Future of Web Apps 07 – Part 2

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Part 1 of my roundup is here. Some would say that this is a bit late because the conference was in february this year, but the stuff that Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo had to say is interesting and will only get even more interesting as time passes by.

Flickr is one of the world’s most popular sites where people can share, publish, discuss and organize their pictures online. One of the most important features of Flickr is the fact that people add a lot of descriptions to their images. These descriptions are what we call metadata. All the extra information that we add in addition to the image itself. Title, tags, exposure information from the camera and location data. These metadata are extremely important for a system like Flickr because it makes it possible to find and organize images in a lot of different ways.

The most obvious one is to search for a certain word. Do a search for “Norway” and you will find all the images that people have marked with “Norway” and so on. In addition to all the metadata that people add to their images, Flickr also keeps track of how many people that view an image, how many people that comment on it and so on. In total this adds up to a very detailed database of images that can be searched and organized in a lot of different ways.

Bradley Horowitz on the Future of Web Apps
Among other things, he did a roundup of what they call “interestingness” at Flickr. A way to sort out the best images. According to Horowitz it’s “based on implicit, organic measures.” As far as we know it’s a combination of the amount of views, the amount of comments and the amount of times an image has been marked favorite by the users. Have a look. Here is what’s showing up with a search for “Norway” through the old method of sorting. Newest images on top. And here is the same search sorted by interestingness. As he said, “interestingness works”.

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Then he started talking about new ways of using the data that they have in their database. An example: combine the tag “route66” with the geo location data. Suddenly you can ask Flickr the question “where is Route 66” and it will answer quite accurately (have a look at the slide in the picture above). I don’t think this is the best way to find Route 66 but it is an interesting approach to the use of data from Flickr.

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Then, you can start combining maps with tags. Tell Flickr to show a map of London with the tags people use placed on the map. You immediately get an idea of the most popular places in London and can start browsing images of those places.

Now, combine that with the time stamps and ask Flickr: “Show me places that are popular at night in London.”

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As you probably have understood, having a huge database of images with extreme amounts of metadata added gives some interesting possibilities.

So now you can head over to TagMaps and have fun.

Mr. Horowitz also did a nice demonstration of Yahoo Pipes. An utterly powerful tool that I’ll have to get back to later. If you are confident with RSS feeds and have some understanding of programming I would recommend that you visit Pipes and test it for yourself.

..and you can still find more details from the FOWA07 conference over at Ryan Carson’s blog.

Future of Web Apps 07 – Part 2

Future of Web Apps 07 – Part 1

Ryan Carson Fowa07

Here is my first post in a series from the Future of Web Apps 07 conference in London last week. I am not going to go in detail on all the speakers. Here you’ll find some of the stuff that I found especially interesting. For detailed information head over to Ryan Carson and his list of coverage from around the web.

So we gather in London with great anticipation. Big names, interesting speakers. Ryan Carson open the show with bad news. No WIFI. I understand that he’s not to blame. He has the equipment and all, but there’s some serious trouble with the network. OK, full focus on the speakers then. We’ll have to manage with the crappy connection at the Copthorne Tara when we return to the hotel.

All the images in this post can be clicked for a better view.

Mike Arrington of TechCrunch was the first speaker. The hardest working man on the web. He had an interesting look at startups with case studies and hints on what’s working and what’s not.

Mike Arrington Fowa07

I think he is completely right on what he has to say about the buzz factor. If you are hard at work marketing Super Audio CD when all the buzz is happening around something called MP3 you should seriously rethink your product. Etc… Remember, stuff gets big when the usability is right and the functionality is crystal clear.

And what are the oportunities according to Mr. Arrington?

1. The combination of online and offline content. What will be possible with Adobe’s Apollo platform, Firefox 3.0 and interesting combinations of a file system and html/flash/Ajax.

2. Someone that solves the problem of DRM and music, movies and TV

3. Data and service portability. teqlo, ning and pipes was mentioned here.

4. Still lots of opportunities regarding mobile services.

Tara Hunt Fowa07

Tara Hunt of Citizen Agency had lots of information on social networks and is a big advocate for open systems with possibilities of sharing. The simple but rich API of Flickr is a good example. To get the word of mouth going you need to build in a variety of ways to share early on. Support blogs, rss and easy to copy and paste permanent urls.

Matthew Ogle And Anil Bawa Cavia Fowa07

Matthew Ogle and Anil Bawa Cavia of Last.fm shared lots of experience from their work on Last.fm. And as you can see from the slide above, some interesting numbers from their service. They where talking about how they go from a service to a platform. In this transition openness is the key. They also talked about all the attention data that Last.fm collects and how they plan to use it. Here are some bullets:

1. Microchunk it – Reduce the content to its simplest form
2. Free it – Put it out there without walls around it or strings on it
3. Syndicate it – Let anyone take it and run with it
4. Monetize it – Put the monetization and tracking systems into the microchunk

Lastfm Tag Cloud Moderation Fowa07 (1)

They also had an interesting case study on how they solved the problem of “tag cloud spam”. Lots of people tagging Paris Hilton with tags like “officially shit” etc… Of course you could agree on that, but the tag cloud is pretty useless. They solved this by combining the tag cloud data with the attention data. The tags that people that actually listen to Paris Hilton weighs more than the tags from people that simply tag it with “untalented” and never listen to her.

So, the most important tags for a band like U2 is from people that actually listen to U2 etc…

Check back to eirikso.com, sign up for an email update or add my feed. My next post from this conference will include some very interesting stuff from Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo! and Kevin Rose from Digg.com

Future of Web Apps 07 – Part 1