Looking back on my predictions for 2006

Just over one year ago, I posted “7 things to look for on the web in 2006“. Now that 2006 is over, let’s take a look at how I did!

Here’s my original post, and here’s a summary of my predictions, in order of what kind of impact I predicted them to have:

7. Hyperlocal (or “Ecosystem”) social software
6. Distributed advertising networks
5. Identity
4. Attention
3. Delivery & Organization (RSS, OPML, SSE, and others)
2. User-Organized Media and Content
1. Open-source video / Videoblogging

7. Hyperlocal (or “Ecosystem”) social software
Grade: B / I think I did pretty well with this one. While corporate-engineered hyperlocal sites faired well in terms of quality and quantity– and the space grew quite a bit in terms of players– it was probably the expansion of homegrown hyperlocal that made this prediction a moderate success.

6. Distributed advertising networks
Grade: D / Sorry, me. With this prediction, I hoped online advertising networks would expand, making the monetization of online content more democratized. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Despite the success of PajamasMedia and the Federated Media ad network, this space took more steps back than forward. For one, both Pajamas and FM are both closed networks, with high bars to entry. Secondly, Google Adwords faced no stiff competition from Microsoft or Yahoo!, and finally, the most well-known new addition to the space in 2006- PayPerPost– became known as an ethically-questionable company, enraging many of the most well-known bloggers for its approach to advertising (which, for the record, I am strongly opposed to).

5. Identity
Grade: C / As 2006 rolled on, this prediction became more and more important to me, yet I saw little or no indicators that it would ever take off, at least during the calendar year. With some moderate adoption of OpenID, I predict that I was one year off, and that 2007 will mark the year that identity really breaks through with early adopters, while in 2008 it will see adoption across major platforms in some form.

4. Attention
Grade: D / Sadly, attention didn’t break out big in 2006. Though some strides were made, I predicted it to become part of the online conversation much as RSS did in 2005, and I was sorely mistaken. Although there are some attention tools built into services such as YouTube, we as creators are still not benefiting from any sort of serious effort to capture and provide attention details to us. Let’s hope my prediction was one year ahead, and 2007 becomes the year for creators to earn more information about their productions.

3. Delivery & Organization (RSS, OPML, SSE, and others)
Grade: D / In my opinion, 2006 was a major down year for the promise of RSS, OPML, SSE, and related innovations. RSS continued to be beset and marginalized by the lame implementations of personal homepages, while Microsoft’s promising SSE gained zero traction, and OPML, which finished 2005 strongly, floundered and struggled without any major breakthroughs during the year. Although Google’s Reader product made a big splash, no other power tools emerged, and as far as innovative uses, I saw only one power-user product- 30Boxes‘ calendar- which truly showed me that RSS can continue to be grown.

2. User-Organized Media and Content
-AND-
1. Open-source video / Videoblogging

Grade: A / A I think it’s safe to say I scored big on both of these. It’s my belief that online video was the big story on the web in 2006. From Time magazine naming YOU its Person of the Year (because of your contributions online), to Google’s $1.6 billion dollar purchase of YouTube, to the breakout videoblogs Rocketboom and ZeFrank, to the success of big media video in the form of MSNBC’s record video stats, to the number of sordid celebrity stories told online and enhanced by video (Michael Richards’ meltdown, DeVito on the view, many more), to MSNBC and CNN’s record video streaming numbers, video was the single most explosive online sector last year. 2007 promises to be a huge year for video and user-organized content as well.

Overall grade: C And coming soon- my predictions for 2007!

2006 Citizen’s Media Sites of the Year

Last year, I named my “2005 Blogs of the Year“, and without even reaching it’s second anniversary, I’ve changed the format of this award. Instead of limiting its scope to blogs, I’m expanding this list to include all types of citizen’s media sites- from blogs to podcasts to video blogs to anything that might be similar to any of those. So here we go…

5. Bloggingheads.tv – Robert Wright, Mickey Kaus & Friends -AND- HotAir – Michelle Malkin / These two unique political video blogs are strange bedfellows for a tie on my list. While Bloggingheads is long, talky, and akin to eavesdropping on policy wonks in the hallways of a political conference, HotAir shines because it is short, sharp, and decidedly in the personality of its host, acerbic political blogger Michelle Malkin. Though they’re different, they’re both my picks for best political videoblogs out there.

4. Rocketboom – Andrew Barron, Joanne Colan (partial), Amanda Congdon (partial) / The intelligence quotient of NPR, the snark of The Daily Show- Rocketboom is an acquired taste that I find occasionally fascinating, occasionally annoying, but always interesting and, without a doubt, the gold standard for video blogs in terms of production value and an overall unique voice.

3. TV Squad – Contributors / From show episodes to industry news to rumors and innuendo, TV Squad is the only, essential, indispensable site for anybody who cares about the TV industry or loves to watch. Updated frequently, but never too much, they’re fun yet blissfully unsnarky.

2. Instapundit – Glenn Reynolds -AND- The Glenn and Helen Show – Glenn Reynolds & Dr. Helen Smith / Yet again, the most prolific, and bereft, thinker on the web is #2 on my list. The best blog of all time is now complimented nicely by the addition of an excellent podcast, The Glenn and Helen Show. Reynolds and his wife, Dr. Helen Smith, are a relaxed, witty duo behind the microphones, and their A-list guests and wide range of timely topics are some of my favorite

1. Maine Web Report – Lance Dutson / Yes, Lance is my friend and co-host on Maine Impact, our podcast on Maine issues. But those things have nothing to do with my decision to name Lance’s Maine Web Report my citizen’s media site of the year. Beginning with his pointed, relentless coverage of Maine’s Department of Tourism back in the early winter, through the travails of the lawsuit filed against him, and continuing on through his freedom of access requests and reports, as well as his coverage of a myriad of other issues affecting the people of Maine, Lance put the bite back into Maine media and showed by example truly how deeply the explosion of citizen’s media can effect the status quo.

2006 Best Tools of the Web

Following up on last year’s post, here are my picks for top 5 websites, tools, and/or services of 2006:

5. Dreamhost I switched to this highly regarded web host in February, and haven’t looked back since, despite a series of public troubles during the summer. But if the measure of a company is how it deals with customers during adversity, Dreamhost rose to the challenge and then some with is transparent and extremely honest chronicling of its own troubles via its status blog. Combine that with insane bandwidth, disk space, immensely handy one-click installs, and a set of power features that can’t be matched, Dreamhost is the ideal backbone for anybody working on the web.

4. Google Docs & Spreadsheets If I could find a suitable online PowerPoint solution, I would uninstall Microsoft Office in a heartbeat thanks primarily to Google’s excellent Docs & Spreadsheet solution. While the product needs to improve its import and formatting tools, you can’t beat the convenience and ease of a centralized, tag-based repository for your documents. A shout-out to Writely, the word processing tool purchased by Google and adapted into Docs & Spreadsheets.

3. Google Calendar -AND- 30Boxes – Yep, it’s another Google tool on the list. Although I started out a devout Yahoo! user this year, I had to break away after experiencing 30Boxes excellent, game-changing calendar solution. And while I loved 30Boxes and their commitment to RSS and an open web, I ultimately made the switch to Google Calendar. It’s not the product that 30Boxes cal is, but I expect the product to improve in some great ways in 2007.

2. YouTube What else can you say about YouTube, other than the fact that it helped to usher in the video evolution, made embedded video the standard, further encouraged the open, sharing nature of the web, and played nice with both corporate producers and independent voices? It’s a nostalgia factory, a citizen’s media platform, and a distribution model, and then some, and although many other video sharing sites are out there, YouTube’s cultural influence makes it the clear leader of the pack, and an easy #2.

1. Mozilla Firefox 2.0 #2 on my list last year has risen to #1 with the release of its version 2.0. Firefox 2 adds some excellent features- notably a spell check and tighter RSS integration- and with the advent of the Web 0S thanks to Google and others, maintains its significant role at the very center of the human side of the web.

The future of online video is ‘Bright’

In January, I predicted video would be the #1 story of the web in 2006.

At his RTNDA keynote in Las Vegas today, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire supported my thesis. Lost Remote has an excellent wrap-up of his speech, where he demonstrated the new and exciting Brightcove platform which is about to go live (give it about two weeks or so). It’s a huge story, as Brightcove appears to be the first truly usable, open platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing personally-created video.

A summary of Brightcove, from Lost Remote’s coverage:

Brightcove is behind some of the most innovative video projects on the web, and founder and president Jeremy Allaire’s keynote follows. He demonstrated Brightcove’s tool that allows just about anyone to build their own player experience from a variety of templates and settings. And he talked about upcoming plans to encourage anyone to upload, distribute and sell video through Brightcove’s tools and a new relationship with AOL. More…He begins by mapping out the promises of internet TV: open distribution, consumer choice, multi-screen delivery and content owner control. A broad overview for the broadcast folks in the crowd.

I’ve been testing out a form of the Brightcove player for a few months but what I’ve seen is nothing like what Allaire demonstrated today. This is exciting stuff.

Woomu: Another video sharing site, with some twists

Woomu is a new video sharing site with a couple of interesting twists. The biggest difference between woomu and other video sharing sites such as YouTube is that woomu is simply an aggregator, rather than a video hosting service. While this approach provides relative freedom from pesky copyright troubles like the ones YouTube has faced recently, I’m inclined to think that it may stifle other advantages such as easy sharing.

Like Digg, Newsvine, and other community-driven content sites, woomu also allows users to vote on individual videos, determining which files appear on the homepage of the site. The woomu twist is that besides voting files up to the homepage, users can also vote an individual file down. This two-way-street approach is one that other community-driven sites have stayed away from for the most part, choosing instead to go with a weighted voting system that favors reporting bad links over straight down votes. woomu puts the yea vs. nay on an even keel- but will it work?

woomu logo
Dave McAdam, co-founder of woomu, took some time to answer some questions about the new service via email. In the interview, Dave talks about the difference between woomu and other video sites, how the service fits in with the emerging distributed content model, and what the name means. The entire interview appears after the break.

Continue reading “Woomu: Another video sharing site, with some twists”

This is really cool: Mickey Kaus and Robert Wright have launched a new site called bloggingheads.tv (a take-off on “talking heads”, hehe).

It’s a video blog of sorts, with Wright on the left side of the video and Kaus on the right. The unique part: Both men are sitting in (apparently) their own separate offices, speaking into video cameras and communicating with each other via microphone. Somehow, they’re splicing each of their own videos into one, creating a single show with a split screen (Okay, I’m not explaining this all that well. Just go check it out).

Some quick reactions: This is a unique, innovative take on video on the web. Both commentators are smart and funny. As is necessary, the site provides plenty of contextual, metadata about the video. Especially valuable is a “topic view” where you can click directly to video clips pertaining to a particular topic. Also great: you can subscribe to either a video feed or an audio (podcast) feed of the program. Really, really excellent stuff.

This is a “talking head” show with no bombastic, idiotic host asking insanely stupid questions. Instead, it’s two smart folks talking about current events. So far, blogging has had a revolutionary impact on newspapers. Next up in 2006 and beyond: TV.