Archive for web 2.0

Lose-Lose Situation

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by manuscrypts

That, I believe is what Hasbro and Scrabulous have gotten each other into. In case you guys have been tardy and not playing Scrabulous on Facebook, Scrabulous, a popular app on Facebook, modeled on Scrabble – the board game, has had to remove its application from the US and Canada, (for IP – the intellectual property kind, infringement) and Hasbro, who hold th rights for North Americsa,  has done enough successful PR to be seen as the evil corporate monster. I hope Mattel is listening, as its case is awaiting resolution, and will affect the rest of the world. This is a worthwhile read on the finer legal points in this case, in terms of the American Copyright law.

I’ve been an avid user of Scrabulous and even joined the petition to ‘help save scrabulous’, which has about 50,000 members. I did that, then, on an emotional appeal level, without getting it into the right and wrong. The Agarwala brothers, who own the application had maintained that their intention was not to make money. Maybe it wasn’t initially. But, later too? Funny, considering that Scrabulous, at its peak had about half a million users and was generating $25000 per week from advertising. Funny also, that they didn’t just take the first payment agreement option that Hasbro had proposed. (rumoured to be around $10 million)

All this triggered a few thoughts. The makers of Scrabulous would definitely have known that they were on slippery territory as far as IPR goes, why did they have to do it. Yes, they did the world a favour by recreating a favourite game, and if, having realised their error, they accepted the Hasbro offer, all would have ended well. But perhaps, our democracy has also left us with a legacy of disregard for the law, of forcing grays between right and wrong, and turning a blind eye.

For me, it also brought to light a not-so-great facet of the crowd driven, transparency seeking, web 2.0.  The founder of the group I’d mentioned earlier, a 15 year old, has collected a list of 1000 people who have promised never to buy a Scrabble board if Hasbro forced Scrabulous to close down. A guy who tried to start a discussion within the group on how Hasbro was right, got booed out of the place, with an allegation that he worked for Hasbro in some capacity. There was a scare that Hasbro’s official app on Facebook had been hacked. Hasbro might have acted in the most stupid manner possible on this issue, but they were in the right. So, the question is, in the ‘crowd controlled world’ we keep forecasting, if there’s enough of a crowd that believes in a certain thing, irrespective of whether its wrong, unethical, does it still get done?  Mob Justice, isn’t that the term? It reminds me of India’s democracy, where technically the people rule, but we all know how that’s working. So, if the crowd controls the world, who controls the crowd?

As for me, I’m out of the group help ‘save scrabulous’, and have already started a game with a friend on this new application, Wordscraper, from the makers of Scrabulous. It looks considerably different from Scrabble, but is as enjoyable as the original.

until next time,”with great power comes great responsibility”

PS: Pacman has been there before 🙂

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Traditional Media 2.0 ?

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2008 by manuscrypts

Traditional media, and specifically the print media, don’t seem to be too worried about the web being competition. Possibly justified, since, unlike their counterparts in the US, their circulation numbers don’t seem to be dipping. Which is perhaps why, they don’t think much of web 2.0 or the potential it offers to them. For now, they’re satisfied with saying that they are on the web too.

In fact, the TV sites like CNN IBN and even NDTV to a certain extent looked much more closer to what a media site should be, online. Even they have some way to go before they can take on, say a CNN. I recently saw India Today’s site, which shows some promise.

But I’m wondering if the story of traditional media websites and pure web players is a little like the old hare and tortoise story, roles played respectively. Consider this, the JuxtConsult 2008 report says that checking news is the 4th most common activity that Indians indulge in, on the Internet. The same report shows Yahoo as the most preferred site for this purpose, with MoneyControl and CricInfo taking the top spots in Financial News and Cricket news respectively. At a circulation of 31.46 lakhs, why doesn’t TOI find a place there? If we take into account that the Internet in india is still at a nascent stage, don’t the already popular dailies have a good chance of replicating their success on the internet, especially if they start early and already have a good credibility factor in that space?

And this is not restricted to English media. With every online player realising the importance of vernacular, even the regional language players cannot afford to stand and watch. Which perhaps Malayala Manorama has realised, because the last few days saw a flurry of activity in pushing their website as well as their matrimonial site. One could say that the latter is a late entrant, but in both cases, MM is heavily leveraging their strengths in traditional media. This is of course, in addition to the news channel and radio stations. Perfectly poised, I’d say.

Meanwhile, on another and what I would consider a more dangerous front, there are entities like Instablogs, which in addition to a wonderful design, does a superb mix of news and user generated content, including the recently added user-generated-video-news, all of that based out of Simla. Sigh. Not to forget webdunia, which though does not boast of a cool interface like the former, is doing very well on the regional media front.

With the rapid penetration of the mobile, the increasing access of the internet through mobile, and the vernacular factor, I’m wondering if the race in India will buck the regular trends shown globally, and suddenly swing in favor of the new media players, while the hare is caught napping.

Conversations and Noise

Posted in Social networking with tags , , , , on June 3, 2008 by manuscrypts

I came across a new tool, a couple of days back. It helps you make an interactive profile card, and is called retaggr. Its got widgets for StumbleUpon, Gtalk, Twitter and many many more, and can be linked to your profiles on del.icio.us, LinkedIn, Blogger and a few dozen others too. In essence, its like a signature that keeps in touch with whatever you’ve been doing in social media – whether its tagging a photo on flickr or commenting on a blog post, and just like a signature, you can use it on the social media to ensure that other people know what you’re upto. Interesting?

Yes, but it also showed me a glimpse of the expanse of social media. There are conversations happening everywhere, on Facebook, twitter, blogs, Friendfeed ranging from meaningful discussions to trivial chit chat, but all of which are important to users. Is it possible to keep track of all the conversations you’re interested in? More importantly, how much of filtering does one have to do to keep track of only the things that interest him/her?

I really don’t think its as simple as choosing your friends or followers. Yes, it helps a bit, and in time, some calibration can be done to receive exactly the kind of alerts, tweets etc that you want. But in the end, conversations can go anywhere, and need not be restricted to your circle. Is it really possible to connect all the threads, because in the end, we are dealing with people here. People have conversations, a germ of an idea happens, and they carry the conversation somewhere else and forget about the original conversation.

People are also not uni dimensional, they have multiple interests. Even after i figure out who i want to be friends with or ‘follow’, not all the stuff they talk about would interest me, and unfortunately it takes time to figure out the conversations that interest you from the ‘noise’.

Speaking of time, it flies, its been a year since I started this blog. How have i been doing, my dear one and a half readers? 🙂

until next time, don’t even think of saying GTD

Shaken and Stirred

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , on November 21, 2007 by manuscrypts
So, HT buys DesiMartini for a cool $10 million. Cheers to that, because the exit strategy seems to have worked for them, although i saw many sites warning about the impending bubble 2.0 in the Indian context.
I have always wondered about the business model of the ‘main bhi’ social networking sites, and this makes me all the more suspicious about the intentions. I really wonder how many of these guys are actually in for the long haul, although the other wondering is what exactly do they tell the VCs about revenue models when they go in for the initial funding. Maybe they give conspiratorial winks to each other when they reach that slide 🙂
But to pull back, how do you think an offline major player like HT can leverage social networking? While DesiMartini was one of those sites which had a fairly good burst in the television media (which would’ve driven up their user base), I’m sure they would be minnows if compared to the videsi orkut or even facebook these days. Do they see some potential for bundling print and web in terms of ad sales? Or is it a strategic buy to gain a footspace in the still nascent Indian internet space?
Or hey, do you think HT’s trying to increase their valuation? 😉
and i bid adieu, while you should start work on that start up of yours 😀