Google for many people is the bleeding edge technlogy company. The place where the best engineers and scholars work or wish to work at.
1. At this point it is hard to see a scenario where Cuil wins over Google but in my mind they did change something. Their indexing technology and scalability seems to make Google’s look old, wasteful, and maybe even obsolete. I don’t know if this is actually true because a lot of people were disappointed from Cuil’s search results so far, yet this could be a relevance problem and not indexing related. So, in my mind Cuil’s accomplishment so far is putting a certain question mark around Google’s technology and perception.
2. When I was asking Is there a way around Google? I did not think about the options that someone will seriously consider to battle with Google on the index size front. I thought that if you can find a cheap data source to index and prove your technology then this is the right course of action. You can’t not admire what Cuil is doing. Cuil degraded the force of intimidation that Google had and created a crack (small) in one of their barriers to entry. I see more to come…
In this post I will discuss the three elements of Mashup sign-on process: Security(SSO), Access Control and Single Identity. I see a lot written and done about each individually but I think that it is not always clear what solution map to which problem.
If you are familiar with this subject then you can skip to the next paragraph (or this post entirely). For the ones that are not familiar with mashups and how to get them working for you, please read this short preface. There are many online services today: social networks like Facebook, bookmarking services like ma.gnolia, news like Digg, media sharing sites like Fliker and YouTube, and more. In the screen capture of the form below you can find 43 such services. These services provide online APIs (a way to request data and to execute functionality in remote from service by the world outside). This allows the development of new services on top called Mashups. The new service interact with the underline services and add value because of the unique mix created. The first form below is taken from FriendFeed a mashup application that help you keep track of your friends’ activities across many web services. In this form you are requested to select the services that you permit the current application to pull or push information from and to (in the case of FriendFeed, pulling only). In order for the application to be able to access your data the system needs to know who you are i.e. your user name (login). In some cases it will ask you for your password too.
These form raises three hot issues in the growing environment of open API and mashups. If you want to see how rapidly this world is growing look in this excellent source of information: ProgrammableWeb
- Security: not having login and password information stored in multiple places. Single sign-on (SSO)
- Access Control: having control over what the service can do with my data. Defining security policy.
- Single Identity: not having to re-enter my profile and friends’ information all over again. Data Portability.
Every service offers a sign-up process where you type in your login and password. Companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that offer multiple applications online offers kind of single sign-on mechanism that once you’re signed in to one service you can safely go to the next one without re-login. The available solution for web sites that are not belong to the same company is the OpenID and here is an example for how to use it from WordPress. It is in a way the solution for single sign-on on the web today. Not all the services today support it but the adoption seems promising. If you want to see a decent amount of available options to authenticate across service just click on the “Sign in using” drop down list in ma.gnolia’s login page.
When I allow a service to access my data from another service I don’t have a way telling the source what I allow them to provide. I can’t tell the service if I allow it to just read my data or also the update information (e.g. updating Twitter status). It is mostly determined today by the APIs. If there is a way to configure it (to some extent in Facebook) it is not consistent across the web. I know that there is an effort by multiple leading software companies to deal with it. For more information read the page about the new OAuth protocol.
The term profile today refers to way more than your name, address and email. I think that Facebook took it the farthest including your media preferences, activities and your choice of applications. But most important it includes your contacts i.e. your network. It is in the basis of most social network services that your experience and satisfaction from the site is in direct relationship with your network size. Yet, no one want to re-type his personal information and re-build his network. Some claim, and I agree, that this data should not belong to anyone but you. The Data Portability initiative is trying to eliminate the need for recreating your online identity and profile over and over again by defining a new open standards that will allow services to port it to your request. This is a great step and I can only hope to see it implemented across the web soon.
If you are new to the subject but not new to using mashup applications I hope that you’ll find this post helpful – maybe now you can start using the OpenID option instead of your login. If you are about to start a new service or mashup I hope that this will help you to think about how to make it easy for us to interact with it.
Do you see more ways for improving this process?
- Delver should add Mybloglog to their “Locate your Profile” section – it will help them building a wider social graph by drawing from a reach network. It may help them finally find and associate my blog with my profile. If not, at least let me add/claim it by myself.
- Muxtape is cool. Its simplicity is like Twitter, attractive. And the same as Twitter it needs something like Summize (now Twitter Search) for finding cool and matching mp3 mixtapes. I’m very curious to see where this service is going.
- Xoost and Stumpedia, two social search engines that are powered by human, needs some way showing who has good searching skills in specific area. It will be great to be able to ask for help in a search task from someone that already trawl the web, looking for information in certain domain of knowledge. It will be nice too, to be able to say thank you for a great find.
- Twhirl will save me the trip to Twitter’s web page looking for my followers count if it adds this value somewhere in the Followers tab. I cherish any new follower to my Twitter’s Blogmon account and this is the only reason that I visit the Twitter web page today.
- Techcrunh need to hire someone to process comments in full time:). There are 685 comments and counting to this latest post: We Want A Dead Simple Web Tablet For $200. Help Us Build It. It is amazing to see that when you try to change something there is a strong reaction for both better and worse.
As someone that is a beta tester for more than few web sites now, I come across many solution implementations for some very common problems.
Almost every Web 2.0 type of offering provides the following basic list of services:
- Registration – including email confirmation and Captcha
- Login – including “remember password” and “forget your password” options
- External contact import and management – for viral distribution
- Internal contact management – show user (popular, recently joined, you may know them).
- Inter web-site communication means – e.g. messages, wall to wall, IM, notes, comments.
- Profile editing – providing a web page for editing basic profile information such as name, address, birth date, uploading a picture and claiming a blog (or web-site) will answer 80% of the requirements. It will be nice if the framework will allow some custom attributes for required specific information like “favorite quote”.
- Feeds and subscription, search
- API – see what I wrote about outsourcing it
- Allowing the start-up companies to focus on its core offering.
- It will saves development cycles solving the same problem again and again.
- Having a standard solution will save us the users to learn new mechanism with every new web-site
- It will provide more robust implementation because it will be using industry proven and efficient design pattern for solving these common problems.
- It will help one of the above software vendors in luring developers to use their technology if they can start from a “higher ground” with a framework like this.
What that I have in mind is something like WordPress. A platform that allows both rich enough default implementations as well as powerful and advance fully customize solution. WordPress also allow both hosted solution as well as self hosted and managed option.
I know that there are existing modules today solving few of the use cases listed above but to the best of my knowledge there is no single platform that can jump start a Web 2.0 offering built today.