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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Disintermediation, or adding value to content using plug-ins

Posted by direwolff on July 29, 2006

Recently, I began using the coComment plug-in to keep track of the comments and discussions that are taking place in blog posts I follow. I have to admit, the simplicity of the application (or at least the appearance of simplicity) is awesome, and even more cool is how the comment entry and tracking capability is seemlessly integrated into the comments area of blogs. Where one wants to just begin discussing some miscellaneous page on the Web, that too is easily achieved by clicking on the coComment icon that appears in the browser (in the case of Firefox it appears right next to the home icon).

So this got me thinking, with this plug-in, coComment managed to kind of disintermediate blog site visitors who want to comment on the blogs they read from the blog application providers (ie. SixApart, WordPress, etc.). Sure, the comments still appear on those blogs and perhaps even the ability for that to happen isn’t truly being interfered with, but the ability to capture information at this stage means that coComment didn’t need to have a deal with the blog application providers to coordinate them sending the comments from blogs to coComment’s data repositories. Mind you, it probably would have been a monumental task for coComment to get these application providers to agree to even do this.

Another technology in the plug-in space is the AttentionTrust Recorder. They have been able to avoid coordinating with Web sites for individuals’ cookie crumbs, basically getting at the traffic information of what pages each visitor looked at on a publisher’s site. By being able to leverage the plug-in to track and gather this visitor traffic data, they can easily aggregate this across all sites without having to strike relationships with each site, so long of course, that the end-user opts-in to the service.

Plug-ins open up opportunities for valuable end-user services that can even leverage the content that users are seeing and be more easily deployable, without needing the cooperation from other Web sites. If you think of all of the service providers that try to get Web sites to integrate their content or functionality, to the extent that what they’re offering is truly of service to the end-user, plug-ins really offer a smart way of going direct to them. This really has me thinking of some interesting applications that can leverage site content to provide real end-user value.  While I’ve probably only confirmed here my status as “Master of the Obvious”, given the fact that I still see lots of service providers going the path of doing deals with sites for distribution on onerous terms or for little added value to all parties, I feel that plug-ins have been under appreciated by service providers.

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