Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

.anydomainnameyouwant soon to be available for purchase

Friday, June 27th, 2008

This week, ICANN voted to expand gTLDs (generic top level domains) so that there are no longer restrictions on the gTLDs that can be registered and used online. A gTLD refers to the letters that come after the last dot Dotcomin a URL string, such as .com, .gov or .org. Previously, there were a limited number of generic top level domains, but this resolution by ICANN, the body that controls and governs the domain name industry, will open every gTLD as a possible domain name extension going forward. These new gTLDs are likely to start hitting the market in the fourth quarter of 2009.

A companion resolution was also pushed through, which will allow domain names to use non-Roman characters. This means that Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic characters, for example, will all be able to be used in domain names.

These are historic decisions by ICANN, although there is a lot of debate about what kind of actual impact they will have on the industry. For more details on the specifics of what was announced, check out the announcement here.

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

This decision is important and will have an impact. Since this announcement, I have heard a lot of people making the case that the only domain name that really matters is .com. Although I agree that the .com domain name will stay the strongest for the foreseeable future, this thinking is really short-sighted. Although technology is advancing quickly, the Internet is still in its infancy. It’s hard to predict what will happen in two years, let alone in 20 years. I think that there is a very good chance that other gTLDs will become important. I’ve seen evidence of this in other countries, and honestly, it’s even possible that the gTLD system could eventually go away entirely.

It will take awhile for any new gTLD to become popular. People are comfortable with their current domain names and will likely stay with them in the short term. But this decision opens the door for a new site with a new domain name to come in and make a splash. And if that happens, it could popularize a new gTLD quickly.

This decision does nothing to hurt domain name speculators, it only helps them. The decision does not lessen the value of their current domain names, and it opens the possibility that they might be able to add a whole batch more to their already-valuable portfolios. They’ll be able to use the techniques, tactics and strategies (not to mention automated scripts and money!) that they created in the first round of domain name speculation to continue to round out their portfolios.

A new energy is going to be injected into the domain name industry that hasn’t been seen in awhile. I expect a lot of creativity, and I think that we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fun and interesting ways that people think up of capitalizing on this opportunity.

There are significant trademark ramifications. Here is a good story if you’re interested in that.

The average man on the street is going to be confused when new gTLDs are introduced. There will have to be some serious marketing and explaining done to help translate this to the millions who are just now using .com comfortably.

The current alternate extensions are in trouble. I agree with this analysis that .info, .biz and a few other currently existing gTLDs will probably not do as well going forward.

The biggest impact will be with the companion decision, which is that ICANN is now going to allow non-Roman characters in domain names. This means that countries that don’t use Roman characters in their primary languages (China, India, Russia, etc.) will now be able to register domain names in their native languages. This is the one area that I think that there will be real, meaningful and quick growth. Asian, Arabic, Cyrillic and other scripts will now be able to have domain names – this is huge based on the numbers alone:

“At the moment, there are one-and-a-half billion people online and four-and-a-half billion people for whom the Roman script just means nothing.”  

There will be some shakeout on the specifics of this decision in the coming months, and expect a lot of buzz as the end of 2009 approaches.

Photo by husin.sani

Don't sacrifice your blog in the name of productivity

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I have been working more than ever lately, but my blog posts have been scarce. This is no accident. But it is a mistake.

A couple of weeks back I wrote this post about productivity on Tuesdays. That realy got me thinking about my own productivity and what days of the week I am able to get work done. The initial inspiration for the post was this one by Penelope Trunk, which suggested, among other things, that if Tuesdays are the most productive day of the week, we should focus more on Wednesdays and Thursdays to try to make those days equally productive.

So I’ve been trying to consciously think about my productivity. And I have hit upon a great way to make myself productive. The past two weeks I have been picking one major (or difficult) item on my to-do list, and working on it the entire day until it’s done. That way, at the end of the week I will be able to cross five major items off my list. Any time that I have left in a given day, I work on the odds-and-ends that are left. Including my blog.

This strategy has worked great for getting those major projects done. (I finished four last week, one was so big that it took two days.) But the problem is, the other stuff – the everyday work – isn’t getting done. As evidenced by the sparse posts to this blog.

GrowingSo this week I am going to try a new tactic. I’m going to schedule only 3 major things to get done this week and see if I can get caught up on the rest of my stuff. Because sacrificing my blog in the name of productivity is a bad idea.

This blog may be fairly insignificant in the scheme of things, but as far as my business goes, it has been essential in ways that I couldn’t imagine.

1. I have gotten consulting jobs because of my blog. Multiple jobs. When I hand out my business card, it has my company Website and my blog URL. People usually go to both. When they read the Pure Incubation site, the first question is usually “What do you do?” Followed by the statement “I don’t get it.” This is understandable because what I’m trying to do is uncommon and unusual, and I am trying to be vague on my site until I launch some products. But people get my blog. And my blog gets me jobs.

2. I am more engaged with the business community because of my blog. I don’t live in Silicon Valley, arguably the heart of the Internet Web 2.0 world that I’m trying to play in. But by blogging, and commenting on other people’s blogs (and have them commenting on mine), I am able to get involved in the conversation in a way that I wouldn’t be able to be involved if I wasn’t saying something. This recent post about women technology start-up founders sparked conversation from lots of interesting folks, including two who I really admire: Sarah Lacy, who released her first book last week: Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0; and Penelope Trunk, who I mention all the time in this blog and who is really my blogging idol, if there is such a thing.

3. My family and friends read my blog. Not everyone I know reads my blog, but the people who do have a better understanding of what I’m doing. I talked to my dad last night, and he told me that he follows what I’m up to with my business through the blog. And my Aunt Mary told me that she feels like she is more connected to me because she reads what I’m up to and thinking about at work. I’m glad that my dad and aunt are reading. When I go home to visit this weekend, they won’t look at me with blank stares when I talk about my business and how things are going. I like that.

4. Blogging helps me be more creative. I love writing, I always have, so the process of coming up with a topic and writing about it helps to get all of my creativity churning. I find that the process of writing a blog post often helps me think of new things to work on for my business, and often helps me discover new business models and stuff that’s out there that I wouldn’t otherwise have found – like Gary Vaynerchuk and Wine Library TV. If you’re not watching, you should be.

5. When I write a blog post, things happen. I’ve noticed this past week that my email from random people has slowed down, my traffic stats are a bit stagnant and I feel generally down about my business. This is a normal feeling for entrepreneurs to have on occassion, but I realize now that posting to my blog helps to lessen this. Because when I blog, I reconnect with my community, get support from the other entrepreneurs out there, and things happen. And it’s that thrill of activity that keeps me going when things get hard with the business, which happens all the time.

It turns out that I learned a bigger lesson this week than just the one on productivity – I realized just how important my blog is to my business. So if you have a blog, keep writing! If you don’t have a blog, go get one today. And then check back in three months to let me know how it changed your business (or life). I know it will.

Photo by Editor B

Social networking in the enterprise will be tough to pull off

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I am a couple of days behind on this story; I am just reading about Forrester Research’s report on the growth of enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies. According to the report:

“Enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will grow strongly over the next five years, reaching $4.6 billion globally by 2013, with social networking, mashups, and RSS capturing the greatest share.”

2.0It’s interesting that social networking is going to be the area of biggest spending for enterprises in the next five years. But this raises a red flag for me. Having worked at big media companies that have the largest technology companies as their clients, I have watched a lot of enterprises (at least in the technology space) try to implement the latest and greatest technologies somewhat unsuccessfully. And I am incredibly skeptical that enterprises are going to be able to successfully implement social networking into their sites.

One of the main factors for social networking to be successful is a big community and affinity – and I’m not sure that the majority of enterprises have the audience to foster a strong social network.

But with that skepticism said, I think that it’s really great that enterprises are going to be trying to implement this stuff. Some of them will undoubtedly be wildly successful, pushing Web 2.0 technologies to get better and bigger and more scalable.

Photo by fffriendly

Rubel's ramblings on Web 2.0 are getting old – and more dramatic (if possible)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I don’t personally know Steve Rubel, but I do read his blog, and enjoy his perspective on things. As a former technology editor, I realize the fine line that PR folks (or people who are senior vice presidents at the world’s largest PR companies) have to walk with journalists, as Rubel experienced first hand when he pissed off Jim Louderback by posting a negative comment about PC Magazine on Twitter earlier this year.

However, I have to say that the recent over-the-top posting by Rubel about the death of Web 2.0 – all stemming from his post that featured the image of a drunk kool-aid guy – is getting out of hand. Not because of the point he is making, but because of the terrible turns of phrase that he is using to stir up drama. Here is a small sampling:

-The Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid (10/29)

-Advertisers, Only You Can Save Web 2.0 (10/31)

-Five Simple Sobriety Steps for Web 2.0 Kool Aid Boozers (11/5)

-Help Wanted: Warm Bodies That Can Spell Web 2.0 (11/13)

It was this last post that pushed me over the edge. Not because of the point he was making or even the title. But because of this quote:

“I will leave this to you to decide if this is a sign of a bubble or not. However, on the surface, it all looks very reminiscent of a bygone era. To quote Prince, ‘Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999.’ “

I can’t believe he pulled out Prince.

One thing I do have to say, though – hire Rubel to do your company’s PR. He’s clearly demonstrated a talent for finding a successful angle and going with it. These posts have been incredibly popular.

Globalization, the Internet & Montreal

Monday, September 24th, 2007


Montreal flagThis summer, my husband Chris and I took a vacation from our home north of Boston to Montreal. When we were preparing to go, I asked a number of people who had traveled there in the past if it would be a big deal that neither of us spoke French. They all told us that it would not be a problem, that everyone in Montreal speaks both French and English. They described the Canadian city as being “very European” but said it was accessible, that we wouldn’t have any trouble traveling there even with our complete lack of French-language comprehension.

After hearing their reassurances, I admit that I didn’t think that Montreal was going to be much different than the United States. So I was surprised when we got to the city. The language wasn’t a barrier, exactly, but it was a differentiator. Although everyone I spoke to in Montreal did speak English, it was usually evident that they all would prefer to be speaking French. Every street name, sign, menu and all the directions that we came across were in French (although sometimes there was an English translation). And there were other subtle issues that made us feel like we were away – the food, the fashions, and the intangible but definite feel of the town that was so, well, different.

For me, our experience in Montreal served to highlight how hard it is to “go global.” I don’t mean this in a technical sense, because it isn’t difficult to set up a Web site that will reach an international audience. What I’m referring to is the ability to create an experience on the Internet that feels local to an international audience. That is very difficult indeed.

Certainly this isn’t a new challenge, and there are some companies that have been working on their international Internet strategies for years. The Global by Design blog has a great analysis of  the top 10 global sites. This list is comprised of both Internet companies (Google and Wikipedia) as well as more old-school technology companies (Cisco Systems and Phillips).  Along with these leaders, there are a number of Web 2.0 companies that are beginning to effectively reach into global markets. Flickr, the community-based photo sharing site, offers eight language options along the footer of every page. The site also greets its users with a welcome in a different language every time they come (today my page says “Shalom 16thletter! Now you know how to greet people in Hebrew!”) in an effort to make the global community “feel” part of its users’ everyday experience. Myspace.com announced in late 2006 that it would be extending its site internationally, and they now offer international options as part of each users’ account settings to allow people to customize their local experience.

But even though most companies have globalization top-of-mind when building their sites, it is still a challenge in the details. In this post from Angela Randall on allfacebook – the unofficial facebook blog, she lists the subtle issues that make Facebook annoying for her to use in Australia. Her complaints include issues such as the seasons (which are different in the Southern hemisphere), states (international states aren’t included in Facebook) and study levels (Australia calls different levels by different terms than are used in the U.S.). All of these issues create enough dissonance for her to write, “Yeah, we know Facebook was developed in the US and has evolved from there but it’s time to extend some of the usability to international users.”

Ikea logoAnd another example that I would offer up is Ikea. The Swedish furniture retailer is perhaps one of the most successful global sites today – the company’s home page features a list of countries from which to choose to customize my Web experience, and they do a good job when I arrive at the United States version of the Web site. But in a subtle way, perhaps because of that initial global landing page or maybe because of the slightly different design style that is the signature of the company and permeates the site, I am constantly reminded that this is not a U.S. company. This leads to the feeling that I am not “at home” on the site. It isn’t 100% comfortable and familiar.

And this is the heart of the matter – what does it mean that I don’t feel at home on the site because it isn’t 100% comfortable? That feeling, that experience – it’s not quantifiable or measurable by any scientific methods or usability testing. And it is just this type of intangible that we have to get right in order to effectively “go global” on a local level. And it is also what makes the process so difficult.

~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1432924547/

The difficulty of finding a good domain name

Monday, September 17th, 2007

It wasn’t long ago that registering a domain name was relatively easy. In 2002, I helped found a start-up company that built a network of B2B Web sites focused on niche IT topics. At the time, we registered approximately 100 domain names with the letters “IQ” at the end – GraphicsIQ, DocumentIQ, etc. – and it was a straightforward process to buy and compile the entire network of domain names. Very rarely would I do a DNS lookup and find that one of the domains was not available.

Things have changed. I’m in the process of launching another new company, and in trying to name the different pieces (the company, my blog) it’s been difficult to find domain names to match. MSNBC has an article that provides some good background on why the current domain name market is so tough for someone who wants to register a domain name. For instance, at the end of first quarter 2007, at least 128 million domain names had been registered worldwide, a 31% increase over the previous year. The buying and selling of domain names is currently a $2 billion industry, and it’s predicted to hit $4 billion by 2010. This is a market that’s growing quickly. And it’s making a lot of people money.

In fact, the Internet domain name business has proven to be incredibly profitable. I loved this article about Kevin Ham. Especially interesting was the story of how he made a deal with the government of Cameroon to reap a profit from all the domain names that end in .cm, the country code for Cameroon. The result of his deal is that anytime someone mistypes a Web address and omits the letter o, Kevin Ham makes money. (This domain name glitch has reportedly been resolved, but I’m not so sure – I just typed in a .cm domain name using IE, it appeared that I was taken to one of the Ham sites.)

The growth of the domain name market and the ability to make significant amounts of money trading in domain names is only one factor that has made it difficult to find a domain name. But one result of the struggle is the Web 2.0 company name phenomena, where, as one blog writer put it, You’ve got to be hip, trendy, cutting-edge. In short, you’ve got to come up with a word that makes no sense to anybody, anywhere. Like Jookster, Meebo, or Squidoo.” Just take a look at the company directory on TechCrunch to see this in action. In one small section of “companies that begin with the letter s” the following companies are listed, all in a row: Scanr, scanscout, sclipo, scooplive, scoopt, Scouta.

And this brings me back around to my dilemma – trying to come up with a company name that also had a domain name that wasn’t yet registered. I got lucky – PureIncubation.com was available. And after quite a bit of deliberation, I hit upon 16thletter.com for my blog. Another stroke of luck – sixteenthletter.com was also available.

 

~  View from today’s blog post:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1398574773/