My Favorite Internet Things From 2010

In honor of the new year, here are my favorite Internet things in 2010 and why they're so important. This isn't just list of what I use the most, this is a list of things that I think are hitting prime-time and changing the way we operate for the better. In no particular order:

Facebook's Open Social Graph: I still don't care much for Facebook but I think the open social graph is a fantastic development. Information streams and sharing on Facebook itself are too eclectic and unorganizable to be useful. Being able to add your social graph on top of third parties like CNN, ESPN and Netflix however unlocks filtered personalized information in a clear and actionable way that was previously very difficult because people didn't want to have to re-register and rebuild friends on every website. I know a lot of people fear Facebook's instant personalization but I think it's incredibly useful.

Flipboard: The Flipboard iPad application is incredibly transformative for social sharing, news publications and the iPad all at once. It is a beautiful way to interact with Twitter and Facebook and consume personalized news streams. It's a very clean + seamless + intuitive way to browse news in a way that no other publication has achieved yet. I'm not sold on it being a comprehensive reading solution (no two-way sync with Google Reader is a deal-breaker) but it's the most pleasurable way to read Twitter and Facebook by far and it single-handedly sells people on buying a tablet computer.

Foursquare: I used to think Foursquare was about serendipitous meetings with friends but now I realize that's just a very small beginning. Foursquare is all about signaling trusted parties that you are in a specific location, and triggering valuable localized + personalized + timely information. That might be the location of a nearby friend, a deal from a brand, history from a database, news from a publication or more. We are just beginning to see the possibilities of smart people creating valuable products on-top of simple location sharing. I also love what Foursquare has done with it's API's- with 3rd parties like Foodspotting and Instagram being able to pass all sorts of data to Foursquare the personal history archiving is really amazing as well.

Google Chrome: Google did for browsers what it did for email, search and maps before- rewrite and redefine capability and expectations for the entire industry. The Chrome browser is a million times faster, lighter and more powerful than any browser before it and has sent waves of progress thru it's competiors. I am positive I save hours a week working and browsing on the web thanks to Google Chrome. I can't wait to see what Google does in 2011 in turning the browser even more into a fully featured OS (Google if you're reading this please send me a CR-48).

Quora: These guys managed to build a community where important people with fairly exclusive information feel motivated to share it. Because of Quora we are all learning things that we may never have thought we'd have access to. That's a pretty valuable creation. It's rapidly joining Twitter as the source for finding and sharing information for journalists, so though it's very niche now I'm sure it will grow significantly next year.

Groupon: The deals are great, sure, but the exciting impact is the larger influence Groupon is having on helping advance advertising from being about forcing impressions to offering real value. Groupon isn't the only way this is happening, but it's a big one. The deals space is now cluttered and competitive (and potentially overhyped) so it will be interesting to see what happens in 2011 but the lasting effect of consumers expecting value-driven reasons for trying a product is here to stay.

Google Docs: I've been an advocate for Google Docs for years, but the features Google launched for it in 2010 put it over the top. Completely real-time synchronized group editing, full document compatibility (at least with file storage), and mobile access all make Google Docs an incredibly powerful work/life tool that I use almost exclusively over Microsoft Office. It's just one of the many ways my computer experience is moving entirely to the cloud.

Streaming Music: In 2010 streaming music almost entirely replaced mp3's for me. Sites like Pandora and TheSixtyOne give me access to great music without having to deal with transferring files from device to device, hard-drive to hard-drive. They also enable me to discover more new music easier than ever before. The faster music moves to the cloud the better- I can't wait how Google and Apple enter the space this year with cloud-based music offerings (I wrote more about streaming music in an earlier post).

So that's my list, what do you think? What are your favorite Internet things from 2010 and why?


5 Great Sites for Listening to Music on the Web

One of the things I've found harder and harder over the last ten years, and I know I'm not alone on this, is dealing with the many thousands of pieces of content I have on an increasing number of computers and hard drives.  This has been the most difficult with music and photos, and only exacerbated by my move to Mac this year due to file and organization incompatibilities.  So as hard as I try, and as much as I work to rebuild and refine my collections on each new computer, each transition more and more gets cut.  In particular, I'm starting to realize it takes way too much effort than it's worth to maintain an up-to-date music collection.

But I do love music, and I love finding new music, so how am I replacing the thousands of MP3's I've collected?  I'm becoming obsessed with the plethora of amazing places on the web to discover and stream music.  The websites below comprise the current roster of music sources that I rely on daily.  Each of them has a different model for music discovery and recommendation, and access to different sources of music.  But they all have a mix of known and unknown, and they all provide a really enjoyable listening experience.  So without further ado:

1) The Sixty One
My current favorite, a site I visit daily at home and at work. A great source for popular indie + independent music, and a beautiful site to boot.  As songs play you get full-page photos, facts of the bands, and fan commentary displaying on the page.  The community helps songs rise, so make sure to sign-up and vote.  Don't forget to try out the different playlists available in the top-right corner.

2) We Are Hunted
Great site for listening to music that's popular on the web.  They index all sorts of sites and social networks, and let you stream the 99 most popular songs in a variety of categories.  The 'popular' category is usually pretty mainstream, but there are also tons of ways to discover new stuff.  Try different things like visiting the 'app' section to listen to music being actively shared on Twitter.

3) Pandora
Pandora probably isn't new to anyone, but I couldn't leave it off the list.  It's still the best streaming radio site ever invented.  It's the most reliable way to get  a full station of music you really like, on your computer or on the go via the killer mobile apps.  If you use Pandora on Mac check out PandoraJam, which gives you a desktop app that sync's with last.fm and has other cool features you might want.

4) Hype Machine
These guys describe themselves as "Discover music blogs worth listening to", and that's the general idea.  The front page is an aggregate of the most popular songs based on coverage from a curated list of music blogs.  The music is very indie and lately seems to include too much techno remix, but it's still a great place to find new music and best of all it has a useful search engine.

5) Tumblr
This last one might be a surprise since Tumblr is so much more than just music, but right from the beginning one of the site's primary uses has been to share songs.  Many Tumblr users post their favorite songs along with the rest of their creative output; the trick is to find the right Tumblr users to match your taste- both with music and other content.  Here are a few of mine: Fred Wilson, Bijan, Tuneage.


Delicious, Foursquare, OneTrueFan and the Founders Dilemma

This week two very interrelated tech news stories broke.  The first: Yahoo may be closing Delicious; the second: Former MyBlogLog founder launched the public beta of his new product OneTrueFan.  Why are these related?  Delicious and MyBlogLog were two incredibly popular web 2.0 social products that were acquired by Yahoo! aggressively when their stock was rising.  Both were poorly assimilated, rarely updated and for the most part left to squander to the dismay of their loyal fanbases. Oh and despite it all I've used and enjoyed both of these services almost to the bitter end, so this Yahoo's failure is personal.

While the founders of MyBlogLog and Delicious did very well financially through their acquisitions I imagine they were incredibly pained seeing their vision go mainly unrealized and their dedicated users left unfulfilled.  Now years after web giants like Yahoo swallowed up hot startups we're seeing the founders try for success again with their ideas again.  OneTrueFan is in a way MyBlogLog 2.0 - the founder's attempt to create independently what  couldn't be done within Yahoo.  It's the same story as Foursquare, which was launched by Dennis Crowley years after Google acquired his first company Dodgeball and drove it into the ground.  Now Foursquare is one of the most popular mobile social networks around at the dismay of Google; will OneTrueFan achieve similar success?

I for one am happy to see founders go back and try to make a second run at their idea.  It shows passion and dedication, and proves they really cared about the product, not just the money.  It shows if you care about your product you need to think hard whether it can possibly achieve its potential when you have to play by someone else's rules.  Personally I hope like Dennis Crowley before him Delicious founder Josh Schachter tries for round two with his dream with a new version of social bookmarking; I would be much happier using his product than the one Yahoo! is embarrassingly choking to death.  I think there's a huge amount of potential to build upon Josh's original vision (and I know I'm not the only one).

In the mean time, I hope founders of great companies try to make it on their own, or at least look for better matches in their suiters.  Those of us who come to love and rely on your great work want to see what you're cable of doing with your great idea.

(But then, part of me wonders if it sometimes takes the disappointments early on for success to happen.  In other words, was Dodgeball too early for its time, was it destined to fail either way, and did the manor in which it failed drive Crowley to a new, better idea that he wouldn't have been capable of achieving otherwise?  Or maybe it takes the added flexibility and confidence of having some money under your belt, as this article suggests.)


Let me introduce you to Recco

My friend Joe hit a big milestone this weekend on a longtime personal project of his: he (and his partners) launched a company and published an iPhone app into the Apple app store. I'll get to the app in a second but first some words on the milestone. A lot of people talk about good ideas every day and never do anything about them. Joe and his friends stopped talking, got to work and made something*. I'm crazy impressed with their drive and ingenuity, and even a bit jealous of his ambition too. No matter what happens from here Joe and the guys should be really proud of what they've accomplished- I know I'm proud for them.

So on to Recco. The way I see it Recco was born out of the frustration of a generation of food recommendation sites that focus on aggregating the masses- both in content quantity and participation. While some are better than others, there's still this feeling like there's too much content and too many people to discover the best stuff.  The Recco team saw a need to build an app that cuts the clutter and helps get to what you really want- giving and getting recommendations from your trusted friends of great places you should experience.

For those of you who use Foursquare or other mobile location apps the experience with Recco will be fairly intuitive.  You open the app to view recco's around you, and you add recco's + tips as you want.  Your credibility rises as people endorse your recommendation.  It's pretty basic right now but this is just version one- I'm excited to see how the Recco team builds upon their platform to bring more powerful recommendation and discovery.  Check out the Recco site to learn more and download Recco for iPhone, and start giving Recco a try.

And to the Recco team: it was exciting to be a part of your beta- congrats on launching, let me know how I can help moving forward, and I can't wait to see where you go from here!

*By the way, Seth Godin produces a lot of gems but the number one reason I read him every day is to remind myself I should keep trying to move from talk to make...


Some Grade-school Nostalgia This Weekend

This weekend i've had a few throw-back moments that rekindled the joy of favorite things from my grade-school days.
First, Capcom released an iPhone app that lets you play old arcade games like the original Street Fighter 2. For me this is straight-up a flashback to grade school skating rink parties. I'm surprised how many of the special moves I remember after not playing an arcade game at least 15 years. I was so hooked on the game in the subway that I missed my stop.
Second was this short youtube film I came across about opening packs of baseball cards. Anyone who's visited my bedroom back in Cherry Hill knows how obsessed I was with baseball cards back in the day. I used to skip lunch all week and pocket the money so I could run to the card store Friday after school to buy more.
Anyway neither of these drives down memory lane will get me back into the hobbies for long but it was fun for the weekend.

[written on my iPhone at while biking at the gym]