eHub Needs Your Opinion

Posted on Oct 22, 2005

[Update: This post is left up for historical reasons. Since the date of this post, Charlie and I have emailed and we called a truce in the comments below. This is a non-issue now.]

This morning I was checking my inbound links and came across a post, “I’m Off eHubwatch“, by Charlie O’Donnell of Union Square Ventures.

In his post, he criticizes both the validity of eHub as a resource and also vents his frustration over the business-merit of the applications that are currently listed. I’ll let you read his post for yourself, but here are a few comments from my point of view.

eHub was created as a resource list of new web applications that I found innovative or notable. I wanted a way to keep up with the flood of new web applications and services and a list on my blog was a simple way to do that. In the spirit of sharing, I launched the list on my blog, knowing that others were probably interested in the same space. Soon after, I started receiving emails daily with new suggestions for applications as well as people telling me to keep it up since they found eHub useful.

These emails come from a variety of people – creators, developers, bloggers, librarians, students, parents, teachers, designers, hackers, CEOs, VCs, and from passionate users. I certainly don’t think the web applications and services in eHub are limited to those who understand Ruby, RSS, or open source as Charlie suggests. It’s about real people using the web to share, facilitate tasks, collaborate, socialize, organize, converse, communicate, transact, and [insert any other human activity].

In my opinion, these are vital services whether they currently have a business model or not, but then I’m more inclined to think like Paul Graham (see What Business Can Learn from Open Source) and Alexei White (see Measuring the Benefits of Ajax).

Everything that is listed in eHub is reviewed before posting. Roughly 20-30% of the submissions don’t make it in because of relevancy.

If I had more time in the day, I would devote it to evaluating each application with longer blog posts and analysis, but at this time, eHub has never claimed to be a comprehensive review of new services or companies. I’ll continue to write about apps that catch my attention in my blog as I have in the past. (A sidenote: based on constructive feedback from eHub readers, I plan to make the UI more scalable for categories and updates to existing apps. This is in the works.)

I’m still trying to understand the motivation and the mixed messages in Charlie’s post and I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Charlie writes:

“Web 2.0” is the hottest discussion topic in tech right now, and if there ever was a site that was striking while the iron was hot, this [eHub] is it. I’ll bet you every single tech VC that has figured out how to use RSS (many probably still haven’t, which is fine) is subscribed… mostly in paranoid fear that they might miss “the next big thing”.

But I looked at it today, like I did everyday, and yet again, I couldn’t find anything that not only solved a problem for me, but solved a problem for thousands or millions of people in a way that anyone who didn’t know what Ruby, RSS, or open source was would adopt.

Well, I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of signing up for calandering and todo applications.
And “F*ck you, I have enough friends!”
I’m also tired of knowing through the Crime stats/Pedometer/Blogmap mashup how close the blogger nearest to me needs to walk to get mugged.

That’s not a useful service nor is it a business….

What do you think?

38 comments

  1. Daniel Nicolas on October 22, 2005 at 09:22 PM:
    I think ehub is very helpful. Each application or site linked might not turn out to be my cup of tea, but then I know about it, rather than not knowing and loosing the slight edge.
  2. LC on October 22, 2005 at 09:45 PM:
    I love ehub!  It’s the first of its kind, and it’s indispensable!  I am trying out so many new tools that I would not otherwise have found.
  3. Phil Gerbyshak on October 22, 2005 at 09:50 PM:
    I love eHub. Lots of great stuff I don’t see anywhere else. I appreciate you taking the time to share what you find with all of us. Thank you Emily!
  4. Sean King on October 22, 2005 at 09:58 PM:
    What a jerk.  I just came across eHub today (from ThisIsGoingToBeBig.com) and was instantly enamored with it.  It’s now on my Bookmarks Bar in Safari.  Look what happened when XEROX PARC rejected the mouse on the premise that no one would want to use it.  I’m glad somebody else saw the potential in that particular device.  Web 2.0 innovations are still in their infancy, therefore any creative idea or concept should be looked at and appreciated for future potential and development.  I can appreciate the need for a solid business model.  However, a lot of the web’s BEST and most PROFITABLE innovations were built for and used by a relatively small group of users and without ANY sort of business plan at the outset (craigslist, ebay).
  5. scott on October 22, 2005 at 10:02 PM:
    Your FeedBurner subscriber count says all that needs to be said. :-)
  6. Matt on October 22, 2005 at 10:15 PM:
    Don’t listen to that crap…Your site is great and has introduced me to new resources and fun tools I never would have found otherwise.  Keep it up
  7. Cedric on October 22, 2005 at 10:32 PM:
    Keep it going, it’s great. I would suggest to put businesses and personal projects in different categories, and maybe go for more personalized interviews.

    It looks like Charlie’s problem is not with eHub, but with the lack of imagination (in his view) of many of the new ‘web 2.0’ projects.. How many socialthing sites do we need ?

  8. Victor Sarbu on October 22, 2005 at 10:39 PM:
    I visit ehub on a daily basis because of the consistent updates. I love seeing what’s new and all the new apps that you can take advantage of online. Your site rocks! If they don’t appreciate the site, don’t visit it! Simple as that.
  9. SG on October 22, 2005 at 11:11 PM:
    From his post it seems that Charlie is trying to attract people with ideas and products that fit the future as he aniticipates it will unfold so a commercial success can be created.  eHub is featuring people with ideas in the process of becoming tangible. eHub is apparently not a fast enough track to the bank for him. I will take ideas in process over waiting for the next great thing anyday.
  10. Steve Wilson on October 22, 2005 at 11:43 PM:
    I am an ajax chaser and proud of it.

    Emily, I think you’re a genius. I wish I would have thought of this.

    Charles O’Donnell should never have used eHub as an illustration to his blog about how smart Union Square Ventures is with venture capital. He’s taken what eHub is about out of context in order to plug the incredible foresight of his employer and in his attempt to prove the point that not all of the “thousands of little lightweight web services” are worthy of a capital investment, he mistakenly conveys the notion that eHub is a site that shouldn’t be visited (I’M OFF EHUBWATCH!!). I believe an apology is in order.

  11. Josh Hinds on October 23, 2005 at 12:06 AM:
    I find eHub helpful. As was mentioned above… I don’t always end up using, nor trying everything I see listed either, but then again, the same could be said for most anything—whether we’re talking reviews of new vehicles, software reviews, movie reviews, you name it right? I’ve personally learned about quite a number of nifty resources on here that I wouldn’t have likely learned about otherwise (or at least nearly as quickly). So let me just say I appreciate the resources you’re sharing here. I’d like to end my little post with the following thought… one person’s junk is another’s treasure. I think the the same could be said for one person’s favorite/useful web2.0 solution—one person will find something valuable, while another person may not.
  12. Paul Urquhart on October 23, 2005 at 12:10 AM:
    I am one of those “real users”, not a techie, and I have no clue what Ruby etc. is all about!  Yet for me, EHub has been an indespensable resource for finding the new web-based applications, that I can use with any computer in any location, and as alternatives to complicated and frustrating software programs.  Writely.com is a perfect example, and I learned about it first at eHub. When they come out with those $100 laptops for the third world, I will be one of the rich guys lining up to get one, and relying on free web-based applications and resources instead of big hard drives and complicated, expensive software!  Keep up the good work, eHub.
  13. Michael fitzGerald on October 23, 2005 at 01:21 AM:
    From a ten second scan of Charlies front page I conclude that he wants action now and needs on a daily basis new business ideas that are neatly packaged and will earn a lot of money tomorrow. Nothing wrong with that.

    From ten second scans of Emily’s newsfeeds I see lots of potential business ideas which are generally presented as alpha and beta. Nothing wrong with that.

    The task for me is to use my skill and judgement in these 10 second scans and decide how much of this information is useful. Generally, I don’t know and what I need and what is missing is the ability to easily track whether these idea bubbles burst or develop into something useful.

    I need advice from BOTH Charlie AND Emily.

    Put the egos on the coathangers guys, high profile tantrum followed by sulk versus collection of lots of testimonials is lose-lose.

  14. Michiel on October 23, 2005 at 03:06 AM:
    He sounds like he got beef with both web2.0 (which I can understand, it’s all pretty much overblown plus it underdelivers so far) and you, which I don’t understand. Professional jealousy?

    While eHub is a fun aggregator it’s by no means unique; like The unofficial webapp list and several others it helps me keep track of what’s going on and what’s going off ;)

  15. Serg on October 23, 2005 at 03:17 AM:
    I actually posted a comment on his blog after you posted this here, but various sites have their purpose. Yours is as it claims – a hub that simply mentions these applications. No positive nor negative spin. Then there are sites like http://www.solutionwatch.com and http://www.ajaxreview.com (and others) that go more in depth and analyze these applications. Its best to use a combo of both – a quick updated list + review blog for more information.

    Someone is angry really for no apparent reason :)

  16. BillyG on October 23, 2005 at 03:51 AM:
    Well, I was gonna comment (to lift your spirits?) but it looks like enuff has been said already… keep up the good work.
  17. ptinfrance on October 23, 2005 at 04:12 AM:
    don’t worry too much over one person who probably just needed a hug that day. your site is awesome and i love it – and you should do whatever TF you want to do with your own site. you don’t need to justify what you do either. to me, it seems like you have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on right now. whether some of those new sites and ideas don’t make it, well, that’s not your fault.
  18. Yorkali on October 23, 2005 at 04:14 AM:
    Hello Emily, I posted this on Mr. O’Donnell’s comments section:

    You are welcome to your opinion as am I so here goes:

    I don’t think your approach to this was right. You seem to be overly offensive in your attack on this pretty useful site. Mind you the ideas, solutions and apps come fast and furious but you seem to have it out for this Emily. I am not a personal friend of her’s, I have never met her, walked her dog, or even live in the same city. I don’t even kbow what she looks like. But I do not think your diatribe is acceptable AT ALL!

    The punishment does not fit the “crime”

    The internet has allowed anyone with access to a modem to be a commenter//blogger//soothsayer//our your friendly-neighbourhood-spiderman. With this access to the minds of billions of people on the net, we all should be alot more…civilized//responsible//open-minded in the way we go about our slamming and crushing of people we think that are wasting their time talking about “Web 2.0”, their crazy fantasy football site or guided missiles against Bill Gates//Google//George Bush or Katrina victims.

    Comments like yours are a BIG reason why bloggers have a hard time being taken seriously by the wider web audience.

    Me have web, me gonna post.

    Just do this next time will you:

    1. State your case.

    2. Build a credible argument

    3. Let the chips fall where they may.

    4. Leave at that.

    Please…

    p.s. I know you will delete this comment as soon as you wake up and see this. But an open-minded, responsible: micro-publisher//blogger//web soothsayer would leave this in it’s place.

  19. Peter Scott on October 23, 2005 at 04:24 AM:
    eHub is essential daily reading for me. It’s the top feed in my aggregator. Please don’t let one negative comment stop you.
  20. Brian on October 23, 2005 at 05:26 AM:
    I heart eHub
  21. mark evans on October 23, 2005 at 05:34 AM:
    emily,
    first, charlie’s comment was rude, if not downright insulting. we all have our roles to play within the the web ecosystem, and ehub’s playing a valuable one by exposing people to new ideas and applications they would likely never see or use. if charlie doesn’t like what you’re doing, let him go somewhere else. he seems to have to come to the conclusion ehub is supposed to be for VCs desperate to find the next skype when, in fact, it’s more of a window on what’s going on out there. if he was really smart, he wouldn’t have been such a cad and, instead, he would have offered you some constructive criticism rather than a temper tantrum. keep up the good work, emily!
  22. Pete on October 23, 2005 at 06:37 AM:
    Why does everyone feel the need to polarize this debate?  Charlie is right – eHub isn’t discerning, and that’s ok as long as the reader is.  And yes, eHub is a way of marketing Emily and her business – that’s fine because it also helps people discover relevant information.

    Emily is also right – she was right to anticipate a need for this information and fill that need.  If the service wasn’t needed, she wouldn’t have so many subscribers.  How many of these web services will be around in a year?  Probably only a handful.  But that has no effect on the relevance of eHub right now.

    Most of all, Michael FitzGerald (see his comment) is right.  Emily and Charlie have different viewpoints, and if you read both of them, you’ll have a better picture of where all this is going.

  23. Scott Reynen on October 23, 2005 at 09:22 AM:
    I’d like to see the links put directly in the feeds so I don’t need to pointlessly click through this site to get to the site in question.  That just wastes my time.  I’d also like real interviews to replace the canned interviews full of questions that often completely disregard the context of the interviewee.  And comparisons with similar sites would be nice.
  24. Konstantinos on October 23, 2005 at 09:56 AM:
    Emily, I do find some use in eHub so I think some negative criticism shouldn’t deter you. Speaking of criticism:

    1. Why, oh why, don’t you link to the sites directly from your RSS feed? For a site that focuses on Web 2.0 that practice is so Web 1.0 (and some would say, lame).

    2. Site descriptions: go on your own with this, keep it simple and descriptive. 95% of the listing are social sites, powered by AJAX, allow collaboration, support tagging, etc.—we get it! Tell us what makes this site different? What’s its purpose? Skip the AJAX/tagging stuff. I’ll take a look at the site if I like what it does, not because it employs AJAX.

  25. Sean O’Donnell on October 23, 2005 at 11:05 AM:
    For me ehub is great, I dont expect to find an app I will actually use every day, or even every week on the list. But I do expect to be kept in the loop and eHub provides that service admirably. The problem with Charles O’Donnell is that he seems to expect eHub to do his job for him. Provide him with a nice little list of VC oppertunities every morning so he doesnt have to do much work himself, and that is never going to happen. The only way I can think of to make the Charles O’Donnells of this world a little happier would be to categorize the posts and offer categorized feeds. But that might be a lot of effort , not help Charles out much and be irrelevant to most people. You are doing great work on eHub Emily and please keep it up.
  26. Rames on October 23, 2005 at 11:14 AM:
    Emily, your site is fabulous. What I like most is that you reduce everything to the necessary essential information, it is always worth to check what’s new on eHub, and your traffic stats should tell that very many people think alike.

    That does not mean eHub can’t get even better. The interviews certainly add to its value. My only criticism is that as, quote “eHub was created as a resource list of new web applications”, some of the listings just aren’t ‘new’ or inferior to similar services (such as yousendit), other seem to be stuck in early planning stage. But reviewing everything just takes a lot of time, and eHub is fairly new. Keep up the good work, Emily!

  27. Duncan Gough on October 23, 2005 at 12:38 PM:
    In the spirit of Web 2.0 (if it does indeed exist), then eHub needs a social aspect. You post the links and we, the community, will moderate them further.

    With regards to whether eHub is useful, yes, of course it is. I’m very proud to have Millionsofgames.com listed here and I’m also proud to be offering a service that is not just another ‘calandering/todo/pedometer mashup’. I have some sympathy though, I’ve signed up for enough of those services and they are all very similar. I just don’t sign up for them anymore.

  28. Tim Spalding on October 23, 2005 at 01:24 PM:
    Keep it up, I say. It’s valuable, no question. It would take a lot before I stopped compulsively visiting.

    If I have a complaint it is that I’d like to see more depth, even if that means fewer items. The depth doesn’t need to come in the site descriptions; I like their brevity. But I’ve been enjoying reading all the interviews (and eagerly awaiting mine—when are you going to post it?). I would love to get more in-depth material like this.

    Charlie is right about some aspects of “Web 2.0” that are getting very old—aimless networking, me-too applications, method over substance. If eHub could both report on sites AND on these larger issues, it would be a better resource.

    So, keep it up, listen to your users and keep making it better. That’s Web 2.0 if anything is, right?

  29. codecraig on October 23, 2005 at 04:23 PM:
    eHub is a great site for discovering new services and applications.  Keep posting, it’s certainly worth it!
  30. lramirez on October 23, 2005 at 06:49 PM:
    This guy definitely has too much spare time on his hands. He just want a ride in the WEB 2.0 bus naming eHub on his blog. Emily, your work here is outstanding, sorry I didn’t thank you for it until this incident. I love your stuff! The tools, the interviews. Thanks for spending so much time on this sharing your love for innovation. Don’t take crap from assholes like this Chris. Constructive criticism are a need in ones growth but this guys attitude is something else. Do a recap girl, maybe he studied with you and asked you out and you dumped him, there has to be some explanation to his anger :)
  31. pitsch on October 23, 2005 at 08:10 PM:
    recently one can sense a growing fatigue concerning the ill defined area of “web2.0”, the question of its true novelty (semantic web?, read/write web, web applications), a darwinism of business ideas, fear of a bubble 2.0 and the relation to the ethics of the big guys (google, yahoo et. al.) some might remember that it took 5 years for the “web 1.0” to end in the dot.com desaster. this was five years ago. what did we learn? no question about the good ambitions and minimalistic elegance of ehub. run by 2 people, it shows already the great productivity of the social web, and a change in digitial culture which one could also call maturity (see also dave winers critical remarks), and yes, the art of flickr still holds and there is still some trust that even if a social browser is not a socialist browser, this next wave will be not as greedy, stupid and evil as web 1999.
  32. Andrew Bidochko on October 23, 2005 at 09:30 PM:
    eHub is a great service. Yes, it is real service which help it’s subscribers to discover new interesting application and meet smart people via series of interviews. Keep it rocking!
  33. Charlie on October 24, 2005 at 08:54 AM:
    I can always be more constructive and less obnoxious.  I’m working on that.

    I just want to point out two things:

    I complimented you personally for what you’ve created.

    How come no one has quoted me on that?

    “Emily Chang is a slick designer and an even savvier businesswoman.  She’s latched on to a hot topic with a resource that plays into exactly what the crowds are clamoring for, and her business is going to take off because of it. “

    Second, my point was simply that I shouldn’t be using eHub to auto-fill a deal log.  I think I was (and a lot of Web 2.0 critics) were doing that.  So, it was more about how I was using it and a general comment about putting some of these neat little webapps in context.

    Apolgies for my harsh style.  If you read my blog (which you probably don’t), you’d see it was a consistant theme but that I’m also not such a bad guy.  Truce?  :)

  34. Ryan on October 24, 2005 at 09:07 AM:
    Personally, I think this site is great, and I’ve come across a few online resources that I use regularly that I never would have found had it not been for eHub.  I tend to agree with his sentiment that Web 2.0 does not equal brilliant business or even useful in some cases, but I do think it was wrong, if not stupid of him to single out eHub as a site that perpetuates this.  It is merely a repository of some interesting links.  He may choose not to subscribe if he likes.
  35. Emily on October 24, 2005 at 09:07 PM:
    Thanks to everyone who commented on this post. I appreciate the support, suggestions, critiques, and opinions!

    Charlie, thanks for your intention to compliment me.  I think your quote went unnoticed because of the other contradictory ideas in your original post, and because your opinions led into a convoluted plug for Union Square Ventures – not a cautionary warning to other VCs that they should think before plunging in, or that they shouldn’t view eHub as an “auto-fill deal log.” I have to be honest.  I still don’t get why you would use unsubscribing from eHub’s feed as an example of how to better analyze a web application for its business merit.  Perhaps a more effective post would have been “What Makes a Web Application Worth Investing In?” Nonetheless, truce accepted :)

    I think the diversity of views presented here shows how early we are in this conversation about the merits or longevity of many of the web applications in eHub.  However, more significantly for me, many of the comments prove my own gut hypothesis – that the current shift or movement towards a more social and integrated web is a desire by individuals to create something beyond a model of mere economic commerce.  The recent discussions of business merit and/or bubble 2.0 are one side of the conversation.  In some ways, we have heard much of it before.

    What’s far more interesting to me are the other conversations that focus on societal, cultural, and technological innovation.  Let’s not try to quantify something before we’ve had a chance to ponder it qualitatively.  Let’s not say the big guys always know best before we’ve given individuals the chance to make their own decision and to present new paradigms or modes of thinking.  And, if you’re one of the VCs reading eHub, I would suggest looking at ways to support early stage innovation, such as Paul Graham’s Y Combinator.

    Lastly, some responses regarding eHub:

    Scott Reynen and Konstantinos:  Point taken.  I’ll look into switching my RSS feeds to go directly to the app.  My blog database is set a certain way which is currently preventing that.

    Rames:  I totally agree with you.  I’m working on a re-categorization so that applications can be differentiated by status (launched, alpha, pending, etc) and more fine-grained categories.

    Duncan: I’m looking into more ways to make eHub more social for you, the users/readers.

    eHub Interviews:  the initial idea was to send out generic email interviews to creators so everyone had a chance to respond similarly and readers could see either a pattern or divergence of responses.  We have more personal and in depth interviews in the works, as well as some other exciting new developments.  More on that to come..

    Thanks, all!

  36. David Collin on November 01, 2005 at 06:26 PM:
    Keep on keepin’ on, Emily. eHub is one of my best feeds. I’ll evaluate it for myself, thank you!

    dc

  37. gyroshema on November 10, 2005 at 01:08 AM:
    I am not familiar w/ most of the apps, resources, services, etc. listed @ eHUB. In fact, that’s the reason I keep coming back. Don’t let negative comments pressure you into defending your work. It is what it is no matter what you or anybody says and I’m sure most people know that. Thanks for introducing/ pointing me in the right direction of new web content.
  38. Simon Christy on December 14, 2005 at 01:11 AM:
    Fair enough to vent your views Charlie but your sentiment is pretty negative. Sure, a good number of the apps and ideas posted on eHub are not quite ready to ‘tip’ into the mainstream. That’s the point, isn’t it?

    We live in one of the most creative times ever – amongst everything created by innovators on posting to this site there’s going to be a mix of the great, the good and the ugly. What’s ugly for one is a great new app for another. Gathering them together in one place gets the brain working and sparks new ideas.

    For me, Emily’s site is a great resource and is firmly bookmarked.

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