Posted on August 26th, 2005 No comments
We just quietly launched a public beta of the next version of Bakotopia.com on the “Bakomatic” platform. You can check it out here: http://www.bakotopia.com/beta. We need more testers, so even if you’re not in Bakersfield, please feel free to register and try out some of the new features. Let me know if you find any bugs! That’s the whole point of a beta test.
This next version is even more about persona. It has several types of user profile ratings (including the ability to rate bands based on how many beers they’re worth to you), profile guestbooks, and a liberal sprinkling of user profiles throughout the site. In addition, if you have a profile photo and you sign on, your profile pic shows up right on the home page, as well as right alongside anything you post and in sidebars.
The calendar is also much improved, with a clickable calendar widget appearing on almost every page. Not surprisingly, events have been the most popular type of post on the youth-oriented Bakotopia. We’re seeing more local bands and clubs start to post their gigs, so we know the calendar widget will be a big hit.
Finally, we are starting to experiment with using the “Bakomatic” platform that now powers Bakotopia to power other brands. More about that in a few weeks!
This is my favorite version of Bakotopia so far because it starts to flirt with social networking. It will be impossible to use this site and not meet new people. As I’ve said before, I believe the most successful online communities work because of their ability to connect people with like minds, interests and goals. We have much more work to do to make Bakotopia and Bakomatic a true social networking tool, but Bakotopia 1.5 is an important first step in that direction.
(Oh — and speaking of persona, if you can help me secure five stars in my Hot and Cool ratings, it would be much appreciated
Posted on August 26th, 2005 1 comment
Two things jumped out at me from my daily Slashdot digest.
1) AOL is laying off 700 workers again. I say “again” because the entire 6 1/2 years I was at AOL, they had layoffs of this magnitude at least once a year and sometimes even twice — even during the “go-go ’90s”. It was a form of corporate Darwinism which I believe even Darwin would say had a devolutionary effect. I guess it gives them a temporary quarterly stock price boost, but I have to really wonder if it’s helping them at all in the long run.
I know many good, smart people who have survived years of layoffs at AOL like I did who could lose their jobs, and that’s going to be yet another major loss of brainpower for the company. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers!
Meanwhile, companies like Google continue their hiring spree and launch new products, like their Talk and Desktop 2 products. I hope the Time Warner people who now call the shots are paying attention to that, because Google is plotting world domination in much the same way that AOL was in the 90s. With their open APIs and numerous free services, I can envision Google taking a good deal of business away from AOL and Yahoo (the latter of which curiously ditched Google as a search partner a few years ago, probably after realizing what Google was really up to). According to the article above, most of AOL’s revenue growth this quarter was from paid Google search ad links. Yikes!
2) Ted Leonsis is leading a new Audience group at AOL that will “draw more visitors to its AOL.com home page by offering more free content and services”. There have been many efforts at this over the years, but with Leonsis in charge I have more faith than ever that it will work. Ted Leonsis has always put customer experience above revenue, clearly understanding that without an audience you have no potential for any revenue period. By embracing the “free” web users in such a bold way, they should be able to get a chunk of the advertising dollars now streaming anew into the interactive arena. (On another note — it sounds like audience fragmentation has affected even AOL! I just hope this new strategy isn’t too little too late.)