1. Kicking Google Knol when it’s down

    Posted August 12, 2009 in web  |  1 Comment so far

    You might not have heard of Google Knol, the service Google launched in an attempt to eclipse Wikipedia as a world-accessible font of knowledge. In a post last year I included it in a list of reasons why Google might be thought to have jumped the shark, and asked in vain if anyone reading this blog actually used it.

    The resulting silence probably said more about my obscurity than Google Knol’s, but it turns out that Google Knol is indeed floundering. As TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfield wrote yesterday:

    [Knol’s] model doesn’t work so well if nobody bothers to read the articles… Quantcast estimates that only 174,000 people visited the site in the past month.

    And Knol is seeking to counter this evident public apathy by repositioning itself as a competitor to Craigslist. But Schonfield doesn’t see this working out:

    Google should just end its misery, just like it did when it killed other under-performing projects such as Lively and Google Notebooks. Knol will never come close to Wikipedia. It can’t even cut it as a classifieds listing site.


  2. The dregs of e-commerce

    Posted September 26, 2008 in research, web  |  1 Comment so far

    http://www.eioclothing.com/mens/t-shirts/till-death-do-us-party-white.htmlI’m currently carrying out some research into open-source e-commerce platforms. The research is at a pretty early stage and I’m still putting together the list of packages that we’ll then go on to assess in detail.

    While putting this short-list together I’m visiting quite a lot of ‘showcase’ sites for each package on my long-list. And sheesh, some of them are bad.

    I don’t mean “bad” in the sense of bad user experience design, even though it’s fair to say that many of them are guilty of that. I mean “bad” in that the products themselves are bad, some of them really bad.

    It’s a consequence, I suppose, of the barriers to entry for e-commerce being so low these days. In fact, my preliminary exploration of open source e-commerce options has established that they’re even lower than I’d assumed them to be.


    For example, I’ve come across an Australian site that sells t-shirts saying “The first rule about Kite Club is never talk about Kite Club”. Erk. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw in Paris once, which I still think of as the worst t-shirt I’ve ever seen. It said, “the first rule about computer club is that you don’t talk about computer club”.

    But aside from bad t-shirt slogans, of which there are plenty, the biggest culprits are the numerous arts’n’crafts retailers.

    Before the internet, a lot of this stuff – the results of amateur pottery classes and the like – would have just been given to relatives or left to accumulate in cupboards and boxes. But now, the arguments against creating an online retail site for these efforts get weaker all the time as e-commerce gets easier. And it seems as though there’s a market out there for a lot of this twee, throwaway kind of stuff. That’s the “long tail” for you, I guess!

    However critical I might sound in this post, though, I should point out that I’m not advocating the eradication of such sites from the internet. I’m just noting my vague fascination with this underbelly of online retail that I hadn’t really explored until today.

  3. Brands that suck on Twitter

    Posted August 13, 2008 in social media, strategy, web  |  No Comments so far

    Here in the UK, Twitter has yet to seriously catch on although many organisations are attempting to make use of it. But the marketing and communications departments of large US companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need to establish a brand presence in Twitter.

    The case of Janet, who masqueraded as an ExxonMobil spokesperson on Twitter before being unmasked as a fraud, demonsrates how even doing nothing can be damaging. Your brand can get hijacked and dragged through the mud while you’re busy formulating your micro-blogging communications strategy.

    Here’s a list of brands that suck on, or simply don’t get, Twitter. It’s an evolving list – Starbucks, for example, got removed after responding to the blog post, showing that their Twitter account wasn’t merely “parked”.

    Better commentary than my own can be found at Jeremiah Owyang’s web strategy blog.