3D RSS and Websites: Not as Far Away as You Think

I remember as a kid seeing mock ups of this type of thing in films and TV. If you were to ask me back then if I thought it could ever be true I might have smiled. To my surprise today I have seen the exact thing that I thought would always be science fiction and it was not only fun but made me think of the possibilities.

The page created in 3D is the frontpage of Digg, Technology. Really it is a proof on concept. But in reality it could become mainstream. Sure it is not going to happen tomorrow. Nor is it going to happen with the technology that is the most popular at the moment (think mouse). But I could see it happening if things like eye tracking navigation ever take off. Being able to “explore” an RSS feed in this manner would be totally amazing. Mark an article read with a double blink… maybe. Combined with VR Headsets… Okay I am getting ahead of myself here. But you get the drift.

The thing that I could see happening and sooner, is further uptake and use of 3D controlers. They currently market these devices at the Google Earth hardcore user. But using the device to explore 3D RSS feeds or websites would be ideal and totally within the possibilities of today’s technology. I can see that this is where some of the market will direct their attention. However, it is a niche market in that it does not appeal to everyone, exciting at any rate regardless of the market.

I would imagine that exploring your data and things like RSS feeds in this way would involve a whole new level of thinking. I am not sure if that would be difficult or more intuitive. That would depend on what kind of helps were “built-in” to it. Notice the X and Y axis dots on this site? They are helps for finding your way. But in my mind I can see tags, clusters, sign posts and teleporting for linking content. Wow. Now this concept site takes on a whole new meaning!

So take a look at the page created by Michael Battle that has been expertly crafted and based on flash. A bit of science fiction (no-more) fun. I have had a think about where this might go and it really is exciting. Let your imagination go wild and think about what you would like to see. Because I thought I would never see it happen when I was young. Now I think anything is possible, so you might see something in 20 years that you thought you would never see as well.

Digg in 3D Screenshot

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Huge Digg Site Update

The Digg website has just come online, back up from being offline after a massive update. This is a big change ands sees a visual and layout change and the addition of a swag of new features.

Digg Site Update 01

The thing that jumped right at me was the whole site look has changed to a “Web2.0” look and feel, with heaps of AJAX and and slick rendering. The second thing was that you can now submit podcasts to Digg! This is in beta and you need to be registered to even look at it.

Podcasts are ranked in the usual Digg fashion but in addition to that they are catagorized. You can play a podcast from the Digg page, you can subscribe to it using an RSS reader. Plus because individual podcast episodes can be Dugg there are the top 10 episodes to see on the right. The “Top 10” on the right is reflected through the site in all sections.

Video has it’s own section now, due to the popularity of video. There is the function of being able to view video from the page without having to leave. A lightbox pops up and plays the video when you click the thumbnail play button.

One other feature of note is that under each catagory, such as News; there has been added the top stories based on time. For example the Top Story in the last 24 hours right up to a year. Nice touch.

The areas of change in functionality are:

  • Interface: Gone is the fixed width format in with flexible format, wide screen owners rejoice. All the navigation has been moved to the top
  • Video enhancments: Separate section, top 10 videos and play onsite
  • Podcasting: New beta section, digg your faviourate podcasts or episodes, catagories of podcasts
  • Profile enhancments: quickly jump between News, Videos or podcasts within your profile as well as a Friends tab to see what they are doing.

Check it all out in full on the Digg Blog, they also include a quick video that covers all the changes. Then… I guess go Digg something.

Apple Story Crashes Servers

This is a good kind of crash. The Apple story that Cameron Reilly ran on The Podcast Network ended up on Digg and managed to attract enough traffic so that it went down for a while. Tops. I was pleased to hear that it made the front page of Digg, so I guess that will put a strain on any network.

At six am this morning Cam was onto it and had the tech guys working on a solution. They managed to throw some more bandwidth at it and restored order. Thank you to the team at The Podcast Network for their quick action. The connection sometimes fails still but just hit the reload button.

I appologise to the listeners of other shows on the network that could not access the shows that they listen to and their respective hosts. Thanks to Cam for covering the story.

A Bullet Proof Way to Cheat Digg?

Spike the Vote ImageDigg used to be about content. Content that deserved attention based on the quality of that content. Spike the Vote is set to destroy that once and for all.

Digg is constantly on the look-out for people that cheat Digg, such as with multiple log-ins. But what if each Digg is from a unique user with a different IP? You could not say that it was not legit. That is exactly what Spike the Vote is aiming to do.

“Spike” the founder of the site says his motivation for starting it:

“… I’m tired of 30 elite users (or bots, perhaps) controlling the front page content of digg.com. That’s why I created this little community here. We collectively vote each other’s stories to the front page.”

I am not sure that is entirely accurate. Especially considering the fcat that the algorithms on Digg were recently changed to prevent a group of “Top Diggers” from controlling what gets to the front page. Now there has to be a greater diversity of Diggers, Digg a particular story in order for the story to get to the front page. I guess ironically that very fact makes this venture even more successful.

So how does it work? You must be registered to use the service. Second each day you are given a “mission”, that mission is to Digg some stories on Digg. You have 12 hours to complete your mission. 20% of the stories are users of Spike the Vote the other 80% is random stories on Digg. This is to:

“… eliminate footprints and keep things anonymous.”

Each story you Digg will earn you points that you can trade for Diggs on your own stories. “Spiking” was not going to start until there were 1000 registered users. They must have reached this total as at the bottom of the page there is a list of the current “missions” and their status. Seems they are having some success.

I don’t know what Digg can do about this. There is no way of determining which users of Digg are a part of the “Spike theVote” community… unless they intend to plant a spy? Be careful Spike.

More than anything does not the actions of this site contradict the very principles that motivated it’s invention? That stories are pushed to the front page by few users. I think so, so how does he justify that.

Sink or swim? Swim I think, who would not go for a fool proof way to game Digg and for Digg to be able to do nothing about it?. That is of course if “hits” are all you are in it for. The motivation is certainly there for people to complete their mission as they then get to have their own stories Dugg. It is pyramid schemes for Digg! I also wonder how many commercial and profit organisations will gravitate toward this service? Many would find even a few thousand hits profitable.

I am not blogging just to get noticed and I have written before about the value of being Dugg. While the buzz is nice the everlasting effect can be argued. But the other fact is that I don’t have the time to Digg in the first place. Is this the tip of the iceberg and beginning of the end of Digg? Potentially the end of creditability.

UPDATE: Sold to Jim Messenger for $1275 on ebay. It would seem that he is a strong Digg supporter and donated it to them. Looks like a few Digg gamers just got caught. Seemed like a bit of a low thing to do even though they were gaming Digg. That is just my opinion though.

Top Blogs on WordPress

WordPress LogoMany things attracted me to WordPress. Many things I discovered when I got here have kept me here. One of the things I discovered when I got here was the “Top WordPress.com Blogs of Today” that is displayed on the dashboard. It gave everyone the chance to be “featured”. I feel this is now a thing of the past.

The top blogs of the day feature is great and it used to be better. It used to be that anyone with a blog hosted on WordPress had the chance of being featured right there on the “homepage” when you logged into WordPress. I was excited about the fact that anyone could end up there and you did not have to be an “A-List” blogger. I am interested in what people have to say, especially that which is well written or of note. Now the list of the top four blogs on WordPress.com are usually VIP Blogs that are popular because of who they are.

[Note: Non WordPress.com readers can see the top blogs for today on WordPress here.]

Scoble and his blog Scobleizer has been hosted on WordPress for some time. WhenTop Blogs on WordPress Screenshot I joined it was always on the top, everyday. It doesn’t matter what he wrote it was on top. But, every now and then one of us not so well known bloggers piped Scoble off the top dog spot. These were the posts that really got me interested, mainly because it was because the content was worth looking at. It got my attention. So what has changed?

In late September WordPress started to off a new service for VIP bloggers. For $500 setup and $250 per month the WordPress team will set up a blog, maintain it and you get some nice VIP features. You become a VIP blog on WordPress. This is attractive for companies and “A-List bloggers” that make their income from blogging. They need a reliable service, with WordPress they get that. WordPress is a great service and offers great reliability and stability along with expertise that keep everything going and always rolling out new features. It can also handle the bandwidth required if a post ends up on Digg or Slashdot. So how does that affect me?

Now that we have VIP bloggers on WordPress like Anousheh Ansari’s “Space Blog”, Om Malik’s Web Worker Daily and more recently the Official Linden Blog, they are the Second Life people, they are always featured on the top blogs of the day. The sheer popularity and reach of these players now make the possibility of anything that I write have zero possibility of getting on the top blogs list.

I do not resent the fact that WordPress is inviting VIP’s to blog on WordPress, it makes very good business sense and I appreciate that it gives them exposure and respect within the blogosphere. But I don’t want to see a top blog list of bloggers that I could go to Techmeme and see! I want to see the “average Joe” have the opportunity to be listed as a “Top Blog”. I could not care if I never got on the list again, but I would like to think that there was always the opportunity that I could be. At this present time I have zero to none chances of making the cut. In addition this list should be dynamic and change all the time. At the moment it is like “Ground Hog Day”! Same blogs there day after day with no change, or very little. So what do I think should be done?

I think that the answer might be for the great guys at WordPress to make another list on the dashboard. Sure keep the “Top WordPress.com Blogs of today”, make that for everyone, who knows we might be able to get the traffic required to get on the list with the “A-listers”. Have another list that is formulated by taking out the “A-List” blog factor. That is; a list for the rest of us. At least then it would feel fair and not impossible to be a “Top WordPress.com Blog”.

How do other WordPress.com users feel about this idea? Is it something that you think you would appreciate? If so let the WordPress guys know and maybe we will see it. I do not think that it would be that hard to do. So how about it?

Marketing Our Podcast: A Challenge Issued!

TPN LogoWe are having some trouble at The Global Geek Podcast HQ! We need some kick-arse marketing strategies and quick. No, I am not doing what my brother suggested:

“…Tattoo the URL to your penis, photograph it, then post it on your blog, digg the article.”

While this strategy might spike some interest and probably work; it was not really what I had in mind when I asked him if he had any ideas about exposure! So I am asking the faithful readers of my blog to do a couple of things that will help.

  • If you have not checked out the podcast, head on over to The Global Geek Podcast homepage and at least have a listen to the show, if you like it SUBSCRIBE to the RSS feed.
  • If you like the podcast or you think someone else might then tell them.
  • If you have a blog then why not give us a bit of a plug or put the podcast in your blog roll or links. I can get you a logo or graphic if you want it to look good.
  • We reviewed a site called Folkd in the last podcast it is a great “Digg” type site but very, very good and looks awesome, I have posted our podcast on there so that it can be voted on. If you like the podcast then Register and give it a Folkd! (vote/”digg”).
  • Same for Shoutwire and Newsvine
  • If you have a Digg account then why not Digg the latest episode? (doesn’t look so good if we do it…)
  • Let us know what else we might do to spread the word about the podcast.

I think that we have a reasonable podcast and that our content is good. So now we need exposure. We are trying to do that but we need your help! If you listen to the podcast and reckon other people should as well then tell them, or at least another two people, then tell them to do the same. It is greatly appreciated.

So I also issue a challenge! Read on…

If one person truly blows me away by something that they do to give us some major exposure (that we can see results from – like more downloads), I will personally fund a prize for that person! That’s right I’ll send you clobber. Don’t expect anything too amazing, we are not making money you know, but it will be cool and practical – cause that’s what you do when you don’t have much cash!

And you are on the show (if you want to be) to tell everyone what you did!

If there are any podcasters out there or anyone else for that matter with some great ideas then let me know by dropping me a comment or you can also send us email at The Global Geek Podcast. Thanks everyone I appreciate it and so does The Podcast Network!

The Global Geek Podcast: http://www.globalgeekpodcast.com

RSS Feed: http://globalgeek.thepodcastnetwork.com/feed/

Capitalism in the Face of Content

I have often thought about this issue and I think it has even come up on Global Geek Podcast. How are all these lovely looking “Web2.0” websites going to make money? At this present time most of these sites look great, they have minimal advertising; if any. They look a million dollars due to the sleek web design and neat Ajax applications that they are employing. Or to use what has become a social term: these sites look very “Web2.0”. But today I see that this is changing.

Shoutwire is what people would term a “Web2.0” site. It is an on-line community that works a little like Digg in that news stories are submitted by the community and are “shouted” or “liked” by the users. In this way articles get X number of “shouts” which promotes that story up the ladder. I guess that you could say it a form of voting. Users can submit comments and have discussions about the stories as well. Great idea, news that the community decides is important gets promoted and read by more visitors to the site. There is also an RSS feed that you can subscribe to for the front, page much like Digg. The site when I joined was slick, pleasing to the eye and easy to use and it was fun. Although being a new site at the time the community was small. I don’t know how big it is now but if they continue wrecking their “look” they are going to scare people off in droves.

I had not visited Shoutwire for a while and I had some time free so I decided to swing on over to their site. To say that I was appauled is an understament. Sure there were some sort of syndicated adverts along the top, making up part of the header. Fine, a lot of sites have that or something similar. But the wart on the face of beauty was an overly large, flashing, obnoxious, irritating, badly placed advert right in the middle of the submitted article pane, right at the top. Absolutely disgusting.

Shoutwire Screen Shot[Click thumbnail for bigger image] Not only does this make the once slick site look cheap; it was also probably one of the most badly placed ads I have ever seen, but yes, I noticed it. I hated it, I am not even sure that I want to go back and I most probably will not. In addition to that is the fact that the type of advert that the editors (or whoever decides this stuff) have used; just does not look like it belongs on the site. It looks like they were desperate for money so they stuck up whatever they were offered. I don’t care if this type of advertising works, if it was me making these decisions it just would not have happened. It would be like a flashy magazine like Vanity Fair placing ads that you might see in Picture Magazine (Australian soft porn magazine) in the featured story. I am not sure if they realise that is how the selection and placement of advertising comes across or not but I would be interested to find out what other people think. There is another “choice” advert along the right side of the main page but at least it is not in your face. But it is one that I would not have expected to see, it just does not fit with the “flavour” of the site.

That said I have always maintained that these flash sites that we are being spoilt with are going to change and some like Shoutwire for the worse. The services and the nice looking sites, to say nothing of the bandwidth do not come for free. Something has to give here for them to be able to continue to operate and maintain the services that they offer.

We are going to see some things happen. These sites that promote traffic are going to have to decide how they tackle the revenue problem. Decide to fall on their sword and die a dignified death. Or they advertise. The only other alternatives is to charge a subscription to be able to contribute to the site or perhaps to even enter it. They would have to be pretty confident of their product for that to occur. But I can see the advertising thing happening. But please do it with class and good taste, Shoutwire is a great example of what not to do.

One nasty trick that some companies might be considering is that of building a user base that is highly involved and somewhat reliant on what they offer, like Odeo for example, then start to charge people to use it. I am not saying that I have heard that Odeo is considering doing this but I must say that if I would suspect a site for maybe doing it, it would be Odeo. You ask why I hear. Well; what Odeo are doing is transferring heaps of data in the form of podcasts and sent odeo messages to their user base and anyone else that wants to just listen to podcasts. That aspect alone would be costing them a lot of cold hard cash. Up until this point in time I have seen no advertising, except for themselves. But then again they might get their funding from somewhere else I don’t know.

Another site that comes to mind is YouTube, again huge bandwidth, big dollars, huge active user base and to top it off they are as popular as you might be able to get. Are they loosing money? I know they were for a while but they might not be now.

I would pay for both access and use of a site if a few conditions were meet. One is that I would have to rely on the service that they were offering and it would have to be good and reliable. Or alternatively I would have to very much enjoy being a part of that community. Secondly, I would expect that a subscription was payed in lieu of having to put up with Odeo Logoobnoxious advertising. For example, if Odeo said to me that I would have to pay to be able to recieve Odeo messages into my inbox for the podcast, I would agree to it. The reason being is that the service is a great one, it works, it is reliable, it is of high quality. But I would expect this fee to be reasonable as well, I won’t pay through the nose either!

So it remains to be seen if companies and websites will maintain the look and feel of their websites while meeting the need to raise revenue in order for the site to exist. I can see the need for both. But what I do not see the need for is the example of Shoutwire. It will be interesting to see what route these companies take over time as the pressure increases with more competition. Given Shoutwire, I am sure some will opt for cash and capitalism over content. In the meantime I am going to Newsvine, they look like they are doing something right.