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Categories: Power of Us

People-Powered Search Engine Mahalo Cranks Up the Crowdsourcing

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 02

Since it launched two years ago, the self-described human-powered search engine Mahalo has relied upon a staff of real editors, sometimes working with paid freelancers, to organize search results. That’s…

Another Google Killer Dies

Posted by: Rob Hof on March 31

When Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales launched his search service Wikia Search in late 2006, he was hoping to “fix Internet search by working to free the judgment of information from…

Marc Andreessen-Backed kaChing Joins Social Investing Fray with New API

Posted by: Rob Hof on March 11

Several years ago, I wrote a story about online people power that mentioned an interesting company called Marketocracy. The company lets people set up model portfolios of stocks to see…

Mahalo Debuts Answers Service

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 15

If there’s one overarching reason people love the Internet, it’s to find answers to questions. That’s why Google has been so successful. But for years, various companies have tried to…

Google’s Knol: No Wikipedia Killer

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 14

Funny how people always want to declare whatever Google announces as a [insert name here]-killer. Today, Google’s new tool called “knol,” which will give people a way to write “authoritative”…

Constructive Challenges to DMCA

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on May 03

The flap at Digg over the posting of an HD-DVD encryption key has gotten more than enough attention. But no one seems to be talking about more practical ways to…

Digg Users Revolt. Web 2.0’s Moment of Truth?

Posted by: Rob Hof on May 02

So a user on Digg posted an item that contained a code to hack HD-DVDs, and all hell broke loose. The folks who run Digg—er, I mean, the executives,…

iGoogle: It’s Your Google

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 30

Google has offered a personalized home page since 2005, but tonight it’s getting a major revamp. For one, it’s getting an uncharacteristically catchy new name, iGoogle. But the most…

Marketocracy + Foliofn: Power of the People’s Portfolios

Posted by: Rob Hof on February 19

It’s one thing to trust your restaurant reviews and technology news to the Web 2.0 masses at the likes of Yelp and Digg. Are you willing to trust your investments…

Digg’s Dicey Decision

Posted by: Rob Hof on February 02

Digg President Kevin Rose explains his controversial decision to remove from the use-powered news site the list of the top “diggers” to reduce spam and discourage people who try…

It’s a Tag, Tag, Tag Tag World

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 31

An amazing new stat from the Pew Internet & American Life Project: 28% of Internet users say they’ve tagged or categorized content such as photos or blog posts. I’ve always…

What Happens to a Story on Digg

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 19

The franticindustries blog has a detailed explanation of what happens to a story once it gets posted on Digg. What an interesting path it can take. I can still see…

How to Lose Your Shirt in Second Life

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 11

Magnus Rothlisberger, a resident of Second Life, describes in the Second Life Herald how he lost the equivalent of $1,153 on blackjack tables in the virtual world. It’s hilarious…

Time’s Person of the Year: You, Us or Me?

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 19

I’d vote for “us,” rather than “you,” as Time did on its latest cover, but at least it’s interesting to see the magazine pick up on the empowering nature of…

News Rating Service NewsTrust Launches Beta

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 29

When I first wrote about NewsTrust, an online news rating service, I wasn’t sure about how well a rating system for stories would work given the subjectivity about what’s good…

Second Life’s First Millionaire

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 26

Anshe Chung, the virtual land baroness that I highlighted in my cover story earlier this year, My Virtual Life, has apparently become the first millionaire in Second Life. That’s…

Shoveling on Digg

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 25

As much as I like the idea of Digg—a site where a community chooses the most interesting or relevant news—I must confess that I just don’t use it that much….

Google Gobbles JotSpot

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 31

Search giant Google has bought yet another hot startup that had hoped to be one of the next big things (and no doubt still does). JotSpot, the company started three…

Is Digg For Sale?

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 25

Well, I guess anyone is for sale at the right price, but TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington says several sources tell him the people-driven news site has been talking to a number…

Pimp Your Google Search

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 24

Google on Tuesday will announce a way to customize your Google searches through a new feature called Google Co-op: Build and customize your own search engine * Specify the…

The Dirt on Techdirt’s New Blogger Community

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 11

I’ve always liked the sharp, pithy analysis of current tech issues on the Techdirt blog, but it turns out that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Belmont (Calif.)-based…

GooTube for Real

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 09

Not surprisingly, Google has indeed bought video sharing phenom YouTube. Although a lot of people, like Mark Cuban, thought it was a bad idea, the deal’s done. It is quite…

Got Sisu?

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 05

The social gaming site Bunchball just got venture funding, so it’s hiring—as long as you have sisu. I had to follow the company’s link to the Wikipedia entry to figure…

Wikipedia: Maybe It’s Democratic After All

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 04

Lately, some skeptical folks, notably Nick Carr, have been wondering how democratic a process Wikipedia really has. Even founder Jimmy Wales has noted that a very small number of people…


Posted by: Rob Hof on August 08

Suddenly, MySpace has a $900 million deal with Google that dwarfs the $580 million News Corp. paid for it. Is there now any doubt that social networks can make money?…

Prediction Markets Go Corporate

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 07

My colleague Rachael King has an interesting collection of stories on prediction markets in BusinessWeek Online’s latest CEO Guide to Technology. Just like they sound, these are markets set up…

37Signals, 1 Big New Investor: Jeff Bezos

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 20

37signals, the little-software-outfit-that-could and prolific producer of popular collaborative services such as Basecamp and Backpack, has its first venture investor: Bezos Expeditions, the personal investing firm of founder and…

Best Web 2.0 Definition Yet

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 18

Paul Kedrosky, who’s becoming one of my don’t-miss bloggers, has the best definition I’ve yet seen of the vaporous term Web 2.0. After reading James Fallows’ recent Web 2.0 article…

YouTube: 100 Million Videos a Day

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 14

Back in March at PC Forum, when someone from YouTube stepped up at a session and mentioned that the video service was streaming 30 million videos a day, I thought…

Fighting Attention Deficit with Engagement

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 14

Heather Green and I just published a story, with the help of colleagues Stanley Holmes and Kerry Capell, on how some companies are managing to fight media attention deficit disorder….

A Billion for Bebo? Bubble, Bubble, Double Trouble

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 11

Mike Arrington at TechCrunch says the social-networking service Bebo has turned down a $550 million buyout offer—not far off from what News Corp. paid for MySpace. Bebo’s asking price: north… May Get a Second Life

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 23

When I wrote a cover story recently about Second Life and other virtual worlds, I immediately wondered why any retailer, say, wouldn’t want to set up in-world, so…

Digg It Monday

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 23

As we first noted a couple of weeks ago, the collaborative tech news site Digg would soon be branching out into more general news. TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington has the skinny…

The Death of Ads?

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 22

Two of the biggest marketers in the world showed up at the Supernova conference in San Francisco today and sounded more like Web 2.0 zealots than brand giants. Michael Wiley,…

eBay Dives into Web 2.0

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 14

eBay, arguably the original Web 2.0 company, is sure latching onto the newfangled 2.0 stuff. Today, it announced eBay Wiki, with service hosted by JotSpot. It’s intended to allow members…

Baynote: The Search Beat Goes On

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 13

Lots of people assume Google will be the last word in search, but I think it’s kind of early to assume that. One more sign that search ain’t over yet…

Digg This: Soon, Not Just for Geeks Anymore

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 11

Digg, the collaborative tech news site, will soon branch out beyond geekdom. At a Web 2.0 panel at the eBay Developers Conference today, President Kevin Rose said that in the…

My Ol’ Virtual ‘53 Chevy

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 24

At the end of my cover story, Virtual World, Real Money, my avatar “Rob Cranes” had run into a “residents association” in this part of the online virtual world Second…

The Next Social Networks Won’t Look Like MySpace

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 24

So says Marc Pincus, who knows something about social networks from his time at Tribe Networks. Marc wonders if the current online social networks will survive their members, well, growing…

My Second Life

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 20

I ran across the online virtual world Second Life at least a year and a half ago, when I heard that Omidyar Network, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife…

Death to “User-Generated Content”?

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 05

Derek Powazek calls for a death sentence on the term “user-generated content,” which I also think is an ugly term. As Derek puts it: They’re words that creepy marketeers use….

Web Mashups: Parlor Tricks or Real Businesses?

Posted by: Rob Hof on February 17

VC Peter Rip loves Web mashups, but he wonders if too many of them will find it difficult to transform themselves from cool combinations of sites to sustainable businesses. It’s…

Social Lending Marketplace Prosper Launches

Posted by: Rob Hof on February 05

Mike Arrington has the news: Prosper (formerly known as CircleOne), founded by E-Loan cofounder Chris Larsen, has launched—very softly. According to the site: People who need money request it, and…

Amazon Expands Tagging

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 27

After first quietly experimenting with tags back in November, Amazon lately has added a couple of interesting new wrinkles. In some listings, you can also view what other tags customers…

Why Spot Runner May Be Revolutionary

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 24

I like Umair Haque’s take on the real reason why Spot Runner is revolutionary—or could be. This is the new outfit, still in beta, that lets local businesses buy generic…

Dan Gillmor: The Rough Road to Citizen Journalism

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 24

Dan Gillmor finally offers an explanation of what’s happening (or, more lamentably, not happening) at his citizen journalism venture, Bayosphere. He’s got a raft of reasons why the site hasn’t…

The Future of Media: Microchunks or Brands?

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 12

VC Fred Wilson and serial entrepreneur Mark Pincus are debating what the next era of media will be. Fred think it’s RSS-style microchunks of content that carry ads and are…

Wink: People-Powered Search

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 22

The new “people-powered search engine,” Wink, has just launched its public beta. In CEO Michael Tanne’s own words: Wink is a different kind of search engine - one that searches…

News Rating Service Readying Pilot Launch

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 19

I just got a sample survey from NewsTrust that indicates the news rating service will launch a pilot site in January. The group, headed by Fabrice Florin, claims test results…

Yahoo! Eats

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 09

Heather Green at Blogspotting has the news, along with TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington: Yahoo’s buying the tagging site Between the acquisitions of and Flickr, Yahoo clearly is embracing tagging,…

Wikipedia’s Paradox

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 08

Wikipedia, the darling of the new Web, has seen quite a backlash lately thanks to some high-profile mischief and shady editing of entries. Outsell’s David Curle has an interesting analysis…

Yahoo! Answers: Search with a Human Touch

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 07

Just launched in beta, Yahoo! Answers is a place where you can ask questions on any topic and get answers from real people. It’s free, presumably funded by sponsored ads….

New Ideas in Online Advertising: Who Needs Google?

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 06

Heard a couple of new buzzwords—or are they incipient markets?—at the When 2.0 workshop presented at Stanford today by Esther Dyson’s ReLease 1.0 and Stanford’s Media X program. * “user-generated…

Mash Up The News

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 25

Jeff Jarvis notes a very interesting experiment at the Washington Post: Post Remix. If you’ve got a little technical flair, you can use the Post’s RSS feeds to create…


Posted by: Rob Hof on November 22 doesn’t blab about it much, but it clearly gets the Web 2.0 Power of Us participatory thing. For years, it has had customer book reviews, customer-produced product lists called… A Little Relief for Web Overload

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 21

I’ve been getting swamped by feed overload for months now. An hour or two out of my day, and while I’m getting a heck of an education, I’m kinda running…

Are Online Reputations Portable?

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 10

For years, both sellers and buyers on eBay have bellyached about not being able to carry their reputations—the feedback ratings they get from each other on their transactions—to other sites….

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 04 is quietly testing another interesting innovation, this time tapping into the Power of Us. The cheeky geeks there call it the Mechanical Turk, after an 18th century hoax, a…

Russell Beattie’s Rant: Too Many Startups Built to Flip

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 28

Yahoo’s Russell Beattie has an entertaining rant about the lack of innovation among too many Web 2.0 companies. He has plopped them all into categories, such as “Scrape Engines” and…

Should Flickr (And Lots of Other Web 2.0 Sites) Pay You?

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 27

37Signals’ Jason Fried riffs off a post by SixApart’s Anil Dash, asking whether Flickr shouldn’t be sharing some of the ad revenue it gets. The photo-sharing site, now owned by…

New on Flickr: Camera-Tossing

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 14

Check out the newest craze on Flickr: camera-tossing. Amazing photos, all taken by opening the shutter in low light and tossing the camera in the air. Of course, if…

Get Ready for Flock

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 05

Who’s crazy enough to create a new Web browser? The folks at Flock, apparently. No, you can’t try it out for another couple weeks unless you know some secret digerati…

Rollyo Own Search

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 04

Dave Pell stopped by today to tell me about his new venture, Rollyo. The four-month-old startup lets you “roll your own search engine” by choosing precisely which sites to search….

Tech Support Done Right

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 03

I’m posting this from home only because I’ve managed to get my wireless network back up and running after more than a week of frustration. Frustration not only with my…

A Mash-up Matrix

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 27

Via O’Reilly Radar, here’s a link to a new matrix of Web mash-ups. It’s a great guide to the programmable Web from (naturally) the programmableweb blog written by John Musser….

eBay Debuts Member Reviews and Guides

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 27

The online marketplace today rolled out a test site for member reviews and product guides. Good idea. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has browsed eBay for…

Learning to Work with Wikis

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 21

A few weeks ago, I suddenly realized I would need a better way to collaborate with BusinessWeek’s other writers and editors on our Best of the Web list than simply…

Best of the Web: The Results

Posted by: Rob Hof on September 18

I’ve been so busy getting the Best of the Web package done that I forgot to mention here that … it’s done! We got a great response on the reader…

Web 2.0: What’s in a Number?

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 08

Tim Bray, Sun Microsystems’ director of Web technologies, hates the term Web 2.0, saying it’s vacuous marketing hype. It’s true that the term is pretty amorphous, and it has become…

The Flickr Snowball Effect

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 02

My colleague Heather Green over at Blogspotting alerts us to some new features at Flickr, acquired a few months ago by Yahoo!. John Battelle at Searchblog has an interesting name…

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Ballmer?

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 28

At an analyst conference today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a choice comment. “We have won on the desktop,” he said according to this account at CNET “Now…

More Mash-ups with Google Maps

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 27

The mash-ups keep on comin’, and Google Maps is leading the way. O’Reilly Radar has a roundup, including one tracks the space shuttle. just let me know that…

Skype’s Ambitions

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 20

The Internet phone software phenom Skype revealed today that it has much bigger ambitions than helping people make calls for free. At AlwaysOn’s Innovation Summit at Stanford University today, founder…

Productive Friction at eBay

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 10

Ever since I read John Hagel’s and John Seely Brown’s writings about “productive friction,” I’ve been intrigued by the idea but couldn’t quite understand how it worked in the real…

Sun Taps into the Power of Us

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 01

Sun Microsystems is moving fast into what it calls the Participation Age, or at least talking about it a lot, Howard Rheingold notes in his Smart Mobs blog. “Sharing is…

The Rise of Distributed Business

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 22

I’ve seen John Seely Brown’s talk on “innovation ecologies” a couple of times now, including today at Supernova 2005, and I think I’m finally coming to understand it. The idea…

The Power of Us, Indeed: A Goldmine from Readers

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 19

Like few other stories I’ve written, The Power of Us has unleashed a torrent of ideas and Web sites from a surprisingly diverse set of readers. And unlike most previous…

The Power of You

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 16

We’ve gotten lots of comments from readers, nearly all insightful, about our recent cover story, The Power of Us. As you might expect, the comments are now an integral part…

Tech’s Fifth Wave

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 16

Michael Copeland and Om Malik have an interesting article on what they call the fifth wave of computing in the new issue of Business 2.0. It’s a very different but…


BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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