Posts Tagged ‘web’

7 Great JavaScript Resources

03 Jul

As browsers and server-side platforms advance, and libraries new and old grow and mature, JavaScript evolves as well. Staying at the top of your game is important. As a JavaScript developer, you’ll need to keep up with the latest news and learn new skills.

We’ve put together a list of seven of our favorite JavaScript resources to help save you time and energy along the way. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we think you’ll find the sites below both informative and beneficial. If you know of other great resources, feel free to share them in the comments.

1. Mozilla Developer Network

The MDN has become the de facto resource for JavaScript documentation, and is an excellent resource for beginners and seasoned developers alike. Here you'll find the official and complete JavaScript reference, as well as useful guides, tutorials and articles covering everything from the basics of how JavaScript works to its best practices and design patterns. The MDN also has a thorough DOM reference, which we highly recommend checking out as well.


JQAPI is an alternative to the official API documentation. If you're a client-side JavaScript developer, chances are you probably have used, or at some point will use, jQuery in at least one of your projects. Whether your use is occasional or daily, you'll want to keep up with the latest development and new features in JavaScript's most popular library. Each new release improves security and performance via a slick, responsive and intuitive interface for quick browsing and searching of jQuery documentation. The UI here really is top-notch, and as a bonus, there's an offline version available for download.

3. JS Fiddle

JS Fiddle is a JavaScript pastebin on steroids. Create, share, execute and test your JavaScript right in the browser. This is a great tool for collaborative debugging or for sharing code snippets. It's also a fun way to perform quick experiments and test out new ideas. Simply combine your JavaScript, HTML and CSS, then click the "Run" button to see the results. You can also validate your JavaScript code against JSLint and save your Fiddle for use later, or share with others. JS Fiddle provides a number of useful features, like the ability to load up common frameworks automatically (to test your jQuery or MooTools code, for example) and as-you-type syntax highlighting, just like you'd get by writing code in your favorite IDE.

4. Eloquent JavaScript

This free ebook is an introduction to programming and the JavaScript language, written by developer and tech writer Marjin Haverbeke. The book reads much like a tutorial, and introduces a number of concepts and real-world applications in a clean, concise style. Interactive examples are also available, which means you can read about various techniques. You'll also get a chance to see them in action, and tinker with the code yourself. We found a lot of positive reviews for this book, so if you're new to JavaScript, this is definitely a book worth checking out.

5. Douglas Crockford's JavaScript Videos

An undisputed expert in JavaScript, Douglas Crockford is Yahoo's JavaScript architect and is one of the individuals instrumental in the planning, development and future growth of the language. The videos and transcripts on the YUI blog derive from a series of talks given by Mr. Crockford about the history of JavaScript, its future and its use today. Though the series is now about a year and a half old, we still think you'll find the videos informative. We certainly recommend watching them for a better understanding of the language, where it's been, how it works and where it's going.

6. How To Node

Not all JavaScript development takes place in the browser. NodeJS is one of the web's most popular server-side JavaScript frameworks. Whether you're a seasoned Node developer or someone who's looking to add server-side JavaScript to his repertoire, How To Node offers a great collection of articles on NodeJS development. This community-driven site offers an excellent repository of Node tutorials that's proven itself useful on a number of occasions. No Node developer toolkit would be complete without it.

7. DailyJS

We've looked at some great tools and reference material, covered tutorials from our favorite libraries and frameworks and touched on both client and server-side JavaScript development. However, we're always searching for something new. DailyJS is a popular JavaScript-focused blog that brings you the latest and greatest JavaScript news, offers tips and techniques, and reviews libraries, plug-ins and services for JavaScript developers. If you're just itching for your daily dose of JavaScript goodness, DailyJS has you covered.

More About: design, dev, features, javascript, List, Lists, web design, Web Development

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Web browser market share: Modern browser edition

01 Apr

March was a big month for Web browsers, with major new versions of both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Both browsers have been suffering in the browser wars; Internet Explorer has steadily declined from its near-total monopolization of the browser market, and Firefox's growth has faltered, most likely due to strong competition from Google's Chrome.

With Internet Explorer 9 out for just two and a half weeks, and Firefox 4 available for only nine days, however, not much has changed so far. Microsoft's browser continues to shed market share, dropping 0.85 points to 55.92 percent. Firefox is essentially unchanged, at 21.80 percent. These new browsers may yet be influential in encouraging people to switch—but at the moment, it looks like the only people adopting them are users of older versions.

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10 Useful Scripts of Calendar for Web Developers

17 Mar
Most popular blogs and personal websites decorated by beautiful calendars. A beautiful calendar in website is so essential to track back new, specified and important older information’s. This article will show you some useful scripts to use in your blog or website. Are you looking to contribute to our design community? Suggest a link to [...]

When Will the Web Transform Education?

08 Mar


Why haven’t we seen the internet transform education yet?

Music, movies, publishing, software and basically every industry reliant on information is being turned upside down. Having collections of tens of thousands of songs isn’t uncommon now. Being able to watch any movie ever made is easy and getting news minutes within it happening is almost an expectation.

Why, then, do most people who want to learn something seriously still go to school? Why has the web seemingly left higher education untouched?

Will the Web Kill School?

At first the idea seems absurd. Of course people will still go to school, how could they not?

But how many people would have properly guessed that record labels would be crippled or that amateur bloggers would be threatening the job security of experienced journalists? Just because something has been a tradition doesn’t mean it’s immortal.

The problem isn’t technical limitations. Many universities already offer online courses. While distance education classes are often shabbier than classroom productions, that’s an issue of scale, not a fundamental limit on the technology.

Some would argue that the personal touch is necessary for universities. But why? What percentage of student time is spent actually mutually interacting with a professor? Even 10% seems generous.

In that case, why couldn’t the other 90% be produced by the absolute best lecturers or textbook writers. This would make the interactive teaching role the equivalent of the music industry’s concerts, unscalable by the web, but ultimately only a minority of actual consumption.

Imagine if every lecture was the quality of the best TED Talks? Or every textbook had the wit and clarity of a Malcolm Gladwell bestseller? If those were truly the options, why would universities be left unscathed in an internet revolution?

Why The .COM Diploma Doesn’t Exist Yet

If any industry needs a web-based revolution, it’s education. Tuition prices have outpaced inflation here in North America, and for many that means a lot of student debt. The situation is better in Europe, but that’s in part due to taxpayers paying for tuition costs.

However if much of the information content of education were distributed online, the costs could be lowered dramatically. Fees would mostly be for testing or occasional tutoring, far less than the institutional cost of managing an entire university.

So why don’t we see .COM Diplomas with entirely online resources and only nominal fees for testing and tutoring?

I believe the reason actually has nothing to do with education itself. That is, the reason expensive higher-education institutions have been mostly unscathed by the internet has little or nothing to do with the limitations on online education, but on the other function they serve: accreditation.

Universities degrees signal good qualities. If you have one, it means you’re probably intelligent, hard working and committed enough to invest a few years of your life. It also is a good barometer of field-specific knowledge. A degree in engineering means you probably understand the basics of engineering.

So far, only universities can bestow these degrees. Sure, there are purely online education certificates, but they don’t really compare to their offline equivalents.

But if accreditation and cultural signalling is the major barrier preventing purely online higher-education, it probably won’t last. As of today, most intelligent, hard-working people are going to university because it’s what hardworking, intelligent people do. If enough of those people decide to teach themselves using high-quality online resources—employers and culture will change which signals they look for.

How The Web Will Change Education (For the Better)

I don’t see anything fundamentally unscalable with most of what we consider education. Lectures? YouTube. Textbooks? Kindle. Group participation? Online forums.

Testing and tutoring seem to be two areas that would be harder to scale upwards. Testing, because some personal oversight would seem necessary to prevent cheating (although universities aren’t terribly good at this currently). Tutoring, because one-on-one teaching is still valuable even if in-class lectures could largely be replaced with streaming video.

With scalability, the cost structure of education changes. If an education resource will be viewed by millions of people, instead of the hundred or so present in a class, that means fixed costs can go up and prices can go down.

Fixed cost investments in education materials can go up when it costs nothing to provide another copy. Microsoft purportedly spent around $6 billion to develop Vista. And even with monopoly pricing, one edition costs only around $200. Imagine if the same ratios were used for classroom lectures.

Some critics might object that YouTube banality or Twitter attention-spans would infect online education, rendering it impotent against traditional formats. This is ridiculous. The reason little serious online education exists is because it currently lacks accreditation. Learning is hard and without recognition, I’ll probably opt for something easy.

But accreditation is about cultural expectations. If more smart, hard-working people opt to teach themselves online, employers and cultural norms will shift.

How Will Universities Be Affected?

I predict that the most prestigious schools will be hurt the least. Harvard, Yale and MIT will still be incredible brand names, even in a new education environment. Because of their selectivity and networking power of alumni, it may be that the most expensive schools offer the most value outside of the education itself.

Instead, I’m guessing that the low to medium prestige schools will be hurt the most. When online education becomes a radically more affordable version, perhaps with better quality instruction, materials and testing, it will be harder to justify tuition prices.

Looking online it seems as if many of the schools are already beginning to recognize this. MIT, Stanford and Harvard all have completely free, online versions of some of their popular classes. Yet I haven’t seen anything like this from less prestigious universities.

If we see a mass exodus from universities, what will that mean for research? Universities currently conduct much of the advancement of science and research. Will they complete the transformation into innovation centers for the pharmaceutical or high-tech industries? Or will governments have to step in to pay more of the cost of research currently being funded by students?

Institutions May Lose, But We Will Win

As with the music industry, I suspect a lot of the impending change on education will be needlessly be focused on the loss of old institutions. Media reports the saddening decline of record labels or newspapers.

But music hasn’t died and neither has journalism. People now listen to more music than ever before. I carry my iPod with me everywhere. News may be suffering, but it seems like the lowered quality of news is due more to the industry in its death throes, trying to clasp for interest, while distributed online sources become increasingly more credible.

If education goes online, universities may suffer, but education will not. Making education cheaper, better and more accessible will probably mean more educated people, particularly from the economic classes and regions that can currently least afford it.

When, Not If

I’m confident that the internet transforming education is a question of when, not if.

My guess is that for some people, this is a radical notion. The idea that institutions existing for hundreds of years will be forcibly transformed in the next decade or two seems implausible.

But for the people who already use the internet, my guess is that this prediction seems almost tame. For many people who watch TED talks, surf Wikipedia and expect knowledge at their fingertips, it’s already happening.

As an aside, I’m going to be in Austin for SXSW from the 11th until the 15th (this weekend). If you’re going to be there and want to meet up, please let me know. If there are enough people, I’ll try to set a meet-up!

Image thanks to Fibonacci Blue

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Creating a Cartoon Character for Your Website – Will It Stick?

02 Feb


In today’s market of stiff corporate competition, it’s more important than ever to create an effective online marketing strategy. Often, this involves finding a way to set your website’s image apart from those of your top competitors.

To achieve this, some companies have created cartoon characters to represent their online identities. If executed correctly, this strategy can help retain website traffic and develop a unique corporate identity. The following are 3 examples of companies that have effectively used this cartoon character strategy.

Top 3 Cartoon Examples



Fatbugr’s cartooned website portrays a great execution of this cartoon character strategy. The website’s cartoon icon of a fat boy eating a large hamburger makes visitors feel guilty about the fast food they eat and encourages them to dig further into the website’s information.

Code Button


Code Button provides another great example of proper cartoon usage. By identifying their target market and taking a comical spin on their identity, Code Button’s developers offer a light spin on the career of coding.

Jason Reed: Web Design


Jason Reed showcases how a cartooned version of oneself can help avoid an entrepreneur from coming across as pretentious by using traditional headshots. Jason Reed’s cartoon allows website visitors to learn more about him while still maintaining a degree of mystery regarding the freelancer’s identity.



Other Examples:









Best Website Cartoon Practices

When considering creating a cartoon character for your website, there are certain best practices you should follow. By doing this, you will avoid the most common mistakes made by other companies and incorporate a successful cartoon identity. Here are the best practices to follow with this type project:

  1. Hire a Professional Designer – Whether you plan to create a cartoon version of yourself for your website or develop a unique character, hire a professional designer to complete the job. Various tutorials exist online regarding how to create a cartoon without any previous experience but the results are often less than desirable.
  2. Make it Appropriate – A major mistake of companies using website cartoon characters is that they become carried away with the cartoon’s identity. Don’t make the character over the top or completely off-base from the products you are selling. An obnoxious cartoon character will, more often than not, drive visitors away from the website rather than encourage them to read more about your services.
  3. Test the Cartoon – Before releasing the new cartoon identity to the general online public, conduct polls with a small segment of customers. This testing phase can indicate the overall response you can expect from the general public regarding the character and whether or not this is a good move for your brand identity.

Building a successful corporate identity is of utmost importance when building an online customer base. If your current corporate identity isn’t achieving the desired results, it may be time for a change. Cartoon character identities, when developed correctly, can invite potential customers into your website to learn more about the products and services you offer. If met with positive public response, you may even decide to adopt this character as your company’s long-term mascot.

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Creating a Cartoon Character for Your Website – Will It Stick?


Facebook, the Control Revolution, and the Failure of Applied Modern Cryptography

14 Jan

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was widely assumed by most tech writers and thinkers, myself included, that the Internet was a “Control Revolution” (to use the words of Andrew Shapiro, author of a book with that very title in 1999). The Internet was going to put people in control, to enable buyers to work directly with sellers, to cut out the middle man. Why? Because the Internet makes communication and commerce vastly more efficient, obviating the need for a middle man to connect us.

Fast forward to 2011, and the world is vastly more centralized than it ever was. Almost everyone’s most intimate conversations are held by four companies. And one company knows basically everything about everyone under 25.

How did we get so giddy about the Internet that we didn’t see this coming? We missed an important detail: communication and commerce became vastly more efficient for everyone, including the would-be middle-men, the would be mediators. The Internet enabled economies of scale never before imagined. So while it is possible to host your own email server, it’s a lot easier to use gmail. While it’s possible to host your own web page, post your updates to your blog, subscribe to your friends’ RSS feeds hosted at different blogs, it’s a heck of a lot easier to use Facebook. The Internet put the 1990s middle-men out of business then enabled a new breed of data mediators that provide incredibly valuable services no individual user can dream of performing on their own: apply massively parallel facial recognition to billions of photos to find that one picture of you and your best friend’s grandmother, do deep graph analysis to find your long-lost friends and suggest you connect with them, learn how to filter spam messages so efficiently (thanks to training by billions of messages received on behalf of millions of users) that the spam wars are effectively over.

The Internet has been vastly more empowering to mediators than to individuals. And so we have, in fact, a Control Revolution of a very different nature: one company, namely Facebook, is effectively shaping the future of social interactions, what’s acceptable and what’s frowned upon, what’s private and what’s not.

I say this without any value judgment, purely as an observation. Facebook is making the rules, and when the rules change in Palo Alto, 550 million people follow.

The Failure of Applied Modern Cryptography

Cryptography in the 1980s was about secrecy, military codes, etc. I’m not talking about that.

Modern Cryptography is about individuals achieving a common goal without fully trusting one another. Think of a secret-bid auction. Or an election. Or two people discovering which friends they have in common without revealing the friends they don’t have in common. In all of these cases, people come together to accomplish a common result, but they cannot fully trust one another since their incentives are not perfectly aligned: I want to win the auction by bidding only one dollar more than you, Alice wants her candidate to beat yours, and Bob would like to find out which movie stars you’re friends with even though he knows none.

Modern cryptography teaches us how to accomplish these tasks without ever trusting a third party. That’s hard to imagine if you’re not steeped in the field. But that’s what modern cryptography does: take an interaction that is easily imaginable with the help of a trusted third party that deals with each individual, and replace the trusted third-party with a beautiful mathematical dance that achieves the same end-goal. No centralization of data in one big database, no trusted dealer/counter/connector, just individuals exchanging coded messages in a particular order and obtaining a trustworthy result. Cryptographers call this secure multi-party computation.

Modern Cryptography would, if properly implemented, give us all the functionality of Facebook without the aggregation of everyone’s data in a single data center. And we couldn’t be further from this world if we tried! We are headed for a world of increased data centralization and increased reliance on trusted third parties. Because they’re vastly more efficient, have economies of scale that allow them to provide features we didn’t dream of just a few years ago, and of course because the economic incentives of becoming that trusted third party are staggering.

As a privacy advocate, and again without value judgment, I can’t imagine a more surprising consequence of a technology that was meant to empower the little guy. It is, in a word, shocking.


10 Free Online Resources for Science Teachers

16 Dec

One of the greatest ways technology can empower teachers is by helping them demonstrate concepts and by making it easier for students to learn through their own exploration and experimentation.

Because science teachers are often called upon to teach topics that are too large, too small, happen too fast, happen too slowly, require equipment that is too expensive, or has the potential to blow up a laboratory, the Internet can be particularly helpful in assisting them convey a concept.

Universities, non-profit organizations and scientists with free time have put an overwhelming number of resources for teaching science on the web. These are nine of our favorites.

1. The Periodic Table of Videos

A group of scientists based at the University of Nottingham added some character to the static periodic table of elements by creating a short video for each one.

Hydrogen, for instance, seems much more exciting after you’ve seen what happens when you hold a match to a balloon that is filled with it, and it’s easier to remember the name Darmstadtium after you have seen Darmstadt.

The group also puts out a non-YouTube version of the site for schools that have blocked the site.

2. Teach the Earth


The Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College has compiled just about every fathomable resource for geoscience educators. By serving as the portal to helpful web pages from dozens of independent project websites, the site provides visuals, classroom activities and course descriptions for everything from oceanography to “red tide and harmful algal blooms.”

3. Stellarium


Stellarium is a planetarium for your computer. Just input your location and explore the sky outside or the view from any other location. The program offers up information on stars, nebulae, planets and constellations according to 12 different cultures.

In addition to being ideal for classroom astronomy lessons, Stellarium’s open source software is also used to light up the screens of a number of real planetariums.

Even though Google Sky won’t give you a view from a specific location, it will direct you to specific galaxies, planets and stars or to a map of the moon that notes where each of the six Apollo missions landed.

4. YouTube

“What happens when you put Cesium in water?” is a question that in some cases is best answered by YouTube. YouTube’s archive of demonstrations have the advantage of being safe, clean and unlikely to catch on fire.

You’ll find experiments for most concepts just by using the search bar. But if you’re in a browsing mood, check out this list of the 100 coolest science experiments on YouTube.

Most schools that block YouTube allow access to educational alternatives like TeacherTube and School Tube.

5. NASA Education


NASA has lesson plans, videos and classroom activities for science subjects ranging from Kindergarten to university levels. The best part of this resource gold mine is that it’s easy to search by keyword or to browse by grade level, type of material or subject.

Check out the Be a Martian Game, the interactive timeline and the NASA Space Place for some smart fun.

6. Learn.Genetics


These resources for learning about genetics by the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center include interactive visualizations, 3D animations and activities. Student activities include taking a “tour” of DNA, a chromosome or a protein, building a DNA molecule, or exploring the inside of a cell.

The university is also building a sister site, Teach.Genetics, with print-and-go lesson plans and supplemental materials for some channels on the Learn.Genetics site.

7. The Concord Consortium


The Concord Consortium is a non-profit organization that helps develop technologies for math, science and engineering education. Their free, open source software is available for teachers to download to use in their classes. They include visualizations and models for a broad range of topics.

Some examples include: The Molecular Workbench, a free tool that creates interactive simulations for everything from cellular respiration to chemical bonding. Geniquest introduces students to cutting-edge genetics using dragons as their model organisms; Evolution Readiness is a project designed to teach fourth graders about evolution concepts using simulations; and The ITSI-SU Project provides lab-based activities involving probes, models and simulations.

To search for classroom activities across all projects, teachers can use the site’s Activity Finder to browse by subject, grade level or keyword.

8. The ChemCollective


The ChemCollective, a project that is funded by the National Science Foundation, allows students to design and carry out their own experiments in a virtual laboratory and provides virtual lab problems, real-world scenarios, concept tests, simulations, tutorials and course modules for learning basic chemistry.

The project recently won a Science Prize for Online Resources in Education from Science Magazine.

9. Scitable


Scitable is both the Nature Publishing Group’s free science library and a social network. Teachers can create a “classroom” with a customized reading list, threaded discussions, news feeds and research tools. There’s also an option to use the material on the site to create a customized e-book for free that can include any of the more than 500 videos, podcasts or articles on the site.

Topic rooms combine articles, discussions and groups related to one key concept in science and make it easy to find material that is relevant to your class and connect with people who are also passionate about the subject.

What resources did you find most helpful, or what great science tools did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.

10. Impact: Earth!


Want to see how a particular projectile from space would affect the Earth? With this tool that was developed for Purdue University, your students can enter the projectile parameters, angle and velocity to calculate what would happen if the object were to actually hit Earth. You can also get the details on the projectiles that caused famous craters.

More Education Resources from Mashable:

- 8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
- The Case For Social Media in Schools
- 7 Fantastic Free Social Media Tools for Teachers
- How Online Classrooms Are Helping Haiti Rebuild Its Education System
- 5 Innovative Classroom Management Tools for Teachers

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, rrocio

Reviews: Internet, YouTube, iStockphoto

More About: education, education resources, Kids, List, Lists, resources, school, Science, social media, teachers, tech, visualizations, youtube

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Why Google can’t build Instagram

12 Nov

Tonight I was talking with an exec at Google and I brought up the success of (they’ve gotten more than 500,000 downloads in just a few weeks) and asked him “why can’t Google do that?”

I knew some of the answers. After all, I watched Microsoft get passed by by a whole group of startups (I was working at Microsoft as Flickr got bought by Yahoo, Skype got bought by eBay, etc etc).

I told him a few of my theories, and he told me back what they are seeing internally. Turns out he was talking to me about these items because Google, internally, knows it has an innovation problem (look at Google Wave or Buzz for examples of how it is messed up) and is looking to remake its culture internally to help entrepreneurial projects take hold.

1. Google can’t keep its teams small enough. Instagram was started by two guys who rented a table at DogPatchLabs in Pier 38 (the first time I met the team was when Rocky and I did this video on Dogpatch Labs). The exec I was talking with said Google Wave had more than 30 people on the team. He had done his own startup and knew the man-month myth. For every person you add to a team, he said, iteration speed goes down. He told me a story of how Larry Ellison actually got efficiencies from teams. If a team wasn’t productive, he’d come every couple of weeks and say “let me help you out.” What did he do? He took away another person until the team started shipping and stopped having unproductive meetings.

2. Google can’t reduce scope like Instagram did. Instagram started out as being a far different product than actually shipped (which actually got it in trouble with investor Andreesen Horowitz, according to Techcrunch). It actually started out as a service that did a lot more than just photographs. But, they learned they couldn’t complete such a grand vision and do it well. So they kept throwing out features. Instagram can do that. Google can’t. Imagine you come to Larry Page and say “you know that new social platform we’re building? Let’s throw 90% of it out.” Google has to compete with Facebook. Instagram had to compete with itself. As to Andreesen: this is why lots of my favorite companies like GoPro or SmugMug never took any VC. The pressure to “go for the home run” destroys quite a few companies.

3. At Google, if a product becomes successful, will get tons of resources and people thrown at it. Imagine you’re working at Google and you have 20% time. Will you keep spending that time on a boring project that isn’t very cool? No, you will want to join a cool project like Instagram that’s getting love around the world and getting tons of adoption. If the Instagram team were at Google they’d have to deal with tons of emails and folks hanging outside their cubes just to try to participate. I saw exactly this happen at Microsoft when a small team I was enamored of started getting tons of resources because it was having some success.

4. Google forces its developers to use its infrastructure, which wasn’t developed for small social projects. At Google you can’t use MySQL and Ruby on Rails. You’ve gotta build everything to deploy on its internal database “Big Table,” they call it. That wasn’t designed for small little dinky social projects. Engineers tell me it’s hard to develop for and not as productive as other tools that external developers get to use.

5. Google’s services need to support every platform. In this case, imagine a Google engineer saying “we’re only going to support iPhone with this.” ( is only on iPhone right now. They’d get screamed out of the room) and they need to support every community that Google is in world-wide. I remember at Microsoft teams getting slowed down because they’d need to make sure their products tested well in every language around the world. Oh, some screens didn’t work because some languages are read right to left? Too bad, go back and fix it. Instagram doesn’t have those kinds of problems. They can say “we’re English only for now, and heck with everyone else.”

6. Google’s engineers can’t use any Facebook integration or dependencies like Instagram does. That makes it harder to onboard new customers. I’ve downloaded a few iPhone apps this week and signed into them, and added my friends, just by clicking once on my Facebook account. My friends are on Facebook, I don’t have a social graph even close to as good on Google. Instagram gets to use every system it wants. Google has to pay “strategy taxes.” (That’s what we called them at Microsoft).

7. Google can’t iterate in semi-public. Weeks ago Kevin showed me Instagram and loaded it on my phone. He asked me to keep it somewhat quiet, but didn’t ask me to sign an NDA. He also knew it would actually help him if I did leak something about Instagram (I didn’t). What he really needed at that point was passionate users who would try it out and give him feedback about what worked and what didn’t. Bug testing. Now Google will say “we eat our own dogfood” but the reality is that you need to get people outside of your company to invest some time in you. Google can’t do this, because it causes all sorts of political hell. Instagram has no political problems to worry about, so was free to show it to dozens of people (when I got on it there were already hundreds of people who were using Instagram and I had it weeks before its official launch). I saw tons of bugs get fixed because of this feedback and those early users were very vocal believers in the product.

8. Google can’t use Eric Ries-style tricks. Eric’s “lean startup” methodology advocates making sure that customers want something, before going on and building infrastructure that scales. Google, on the other hand, has to make sure that its services scale to hundreds of millions of people before it ships a single thing. Google Wave failed, in part, because it couldn’t keep up with the first wave of users and got horridly slow (and that was even with an invite system that kept growth down to a reasonable rate).

So, how does a big company innovate? Well, for one, Google can innovate by buying companies like Instagram. For two, Google can use its strength in places where small companies can’t dare to go. For instance, building autonomous cars (I have a video with Stanford’s Center for Automotive Research that shows how these cars work and you can see that building stuff like that takes teams bigger than two people. Although to demonstrate that Google gets the power of small teams, Google’s car’s algorithms were mostly approved by just one person, I’ve learned).

Another way? How about open source? Build a system so anyone can code and add value without sitting in meetings and things seem to take off. At Rackspace (the web hosting company I work for) we’re noticing that with OpenStack, which is already seeing some pretty cool new innovations (coming soon) added by people who aren’t even working at Rackspace. As I look around the coolest companies in the valley, like Cloudera, I see the same mentality in place: they know they’ll get slower as they get bigger, so they are trying to build systems that let innovative, entrepreneurial, developers add value without getting caught in the politics of a bigger company. Take it outside of tech, look at TEDx. There they’ve enabled thousands of conferences around the world to use the TED name, but in a way that doesn’t require a lot of approvals from the mother ship. That keeps them innovative, even if they stop innovating at their core (everyone outside continues the innovation).

Sachin Agarwal, one of the founders of Posterous, echoes these comments in a post about what he learned working at Apple (Small teams rule).

Some of these lessons sure seem counter intuitive. Remove people from a team if you want to make it more productive? But I have heard this over and over again in my journey through the world’s best tech companies.

So, how about you? Are you seeing the same problems at your work? When I do I point them out and we try to fix them.

By the way, you can see my Instagram photos done with my iPhone on Tumblr and I’m “Scobleizer” on that service, if you want to follow me.


Graffiti Artist Banksy Directs Opening Sequence of “The Simpsons” [VIDEO]

11 Oct

Update (4:32 p.m. ET): The Banksy intro has been pulled from YouTube. We have replaced it with a clip from Hulu, which is viewable to U.S. users only.

British graffiti artist and political activist Banksy was invited to direct the opening sequence of the latest episode of The Simpsons. The result is one of the funniest — but at the same time the most depressing — intros to the popular cartoon series we’ve seen.

We won’t reveal what happens in the intro, which is spreading like wildfire across the web; you can see it for yourself in the video embedded below. Know this, though: All those Bart Simpson dolls you see at every corner, well, they’re made of broken hearts and shattered dreams.

More About: Banksy, Bart Simpson, the simpsons

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300,000 Largest Websites Visualized with Favicons

25 Aug

An interesting visualization over at shows the favicons of the 300,000 biggest websites on the Internet (according to Alexa), with the size of the favicons corresponding to sites with the most traffic.

The data has been gathered through a “large-scale scan of the top million websites,” performed in “early 2010″ using the Nmap Security Scanner, a powerful network scanning tool used by many online security professionals.

The smallest icons, explain the folks from Nmap, correspond to sites with approximately 0.0001% reach, and rescaled to 16×16 pixels. The largest icon belongs to Google, and it’s 11,936 x 11,936 pixels large; for comparison, Mashable’s favicon (located below and to the left of Facebook) is 640 × 640 pixels large. Of course, to explain Google’s icon in its full size, you need to check out the zoom-enabled, interactive version.

The visualization is also available as a humongous poster, available here.

[via Gizmodo]

Reviews: Facebook, Google, Internet, Mashable

More About: Alexa, favicon, visualization, website

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