Is Quora Worth the Hype?

Around the end of the year, the hype surrounding Quora kicked into overdrive. The Q&A site founded by ex-Facebook talent first raised eyebrows with round of financing last March that valued it at $86 million. When it went into public beta last summer, the tech and business press got excited, but lately it’s being called the savior of search and the next Facebook. Is Quora worth all the fuss?

Today in Social

Social gaming powerhouse Zynga acquired Flock, which makes a “social browser.” The move feels a lot more like an acquisition of talent than of product. Some call Zynga a platform wannabe, and it’s true the company builds core social gaming services – and it’s been hiring talent from Myspace – but the services are for advertisers rather than for other games studios. I haven’t heard it talk about APIs for two or three years. And browsers have lost a lot of platform muscle anyway. Zynga nearly broke up with Facebook over payment systems and distribution techniques, but seems to have made peace. I don’t expect Zynga to make a big play as a distributor of third-party content or of its own social graph. Do you?

Today in Social

Amidst its iPod and Apple TV announcements yesterday, Apple revealed a new version of iTunes that embeds social networking functions under the “Ping” brand. Ping allows friend and band following and certainly improves upon Apple’s previously weak efforts at social music discovery. Om thinks Ping hints at the future of social commerce. I think Apple’s missing an opportunity to weave Ping or its potential feeds or social graph info into other networks – it doesn’t connect to anything. Apple appears to want to eliminate the “social middleman,” perhaps because of “onerous” terms and conditions, but that may well cripple its potential.

Social Networking & Dawn of the Zettabyte Era

[qi:gigaom_icon_cloud-computing] Earlier today, I stopped by at the Social Graph Symposium at Sun Microsystems’ (s JAVA) Menlo Park campus. The event, which attracted some of the most well-known experts on social networks and social graphs, was organized to look at the various challenges and opportunities being presented by the increased socialization of the web.

And there is no opportunity bigger than the one offered by the computational needs of this new social web. As we discussed during our first Structure conference (and we will continue to discuss at our upcoming Structure 09 conference on June 25th ), the social Internet has made it easy for anyone to create, publish, distribute and consume content. Such content can range from blog posts to YouTube videos to Flickr photos to simple, 140-character tweets.

But small drops of water will lead a bathtub to overflow if the pipes are clogged, and this is the challenge faced by the underpinnings of the web. “In the next 12 months there will be a zettabyte of information on the Internet,” said Dr. James Baty, distinguished engineer, VP and chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems. A zettabyte is the equivalent of 1 billion terabytes — or nearly a billion times the data stored on the various drives in my apartment. Read More about Social Networking & Dawn of the Zettabyte Era

Vista disk thrashing eats my lunch

Commerce_hourglasses_185183_2This morning began like many other days.  I grabbed the Fujitsu P1620 out of the dock.  I put it dutifully to sleep which took only 3 seconds and then threw it in my gear bag.  I headed across town and walked into my morning meeting and sat down.  At 9:10 the meeting got underway and I hit the power button on the Fujitsu to wake it up from its slumber and to get to work.  The disk thrashed for almost 20 MINUTES before the Fuji was ready to be used and I missed taking notes for the first part of my meeting.  The hard disk indicator light was on solid for that 20 minutes and the system was not usable for that time.  It took 10 minutes before the fingerprint reader was asking for me to swipe in which I did and another 10 minutes while Vista Business resumed to a point that the system was responsive.  This is the first time I’ve experienced this on the Fuji but not the first time I’ve seen it on other systems.  Vista is so bad on mobile systems and it’s time for something to be done.  I’ll likely have to edit the registry and turn off pieces of Vista to get around this.  Sheesh.

Google Rewrites the Online You

Late Friday Google redefined who you are on the net with the release into the wild of the Google Social Graph API.

Last week, your Amazon profile didn’t know who your connections were on Plaxo Pulse, your career history on LinkedIn or that you were using Twitter to talk about how much your day job sucked. Now it can – or will, if online social networks applications get on the Google bandwagon and – fortunately – you give your active permission.

Read More about Google Rewrites the Online You

Counterpoint: ‘Content Made for a Handful of People’

No matter increasingly speedy broadband connections, Internet TV is not ready to take on broadcast, cable, and satellite, Om wrote on NewTeeVee yesterday. He’s mostly right. But he asks, “can video content made for a handful of people actually make money?” And I think that’s a point worth addressing, especially in light of some recent comments by a Google exec.
“Every day 95 percent of the YouTube library is watched at least once,” Google TV technology chief Vincent Dureau told the Interactive Television Technology conference in a recent speech, according to a report in the EETimes. Ninety-five percent? That’s insane.
Read More about Counterpoint: ‘Content Made for a Handful of People’

MGM movies now on iTunes

For the first time, a number of movies from the libraries of MGM and its subsidiaries have been added to the iTunes Store, all at the back catalog pricing tier of $9.99.

The initial batch of titles includes:

When the iTunes Store first added a movies section in September 2006, the only studios involved were Disney-owned. Paramount added more than 100 movies in January and Lionsgate added another 150 in February. The total number of movies now stands at more than 500. Nearly one whole percent of NetFlix’s library!

Award-Winning MGM Films Now on the iTunes Store

Dickensian Dyson

Esther Dyson said this at SuperNova:

Most of these social networking tools won’t survive as businesses. Almost any function will be part of some other product. They may survive as functions within business, but they might not survive as such. Things like LinkedIn go way beyond the Dunbar number. It’s akin to friend inflation. You get a kind of fake niceness. They need to lose their buzz and go away, and people need to focus on their true networks and circles of friends.

It explains why these services are super-popular in the Bay Area. This part of the world lacks the solidity of rest of the US, and the friendships here are well … as Dyson said… full of fake niceness.