Home Weekly Wrapup: Facebook vs Twitter, State of the Web, Google Public Data, And More…

Weekly Wrapup: Facebook vs Twitter, State of the Web, Google Public Data, And More…

In this edition of the Weekly Wrapup, our newsletter summarizing the top stories of the week, we look at how and why Google is making public data searchable, provide a succinct update on the state of the Web, review Facebook’s latest efforts to open some of its data, question why Facebook is trying to be like Twitter, and more. We also introduce you to our new channel ReadWriteStart, which is dedicated to profiling startups and entrepreneurs.

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Web Trends

Google Begins to Make Public Data Searchable

Google just announced its first foray into making public data searchable and viewable in graph form. The company is starting with population and unemployment data from around the US but promises to make far more data sets searchable in the future. The potential significance of making aggregate data about our world easy to visualize, cross reference and compare can’t be overstated.

Most of us understand the world based on stories we’ve put together from our own lived experience. Another way to understand things is by finding patterns drawn from everyone’s experience in aggregate. Journalists often find big patterns and then zoom in to particular life stories that exemplify those general trends but make them easier for us to relate to as individuals. Those stories then help move public opinion in favor of policies that aim to change the general trends. That’s just one way that easily searchable public data can be very, very important.

Mapping the Current Web Transition

A year ago, I wrote a magnum opus three-part post that attempted to chronicle some of the underlying changes happening in the economy and how this would impact web technology ventures. “Useful, but too long” was a recurring comment. So, here is a one-year update, much shorter. And hopefully a bit clearer, seeing as we are further into this transition.

The Grossly Over-Simplified Web Transition Chart

Despite New Openness, Facebook Remains Fundamentally Closed

What are people saying on Facebook about the swine flu? Facebook knows, but they won’t tell you. The company made a major move this week to open up some of the data on the site in some interesting ways – but the conversation on Facebook remains fundamentally closed due to extensive privacy limitations and the company’s disinterest in overcoming those limitations in an appropriate way.

Ask Twitter what people are saying on that site about the swine flu and you can get the full story to parse until you’re blue in the face. The new Facebook openness is like interoperability between different telephone handset manufacturers but conversation remains closed between individuals. Conversation on Facebook is no more easy to analyze today than it was yesterday; that’s the real opportunity here, not just the ability to send and receive Facebook messages through different applications.

Facebook Has Twitter Envy – But Why?

It is no secret that Facebook has Twitter envy. The number one social networking site is not content to win over rival MySpace. It is not satisfied being far ahead of Google on the social web. Facebook now has Twitter firmly in its crosshairs.

True, Twitter traffic has gone through the roof. True, Twitter is the new killer app, the new cool kid on the block. And yes, even Oprah now loves Twitter. But does this mean Facebook should be worried? Well, maybe yes, but likely no, because Twitter and Facebook are two very different services.

The Future of Advertising is Shakable and Location-Based

Last month, you may remember having heard about a special iPhone ad from Dockers. Its claim to fame was that it was the world’s first “shakable” ad. Called “Shakedown to Get Down,” the ad prompted users to shake the phone in order to set the on-screen freestyle dancer into motion. The dancer, of course, wore Dockers. It was certainly a clever attention-getter at the time, something that had everyone talking. But this ad wasn’t just a one-off experimental project – it was representative of the start of a new trend and one that’s going to change advertising as we know it.

Opera Reports Explosive Mobile Web Growth Worldwide

If you need any more proof of how fast the mobile web is growing, just look at the latest numbers coming out of Opera this week. The company is reporting a 157% increase in usage of their Opera Mini web browser from March 2008 to March 2009. And the mobile web isn’t just booming here in the Western world – it’s also experiencing rapid growth in places like Latin America and Nigeria, too.


A Word from Our Sponsors

We’d like to thank ReadWriteWeb’s sponsors, without whom we couldn’t bring you all these stories every week!

  • Mashery is the leading provider of API management services.
  • Smub, a social bookmarking app for the iPhone.
  • Web 3.0 Conference, semantic web and linked data, May 19-20 NYC
  • Semantic Technology Conference, the future of the Web, IT, search, business.
  • Crowd Science gives you detailed visitor demographics.
  • hakia is a semantic search engine.
  • Rackspace provides dedicated server hosting.
  • Socialtext brings you 5 Best Practices for Enterprise Collaboration Success
  • Calais brings semantic functionality into your website or app.
  • Aplus provides web hosting services for small business hosting needs.
  • MediaTemple provides hosting for RWW.
  • SixApart provides our publishing software MT4.


Our new channel ReadWriteStart, sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark, is dedicated to profiling startups and entrepreneurs.

Union Square Ventures: The Best of the Valley in New York (RWS Interview)

Albert Wenger is one of three partners at USV. Fred Wilson is the well-known one because of his blog, and Brad Burnham is Fred’s original partner from when USV was founded. Albert Wenger became a partner in June 2007, having worked with USV in his role as President of Delicious, and is on the Board of Etsy. One venture that Albert led for USV was 10Gen, and we look at that in this post. We started by asking a question we have been asking of all investors: “How is early-stage financing doing during this downturn compared to the last one in 2001/2002?”


Web Products

Consolidation in the EBook Market: Amazon Acquires Stanza

Lexcycle, the company behind Stanza, a popular eBook reader for the iPhone, just announced that it has been acquired by Amazon. Amazon, of course, also just released Kindle for iPhone, which is now one of the most popular mobile eBook readers. According to Lexcycle, the company does not plan to make any changes to the Stanza app or user experience because of this acquisition, and Lexcycle will continue its relationships with its content partners. Neither Stanza nor Amazon disclosed the price of the acquisition.

A Mobile App That Saves Lives, Literally

DataDyne‘s EpiSurveyor program, funded by the United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation, has been implementing mobile technology to track and contain disease in developing nations since 2007.

In a recent and potentially devastating polio outbreak in Kenya, EpiSurveyor’s new mobile platform was used to track virus carriers and immunize affected children. The campaign targeted around 2 million Kenyan children. Mobile tech will be used exclusively for new nationwide initiatives in children’s healthcare, and the World Health Organization has made EpiSurveyor the standard for data collection in sub-Saharan Africa. Screenshots and video included below.

Amazon’s Web Services Go To School

Amazon just announcedAWS in Education, a new program that will give students and educators free access to Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) for work on research projects, class assignments, or other entrepreneurial projects on campus. Grants for researchers will be offered four times a year, and educators can request Teaching Grants, which would give every student in a teacher’s class $100 in AWS credits. Students who are working on entrepreneurial class projects can also apply for grants.

IBM Launches World’s Geekiest Social Network, My developerWorks

Many a neutech hipster looked askance at the huge IBM-plex situated front and center at this year’s Web 2.0 conference.

No one could deny the hardware/software/services giant’s place in tech history (their first plant is now almost 100 years old), but what does it have to do with the glassy, streamy, widgety world that tech had become? IBM staff on-site had many answers for that oft-repeated question, which was usually phrased, roughly, “What the hell are you guys doing here?”



Who’s Getting Hired in Tech? Q1 Numbers from ReadWriteHire

Rapleaf’s Auren Hoffman says that hiring is harder in a downturn because the noise goes up but the quality stays the same. That’s a pretty strong statement to make, but if it’s true then it’s all the more remarkable to see which companies are making hires now.

Our site ReadWriteHire covers new hires in tech and new media. We’ve just published our aggregate numbers for the first 3 months of 2009. Who’s hiring? Software and IT companies, social media and social networking companies and marketing and advertising firms.


That’s a wrap for another week! Enjoy your weekend everyone.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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