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April 30, 2008 - Spotting things you'll want to see today.

Yahoo plans for an open future in the 'social zone'

It has a storied past, an uncertain future, half a billion regular visitors and at least one wealthy suitor. Last Thursday Yahoo revealed plans to transform itself into an open social networking platform because it does not "think of social as a destination but as a dimension."

Reactions from bloggers were mixed but showed that Yahoo will remain an important factor regardless of any Wall Street activity. Webware.com's Dan Farber provided a good look at Yahoo's overall plan for integrating the "social zone" into all of its customer interactions while e-consultancy wondered about the technical challenges and the eventual payout. Groundswell's Charlene Li heartily endorsed the Yahoo plan for a future where "social networks will be like air" as opposed to being locked into proprietary products like Facebook.
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Speaking to a semantic web

If you visit the flashy Searchme.com and enter the term 'bass' it will politely ask if you prefer fish or a musical instrument. Try the same thing on Google and you are pretty much on your own. Searchme is an early product of the semantic web which means that it will invest a few nano-seconds to ponder the meaning and intent of your queries before responding. A post by SEO 2.0 looks ahead to the search function in a semantic online world and predicts happier users visiting stickier sites. Blogging in SEO Theory, Michael Martinez describes the early efforts to design the semantic web and the opportunities for inevitable spamming abuse. The term 'Web 3.0' is mostly about semantics which are as complicated as they are important. Communication Economies offers a good video primer for everyone on a need to know basis.

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  Reading habits worth considering

When Robert Scoble was eleven years old he learned how to solder a motherboard from, of all people, his mother. She was working at home as part of a group of women manufacturing Apple IIs. He never quite gave up the tech bend although he later learned that he liked journalism more than he did computer science. He was an early blogger and also authored a book on the subject titled Naked Conversations. He is amongst today's best known bloggers for Scobleizer - Tech Geek Blogger and he helped define social marketing with a 2007 post titled What is Social Media? He has a day job at Fast Company TV but spends some time on Twitter with over 20,000 followers. He follows an equal number. His blog

Is social media just media hype so far?

Do the people who write about online social media live in an echo chamber? The blogs are full of talk about Facebook, Twitter, Digg and the rest but social's position on the mainstream acceptance curve is a matter for (lively) debate. Kara Swisher of All Things Digital (WSJ) stirred things up this week when she asked guests at a wedding if they knew what 'Twitter' was. She was left at the alter with nothing but blank stares. Several bloggers countered Swisher's story with a much larger survey just released by Universal McCann that showed impressive growth, particularly overseas. Behind the Buzz provided a good summary of the report and added the conclusion that the users are indeed growing but that advertisers need to speak to them carefully. Peter Black made the point that the social audience might be small in size but heavy in influence which is why many smart companies are establishing their positions now and Search Rank provided a list of tools for those wishing to join them.
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Tools: New and/or improved

  • What makes a design "Googley"? (GoogleBlog)
  • How to analyze your site with del.icio.us (Search Engine Journal)
  • Using Related Search to Find Google’s Most Searched Keywords (SEO Design)
  • Headlines That Pull, Persuade And Propel! (Friday Traffic Report)
  • 5 Pay-Per-Click Myths You Shouldn’t Believe (PPC Hero)
  • 3 Reasons Your Visitors Don’t Convert to Leads (Future Now)
  • Forwarding Email As A Convenient Means To Enter Data (Rimm-Kaufman)

Gatherings: Web 2.0 San Francisco

Web 2.0 was held last week and is emerging as a premier gathering of tech heavy innovators with implications for everyone who works online:

  • Karner Blue saw "A Glimpse into the Future of the Internet and the World"
  • Several presenters posted their presentations on SlideShare
  • Jacob Morgan attended the "The birth of microblogging & micromedia" session
  • Caroline McCarthy learned a history lesson from the Marc Andreessen /John Batelle discussion
  • The Online Marketing Blog posted several video interviews and the "Fake Steve Jobs" keynote

Radar Screen: Google announces a plan to 'search' images

  • Google Working On Ranking Algorithm For Images! (PageTraffic)
  • Can Google Solve the Image Search Problem? (Thomas Hawk)
  • Google Discovers Holy Grail of Image Search, But Will it Scale? (Marketing Pilgrim / Andy Beal)
  • New Google Tech Could Make Image Searches Smarter (E-Commerce Times / Katherine Noyes)
  • Image-search startup Riya calls Google's plans "largely impossible" (Valleywag)


Off Topic: The nuclear threat and the small plastic doll

There is another long term threat involving Iran and it has nothing to do with enriched uranium. The danger this time is Barbie, a staple of American culture for young girls for the past 49 years. Which makes her a cultural threat within Iran. The government and clergy have been trying to replace her with a home grown substitute named Sara for about 16 years now but Barbie continues to infiltrate the border to capture the hearts of Iranian children. She doesn't act alone -- Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter are identified as co-conspirators and the subjects of a proposed ban by the Iranian Prosecutor General. Perhaps they are trying to tell us that guns and smart bombs aren't always the most effective way to deal with a problem. A post in Persianhub by Iranmp3 describes the threat from within.

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