State of the Internet in 2009

Found via Flowing DataJesse Thomas has created a neat presentation covering Internet statistics for 2009. I think this format of presenting big numbers is beginning to get a little tired, but maybe because so many have jumped on the bandwagon. Not all numbers are equal. I’m waiting for the one announcing how many millions of people fart every minute. (Please don’t share the link if it already exists… 🙂 ) Jesse’s is definitely one of the better presentations. Perfect for opening an event session, for which it was intended.

Got to chuckle that one of the comments noticed the planet is rotating in the wrong direction at the start of the video. Sample statistic:

Facebook recorded 260 billion page views per month, more than 10 times it’s nearest rival (MySpace at 24 billion page views per month). Facebook needs as many as 30,000 servers to run and is still growing…

That’s a big electricity bill, small wonder the advertising is getting more aggressive.

Related post:

Did You Know? 2009 Edition

For the past few years now, we have seen various videos uploaded to YouTube visualising the trends that have emerged thanks to the Internet and mobile devices. You can find older versions by searching YouTube for ‘Did you know’ or ‘Shift happens’. Here’s the latest one, updated with 2009 news stories:

Hat tip to friend and former colleague Steve Clayton, I spotted this one through his excellent blog. Normally I try to tag videos onto newsletters unless I’m putting a commentary around them. But I’ve already got a queue and this one deserves to stand on its own 🙂

Fierce Conversations

One of my weak spots has always been how to handle difficult conversations. Whilst at Microsoft, there was a great talk titled ‘Fierce Conversations’ that I found to be a real help. It was delivered by Susan Scott and based on her book of the same name. Here’s a short summary of that talk.

3 big ideas:

  • Our lives succeed, or fail, one conversation at a time
  • The conversation is the relationship
  • All conversations are with, and sometimes they involve, other people

When people say ‘don’t take this personally’ what do they really mean? Of course we are going to take it personally, otherwise what’s the point? If you need to have a difficult conversation, (e.g. one that makes you worried enough to start with ‘don’t take this personally’) the first 60 seconds are crucial.

  1. Name the issue (and keep it to one! Shame on you if there’s more than one issue been left too long to fix)
  2. Give one specific example to illustrate the issue
  3. Confess your emotion – shows that you are involved/affected by this issue and hence need to resolve it
  4. Say what you feel is at stake – honestly, no matter how difficult. It gets attention
  5. Confess what part has your DNA on it – what you contributed (or didn’t) to create this issue
  6. Say “I want to resolve this with you/we need to resolve this” – shows you want to move forward together, not point fingers of blame
  7. Invite the person to give their take on the situation – and shut up! Don’t defend or argue, just listen.

Tips on what not to do…

  • Avoid the ‘sugar coated spit ball’ approach where you are supposed to start with something nice before delivering the bad news. People will start putting on the armour whenever you start a conversation with something nice… Nice things should be part of every day conversations, not saved up for when you need to deliver some bad news! Are you paying a sincere compliment, or doing textbook ‘good news – bad news’?
  • Don’t put pillows around the message to avoid hurting feelings (including your own). You can’t avoid emotions so keep them open and the conversation honest
  • And the opposite to the pillows – don’t walk into a room, pull the pin, throw the grenade and exit without pausing to witness the carnage caused. Take responsibility for the emotional wake you leave. (Emotional wake is covered in much more detail in the book, this talk focused on the first 60 seconds)

“Fierce conversations take us to a place where we are moved to act.”


Filed in the library under: Talks

The Internet Paradigm

Am in the process of sorting through and tidying up the library (which means broken links galore in old blog posts but will try and fix those). In the past, some items have gone straight into the library without a blog post. To fix, I’ll be posting those which are still relevant over the next month. Here’s the first…

The Internet Paradigm: Talk by Tim O’Reilly in July 2003, at Microsoft UK

Tim O’Reilly visited Microsoft UK in July 2003. Here’s a short summary of his talk. The talk was based on a theme that was to later become known as Web 2.0. Links to additional information included at the end:

Paradigm shift #1: Hardware

Prior to 1982, hardware ruled. Then IBM released specs for building PC computers. Didn’t seem that important to the industry at the time, they were ‘toys’. Took a decade to really take off, but along cam Dell, Compaq bought DEC…

Paradigm shift #2: Software

Software was now decoupled from hardware. Lock-in and competitive advantage moved to software. IBM had given away the future… to Microsoft. Hardware became a commodity.

Paradigm shift #3: The Internet

Applications and information decouple from both hardware and software. Lock-in and competitive advantage moves to the data and customer relationships. Software becomes the commodity,.. Think Amazon and eBay – the application will stop working without people. It’s the participation age.

Where is Linux really successful? Not as a traditional operating system. It’s Google, Amazon, Yahoo. (and you don’t get access to their source code, only the APIs, sound familiar?)

3 trends that matter:

1, Software as a commodity:

  • Amazon switched from Unix to Intel to save costs (10x saving running Linux on Intel)
  • Apache means web serving is not a revenue opportunity
  • MySQL threatens to do the same to databases

2. Customisability:

  • Software is built for use in delivering services
  • Internet-era apps are updated daily, not yearly (e.g. = 12 updates
    between 1999 and 2003)
  • ‘Info-ware’ – interfaces built with dynamic data, scripting rules

3. Network-enabled collaboration

  • ‘Ad-hocracy’ – people just get together to fix things, distributed internationally (skills, costs, timezones), like-minded devs find each other
  • Power shifts from companies to individuals
  • Users help build the application

More people have contributed to Amazon than have contributed to Linux…

Small pieces loosely joined:

  • An architecture of participation means that your users help extend your platform
  • Interoperability means that one component or service can easily be
    swapped if a better one comes along (e.g. Google data centre)
  • Lock-in occurs because others depend on the benefits from your service, but you are not in control.

What does this mean for Microsoft?

Got to change at some point, not going to see the same margins as in the past (IBM had to get used to this one). Could MSN be a big part of the future? Currently focused on consumer, but what about business?

Related Links:

Filed in the library under Talks

What we do on the Internet

Harvard Business School’s ‘Working Knowledge’ web site has an excellent article exploring how to quantify the economic impact of the Internet. You can read the article here.

One interesting snippet included in the article is a TNS study reporting on the leading activities of Internet users:

As noted in the article, the majority of activities are funded by advertising one way or another. We don’t pay to use a search engine or read the news (yet – certain news moguls would like to change that…)

I was surprised to see price comparison sites featuring so high up. But what is interesting is that the only two activities not dependent on advertising or affiliate marketing to fund their Internet business models are online banking and paying bills online. Note that number 5 is visiting a brand or product web site, not necessarily buying anything whilst you’re there. How news thinks it can achieve what only banks and utility services have achieved on a mainstream scale is anyone’s guess. Whilst ‘Lookup news’ will likely remain near the top, what form of news could change entirely.

On a related note, Gerry McGovern has an excellent article talking about the differences between Google and Yahoo. Specifically, how Yahoo switched its focus to advertisers whilst Google remains focused on the end-user despite both having the same revenue goals. Proof is in the pudding, as Google continues to rise and Yahoo continues to fall. If they want to make money on the Internet, maybe those news moguls should take a leaf out of Google’s book instead of wanting to torch it.