November 2007 Archives

Location, Location, Location

| 1 Comment
| | | |

Last week Justin Davies, whom I have had the pleasure of working with virtually on a few technical publication projects in the past, wrote up an interesting personal review of the social networking space.

On a whole, I agree with most of his thoughts [1], the main one being at this point in time, just being a social networking site one is not going to make it big. To be of any success one needs to bring meaning into the social network, such as in Justin's example relating to his work on BuddyPing in the UK. With BuddyPing where the person's given location provides context to the importance/mean of the individual's social network.

What's interesting is we here at Zoomshare are working on folding in location as a key part our community. On the money side of things location provides a method to focus marketing and advertising programs, as Justin notes, "we could post an ad to a user whose age and location we know, as well as the time of day." This is nothing new, considering this is the main advantage of web marketing programs; targeting specific content, user types and/or location.

For Zoomshare this also helps bring the community a bit closer together physically. 'Hey, look here's a person not that far from me with the same interest/job/age...' In this example the context of location means Zoomshare becomes something more along the lines of a old-fashion community bulletin board, be it for selling, hooking up, dating, hanging out or whatever.

But Zoomshare is mainly about sharing one's own content; photos, blogs, calendar events, items for sale. The interesting aspect about location context here is what if one can tag their content based on not just what it is about or when it was created/posted but also from where it was posted. Then your photos not only know when the image was taken but also where. Or your blog entry can note where you wrote that story about Paris from. As GPS devices migrate into more and more electronic devices such as camcorders and cell phones this type of 'social sharing' based in context of one's location or past locations is going to grow.

Moreover that's just a couple of extremely powerful and obvious examples of "Context Networks" using Zoomshare's existing tools. Just imagine what other networks can be built using other pieces of information a user is willing to share which can then be used to provide 'context' to one's social network!

[1] If I had to disagree on anything I would nitpick about his naming of Open Social Networks. Justin uses MySpace as an example of a social network that promotes "openness [of one's social network] through the user experience" which is a mean unto itself, "sometimes used for vanity purposes (Look how many friends I have!)" I don't disagree with the assessment of MySpace, but with the name, to me an "Open Social Network" is one in which one's profile and social network are portable, open to other social networks via a well documented (and supported) API.

~~~ Stumble It! ~~~ Reddit ~~~ Digg This! ~~~

Give Me a Ping, Mr. Vasili. One Ping Only, Please.

| 0 Comments | 1 TrackBack
| | | |

Another tool for letting potential readers know about changes or updates to your site, besides Digg or posting to message boards is to use a 'ping' server to get the word out. While some blog and site authoring tools automatically ping one or more servers each time a new post is created, with Zoomshare this is manual process. But no worries the process is not tooo painful.

A 'ping' server creates a list of sites with new material that can be used to keep track of updates on the web. There are a number of 'open-to-the-public' servers, like and With these sites others can use the aggregated list of site updates for their own as needed. On the other side of things, there are also a number of proprietary ping servers that gather information only for their internal usage.

While one could create a list of the best open and proprietary servers and then go to each individual ping server with a site update notice, I did promise a painless process, so here it is: Ping-o-matic. Ping-o-matic pings multiple ping servers at once (say that 10 times fast). All you need to do is fill-in your site's name and URL and choose which servers to ping. To keep it as simple as possible, just click on the 'Check Common' link and then hit 'Send Pings'.

What's the big deal? As I alluded to, search engines use this information to provide search results on what's new on the web. Feed aggregators use the results from ping servers to tell viewers which items on their subscription lists have recently been updated. All of this means the ping server will help get the word out about your site to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, for as little work as possible.

Ok, now for the most important piece of information here: Don't abuse the system. That is don't go sending pings everyday if you haven't updated your site everyday. Moreover, don't send a ping for each page on your site. One ping for your site, after you've updated your site. Anything more will be considered 'noise' at best and 'abuse' or 'spam' at worst. In other words, your pings will be ignored and you'll have lost out on an important tool.

Welcome to Wherever You Are

| | | |

This week's zoomshare feature of note is our new Zoomshare Welcome Screen. This splash screen presents a zoomshare user a listing of news stories from our Welcome to Zoomshare : News site when they first login on each day (actually every 12 hours currently).

Zoomshare Welcome Screen

While it would be nice to think that all our users check out our staff sites, Forums, All About Zoomshare and Welcome to Zoomshare : News everyday to get the latest scoop on zoomshare, in reality we know its hard enough just for us internally to keep tabs on everything. Hence the splash screen.

So what exactly is the difference between Forums, All About Zoomshare and Welcome to Zoomshare : News? Forums is community driven, we post there, but we don't drive the topics or discussion. There are threads for zoomshare specific news, feature updates and help, but in general Forums is for the people, by the people.

All About allows us, the staff, to post aids and resources for users on features new and old. For example, we have articles on using a Zoomshare site for school or video tutorials on customizing a Zoomshare site.

Welcome to Zoomshare : News and to a greater extent the new splash screen, provides us with a mechanism to post announcements and system status updates about Zoomshare to as many users as possible, in a quick, direct manner.

Me, Myself and I

| 1 Comment
| | | |


Zoomshare Profiles Update
Expanding on the Friends Lists feature we recently rolled out Profiles in which users can provide and share interest, contact information and friends list within the zoomshare community. This week we updated Profiles to allow for sharing of the information externally, as a page within one's zoomshare site.

Nothing too fancy I agree, online services going way back have allow users in one form or another to create and share identities and avatars. There's even a little bit of history surrounding the concept and terms.

The twist in today's computing world is that of social networks and sharing. In the social networking scene, MySpace or Facebook for example, your avatar is your one and only web page within that community. In other communities your network is how you share your content and interest, Zoomshare, YouTube or Flickr for example.

But how does one manage, connect or disconnect different profiles and networks between different communities? This is where Widgets come into play. In Facebook for example on can use a Facebook app to share Flickr photos within Facebook.

In a past blog posts I've mention how this can work to one's advantage, a user can choose to use the community/web service/toolset(s) of their preference, without any roadblocks to sharing or managing their identifies and networks.

But all online communities are not created equal and the APIs that web developers use to connect and interact with different systems don't always play nice. Zoomshare Widgets, for example, don't work on MySpace.

Its an interesting coincidence that this week's Zoomshare Profiles updates and continued evolution comes at the same time as Google's expected announcement of the OpenSocial API.

There are a number of different blog postings about the possible effects this new API will have on the web in general, and services such as Facebook or even Zoomshare. While I won't venture a guess just yet as to where we or OpenSocial will go. I think its an interesting concept that we all should keep an eye on, developers and users alike.

~~~ Stumble It! ~~~ Reddit ~~~ Digg This! ~~~

About the Author

Paul is a technologist and all around nice guy for technology oriented organizations and parties. Besides maintaining this blog and website you can follow Paul's particular pontifications on the Life Universe and Everything on Twitter.


Add to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My AOL

Add to netvibes
Subscribe in Bloglines
Add to Technorati Favorites

Movable Type Pro