If the Web is good for one thing, it’s for buying stuff. I mean, really. Most of the time you’re either buying or you’re looking for something that you plan to buy. It’s just a big old marketplace.
But have you ever actually tried to sell something online? Yeesh. It can be a mess. And that’s why Sell Simply, a new service from Portland-based the Good, is a breath of fresh air. Plus, if you have a Twitter account—which I’m willing to bet you do—you already have a Sell Simply store, all thanks to the magic of OAuth. Read More
It’s no secret that Portland is into Twitter in a big way.
For many of the folks in the Web and mobile tech scene, it’s the way we stay in contact, spread news, and organize events. As such, we’re always trying to convince new folks to try it.
“I realize it looks stupid, but just try it,” we say. “Trust me.”
And once we get folks to try it, one of the first questions that always comes up is “What’s with all the #whatever stuff?”
This question used to be immediately followed by a deep sigh as we gathered our strength to explain the peculiar method and science surrounding the selection of #hashtags. How those pound-sign assisted acronyms and compounds provide a semblance of a taxonomy for a largely unclassifiable stream of blob files. How arduous the careful selection of canonical tags that reduce typing complexity while enforcing a unique and traceable presence can be.
Maybe it helps you. Maybe you disagree. Or maybe you want to clarify. Have at it. Tagalus was made to share those opinions and clarifications.
Or maybe you have a hashtag you’d like to define for someone else? No problem. Head over to tagal.us and submit it—or send @tagalus a tweet from Twitter to define a hashtag without leaving the comfort of your tweet stream. For example, “@tagalus define ip4 as Ignite Portland 4 – a hipster event according to KGW.” (You also have the option of using “def” instead of “define,” since I know you’re always worried about your character count.)
Long story short, it’s like a little publicly edited dictionary for Twitter hashtags that you help curate. How cool is that? It’s very cool, my friend.
But why stop there?
Tagalus is still in beta—so why not add more features? How about OAuth? Okay!
What’s OAuth you say? It’s a cousin to one of our favorite login methods, OpenID.
This is what OAuth does, it allows the you the User to grant access to your private resources on one site (which is called the Service Provider), to another site (called Consumer, not to be confused with you, the User). While OpenID is all about using a single identity to sign into many sites, OAuth is about giving access to your stuff without sharing your identity at all (or its secret parts).
In other words, it makes sure that you don’t have to share your Twitter password with the applications that you want to use in combination with Twitter. Instead, Twitter brokers the deal for you—confirming you are who you say you are.
So now you’re ready to join in the fun. Create a new hashtag and define it, clarify the definition of an existing hashtag, or be the first to define an “oldie but a goodie” hashtag. (I was surprised to be the first to define #getoffmylawn.) I can’t wait to have a better understanding about all those cryptic tweets you’re sending.
For more information or to define your favorite hashtags, visit tagalus.
Looking to provide a little more content than you can wedge into a tweet? Portland-based CitySpeek—a microblogging platform with a number of features beyond typing 140 characters—may be what you’re seeking.
Founded by members of the team that launched Goboz in 2007, CitySpeek was designed to fill some gaps in functionality that larger microblogging (oxymoron intended) platforms don’t offer—or aren’t interested in offering.
What sort of things? I’m glad you asked.
First, on a grand scale the only similarity that CitySpeek shares with Twitter is the 140 character limit for messages (what we call ‘speeks’). CitySpeek offers many features that Twitter does not, including:
Groups, both open and private
Integrated pics and video, no leaving the site to view
Speek by category like “Overheard”, “Question”, “For Sale”, etc.
Communicate with CitySpeek via IM
Seamless integration with Flickr
The service is also offering Twitter crossposting—if you’re comfortable giving them your Twitter username and password.
Long story short, with its group functionality, categories, and attachments, CitySpeek brings some interesting features to the social microblogging table. We’ll just have to wait and see if these additions—added to an otherwise simple format—attract users.
If you’d like to try the service for yourself, swing on by CitySpeek and register for an account. If you’d like to “speek” to me, I’m turoczy on CitySpeek.
How? By focusing not on those people holding an OpenID, but on those who want to allow people to use that OpenID—but simply can’t figure out how.
With this new software-as-a-service solution (that’s a lot of “s”s, isn’t it?), RPX, JanRain has the makings of a service that allows anyone to drop OpenID support—and OAuth support for that matter—into place on their site. Simply and easily.
With RPX you don’t need to become a security expert, a protocol expert, or play through a number of security and data flow problems, RPX handles all of this for you and delivers a simple payload in either JSON or XML.
In the midst of World War II—likely a bit before all of our times—Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) funded a highly creative group of engineers, focused on developing the next generation of aircraft. Shrouded in secrecy, the project turned out concepts that continue to influence the aircraft at which we still marvel today.
And which, with all likelihood, continues to secretly burn the midnight oil constructing concept craft that will provide the transport of tomorrow.
The project, according to Wikipedia’s entry, was affectionately dubbed the “Skunk Works,” after a popular comic of the day:
The term “Skunk Works” came from the Al Cappcomic stripLi’l Abner, which was popular in the 1940s. In the comic, the “Skonk Works” was a backwoods still operated by Big Barnsmell, known as the “inside man at the Skonk Works”. In his secret facility, he made “kickapoo joy juice” by grinding dead skunks and worn shoes into a smoldering vat.
So why the history lesson? Did I change the blog focus to have more of a Lost Oregon vibe?
No. But, tarry a moment longer, gentle reader. Bear with me. Please allow me to explain.
Why, in the name of all things AJAX-y, would I ever try to equate this sort of old-school aircraft engineering concept with anything occurring in the Web 2.0 world of today?
Because, I’ve long held the opinion that Portland-based Vidoop—with its hires like Scott Kveton and Chris Messina coupled with its continued incubation of some very cutting edge projects—is well on its way to creating Skunk Works 2.0.
And Kveton and Messina aren’t alone. Vidoop has hired up a laundry list of talent. A list that bled Tulsa dry and caused them to look for other markets. And now, they’ve been hiring a very intelligent group of folks here in Portland.
But what Vidoop is doing with those people is as interesting as any of the projects on which they’re working.
You see, Vidoop is giving them space. Giving them free reign. Giving them autonomy. And allowing them to be creative. Or to continue the creative works that they may have been pursuing elsewhere.
Only they’re giving them more resources with which to work.
Still not making the Skunk Works connections? Well, the intuitive leap becomes far less difficult when you consider this little snippet (also from the Wikipedia “Skunk Works” entry):
[Skunk Works was an] organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.
Ah ha! Now, it’s starting to work.
I mean, what better way to describe Vidoop’s early focus on OpenID, its adoption of the DiSo efforts, and its funding the development of efforts like Emailtoid and EAUT (Yute!).
Vidoop is clearly pursuing something unique. A Skunk Works of its own. A development organization that pushes the envelope for the Open Web. That dreams up what could be. That lives free of the bureaucracy that tends to hamper more thoughtful and progressive projects. That seeks to fund and feed those projects that may not otherwise get the care and feeding they deserve.
And that’s happening right here in Portland.
And with the launch of Vidoop Labs, the Vidoop folks have begun formalize an umbrella for the projects already underway:
Today we are launching Vidoop Labs as a central place where we will be showcasing existing and future technology projects that we believe will help take the Internet and its users to a better place. Since most of these projects are open source in nature, I’d like to encourage everyone to get some code on their hands. We are all in this together!
Now, granted, one major difference between the original Skunk Works and Vidoop Labs is the veil of secrecy. Vidoop Labs is churning quickly and fairly transparently, if the Emailtoid to EAUT progression is any indication.
And I expect that trend to continue.
Not to get all Pollyanna, but man, what a great experiment.
Get a bunch of smart people in a room. And let them create. Let them do what they do best. And see what comes of it.
Not knowing, at the outset, what you’re going to get. But having utmost confidence that the team will deliver something creative, well engineered, and valuable.
If that’s not the kind of work I’d like to see happening in Portland, I don’t know what is.
Now that the MySpace platform has finally launched its first approved applications, Splashcast was ready with a distributed plan to roll out applications for its clients across the MySpace network as well. This includes SonyBMG, Universal Records, Warner, and even Hillary Clinton.
This approach has two particular benefits. First, it gives SplashCast the opportunity to create innumerable instances of its applications where other apps are stuck with one specific instance. And second, it gives SplashCast the opportunity to curry further favor with the labels and artists, by highlighting the artist instead of the application delivering the artist’s content.
Given the prevailing MySpace demographic and SplashCast’s recent repositioning as “the deepest, most sticky relationship between [sic] brand, content, and consumer,” this move promises to solidify SplashCast’s position as a big-media-company tool with a flare for interacting with youth on the Web.
MySpace users are going to be happy to share their contacts and info from other applications off-site with apps on the MySpace platform because they’ll be able to do so securely. MySpace is about to become the biggest use-case of the oAuth authentication protocol, something many sites are scrambling to implement.
I’m not tracking any blog posts or press releases from SplashCast, yet. Should more relevant information become available I will post an update. In the meantime, please stay tuned to SplashCast for more information as it becomes available.