February 2006 Archives

Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace

Youth are not creating digital publics to scare parents - they are doing so because they need youth space, a place to gather and see and be seen by peers. Publics are critical to the coming-of-age narrative because they provide the framework for building cultural knowledge. Restricting youth to controlled spaces typically results in rebellion and the destruction of trust. Of course, for a parent, letting go and allowing youth to navigate risks is terrifying. Unfortunately, it's necessary for youth to mature.

An interesting talk overall, but this summary quote caught my eye because it reminded me of something Whit Diffie said onstage at RSA a couple of weeks ago: "Security codes for legitimacy." That observation goes a long way towards capturing what goes on between parents and kids regarding MySpace.

Ultimately, any "security" measures applied to MySpace, in an effort to secure kids from whatever parents percieve as a threat, will be devised with the interests of the owerful stakeholders: parents, government, and risk-averse corporations. Notice who won't be represented? The user, the individual, the kids.

Not being The Man has its downsides.

Phil Windley's Technometria | Using Google's Universal Authentication Engine

Google’s Chat service, GTalk, is based on XMPP, the protocol behind Jabber. That’s why you can use any Jabber client with GTalk. This has other implications beyond chat clients, however. XMPP has a very capable authentication mechanism built-in to service distributed chat servers, but you can use XMPP authentication for anything. Google has conviniently tied this authentication service to your Google account. That means that you could build an application that let’s people log in using their Google account name (what I call GIDs) and password without any prior arrangement with Google. With no fanfare at all, Google has created a universal login for anyone who wants to use it.

Federated SSO, courtesy Google and open source? Interesting.

Amazon goes shopping for developers | The Register

Amazon is targeting software developers and entrepreneurs with expanded web services and marketing support to attract more shoppers to its service.

The online merchant plans to expand its existing library of seven web services in the "near future", the company said Tuesday. Amazon currently makes web services and Amazon APIs available for developers who use the code to integrate their own shopping sites with Amazon's payment and search infrastructure.

Amazon's goal is to establish its marketplace against online competitors with the support of an expanding ecosystem of developers, who would add shopping services that attract more customers.

No one has been more aggressive about slapping an API on their business than Amazon.com. It lets Amazon.com leverage the internal work they would have to do to maintain their core applications to extend their business via third parties into niches they haven't the time nor expertise to exploit. Very clever.

What's the old adage about operating systems and game consoles as platforms? They're only successful when ISVs develop applications for them? That's precisely what Amazon.com is doing: creating an independent software vendor-like community dedicated to developing to Amazon.com's ecommerce platform.

Only eBay (and perhaps Yahoo!) can say they're even remotely in this game. What does this mean for Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or any other established retailer? Hard to say, but as more retail is conducted online, the old guard may find themselves outflanked, thanks to Amazon.com's platform push.

Ingres' New CFO Is Out for Enterprise Blood

In the cost of building a software company, probably 35 percent is attributable to R&D, and the rest is sales and marketing and going GA and the rest of the stuff.

The open-source model, with a community of developers, can significantly cut back on some 35 to 40 percent of the costs of development.

Further, the community contributes ideas to take the product in areas you otherwise wouldn't have come across.

Of course, the negative is that dollars coming in on a per-unit basis are lower, so you need more users paying a small amount, vs. the enterprise model of few users paying a large amount.

Some insight into the different economics of an open source software start-up, courtesy Ingres' incoming CFO (currently an analyst at Citi).

The point is that if you can establish a community of developers and imbue the project with enough momentum, the cost of delivery can be significantly lower than a similar, proprietary effort. In effect, developing an open source DBMS should be cheaper per line of code than developing Oracle.

I'd also suggest that any project with momentum (that is, an active community of developers) also reduces the copyright owner's sales and marketing costs. The user community acts as evangelists, and the net acts as a distribution channel.

Free speech in Europe: mixed rules | csmonitor.com

The general response from European politicians has been to frown on those who reproduced images first aired last fall in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, while insisting that editors were within their legal rights to do so. Governments have refrained from apologizing to the Islamic community because they say publication is a matter for editors, not politicians. Muslim opinion, however, has not been appeased by this response.

"Muslims are complaining that they are not protected by the law as the other faiths are supposed to be," says Mr. Roy.

The whole episode reinforces my general suspicions of politicians, Europeans, the religious, and cartoonists. None of them can take a joke.

Dell drops DJ music players

Dell drops DJ music players

Dell DJ, RIP.

As Apple's iPod juggernaut continues to gobble up MP3-player market share, one of its most prominent competitors is scaling down its focus on the space significantly.

Dell confirmed today that it has discontinued its three hard-drive Digital Jukebox (DJ) players that sell for $200 to $300, but will continue selling its $99, flash-based DJ Ditty player.

The 512MB Ditty, which holds up to 220 songs, is Dell's competitor to Apple's Shuffle player and the pencil-thin 2GB and 4GB iPod nano that it unveiled late last year.

Dell's retreat came yesterday. Today Apple announced the 1GB iPod nano and repriced their iPod shuffle models. The 512MB iPod Shuffle is now $30 less than the Dell Ditty.

Oops.