Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Buzz: First Impressions

I've been hearing a lot about Google Buzz lately and lo and behold, it shows up in Gmail this morning. Initially, I ignored it, but I visit my Gmail account quite often and so figured, "what the heck". As I was going through the set up process (which isn't really involved), I was inspired to open up Google Wave for the first time in more than a month. I saw a few new Waves, but nothing like the flood of unread messages I'd expect if I just ignored Gmail for about six weeks. I've written a couple of blogs on Wave, including an an initial review and an update called Why Hasn't Google Wave Gone Viral? My interest in Wave has waxed and waned and now that Google has thrown Buzz into the mix, was I supposed to get excited?

Frankly, I feel like I must be missing something. I started following a few people on Buzz, particularly Jesse Newhart, and in reading the various discussions he's started, a lot of people seem completely thrilled about Google Buzz. I did some searching, trying to discover the Buzz potential and amazingly, I even found an article published at Business Insider called Is Google Buzz a Facebook Killer?

Frankly, I find it difficult to keep up with Buzz, although I've gotten to the point where I'm on top of twitter. I use TwitterGadget in iGoogle, where I spend much of my time when I'm in front of a PC, so I can keep up on tweets and still do my other work. But I have to visit Gmail to find my new "buzzes", if that's the correct term. Not that I don't open Gmail a great deal as I mentioned, but I don't have it open constantly. If traffic in Buzz is supposed to be as frantic as in twitter, assuming a fairly large number of followers, then you'd have to keep an eye on it more or less all the time.

I found myself thinking of the famous quote from Fellowship of the Ring:
One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them.

Between just how many different interfaces must I bounce in order to satisfy my need to be social?

If Google could put Gmail, Buzz, and Wave in one place or at least make easy and quick connections between them, and then get them to all really talk back and forth to twitter, Facebook, and the like, and then give me one place to aggregate the whole thing, it might serve my needs. Of course, I don't know that's not what Google has in mind for all this; it just seems that with Wave not having "found it's feet" yet, so to speak, launching another big social networking app just for giggles is a tad much.

OK, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater (yes, that's an old cliche but the old curmudgeon in me made me say it) and I did title this article "First Impressions". Not dismissing Buzz completely out of hand, I haven't exactly fallen into "early adopters euphoria" over it either.

To give it a fair test, if you follow me on Buzz, I'll follow you back...unless you're a slutbot (I had to block the first one in Buzz just a few minutes ago) or a spammer.

What do you think?


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SourceForge Lifts the Block: The Power of Negative Publicity

I woke up this morning to Joe Brockmeier's blog and the happy news that SourceForge has decided to lift it's block against the various nations the United States has placed on its embargo list. I had blogged on the original ban announcement and was pleased to see further action had been taken. Actually, the entire matter is not quite as clear cut as it may seem.

First, you'll recall the original announcement by SourceForge that it was establishing a denial of site list in order to comply with United States legal requirements, banning nations such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria from being able to access any of the open source projects hosted at SourceForge. Of course, that didn't just ban the governments running various totalitarian regimes in these nations, but also every single citizen living in the banned countries. In essence, the United States, and by its legal compliance SourceForge, was restricting people from access to open source projects just because of where they lived.

I didn't blame SourceForge for this (although plenty of people did). When you get a legal order from an entity that has the right to issue and enforce legal orders, if you are law abiding in your nation of residence, you comply with the order. SourceForge had nothing to gain by "bucking the system" and could ultimately do more harm than good to the open source community by telling the U.S. Government to "go pound sand".

Things have now changed. SourceForge has decided to lift its ban according to their announcement last Sunday but that doesn't mean it's "business as usual". SourceForge has put the responsibility to allow or deny access to projects in the hands of the individual project administrators. This makes a lot more sense when you consider that not all projects universally are banned from being disseminated by the U.S to embargoed nations.

Is full access to all the projects at SourceForge completely restored? No. Access is now determined on a project-by-project basis by the project administrators themselves. SourceForge is only involved to the degree that it has allowed project admins this level of control over project access on the SourceForge site. Most of the comments made in response to this action, at least from U.S. developers, are really positive. Non-U.S. folks tend to still slam the U.S. embargo list if not SourceForge, including one German fellow:
I am not an U.S. citizen, so I give a fuck on U.S. laws. We Germans are allowed to export anything to anywhere. Also our encryption mechanisms. So it’s all right for me.
I guess you can't please everyone.

For instance, Brockmeier's blog included a link to's take on the SourceForge matter (despite the fact that the embargo list doesn't affect just Arab nations). You can read first hand, the thoughts and particularly the emotions this entire incident has evoked, as written by Abdulrahman Idlbi, who "is computer engineering master’s student at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals", in his guest editorial.

Did SourceForge do the right thing? Yes. The overarching principle of open source is to be accessible to everyone, and I mean everyone. Politics, ethnicity, gender, and any other differences and divisions simply don't matter. Open source, at its finest, functions to unite people, or at least developers, all over the world, in a common and peaceful endeavour. OK, the real world doesn't work that way, but as I said, this is an ideal. I think we found out pretty quickly that political and ideological differences kick in with a vengeance (see the comment from the German fellow and the ArabCrunch article) when you throw a monkey wrench into the machine.

Open source is an ideal but this entire sequence of events has illustrated with great clarity that we human beings, all of us, have a long way to go before we even approach this ideal with how we think, feel, and live.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Fourth Annual Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco Focuses on Platforms for Growth

This information appeared in my inbox a day or so ago, so I thought I'd pass it along. Feel free to do the same. Cheers.

San Francisco, CA, February 4, 2010 — O'Reilly Media, Inc. and TechWeb, producers of Web 2.0 Expo and Web 2.0 Summit, today announced the return of Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco, the annual event for designers, developers, entrepreneurs, marketers, business strategists, and venture capitalists building a web for the 21st century. This year, Web 2.0 Expo centers on the theme of "Power of Platforms," helping businesses choose and leverage the right web platforms for success. Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco is May 3 - 6, 2010 at Moscone West.

"It's not just about how companies use the web as a platform," said Sarah Milstein, Web 2.0 Expo Co-Chair and TechWeb General Manager. "It's about how they fit into an ecosystem or create new, larger ones. What we're interested in this year is the new wave of companies that have the potential to build new economies and exploring exactly how that is done."

Celebrating its fourth year, Web 2.0 Expo continues its tradition of inspiring and educating the tech industry by providing unparalleled educational programs and valuable networking opportunities. This year, the event launches One Day Intensives, "mini-conferences" that feature expert speaker panels in a participatory classroom experience. Web 2.0 Expo Intensives feature "Lean Startup" with Eric Reis of and "Applied Communilytics" with Sean Power and Alistair Croll of

Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco will consist of a multi-track conference, an "unconference" program called Web2Open, a major tradeshow and many networking opportunities and events. Conference tracks include: Strategy & Business Models, Social Media Marketing, Design & User Experience and Development with six focus tracks on Mobility, Community, Real-time, Analytics, Enterprise and Cloud Computing.

Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco 2010 welcomes supporting companies, including Platinum sponsor Microsoft; Gold sponsors Adobe, Invest in Germany, and IBM; Silver sponsors Berlin Partner, blueKiwi, EffectiveUI, HP, Neustar, OpenSRS, OpenText, The Planet and SOASTA.

To learn more about the 2010 Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco or register visit:
For articles, blogs, photos, videos, and speaker presentation files from Web 2.0 Expo SF 2009, see:

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About TechWeb
TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market. Today, more than 13.3* million business technology professionals actively engage in our communities created around our global face-to-face events Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat and VoiceCon; online resources such as the TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise,,, and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet Magazine, MSDN Magazine, Wall Street & Technology magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services ranging from next-generation performance marketing, integrated media, research, and analyst services. TechWeb is a division of United Business Media, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion. *13.3 million business decision-makers: based on # of monthly connections.

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