Archive for the ‘Platform’ Category

Dream: How The Guardian’s API Could Let a Thousand Stories Bloom


Newspapers are reacting in different ways to the shrinking revenue pie, some have launched blogs, many have twitter accounts, and some newspapers like the NYT keeps content behind a registration page. Today, the Guardian has launched Open Platform, a feature that will allow content be repurposed in a variety of ways. Those who participate in this affiliate content network will be an ad partner, extending the Guardian’s monetization model to these third party sites. Their API will allow third party developers to create new ways to tap into their story stream, and extend it beyond the walls of the Guardian website.

I can think of half a dozen applications (as I was thinking aloud in Twitter and kicked off a conversation) that could be built that could make it interesting, here’s what I could think of:

1. Social apps that build stories based on what your real friends have read –and vote for
Make it social. Someone will develop an application that will tap into your social graph, and suggest stories that your friends are reading, or stories that your friends recommend, or stories that other people with similar traits as you have read.

2. Mobile app that provides relevant news depending on where you are.
As location devices improve, mobile devices in the future may serve up content based on where you are located at. Traveling to a new city? This device could serve up stories that are interesting to the local news palette. Or, make news stories based on where you’re at, I’d love to hear news stories about a store or industry that I’m near by, say, the financial stability of a electronics store or auto dealer before buying.

3. Deliver stories based on time of day and day of week
Reading habits may vary depending on time of day or day of week. Expect a developer to build stories related to your work industry as you’re riding the subway to work. Lunch time stories could be related to leisure activities such as style or sports. For the single, reviews of the local eateries or lounges would be appropriate on Fridays, and entertainment and movie reviews would be most importantly on a Saturday morning

4. Suggests stories based on your historical behavior –or related to page you are on
Go behind ‘recommended’ stories. Imagine a developer building a secured Firefox or Flock plugin that will suggest stories to you based on the other browser behaviors. If you’ve liked stories about the NY Giants in the past, you’ll likely like stories about the Red Sox, or weather and team info as the Giants are at away games. Or, take it a step further and suggest Guardian stories based on the actual page you’re on.

5. Build new visual interfaces for the Guardian
Imagine a developer building a new site for the Guardian, they could design and develop new visualizations to view stories by frequency, map overlays, by people, or topics. They should draw inspiration from Digg’s visualization tools.

6. Allow citizen journalists to submit stories
Perhaps the most bold, but a new system could allow tweeters, bloggers, and Youtubers to submit not only commentary about stories, but create new stories themselves –feeding the Guardians news stream with real time content from the crowd. Of course, the challenge with all ‘amateur’ media is that a certain threshold of quality will need to be met.

7. You dream: submit your ideas
That’s all I could come up with at 5am in the morning, I’d love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment.

Interestingly, my suggestions in Twitter have actually caused folks to build new applications, and in my day job, I’m hired to review product roadmaps for social media vendors, so I’m hoping we’ll see some apps built off the Guardian API. When you do, leave a comment, and I’ll consider highlighting it to the community.

Update: Peter Kim points out in the comments that the Guardian will monetize this by requiring developers to participate in their ad network.

LinkedIn’s Applications Further Moves the Intranet Away from the Firewall


Although I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I’m sure my kids won’t know what a firewall is when they reach the workplace.

Why? firewalls, the enterprise security that maintains security between employees and the public on your intranet are going to be irrelevant –and LinkedIn and other SaaS products are making this happen –one URL at a time. I’ve expanded upon this a bit more in a recent discussion with the WSJ indicating the opportunity for LinkedIn and others.

I’ve been in close contact with LinkedIn over the past year, and recently had lunch with their CEO to discuss their strategy, so I’ve been fully briefed on this platform announcement. Given the downturn in economy, this is a great market for LinkedIn to grow with users, and to offer services and features that reduce developer cost within the enterprise.

A bit of history, LinkedIn, which is reported to have 29million users, was one of the OpenSocial partners that agreed to join the coalition and put their name by it in fall 2007, finally, a year later they’ve finally launched an application platform with 10 application partners. You’ve heard of MySpace, Bebo, and many others being OpenSocial compliant, and you should be aware of Facebook’s F8 platform that kicked this off in mid year 2007.

These 10 application (sometimes called widgets) are now accessible by LinkedIn users and have collaborative and social features that allow you and your LinkedIn friends to share presentations, favorite books, event calendars, documents and other work related themes (no super poke here). You can collaborate with your colleagues at a company and even beyond with your business contacts, imagine that, getting work done with people that aren’t even your colleagues.

I used to be the enterprise intranet manager at HDS before I started the social media program, and I know that from experience, most intranets are a horrible cobbled together experience, most lacking true social features. We continue to see more SaaS products being offered like SocialText, Zoho, ConnectBeam, and of course SalesForce to allow employees to work and share together, without even having to rely on IT developers to build a new products.

LinkedIn isn’t done with it’s growth, to truly be a major competitor in the intranet market, they need to make their system extensible with other platform players, allow more business applications to be shared on their platform (they hand select developers) and consider some acquisitions in the community platform space or collaboration space. Since they snagged funding before the investment money dried up, they recently have generated $22 million in funding (beyond their existing raised capital, which will enable them to : 1) stand the test of time, 2) get ready to go shopping.

Expect LinkedIn to:

  • Offer more collaboration between colleagues and connections to happen outside of the firewall where IT doesn’t have control
  • Provide resources for some IT departments to lean on SaaS environments to further their mission
  • Launch more business applications request to be developers on LinkedIn’s business platform
  • Export the top business applications will be then be ported to community platform players
  • Raised significant capital, thrive in an downturned economy, and get ready to go shopping
  • Innovation at LinkedIn: From Business Utility to Platform


    (Video: Mario Sundar, LinkedIn’s community evangelist interviews Adam Nash, Sr. Director of Product, via official blog)

    LinkedIn recently briefed us for their announcement today, (I’m making a few updates as news releases) here’s my take:

    Summary: What you need to know
    Already a business networking utility with minor community features, LinkedIn launches improved homepage with aggregated news and customized features. In addition, LinkedIn’s launching an API (so third party developers can create applications) starting with BusinessWeek’s “social bookmarks” feature. Expect more business valued applications to surface, increasing the value of LinkedIn, I see this as a success as this becomes less of a part-time utility to more of a full-time business platform.

    Features Launched
    There are three major homepage feature improvements include

    1. Company News: Five related articles will be displayed
    2. Customizable modules: Three options to choose from People, Jobs, and Answers
    3. Network Updates: A newsfeed that shares your contacts changes

    API yields platform for 3rd party development

    The most important story (for some reason the other press members aren’t focusing in on it as much is that combining this with LinkedIn’s API so select third party developers can build business apps for the LinkedIn network can yield a business destination that we can start using on a daily basis.

    But there’s an opportunity for LinkedIn to become a perma-tab in our web experience, take for example the partnership with Businessweek, much like a nod to the social ads that Facebook has deployed (but this time opt-in only) users of LinkedIn that are visiting Businessweek can choose to share a story with their network on LinkedIn. A sort of ‘delicious for your network’. LinkedIn is discussing the API opportunities from their official blog (and video)

    Utility to Platform
    LinkedIn already boasts some community features, such as LinkedIn answers, network like sharing tools, all lead by the official LinkedIn blog. I expect to see calendar, event, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and profile matching type of widgets and applications on LinkedIn’s community platform.

    Application that could be developed

  • Shared bookmarks with my business network (Delicious integration)
  • Additional business media ties (Reuters, BBC, NYT, Forbes, Nasdaq, NYSE)
  • Shared calender and event tracker with my business network ( integration)
  • Collaboration of office docs (Open Office, Google docs integration)
  • Presentation sharing (slideshare integration)
  • Map mashups: find people with similiar jobs in your area
  • Social recommendation engines for jobs (SimplyHired integration)
  • SecondLife profile and community sharing, esp for business events (take it to the next level, the sky is the limit!)
  • Challenges
    No platform or product is perfect, here’s a few challenges I see along the way

  • The API will take some time for developers to get used to.
  • The sub set of Businessweek readers and LinkedIn users that will share the bookmark is low, expect adoption for this feature to be low, but a good start for what’s to come.
  • With Google’s Open Social API underway (as well as Facebook) developers are going to have to build multiple APIs, in the long run this will cause confusion.
  • Many users get news information about their company and industry from other sources, I don’t expect the LinkedIn homepage to be a daily visit –expect the applications to be the lead in first for real utility.
  • Innovation not fully unleasged as only select partners are allowed to develop on LinkedIn’s platform, an ‘open market’ type of development process could bring many iterations of products, let the users decide which apps should be used.
  • Facebook: While business folks are connecting within Facebook, (such as within my web strategy group of 4000 professionals) there’s been no notable business apps that have been deployed. Expect developers for LinkedIn to also deploy on Facebook and other OpenSocial partners. Facebook is a “lifestyle” network, that includes both personal and work –much like our next generation of workers.
  • My Take
    A business platform for business people. More applications of actual utility (unlike the entertainment and media apps in Facebook and MySpace). Actual productivity from a connected workforce. Increase in attention (time on site) and viral spread of new users that will join. Anyone trying to reach business people should consider deploying in LinkedIn’s community and platform. If things go according to plan, this is a win for LinkedIn.

    (Similar to the video above, this one focuses on the APIs with Mario and Lucian Beebe Director of Product Management)