Archive for March, 2008

MySpace Apps are Coming!

MySpace is finally ready to launch its OpenSocial-based development platform. According to Mashable, developers can now submit applications for review and the first set of approved applications will be available to users on March 13! In January, I talked about MySpace and OpenSocial in one of my previous post Facebook Platform vs. OpenSocial. Although it was announced last November, Google’s OpenSocial partners are only starting to launch their platform initiatives with 3 large sites (MySpace, Google’s Orkut and Hi5) launching over the next month! MySpace’s Jim Benedetto did a great job at the O’Reilly Graphing Social Patterns conference outlining MySpace’s upcoming platform’s strategy.


When Facebook launched its f8 application platform it experienced a 37% increase in growth and the number of available application quickly grew to over 10,000 by the end of year. It is going to be interesting to watch MySpace’s OpenSocial platform roll out as far as the number of applications being developed and if they do indeed bring users back to the site.

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  • Metablocks recently designed and develop a Flash-based widget for the HR folks at Lockheed Martin that sheds light on some of the social media best-practices employed by departments in corporate America. It’s a project we worked on with the Bernard Hodes Group, an integrated talent solutions provider that works with Lockheed Martin’s HR team.


    Integrated News Feed:

    Widget pulls news from the department’s blog site.

    Video Tab:
    Video tabs provides access to recent video footage.

    RSS Feed Support:
    Provides access to news via an RSS feed.

    “Get this Widget” HTML Code:
    Allows users to embed widget on their own sites.

    Works standalone or embedded in Lockheed’s site.

    Here is what I like about Lockheed Martin’s HR group’s approach:

    • A Forward Thinking Approach: Lockheed Martin has a world-class HR department that continues to leverage their website ( very effectively as part of their recruiting efforts. The site gives visitors access to compelling content that includes video testimonials, a newsletter, job search, an events calendar and even live chat – Web 2.0 and community features that I am sure are the envy of their contemporaries, so it’s no surprise they decided to add widgets to the mix!
    • An Integrated Approach: The widget not only display the latest Lockheed Martin news (from the department’s blog), it also allows visitors to embed the widget on their sites or blogs or subscribe to ts RSS feed need, and it features video from Lockheed Martin video archives! So in one fell swoop, the folks at and Bernard Hodes Group have managed to integrate video and rich-media, blogging and RSS, with widgets and social media marketing!
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  • Real-Time Activity Visualization

    Users love feedback and the love real-time activity! At Metablocks, we always been big fans of user interface elements and widgets that convey real-time feedback! Digg Lab’s Stack represents a great example (and a nifty visualization) of the potential power of providing real-time activity information. We recently built a similar visualization (naturally, inspired by the Stack) for a client in the music space to show real-time activity information on music tracks being played!

    Simple Complexity’s Chad Burt takes a slightly different view:

    These are beautiful for visualizing the information they present, but there’s one big caveat. This is all real-time information. Maybe it would be useful for Digg’s own sysadmins to have this sort of information available, but for an end user it is just a pretty proof of concept.

    I would like to differ, here is why:

    • Users want to know what other users are doing right now!
      Real-time activity visualization does exactly that. By combining information about what users are doing and how many users are doing the same activity, this sort of visualization is a real-time gauge of what is popular.
    • “Moving data point” in real-time conveys and reinforces the notion of real-time!
      Everyone wants a real-time system! Financial brokers want real-time information, law enforcement needs real-time data, and even the Internet consumer prefer real-time system. What many user interface designers forget is that user interface elements and widgets can be used to solve “marketing” or “communication” problems! Sometime “showing” your site or service functions in real-time is more important that the actual real-time information a user is looking at!
    • Sometimes it’s about the “Coolness Factor”
      Pushing the envelop when it comes to visualization definitely plays up your “coolness factor”. Having user interface elements that do no interfere with the general function of your site or service, but play up the “coolness factor” and capture the imagination of your users generally cannot be a bad thing! With so many “me-to” sites and services, innovative data visualizations (real-time or not) can be a much needed breath of fresh air!
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