Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Innovation Omissions

As I was walking to the subway this morning I realized I made a glaring omission in talking about innovation and openness in technology (and specifically tagging). I forgot to mention APIs and specifically point everyone to a great article on the power of the API as a way to innovate outside the company. Read the MIT Technology Review article titled “Amazon: Giving Away the Store”. It’s all about how Amazon’s open API is allowing people to tap in to the network and create new things, which can in turn earn them money as referrers. Check out this choice paragraph from the article:

While companies such as Google and Microsoft are also experimenting with the idea of letting outsiders tap into their databases and use their content in unpredictable ways (see “What’s Next for Google?�), none is proceeding more aggressively than Amazon. The company has, in essence, outsourced much of its R&D, and a growing portion of its actual sales, to an army of thousands of software developers, who apparently enjoy nothing more than finding creative new ways to give Web surfers access to Amazon merchandise—and earning a few bucks in the process. The result: a syndicate of mini-Amazons operating at very little cost to Amazon itself and capturing customers who might otherwise have gone elsewhere. It’s as if Starbucks were to recruit 50,000 of its most loyal caffeine addicts to strap urns of coffee to their backs each morning and, for a small commission, spend the day dispensing the elixir to their officemates.

Also, while I’m on the topic of omissions, I left out a quote from a recent entry from Scott Rafer of Feedster. Scott was discussing tag spam and wrote: “tagging other people’s content has value, and tagging one’s own content leads directly to spam.” That is, when you’re tagging on del.icio.us you’re annotating someone else’s article, as opposed to tagging your own posts for Technorati. While I agree with what he’s saying about tag spam generally, my only question revolves around Flickr, where you’re tagging your own content. Scott?

April 22, 2005