The Five People You Meet in Web 2.0 Hell

38-year-old Eddie is convinced his digital life would be better upon meeting five types of people and showing them the unexpected negative impact they have on others:

[singlepic id=60 w=320 h=240 float=right]The Under-Tagger – This guy would spend a week going through old video cassettes, finding the amazing CNN footage from 1983 he was looking for, but upon uploading it to YouTube would title it: ‘She Lied!’ and would tag it using three keywords or less, at least one of which is misspelled. The Under-Tagger assumes that since you can clearly recognize the people in the video, there is no need to be petty and elaborate on it in the title, description or keywords, and as a result of that no one can find his video even when searching for relevant keywords.

The Non-Linker – This guy would spend an hour blogging on a recent survey or commenting on an obscure news item, spewing lots of words and ideas without supplying a single link to the actual survey or the original news item. If this guy writes in a different language, say Hebrew, he would never consider supplying the English spelling of names of people or companies he writes about. The Non-Linker believes he is the alpha and the omega and thus his readers need not check out additional data on other websites.

The Voluntary Spammer – A relic of Web 1.0, this guy truly believes everything he reads in emails he receives, and feels it is his moral duty to forward them to all his friends. From a new computer virus and PowerPoint slideshows, to ladies dying from perfume spraying and cash giveaways from Microsoft, this guy assumes the newspapers do not report the big stuff, and that everyone in his contact list is interested in the small stuff. The Voluntary Spammer tends to get offended when you try to explain this to him over the phone, claiming he only wanted to help.

The Armchair Activist – This guy had joined dozens of groups on Facebook from curing AIDS to freeing Tibet, and truly believes he has done his part. Without once leaving his house or donating a buck to causes he really believes in, the Armchair Activist feels so good about himself he often tries to recruit his friends in the hope that AIDS would really be cured if only one million people click a button.

The BCC-Denier – This guy sends an invitation to his new exhibit by email, adding hundreds of people to the TO section, assuming that since all of them know him, they should all know one another. A direct result of this gross faux pas comes from recipients who RSVP by clicking Reply-All, and people who harvest email addresses revealed in the email for their weekly newsletter.

Library of Progress

I often criticize the Israeli Internet for being stuck in the 1990’s and not getting the jist of the net’s knowledge sharing nature. So much so, that I started thinking that maybe I come off as a crazed reprover in the gate, drooling and mumbling incoherently something about Web 2.0. Could it be that everyone in Israel is wrong? Is sharing not a Jewish trait?

Case in point: There are three extensive photo archives in Israel, the National Photo Collection, The Central Zionist Archives, and the Jewish National Fund – and every time I search one of them, I cannot help but wonder: Is that all I get?
A crummy search engine user interface – is that all I get?
A crummy photo-not-available-online result – is that all I get?
A crummy purchase-reproduction-by-email-only* – is that all I get?

Well, today, courtesy of the US Library of Congress I got my sanity check, and it came back in my favor:
The Library of Congress, established more than two centuries ago, is young enough an establishment to decide to upload all of its 14 million photos to Flickr – for you and me to use freely. Let me repeat that for you, to make sure you and me get it: I read today, on the library’s blog (that’s right!), that they started a pilot (currently only 3000 photos) in which users can freely search, download, caption and tag all the historical photos from the archives of the LOC.
Still waiting for the other shoe to drop? Looking for an angle? Trying to find out if the LOC have a secret money making mechanism? Matt Raymond, Director of Communications for the library, details their evil knowledge-sharing/knowledge-seeking scheme:

[singlepic id=21 w=320 h=240 float=right]We want people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.

 

Why must we wait a decade before web trends make Aliyah?

Hat tip to TGrayImages.

* The Jewish National Fund is the only one that offers online photo purchasing.

Blogging: The Tipping Point

Update: This post discusses TipJoy, which has now shut down its service. More info here.

Most bloggers and small content-providers do not expect to earn money that way. They do it for the fun of it, writing about things close to their heart. But everyone needs to feel the love, and so bloggers take comfort in the rising number of visitors, the search terms that led visitors to the website, and by the comments left.

When that initial love fades, many bloggers post a PayPal donation button or an Amazon Honor System paybox, to allow readers to leave small cash tips as a way of saying thank you for the content provided. The thing is, as most people read multiple blogs daily, it usually takes an extraordinary event to make a reader step out of his comfort zone, login to his PayPal account and actually send a buck.
This is where TipJoy, an exciting new startup comes to the rescue: readers are not required to create an account to leave a tip, so the initial friction is removed. They just click the tip this button | TipJoy.com button and type in their email address, thus starting to build up an account debit – one single account for tips left in multiple websites. Eventually readers can pay that debit off via PayPal, although no one comes after you if you choose to skip out on the bill. Readers can also start to ask for tips on their own site, and anything people leave for them offsets what they have given to others.
That is the magical simplicity of TipJoy: Did you read something that made you laugh? Tip the blogger 10 cents. Someone posted a scoop you enjoyed reading? Click to tip them. At the end of the month, go to your TipJoy account, and pay your entire 3 dollar bill in a single PayPal transaction.

frgdr.com added TipJoy’s ‘tip this’ buttons to its posts. We’ll see how it goes.

Hat tip to TechCrunch.

Web 2.0 and Jerusalem Snow Alerts

Jerusalem is expecting significant snowfall this coming Tuesday evening, and so the director of the Naggar School of Art, a client of mine, has asked for my advice on how to instantly update the school website so that students will know if there will be any classes Wednesday morning.
Good thing Web 2.0 was around to help us out: the Internet in its current phase enables different services to interface, that is exchange data with each other, and that allowed me to make one school director very happy, as he is now able to text snow status updates from his cellphone, allowing the students to receive automatic updates by SMS, RSS, or by simply visiting the school website.

Here is a cool video explaining Web 2.0. You may need to watch it a couple of times to absorb all the information:

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g
 
 
The CommonCraft Show has great videos explaining different aspects of Web 2.0 in plain English, so anyone (Yes, even your mother) can understand.

If you want to find Shahar Golan / frgdr.com around Web 2.0 you can read his FAQ here.

Why frgdr.com Changed Its Hosting Provider from Yahoo to GoDaddy

Warning, GEEKY POST! Move on, folks, nothing to see here!
Unlike my regular posts about life, liberty and the pursuit of decent hummus, this is a pretty rare post intended for the technically savvy only, so do not bore yourself if webmastering is not your cup of tea. Read some other stuff here.

Okay, now the fact that you can actually read this post means that I was successful in changing a hosting provider from Yahoo.com to GoDaddy.com and I will discuss my reasons here:

When I first registered my website on August 2005 I wanted to host it with a company that:
1. Is recognized and respected and would not vanish after a couple of months
2. Has a large clientele thus its customer support would be good.
3. Is located outside Israel for security reasons (both cyber-attacks and actual real-life attacks)
4. Would offer a good value for its price.
For all these reasons I chose Yahoo Hosting Starter plan: US$12/month. 5GB disk space, 200GB data transfer.

I gradually became disillusioned with Yahoo, but it took quite a bit of time. It seemed the more I knew of the company – the less I liked my decision to work with them. The reasons to leave Yahoo started piling up:
1. A couple of months after I launched my website, I wanted to configure .htaccess to stop unruly bots from accessing it. This is when I learned that Yahoo does not allow its customers to configure that, amongst many other advanced features disabled by Yahoo.
2. To get a straight ‘No, we don’t provide it’ answer about .htaccess took the Yahoo customer support no less than two days and three emails, as the offshore employees are forced to reply using scripted answers. I have posted the whole torture-through-emails correspondence as a follow-up to this post – make sure you read it as it is well worth your time.
3. Yahoo’s over-zealous cooperation with the Chinese government became clearer as the number of human rights violations facilitated by its branches grew.
4. In May 2007 I launched a blog, only to find out Yahoo provides a crippled and outdated version of WordPress, with no easy way to upgrade it.
5. I became acquainted with GoDaddy when a client of mine needed me to design a website for him and he had already had a GoDaddy account. When I needed some DNS-related help and emailed GoDaddy’s customer support department, I was amazed at how fast the reply came (just a couple of hours later), how human it sounded and how helpful and accurate it was. That got me thinking why the heck am I paying four times as much as the equivalent GoDaddy Economy Plan costs: US$4/month. 5GB disk space, 250GB data transfer.
A couple of months later when I inquired about transferring my own website to GoDaddy.com, the answers were just as fast, just as accurate.
6. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a recent event when for three weeks thousand of websites (including mine) were down, producing on-again-off-again Error 500s. The good people at Yahoo were gracious enough to tell me they are ‘aware of it’ – but did not elaborate on the cause for the incident or their estimated time to fix the problem. Also, once the problem was fixed no notification was sent from Yahoo and no restitution was offered.

So now frgdr.com is happily hosted here, and hopefully this is a beginning of a beautiful partnership. We have upgraded to the latest WordPress version, started using web2.0 folksonomy tags, and are in a good mood for further site improvements.

…And now back to your previously scheduled blogging.

HotOrNot for Über-Geeks

You probably remember how addictive was rating girls on HotOrNot.com a while back. A recently launched NYC Jelly project compares website design by showing you a screen capture of two homepages at a time, and lets you pick the winner. It is the ultimate HotOrNot for geeks and it is called CommandShift3.

Besides being utterly addictive, it is a great way to check out the current Web2.0 trends. At this moment in time, these are the best and worst designed websites:

All Time Best And Worst Website Design (as of January 4th, 2008) - CommandShift3.com

Pay No Attention to the English-Speaking Israeli behind the Facebook

There is no way around it, when it comes to computers, I am old school. When I first laid my hands on a keyboard, I was about seven years old and all the letters were in English. It was an Apple II clone, there was no hard disk, instead of a mouse there was a joystick, and of course there was no Hebrew involved.
The grown-up world was still trying to make these business machines work, so making them work in Hebrew, a language used by a few million people, was unheard-of.
To this day whenever I get an annoying ‘my computer does not work’ phone call from one of my computer illiterate friends, the first thing I am trying to establish is what pretentious action was executed to make a popular software fail. One time it was Nero not being able to burn Hebrew-named files onto a CD. Another time it was a graphics editor that kept refusing to open photos from a Hebrew named folder.
This is why I consider myself old school, as I always try to make it work and never insist on making it work my way. My thinking is always: it worked for a couple billion users, what possibly could Dana from Jerusalem do to make it break down?

Shahar with his Apple clone computer - 1984

I am aware, though, that I am pretty much alone in this battle: while I consider Hebrew an added bonus within the IT world, most Israelis approach it with a sense of entitlement. ‘If it does not work in Hebrew – it does not work’ some say. Others confess to not even trying to read any English, pressing the [Yes] or [No] buttons arbitrarily or by gut instinct.
The number 1 movie database is in English? Let’s use database number 700 – it’s in Hebrew!
You Google for answers in Hebrew and get none? Chances are you stumbled upon one of those eternal unanswered mysteries of the universe!

Shahar and his brother Liran with their Apple clone computer - 1986

This was pretty much the mentality around here, until MySpace and Facebook arrived. All of a sudden, Israelis found out they can read and write in English when they want to, and they started seeing the benefit in communicating worldwide using one universal language.
For all those people (some of which are my best friends) I hold the utmost disdain:
You who have frowned upon your (copied) software for not doing what you wanted it to do,
You who have allowed your personal computers to contract viruses, Trojan horses and venereal diseases because the warnings were in English,
You who have called your geeky friends in all hours of the day and night, horrified that your computer stopped working after clicking ‘Yes’ to an ‘Are you sure?’ message box you have not read,
All of you should be ashamed.

Only now did you discover you can actually put to use the second language your country made you learn from grade 4 to 12?

Where Is This All Going? Web Trend Map 2007 Version 2.0

We all feel the excitement in the air: the internet is evolving. Information Architects in Japan have produced a new version of their Web Trends for 2007, documenting the 200 most successful websites, mapped by popularity and category on the Tokyo metro map, with the added bonus of a forecast.

Legend:
Legend: Web Trend Map 2007 Version 2.0