Posts Tagged ‘web’

Mobile Web 2.0: Opportunities and problems

November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Today’s smart phones are promoted by their manufacturers as lifestyle tools to enable sharing experiences and social networking via Web 2.0 sites and mobile friendly media portals. So, what Mobile Web 2.0 is? Just as Web 2.0, it can be defined as the network as a platform, spanning all connected devices. Effectively, the definition for Mobile Web 2.0 boils down to three key verbs : ‘share’, ‘collaborate’ and ‘exploit’.

The emerging Mobile Web 2.0 opportunities can be summarized as:

  • (Context aware) Advertising. In web environments, web sites have available only your IP in order to identify you, but in mobile web your location, unique ID or profile (don’t forget: most users own just one phone) are also always available.
  • Anywhere, anytime accessibility that will allow real-time social-networking and sharing of user-generated content (information, videos or photos).
  • Voice over IP and instant messaging. Why call your friends or send them a really expensive SMS (if you think about $$ per byte) when you can make a Skype conference call or send them a message through MSN, GTalk or any other platform available?
  • Off-portal services.
  • Location based services and context aware (mobile) search.

Numerous start-ups have entered the field, but even established social-networking companies are getting involved. “People want to take Facebook with them,” said Michael Sharon, a product manager with the company. “So we work with [device makers] to create applications for their phones.” As George Lawton writes in his very interesting article for the IEEE’s Computing Now Exclusive Content [1]:

eMarketer estimates that in the US alone, the number of mobile Internet users will rise from 59.5 million in 2008 to 134.3 million in 2013.

Juniper Research predicts revenue generated globally by Mobile Web 2.0 will grow from $5.5 billion in 2008 to $22.4 billion in 2013.

Social networking is the fastest growing type of mobile Web application, with US usage increasing 187 percent between July 2008 and July 2009, according to Elkin.

But there are also numerous challenges:

  • Bandwidth and device limitations
  • Platform compatibility
  • Viable business models

I believe that Mobile Web 2.0’s future will be location-based services, supported by context aware advertising.

What is missing? A (working) mobile platform a la Google AdWords/AdSense that will exploit not only keywords and user profiles, but also the rich available context aware information about the users.  I am talking about context aware data management, presentation of information and (of course) advertising. What we need is a framework for modeling that kind of volatile information and the thousands of different views/viewpoints that we can use in order to present it. As this is a topic that needs some preparatory discussion, I’ll return with a following post in order to describe the state of the art in context aware computing and my thoughts on context aware advertising.

Categories: web Tags:

New Technorati algorithm..

October 15, 2009 Leave a comment

If you are searching for new blogs to read, then Technorati is one of the best sites to start. Its top 100 blogs page reflects more or less what is happening in the web and the calculated rank is, in my opinion, quite accurate.

Moreover, during its October revamp, the site updated the algorithm for their main metric: Technorati Authority.


  • Authority is calculated based on a site’s linking behavior, categorization and other associated data over a short, finite period of time. A site’s authority may rapidly rise and fall depending on what the blogosphere is discussing at the moment, and how often a site produces content being referenced by other sites.
  • The new Authority calculation differs from the past version, which measured linking behavior over a longer 6 month timeframe. Please note that links in blogrolls don’t count towards Authority, as they are not indicative of interest in relevant content; we stopped including blogroll links in August 2008.


As Michael Arrington writes in his techcrunch post:

“… Until today, …, the top list was fairly static. Now they are focusing much more on recent data within the last month and giving blogs an authority rank between 1 – 1,000. Scoring factors include posting frequency, context, linking behavior and “other inputs.” The result, says the company, is a lot more volatility in the lists as blogs surge up and down. …”

I think that this is one more (small) step on the direction of results that reflect the real time and volatile nature of web.

Categories: Tech, web Tags: , ,


August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

According to an article that was posted yesterday in NY Times blog [1], Wikipedia is the fifth most popular web site with more than 330 million visitors per month. That’s a really impressive accomplishment for a community edited encyclopedia.

I am really happy that there are so many people who will take the time to check an article in an encyclopedia, even if we are talking about articles without editorial supervision from an expert [*]. Most of those visitors would never open an encyclopedia in the “pre-internet” era, or even spend the money to own a good encyclopedia. I believe that such practices are beneficial to a community as a whole and wikipedia is a great example of how internet is helping in the faster spread of knowledge.

But what happens when the habit of relying solely on wikipedia articles for accumulating knowledge on a specific subject becomes a norm? During the last years, I have been seeing more and more students in my university and people that I work with in the industry referencing wikipedia as their sole source for writing a report or even making decisions. So, as I was reading the NY Time’s article,  I remembered a very interesting article that I have read in Communications of the ACM, entitled “Why you can’t cite Wikipedia in my class“:

The online encyclopedia’s method of adding information risks conflating facts with popular opinion….

[*] In the case of popular articles, the editing process will reach an equilibrium after some time, resulting in an article which is sufficiently close to what most people would want to know about the subject.

Edit 1:  Some interesting articles on wikipedia statistics and a different view of the problem with the editorial process [2], [3], [4].

… The often mentioned reasons for decay are:

  1. the rules and guidelines for contributing become more and more elaborated, the learning curve worsens, occasional contributors are scared off, recruitment slows down
  2. contributions of newcomers and outsiders are often reverted by article’s “shepherds” or just random passers-by, thus contributing to despair; arguing with anonymouses on the Internet is generally a miserable activity busy people try to avoid
  3. all trivial topics are already covered; due to the “no original research” policy, significant coverage in the mainstream press is necessary to prove a contribution’s notability; thus, much less topics might be covered in the future …
Categories: web Tags:

On the meaning of Lorem ipsum

August 20, 2009 1 comment

Where have I seen this phrase before? I am sure that I remember it from somewhere…

Of course, now I remember! It is part of all those Latin “gibberish” that can be found in any web design template! You can even search Google for “lorem ipsum” and find all those (thousands of) sites that got uploaded in hurry and the creators forgot to replace everything in the pattern 🙂

But what does it mean? Why is it so widely used by every designer? Is it some secret inside joke?

I must admit that I never had the time to thoroughly think about those questions. Until I accidentally found today a web site dedicated to telling the story of “lorem ipsum” (and making some money while doing so, but who am I to judge?):

“… Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book … Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC …

Quite an interesting set of facts and a nice story to tell in (geek) meals…

Categories: Web Design Tags: ,

Never add a "Contact Us" form without a captcha

August 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I have created a couple of websites during the last years and one thing that I have learned is that there are more bots out there than you can handle.

In the beginning I was thinking that adding a mechanism in my web projects for moderating user input would be enough and that I could manually check and approve any submitted comment. Moreover, I made the mistake of adding a “Contact Us” form in a couple of the web sites that I published on the web.

What did I do wrong?
1. I only checked for valid emails and I allowed any user input without using a captcha.
2. My systems would email me any comment the moment it was submitted.

So, what happened? All those bots out there started autosubmitting random text strings. And I am talking about bots entering the most silly random generated comments.
For example, in a low traffic alumni site that I have created 4-5 years ago for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of National Technical University of Athens, the ratio of user submitted comments to automatically generated comments (that passed my checks) was 1 to 50.

But the most interesting fact, and the reason I am writing this post, was the submissions from the bots. As a software engineer I would assume that in any publicly available form, the bots would try to find vulnerabilities, inject code or scripts, post links to malicious websites, try to attack my database, etc. And that’s why I have built a mechanism to prevent those attacks, assuming that I would never see any spam. But I was amazed when I realized the kind of submissions that were not regular attacks or random strings. Some examples follow:

  • “Billiards, pool Croatia Service”
  • “Tired of a competitor’s site? Hinder the enemy? Fed pioneers or copywriters? … Kill Their Sites! …” (full list of prices followed and methods to contact them)
  • “Very nice site!” (and 100s of other similar generic messages)
  • “Hi, cool site, good writing ;)”  (and 100s of other blog oriented generic messages)
  • “to: Admin – If You want to delete your site from my spam list, please visit this site …”
  • … etc ….

I can not understand how those people make money from those automatically generated messages, but I know one thing: They don’t stop submitting again and again… Every day…

So, the next time you are going to add a form in any project you create, either request for the user to be logged in (and having being checked through some form of captcha during the registration phase) or use a captcha…