Archive for the 'web2.0' Category

In Mourning – co.mments Shutting Down Due To Spammers

commentsBoo.  Hiss.  There is a lot of complaining about spammers, but now they have crossed the line.

Announced on the http://co.mments.com site this week:

co.mments will be shutting down Jan 11, 2009. It’s been a wonderful ride, unfortunately regular upkeep, and our friendly spammers, have turned it into a chore. I need the time and energy to focus on other things, so sadly, I’m going to shutdown the site by the end of this week. Thank you all for your support, Assaf

Cote clued me in to co.mments two years ago.  In my book, this site was the hands-down sleeper hit of the Web 2.0 world.  It provided a personalized and surgical way to slice through web conversations.  My co.mments feed in Bloglines was the first feed I checked – every day, no exceptions.

What a drag – is there anything to replace this?  I will seriously miss this service.  Thanks for the ride, Assaf.

Who is Sick? Check Your Feed.

My ongoing investigations into online health communities brought me to Who is Sick?, a Google Maps mashup in beta that lets users post the seriously gory details of their symptoms so that they are incredibly findable. I learned a 29-year-old woman from Minneapolis picked up a stomach bug in Cancun within the last month, probably one of many – happy Spring Break!. The site brings back memories of Edward Tufte celebrating John Snow’s map of the London cholera epidemic in one of his books (was it Visual Explanations?).

Posters can post anonymously or by name, can indicate symptoms, and can also tag them. Voyeurs can search by location and familiar GMaps navigation, or by a symptoms tag cloud (try that on for a visualization). You can subscribe to email alerts, and I’m just sure that feeds are coming.

Who is Sick? is a curious idea – potentially cool, but if there was ever a 2.0-ish community that was only as good as the data available, this is it. I can’t remember feeling like posting my nasty symptoms last time I wasn’t feeling up to snuff, but who knows. And will this really give me more insight into an outbreak than socializing with local friends and parents? Perhaps the payoff is larger… we’ll be empowered to take on our local government by discovering our own polluted water supply, a la John Snow.

In my book, Who is Sick? just begs for RIA and interactivity… just think of the interactive and visual possibilities of navigating by symptoms and ailments.

Book Review: Web 2.0 Design Patterns – Must Read

I had the pleasure of reading the soon-to-be-published Web 2.0 Design Patterns, but am seriously late getting my thoughts out (sorry guys!). In short, this book is well worth the read.

Duane, James, and Dion captured a high-speed drive by of all things 2.0, carefully deconstructing all of the cool tools we’ve been having so much fun with recently. They setup the book with a dissection of some flagship Web 2.0 properties, and contextualization of key memes. Next they define applicable models for capturing Web 2.0 in a pattern language. One my favorite aspects of this chapter was the use of “low end” modeling techniques – such as concept maps, and HTML <meta> tags as a form of WSDL for simple HTTP services. Being an Agilist and a practicalist, I like to see less well refined techniques legitimized. In true 2.0 style, the authors use what works, not just what is academically proscribed.

But the core of the book is a pattern reference. As they state in the intro to that section, it’s not likely something you will read straight through – though it’s certainly well written enough to do so. Each pattern is appropriately brief, but still hangs meat off the bone enough to be useful. The landscape of defined patterns is broad, and oddly shaped. SOA and Mashup are patterns, as are Semantic Web and Microformats. This struck me oddly at first – maybe I was hoping for something more homogenous from a developer’s point of view. But the authors make it work. I have to admit it was amusing to see memes like SOA and SaaS reduced to a pattern template. (Though where is the missing reference to Salesforce.com in the Known Uses for the SaaS pattern?) The authors also extract new patterns native to the Web 2.0 landscape that are very insightful: Participation-Collaboration and Asynchronous Particle Update are very well done.

This book has a definite place on my bookshelf. Useful reference to be sure, but I can also imagine using this as a tool for evangelizing inside a large enterprise. To convert some minds, a pattern-based description might give some of these approaches more legitimacy. But the simple descriptions, useful models, and thoughtful examples in any context will provide the basis for a common understanding of Web 2.0 techniques.

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