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Archive for June, 2008

13 Jun 2008

by Noel

PLT Scheme 4 is out

PLT Scheme 4.0 is out. We’ve been using the pre-releases for months so this release isn’t particularly significant to us. However, for Universities and other institutions having an official release is important. I do think that too many individual developers stick with out-dated versions of PLT Scheme. The number of questions about 372, which is at least a year old, amazes me. Pre-releases are so much better! Go upgrade!

Posted in Code, Racket | Comments Off on PLT Scheme 4 is out

6 Jun 2008

by Noel

Of Interest 06/06/2008

  • Ravelry, the knitting social network, raises $71K from its users. First amazing thing (to me, a non-knitter) is that Ravelry even exists. There truly is a place for everyone on the big ol’ Internet, and with each community a corresponding business opportunity. Second interesting thing is that the donation drive was user initiated. I wonder if it will be a regular occurrence. I like the idea of community supported social networks, but I doubt it is a sustainable model. Indeed Ravelry’s primary sources of income are advertising and affiliation fees
  • Lessons on building online communities from the people behind Flickr. Two key points: Firstly, it takes a lot of effort to grow a community, and the creators have to get involved in that early stage. Later on, it’s best to get out of the way and let the members decide for themselves what the community is like. The discussion of Flickr’s design, intentionally personal but unobtrusive, is a great point and reminds me of the service at the best restaurants.
  • If I understand Clay Shirky correctly, drinking gin is the original form of blogging. Bottoms up! Seriously, at least skim read the text. Note that some evidence suggests at least part of thesis does not hold.

Update: More thoughts on Ravelry

Posted in General | Comments Off on Of Interest 06/06/2008

6 Jun 2008

by Noel

Musing on Ravelry

Hi Ravelry people! Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It’s clear you are all very passionate, which bodes well for the long-term future of Ravelry.

A number of you have argued that Ravelry is more than just a social network. I agree, and I think this an important development in the business model for these kinds of sites. Flickr was the first “social networking” site that I saw that offered useful features beyond the social network. This is a great model. Few people want to dive into a new community without first spending some time learning the rules of the group. What Flickr does is give you a reason to return to the site before getting involved in the social aspects. So you start of using Flickr just to store your photos and then perhaps over time find your way onto the various groups. In my case I never make use of the social features of Flickr, but Flickr still benefits from my custom. In comparison sites like Friendster give you nothing to do on the site beyond the social interaction, and consequentially I never visit the site.

Where I see Ravelry going beyond Flickr is in acting as an intermediary connecting buyers and sellers in the knitting and crochet community. While Flickr offers some commercial services, it is a very asymmetric model with only a few big sellers. It seems that Ravelry is pursuing a much more egalitarian model, where any community member can easily engage in either end of the transaction. Ravelry is essentially the market maker, and you just have to look at the London Stock Exchange or NASDAQ to see how important this function is. What makes the Internet wonderful is that it allows someone to make a market (and a living) in something as informal and fun as knitting!

Posted in Business | Comments Off on Musing on Ravelry