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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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URL Shortner Service – how to monetize?

In the world of microblogging where users are trying say more with less, it is important that the resource url do not take more than the actual message. Enter the “URL Shortner Services” such as Bit.ly, is.gd, TinyURL among others, to the rescue to shortened those long URLs. From a user point of view, this is not much life to shortener services once the url has been turned to a small set of characters. I personally do not believe that anybody uses url shorteners outside the microblogging realms. We all know that there is no such thing as a free service, especially if you are looking for the service to stick around for a while. Therefore one question comes to mind, how can we make monetize the service.

I was at bar in Canary wharf with one of my investment friend when we were discussing several monetization ideas in regard to social networking based businesses. Obviously, Twitter was discussed but then the conversation shifted toward the third party apps built for Twitter and microblogging sites.

I am sure that anybody using Twitter has come across those funny urls in twits. When you clicked a link, there is a redirection from the url hosting server to the original source. So how can we monetize this service? That same question again. Here are some ideas and you are welcome to agree or disagree.

  1. charge microblogging site and third party developer to use the service and implement a free quota. I do not personally see how this is going to work as the microblogging site are currently in the driving seats. This option might not be viable for the url shortener service providers.
  2. when a shortened url has been clicked, the hosting server should redirect them to their site and present the user with an advertisement which will be displayed for a few second or until the user clicks it off. The ads have to be targeted the user this might involve parsing the title of the original source for keywords. This solution might be a good approach but how will user react to this. It can put them off therefore the services might have to offer some incentives to the url referrer.
  3. This probably the simplest way and less intrusive from a user’s perspective. When a user clicks on a link, the original site should be opened into a frame which is integrated into url shortener service provider’s site. The top frame of the window could display some ads.

The above are just some suggestions and they might not even be feasible or might be receive with hostility from the community but it is worth trying. Here is my final option:

  • Twitter should implement is own url shortener service where the destination page will be displayed within a frame simialr to option 3 above. Or twitter should open all links within a frame and advertise similar to option 3 but this time without cutting out the the third party url shortener service providers.

That’s all folks!

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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