Archive for September, 2008

Socialtext co-founder: Enterprise Twitter isn’t enough

30 Sep

Enterprise social software company Socialtext is releasing Socialtext 3.0, with the features we previewed here in April: the corporate social network Socialtext People, and a revised home page for business users called Socialtext Dashboard. These functions, plus a revised and streamlined user interface, will be embedded in the Socialtext suite, along with a new feature that records a running stream of who's doing what and where on the system, which users can subscribe to from their profile pages or their dashboards. It's almost, but not quite, Socialtext's own Twitter for enterprise customers. Missing is the capability for users to post free-form, Twitter-like items into the stream. That function is coming later, according to Ross Mayfield, chairman, president, and co-founder of Socialtext.

What's the hold-up? Mayfield showed me a prototype business nanoblog called Socialtext Signals, as if to prove that the company could make such an app. (It didn't take long, he admitted). But he said of the app, "We're going to throw it away"--the code, that is--and start over to build a more robust business nanoblog that offers what people in a workplace really need.

You can't have it yet.

Mayfield says that just giving users a Twitter clone doesn't solve the dual problems of information overload on the one hand, and personal isolation at work on the other. He believes that the most important communication between workers in a company is what they are doing. "When I work," Mayfield says, "I'm sharing knowledge as a byproduct of getting work done. In the enterprise, what someone does is more important than what they say."

So the new Socialtext will let users subscribe to wiki pages and to the activity stream of other users, to see when files are edited, and when tasks are accepting and finishing. The product also displays comments left on wiki pages. But the feature that lets users ask free-form questions to their workgroup is missing.

Mayfield told me Socialtext will eventually release a standalone, desktop version of Signals that lets users "Twitter" to their co-workers. A private beta of the app is entering testing now.

I'm not sure Socialtext's delay is due to a lag in development or if it's strategic. I suspect the latter. Mayfield, who speaks in somewhat Delphic riddles regarding the nature of work, says, "The updates box (in Socialtext Signals) is less about trying to have conversations. It's about surfacing conversations that people are having in workspaces."

I'm glad to see a contemporary groupware company like Socialtext taking the longer view of the Twitter concept than upstarts like Yammer and In this space, I've been a fan of Socialcast more than those apps, because it's based on the larger vision of integrating information from numerous group applications. That's what Socialtext is doing, too, and it's the right thing for business. "The end state for this kind of application is a connected collaboration platform, not standalone microblogging, which is relatively shallow," Mayfield said. But I still believe that the company should hustle up and get its Twitter-alike product into the hands of its customers. Not everyone appreciates the long view.

Socialtext 3.0 gets a social network and a quasi-Twitter function.

(Credit: Socialtext)

Related Webware reviews:
Yammer: A 'Twitter for the enterprise' is smarter than Yammer
Socialcast is FriendFeed for your business

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Take to the sky by =zulu-eos on deviantART

30 Sep


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Carbon Nanotube Manufacturing Breakthrough Could Mean Bye-Bye Steel [Nanotubes]

30 Sep

Carbon nanotubes have been popping on Giz for a while, touted as one of the next wonder-materials—but a new development in their manufacture means they may not remain "future technology" for long. In fact the work of a team at CSIRO and the University of Texas at Dallas means that commercial-scale production of sheets of carbon nanotube "textile" is possible at up to seven meters per minute.

And these are no ordinary textiles either: they're transparent and way stronger than a sheet of steel. The team's technique involves chemically-growing "forests" of nanotubes that self-assemble, and is reported in Science currently. If it proves true we may see nanotube materials replacing metals like steel pretty soon—though I'm not sure how many people would balk at flying in a plane with wings you can partly see through. [Physorg]

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Facebook 2.0 Now Available on iTunes [Facebook 2.0]

29 Sep

Hey social networking fans, Facebook 2.0 for the iPhone has been released and is now up for download at the iTunes app store. With the newest version, you can get notifications, friend requests full news feeds, news feed comments, your entire inbox, and photo capabilities. Now you can check up on how all your Finance major friends are doing from on the road. Status Update: Not very well. [iPhone Savior]

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Acquia Debuts Drupal for Free

29 Sep

Acquia has announced the availability of Acquia Drupal, a free and commercially supported distribution of the popular Drupal open source social publishing system. They also unveiled the Acquia Network, which offers subscription-based access to technical support and remote network services that simplify the development and operation of Drupal Web sites. Entry level subscriptions to the Acquia Network will be free of charge through the end of the year.

For those that aren’t overly familiar with Drupal, it’s an open source web development and content management platform that publishes, manages and organizes a wide variety of content on websites. Tens of thousands of people and organizations are using Drupal.

With the release of Acquia Drupal with its streamlined packaging of Drupal and a support system via the Acquia Network, there will definitely be a tremendous increase in Drupal developers and websites powered by this Drupal.

All subscribers to the Acquia Network will gain access to the Acquia Network’s subscriber forums, remote network services such as software update notifications, uptime monitoring, Mollom spam blocking, and Acquia Drupal documentation.

What all this means is that many more companies, especially enterprise class entities, will be much more willing to dip their toes in the Drupal pool now that there’s a commercial grade package available that includes tech support. If all this sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking about Linux and how similar its path has been to the corporate world. At one point, only extreme geeks used Linux, until some big names like IBM and Novell started proving technical support plans with their Linux offerings. That allowed larger companies to try Linux much the same way they will try Drupal thanks to the Acquia partnership and support offering.

It seems like the natural evolutionary progression for all open source projects to go from a handful of geek’s using it in their basement to the corporate enterprise once a commercial package with tech support is distributed. It will be interesting to see what kind of websites and social networks are born from this marriage between Acquia and Drupal.

Related Articles at Mashable | All That's New on the Web:

Drupal Developers Acquia Raise $7 Million
Drupal 5.0 Launches Today
Drupal Version Six Released
New Project Aims to Bring Drupal to Facebook
KickApps SSO Now Available for Drupal
Chris Pirillo’s Gnomepal - Drupal For The Masses
7 Ways To Create Your Own Digg Clone

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Magnifying Solar Panels' Energy As Cheap as Coal, Start-up Claims

29 Sep


If you've ever set a leaf aflame with a magnifying glass, you'll understand the basics of the photovoltaic cells that may finally make renewable energy affordable enough for everyone.

"The world runs on cheap energy," said Paul Sidio of Sunrgi. "We want to be the Wal-Mart of solar power."

Sunrgi says it developed a way to make solar energy as cheap as coal using panels that focus the sun onto photovoltaic cells equipped with innovative cooling systems.

The company claims its magnifying glasses intensify the sun's rays 2000 times onto photovoltaic cells, which increases the heat to 3300 degrees Fahrenheit. While such heat will fry silicon in no time, the company says its electronics actually stay just about six degrees above ambient temperature thanks to special heat convection and generous spacing of the electronics.

Topping off the design, the units track the sun's trajectory to maximize energy collection throughout the day.

"We generate six or seven times greater power than flat panel, non-tracking solar panels," Sidio said.

Sunrgi is showing off a prototype of the cell at the Wired NextFest pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park, where the free future tech expo is open to the public through October 12.

In keeping with their desire to make solar energy as cheap as possible, the company designed its electronics so that they can be built like a computer's motherboard – meaning its innards can be built on any PC assembly line in the world.

That leads to a projected cost of 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour over a twenty-year period in the American southwest.

That's cheaper than power created by almost all traditional energy sources.

Solar energy has always been long on hope but short on economic competitiveness. But if Sunrgi can make good on those promises and prices once its production design is finished and UL approval is won, pulling electricity out of the sun's rays could become more than a well-meaning indulgence.

For those of you excited about covering your roof with Sunrgi's technology, you may have to wait a while.

The company says it plans to first sell to utilities and large companies.

See Also:

Images: Sunrgi

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29 Sep

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by Bruno Di Bernado

29 Sep

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the door on the nature

29 Sep

"the door on the nature"
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29 Sep

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