This social media stock market game is building a real-world "value score" about you

I’ve been playing Empire Avenue for a few weeks now and I’ve found it a really compelling game for a number of social reasons. First, what is it? It’s a stock market game where you can buy or sell your friends, or other people in the social media world. You can buy or sell me at http://www.empireavenue.com/scbl for instance.

Pricing is affected by the value you’re putting into social systems. The guy behind it, Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana, is here and we spend an hour talking about the game and what it really is about.

Why is it compelling?

Well, because I’m a narcissistic egotistical butthead. Of course. 😉

But look further than that.

Three nights ago I went through the 550 YouTube accounts I was subscribed to. I ended up deleting more than 300 of those accounts. Why? Because they were providing no value. Most of those accounts I deleted hadn’t been updated in more than a year. Others only had really lame videos of their cat. Pretty low-value stuff to me. Maybe you’d like that, but I generally find TED Talks more interesting than cat videos.

By doing that my inbound video feed all of a sudden became dramatically better. Why? Because I was following people who were providing real value.

Can we share with each other the folks who are providing that real value? That’s the question that Empire Avenue is trying to solve and I’ve found it does it better than other social media systems, like Klout or Peer Index, that mostly measure how many followers and how many retweets you’re getting.

Everyone in San Francisco knows that Twitter and Facebook are building such scores about you, but they don’t share that with their users. Also, those systems aren’t going to study your reputation on their competitors or on places like YouTube and they can’t really roll in real-world reputation/authority/influence. Empire Ave can.

And that’s what makes it compelling and why I spent an hour with the CEO.

VMware disrupts with open source PaaS play

Yesterday I attended VMware’s Cloud Foundry announcements. More on those announcements over at Techmeme. If you’re a developer it’ll be hard to miss what VMware’s doing here. It’s very significant and means a lot to a group of companies, from Amazon, Google, Microsoft on one side and Rackspace and Salesforce on another. We’re all trying to figure out what it means for us, because they now are hosting apps (new competition for Rackspace, which is where I work!)

I’m excited by what VMware’s doing. Why? Because it’s open source. Listen to VMware co-president Tod Nielsen, who tells me what it means.

Yes, we’re seeing new competiton, but we expected that when we released our cloud stack to open source (we knew we were empowering our competitors with our own code. How scary!) So, how will Rackspace compete? On service. See, most companies don’t have geeks who know what node.js is. They’ll need a partner to help them get their businesses online and up to date. The hosting and app platforms are quickly turning into commodities so service is one of the areas that will really matter.

Thanks to VMware for inviting me over yesterday, quite interesting announcements!

The rest of this article is reprinted with permission from Rackspace’s Building43:

This week, VMware introduced a major new PaaS called Cloud Foundry. The project is available as open source software, and it provides a platform for building, deploying and running cloud apps.

“The value proposition for Cloud Foundry is it’s the first real open PaaS, or platform as a service,” explains Tod Nielsen, Co-President of the Application Platform Group at VMware. “And by open we mean we’re going to support multiple frameworks—be it Ruby, Java, Node.js—we’re going to support a whole set of services as well as any cloud. By any cloud, we’re actually going to offer to host a service ourselves, we’re going to work with folks like Rackspace and allow you to offer Cloud Foundry as a service that you’ll provide, and there’ll be a behind the firewall version that enterprises can run in their private cloud. Then we have something we call the Micro Cloud, which instantiates Cloud Foundry onto your lap top so developers can write code themselves, and then they can push to whichever cloud option they choose.”

Because the project is open source, it does not restrict developer choices of frameworks, application infrastructure services and deployment clouds. “The challenge with the cloud today…” says Nielsen, “is it feels like the Hotel California—you get into one cloud and then you get trapped and you can’t get out. If the industry is really going to let this paradigm take it to the next level, it’s got to be open. It’s got to provide the flexibility and freedom for developers and corporations to deploy where they want and when they want and move things around as necessary.”

Cloud Foundry aims to allow developers to remove the cost and complexity of configuring infrastructure and runtime environments for their applications and focus on the application logic.

“One of the things that developers complain about today,” explains Nielsen, “is if they’re in a corporation, to actually get an application deployed requires all kinds of work to provision a server, provision a database, provision middleware, make sure it’s all set up, coordinate with the operations team and write IT tickets. We had one developer say, ‘it’s like I spend all my time writing IT tickets’. The value proposition for Cloud Foundry is we want to help you write code, not tickets.”

More info:

Cloud Foundry web site: http://www.cloudfoundry.com/
Cloud Foundry blog: http://blog.cloudfoundry.com/
Cloud Foundry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cloudfoundry

The most important new protocol since RSS: AirPlay (three cool new apps that use it to change how we view TV)

mark_hall

I still remember when Dave Winer showed me RSS and what it did. It changed my life and continues to, even after we switched much of our reading behavior to Twitter (a new iPad app is coming on Friday that uses RSS, more about that when the embargo ends).

But since RSS has there been a new protocol that’s changed our lives in a big way? I haven’t seen one until Apple announced AirPlay.

What is AirPlay? It lets you play video instantly and wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad to your big-screen TV which has an Apple TV attached. I had my nephew, Kian, video me in my family room where I show you what it does.

Yes, you can already recognize the downside to this new protocol: it was developed by Apple and isn’t yet available on other devices or to developers who might, um, want to put it on Android devices.

I can see why Apple might want to keep it for itself. It’s a killer feature. Reading on Wikipedia you’d learn that the protocol lets you wirelessly stream audio, video, and photos.

But it wasn’t until the past week that we’ve seen iPad apps that really use it. In my tests with three of these apps I’ve found that they completely change my TV viewing patterns.

Here’s why.

In old-school YouTube viewing I’d watch a video on a laptop, or on my iPad, but if I wanted to show it to the whole room, say, to my wife or my sons, I’d have to get off the couch, find the remote for either my Apple TV, or a controller for my Xbox, and figure out how to browse to what I was viewing. Lots of times it was way too frustrating to find what I was viewing on the iPad that I’d just give up.

Here, try it yourself. Go watch a video on ted.com and then try to watch that same video on an Xbox, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, PlayStation, or Wii. I have most of those devices in my family room and they are just nearly impossible to use.

It gets worse when you have your own video that you shot on your iPhone or iPad. I hate having to hand my iPad around just to show people something cute my kids did or the BBQ place we visited at SXSW.

No longer.

Now I just click a new AirPlay icon on these new apps and BOOM it starts playing on my big screen TV.

Anyway, the three apps that I’ve been using in the past month that have changed my viewing habits quite radically are:

1. TED iPad app. I love watching TED videos and since these are usually about 18 minutes each (some shorter) I like watching them on my big screen so that I can tweet on my iPad while learning from these great speakers.

2. Squrl. Squrl lets me watch lots of videos, especially from YouTube and other places, and I can curate those videos into pages. Much of the videos here are playable via AirPlay. I thought the Netflix and Hulu ones would be, but they are giving me an error, I’ll try to find out. I did an extensive video with the founder that you should watch.

3. ShowYou (just released, I have an exclusive first look and interview with Mark Hall, CEO).

After watching the video you can read more on the ShowYou blog and it’s available on iTunes now, visit the ShowYou site to get a link to it.

You can follow me on each service, I use the username “Scobleizer” on all of them.

Anyway, this is how Apple will be very successful with the Apple TV and shows you how they are going to continue to monetize long into the future.

Welcome to the “Age of AirPlay.”

Does anyone in Silicon Valley care about Windows anymore?

VMware Cloud annoucements.

Microsoft is today showing off pieces of the next version of Windows (we’re all calling it Windows 8 ) but I’m wondering if anyone cares anymore about Windows in the tech enthusiast space.

Why do I say that?

Well, at nearly every tech industry event lately I’ve noticed an almost complete shift away from Windows-based computers. Here, take a look at a panoramic photo I shot this morning at the VMware Cloud Foundry announcement (which was very interesting open source Platform-As-A-Service introduction, more Thursday when I get a video up). This room had only two PCs that I could see. The entire rest of the room was on Macs or iPads. Keep in mind that in this one room was a mixture of marketers, developers, executives, press folks, and hard-core geeks.

I noticed this same ratio at TEDx. At Web 2 Expo. At Stanford University events. At Facebook events. And other places.

Now, you could say “well, Silicon Valley is just weird and they all buy Apple stuff.” But, note that VMware is run by many former Microsoft executives (I met Charles Fitzgerald in the hallway, who is one of the smartest strategists I’ve ever met, and Mark Lucovsky was on stage this morning. You can see him at the front of the room in that panoramic photo behind one of the three VMware Macs. He even joked about his former Microsoft role “I developed DLL hell at Microsoft” he said).

But I saw the same shift at LIFT in Geneva, Switzerland and LeWeb in Paris and while the World Economic Forum had more PCs in the audience than at VMware, there were a TON of iPads.

Something is going on here, but why isn’t it showing up in market share numbers?

Is this the new “tech divide?” Those who are passionate about tech are going to get Macs and everyone else is gonna get a PC because their boss probably bought one for them assuming that if you only do email, Excel, and Powerpoint that there’s no need for you to have a Mac?

What does this mean for Windows 8?

When Steve Jobs noted that the iPad is ushering in a “post-PC world” I wonder if he knows something we don’t: that early adopters, influencers, geeks, developers, and Silicon Valley insiders are going “all Mac, all the time?”

Are you? If you’re still excited by Windows, why?

Here’s Facebook’s team that developed messaging, same kind of “mostly Mac” ratio:

Exclusive look into Facebook's "war room."

First look: Airplay-enabled Squrl: Internet video curation tool for iPad

There is a lot happening on the iPad. One of the coolest new things is called “AirPlay.” What does it do? It lets you push video to your Apple TV with the click of a button.

Today Squrl brings Hulu, YouTube and Netflix (amongst others) to the AirPlay table. This is very significant. My video watching behavior has changed more in the past month since getting Squrl and another iPad app that’s coming tomorrow than it has since I first got a Tivo years ago.

More on this tomorrow, but there’s something very significant going on here, don’t miss it. Here’s a video first look at Squrl, reprinted from Rackspace’s Building43 site:

Video, it seems, is everywhere. From Hulu to Netflix to YouTube to Vimeo, keeping track of it all can be a daunting task. Squrl is solving that problem with innovative ways to capture and curate video from the Internet.

“There are a lot of different video choices and a lot of different video apps,” explains Mark Gray, CEO and Co-Founder of Squrl. “We believe that users want to centralize that and want to manage that better. So with the plethora of video that’s now available…and more and more content starting to go a la carte, people need a better way to manage that and manage across all those different video experiences.”

Squrl allows you to aggregate and organize videos in one location. You can bookmark videos you find while browsing the web on your iPad, Mac or PC. You can capture any video that you tweet or retweet. And you can forward video links via email to your email address that Squrl provides, and the system will add the videos to your collection.

Discovery is also a big part of the service, as you can find new videos in several different ways. First, you can search the curated content that’s already within Squrl. “We believe that this next evolution of video is about people that are watching videos starting to curate that content into meaningful collections,” says Gray. “We allow you to search that.” The second way is to search any given web site, such as Netflix. Finally, you can subscribe to someone else’s content and receive push notifications when videos have been added to their collections.

“What we’re hoping to do with Squrl,” explains Gray, “is make [managing video] fun and easy as opposed to what it is today.”

More info:

Squrl web site: http://www.squrl.com/
Squrl on Twitter: http://twitter.com/squrl

Exclusive first look: MapOmatic shows you where your friends are "wasting time" (mobile map replacement)

A good adjunct to this morning’s post, which is now on Techmeme, is this product launch by Michael Rubin. Tonight MapOmatic became available in Apple’s iOS store. What is it? It’s a new kind of mobile app that shows you where folks have checked in around you.

Really this is a map replacement for your mobile phone. Why use that? Because it can show you where your friends and others have checked in. Why does that matter? Well, for the same reason you look into restaurant windows to see if there’s anyone else in the place. Crowds matter. Popularity matters. Friends matter.

Watch the video to see what it does and why it’s important. Then follow them on Twitter.

Now that more of us are doing things like checking in on Foursquare or taking pictures of places or Foodspotting mobile apps like this one are going to increasingly be needed.

Dear Vic: here's your Google bonus (you gotta waste time to get it)

Vic Gundotra was the guy who hired me at Microsoft and today is in charge of Google’s social strategy. He’s one of the “post reorg” guys who were hand picked by Larry Page.

Also announced last week is that Larry Page is tying Google’s bonus structure to how well they do in social. Turns out that Google has a lot of Facebook envy.

In yesterday’s Gillmor Gang I argue that Google and Facebook have completely different cultures. Google is very much about finding information while Facebook is all about helping people “waste time.” Think about why Zynga, a company that helps us “waste time” playing games built on top of Facebook’s culture instead of Google’s. These cultures are like oil and vinegar and if you force one to be another it could turn bad.

I say that Google should play to its strength when it comes to social. But today I want to give Googler’s some more specific advice about what that means.

Let’s talk first about what it means to “waste time.”

Baby goats!

Yesterday I visited Harley Farms. They raise goats and make the best goat cheese in the area. The baby goats are SSSOOO cute! But, let’s stay on track here. While I was picking up some cheese for today’s lunch with my parents (my dad is recovering from a kidney transplant, quite well, thank you very much) I watched two girls pull out their iPhones. One used Red Laser to scan a book in the store. Another checked in with Foursquare.

I realized just what they were doing: wasting time more efficiently!

Google doesn’t get this new behavior. Google’s engineering culture doesn’t quite grok why people would waste time. Why they would update their Facebook profiles for hours every week. Or, even, set “relationship status.” Yeah, they might copy Mark Zuckerberg and put some of those features into whatever social system they will reveal at Google IO, but I don’t think the culture really gets why those things work.

They help us waste time more effectively.

See, wasting time is big business. When I want to REALLY waste time I watch TV. But along came IntoNow, an iPhone app for telling other people what you’re watching (among other things). Yesterday, while using it I saw that Techcrunch writer MG Siegler was watching the Masters. Along with a bunch of other geeks. Hey, time wasters! But, they were wasting time more effectively than I was (I was attempting to be more “Googley” and was attempting to be more productive by being on the Gillmor Gang). I quickly felt that social network FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that the New York Times wrote about this morning.

How else is the new tech world helping me waste time?

Foodspotting helps me get hungry and helps me find better restaurants in which to waste my time. You can follow my time-wasting meals there (latest photo is from Friday afternoon when former Zagat mobile guru Ryan Charles and I wasted time together eating cheese and talking about 3D cameras and his new company — more on that soon).

Foursquare suggests places where my friends are wasting their time (you can see some of the places I’ve wasted time at here). I might join them at, say, the Ritz’ bar if I see one of them check in there.

When I go shopping (the ultimate time waster because it costs money too!) I use ShopKick to get deals whenever I walk into a store.

Shall I go on?

See, what Google needs to do is make the ultimate time waster guide. Of course I want to search. Here’s what I want to search for:

* Show me sushi restaurants around me where my friends are wasting time.
* Show me TV shows that my friends are wasting time watching.
* Bring me games that my friends are wasting time playing.
* Take me on trips where my friends are wasting time.
* Show me products my friends are wasting time buying and using.
* Reveal to me activities my friends are wasting time doing (I live on a golf course, start there!)
* Tell me the best coffee that my friends are wasting time with.
* Take me to the blog that my friends are wasting their time reading right now.
* Say whether my friends are mostly using iOS or Android devices to waste time.
* For those of my friends who are wasting time watching movies right now, which ones are they watching?
* For those of my friends who like Cricket, which teams are they wasting time cheering on?

Can I do any of this on Google now? No.

Should I?

Yes.

Why? Because wasting time is big business. We spend billions, if not trillions, wasting time. Just ask the travel industry. Or the gaming industry. Or the movie industry. Or the music industry. Or the skiing industry.

And we want to waste time more productively.

This is where Google should play to its strength. They have the infrastructure to connect us to friends who want to help us waste time better. They still have a few people who will code it up. They still understand the web and mobile than most any other company. They still have those funny cars going around making cool maps (except in Germany).

Google’s bonus should be based on how well its services have helped me waste my time more productively.

So far Google plays a very small role in helping me waste time, when compared to these newer “social” services (and more are coming over the next month).

Why doesn’t Google start grabbing up services that help us waste time? Why, Vic, don’t you start building partnerships with anyone who has information about how we are wasting time? Why not become the ultimate place for us to look for new ways to waste time?

I want to try some new wine next weekend, for instance. I would never go to Google for finding a bottle of wine. My time wasting endeavors are too important to leave to some cold algorithm, after all. So, I think I’ll go ask Gary Vaynerchuk. Why don’t you buy his wine store AND him? Make him the ultimate authority on wasting time more productively?

Speaking of which, did you just see what I did there? I linked to Twitter. That’s a great place to waste time. Why don’t you buy Twitter and save them from their monetization misery? Make Twitter the hub of time wasters everywhere! Add onto that purchase Quora, which is turning into a pretty good place to find places/events/experiences to waste time with. Here’s its answer on how to waste time most productively while visiting Napa, for instance.

Why don’t you hire David Schmidt, who just built a cool map for Foursquare, and have him create all sorts of maps like this using various services that will help us share how we’re wasting time? Which will help us all become more productive at wasting time (better yet, why can’t you show us where all the BBQ-loving people are checking in near us? Oh, yeah, I forgot, Google is all about NOT wasting time, which is why you haven’t yet gotten social).

Anyway, we’ll see you after Google IO and I’ll judge whether you should get your bonus based on whether your social services better help me waste time. So far you aren’t doing very well. I’ve even wasted my time adding hundreds of +1’s into Google, but does that help anyone waste their time more productively? Not with such an unattractive list, that’s for sure! David Schmidt has done more for my time wasting than you have so far and that’s VERY sad.

So, Vic, here’s your bonus. Help us waste time more productively and maybe this bonus will turn into some very real cash from your boss.

UPDATE: Oh, check out what Mike Melanson, writer for ReadWriteWeb blogged on this topic. Culture differences for sure! Finally, one Google team is very good at helping us waste time. Which one? YouTube! Check out my YouTube channel, I help you waste time too! But YouTube’s culture is quite different than that at the rest of Google. Maybe that’s where Google should start its social “time wasting.”

UPDATE2: Boris Mann has a great post about what Google should do “get a story.”