Home Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 14-20 Feb 2005

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 14-20 Feb 2005

A look back at the week that was in the world of Web 2.0. This week: Google’s AutoLinks feature, IE7, NY Times buys About.com, more Big Media blogging coverage, Bloglines hacks.

AutoLinks and Annotation

Ever since Google made it big, many people have been looking for a chance to pin the
‘evil’ label on them – especially as one of their company philosophies is to
‘do no evil’. This week some folks pounced on Google for
adding an AutoLink feature
to its Google
. The issue? It has similarities to a controversial old Microsoft feature
called SmartTags. According to Google, AutoLink is this:

“The online review of a great new restaurant has the place’s address but no map. You
could type the restaurant’s street, city, and ZIP code into the search box, but why
bother, when clicking the Toolbar’s AutoLink button will automatically create a link to
an online map (US addresses only)? AutoLink can also link package tracking numbers to
delivery status, VIN numbers (US) to vehicle history, and publication ISBN numbers to
Amazon.com listings.”

What’s getting folks riled up is that AutoLinks enables Google to create links to
their own content, using your webpage as the context. According to CNet News:

“…trademark attorneys and security experts say that AutoLink could face problems,
because Google modifies the underlying HTML of a Web page to deliver the added

There’s a beauty of a conspiracy theory attached to this too. Slashdot explains:

“Jeff Reynar – was the lead SmartTag Program Manager while at MS and is reportedly now
a Google Product Manager who’s being credited as AutoLink’s creator.”

The most interesting thing about this for me is the annotation angle.
Annotation has long been a desired feature for web browsers – e.g. the W3C’s
browser/editor Amaya has extensive annotation
features. Anil Dash
is one person keen on annotation in this manner – he suggested on his blog (also quoted by CNet) that “once your HTML page gets to my machine, it’s mine to rip, mix and

Is That IE7 In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?

Speaking of browsers… the much anticipated Internet Explorer 7 was announced by Microsoft
this week. Only trouble is, there’s little evidence of innovation. The upgrade
seems to be mostly about improved security. Also the beta IE7 won’t be available until
“this summer” (US summer that is). So, like, what’s to get excited about? Or as I
mentioned in Scoble’s comments
section: “What, no read/write browser? No RSS aggregation? Where’s the innovation,

To be fair, maybe there will be some innovation in the backend – as Jeremy Wright
. But I’d like to see some real ground broken, for a change…

NY Times Buys About.com – Gains Web 2.0 Street Cred

The New York Times announced they will buy About.com for
$410 million
. There was a great meme going round the week leading up this: About.com
represents blogging 1.0, whereas the likes of weblogsinc and Gawker are blogging 2.0. My
take on that theory is
. Nevertheless lots of people think the NY Times deal was a good one for the venerable newspaper. My
picks for in-depth analysis: Susan
, paidcontent.org
(plus audio
), VC Fred
, John Battelle
(great headline too! “About The New York Times: Deep Into Web 2.0 Now”), Jay
NY Times article

Key Quotes:

, CEO of New York Times Digital: “The model we’ve acquired is a web 2.0
; it’s not a centralized model, it’s a decentralized model where the content is
created by passionate individuals who have a competency and a desire to reach the public
and that scales into many, many categories and it scales potentially
(emphasis mine)

Fred Wilson nails
it: “If the content that is created on the edges starts to show up in the middle and the
content that is created in the middle starts to show up on the edges, that will be a big

John Battelle: “I think
microcontent is key to winning in the Web 2.0 publishing world.” [and] “As Martin told me
when I pinged him after the deal: ‘We’re deep into Web 2.0 now.'”

: “The second life of content, made possible by search, is of critical
importance to journalists whose work is on the Web. (That’s almost all journalists.)”

Big Media Blogging Coverage – Chicken Bloggers Outed

Ahhh, a warm fuzzies Associated
Press article
about SixApart: “The couple’s odd chemistry cooked up Six Apart Ltd., a
startup that has helped popularize the “blogging” craze, with millions of people
worldwide maintaining online personal journals that dissect everything from politics to


In other news Weblogs Inc was named as one of
BusinessWeek’s Five
Net Names to Watch in ’05
, which founder Jason Calacanis was
obviously chuffed about.

Commenting on the above two stories, Slashdot notes: “Business Press Pays Attention To Blog Industry”.

Techy Web 2.0 Highlights

Rather than a single techy post, it was two bits of Web 2.0 hackery that caught my
attention this week. Firstly, Erik Benson
managed to convert his entire weblog into a Bloglines API-powered site:

“I made a folder in Bloglines that has all of the RSS feeds around the web that have
stuff that I’ve written/done. Then I used the Bloglines Web Service to get an aggregated,
normalized feed of all my content in one stream…”

He explains
how he did it
in a later post (nb: I noted in the comments that it’d be cool to make
this available to us non-programmers via an easy-to-use web service).

Speaking of Bloglines (which I nearly always do
in these weekly wrap-ups), Joshua Tyler has created a neat app called Chameleon, built using the Bloglines
Web Services. It’s basically an alternative interface to Bloglines and has some nifty
personalization features, such as keeping track of “which feeds you read, how often, and
when”. I’ve had a play round with it and it’s a great example of value-add using a publicly available API.


That’s it for another week. As always, I value your feedback. Please leave a comment
or send me an email at readwriteweb AT gmail DOT com.

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