Social Networks

Emerging Experiences and Trends in 2010

I spoke to Omar L. Gallaga from austin360 blog right before my SXSW panel about emerging trends, including mobile, augmented reality, and social media, and he posted this interview on their blog; wanted to share a few PoV’s that I provided …

American-Statesman: As smartphones have gotten more popular, we’ve been hearing more and more about augmented reality. Can you explain to us what it actually is and how it’s being used?

Augmented Reality (AR) is the ability of combining digital and real-world aspects to provide a greater or enhanced experience. Traditionally, it’s layering a digital overlay on top of a video stream, think NFL first-down marker, or NASCAR car information. It is not new, but due to the recent penetration of web and mobile it has been getting greater buzz. It was originally coined in 1992, used in PCs in 1999, by Sony PS3 in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2009 when adopted by Flash and made available for the masses that it began to gain momentum.

NFL and NASCAR are basic examples of mainstream media using AR, but the true reach is when it’s more personal: enhance computer or phone video streams with digital layers triggered by either some market or symbol in the video, or GPS and compass information, or any data source that can be translated into personalized visualization that adds and provides value to the user. Traditional uses range from recognizing trading cards, to real-size mailing boxes, to visualizing how would your new TV look in your living room.

As smartphones have gotten more popular, mobile augmented reality still has not, but they’re setting the base bricks and platform to allow greater penetration in the future. Location awareness, compass, maps, user generated content, all contribute to greater and richer data sources that will allow for great digital and real world mashups. The best mobile apps right now are TwittARound, Layar, Nearest Tube, TAT Augmented ID, SREngine, and Wikitude AR Travel Guide.

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Twitter Search Will Soon Crawl Links

TwitterTwitter Search is going to get a lot more interesting soon, said Twitter’s new vice president of operations, Santosh Jayaram, who until recently was VP of Search Quality for Google. Jayaram confirmed that Twitter Search, which currently searches only the text of Twitter posts, will soon begin to crawl the links included in tweets and begin to index the content of those pages.

This will make Twitter Search a much more complete index of what’s happening in real time on the Web and make it an even more credible competitor to Google Search for people looking for very timely content.

Twitter Search will also get a “reputation” ranking system soon, Jayaram told me. When you do a search on a “trending” topic–a topic that is so big it gets its own link in the Twitter.com sidebar–Twitter will take into account the reputation of the person who wrote each tweet and rank the search results in part based on that.

Jayaram did not say precisely how reputation would be calculated; he indicated that engineers are still figuring that out. But this, again, will make Twitter Search more valuable.

Twitter: The Next Piece in Google’s Semantic Web Puzzle

The seemingly endless media and industry fawning over Twitter has lead to the widespread debate over the merits of real-time search and the future of the search industry. Yes, Twitter is an amazing service that allows people to share their thoughts, however poignant, painful or pointless, on events as they happen. However, the hype is reaching a fever pitch only exacerbated by Google acquisition rumors. With that in mind, it’s time to try and figure out exactly where this wonderful new medium belongs in the world of search.

It has been suggested that Google is looking to acquire Twitter because it views it as a threat. That line of thinking is completely insane because Google isn’t going anywhere. The company is still the top dog in terms of financial stability, commitment to innovation and business strategy. Depending on what research firm you ask, Google owns roughly 80 percent of the search engine market and is still gobbling up market share. In terms of users, Twitter doesn’t even match Facebook’s potential as a rival. Twitter is simply not a threat to Google; in fact, the search giant could simply consume the Twitter API. The good news is that it probably won’t because Twitter is a piece of the greater problem Google is looking to solve.
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Facebook Opens Up Its Stream API To Developers. Let The Conversation Wars Begin!

Facebook has opened up its activity stream through a new API for developers. Now any developer can create new applications incorporating the real-time stream. One of the first apps to take advantage of this new API is Seesmic Desktop, A Twitter client which is now adding your Facebook feed through this API (something Tweetdeck already did in the past through other more restrictive means). Facebook has also created its own desktop notification client to demonstrate what can be built with the API.

Ethan Beard, Facebook’s director of platform marketing, said that the entire feed will be available through a single API call. A developer could recreate the entire Facebook home page if he wanted to or take parts of the feed and remix it to make something more interesting. For starters, I’d expect most Twitter clients to add the Facebook stream as an additional option. On Tweetdeck, for instance, you can read your activity stream, but you cannot respond in-line. The new Facebook Open Stream API is two-way, so it would allow developers to build apps which allow for that two-way communication inside the app.

This is a big deal. It potentially puts Facebook side by side with Twitter in all of these desktop and mobile client applications where a lot of the real-time conversation is happening and lets it compete head-to-head with Twitter. Whichever conversation stream is more interesting will prevail. [full article]

Twitter Seek Profit and Confirms Paid Pro Accounts On The Way

As Twitter’s growth explodes, speculation has intensified about whether the service can be profitable. Twitter’s online traffic, excluding cellphones, surged to nearly 9.8 million unique visitors in February from 6.1 million in January, according to comScore.

In pursuit of revenue, Twitter faces the same challenge that has dogged social-networking platforms like Facebook. If advertisers can tap into its network free of charge, why would they pay the company to do so?

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says the San Francisco start-up is watching the outside initiatives closely as it prepares to launch its own fee-based services this year, but doesn’t view them as competition. “We want to work with those companies that are already making an effort,” he says. Mr. Stone says Twitter recently hired a product manager to oversee the development of commercial accounts. The accounts would offer users more features in exchange for a fee, but Mr. Stone says Twitter hasn’t set a launch date for them, according to the wsj.

My thoughts are that there are two groups of people using Twitter’s search API: personal, and commercial. Personal users use it for fun, low hits, personal websites, little mashups that don’t make money, and commercial users try to monetrize it, like those mashups that will charge for fee-based services, or listening platforms that monitor brands, sentiment, behavior on a mass scale… these companies would be happy to pay for the API use … Isn’t that simple? I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

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