Marc Andreeson on Facebook's API

Marc Andreeson, founder of the original Netscape, has posted his thoughts on Facebook’s new API, which has created quite the storm of attention since it launched. This observation is quite interesting:

Analyzing the Facebook Platform, three weeks in

The implication is, in my view, quite clear — the Facebook Platform is primarily for use by either big companies, or venture-backed startups with the funding and capability to handle the slightly insane scale requirements. Individual developers are going to have a very hard time taking advantage of it in useful ways.

In short, creating a Facebook application with the API requires that you provide your own server resources to power the application. Facebook’s super-viral distribution of popular apps leads to crushing load on your web servers in a very short amount of time if you are (un)lucky enough to create a popular application.

The capacity to rapidly scale up server capacity is probably beyond even some large corporation’s ability unless they have specifically prepared themselves to do so. Your web application needs to be designed for scaling up the number of servers as well.

Draft Standard from ASAE Data Standards Committee

If you need some reading for beach this weekend, have I got a draft standards document for you!

Seriously, the draft standard described in the announcement below is the first step in an overall effort to improve the ability of association systems to integrate more effectively and efficiently. If you are an association IT exec or a technology vendor serving this market, please take the time to review and comment upon the draft.

The ASAE Data Standards Task Force is pleased to announce the release of
a draft standard for expressing constituent records in XML. This
standard will serve as a core for expanding into other data
representations. Therefore, it is especially critical to gather feedback
on the draft standard from the association technology community.

Please go to this page on the ASAE web site in order to download the
standards documents:

Please review the draft standard and consider how well it serves your
needs as an association or those of your customers if you are a
technology vendor. Once you have reviewed the standard, please provide
your comments.

You will need to register with the site in order to submit a comment,
but you do not have to be a member of ASAE. Go to the same page from
which you downloaded the documents
( and follow the
instructions on providing comments.

Non-IE browser (Firefox, Safari) users: Before logging in, you will
receive an error message “Website Certified by an Unknown Authority”.
Accept the certificate permanently and you’ll be able to continue.

Please share this message with your database experts on staff or with
supporting vendor companies. Their input as experts in implementing your
technology is highly valuable to the standards development process.

We thank you in advance for your critical review of the draft standard
and the feedback you provide.

New Web Site Design for High Context Consulting

I launched a new design for my web site earlier this week. I wanted to freshen up the look and make some structural changes to the content and design. The cobbler finally has some new shoes of his own. 🙂

The design is fully standards compliant, thus practicing what I preach to my clients. The entire site is managed with WordPress, making use of it’s ability to publish standard pages as well as blog posts.

Many thanks to Steve Smith of Ordered List for his work on creating and deploying the design.

Only at Freedom to Connect

I was at the Freedom to Connect conference earlier this week at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring, MD. The conference covered internet and telecom policy issues for hard core tech/policy geeks and had a who’s who of wonks, scientists, lobbyists and gurus in attendance. Even a member of Congress.

The time was ripe for one of the most surreal DC moments of my life to happen at this meeting:

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein jamming on stage with Howard Levy, a world-renowned harmonica musician, while Scooter Libby’s conviction was reported in a chat channel projected 20 feet tall on the screen behind them. Woo!

I’ll post some of my notes and comments about the conference over the next couple of days.

Google Deprecates SOAP Search API

Google has deprecated their SOAP Search API. This means that people who already have keys to use the system can continue to do so but no new ones will be issued. Ongoing support of the SOAP API is questionable as well. Google suggests that people now use their AJAX Search API. Here is a good discussion (read comments and follow links) of concerns about how the AJAX API is not a complete replacement for everything that was available in the SOAP API.

Update: Here is another interesting post, Beginning of the end of for open web APIs?, that is worth checking out on this issue.

Yahoo and Microsoft Adopt Sitemaps Standard

Does your site offer a site map for search engine crawlers yet? It just became a lot more compelling to offer one now that Microsoft and Yahoo have begun supporting it:

In alphabetical order, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have agreed to all support a unified system of submitting web pages through feeds to their crawlers. Called Sitemaps, taking its name from the precursor system that Google launched last year, all three search engines will now support the method.

Providing a sitemap according to the specification will make it easier for the search engines to rapidly index new content you add to your site.

Targeting Accessibility

A new court ruling you should be aware of that sets a precedent for web site accessibility:

The court held: “the ‘ordinary meaning’ of the ADA’s prohibition against discrimination in the enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or privileges, is that whatever goods or services the place provides, it cannot discriminate on the basis of disability in providing enjoyment of those goods and services.” The court thus rejected Target’s argument that only its physical store locations were covered by the civil rights laws, ruling instead that all services provided by Target, including its Web site, must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

The plaintiffs charge that fails to meet the minimum standard of web accessibility. It lacks compliant alt-text, an invisible code embedded beneath graphic images that allows screen readers to detect and vocalize a description of the image to a blind computer user. It also contains inaccessible image maps and other graphical features, preventing blind users
from navigating and making use of all of the functions of the website. And because the website requires the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, blind Target customers are unable to make purchases on independently.

The irony here is that there is no good technical reason for not having a highly accessible web site these days. The limitations of Target’s site mentioned above are all old school design techniques that are quite simply out of date and unnecessary. Why they didn’t just update their site design instead of fighting a costly court battle is beyond me.

AMS-CMS Integration Audio Download

You may recall that I did an audio conference a couple weeks ago with Wes Trochlil on the potential and pitfalls of integration association and content management systems. The session was very well received by our attendees at the live event.

I am pleased to now make the program available as a download: Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems Audio Product. For $99 you will receive an MP3 file of the audio and a PDF of the slides. A sample of the audio is available in this post.

And here is a special one week offer to my blog readers: use this code when you buy the product and get 40% off! This code will be good until one week from today (May 24, 2006). Enter this code in the shopping cart to receive your discount: V823R4E1 Please feel free to share the code with anyone you think might benefit from this unique program.

Learn more about the audio program.

Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems

Ever wondered if you should integrate your association management system with your web content management system? Everyone says you should but have you really evaluated the benefits and costs of doing so?

If the answer to that question interests you, then join me and Wes Trochlil for an online event about AMS-CMS integration: Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems. This is a must attend event if you are contemplating integration or are not happy with your current situation.

This event is a 90 minute online seminar on April 27, with pre and post activities in an online community for participants. The first 10 registrants will get one free hour of remote consulting with either Wes or myself. Those first spots won’t last long, so act quickly!