edgeio/CraigsList – what’s the difference?

I posted to the comments on Rob Hof’s BusinessWeek Online blog this morning. A reader has said that edgeio’s new features make it “like CraigsList” and implied that edgeio’s distinctiveness was threatened.

I’m re-posting it here because there are some themes in it that I think are important to expose.

Here is my reply:

Rob,

Thanks for writing about our new features. I want to respond to Mike
Masnick. On the face of it he asks a fair question – if you can list on
edgeio then how is that different from CraigsList?
It’s a multi-part answer:

1. We are giving you a hosted listings blog. It is yours to post to.
edgeio is still aggregating the content from your blog, just as if your
blog were elsewhere. The goal here is to expand the universe of people
who can utilize edgeio from bloggers, to well … everybody. So this is
still self publishing, and although it is hosted by edgeio, still
decentralized. The idea of a blog as a storefront is definitely not a
CraigsList idea.

2. Having said that, lets assume there is no difference, or that the
difference is mainly semantic (which I don’t think it is). Then there is
still a huge difference. CraigsList has been in existence for many years
now. After all that time it is in around 100 cities, mainly in the USA.
After 2 weeks edgeio has attracted listings from more than 1000 cities
and that is growing by around 300 a week. By the end of the year edgeio
will have around 10,000 cities with listings. This is possible due to
our “bottoms up” approach. Self publishers can “light up” their city
simply by listing an item. Of course one downside of this in the short
term is that a city can have a small number of listings. But the upside
is that it is a highly scalable model. Over time it will be organic and
probably very big. For Craig to launch a new city is a fairly cumbersome
thing.

3. Final point. We don’t have “be different from CraigsList” as a
goal. Our goal is to build a massively scaled global listing
marketplace, with millions of local cities and their citizens
participating. Like CraigsList we are all about “community”. In fact we
share a philosophy with Craig – let the community police the
marketplace. And our tools are all about removing cost and friction from
person to person commerce, whilst expanding the universe of
participants. We do not scrape or crawl for content. We only take
content expressley for edgeio. And we chose bloggers as the first
audience to enable because they represent a community of communities.
So, if we are becoming “like CraigsList” but in thousands of more towns
and cities globally, and with tools and services appropriate to a
service built in 2005-06. great. I have no problem with that. There is a
new word beginning to make the rounds – Glocalization. As well as
pioneering structured blogging, microformats and self-publishing, edgeio
is a big believer in creating a Glocal (not a mis-spelling)
marketplace.

Links:


http://tech.memeorandum.com

Technorati

New edgeio features to launch tonight

I am pleased to report that edgeio is going to launch some new features tonight. I have posted details on the edgeio corporate blog. The features will go live some time after midnight Pacific time.

One of the things we heard loud and clear is that many want to publish listings on a blog but do not want them to be part of their primary blog. So, now you can have a listings blog hosted by edgeio. It’s free and it allows you to put free listings into edgeio and all of the sites that edgeio syndicates its listings to in the future.

We also heard that many do not want to have to deal with the idiosyncracies of ping servers and tagging. Especially from those who have blogs on hosting platforms with poor support for tagging. So now we allow you to simply type your URL into the edgeio hime page and choose your listings from a list of posts on your blog.

Thirdly we have added Tagclouds. Try clicking on the number of cities listed on the edgeio home page. Or the “more” link at the end of each top level category on the edgeio home page.

Finally, there are now instructions (linked from the home page) to those who like to publish into edgeio via their RSS feed about how to do so and take full advantage of a feature we call the “edgeio control language” or ECL.

There is a lot more coming from us in the not too distant future. We are committed to evolving the system in real time and in full public view. if you have opinions please email feedback@edgeio.com.

Rob Hof has a piece about the new features. And there are already others, posted below:

Other links:

SomeWhat Frank
Pete Cashmore’s Mashable

edgeio launches “instant listings”

edgeio home pageThe product manager at edgeio, Matt Kaufman, has been working hard with the engineering team since the launch to support instant listings on edgeio. Last night they pushed the first release. Now all you have to do is enter the url of your blog on the edgeio home page and you can add any item to edgeio without having to go through the ping server and rss feed notification process. This makes the addition instant. Here is a screen shot.

Instant Listings - from Crunchnotes

This uses crunchnotes.com as the blog and edgeio displays the recent posts. The first one is checked “add to edgeio” and is added to the “Events” category with the tags “news” and “announcement”. The rest are not selected. Clicking submit enters it into edgeio.

For bloggers not familiar with tagging, or who use blog platforms that do not allow tags, or that prevent modifications to the ping server to be notified, this is the simplest way to post on edgeio. For bloggers who prefer tagging and ping servers, posting to a blog with the tag “listing” stil works. Matt posted to the edgeio blog last night. Listings are now over 12,000 (in a little under 2 weeks) and they come from over 1600 cities.

Coming soon – your own personal listings blog on edgeio.com. For those who do not want listings on their main blog, or those who do not have a blog. Matt says this may take a couple more weeks depending on priorities.

edgeio launched at midnight tonight!

I just posted on the edgeio blog that the edgeio site has gone live tonight at midnight, Pacific time. Overall this is both scary and exhilarating. After 18 months since conceiving the idea, teaming up with Mike , Matt and Vidar, then involving Fred in front end design, we have opened the doors.

Om Malik was the first to post about it.

The last 2 weeks we had about 5000 people using edgeio with a password. As a result we have about 2000 listings from more than 150 cities. We made a conscious choice to NOT pre-populate edgeio with scraped data. edgeio is about self publishing and empowering the user to do more under their own control. Better to open with no data (we beat that hurdle ) than to open with data not intended for edgeio.

Anyway, the system is now live and we will get to see it in real use. Thats what we have all been working for.

A special thanks to Mike (who was great at focusing us on user-centric features), Matt (who drove the specs and managed the implementation), Vidar (who built the back end single handedly), Fred (who designed the edgeio look), and more recently to Eugene, Serge and Joseph who have been contracting on many specific features.

Also, Jeff Clavier (who has been a great advisor); Ron Conway (who led our angel financing) and the other investors who have shown confidence in us.

Now we get down to the hard work……

edgeio

I have been gratified to see all the coverage about edgeio since I demo’d it last week at SDForum’s Search SIG, and Rob Hof’s first post. Everybody seems to like the concept. You can track the discussion here and here.

Mike posted on Techcrunch and on the edgeio blog.

For those who like to know the background, just a few pointers.

Philosophically: tagging – it seemed to me – was the thing that could enable RSS to be leveraged as an application layer enabler. Basically, the idea of RSS carrying a payload for an application. Using the “listing” tag to enable a decentralized listings marketplace was and is, in my view, only a start. It can enable users to use their blog for listings. In future I would expect many more applications to be built using various tags as their starting point (podcast and videocast and photocast seem obvious ones). Indeed if you combine the “listing” tag with the “services” tag and one of those today you would be creating a subset on edgeio focussed on podcasts, videocasts and photocasts.

The exciting thing for me is the idea that edge content and applications can enable each other. But additionally that the applications can be a vehicle for the distribution of that content. edgeio – the name – is the word edge with an I and an O. The I stands for “In” and the O for “Out”. We will have API’s for all edgeio content and allow both individuals and other applications to re-publish our data in new and unpredicatable ways. Want listings on your gadget blog, just call our API (we will have a widget for this) and you can have gadget specific listings on your gadget blog. And so on..

How it started: I first came up with the edgeio idea in late 2004, whilst working with the Real Time Web team at VeriSign, as an external consultant. Mike and I began working on it almost immediately and then added Vidar Hokstad (back end engineer) and Matt Kaufman (product manager) to the team in early 2005. Fred Olivera has done front end work since last October. His role is more or less complete now (great job on the design by the way).

I’m looking forward to seeing how all this plays out. Thanks for the – so far – gracious and positive reception.

Update:

Good discussion on Pete Cashmore’s Mashable post.

Phil Sim disagrees with Pete. Has some critical points.

Note:

At some point soon we will try and aggregate the critical remarks on the edgeio blog. We’re pretty heads down on getting edgeio launched so this may take a couple of weeks but rest assured we are reading all remarks and will both be thinking about them and learning from them.

Teare’s theorem: The first law of RSS (updated)

Umair has a post about why the “Rise of the Edge“? is something highly disruptive to orthodox Internet companies. In “Umair Rocks”? Fred Wilson says he wants to understand better what Umair means here, and plans to spend the time doing so.

For me the key is to comprehend that “the edge”? is a concept that only makes sense in a networked world. In a network “the edge”? is “the people”?. And “the edge”? plays the role of both subject (consumers) and object (creators).Blogs are a great example of the edge. Multi-player gaming is another example. Of course the edge is not yet highly diversified. But with the emergence of AJAX and Tagging the diversity of edge content is set to explode. Inputs from the edge to the center and Outputs from the center to the edge (old fashioned IO where the center plays the role of a hub, not a destination) become more important than web 1.0 aggregators that primarily serve as silos of content.

The growing role of the edge – as the originating point of content and the end point of its consumption – forces the redefinition of the the role and meaning of the center of the network. Content hosting is now a peripheral function (at best a means of having an index). Content discovery and distribution takes over as the primary role of the center.

Googlebase isn’t yet getting this (it is so far based on too centralized a publishing model). Craigslist, with it’s centralized publishing model, and evidenced by its recent outlawing of Oodle from taking it’s content, also isn’t getting it.

Yahoo – which has made some smart acquisitions – also begins to look out of date in this world. It seems to have no concept of enabling the edge; it is a network center seeing the edge as merely a source of user generated (read cheap) content and of potential subscribers to it’s centralized system. Opeining it’s API’s is a move in the right direction, but then the limits need to be removed. Even Flickr is centralized from a publishing point of view, albeit with good feed api’s for that centralized content. How much better would it be if you could publish photos and albums to your own blog and have Flickr acquire them, organize them and distribute them.

In a few weeks Mike and I will launch edgeio (note: for geeks it’s meaning is clear – edge content consumed (The I) and then re-disributed (the O). For my mom it’s just a cool word, spoken with an Italian accent, edge^ee oh). edgeio may well help clarify the possibilities of the new edge based network we all now use and inhabit. At least that is one of its goals.
edgeio-base :-)

edgeio is founded on a law we believe in. This is the first articulation of the law and we may be able to improve on it. But for now (until Dave; Mike; Scoble; Jeremy or others gives feedback :-) )

…the first law of RSS is:

“The value of edge published data (say a post) is directly proportional to the velocity of it’s consumption and re-production, that is, the number of input and output operations it goes through each day”?

RSS has enabled data to be freed from the confines of it’s initial point of publishing and to re-appear, through an RSS or ATOM feed at another point in the network. This takes place in a p2p (I read your feed) and an edge to center (I republish your post) and then a center to edge (others read my version of your post and so discover you) manner. As a post is consumed and republished, it, and the links to the original that are generated, create growing awareness, attention and probably traffic value which may or may not have a $ value.

edgeio has been built as an enabler of a more diverisified edge, with a role as a hub in accelerating the velocity of data as it travels around the network. We can’t wait to show it. We are now on the final UI usability tests for a beta. Shouldn’t be too long.

Links

Bubblegeneration Strategy Lab
Umair Rocks
Techcrunch
edgeio