Earlier today, I received an e-mail from Zude CEO Jim McNiel that said the following:
We would like to let you have a sneak peak 24 Hours ahead of the official release. At 12:01 A.M. EST Monday April 30th, you can sign in to Zude at zude.com. This sneak preview can only be accessed with a special password: 9833. Feel free to share with your readers, or just keep it for yourself.
So, now, I've shared. If you check it out, feel free to come back to this blog post and use the comments area below to share what you've learned.
For those of you not familiar with Zude, I interviewed McNiel and the company's CTO Steve Repetti a few weeks ago. The interview is still the only way to see a video demonstration of the product. I had a hard time putting my finger on just exactly what the product does since it addresses several markets. On the one hand, it's what I call a platform of personal expression (or PPE). Blogging infrastructures are PPEs. So are MySpace, FaceBook, and photosharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket. To the extent that we share these personally programmed destinations with other people, they are forms of personal expression. With Zude, not only can you aggregate all of your disparate forms of personal expression into basically one window (eg: one URL that you can hand out so people can find your entire MySpace and Flickr home pages in one place), you can also add software. In other words, whereas most PPEs offer users the ability to express themselves with text, audio, still images, and video, with Zude you can objectize pretty much any functionality on the Web (eg: a search box) by simply dragging and dropping it into your Zudesphere. This way, some search results (or some other software functionality) can become a part of the way you personal express yourself.
Or, your Zudesphere can be more like your multimedia bookmark page. I'm thinking of Google's personalized home page or MyYahoo with the difference being, whereas many personalized home pages don't easily support functionality from other sites (eg: a Yahoo stock widget on Google's personalized home page), Zude is equally supportive of functionality from any site. In this context, Zude is very much like NetVibes or yourminis, both of which offer a library of widgets that you can add to your personal workspace. The difference with Zude is that instead of a library of widgets, you use the Web as your library. By dragging anything you want from the Web (a page, image, etc.) into your Zudesphere, it automatically becomes a widget that you can manipulate with properities like transparency percentage, mouseover text, click events, and so on. In this drag and drop respect and point and click programmability, the closest thing to Zude is probably zcubes.com.
In yet another context -- where Zude's 5G programming language can be used to tie objects together in a way that results in certain dynamic behaviors -- Zude is more of a mashup publishing platform that's akin to what IBM is doing with QEDWiki. QEDWiki (here's a video demo) uses wiki technology to support collaborative mashup development whereby the wiki serves as both host to widgets (that may or may not interact with each other) as well as the collaborative infrastructure over which developers may either work together on certain widgets or borrow functionality from one another. News: One feature that Zude will roll out with on May 1 that wasn't there when I last looked at it is the ability for widgets to easily be shared across Zudespheres. So, if you're a developer and you've built some cool widget that appeals to me, I can right click on it, pull it into my Zudesphere, and then modify it. Come to think of it, in this context, both QEDWiki and Zude are like interactive SourceForges (only the software may not necessarily be open source).