September 30, 2006 | Leave a comment

As much as Conservative Party leader David Cameron gives me shivers up my spine and makes my hair stand on end, I think his latest venture will probably work well for him.

Webcameron is a series of video blogs that are just unblatantly staged enough to work. If they do it right, it’ll be a series of confessionals on political policy that I’d like to see all parties engage in. (Although can you really see Gordon Brown or Menzies Campbell keeping a blog?) Otherwise it’s just an extended party political broadcast.

Either way, they’ve got John McCain as a guest blogger, which suggests there will be some meaty appearances; those of you who like your politics over to the right may find yourself with something new to watch.

The challenge of multiple contexts

September 29, 2006 | Leave a comment

danah boyd has this to say about Facebook’s recent opening to the general public:

I do not believe that social network sites are able to sustain lots of conflicting social contexts. Or, rather, i don’t believe that they can continue as a hang-out space. I know that Facebook will continue to grow but i believe that the core value of it will be lost for the sake of growth. MySpace is already struggling to cope with what happens when teens and parents/authorities are in the same place.

MySpace allegedly has something like 100 million users (although there has recently been controversy about this and other user figures). How on earth do you sort through that many people? And unless you’re just out to search through people’s photos, how can you have targeted conversation?

Take another view on the community – the discussion board. Discussion boards rarelely work unless they have something underpinning the content, be it a shared location, interest in a particular thing, and so on. Facebook did have this, but by opening it up they’ve removed their unique selling point and eliminated focus from the community.

Rather than striving for one giant uber-community, a better model would seem to be a set of user credentials that can then be used to log into a set of communities that represent your interests. Even in terms of the MySpace crowd’s advertising-driven worldview, a more focused community makes more sense (advertisers will pay more if they know users are interested in the kinds of things they have to sell). This way the only context-juggling is the kind that you do in real life, and communities can streamline themselves towards covering a particular thing really well.

We’d like to invite you into our Spaces

September 28, 2006 | Leave a comment

Boy, building out a fully-featured online service turns out to be a lot of hard work, even on top of the two and a half years we’ve already put into Elgg. Frankly, it’s taken longer than we thought to get everything in place.

But we’re nearly there.

We’re oiling up the gaskets and fitting the sparkplugs as I write this; things are looking good, but we want to make sure the service is the best it can possibly be. And for that, we need your help.

We want to invite a limited number of people into the system, and we’ll trade a month’s free service for your feedback. In turn this will make the system better for when we fully open its doors.

If you’re interested, give us a nudge at

In Search of the Valley: some prominent Internet people

Steve O’Hear emailed us earlier today to let us know that his movie, In Search of the Valley, has just been released on DVD.

From the write-up on Read/Write Web:

‘In Search of the Valley’ is a movie which tells the story of three friends’ personal journey in September of 2004 into the psyche of Silicon Valley. Steve and his pals spent one month visiting and talking to many of the valley’s luminaries, including Apple’s Steve Wozniak, Adobe’s John Warnock, and Craig Newmark of The film also features Apple alumni Guy Kawasaki, Sandy Miranda, Andy Hertzfeld, Dan Kottke, and the late Jef Raskin, as well as the computer pioneer Lee Felsenstein, Tim O’Reilly and Marc Canter.

I have my own opinions about the people involved, largely obtained through reading about them, and the prospect of getting under their skin a little more is very interesting. Certainly on the strength of the trailer below, I can’t wait to see it.

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