Web Previews: Snap Off

The best-known web preview product is the one from Snap. Here’s how Lorelle described it when it was enabled on her blog. When you hover over any link on my site, it loads a preview of that site in a small pop-up window. She goes on to explain why this is bad, and how to stop it.

Web preview is the sort of thing that seems cool to put on one’s own site, but annoying when encountered on other people’s. I was therefore relieved when Fred removed Snap from AVC. Fred listened to his readers rather than clinging to Blog Bling, of which he’s the king.

There’s enough buzz around web previews that the race is on to develop “Snap on steroids.” Read/Write Richard is alarmingly enthusiastic about this race, and about iReader, one of the entrants.

iReader… is probably the most sophisticated previews product we’ve seen on the market yet, because it doesn’t just preview a webpage like Snap, or relevant links like Sphere. iReader actually studies the semantics of the content behind each link, and pops up a preview of that content in the form of a short list. The best way to illustrate this is to show you an example.

Yes, let’s see an example. Here’s a quote from the iReader preview of the 107 t-shirts list about which I recently posted. “OMFG eye chart fav addicteed offworld looking good to have thought to check where Norwick selling shirts”. As Richard says, “it is a beta product, so you’d expect some rough edges.”

Meanwhile, back in NYC, Fred has added AnswerTips. It seems more useful than Snap. It’s certainly less obtrusive, in that you won’t get a popup unless you really want one. Mousing over a the word doesn’t do anything. I know that I might regret asking this, but… suppose I like AnswerTips. Can it be made to work when I’m looking at the feed (in Google Reader, Bloglines, or…)?

I certainly prefer AnswerTips to Snap, since it puts me in control, rather than popping stuff up at me. More generally, I prefer AnswerTips to web preview tools because AnswerTips isn’t a web preview tool.

OpenID: Jyte, AOL, etc.

Consider the following claim: OpenID will spread in 2007 or it will disappear. If you have a Jyte account, you can record your agreement or disagreement with that claim. I agree with it.

I just claimed that WordPress should support OpenID. So far, 10 fellow Jyters have agreed with this claim, and none have disagreed.

I got to Jyte via this TechCrunch post. It was closely followed into my reader by this Read/Write Web analysis of AOL’s support for OpenID. The RWW piece links to an intro to OpenID.


Reddit’s BreadPigI have for some time been a “redditor,” that is, one who submits links to reddit, follows links posted by others, votes them up for down, and makes comments on posts. One of the attributes of a redditor is karma, which is computed from the up and down votes for the redditor’s submissions.

Some feel that reddit as we know it is in danger from “karma whoring,” and that some of the worst offenders are refugees from Digg. (Those more familiar with The Simpsons than with either of the sites I’ve linked to might like to think of Digg as Shelbyville to reddit’s Springfield.) I share this concern.

By the way, the logo isn’t the current Year of the Pig logo. It’s BreadPig, who gave the alien a brief break from reddit mascot duty last year. See the logo archive for… well, an archive of reddit logos.

MSM’s Musical Timing

Hot off the presses comes this timely insight: STEVE JOBS, the Apple CEO, may have ulterior motives. It’s from a Boston Globe editorial, which also tells us that “the music giants are slow to change.”

I made similar points in this very blog a week and a half ago, and, as blogging goes, mine was a late reaction to Jobs’ Thoughts on Music. One of the points of the current post is that mainstream media (MSM) sometimes seems like a late echo of the blogosphere; but that itself is an ancient charge.

In fact the above-quoted editorial illustrates several positive aspects of the MSM.

  • It can, at least in editorials, take time to think before rushing into print and/or pixels.
  • It can wait for reaction to the key events, such as the dismissal of Jobs’ thoughts by Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner Music.
  • Not everyone reads blogs.
  • The views of the Globe carry more weight with many people than the views of bloggers such as, say, me.
  • It helps that the good and obvious points arising from the thoughts of Chairman Steve are made now, as well as at the time of his sharing those thoughts.

In sum, the MSM’s apparent tardiness may actually be a pause for thought that keeps up the coverage on an issue. When the MSM’s points are familiar and obvious, that’s better than bizarre and wrong.

Of course, the MSM isn’t the monolith that the above might make it sound. In particular, both the Boston Globe and Warner Music are part of the MSM. I wish a happy year of the pig to the Globe.

Your ID: Free? Open?

FreeYourIDOnline identity is one of the big web issues of 2007. At least, I said it would be, I I still think so.

So I was interested to find out about (via TechCrunch) FreeYourID, which takes your name, appends .name to the end of it to generate an email address, domain name, and OpenID. But I’m not enthusiastic:

  • I don’t feel the need for the .name stuff.
  • Even if I did, somone else has already grabbed andrew.watson.name.
  • FreeYourID costs $, after the initial 90-day free trail.

So I’ll stick with my claimID.

Perplex City

One of the good things about procrastination is that, if you do it long enough, the thing you’re putting off doing becomes irrelevant. This recently happened to me yet again. After nearly two years, a cryptic treasure hunt played out between the real and virtual worlds has been won. That’s from the BBC’s article on Perplex City.

I didn’t get any further than registering. The email that told me that the race had been run also reminded me that I had yet to leave the starting line. “You’ve scored 0 Perplex Points. That makes you number 44995 on the global leaderboard, out of 53954 players!”

Blog Post From Scrybe!

Scrybe is an online organizer. I’ve been using the closed beta for a while. I won’t repeat here what I posted about Scrybe in my previous blog, except for noting that Scrybe seems to have lost momentum and gained resentment during its beta.

The Scrybe team has not been as communicative as it might have been. For example, today’s post to the Scrybe blog was the first in over a month. Sabika posts about the MIT Enterprise Forum Conference.

It is for the most part an excellent post. Sabika’s enthusiasm for Scrybe, the team, and the event they were just at, are very clear. The blog, and Scrybe’s image, would gain greatly from more posts like it.

On the other hand, I was disturbed to read this:

You guys pointed out that we missed our deadline without a blog entry and Magali correctly said that a lot of our replies can very well be blog entries. In one of our replies we explained that the deadline for the sharing build will be affected due to the delays in the ThoughtPad.

One of the key differences between replies and blog entries is that people who subscribe to your feed see the entries, not the replies.* Chances are that more people subscribe to your feed than regularly visit your blog, especially if new entries to the blog are few and far between.

* Since the Scrybe team has made the excellent choice of WordPress for its blog, there is a replies (comments) feed. But the “standard” feed from a blog is the entries (posts) feed.

Biggest Internet Threats: IE

You probably won’t be surprised to read that the three biggest internet threats in 2007 include malware and phishing. You might be surprised to read that “Internet Explorer heads the list of top Internet security attack targets.”

Or maybe you’re not surprised. There are lots of Microsoft-bashers out there. So who are these Redmond-ripping radicals?  Let’s continue the quote from the previous paragraph: “in the most recent joint report of the FBI and security organization SANS Institute.”

Let’s be thorough about sources: this is from an article by Scott Sanbauer of PC World; it is published at MSN Tech & Gadgets; and it was the ever-helpful Justin who drew it to my attention.

Generation Gap 2.0

The crazy kids these days are putting their lives on the web, creating a generation gap of a width not seen for half a century, according to an article by Emily Nussbaum in New York magazine (via reddit). I find the argument strengthened by the fact that, from an article full of quotes from under-30s, I am drawn to share with you the words of Clay Shirky, who’s almost as old as me.

Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. “Do you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.”

That’s a cool metaphor, I respond. “I actually don’t think it’s a metaphor,” he says.

Highrise: 37s Contact Manager

Jason twitches the 37signals kimono: Highrise is a shared contact manager that helps you keep track of who you talk to, what was said, and what to do next.

I’m in, if:

  • There is a free version, sufficient for my humble needs.
  • It’s easier to use than Yahoo email/contacts, which I current use.
  • It’s easy to use with my email, whether that be Yahoo or whatever I desert it for.
  • It’s easy to export contacts from, in case I change my mind.

I am fairly confident that Highrise will meet the first two of the above criteria, and less confident about the last two. My confidence is based on my use of Backpack.