Are all your profiles up to date? Are you tired of filling out your profile on websites and online applications? Wouldn't it be useful to just maintain one or two central profiles that would automatically update all the others?The promise of "portable profile" is just that. You can use one profile across the web, and sign into sites without having to fill out all the usual registration stuff.Of course, this raises major privacy concerns. Each site that you use your portable profile on will have access to your full profile information, as well as possibly knowing what other sites you're registered with.As a website owner, there are benefits to allowing users to register with their portable profile:1. You can personalize their experience by knowing more about them,2. There's a  lower cost of password and account management, while drawing new web traffic.3. It lowers user frustration by letting users have control of their login.There are a number of companies offering portable profile, internet ID, and single sign on services already such as Verisign, OpenID, and my favourite Chi.mp

However, Facebook Connect seem to be leading the way with regards to the promise of taking your network of friends and connections around the web with you. There are, of-course, concerns about whether we should trust a commercial enterprises with our precious identity. Nevertheless, I'll highlight Facebook Connect as the principle is important.

From the Wikipedia page on Facebook Features:
Facebook Connect is a single sign-on service that competes with OpenID. The service enables Facebook users to login to affiliated sites using their Facebook account and share information from such sites with their Facebook friends. 
The price of Personalization is Privacy. I don't mind sharing my information if it's going to get me more relevant information and personalized service, but I would expect to be able to control what different people (and sites) can see on my profile. Another concern with single-sign on is the danger of someone getting hold of your one password that opens the doors to your life online. I guess these are the risks we all have to live with. I'd like to get Dominic White's perspective on this.
I love using diagrams to help explain concepts which would otherwise be difficult to remember. They make it easier for some people to call up in their minds and immediately recall complex concepts.

I thought of the following model a few weeks ago to describe how value is realized in today's fast-paced, largely unpredictable markets. I've entitled it "Value Creation in a Wild Wired World". Please let me know what you think...

Industrial Age Value Creation:

Industrial Age Innovation

This V model of Value creation is suited to stable, predictable markets and industries.The consumer doesn't have many alternative choices of products and services to fulfill their needs here. The company needs to recoup their significant investment of cash, time and labour by charging as much as possible, and keeping the product as is for as long as possible - taking it from being a Star product to a Cash Cow eventually. Microsofts OS is a good example of this, but they're slowly shifting to the model below...

Rapid Prototyping, Perpetual Beta

An alternative model, more suited to fast changing, unpredictable, hyper-competitive markets looks more this:

Value Creation in a Wild Wired World

The idea here is to launch with a "good enough" prototype, attract early adopter users, and develop the product according to their needs and feedback. In the software development world, this is known as "Beta" - where the product is in testing mode, and constantly improving according to how people are using it. There is generally less upfront investment required in this model, which is important since many products launched into unpredictable, competitive markets will fail unless they adapt in ways that weren't originally envisaged by the product team. Often times the best ideas here arise to serve an unmet need of the founder - you might hear the founder saying the product was launched to "scratch my own itch" The other motto of firms that operate with this model is: "release early, release often". Google does this well.

Your feedback

What do you think about these models? Do they make sense? Is there anything you'd label differently, add to, or remove from the diagrams?
A couple of weeks ago Nic and Matt posted pics and commentary about the world first public screenshots of the Wikia Search project (also picked up by Mashable and TechCrunch) that were recently shown in Johannesburg. Well, now I see that iCommons has released the video of his whole talk (here). I've edited it down to a short clip just about the Search project:



In the clip, Jimmy explains that Wikia is developing a freely licensed search engine, using open source software, to compete directly with Yahoo, Google and all the big search players. It Aims to match or exceed the quality of the major search engines

He also makes a strong "political statement" that it's not healthy that so much power is in the hands of a few search companies who are secretive about how the information is ranked (other's think so too).

Lastly, he showed screenshots of the Facebook-like contributor interface, dubbed by others as his "Socialpedia".
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AuthorDave Duarte
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When Max and I started a restaurant a few years ago we knew that the core of our business had to be regular customers. We began with just a few people who came in almost every day, and we made sure that they felt special, and that other customers could see how valued they were. We'd do stuff like refer business to them, or occasionally give them and whoever they're with a free round of coffees. This not only kept them coming back, but it also created a sense of aspiration among other customers who also wanted to be recognised and valued. The business gained a phenomenal amount of regular customers, and became virtually immune to the usual seasonal boom and busts that many other restaurants in Cape Town experience.

This same principle of having a conspicuous hierarchy of regular customers applies very strongly to building and sustaining online communities. Digg, for example, used to have a list of "Top 100 Diggers" which was very hotly contested because appearing on that list gave those users power and reknown. Unfortunately Digg has now removed the list from their site, and is already starting to lose top users. One of them, Greg Hartnett writes:
So this is how I see it playing out: more and more top users will continue the exodus, which will in turn contribute to the deterioration of the quality of the content being submitted. The SEO crowd, and others trying to game Digg, will continue with their efforts, and an even greater percentage of front page stories will have gotten there through artificial means. Average users will grow tired of the spam (or perceived spam) and return less and less often. Daily visitors will diminish over time, resulting in a front page story that generates a couple of hundred visitors. At this point, the SEO crowd will realise that the ROI is no longer there, and they'll move on to the traffic generator du jour. In their wake, they'll leave Digg in shambles - a mere shell of the site it had once been.

In the end, Digg founders and investors will be left scratching their heads at what went wrong.  You should have nurtured your top users - not screwed them.


27dinner27Dinner Cape Town has a new home: The Hotel School restaurant in Mouille Point (next door to the Waterfront and the Radisson Hotel). *

The good news: not only do they offer a beautiful spot (right on the ocean front!), delicious food, great value for money, and all the sound, lighting and projection equipment we need... but we can seat 100 people too! So this means that there's now a further 20 spaces available for 27-4

As always, the 27dinner is a great opportunity to meet other people who are interested in media, technology, marketing, programming, technology, the web, and generally fascinating combinations of those.

There will be a couple of talks, and the wine will be sponsored by Stormhoek. If any other company would like to sponsor a prize or two (or hundred), then we're also open to that.

To join us, go along and pop your name on the wiki - or drop me an email.

* Thanks to Mr Knox and Captain Chris for scouting and scoring the new venue :)
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AuthorDave Duarte
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This post was done for SArocks.co.za:

Ubuntu is a sub-Saharan African ethic or humanist ideology focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other.

The ideal of uBuntu is that the individual and the collective are inseparable. That the actions of one person have repercussions throughout the community. Sounds a bit like the blogosphere, huh?

One of my favourite quotes on the subject is by Desmond Tutu:
"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed".

Online user generated content is showing us that there is huge untapped wealth and potential to be harnessed in the collective intelligence of volunteer communities. Opensource developments are enabling people to gain access to tools and opportunities that were previously unattainable to them either due to financial constraints, time constraints or access to other people's skills.

Truly worldshifting technology and development is being built and distributed freely by collaborating with others.

Online cultural phenomena like Wikipedia, Muti and even SArocks are the digital embodiment of uBuntu.

If we are to believe that the internet is going to have a massive impact on the way future generations do business, then we we best believe that South Africa is well positioned to be at the nexus of the next wave of economic leadership - as long as we cherish the true spirit of uBuntu.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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