Inspired by Michael Arrington over at Techcrunch, (which is really my polite way of saying I totally ripped off his idea), I thought I’d give a quick rundown of the sites and services that I started using extensively in the last year, and would rather not live without. I decided to limit it to my top 5, and checked my history file just to see if anything surprising popped up. Here’s the honors list:
del.icio.us — I can’t imagine how I lived prior to having this. Years ago, I wrote a Perl script to scan and merge my bookmarks files on all my computers so I could post it to my website. del.icio.us does it so much better and so much easier. It meets my ultimate requirement for software (or just about any other product): it does exactly what I’d expect it to do with almost no effort on my part.
MyBlogLog — Another great feature that now replaces an old Perl script (actually since retired for a PHP version. Still, you get the point). Wonderful service, and one I highly recommend.
WordPress — OK, this is one that’s only recently entered my life, but works so much better than Blogger for me. As big a fan as I am of Google as a company, they might want to take a look at what the Open Source crowd is offering these days.
tech.memeorandum — Tells me what I want to know, when I need to know it. It’s replaced Cnet, Engadget, Gizmodo, and Google News’ tech page as the first thing I check. Beat out Digg, which I also like a whole bunch, by a whisker to gain this spot.
LinkedIn — I’m becoming more reliant on LinkedIn all the time. It keeps me connected to any number of people, and has helped me locate others I didn’t know I needed to know. Technology is only one part of the job; people is the other, larger part. Technology that helps me manage the people part more effectively makes my life much simpler. I know it’s not as sexy as MySpace in the whole social software realm, but it works for the world I live in so very, very well. I’ve actually been using LinkedIn for more than a year, but as with all network effect kinds of things, it’s taken some time to achieve critical mass in my world.
The nice thing about writing this post is that I get to make the rules for it. So I’m sneaking in a couple of “honorable mentions,” which are the sites I use a lot, but aren’t necessarily new to me (or, frankly, almost anyone else). Without further ado, I’ve got to give props to both Google and Yahoo, both of which manage to innovate (or acquire innovators and integrate them) succesfully. Google Maps, Flickr (which Yahoo bought), Pixoria (the Konfabulator people, which Yahoo bought), del.icio.us (which Yahoo bought… I’m seeing a trend here), etc., continue to provide useful tools that increasingly shape how I get things done.
So, how many file formats have cost you your job? According to Digg (and yes, I’ve double-dipped Digg, referencing them twice in one night), “Peter Quinn, the man responsible for bringing Open Document to the state of Massachusetts as CIO will resign on January 9, citing the controversy around the decision as well as personal attacks aimed at him as reasons for his departue.” I’m not knocking Microsoft specifically in this, because they’re tring to make sure that their products enter into the consideration set for any purchase. That is their responsibility to their shareholders and employees; however, why should a CIO (even for a government entity) not be able to decide which file formats his organization should support?
Let’s take this discussion out of the IT arena and look at the overall organization, instead. Can a CEO institute a policy that they will only contract with public companies or ones that permit certain levels of due diligence? Sure. So, how’s this different?
And it ain’t who you think it is. According to a story posted on Digg, Amazon is allowing customers to download some artists’ music for free as MP3’s. The original post states, “Here are some pretty good downloads that amazon gives away each week free mp3 downloads from The Strokes; The Pornographers ; The Hives and so many more.” Clearly, Amazon has seen the enemy, and it’s MySpace. In the future of commerce on the web (and, to some degree, its past), who you compete with isn’t the same folks you always thought it was. File-sharing (swapping, piracy, whatever) scared the content producers and now social networking sites might be scaring the online retailers. Looks like we’re getting back in the “sticky eyeball” business of the boom days, with the sites that can draw traffic getting lots of play (see Barry Diller’s recent gobbling up of MySpace for a half-billion dollars).
Back in the boom days, people talked about the concept of “getting Amazon’ed,” where an online upstart would come along and pull the rug out from under an established (offline) player. Seems Amazon is getting worried about getting a taste of its own medicine and is looking for ways to avoid “getting MySpace’d.”