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Facebook Patents RSS-like Technology – Is That a Joke?

First thing first, Facebook did not patent RSS but their news feed on their site!!! I have to admit, this is a quite neat feature and what would be the point of  a social (networking) site if you did not know what your entourage were upto. So Facebook included a friends activity log (news stream) to make it easy for people to find out. Thats a good feature but it’s by no means an innovative technology. DZone, a developer social “networking” site provides a log about news that users have posted, commented on and rated. This is to show that there’s nothing innovative about that feature but a convenience.

I have been very busy lately and did not have time to check my Google Reader but I did today. And voila! I see the news flash from Mashable – Facebook Secures Patent for News Feed. My first reaction, based on the title before I even read the article, was WOW!!! Facebook managed to patent RSS or ATOM or anything else on that scale. Then came the joke when I started to read the article specially the abstract of the patent:

“A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment is described. The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items. The method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed.”

I don’t know about you genius guys but I could not make much sense of the abstract but I did pickup a few keywords such as:

  • News Feed
  • Social Networking

That’s it! Everything else is just pure jibberish. I can summarized their abstract as follow:

We know about RSS/ ATOM which are real news feed. RSS provides real-time (depending on how often you poll) updates; can that be classified as a site master activity update. It also includes links and media about the site or users generating the feeds. That’s a cool feature and we copied the idea and implemented in our site, now we are the biggest community site in the western hemisphere so we are telling not to use any RSS or derivated technology when building a community site (social networking).

Let’s face it, I feel sorry for the smaller community sites but I do not think that patent will affect Twitter or Google but watch out MySpace. I did not even know you could patent someone else already patented technology. This is not a new way of doing something but more like patenting the environment where the technology is applied. To be very geeky about this, Facebook News Feed are just a bunch of SQL queries displaying latest records on a User Interface. I did not know you could even dare trying to patent that. To be frank, I am not sure that they could have patented that in Europe. I am looking forward to seeing how to will now exercise their new POWER. What would happen to Ning, BuddyPress and Elg, those are software and platform used to create social site but what about Youtube and UStream. Anyway site operating within the US and implementing the patent features of Facebook will have to pay them. But outside the US territoty, those company would be free to operate. How to you control access to the Internet without censoring like China and Iran?

Anyway, this is just my opinion but you are welcomed to share yours with the rest of us. For now, why not read about RSS here and see exatly what I am talking about.

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London Start-ups TechWorld Event April 09

ETAPIX Global Ltd is sponsoring the London Start-ups TechWorld Event on 9 April 2009.

London Start-ups 2.0 TechWorld Event aims to build a platform where technology and Internet start-ups can gather together to exchange knowledge, network and reward innovations through funding partners.

If you are a Start-up company based anywhere on this globe and looking for partners, funding or just the right guys to transform your ideas into the real thing, then this event is for you. This is a chance to showcase your ideas, projects and or company in front of well selected panellists. There is only one catch; your business or idea has to be Tech or Internet related.

Our panellists have several years of investment and knowledge of Tech start-ups and can provide support through financing and workshops for your next BIG thing.

The videos will be broadcast live on USTREAM.com and all exhibitors will have their details forwarded to our network of partners for further promotion.

London Startup 2.0 TechWorld Event

Thursday 9th April 2009 at 18:00-22.30

EXPRESS BY HOLIDAY INN
LONDON – LIMEHOUSE see map

469-475 The Highway
London
E1W 3HN

We booked a conference room in Docklands London. We only have limited places available so hurry and get your ticket now @ http://www.urgoing.to/londonstartups
You can also join our hundreds of members on Facebook LinkedIn Smarta
or follow me on twitter @armelnene for an update.

Ticket : £15.90 (Exhibitors)
Ticket: £10.73 (Networkers and Guests)

TICKETS HAVE TO BE PURCHASED PRIOR TO THE EVENT.

NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD ON THE DOOR.

Click here to see a list of the panellists including a short biography.

See you there and have your business cards ready.

I am not a geek… you are nerd

Social

10 reasons why Facebook, Bebo, Orkut etc… are not profitable

Everytime I visit a startups’ meetup, I meet some aspiring entrepreneurs who tell me that they have the next killer app that will take over…

So what is that application you are talking about?…Another social networking site?

I, personally, do not believe that social networking sites make real sustainable revenue. Let me outline some points so that we can discuss and share:

  1. Users registration is free and nobody pays for premium services so don’t offer them.
  2. Advertisement is profitable as long as operating expenses stays low.
  3. A sucessfull social networking site (in terms of population) means higher operating expenses.
  4. Users do not click on advertisement and found them quite annoying… This leads to unsuccessfull ads campaign and clients extraction.
  5. Not everyone has an IPhone or PDA. Not even 1% of users access their data on the go and what is the business model here? NOTHING!!! I thought so.
  6. Also, Fan pages and groups are killing advertisements revenue specially on facebook as they are available free of charge.
  7. Because of various laws and regulations, users data cannot be sold to third parties for their own use, another closed revenue stream.
  8. No control over copyrighted material that users upload. This will eventually lead to law-suit which can clause your business.

I suggest that if you planning to start your own social networking site, try to have a real business model and most importantly a business plan. If it makes sense on a business plan, I think traditional lenders will be interested.

If your main goal is to try to sell your business to larger organisation just like Bebo and the rest, then you might have to be more creative. Think what is the difference between MySpace and Facebook? If you site is Facebook compliant then I guess your chances are limited as you become dependent on a bigger player.

I gave 8 reasons as I will let you guys come up with the other 2 reasons. I am sure that this post will make you realise something or two, next time you or a friend are thinking of making a social networking site just concentrate a the business model = revenue stream, before you venture into the wild.

The above are just my opinion and are not based on extensive research but discussion with some VCs, news and blogs.

Twitter is a way of bombarding the world with an endless stream of self-serving mini-messages. According to the click mavens at Hitwise, it’s now the 84th most visited site on the web, and co-founder Biz Stone says the company sees twice as much traffic through its APIs.

But its 140-character “Tweets” aren’t conducive to advertising. And since it’s always been a free service, the pundits can’t imagine Twitter ever making money on subscriptions.

Bebo sale
twitter revenue
Social Networks and Profitability

UPDATE – Making money on a social network – BBC News

UPDATE: Are Facebook Ads Going to Zero? Lookery Lowers Its Guarantee to 7.5-Cent CPMs.
Facebook Connect + Facebook Ads = A Social Ad Network

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