Demo 2006: CNET's Rafe Needleman blogs about on TagWorld, VSee and Plum:
TagWorld -- now with commerce
Who knew that a world of young people would propel MySpace into the phenom it has become? The site's success has left the rest of the world scrambling to catch up, but the game isn't over yet. A new entry into the personal site space is TagWorld. It's based on tagging: users can tag other users, sites, media, and so on. Designing pages is highly interactive. Users can just drag items around on the page to create their own designs.
I wrote a column on TagWorld for Release 1.0. New for Demo is the tag-based classified service. It handles payments, too, via PayPal, so users will be able to quickly sell goods -- assuming the network gets big enough. TagWorld now has 700,000 users.
Slow video = slow minds
With videoconferencing, quality matters. Lag on a video connection makes conversations stilted. We perceive people as mentally slow when they respond to us slowly. As Milton Chen, the CEO of VSee Lab says, quite rightly, "Our brains blame the person for technology deficiencies."
VSee Lab makes Vsee, a videoconferencing product that is supposed to require just half the bandwidth of Skype. It's peer-to-peer and requires no servers. The demo here was compelling - the people on the other end of the videoconference appeared much more lifelike than other, sluggish, videoconference systems.
Also, the system allows users to pan and zoom around the video images coming in. Users can drill into small portions of a whiteboard, for example.
Chen says most of the people working at his company work from home -- using their own technology.
Yet another social bookmark site?
During the hands-on sessions at Demo, I checked out Plum (still in closed beta). This service lets you collect things you like--bookmarks, photos, documents, etc.--and then use those collections in several useful ways. The service acts like a social network of knowledge: If there's an item in your collection, the system can tell you what other people who have the same item also have in their collections. In some ways it's like Del.icio.us, but the user experience is more mainstream (i.e. easier) with Plum.
In Plum, you can tag items, just as you do in other bookmarking systems. But the founders of Plum recognize that many users may not tag their content, so Plum also performs a contextual analysis of your items, and groups them based on that. Plum can display its items on a Web page (in several different formats) and also send you items in e-mail or RSS feeds.
Plum lets you collect items from your own computer, and intermingle them with your bookmarks. I saw a demo of saving a photo on a local machine to a Plum account, and it was much easier than any of the online-only bookmarking systems I've seen. It's also easy to publish and share a collection (or just a narrow slice of a collection) with other users, so Plum may end up competing with photo-sharing services.