Towards creating richer data streams between Internet users

I’ve been thinking about that for a while: how painful and multi-tasking it takes accomplish the day to day task that you’re accomplishing every day on the web.
Let me be concrete and consider these situations:

  • You’re talking with a friend on Google Talk and you want to send him a couple of pictures from Flickr while talking about a new restaurant and he wants to paste a map in the conversation
  • You’re tweeting about a great place you’ve been last night that you want to recommend and want to include in your post a shorten URL back to this place website as well as the location map
  • You’re blogging on a specific subject and want to include videos, some related links and tags and some pictures that are currently hosted on an outside service.
  • You’re reading an article and want to tweet about it while including a shorten URL back to it and include some other tweeter users in in.

These operations are all part of creating “enriched web streams” that mix and match photo, text, video, social networks signals etc. But to make that happen, most of the time, the average user will  have to open multiples browsers, cut and paste, login to some accounts, struggle with the limitations of each formats etc.

So obviously, when I got a demo from Google on Google Waves, I was very excited at the project underlying motto: to easily enrich the online conversations you might have, add or remove participants, facilitate sharing and communication (even in different languages). And the demo really works: you start to understand how this richer conversation can potentially change the way we communicate with each other on the web (and even keep track of these online enriched streams). Here’s the full video of the demo of the product. It’s a 1 hour and 20 minutes video but it’s really worth it:

The other very interesting project underway is The Mozilla Labs Ubiquity Project. It’s a slightly different scope and objective: the goal is to make your life easier when you’re using the Internet, just like having on your side a little robot facilitating a lot of your most usual tasks.The project is totally open to anyone to contribute, faithful in that to the spirit of the Mozilla Foundation.

The reason I’m linking the two projects is that they’re both, in their own ways, going to help us enrich the way we’re using the Internet. They also both contribute in blurring the classic frontiers between desktop apps, software and online apps. Here’s a quick video explaining the Ubiquity project (that is just starting…).

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Hey MonkeyBrain…

Brilliant site from the highly buzzed Seth Godin‘s empire that make you spent the day arguing on stupid (or passionate) debates.

Just like Squidlit (you’re getting paid to do book reviews), The Ever Project (aggregations of topics around “what’s the worst”, “the biggest ever” etc.), Squidwho (mashups and aggregations around fan pages), Hey Monkey Brain uses the Squidoo engine to power the site.

Squidoo is a content aggregation engine that lets user create “lenses” i.e. ways to look at a specific subject (let’s say, you’re a huge fan of laptops bags, you’re going to create a page around these bags and, obviously link to the pages where you can buy these bags). Heavily viral and engaging, the site launched less than 2 years ago is already close to 10m UVs worlwide and close to 5m UVs in ComScore. This growth has been achieved with very little SEM investment (if you check Spyfu, you get to an investment under 100 grands a year – check here).

The whole team is under 10 peoples, mostly technical and including Seth himself.

You can find an pure ecommerce application of the concept in France through Zlio which lets its users create personnalized shopping pages.  So let say you’re a huge fan of Saint Therese of Lisieux, you’ll create a page that will aggregate all of the products available on this well-known catholic saint (see the page here). The more targeted is the subject, the biggest conversion rate you’re going to achieve and the more money you’ll make (Zlio users get a rev share on the affiliation revenue).

Seth’s model enables users to choose between keeping the money or giving it to a charity.

Knowing how much transformation rates are affected by the contextual relevance of the pages, Stylefeeder (a recommendation engine, mostly focused on fashion) applied these teachings by letting the user drives the type of products that he might be interested in. Stylehive has the same goal but emphasize the social aspect of shopping to get there.  And is approaching it through a visual recognition application.

For now, there’s still no clear winner on the social shopping space but that could evolve very quickly knowing the pressure that all of these companies have from their investors (to the exception of Squidoo).

Here’s ComScore’s chart showing Squidoo constant growth over the course of the last 14 months:

Traffic for Squidoo on ComScore - last 14 months