Category Archives: Web 2.0

Twine Time: Web 3.0?

Just a quick post to highlight Twine, a startup competing in the semantic web space who dubs itself the first mainstream semantic web application. Frankly, in taking a quick look at it through these two posts (Twine: The First Mainstream Semantic Web App and Twine Launches A Smarter Way to Organize Your Online Life) it doesn’t strike me as a semantic web application at all.

When I think “semantic web” I think about three things:

  • The concept: to make the web machine interpretable as opposed to simply machine deliverable.
  • A set of core technologies (e.g., RDF, OWL, SPARQL) which by and large have not taken off in the market.
  • Inferencing to create new information from the web itself. For example, if site A says that Bandit Kellogg is a Bernese Mountain Dog and site B says that Bernese Mountain Dogs eat socks, then you can induce that fact that Bandit Kellogg eats socks (which he does, voraciously).

Perhaps mine is a traditional or outdated view of the semantic web vision, but I’m not sure. See this post by Nitin Karandikar entitled The Promise of the Semantic Web for his take, which is similar to mine. (The post is based on an interview with Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, makers of Twine.)

When I look at Twine, I see more Web 2.0 technologies

  • Tagging
  • Collaboration
  • Wikis
  • Diggs

Yes, it appears that Twine does automatic entity extraction (which they call Smart Tags) against things that are bookmarked. And they say they use a bunch of semantic web technologies inside the system to figure out relationships between the tags and between people and tags. Excerpt from the Read/WriteWeb:

Where Twine is differentiated from the likes of wikipedia is that its underlying data structure is entirely Semantic Web. Spivack told me that the following Semantic Web technologies are being used: RDF, OWL, SPARQL, XSL. Also he said that they plan to use GRDDL in the near future. Spivack had an interesting term for what Twine is doing with Semantic Web technologies, riffing off the Facebook Social Graph. Spivack is calling Twine a “Semantic Graph”, which he says will map relationships to both people and topics. So Twine’s Semantic Graph actually integrates the Social Graph.

I’d like offer more commentary on Twine but it seems their newfound popularity is impacting their website — I couldn’t successfully register for the invite-only Beta. When I clicked “register” it just hung forever. I’ll try again in a few weeks and if it works and if I get invited to the Beta, I’ll share some first-hand feedback.

Meantime, see the two posts cited above or check out Nitin Karandikar’s email interview with Nova Spivack on his Software Abstractions blog.

Web 2.0 Summit: Launch Pad

One of my favorite features of the Web 2.0 Summit is Launch Pad where a few hand-selected startups are allowed to launch / present themselves to audience. Last year, the organization was a little dubious (John Battelle described it as a “goat rodeo”) so this year they took a more organized approach allowing only six finalists to present in pretty tight time windows.

The voting was originally supposed to be done using Mozes, a text messaging platform run by a fellow I recently met, named Dorrian Porter. But — believe it or not — they actually manage to hold the Web 2.0 Summit in a dungeon of a room whose thick walls block all cellphone coverage, so instead of using Mozes, we used audience noise-making for the voting instead.

The six finalists invited to present were:

The audience vote awarded best-in-show to Cleverset, a personalization company. My personal favorite was Spiceworks, a “free,” ad-supported application targeted at IT in small and medium businesses. The company says that half of all IT spending is done by small and medium companies, the challenges these jack-of-all-trades IT managers face are significant, and while they typically don’t have much staff, they do influence quite a bit of purchasing and should be both an attractive and otherwise hard-to-reach target for advertisers.

The service I’m most likely to try personally is Tripit. While I don’t know if I’d invest in Tripit, I do think its a useful little app that helps you integrate your travel agenda.

Web 2.0 Summit: Evan Williams

I’d expected Sequoia’s inimitable Mike Moritz and Microsoft’s energetic Steve Balmer to be my favorite speakers of the Web 2.0 Summit and they did not disappoint. Moritz provided a fascinating, cerebral discussion yesterday afternoon and Balmer rocked the house this morning: see this CNN story on Balmer’s speech with this great quote regarding Live vs. Google:

“You’re just 3 years old, and we’ve got you in there playing basketball with a 12-year-old,” Ballmer gushed and gesticulated, nearly popping out of his seat. “You’re growing up quick and getting better every day, and you’ve got all the potential in world, and it may take you ’til you’re 7, 8, 9 or 10, but you’re gonna dunk and you’re gonna dunk on the other guy some day, Johnny.”

But the surprise for me thus far has been Evan Williams of Twitter who, in a very brief presentation, had quite a bit to say on the merits of definition by removal and focus, instead of addition.

  • I want to discuss learning by the aggressive application of constraints
  • Our decision to use SMS as a messaging vehicle in Twitter meant that we had to support short (140 character) format-less messages. This was a huge constraint.
  • We didn’t define Twitter as Blogger less comments, tags, template editors, titles, etc. But it is an interesting way to look at it. (We defined it as a ubiquitous friend status network.)
  • What else can we define by taking away?
  • In my prior life at Blogger, I spent most of my time trying to add things.
  • What would happen if you had Flickr without tags and with a one photo/day limit? You’d get higher quality photos and more and better comments on them … and you’d be Fotolog which recently sold for $90M.
  • What would happen if you had Blogger without titles, tags, comments, and a 140-character limit? You’d get Twitter.
  • What would happen if you had Yahoo! without the home page and just a blank screen, with a search box? You’d get Google.
  • What would happen if you had MySpace but you could only use it if you were in college? You’d get Facebook.

Web 2.0 Summit: Mary Meeker

Mary Meeker, the semi-famous Morgan Stanley Internet stock analyst, gave her usual blistering, data-loaded presentation at the Web 2.0 Summit today. Rather than attempt to summarize the 48 slides she presented in 15 minutes, I will simply attach them here.

There’s fantastic stuff in here. I’d take the time to read it. You can download the PDF via SlideShare, or go get it directly at

Web 2.0 Summit: The Arrival

This is my 2nd year attending the Web 2.0 Summit and I must say the whole conference gives me an odd feeling because, to me, it’s such an odd event. Where else can you:

  • Pay $3.2K to attend a conference and not be able to find a seat (and then be encouraged to go upstairs to watch the conference on a video feed in the “overflow” room)
  • Sit down and hear the guy behind you say something like ” … well … I was interviewed by the New York Times … and they asked me if I thought there was another bubble … and I wanted to be measured [in my reply] …” (It turned out to be Roelof Botha from Sequoia Capital who, among other things, led the partnership’s investment in YouTube and is quoted in the the article I blogged about here.)
  • Find an event where a moderately disheveled, professorial book publisher is regarded as an icon, seemingly trailed by groupies? (Tim O’Reilly)
  • Have such a weird agglomeration of the following people: venture capitalists, founders, startup-up CEOs, PR handlers, journalists, photographers, old media executives, alpha geeks, and a smattering of large company executives.