CPUShare - Distributed Computing Marketplace

December 21st, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

Wow! So last month I proposed a harebrained scheme for distributed computing as a webservice. The idea was that users could download an app and rent out their CPU time (and perhaps storage) for a few cents. Meanwhile, others could make use of those resources for a small fee. Well whaddya know? Now a project called CPUShare has arrived on the scene, aiming to create a marketplace for CPU cycles. From the site:

cpushare will allow you to run computations on random computers through the internet with the object of generating a world wide supercomputer crunching data 24/7. You will be able to buy and sell cpu online through cpushare in the first global market of the CPU. The cpu sellers will only have to create an account in a few seconds using the client software (sellers will not need to specify a credit card) to stop wasting idle cpu cycles and to start producing more cash than what the computer will burn in energy costs while computing at 100% cpu power.

The cpu buyers will have to port their application to cpushare, create an account, identify them self with a credit card or paypal and they will start massive computing too. cpushare will take care of the rest: security, privacy, reliable money transactions and it will enforce an ordered market that will define the cpu price based on the law of supply/demand. Once trusted computing will hit the market cpushare will provide to the buyers an almost total guarantee of reliability of the results and of secrecy of the data being computed. Hardware faults could still happen even with trusted computing but cpushare is designed since the first place to identify reliably broken hardware or malicious users, with or without trusted computing.”

Holy smokes Batman! Isn’t that exactly what I proposed? Apparently it only runs on Linux right now, but I expect it will expand to other platforms soon. So does this validate my idea, or will cpushare face the problems that my commenters predicted? I didn’t go ahead with the idea because I felt is was fairly problematic, but I’ll be interested to see if this project succeeds.

[via Download Squad, Smartmobs and Om Malik]

Gravee - Search Engine (Shares Revenue with Content Creators!)

December 21st, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently - how could search engine revenue be divided more fairly? Bill Gates suggested that the ad revenue should be shared with users, but now a startup called Gravee is trying something just as interesting - they want to split their earnings with the websites that appear in the search results. From the site:

With Gravee’s AdShare program, when a user clicks an ad on Gravee, up to 70% of the ad revenue generated as a result is divided between the 10 sites included in the natural search results on the page (i.e. 70%/10 = 7% of ad revenue to each Web site on the page - for every ad that is clicked). Register your site now to start collecting your share of Gravee’s ad revenue.

Mike Arrington adds more:

Gravee also shares up to 35% of revenue with publisers that join their affiliate program and place their search box on their site. This will be an interesting way of driving traffic to their site. Site claiming is done via whois information - meaning you must be in control of your domain name to claim the blog. Another way for them to accomplish this would be to ask the site owner to put a piece of code on her/his site, which I imagine they will add at some point.

Now perhaps this business model makes logical sense - after all, search engines are essentially profiting from your content without payment. Or are they? Google drives a massive amount of traffic to your site that can then be monetized. What’s more, Google is not reproducing your entire site, but merely displaying the title and a line of text. This isn’t the same as someone copying your content in its entirety and sticking some Google ads next to it.

But where this idea definitely doesn’t make sense to me is on the business side. Content owners are already happy to have their content indexed by search engines - it’s not like you need to convince them. While paying searchers a cut of the revenue would cause some users to switch search engines, paying the content creators won’t change anyone’s behaviour, and hence won’t generate any more revenue. So why do it? Just to look more democratic? Or perhaps there’s a huge group of content owners who are refusing to have their sites indexed by Google because they don’t benefit enough? Anyone care to share?

[More at Silicon Beat and TechCrunch]

Noodly: All Hands on Deck!

December 20th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

Astute readers will notice that my project Noodly is now accepting email addresses for the Alpha release. Yes, we’re still being far too secretive about the whole thing, but I’ll let you in on all the juicy details soon. In the meantime, I can tell you that it’s an aggregator of edge content - the kind of thing Mike Arrington spoke about yesterday. It should be in alpha within a month (hopefully sooner). The more people who help out, the quicker we’ll get there.

Before we launch, we could really do with some help on the coding side.
The site is written in Ruby on Rails, and I’d love to find some Rails coders who could help with some snippets of code here and there - just to speed things up a bit. Contact me if you’re interested (email adress on my blog).

Wists - Social Shopping

December 20th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

I’m still getting to grips with Wists. It seems to be like Clipmarks for shopping - it also reminds me of Yahoo Shoposphere (although I’m pretty sure Wists was released first). After adding the bookmarklet to your browser, you can clip thumbnail images and descriptions from shopping sites and share them on your Wists pages. This screencast, for example, shows you how to clip an item from eBay. It’s a nice concept and I can see a clear business model here - after all, Wists is catering to people who want to buy things, so the service could easily take a cut of that revenue. From the site:

Wists, is a free service that lets you visually bookmark any page on the web, then automatically create a small image, text summary and add set of keywords without having to save and upload anything. You can share your visual bookmarks with friends and you can add any non-private items from other wists users to yours by clicking ‘copy to my wists’ under their bookmarks. Wists is particularly useful for things where images are important, such as clothes, gadgets, household items and auctions. You can use wists to have all your wishlists in one place, from any store on the web.

It’s a simple application but I’m fairly bullish on this kind of thing - any service that’s linked to transactions has a good chance of survival since it’s easier to monetize.

MyBloop - Online Storage and Sharing

December 20th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

Online storage and sharing is really taking off, but I fail to understand how any of these services are going to tackle piracy and spam. MyBloop is the latest offering - the service provides unlimited storage, but seems to lack a business model. From the MyBloop blog:

We hope that MyBloop.com makes everyone’s online life a little easier (and more fun!) by allowing you to store and access your files from anywhere, find all types of new files from other users, and the best part — no software is neccessary! You can login anytime, anywhere, as long as you have a browser.

We know MyBloop is lacking some features, but we wanted to release early to get everyone’s input. We’re going to be adding new features every day, so keep coming back and keep sending feedback so we can implent your ideas. We read and reply to every message you send us!

Can any of these companies make free storage and sharing work? I’m fairly skeptical. It seems to me that you need to figure out ways to make money (ie. a paid option) and a way of monitoring spam and piracy. No one is taking these issues seriously enough.

[via Ajaxian]

Quimble - Simple Online Polls

December 19th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

Quimble is a simple service for setting up and keeping track of online polls. What’s really exciting is that Quimble is embracing openness - once it has an open API (coming soon!), you’ll presumably be able to create polls from within your web app. This would be like the wisdom of crowds meets Amazon’s Mechanical Turk - automated research and polling! But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, you can use Quimble to create polls, display them on the site and place them on your blog. You can also subscribe to polls via RSS. From the Press Release (sorry, did you say “Press Release”? Surely these guys have heard of the blogosphere?)….

The idea for Quimble grew out of large group meeting. Twenty friends of Topper Bowers (the site’s founder) needed to decide on a restaurant to use for a reunion. Group email was not working as no consensus was being reached. The initial version of Quimble was born. The votes were quickly counted and comments and discussions were all held in a central place rather then scattered through inboxes.

Since that initial version, Quimble now makes it easier than ever to add a poll to a blog or website (copy and paste one line of code). Quimble has boomed with Spanish speakers which is a testament to the ease of the English-only interface.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that Quimble is built on Ruby on Rails? Go Rails!

[via Dion Hinchcliffe and his excellent list of Web 2.0 companies]

PXN8 - Online Image Editing

December 16th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

Walter Higgins just emailed me about his online image editor, PXN8. In addition to a nice Ajax interface, PXN8 boasts Flickr integration - a real plus for the early adopter crowd. Lifehacker is impressed:

Along with a slew of nice editing features, PXN8 also integrates with Flickr, allowing you to edit your Flickr photos with the click of a bookmarklet, then save the edits back in Flickr…For the Flickr-addicted, PXN8 gives you the opportunity to tweak your photos anytime you’re bored and at a browser. If you’re not into Flickr, the editor still offers a lot of simple, useful editing tools that may come in handy in a pinch.

PXN8 is no Photoshop, but it’s certainly a nice effort - definitely a sign of things to come. (On a related note, Gliffy is a nice drawing tool for creating diagrams and flowcharts. It’s in private beta right now.)

Tagworld - MySpace for Web 2.0?

December 15th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

Tagworld is being widely heralded as the next big thing in social networking - it’s really an updated version of MySpace with oodles of Ajax and a spattering of Flash. The site claims to have over 200,000 users (up 40,000 in the last three days!) and it’s sickeningly mass market. But of course it has to be - the site is trying to win the hearts of the fickle under-25 demographic, virtually all of whom switched from Friendster to MySpace in a matter of months. So toppling MySpace isn’t an impossible feat, but getting them to stick around is a very different problem. Mike Arrington is optimistic about Tagworld’s chances:

TagWorld is targeting the MySpace crowd - generally people under 25, who all want a blogging/home page presence on the web. Sites like MySpace, FaceBook and Xanga are generating a truly massive number of page views - MySpace and FaceBook each rival Google in page views (although they don’t approach the reach). The reason? These users spend most of their day on these sites, updating their sites and clicking on friends…

So, in a nutshell, I’m bullish on TagWorld. And some of these features quite frankly appeal to a much larger audience than teenagers and young adults. The market for an online music locker with a portable player is wide open. TagWorld can take this market.

I agree that Tagworld will gain traction in the social software space - and so long as they keep innovating, they might be able to maintain an edge for a short while. But I expect the aim here is to grow the site as fast as possible and sell out to the big guys before it all comes crashing down. It’s a tried and tested plan and I think it could work.

FeedBurner Releases FeedFlare , Makes RSS Feeds Interactive

December 14th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

So this is now yesterday’s news, but I finally got around to adding Feedburner’s new service FeedFlare to my RSS feed. If you’re on the Feedburner feed (I think most people are), you’ll see new options appearing at the bottom of my posts - email this entry, post to del.icio.us and a few others. What’s really interesting about the FeedFlare service is that it will soon have an open API - anyone will be able to build modules for the service. From the Feedburner blog:

FeedFlare is initially launching today with seven simple options, including:

* most popular tags for this item via del.icio.us
* tag this item at del.icio.us
* Technorati cosmos: number of links to this post
* Creative Commons license for this specific item. This works even if you are splicing, say, a Flickr photo feed into a blog feed and the two parent feeds have different licenses associated with them.
* number of comments on this post (currently only for feeds created by Wordpress)
* email this item
* email the author of this item (particularly helpful if the item ends up spliced into another feed or repurposed on a site).

Shortly after we launch FeedFlare for Web sites, we will launch our favorite part of this service: an open API for adding new FeedFlare services. There are foreign language web services we don’t know about, there are web services that appeal to a small niche of publishers, and there are people out there who are far more creative than we. Those sound like three good reasons to make FeedFlare completely open, and we will publish a complete specification and API with examples. Anybody can write to the spec, and publishers will be able to start using these new services immediately. There is no application process or submission form at FeedBurner - services that implement the specification will just work.

There were already Wordpress extensions to do this kind of thing, but it’s nice to have it within the Feedburner options. I’d like to know what people think of this - is it annoying? Does it interrupt your feed reading?

By the way: if you’re using a web-based aggregator in Firefox, I think you could use Adblock to remove the FeedFlare modules. Adding this to your block list might work:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~f/*?i=*

Has anyone tried this out?

[More from TechCrunch, Fred Wilson, Ross Mayfield and others]

Native Text - Translate Your Podcast or RSS Feed into any Language

December 14th, 2005 by Pete Cashmore

James Cann just emailed me about a new service he’s been working on called NativeText. It’s essentially a human-powered system for translating your podcast or RSS feed into other languages. From the site:

nativetext is an online community where you can publish or read any document in any language. Translated by humans, not software…NLS (native language syndication) is a service that translates your RSS or podcast feed into any language then syndicates the content to the global Internet community. FREE!

No übergeek hacking or foreign language proficiency required. Have your blog speaking Español en ciberspacio (or French, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Hungarian, Czech, Greek, Portugese, Russian, and more).

What I really like is that they’re integrating this at the feed level - Native Text creates a new subscribe button on your blog (yes, another one!) where the foreign language feed resides. The best bit? It appears to be free. James explains the business model: “RSS feeds and podcasts are free. Professional services will be offered to companies to translate documents in a reverse auction format, similar to rent-a-coder.” Definitely an interesting idea.