Posts tagged Thing

Microsoft’s Future Remains Cloudy—And That’s A Very Good Thing

Increasingly, Microsoft is looking like a successful cloud-services company that also happens to sell software, a game console and some other devices.

Of course, that’s not apparent at first glance. In Microsoft’s latest earnings report, covering the July–September quarter, it pulled in overall revenue of $23.2 billion in revenue and earned a net profit of $4.5 billion. Its “commercial cloud” revenue, which includes cloud-related revenue from its Office productivity software as well as its Azure public-cloud server business, amounted to just $1.2 billion—a mere 5% of the software giant’s overall sales.

See also: Azure Is Helping Microsoft Catch Up In The Cloud

But take a closer look. Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue grew 11 times faster than that of the company as a whole, more than doubling in the quarter compared to the year-earlier period. Overall company revenues rose just 11% over the same timeframe. (That’s excluding $2.6 billion in July–September phone sales resulting from Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone unit earlier this year.)

What’s more, the gross profit associated with Microsoft’s cloud and “enterprise service” operations almost tripled in the quarter. That profit jumped 194% to $805 million in the quarter. Overall, Microsoft’s gross profit barely rose at all, edging up only 8% (again excluding the Nokia handset business).

Head In The Cloud

All of which is to say that the long-held view of Microsoft as an old-school software business dependent on Windows and Office is due for an upgrade. 

Windows and Office are going to remain key to Microsoft’s operations for years to come; they’re still enormous, after all.

See also: What Microsoft’s Fiercest Critics Forget: Azure

They’re just not growing. Microsoft’s “devices and consumer licensing” revenue—i.e., Windows for consumer PCs and other gadgets—actually dropped 8.7% in the quarter, primarily reflecting the ongoing consumer shift toward tablets and phones away from PCs. Its “commercial licensing” business—read: Windows for business—bumped up only 2.7% in the quarter.

Both segments remain hugely profitable, with gross margin in the range of 92% to 93%. But profits in the two segments combined rose only 1.5% in the quarter. 

True, together they accounted for almost $14 billion in revenue and $12.9 billion in gross profit—that’s basically the definition of “cash cow.” But these cows don’t seem likely to get much fatter; in fact, the opposite is much likelier over time.

And while straight-line extrapolations are usually wrong, consider this for perspective. Should Microsoft’s cloud business keep growing at this rate (which it almost certainly won’t), it could eclipse the company’s entire Windows business in just four years.

Microsoft, of course, continues to do a variety of other interesting things, although they’re likely to remain sidelights in business terms. Revenue from sales of its Surface tablet more than doubled to almost $1 billion in the quarter. Total Xbox unit sales also doubled, although Microsoft still doesn’t distinguish between the older Xbox 360 and its newer Xbox One, suggesting that the latter isn’t yet something it wants to brag about.

But the cloud remains its real future.

Lead image by Robert Scoble

View full post on ReadWrite

One Thing Is Missing From Facebook’s Research Guidelines: Respect For Its Users

When Facebook announced changes as to how it will conduct online research, there was one glaring omission in its new guidelines: There’s no mention of how the social network will treat its users moving forward.

Facebook faced quite the backlash from its emotional manipulation study published earlier this summer, in which it deliberately showed some users more positive or negative posts to see how they affected mood. In an effort to placate its critics with more transparency, the company issued new guidelines on Thursday to help it conduct online experiments more responsibly.

The framework includes a a more thorough vetting process for research proposals; a review panel that includes “senior subject-area researchers” and members of multiple teams at Facebook; a six-week training program to educate employees on research practices; and a new research website to publish Facebook’s academic studies.

See also: How To Opt Out Of Facebook’s Mind Altering Experiments

Facebook wants you to blindly trust it to be better, and not to worry about potentially becoming a participant in an experiment you didn’t sign up for. But Thursday’s blog post doesn’t instill that much confidence.

“What’s glaringly missing in this statement is the word ‘ethics’,” said Reynol Junco, an Iowa State professor and faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center, in an interview. “There’s really no discussion of how they’re going to address the ethical concerns, and who their ethical experts are going to be, and what their ethical review process looks like.”

I spoke with Junco earlier this year, and he said the problem with the Facebook study—and what made it different from the research other companies conduct as a form of A/B testing—was the potential for harm in its experiments. As he said at th time:

Is what you get from the research worth doing the intervention, and if the answer is yes, what are you going to do to minimize the effects?  

Facebook is silent in this regard.

Clickwrap Consent

When Facebook first published the emotional contagion study, one of the biggest concerns was that the company did not get informed consent from users—meaning people had no idea they were a part of an experiment. Facebook manipulated people psychologically without getting their consent first.

The mood manipulation study may have been legal, but perhaps not ethical. According to The Atlantic, the experiments took place before any of the researchers consulted an institutional review board, which exist primarily to ensure the protection of human research subjects.  Facebook’s recent blog post says it will engage with the academic community, but doesn’t say if it will seek approval from review boards before doing similar research. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy watchdog organization, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming Facebook broke the law when it ran the experiment. That’s because the social network didn’t state specifically in its data policy that user information could be used in research. 

Facebook has revised its policy since, although it’s not yet clear whether it that change sufficient “informed consent” for future research purposes.

“The devil’s in the details—it’s a nice statement, but how is this going to work in practice?” Junco said. “I don’t see any talk about how … strong the user protections are going to be. They don’t really say how this isn’t going to happen again—is it just going to happen again, and they’ll say, look, we have clear guidelines and we have a panel?”

The guidelines are a good start, though, and increased transparency is at least somewhat promising sign. Facebook plans to apply the guidelines to both internal and public-facing experiments, for what that’s worth.

Lead photo by Robert Scoble

View full post on ReadWrite

Dear Barry Bonds: Stop Trying To Make “Glassing” A Thing

Silicon Valley Street Style is a weekly feature that looks at the intersection of fashion, technology and taste.

Barry Bonds uploaded a photo on Twitter on Monday in which the former big-league superstar looked over the city of San Francisco—coffee cup in hand, Google Glass on his face, deep introspection in his eyes. 

“I’m glassing,” reads the superimposed caption. 

It’s a message I imagine said in Bonds’ voice, as if he were looming behind me and whispering “I’m glassing” into my ear with hot breath. 

And yet … why? 

Google, as we know, is doing its darndest to make its face computers socially acceptable to the masses, yet according to the myriad of flummoxed users, Bonds has nothing to do with the anti-Glasshole campaign. 

Bonds, it seems, is doing a solid for his pal, “visual storyteller” Anthony Phills, the guy behind “I’m Glassing,”  a project and magazine about the wearable—a project not sponsored by Google. 

Glassing is a term referring to wearing and using Google Glass, a word that Phills is trying to force into the modern day lexicon—joining the ranks of tech-words-turned-canon like “Googling” and “tweeting.” 

Phills and Bonds have a tough road ahead of them. What is the consensus about people wearing Google Glass? Google Glass has become the symbol of privilege and shamelessness, and willing to wear the device on your face conveys a sense of pseudo-intelligence, pseudo-clout.

From The Daily Show ripping apart Glass-wearers to the emergence of the term “Glasshole”, people who wear Google Glass are now seen as more of a punchline than anything. A person wearing Google Glass in public, especially in the Bay Area or at a tech event, exudes some sort of invisible people-repellant force that just makes everyone hate you. Everyone except your fellow Glassholes, that is.

Still … I think it works on Bonds. 

As a guy who is not of the tech world, he’s trying. I’ll readily roll my eyes at the people already invested in the Silicon Valley tech lifestyle who throw on a pair of Google Glass like a sign that says, “I know tech. And I’m wealthy.”

But Bonds is just getting into the whole social media thing, slapping Google Glass on, adapting to the times. As a figure so very integral to San Francisco culture, I feel as though Bonds is adopting Google Glass as if it were a peace offering to the city’s techie landscape. And I can’t fault him for that. Our tiny Silicon Valley bubble can be an angry, elitist bully sometimes and frankly I just want to take Barry Bonds by the hand and let him inside. 

Looking at this picture, I get the exact same feeling I get when I see old people who are happy. My heart swells. I tear a little. 

So “Glassing” is not a thing. So “Glassing” is a made-up term that Google doesn’t even want to associate with. So “Glassing” could already be in reference to totally unrelated things like using glass bottles as weapons or an attack move in Halo

So what? There’s a mixture of enthusiasm and being so out of touch that is reminiscent of every #dadjoke that’s ever been told. I have my doubts, but I support you, Barry. Keep on doing what you do. 

View full post on ReadWrite

The Most Important Thing To Do Before You Switch Mobile Carriers

The darker the shade, the better the service on Sensorly’s crowd-sourced service map.

With so many shiny new phones on the market this week, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’re thinking about switching mobile carriers for your next device.

See also: What Apple Announced: The iPhone 6, Apple Watch And More

If so, the most important thing to know before making the switch is whether that mobile carrier adequately serves your area. Sensorly and OpenSignal are both services that offers an unbiased take on whether it does or not.

Just put in your ZIP code and cellphone carrier (or prospective carrier) and either site will feed you a map. The deeper the color in your area, the better the service. Alternatively there’s Dead Cell Zones, which highlights just the opposite.

Of course, like with any free service, there is a catch. Sensorly is crowdsourced, so it’s only as accurate as its range and number of users: “Since our data is 100% user-generated, the more people who join the Sensorly Crowd and use the app, the more precise it gets.” OpenSignal is the same way, collecting anonymous data from its app users to create its maps.

See also: Motorola Launches A Phone For Your Budget

So when your options are this or your mobile carrier’s take, Sensorly and OpenSignal are certainly less biased than the alternative. Crowdsourced mobile maps are just another tool to consider if you’re in the market for a new phone.

Screenshot via Sensorly

View full post on ReadWrite

The Only Thing Samsung’s Not Into Is Restraint

Samsung’s much-anticipated Galaxy Note 4 was the least exciting announcement at its latest Unpacked press event this morning. 

The presentation, held in conjunction with the IFA show in Berlin, didn’t waste much time before unveiling a dizzying collection of other gadgets: A Note variation with a curved display called the Galaxy Note Edge, the Galaxy Gear S smartwatch, and the Gear VR virtual reality headset. 

See also: Galaxy Note 4 Rolls With An Entourage

Taken altogether, the message seems pretty clear: Standard smartphones and even phablets, those huge mash-ups of phone and tablet, are staid—boring, even. But don’t fret. Samsung’s here to change up that stale old mobile experience, figuring that at least one of its new gizmos is bound to be the next big thing in mobile.

Let’s take a look.

Galaxy Note 4

The Galaxy Note 4 is no slouch. It’s stronger and lighter than the Note 3, with metal framing, more durable glass and, by all accounts, an even nicer looking 5.7-inch screen.

The previous Note offered a 1920 x 1080 resolution, full HD super AMOLED screen; the new version delivers a Quad HD super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, 30% more pixels.

The battery only got a slight bump from 3,200 mAh to 3,220 mAh. Samsung has borrowed power-saving features from the Galaxy S5, though, and claims that battery life has improved by 7.5%. It also souped up the charging time, giving the Note 4 the ability to charge to 50% in 30 minutes, not an hour.

The S Pen stylus now has double the pressure sensitivity of the previous stock stylus in order to make it feel more like writing with a real pen. Luxury pen maker Mont Blanc even created two special styli for the Note 4 called the Pix and the e-Starwalker—the company’s first digital writing implements that can also write on screens.

Other improvements: Better cameras in front (16 megapixels) and rear (a 3.7 megapixel front selfie cam with an F1.9 lens) that offer enhanced image stabilization and better low light performance, enhanced multitasking, and three new microphones that capture sound in eight directions. The idea is to improve noise cancellation, for clearer phone calls. (That’s right—some people still use their smartphones as phones.)

Note 4 users will choose from black, white, gold and pink when it lands on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular in October. Bling lovers can even pick up a Swarovski crystal studded back cover. 

Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung wants to “change what consumers expect in a smartphone, all over again,” said company executive Gregory Lee. And thus, the company came up with the Galaxy Note Edge. It’s essentially the same phone as the Note 4, with an important difference: a curved display that yields an extra flap of screen on the right side.

Samsung has played with the notion of extra screen real estate before—the doomed Samsung Continuum from four years ago comes to mind. This time around, the separate screen sits under a continuous piece of curved glass. Indeed, the company looks like it just back-bended the existing display, which is possible due to the flexible screen technology it has been working on for years now.

To offer the extra screen space, the Edge shaved a little room off the side, measuring 5.6 inches instead of the Note 4’s 5.7 inches. What you end up with a single piece of glass curved at the side, that can show notifications, an app carousel, stocks or news tickers.

With this, the premise is to let users carry on with their primary screen activities, without alerts, news or incoming calls hijacking the main display. Instead, they appear unobtrusively on the side. So far, reviewers seem to be impressed.

But what really matters is what users think, and they haven’t embraced secondary displays in the past. Whether they will now depends a lot on developers, and whatever they can dream up for that extra sliver of screen. (Samsung is launching a software development kit to help them along.)

Like the Note 4, the Note Edge will hit all the major U.S. carriers, excluding US Cellular.

Samsung Gear S

Samsung’s increasingly crowded range of smartwatches got a new addition last week when the company announced the Gear S. Today, the public finally got to see one out in the wild—or at least onstage.

See also: Samsung’s New Gear S Smartwatch Looks Great

The company put some heavy emphasis on the fact that the Gear S has its own 3G cellular radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS location tracking. Once you’ve set it up (which requires a Note or Galaxy), you can use the watch alone for step tracking, running apps or placing calls (assuming you have the Gear Circle wireless headset, which was conspicuously absent from today’s events).

Samsung also made a big deal out of its health features—the Gear S comes with a heart-rate sensor, and can also track your steps and sync your activity to the cloud. But if the extraneous S Health features on Galaxy phones are any indication, Samsung’s take on fitness and health monitoring probably won’t make or break this device.

What might is the smartwatch’s design. Sure, the Gear S is huge, at 2 inches, but the curvature of its screen gives it an elegant and stylish appeal. In that way, the size works for it, turning the watch into a sort of fashionable cuff. 

The other crucial factor is what people will be able to do with the watch. The Gear S runs on Tizen, the company’s own operating system for mobiles and wearables—not Android. Potential customers may be concerned about a lackluster app inventory, but Samsung says more than 1,000 apps are ready for it.

The Gear S can hold up to 4GB of data and reportedly offers 2-day battery life. I’m a little skeptical about the latter, though, considering the meager 300 mAh power cell. It’s smaller than the LG G watch, and I was charging that thing every dang day.

Samsung Gear VR

Apparently the enemy of Samsung’s enemy is its friend. 

Samsung has been inching away from Google, trying to break free of its the golden handcuffs of the Android operating system—the search giant’s mobile software with millions of die-hard fans. It’s the reason the South Korean tech company developed and installed Tizen on several of its Gear watches, why it’s working on a Tizen-based smartphone, and likely factors into its decision to partner with the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift on these goggles.

Google looms large on this device for more reasons than one. Google Glass gets credit for accelerating the race for our faces, a competition that Facebook seems to have joined this year when it bought virtual reality startup Oculus Rift. Now the new Samsung Gear VR looks like a polished version of the cardboard VR goggles Google gave out at its I/O developer conference this summer.

It works pretty much the same way too. Just pop your Galaxy Note 4 in the front of the eyewear, and the goggles riff on the crystal clear super AMOLED screen to create an immersive virtual environment for the wearer. With the right software, the Gear VR can even offer a 360-degree view, processing and rendering the environment in less than 20 milliseconds. According to Oculus CTO John Carmack, the power, speed and beauty of the super AMOLED display is key for virtual reality, as they help reduce things like motion blur.

Like with most of the other gadgets, apps will be key here as well. What’s the point of virtual reality, if there isn’t much for you to see? Gaming seems like a natural fit for these goggles—with a phone seated inside, there aren’t even any cords to get tangled in, after all. But that’s not the only scenario.

With the Gear VR on, the user gets a viewing range akin to a monster 175-inch display. It’s like the biggest TV you can imagine, without the actual television. Samsung’s touting it as the Oculus VR Cinema, and as an initiative, it will live or die by the entertainment it can deliver. 

So far, Samsung has been working with a line up of partners, including Marvel, IMAX, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, Vevo and others. But it needs Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other streaming heavyweights, otherwise it has little chance of taking off. 

Still, with these moves, Samsung’s clearly making a plea: If you’re bored with the current pace of mobile innovation, hold tight. We’ve got lots of exciting things on the way. (And maybe more importantly, please don’t forget us next week, when Apple’s press event takes place.)

View full post on ReadWrite

Why Robot Workers Aren’t A Bad Thing For Jobs

Robot usage in the global manufacturing industry has been climbing steadily since 2009, the MIT Technology Review reports.

Sourcing World Robotics, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the OECD, MIT found that robotic worker purchases increase every year. However, a closer look at the numbers indicates that robots aren’t taking jobs directly from human counterparts.

In Europe (except Germany), the numbers show that robot usage is up and human employment is down. In America, Germany, and South Korea, however, robot usage and human employment are up. It’s less an indication that robots are replacing people than evidence that German, American, and Korean cars are in demand. After all, the MIT research indicates that the automotive industry has embraced robots more so than any other industrial sector.

It’s hard to tell, but here’s a theory: when the economy is bad and sales are down, increased efficiency from robots keeps struggling auto industries afloat. When the economy is good and sales are up, robots and people both increase in number to meet demand. Robots require maintenance and oversight from humans, so if anything, more robots ought to mean more people when the economy demands it.

See also: Jibo’s Cynthia Breazeal: Why We Will Learn To Love Our Robots

Cynthia Breazeal, a former MIT Media Lab researcher who has gone on to create personal robot assistant Jibo, says the idea of robots stealing human jobs is an outdated one.

“There’s a knee-jerk reaction from the past about robots trying to replace people and take away jobs. But in reality that’s not quite what happens,” she said. “With any new technology, they take over the jobs that people don’t necessarily want to do anyway, and they create new jobs. They empower people to do more interesting work.”

Breazeal cited Race Against the Machine, an academic book about the way robots are transforming human employment. Instead of looking at robots as soulless usurpers, we should see them as tools designed by humans to help humans live—and work—better:

I think we need to do a better job communicating this new, more enlightened philosophy: robots are supplementing what people do. They’re meant to help support us and allow us to do the kind of work that humans in particular find much more interesting and much more fulfilling because humans are creative, humans do things that machines don’t. It’s really about teamwork.

View full post on ReadWrite

Why More Robot Workers Isn’t A Bad Thing For Jobs

Robot usage in the global manufacturing industry has been climbing steadily since 2009, the MIT Technology Review reports.

Sourcing World Robotics, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the OECD, MIT found that robotic worker purchases increase every year. However, a closer look at the numbers indicates that robots aren’t taking jobs directly from human counterparts.

In Europe (except Germany), the numbers show that robot usage is up and human employment is down. In America, Germany, and South Korea, however, robot usage and human employment are up. It’s less an indication that robots are replacing people than evidence that German, American, and Korean cars are in demand. After all, the MIT research indicates that the automotive industry has embraced robots more so than any other industrial sector.

It’s hard to tell, but here’s a theory: when the economy is bad and sales are down, increased efficiency from robots keeps struggling auto industries afloat. When the economy is good and sales are up, robots and people both increase in number to meet demand. Robots require maintenance and oversight from humans, so if anything, more robots ought to mean more people when the economy demands it.

See also: Jibo’s Cynthia Breazeal: Why We Will Learn To Love Our Robots

Cynthia Breazeal, a former MIT Media Lab researcher who has gone on to create personal robot assistant Jibo, says the idea of robots stealing human jobs is an outdated one.

“There’s a knee-jerk reaction from the past about robots trying to replace people and take away jobs. But in reality that’s not quite what happens,” she said. “With any new technology, they take over the jobs that people don’t necessarily want to do anyway, and they create new jobs. They empower people to do more interesting work.”

Breazeal cited Race Against the Machine, an academic book about the way robots are transforming human employment. Instead of looking at robots as soulless usurpers, we should see them as tools designed by humans to help humans live—and work—better.

“I think we need to do a better job communicating this new, more enlightened philosophy: robots are supplementing what people do. They’re meant to help support us and allow us to do the kind of work that humans in particular find much more interesting and much more fulfilling because humans are creative, humans do things that machines don’t. It’s really about teamwork.”

View full post on ReadWrite

Get Over The ‘Next Big Thing’: An Interview on SEO With Duane Forrester by @wonderwall7

Duane Forrester, a Senior Project Manager at Bing who oversees Webmaster Tools, has allowed us to start syndicating his well-written, thoughtful blog pieces on SEO. Over late night emails, he answered my questions on SEO, our industry, and why we need to stop waiting for the “next big thing”. In your first syndicated post for SEJ, you said, “Mostly what it means is that if a business is singularly focused (we’ll focus mainly on SEO this year, and focus on social later), you could be falling behind and not realize it.” That really stuck out to me. What are three strategies marketers […]

The post Get Over The ‘Next Big Thing’: An Interview on SEO With Duane Forrester by @wonderwall7 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

View full post on Search Engine Journal

Right To Be Forgotten “Small Thing” Vs. Copyright Takedowns Says EU Commissioner

European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding was quoted in a BBC interview saying that the Right to Be Forgotten (RTBF) will be relatively easy for Google to administer. She asserted that, compared to the millions of copyright removal requests Google deals with, the thousands of RTBF requests…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Stack Overflow Founder’s Next Big Thing: Reinventing Online Communities

Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror) is one of the industry’s quiet legends of coding, most famous for co-founding what became Stack Overflow, the popular developer Q&A site that boasts more than 150 million page views per month.

What I find most interesting about Atwood, however, is his focus on trying to understand human behavior. He uses open source to create places on the Web where people are self-motivated to participate and share high quality information and advice with others for free.

His next endeavor aims to reinvent how we think about online discussion forums, those vital and yet often overlooked communities of like-minded individuals who stir up interesting conversations and help each other out with problems (technical or otherwise). Atwood not only wants to reenvision these fora, he wants to help them scale to manage even greater growth.

I recently caught up with Atwood to talk about his new project, Discourse, a competitor to Jive and Lithium, among others. Discourse is the forum software powering Ubuntu’s online community and the popular news and culture site BoingBoing, which alone attracts four million monthly unique visitors. If you’re in the Bay Area on June 19, you can catch Atwood speaking on a panel at ForumCon (organized by VigLink) in San Francisco about the future of discussion on the Web.

Making Self-Governance Work

ReadWrite: Stack Overflow is the most popular Q&A site in the world for developers. What is the secret sauce and what types of lessons learned are you bringing over from Stack Overflow to forums?

Jeff Atwood: The central theme of Stack Overflow (and Stack Exchange) is self-governance. The only kind of moderation that scales with the community is the community. At Discourse, we believe deeply in empowering the people who show up every day and demonstrate that they care about their community, the people in it, and the way that community presents itself to the world. Who takes care of public parks? We all do. And everyone benefits.

This natural trust level progression at Discourse is handled in a much more subtle way than the overt reputation system at Stack Exchange. Discussion platforms are generally about social discussion and sharing opinions, not publicly verifiable data, facts and science. The two most important factors we look at are reading (aka listening) and consistent participation over time.

There’s also a system of community flagging that is factored in, that lets the community collectively edit its own behavior even in the absence of any formal moderators. Through the trust system, Discourse communities develop a natural immune system that repels the trolls, spam, and hate that eventually tear apart communities on other forum software.

RW: How important is open source to what you do? Or does it matter at all?    

JA: At Stack Overflow we released all Q&A under a Creative Commons license so that people could use the content elsewhere if Stack Overflow ever shut down or started charging for subscriptions. This was our guarantee to the community: If you spend time here and contribute your time to assist other developers, we can’t take that away from you, or anyone else. Ever.

Similarly, Discourse is 100% open source, licensed under the GPL. The type of people that can build a community tend to be famous, and already have their own empires. With an open-source license, we can give them a great community platform with no risk, because nobody, including we, can ever take the underlying code away from them.

Change in a community is difficult enough without being locked in to proprietary, expensive platforms.

Most traditional forums ship with a default “we own all your content” license for user submissions, which we think is bad for users and bad for the web. The default Discourse license for user submissions is Creative Commons. People who contribute to a community deserve shared rights to their contributions, along with the greater web. After all, they built it.

Open source also means the project can evolve faster via a worldwide network of community contributions. Discourse is already one of the top 40 most Starred projects on GitHub, and it only launched in 2013. The community has translated Discourse into 17 languages. They’ve also developed a range of plug-ins to extend the features of Discourse.

Scale That Mountain

RW: With Stack Exchange getting 150 million page views each month, you obviously know about scalable systems. Can you give some advice to our readers?

JA: There are two types of scale. I’ve already explained some of the human factors related to scaling a community of people, and that’s a far deeper challenge. We’ve built Discourse with mature, scalable open-source web technologies: Ruby, Javascript, Redis, and PostgreSQL. We’re also using Docker for deployment. As you would expect from the founder of Stack Overflow, we use proven software engineering techniques. Discourse is a project designed to last for a decade and scale to millions of users.

RW: How can people monetize forums?

JA: There’s the obvious method of advertising with VigLink, Google Ads, or similar ad networks. You can also charge community members an optional fee to participate. Forums can also be a great marketplace to buy and sell unique goods, such as vintage clothing, sneakers, or watches. In exchange for easy buying and selling facilities, the forum takes a small percentage.

We hope to create the same thriving business ecosystem around Discourse that currently exists for WordPress. For example:

  • Design. Businesses will want their Discourse communities to have their own branded look and feel. Web designers can use standard CSS/HTML to offer custom Discourse design services.
  • Themes. In the future, we expect there to be a market for standard Discourse themes.
  • Plug-ins. We currently have support for plug-ins and the infrastructure for building (and finding) plugins is something we’re working hard on.
  • Hosting. There are already a number of hosting providers and open source packaging services offering Discourse.
  • Consulting. For experts in Discourse who can assist businesses in rolling out deployments, customizing them, and maintenance.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

View full post on ReadWrite

Go to Top
Copyright © 1992-2014, DC2NET All rights reserved