raftery rightly asks:

how can we now seriously evangelise the benefits of having comments enabled when some of the most prominent bloggers have theirs locked down?

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!

New Addition to Commentosphere

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Sometime back, Steve Rubel wrote this. And then, co.mments appeared. It is true that comparisons to coComment are inevitable. They both track conversations, they both support RSS, they both begin to function as soon as a bookmarklet is added, they both have minor glitches when it comes to integrating with a blog and they both promise a lot.
Until coComment entered the Commentosphere, the state of a blog hopper reading and commenting in several blogs was mostly clueless. Like many bloggers pointed out, there were several conversation killers that ruined several potential “interesting conversations” to merely an unattended comment which the blog owner missed. With additions like these, the good old commenting system gets a face-lift.

So now it is possible to display the comments you made elsewhere in your blog, track the conversation and get alerts in your feed reader. If these two services were to become popular, which they most likely will, it will mean R.I.P. for primitive commenting systems and Comments that open in pop-up windows. Bloggers who still use those, it’s time to part ways and move on.