BloggerView #7: André Ribeirinho

Like I promised last week, here is BloggerView n.º 7, with André Ribeirinho, author of blog.delaranja.com, and, on his own words, “an entrepreneur who has a passion for the Web (and for wine) he has been playing with Adegga.” I hope you enjoy his bloggerview.

1.When did you start blogging? What were the main reasons that take you start blogging?
André Ribeirinho (AR): I began blogging in 1999 using my Linux area at the university. At the time, I didn’t call it a blog but a homepage.
It was a place where I regularly posted things I thought were relevant and organized them in reverse chronological order. I started blogging because I wanted to organize some links I came across and at the same time share them with some people who might be interested.

At the time I edited the html of that page each time I wanted to “post” something new. Later, in December 2002 I used a blogging tool (blogger.com) for the first time. It was also the first time that I thought about having a blog to share some subject with a specific audience. I knew that IKEA was thinking of opening a store in Portugal and that many people where interested in this, so I setup a blog about it – ikealisboa blog. It included IKEA news and some pictures from the construction site. But IKEA didn’t like it that much and sent me a Cease and Desist letter. I ended the blog but posted about this in my blog which continued to be visited by people who wanted to know about IKEA in Portugal. Some people sent me their CVs although I clearly stated that I was not working for IKEA.

It was a very valuable experience for me because for the first time I had contact with the inability of a corporation the size of IKEA to deal with its online communication. If you googled “Ikea lisboa” when I first created the blog, only one link was getting relevant information about ikea in lisboa and that was the ikealisboa blog. With this I got to know the fear that a corporation full-of-money but without an online strategy got from seeing a one-man run simple blog get more attention than their regular messaging channel.

2. What were your reasons to christen your blog as you did?
AR: Delaranja has a meaning in Portuguese because laranja means orange in Portuguese and “de” means “of”. So one could say “blog of orange” like a section of an orange. The idea behind delaranja.com was to serve as a place where several of my Web projects (sections) are gathered. Besides blog another subdomain is also used (cor.delaranja.com – my girlfriends blog) which basically means “orange color”. Curiously because I didn’t exactly named the blog (just used blog.delaranja.com) people linking there usually use blog.delaranja.com as the name of the link which helps me differentiate in the middle of other links to blogs.

3. Do you have any specific goals or objectives you want to achieve with your blog? What are they?
AR: Just as when I started, the blog is still a place to organize things I find interesting and share them with people who might be interested. However, nowadays it has more added value to me. It has since become a professional tool that I use to connect to other people who share the same professional interests as me. I connect to all of them through posts, comments and trackbacks and I use links to contribute to make other people’s content relevant.

4. In your opinion, what role could blogs play in the future, for instance at companies or at schools?
AR: As people we have been naturally sharing information for ages with other people. The internet has provided a new media to let people have that behavior even if their not physically together. Blogs have brought people closer to that new media by making it extremely easy for people to write and publish content on the Internet. Since the Internet is a place where every site is just a click away and is easily found on Google, everyone can leverage their opinion and in some cases can have a real impact in a kind of reach that previously only tv and radio could have.

5. What do you think will be the future of blogs over the next couple of years?
AR: I agree with the idea that blogs are on the edge of content. This happens because instead of just being readers of some centralized news source (like CNN) where every one goes to read the same news, people are now also being authors and publishing their own content. This has led them to rely more on less established news sources that instead provide them with the news the way people want then and when people want them. But finding those sources can be a hard time and understanding how relevant is a certain source is trick thing to do. So I think that a lot of services and tools will be available for people to customize the way they interact with this new media and navigate their way through the kind of content that they are much more interested in and thus much more likely to like to contribute too. This means that we will have more blogs and more content but at the same time better tools to help people make a choice better choice.

6. How many feeds do you have on your news aggregator? What news aggregator do you use? Why?
AR: Bloglines was my first feed aggregator. I used it for 1 year and I really liked the fact that I was able to change computers and still be able to at what was going on. A few months ago I changed to NetNewsWire (Mac feed reader) because it makes much more easy to control and manage the lists of feeds. As I added more feeds to the list I also slowly stopped reading other feeds that were on the feedreader but I never opened. On my vacation I spent a lot of time without feed reading and I came back with the idea that I can reduce my feed list by 1/3 and still be able to get much of what I’m really interested in. So I have a lot of feeds I subscribe too but I’ll be cleaning that list soon.

7. What do you think about RSS? What role do you think RSS can play in future, for instance in the relation between government and citizens?
AR: RSS is double-sided sword. Technologically it makes it easier to build simple cross-website communication tools and services. As an interface for users to get access to content it sucks. In theory people could build their own view of the information (like I do on Netvibes) but reality is harder and very few people have the time or the knowledge to do that. When I explain people that RSS is just a subscription alert system that they can use to receive an alert each time their favorite newspaper published a news item I get this reply: Oh good! How can I use that? and suddenly become interested in what RSS can do for them.

8. What do you think is the most important thing happening in the Web, now? Why?
AR: The Social Revolution. A few years ago I used to spend at least 30 to 60 minutes each day uploading photos and making comments to other users photos on a portuguese photosharing website called foto.pt. It was a simple (yet addictive) website to which I was very emotionally connected. When the owner said that it would no longer be able to keep the site running I was shocked and sad. I then realized that for the first time I was going to miss some of the virtual relationships I had been making online because of that service. So while foto.pt was a photosharing website it’s main interest was the interaction with other people, or it’s social network.

What more general Social Networks (like hi5 or MySpace) have shown is that more than anything people want to be connected to each other and interact in every possible way. By integrating this social aspect into a Web product one can adds another dimension that was not previously present.

I have been playing with this subject for a while in a project called Adegga (www.adegga.com). Adegga is a service where people can manage their wine cellars and share their love for wine with other people they trust. Moreover, Adegga helps people in buying wine by providing
a social context to their decision process. Giving an example: imagine a person is browsing a list of Portuguese red wines because he’s looking to buy a bottle of good wine for a special occasion. What if that list of wines included additional social information as which of that person’s friends own some of those wines or have tasted and rated some of them. This would clearly help that person make a better choice. Not just by providing more product information but by giving the person an implicit recommendation from the people that the person trusts. This is social relevance and people like that.

9. Beside blogs, do use other social software, like Flickr, Del.icio.us, Diigo, LinkedIn, or any other?
AR: Due to professionally related tasks I try some of these applications at least once. On a more regularly basis I use hi5 (andrerib.hi5.com), LinkedIn, Flickr (http://flickr.com/photos/andrerib/), SAPO Fotos (http://fotos.sapo.pt/andre) and sometimes Del.icio.us (http://del.icio.us/andrerib) and SAPO Tags (http://tags.sapo.pt/user/acrib).

10. Do you think it would be important to have an event like LIFT or Reboot in Portugal? Why?
AR: Every event that plans to make people get together and discuss such relevant subjects as innovation and technology and their relation to society is very welcome. Diversity and choice are both good things and whether people choose to go to Reboot (http://www.reboot.dk), LIFT (liftconference.org) or upcoming SHiFT (shift.pt) what matters is that people are creating their own projects and making their contribution in some way to the society we all live in. If by having an event like that, Portugal can benefit from the exchange of ideas then the time spent organizing such a meeting is certainly justified and we all win.

Next week, don’t miss Beverly Trayner, author of Phronesis, and one of the speakers of SHiFT.