New shopping site opens: Longtail

Francis Shanahan just wrote me and announced Longtail.

Here’s what he told me — I checked it out and it’s pretty impressive:

Longtail is a sort of Web2.0 shopping site comprising of many features:

Through Longtail you can browse, search and purchase products from Amazon’s entire product catalog. When you search Amazon, Longtail will load eBay results in the background. When you view an Amazon item, Longtail will load Similar products in the background! You can create Product feeds through RSS for Amazon Product data. This allows you to stay up to date on any set of products and their prices so you never miss a deal. Longtail has a WML interface; when you’re on the move you can search Amazon’s product database using your Blackberry! You can comparison shop with eBay and Yahoo Products to find the absolute best price. As you’re shopping you can search Google for websites referencing the products you’re interested in, or ANY web result for that matter. You can query Flickr for photos of a specific product, or Technorati for people blogging about a product realtime! Longtail will also let you find Top Selling products and New Releases in a given category. Longtail supports Amazon’s Remote Shopping Cart so you can add and purchase items on Longtail, through Amazon without affecting your existing shopping cart at Amazon.

Longtail is built with Visual Studio Web Developer Express Edition 2005, ASP.NET 2.0, the .NET 2.0 framework and a bunch of other stuff like SOAP, RSS, WML, XML, XSL, C# and so on.

Francis is the author of the cool and popular LiveSearch for Amazon dubbed “Zuggest.”

Nice Web 2.0 start to 2006.

Can we get Engelbart to blog?

Douglas Engelbart invited me over tomorrow to talk with him and his friends about blogging. What an honor!

Think senior citizens can’t get into computers? You might have a chat with Doug. He’s 80. And out of the thousands of people I’ve met in 2005 he definitely knows the most about computers that I’ve met.

I hope we can get him into blogging. When I met him for the first time he was telling me that the industry is still catching up to his ideas from the 1960s!

I said, well, then, you definitely need to blog your ideas now so in 40 years we’ll know what to do.

Anyway, what would you like Douglas to blog about?

Ending 2005 in a book store

We often don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. Today Patrick and I were reading books in Silicon Valley’s Barnes and Noble bookstore. The big one on Stevens Creek. Anyway, while I was looking through a Tom Peters book the lights went out. Total, complete blackness.

“Shit!” a woman next to me said. She wasn’t the only one. There were cheers around the store when the lights came back on after a few very long seconds. People do love their books!

Anyway, I spent most of the time in the business book section. Since our own book is coming out in a few days I wanted to see what the state of business books are.

They mostly suck.

I hate the trend of treating everyone like an idiot. Here’s a book that even teaches you to sell to an idiot. Why would you want to do business with an idiot? They might take their business elsewhere even though you’re better.

And what’s up with the trend that says you have to be a jerk to succeed in business? Here’s a book that tells women that nice girls don’t get the corner office. Has everyone gone all Donald Trump?

What’s the point of getting a corner office if you have no friends and people don’t like you?

I looked through dozens of books and I still love Tom Peters’ books the best. He’s one guy who challenges your assumptions.

Here’s one: he tells Microsoft that we should pay attention to senior citizens in his book “trends.” Huh? They’ll never use a computer, right? Screw that! Actually, he doesn’t specifically point out Microsoft, but talks to all businesses. Why are seniors important? Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, told me a while back that seniors have trillions (and will pass on trillions in wealth over the next couple of decades).

Anyway, another trend in business books is the war metaphors. Winning. And all that. Oh, and branding. Geesh, if all you learn about business is learned from these bookshelves you’d just do Superbowl commercials.

I want books that tell me how to convince people to do strategic acquisitions (Tom Peters says that businesses must do weird acquisitions and not kill the weirdness that is in the new company). I want books that tell how to help a team make a great product. After all, at the end of the day that’s all that matters. To be able to build a great brand like the one Apple, or Google, or the Xbox has (yes, there were Xbox 360s there and, you couldn’t play one without waiting in line cause the machines were constantly busy) you first need a great product. Or a great store. Or a great service. Only then does the brand really matter.

But, building a great product isn’t something that many people know how to do. And, what isn’t often talked about is that building a great product is a messy process. Have you ever talked with someone that Steve Jobs fired from Apple when he got back? Neither have I, but I know they are out there (a former boss used to work with one of those guys).

Anyway, if you want a good business book I’d look to Tom Peters’ new Trends book. It won’t teach you how to be a jerk. Or how to fight a military battle. But, it got me to think in new ways, and that’s just what I needed to go into 2006.

Happy New Years, hope your new year sees great success in life!

Oh, and Tom, I know you love pushing PowerPoint to the edge. Wait until I show you PowerPoint 12. Wow.

Disclaimer, Tom wrote the forward for our new book. Oh, and thanks Andrew Watson for the very nice review!

Naked Conversation in an Apple store?

Dave Winer snapped this picture of Shel Israel and me (authors of Naked Conversations, the corporate blogging book that’s coming out in a few days) while we were hanging out with a group of geeks in the Palo Alto Apple store tonight. The rest of Dave’s photos are here. Yes, that’s my son having too much fun on an iBook (Patrick posted to his blog from the store). I think he should set up an endorsement deal with Steve Jobs.

It was fun, there were quite a few pretty popular people there. We went up to the Apple store employees and said “the guy who has the #7 highest rated podcast on iTunes is standing over there.” They didn’t believe us, even though it was true. The podcaster was John Furrier of PodTech.net. We didn’t even bother trying to explain who Gabe Rivera was (founder of Memeorandum). Just a bunch of geeks!

Hope your Friday evening is going geekingly well.

Eric Rice goes virtual for New Years

I gotta get into Second Life. I hear Wells Fargo owns an entire island there to teach people about their bank.

I wonder if I charged a building or two to my corporate card would that get approved? Hmmm.

Anyway, just saw that Eric Rice is doing a live podcast (don’t we call that audio streaming?) and is gonna be having a party inside of Second Life on New Years’ Eve. I will have to try to join him. I hear Maryam is dragging me amongst friends’ houses in Silicon Valley. Hey, Maryam, only take me to the ones who have wifi!

30 boxes to beat the big guys with Web calendar?

Everyone expects Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google to come out with new calendar initiatives in 2006, but I sat with Narendra Rocherolle who told me about his company’s new product that’s coming out (named 30 Boxes). You can sign up to get on a beta. Should start hitting the Web in the next month or so. I’ve signed up. The way he described it it’ll be a lot more useful for family-style calendars than anything out there. We’ll see. Don’t know who Narendra is? He was CEO of Webshots that got sold to CNET.