Everyman on iPad as CD-ROM, Successful Web App Traits, Freemium Flexibility

Doctorow isn’t buying an iPad. Cory Doctorow tells us why he isn’t buying an iPad. I liked his comparison of the iPad to the CD-ROM revolution in which content people proclaimed that they were going to remake media by producing expensive (to make and to buy) products. Other choice bits from the post, “For a company whose CEO professes a hatred of DRM, Apple sure has made DRM its alpha and omega.” “The reason people have stopped paying for a lot of content isn’t just that they can get it for free, it’s that they can get lots of competing stuff for free, too.” “Gadgets come and gadgets go. The iPad you buy today will be e-waste in a year or two (less, if you decide not to pay to have the battery changed for you). The real issue isn’t the capabilities of the piece of plastic you unwrap today, but the technical and social infrastructure that accompanies it.”

Easier LBS check-ins. Alan Wolk’s post is my first exposure to the acronym LBS, or Location Based Services. Wolk writes that Location Based Services like FourSquare and Gowalla need to make check-ins easier. That can be anything from auto-check in alerts you set yourself, e.g. “You are at Starbucks again? Do you want to check in?” to sponsored auto-check in alerts, e.g. “You are at Starbucks again. Do you want to check in and save 50 cents?”

Tip jars full of fail. Great title on this post describing why Tip Jars and donations are a bad idea. Problems mentioned, 1) In the real world you get tipped when you make eye contact.  Anonymous strangers rarely tip. 2) Bigger crowds don’t mean more tips, as individuals in big audiences feel less responsible. 3) Price uncertainty. 4) Why pay for something that’s free? “The bottom line is this: If you want to get people to pay you, sell them something like a podcast or blog post 24 hours before it goes online, or a bonus extra 30 minutes of talk on the podcast after the show.” Hmm, maybe I should offer a paid subscription to Everyman that includes two bonus links per edition! Okay, three, but that’s my final offer.

Maybe the iPad won’t be a Business Reboot for Publishers after all. Best title of the week from Business Insider, Print Publications Still Hallucinating That The iPad Will Save Their Asses — Here’s Why It Won’t. “The iPad-will-save-our-asses craze is based on a single, flawed premise: Consumers want to read magazines and newspapers electronically the same way they have read them for centuries in print — in a tightly bound content package produced by a single publisher.  But 15 years of Internet history suggests that they don’t. To the consumer, the Internet is one vast publication.  No longer are consumers limited to the particular editorial tastes and packaging of a few publishers whose "books" they subscribe to.  Now, consumers can snack on content from thousands of publishers, for free, all day long.  And the iPad is not going to change that.”

Ten traits of successful web apps. I’m thankful ThinkVitamin made a transcript of a Fred Wilson video presentation or I would have missed these traits of a successful web app:  Speed. The app should be instantly useful. Software is media and thus should have a personality, like the Fail Whale which tells users there was some attitude and media savvy behind the service. It also created a voice that people could connect to. Less is More. Make the app programmable with read/write API’s. Must be discoverable and optimized for Google and social media.

Merging your online community with the real world. I know, it’s scary to consider interacting in the real world with your online community, but Richard Millington lists some great ways to go beyond an online-only relationship. Ideas mentioned include Membership cards, text messages about upcoming events, phone calls to top members to solicit their thoughts and ideas, regular meetings, yearbooks, trophies and certificates, a sales channel where members can sell relevant products to each other, and a monthly (printed) newsletter.

Freemium Flexibility. Good reminder that if we’re using a freemium business model to keep our options open and follow our users’ lead. “No matter how you plan your site, or how you intend people to use it, they will undoubtedly find alternative uses and features for the site that you either hadn’t thought of or hadn’t thought were as important as other parts. Carefully review feedback and statistics from your users and don’t be afraid to mix up the model if things aren’t working right.”

Renewable Energy From Sewage. A University of Nevada project will soon be in place in the cities of Reno and Sparks to convert sewage into electricity. The system will dry sludge (the organic byproduct of sewage treatment) into a solid fuel that could be used in a gasification process and converted into electrical energy. “The potential for renewable energy generation from sludge on a national level is enormous.  The researchers estimate that California alone generates approximately 700,000 metric tons of dried sludge every year, enough to yield 10 million kilowatt hours daily.”

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.