Why did Google acquire Omnisio?

For those who live under a rock (read don’t read Techcrunch/Techmeme), Google just acquired Omnisio – a company that lets you synchronize YouTube videos with SlideShare slideshows. At first I was wondering if they are planning to use Omnisio to mashup Google Presently with YouTube. But I think I just found the answer in the YouTube blog.

Omnisio, a small California-based startup that’s focused on making online video more useful and collaborative. The Omnisio team has tremendous technical expertise when it comes to advanced video tools and having this kind of talent at YouTube should help us further explore ways to enhance your YouTube experience.

Its a talent and some technology acquisition. Its about video annotations and comments. Makes complete sense.

Video is a continuous stream. Omnisio lets you annotate and tag particular points in this continuous stream. Imagine coming to a video and rather than start it from beginning, go to particular points that have been tagged or commented. Imagine a layer of social metadata that lives on top of video (a la notes on Flickr pictures).

Our slidecasting technology does essentially the same thing – but for audio rather than video. Slidecasting allows you to link particular points in the audio stream and thus annotate them.

I ran into Ryan, one of the Omnisio founders, at the last Startup2Startup dinner and he mentioned there was interesting news upcoming. All the best to Ryan and other members of the Omnisio team!

Marketing department uploads, legal department serves takedown notice

This just happened. A big company approached us with a take down notice for a few slideshows. We responded and suspended the slideshows. The people who had uploaded protested. Turns out they were from the same company as the “big company” except from the marketing department. I see this happening again and again. Individuals from big companies want to embrace SlideShare (often web-savvy individuals, folks from marketing depts). The Legal and IT depts want to hold them back. Legal because they want every action to go through a set of legal hoops. IT because they have the “Made inhouse” syndrome and think they can build inhouse whatever web tool people are using outside.

Size and diffusion of responsibility already make it hard for corporations to be nimble and agile. Legal and IT depts make them even more backward thinking than they already are. Yes, both have their uses, but they don’t get the web, and especially how the consumer web has changed things for the enterprise by changing the individuals inside it.

Using Google Apps for your startup

We recently started using Google Apps at SlideShare. Reasons were many. I wanted the convenience of Gmail for our mail. Google Docs makes a lot of sense for informal spreadsheets and documents to keep track of things we are working on.

How the switch went
I registered for Google docs one weekend. It took me some time to configure email so that I could start downloading it into Thunderbird. I had to search around on the web to get the settings exactly right. Next I setup accounts for my cofounders. It was pretty easy to setup administrator accounts and to create email nicknames so that we could receive email to other addresses into our email boxes.

Over the years I have acquired many email addresses, and I set up all my work related ones to come into the one Google apps account. That required me to verify my other email addresses through Google Apps (once again, it was a pretty smooth process).

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Shifting to wordpress.com

My blog was down for past few days as my wordpress.org blog got hacked. I simply don’t have the time or energy to manage it. So, I am shifting to wordpress.com and hoping I can import my old content into it. Hopefully I will blog more often now.

Tufte joins SlideShare board of advisors; No more bullet points

We are thrilled to announce that Edward Tufte the renowned author, academic, and speaker best known for his pioneering work on the display of quantitative information, has joined the SlideShare board of advisors. It took us a while to convince him to join our advisory board – given his “PowerPoint is evil” credo, but we convinced him that he SlideShare needed him to put an end to bad presentations.

Read our blog announcement about Tufte joining here.

Is the page view dead?

There are two reasons that make it increasingly difficult for page-view to be a good metric to compare across sites. First is in-page ajaxy activity. For example, on SlideShare you can download powerpoint file, add slideshow as a favorite and comment without going to another page. The second reason is related to consumption of multimedia content such as video and slideshows. A user might watch a slideshow for a while without impacting page views in any manner.

What can replace the page view? Neilsen moved from page views to time on site as a core metric last July. Now they say that the impact has been greater for video sites than sites with a lot of ajax. A new web metrics startup Nuconomy measures things like number of comments, downloads etc. to track engagement.

At SlideShare, we are starting to use “No of clicks per visit” as a measure of engagement. I like it more than time per visit, since it gives an index of activity on the site. At the same time it takes the multimedia viewing and ajaxiness of the site into account.What do you think about “No of clicks per visit” as a metric?

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office: there we go again

ReadWriteWeb wrote an article yesterday about why Google Docs is a threat for Microsoft Office. Someone called Karim posted a long rebuttal which is its own post now. Makes for some interesting reading. The discussion in the comments breaks into the typical anti MS or anti Google camp.

In my own experience, Google docs is useful for different reasons than MS Office. Yesterday, I created a Google spreadsheet to track a weekly column on Slide Design that we are planning for the SlideShare blog. I want to share the information with the rest of my team, the spreadsheet is not heavy (it has very little data), I don’t need any fancy formatting. Google Docs was perfect for that.

The day before I spent almost the entire day in Excel crunching SlideShare numbers, creating charts. There is no way I could use Google Docs for that. Its a lot of data, lot of charts and a lot of manipulation of data. Any type of network latency will be annoying. Also, I use many advanced Excel features that I am sure Google Docs does not support.

Google Docs is useful, but I don’t see it taking over MS Office anytime soon.

Review for Blame it on Fidel

We have been on a kick for watching French movies – Blame it on Fidel; was the latest. It is told from the perspective of a 9-year old girl who questions everything. Its the 1970’s in France. She lives in a nice house with a nanny and garden which comes to an abrupt end when her uncle is killed by the Franco regime in Spain. Her father, overcome with guilt (he had fled Spain a few years ago), and mother who is a journalist, get involved in a movement to get Allende elected in Chile. And while her parents are getting more involved with the “communist” movement, her Nanny who has flown Castro’s Cuba is filling her head against communists. So the name: Blame it on Fidel.

The movie is the first one by Julie Gravas, daughter of the leftist Italian director Costa Gravas. I read in reviews later that there is an autobiographical thread in the movie (the questioning daughter and the father with leftist sympathies).

I enjoyed the movie – Anna, the main character is a precocious child who argues about everything with her parents (reminded me a bit of myself as a child a bit – I remember exasperated looks my father would give me). But its her process for coming to terms with what’s happening around her, for the leftist friends of her parents who hang around in the living room waiting for the election results in Chile, for the rallies she is taken to where they get tear gassed, for the women her mother is interviewing as she writes a book about abortion.