Blog Posts by Phil Leitch

October 06, 2005: AOL Purchases Weblogs, Inc

America Online (AOL) has purchased Weblogs, Inc., the blog publishing empire created by Jason Calacanis. The official announcement is expected tomorrow. I think the move will help blogs achieve more respect in the world of journalism and news.

Right now, the most popular blog on Weblogs Inc., is Engadget, which covers the world of technology and gadgets. Weblogs Inc., currently employs about 130 bloggers producing roughly 100 blogs covering everything from video games to open source software to television.

AOL plans to leave the company as a standalone entity, rather than roll it underneath the AOL banner. Yahoo, MSN and NewsCorp also expressed interest in buying it. 

So what’s next? Gawker Media is the next likely purchase being eyed by the content hungry big shooters. I say we start a blog empire. Who’s with me?

October 05, 2005: Rumors of the Video iPod

Apple is planning another one of it’s mysterious events for October 12. This time, people seem to think it’s the long sought after video iPod. Personally, I can’t fathom why you’d want to watch Spiderman 2 on a 2 inch screen, or how I would legally get Spiderman2 on my video iPod.

I would be impressed if it had:

  • A big hard drive
  • Video out capabilities
  • The ability to link to iTunes to buy and sell movies and/or television shows

Even with those capabilities, I’m not sure I understand the need for such a device.

Let’s just hope it’s not another phone.

Links: AppleInsider  MacRumors  Reuters

October 05, 2005: The Google-Sun Non-Announcement

Google and Sun announced yesterday that Sun will offer the option of including the Google Search toolbar with downloads of it’s Java Runtime Environment. Many were expecting yesterday’s press event to announce the Google Office Suite. Instead, it turned out to be about as exciting as Apple and Motorola’s snoozefest announcing the iTunes phone.

Google and Sun said there will be more to come from the partnership, let’s hope so.

October 04, 2005: 24 Hour Laundry Comes Clean

24 Hour Laundry, the stealthy startup that’s been keeping Netscape founder Marc Andreesen busy lately, has finally lifted the lid off its newest offering. Honestly, I’d forgotten he was up to anything. And now, after seeing Ning I don’t know whether to stand and applaud, or just scratch my head. Why all the mystery prior to launch?

Riding on the recent successes of social apps like MySpace, Flickr and, Ning seems to have created an online social application structure for you to take and create your own social application.

If you’re up on the social software phenomenon, think of Ning as a CMS for social apps. If you’re not, I’d suggest visiting some of these links before trying to understand what 24 Hour Laundry is doing.

I’m interested to see if Ning releases a future standalone product that allows me to host my own. If it does, sign me up! In the meantime, I’m sure I"ll waste part of my weekend playing in Ning’s new playground.

October 03, 2005: Writeboard is Released

37signals has launched its latest application called Writeboard. And just as many people guessed, it is based on the idea of a wiki. However, Writeboard is only one-page long, which doesn’t seem all that helpful at first glance. But after reading their starter list of ideas, I think there are many ways that an individual or organization could benefit from using it.

Here are a few reasons to give Writeboard a spin around the block:

  • It’s free.
  • You can create as many of them as you want.
  • It’s accessible anywhere you can get online.
  • It can be shared with as many or as few people as you want.
  • It keeps a history of all changes.
  • You can mark versions you think are keepers.
  • A visual cue on the history list indicates how major a change was.
  • It’s integrated with Backpack

If you’d like to try out Writeboard, I set one up called Sundog Writeboard Sandbox (password: password) that you can play around with. Enjoy!

September 30, 2005: O’Reilly (hearts)

O’Reilly has an interesting experiment underway in which they’ve taken articles that have been tagged on and are using those tags to create a folksonomy on their own site. The tags and resulting folksonomy created by the readers is not only meant to replace O’Reilly’s own categorization, but rather to add to it. In their own words, “There’s value in both types. One’s authoritative. The other is flexible and dynamic.” As someone who uses extensively and sees a great future for tagging, this is a great development. I hope will open up their data to any sites that wish to do the same.

This blog post goes into further detail about the O’Reilly experiment. And if you don’t know what is, here’s some info we’ve posted before.

September 29, 2005: Rollyo Launches Personalized Search

Rollyo launched quietly yesterday. It’s a site that allows you to create and share search engines based on your choice of Web sites. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. I thought the same thing when I was invited to join their beta release a few weeks ago. Until creating my first searchroll, a collection of about 15 web2.0 blogs, I had a very hard time understanding why it would be useful or why I’d even be interested in one someone else put together.

The idea isn’t hard to grasp once you’ve created one yourself. Basically you build a searchroll, with up to 25 sites of your choosing, then let Yahoo Search! handle the hard part. The searchroll returns results based on the sites you’ve included and nothing else. Essentially you’ve created a personalized, trusted search for yourself and to share your expertise with others.

In most cases you have experts, or people passionate about something, that are sharing the sites they visit with you. You can trust that searching Debra Messing’s Style Shop searchroll will give you pretty good results, (unless you’re searching for auto parts I suppose.)

September 28, 2005: MicroCasting?

Slawesome is an interesting site I ran across this morning. It allows a person to send short audio messages rather than email. It has the option of making the messages available to the public via RSS (only those messages you choose to be public). Maybe you feel like telling your spouse that you love them. You can record a short message, under 2 minutes 22 seconds, and tell them, “I love you” and they can hear your voice.

The RSS feed is the interesting part. It means you could use Slawesome to create your own MicroCasting media empire—sort of a lo-fi Odeo. It’s still a pretty new site, so expect a few bugs and quirks. But at this point, it looks pretty interesting. Does this mean Sundog MicroCasts will be coming soon? Don’t hold your breath. Most of us are microphone shy.

June 20, 2005: Wikitorial, I hardly knew ya

Michael Kinsley’s experiment using a wiki for the LA Times editorial is over, at least for now. When I first heard of the idea my initial thought was that it wasn’t a very good one. A brave experiment in publishing, definitely. But a wiki seems the polar opposite to an editorial page. Wouldn’t adding a simple comments section or a discussion board work much better? I get the feeling that Kinsley wanted to create some buzz for his paper and latched onto a hot buzzword, mixed it into the editorials and hoped for the best. Others have suggested that the experiment was a success due to the attention it has attracted. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out and how long they’re willing to keep trying.

The Long Tail, a wonderful blog I found over the weekend, has two good entries on the subject.

June 07, 2005: A Champion for Good Writing on the Web

When was the last time somebody asked you to check out the writing on a Web site?  I’m going to guess it’s been awhile. But it’s a whole different story when talking about the visual design of a site, in fact you can find sites dedicated to visual design like CSS Vault and CSS Beauty. During a time where everybody shouts “Content is King” there are not a lot of sites doing anything to highlight great writing, until now that is. Garrent Dimon recently launched Notable Words in an effort to bring to light good examples of writing. I’m particularly pleased with his first postings because he included Daring Fireball which is one site I am always happy to see has something new to read.

Good writing can provide your customers with a valued and relevant source of information as well as help your site move ahead in search engine rankings. While having a great design to wrap your content in is necessary, don’t forget you also need to have great content as well to attract and keep visitors to your site.

May 26, 2005: Debunking Web Myths #1: The 3-click Rule

Myth: People don’t like to click (aka “The Three Click Rule”).

Fact: People don’t like to click when the result isn’t what they are expecting.