Sysomos Launches FourWhere
Sysomos have created a Foursquare/Google Maps mashup called FourWhere. Users can search for venues in their local area and see comments and tips left by Foursquare users. It lacks the trending data that services like SocialGreat provide, but it’s not a bad effort and it’s great to see more companies getting to grips with making location data searchable and useful.
Rapportive Adds Social CRM to Gmail
Rapportive is a clever little browser plugin that replaces Gmail ads with contextual social media contact information. Data is sourced from a service called Rapleaf, that scours social media sites for accounts with a matching email address (incorrect entries can be updated by users). Functionality to enable team collaboration on contact notes is on the way, so it’s ideal for freelancers/start-ups/small businesses wanting to manage their customer relations. For larger enterprises, there will be integration with Salesforce and other paid services. Doubts have been raised about whether Google will allow them to continue acting as an ad-blocker, and there are privacy concerns regarding email body text that may put some users off, but most responses so far have been positive. They’ve already been favourably reviewed by ReadWriteWeb, Lifehacker and The Next Web. (Full disclosure – this is my flatmate’s startup! Well done him.)
Future of Virtual Worlds
Are virtual worlds over? The hype around virtual worlds has been co-opted by social media apps and games for children, with endless copycat games trying to cash in on the success of FarmVille, Gaia Online and Habbo. In contrast, there has been little progress in the more sophisticated “native client” worlds like Second Life. Raph Koster argues that the space is in a period of transition: the features that once made virtual worlds unique (such as community, public profile data and realtime communication) are becoming an integrated part of our online lives. As the virtual world concept mutates into something more palatable to the mass market, the core experience will become more rooted in the real world: “virtual worlds are dead, long live the world, virtual”.
A thoughtful piece from the Economist contemplates the future of cloud computing. Despite a big advertising push, companies are still not rushing to embrace services like Google Docs, browser-based applications and software as a service. The biggest hurdle remains convincing firms of data security, though “there is still little question that cloud computing will one day become the norm.”