When a Facebook user adds "skiing" to the interests on their profile, it's hard for an advertiser to tell exactly what the user means. A Google search for "Ski rentals in Wolf Creek, Colorado" is much more informative, by contrast. Advertisers know what kind of pitch to deliver, albeit in the form of an AdWords haiku. Inside Facebook's Justin Smith argues advertisers have an easier time targeting users of Facebook apps — for example, one who installs a skiing weather-map application, and looks up conditions in Wolf Creek. It's one reason he says that Facebook applications will prove easier to profit from than Facebook itself.
Updated mockups reveal that Facebook has added a new tab to its soon-to-be-released user profiles. It's a small but telling detail that illustrates how the obsessively controlling Mark Zuckerberg has ceded power to independent Facebook-app developers. In his original plans for Facebook's redesign, Zuckerberg planned to integrate the Wall — the place where public messages from other users are displayed on user profiles — with Facebook's News Feed, which is where Facebook serves ads between "stories" about other users' activities. This integration was a way for Facebook to finally serve ads in the Wall, a placewhere users spend a great deal of their time on the site.
Check out Ari Balogh's geek makeover! In jumping from stiffly corporate VeriSign to stiffly corporate-but-trying-pretend-otherwise Yahoo, the CTO ditched the '70s mustache and switched to an open-necked sweater for a keynote at Web 2.0 Expo. The upshot: Yahoo is "rewiring" itself to be more "open." As with Balogh's sweater, those who use this openness to get a closer look may get frightened. Yahoo's software certainly requires rewiring, but putting a new layer on top of it and inviting software developers to build applications using Yahoo services won't solve the problem. As one ex-Yahoo put it to me, vast swaths of Yahoo are built on "spaghetti code," poorly maintained and poorly understood software that's prone to breakage. Opening this up to developers may lead to all kinds of surprises, but not the kind Yahoo's tech-indifferent executives hope for. (Photo by Dan Farber)
Photobucket, the News Corp.-owned photo-sharing site, is introducing an application programming interface, or API, in an effort to catch up with Yahoo's Flickr. One of the benefits, Photobucket CEO Alex Welch implies, will be having independent developers do Photobucket's R&D for it and come up with new ways to line Rupert Murdoch's pocket: "If we see a noncommercial application that's doing something clearly in our commercial terms of service or doing something very creative, it's our responsibility to go out and figure a way to partner." [News.com]
In the month since San Francisco-based social network Hi5 launched its platform for independent applications, users have installed widgetmaker RockYou's applications 2 million times. The most popular third-party application on MySpace only has 100,000 installs. The difference? Hi5 links to its application directory from user profile pages and allows application makers to send notification messages to users. Those simple interface elements allow Hi5 users to see which applications their friends are using, which then prompts them to add them, too — the main factor in their spread. MySpace is still working on those kinds of tools, reports VentureBeat. Facebook built those types of innovations into its platform nearly a year ago.
Facebook flack Meredith Chin said the company would roll out a new profile design by early April. Didn't happen. And it won't until later this spring, Facebook developer Pete Bratach writes on the company's developer blog. "We're still iterating on the design, making sure we get it right," Bratach explains. BoomTown reports that third-party developers are greatly relieved by the delay. "They really have to roll this out perfectly," one told Kara Swisher. "It really is the biggest thing since Beacon, and you know how that went." (Poorly, and ruining more than a few Christmases by disclosing people's online purchases to Facebook friends.) But we disagree that Mark Zuckerberg should try to "roll this out perfectly."
U.S. Army Master Sergeant Robert McLaughlin's obsession with Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace paid off when he found an original watercolor of the young noble, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, for sale on eBay. Widely credited with having created the first computer program, a system of calculating Bernoulli numbers for Charles Babbage's steam-powered Analytical Engine, "The Enchantress of Number" is a dashingly romantic figure. She's made numerous appearances in novels, including steampunk ur-text The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
"You're pretending that there's one standard, but since nobody has a way to test against the standard, it's not a real standard." — Software pundit Joel Spolsky on the impossibility of conforming to Web standards. If you're a Web developer, Spolsky's 4,738-word treatise, with illustrations, is worth reading on your employer's time.
Apple has announced its Worldwide Developers Conference will take place June 9-13. The invite, above, reminds you to mark the week as "hellish traffic" on your calendar. And the two bridges? Most likely they reflect Apple's dual developer tracks, one for iPhone and one for Mac. So much for the notion that it's all the same operating system. [Gizmodo]
AUSTIN, TX — 4:32 p.m. Central Time: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage at Pangaea, a downtown Austin bar. The crowd is standing-room only all the way back. "As if yesterday's interview wasn't enough fun," he wryly notes as he opens the floor for questions. First question is about the Facebook Wall. The developer wants more access to write software that gets and writes posts to Facebook users' profiles. Zuckerberg doesn't answer the question.
At Mix08 in Las Vegas, a Q&A session brought out the monkey-beast in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "I've been in PR mode the whole time, and you want to hear Web developers? Web developers! Web developers!" he shouts. You sure you want to postpone Yahoo's annual shareholder meeting, Jerry? The clip, below.
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook platform czar Adam D'Angelo announced new limits on developer spam last night. Facebook used to allow app makers to send 20 friends application invites a day. Developers are now seeing limits of around 8 to 12 per day. Facebook's platform minders also changed the format of invites, moving an unsubscribe link up. "Top developers" hate the news, according to Inside Facebook.
Facebooker Dave Morin, in this photo snapped at MySpace's San Francisco launch party last week, seems to be gazing longingly at Rupert Murdoch's rival social network. Could he be switching teams? "He seemed to be very friendly with a number of MySpace execs at their god-awful party last week," reports a tipster. "He turned up late and then they all seemed to leave
together to go off somewhere." It might be time for Morin, Facebook's senior platform manager, to make a move. Some developers respect his enthusiasm for Facebook's platform, but one told me, "He's in over his head."
MySpace's developer platform bills itself as "a place for developers." Its launch party, however, was nothing of the sort. Brian Solis's photos from the event showed bloggers, reporters, and executives galore. Meanwhile, actual programmers, we hear, were left waiting outside on 2nd Street. If there was a single real developer at the party, they somehow escaped Solis's omnivorous lens. [Bub.blicio.us]
Google has pushed back the deadline for its $10 million Android programming contest to April. The jackpot will go to the developer who comes up with the best application for Google's cell-phone operating system. Google says the reason is that it's made updates to Android, and it wants to let programmers take advantage of them. But doesn't it seem equally likely that Google hadn't gotten enough submissions?