My Membership in ‘Exclusive Club’ Ends

My membership in the “exclusive” Google Wave club is over. Google announced yesterday that it is making the invite-only, real-time communication tool available to everyone, including Google Apps users, at wave.google.com. Like last year’s Google Wave introduction, the announcement took place at the Google I/O Conference.

With Google Wave, collaborators share—in real time or over time—e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking merged into topical waves. Waves are kind of a cross between chatting and threaded discussions on a blog. 

I got my invite last November, two months after Google started rolling them out in September. I wasn’t able to use Google Wave for any real-life business collaboration, so after playing around a little the first month or two, I didn’t really do much with my “exclusive” club membership. Others did, however, and their comments during the preview stage product resulted in Google making a number of important tweaks, including e-mail notifications, read-only wave access and undo/redo options.

Google also announced yesterday it is opening up much of Google Wave’s underlying architecture. That means organizations will be able to use Google Wave to develop their own real-time business tools and services—creating all kinds of possibilities for Google Wave to swell into a technological tsunami.

Have you been able to use Google Wave for real-life business collaboration? Please let me know about your experiences in the comments section below.

YouTube Celebrates Fifth Birthday

YouTube turns five years old this year. The domain name YouTube.com was registered on Feb. 14, 2005, and the website launched in beta form that May. Here’s one of the videos the company has made to celebrate the milestone and its influence on early users—in this case, Federic Alvarez, a 30-year-old filmmaker from Uruguay behind the YouTube smash sci-fi short, Panic Attack:

Super Shock! Non-Profit Client’s Domain Stolen

I was in for a shock last week when I visited the website of a non-profit whose website I recently redesigned in WordPress.

Instead of seeing the non-profit’s website, I found a page full of ads reading at the top, “This page is parked free courtesy of [a different web hosting firm than the one the non-profit uses].” Using Network Solution’s WHOIS behind that domain? page, I discovered the non-profit’s domain registration information had been deleted, causing it to be cancelled under Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) policy against incomplete or false registration data.

It turns out a third party had been tapped to register the non-profit’s domain name several years back. When the non-profit moved away from an HTML website with a monthly maintenance fee to a more modern but free WordPress site, some feathers were ruffled, spurring the person to delete the registration information and refuse to take any action to restore it. Since the person was the domain’s owner plus administrative and billing contact, nothing can be done to get the domain back (short of hiring an attorney at great expense).

The lesson learned here is if you work for a small non-profit (or any type of organization of any size) make sure your domain name is registered to your organization and not a third party. You also should:

  • Make sure your domain owner contact is one of the highest members of your organization
  • Make sure you list a second contact for site administration who is equally one of the highest members of your organization
  • Use one firm to register your domain name and a second firm for web hosting so the people who maintain your website cannot change your domain registration information if they become disgruntled
  • Review and update your domain registration information (e.g., contact names, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, etc.) every year

My story does have a happy ending. The non-profit went ahead and registered a new domain name (which is actually more appropriate than the old one) and transferred the website to the new address. Thanks to Twitter’s live search results, search engines are already picking up the domain name change.

Has anything similar happened to you? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Video Clip of the Month: Chris Brogan Interview

My May 2010 video clip of the month is an interview Chris Brogan gave for the LikeMinds conference in the United Kingdom. Brogan, arguably one of the top social media experts in the world, discusses his vision for social media’s future.  Here’s the YouTube video:

Living Stories WordPress Plugin & Theme Released

Google released a Living Stories plugin and theme for WordPress yesterday enabling anyone who publishes through WordPress to organize coverage of an ongoing event on a single dynamic page. Living Stories is an experimental format for displaying news coverage that Google created in partnership with the New York Times and Washington Post.

Google software engineer Eric Zhang wrote about the process of developing the plugin on the Google News Blog.

“Our next step was to open-source the Living Stories form, allowing publishers to build on it using Google’s AppEngine infrastructure. We then released a version of the code that runs independent of our infrastructure. Since then, a number of publications have shared their ideas for ways we can offer additional tools to help them create Living Stories. The WordPress plugin is a direct result of those conversations.”

Living Stories is like a personalized RSS feed reader, but customized to pay attention to just one story. The story is customized to the user, keeping track of what they have already seen so that it can alert them when new content is available.

Below is a GoogleVideos YouTube video on the benefits of Google’s Living Stories.