Archive for the 'Social Networking' Category

Will “the writer’s” strike kill network television

November 26, 2007

Sometimes innovation is introduced by accident. On other occasions innovation has been purchased. We sometimes see innovative ideas spread through grass roots efforts and on some occasions, we see innovation because of unique opportunistic changes.

Take this writers strike. Many of us are still baffled by the fact that all three major networks and all 1 billion (seems like it anyways) other networks are so radically affected by one group of people. I know that this strike represents the power of unions (the AFLCIO is one of our customers so I know all about unions) and I am all about unions. However, I am not so sure that a strike by this powerful union and the early demise of the 2007 prime time television season is such a good idea.

One of the items that the writers guild is complaining about is that they do not receive fair compensation from the sale of DVD’s and the revenue sharing for shows that are aired over the Internet.

I have spent some quality time with Joost recently (4 days off with friends and family that you have not seen in a while – a long with some late night quality time with friends) and I have to say that I am impressed.  The idea is not all that innovative except that the content is offered exclusively over the Internet.  Essentially, they have “channels” where you can find different content.  They have content ranges from comedy to sports and almost everything else in between.  I am not sure exactly how many channels by they claim to have over 15,000 episodes.  Now granted some of these “episodes” are one minute long and it can be difficult to find quality episodes that last more than 10 minutes but here are a few things me and my family enjoyed over the weekend:

  • 3 full length Snowboard movies
  • several 20 minute extreme sports shows from “MuchMusic” – a content provider for mainstream television
  • Season one episodes of the original Transformers (Mikull – you have to see it)
  • Videos of all the latest songs from MTV and other stations
  • David Letterman’s top 10 lists (great for last call)

If you want to watch last weeks Patriots game or the MLS championship you may not be in luck but the model represents an interesting shift in entertainment.  Much like YouTube but only better quality.  My Joost watching was done on a 27 inch Westinghouse HD LCD TV and at full screen it had no problems.  The shows are “interrupted” with a very small advertisement (about 1/64th of the screen) in the bottom hand corner of the screen.  And since the user can be targeted (hello targeted ads again) the advertisements can be sold for more, they can be more relevant (no more feminine product ads during my viewing time).
Remember when you were a kid (if you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s) and all you had was 4 channels?  You still watched it. I think that this new medium (the Internet – he he) is really in it’s infantile stages. There are new “tools” popping up every day.  I just looked at the new product from Adobe called the Adobe Media Player.  Although the name and interface are lame and the content is lammer, it did have streaming HD and it was very quick – not so good at full screen but pretty good.

Now I can’t say for sure that I will be using Joost every day but I can say that at a time when there will be sparse new content on the old school media (good bye TV) I can say that I will be looking elsewhere for my entertainment.  The Writer’s Guild better be sure that I don’t find something very interesting or they may have walked themselves right of a job.

Using new media to drive decisions for old media

November 20, 2007

I was in Portland last week talking with a few people who really understand this video:

I saw this video about 6 months ago (maybe longer since I never really know what day it is) but I haven’t seen it in a long time. Since I returned from Portland I have seen the advertisement 4 times (and I have watched a total of 3 hours of television).

Two things I know:

1.) Advertisements often repeat many times in a single segment – Ok cool.

2.) The old media has not caught up with new media this fast – i.e. – The television shows that I watched since I returned are not “aware” that “I” actually watched this video. In fact that would be even more phenomenal since I watched the video in Portland on Thursday and returned to Massachusetts on Saturday. (Somday – but not today)

However, this brings up a good point. What if FedEx was smart. What if FedEx had created a program that could scour social media sites – YouTube, Break.com, VodPod etc… to find all media posted about FedEx. Certainly, they would have to manually massage the list but when they were finished they would have a perfect dataset on how many times their commercials were watched.

Then with this data, they could determine which of their expensive (and probably not so expensive) commercials were most successful. Then if they saw a sudden spike in the number of times a particular ad was played in the new medium, then they could return that ad into the rotation in the old medium.

Or, maybe (the more likely story – unfortunately) the writer’s strike is forcing everyone – including commercial makers – to go back to the content that made them successful in the past.

Horizon of Social Network Applications is expanding

November 2, 2007

Hopefully, by now you have heard of the “Facebook Platform” and the up and coming MySpace Platform.  Additionally, you should also know that companies like iLike, Slide, and RockYou are making some descent waves building applications for the Facebook Platform (they won’t divulge how much but I can only imagine it is a descent amount).  Certainly the 33 million monthly users of Facebook produce a large amount of ad revenue (Certainly Microsoft agrees – since they just inked a 240 million dollar deal for a 1.6% – yes 1.6% – stake in Facebook – in return for the exclusive advertising platform rights)

Many pundits of the “Facebook Platform” will complain (and rightfully so) that the closed Facebook architecture is actually deterring growth in the  Internet and Social Networks in general.  I happen to agree (read my article about content ownership: “I want it all back“).  I think that the work that Facebook is doing while exciting and powerful, may not support the same passion and desire which made the web what it is today.  Additionally, I don’t really want to learn another freakin language to get my foot in the door somewhere.

What I am looking for is a way to post a link and have that link show up in 4 places: My Blog (with some descriptions on why I think people should read it, In a widget on Facebook, on Twitter and on my Del.icio.us account.  Why, because there is no way that everyone will read my blog, no way that all the people that I know will be on Facebook, not everyone uses Twitter (in fact this has the least amount participants for me anyways) and Del.icio.us by default is my place to store links.

There are are some other reasons why this should ‘spread” across the network.  Some of these are closed networks (in fact besides my Blog – which is free =) and Del.icio.us) which means only the people I “know” or I allow to “know” me will see it.  Some of the inherent value of Social Networks in general is that I can discover or find new people that are interested in similar things as me.

Well there is hope yet (and I truly think that this is the tip of the iceberg).  Yesterday, Google announced that it has begun work on a new type of platform.  One built on currently available technology (no need to learn something new).  The platform called “OpenSocial” is designed to allow applications to be built and shared amongst many social networks (like TypePad, LinkedIn, Okut, Ning and Friendster – amongst others).  With potential support from Oracle and Salesforce, this appears to be legit.

Supposedly, the application framework should be launching shortly and will be available here.

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We need to increase the rate at which we consume information

October 23, 2007

I am not talking about Matrix style information consumption (although that would be cool) but one of the biggest problems with the overload of information that we are in the midst of is that we are governed by old information presentation models.

Sentences, paragraphs, headings etc… have been the common tools we use to present information. Take a blog post for example. Very straight forward (I am shacked by the common layout formats myself). In most cases we present information on the Internet much the same way we would present it in a book.

We need to rethink this. Some will argue that we don’t present content in the same way that we do in books. They might say, “…but, Ron, we use flash and video and other techniques to get our points across”. They would be correct. Good content is delivered over the Internet using rich media, which is cool for those talented designers that can move in and out of Photoshop and Flash, the same way I do with a web browser.

But what about the rest of us. Those that can’t whip up nice graphics and movies whenever we want. How can we present information in a better way?

Robert Scoble thinks:

We have too much great content.

And Steve Rubel thinks that we are headed for an:

Attention Crash.

I think Steve and Robert are both correct. But what I think we need is a new way to communicate ideas. Not with text and lengthy paragraphs or run on sentences, but with something else.

I believe that we were headed here anyways. We add thousands of books a year (good books) yet on WordPress alone there were:

1,682,684 blogs with 15,713 new posts today.

We don’t need a fancy publisher to put content out there.  We simply write.  We are not reaching the amount of people that the Times Best Seller writers reach, but if you look at the world of content it is growing at an alarming rate.  The result of this is that eventually all of this “good” content will eventually go to waste.  Hopefully not.

If we don’t produce a way to “rip” through our “good” content in a faster way, we will miss the opportunity to truly capitalize on this great medium.

IM vs. E-mail

September 26, 2007

I really do hate IM. Not because I use it for more than 80% of the time, but because it is so annoying. Wait a minute, did I say “IM”? I meant E-mail. Sorry for the confusion. I love IM. Way better than E-mail (at least for most things). Don’t get me wrong, if I received as many IM’s in a day as e-mail’s I would really never get anything done.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the new communication world. I use Twitter (sort of) and I have an active Facebook account, I love LinkedIn and more than 75% of my IM list are either people that I work with directly or users of our software CommonSpot. And you know what, I really don’t mind.

I look at the people that I IM for work as “my” community. Those individuals that don’t have to wait for e-mail. If I am there, and I am not busy then let’s go for it. Get it out of the way. The great thing about it is, the people that I IM know when to IM and when to E-mail. And it is not like it is some written rule like we agreed: “Subjects that begin with A and B are E-mail material while, X through Z are IM … got it?”. It is understood.

E-mail me with the details of the proposal that you need or the contact information for that person that you need me to talk to. IM me when I haven’t done it in 4 days. Or when you have a quick question and just need to know if there is an answer out there. IM me when you are interested in how I am doing or what I have been up to (although I am relying on Twitter to handle the day to days from now on). Don’t send me lengthy IM’s and don’t send me short E-mails.

One might think that with “clients” online at all time (10 or so are on right now) that I spend most of my time IM’ing. In fact, I don’t. However, there are a few things about IM that make the interruptions “bearable”.

1.) I don’t have to answer… more often than not, a failed IM is _not_ followed up by an email. Either they found what they were looking for, or after some thought realized that it was not important (Note: I don’t miss a _lot_ of IM messages =)

2.) I can talk to more than one person at a time… It is not uncommon to have 3 or 4 conversations going at time. Although I prefer one open channel at once, my brain can handle many topics at a time. (Gets tricky when you accidentally post to your wife that you think the proposal looks good and you hope they like the numbers)

3.) Makes reading e-mail a bit easier… if you have a question that requires a 2 second response, don’t take up space in my inbox (I only get 500MB which is very difficult to maintain these days – even with auto archive set to ‘on’)

4.) I feel more in touch with people – but not too in touch… when the tables are turned and I need something or I want to say thanks, it is a less intrusive way to say so. Don’t stop what you are doing, but let me tell you something…

5.) People feel more in touch with me – but not too in touch… when the see me on line and the want to just say hi, it is better than e-mail. I have had 2 hour conversations over IM (while watching TV or doing other work).

I am not saying that IM is the answer to this communication problem we have these days. However, I am saying, that it has a place. It fits right in between E-mail and the Phone. In some respects it is even better than the phone. Try having 4 phone conversations at the same time. Can’t happen.

The E-mail Post

September 7, 2007

I have been thinking about this a lot and I am sure that I am not going to get this out in one post.  I am however officially fed up with E-mail.  I am so fed up that I am no longer going to refer to it in its supposedly grammatically correct form “E-mail” or “E-Mail” instead it will be called “The ill communicator”(email) for short.  It doesn’t really even deserve a hyphen.

I have been using a couple of other communication devices heavily over the past 6 months to a year:

IM – for both work and pleasure (but actually mostly work)
Text Messaging – mostly with my wife (who actually is quite fond of text messaging now)
Twitter – Ok don’t ask.  If you don’t know … I can’t help
Facebook – this is more of a time sync for me than any of the above
Blog – goodness it’s been a long time since I have been here

I have used Facebook and Twitter to get some feed back on E-mail.  Using the “Questions” application in Facebook I asked the following question:

“What is an appropriate length for an email?”

While I did not get an optimal response (only 2 people answered it) they echoed some of the sentiments that I have.

Too much text in an email equals 2 things:

1.) Delayed Response – if I have to sit and think for more than 20 seconds when I am reading your email then I am probably not going to respond quickly.
2.) No Response – it is quite possible that I may never respond to emails that are more than 2 paragraphs.

One of my friends sent me this link which I thought was interesting:

Rising Email Immunity Leads to Conflict in Email Etiquette

It was actually one of the most poignant Blog posts that I have read in a while.  It talks about the changes that are going on in the world around communication.  How we are soo connected.   I know people that sit on top of their Inbox and “wait” for emails to come in.  They feel like they have completed tasks because they responded to their email.

I spent 45 minutes at 9:45 tonight going through my emails for the day.  It is like extra work, on top of my regular job. When I read that blog post it was like right on.  Many times I think that when I respond to someone’s 4 paragraph email with a sentence that I am being rude.  In my mind there are better devices to have a “conversation” with.  Email should be used for quick things like “Did you get that email I sent” and “Are you going to reply to my email”.

I am not saying that Twitter is the answer, I just think that we are all going to get to the point where email is just not sustainable.

This is illogical (Mr.) Spock

August 15, 2007

Spock LogoI recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about this web site called “Spock”. It is designed to provide easy searching for people. Essentially the site will query Facebook and LinkedIn and other Social Networking sites for information about a person. For instance, my page on Spock displays information from my LinkedIn site and some information from things that I have done (which they pass on to Google).

My main argument (originally) against the site this was not the information that it grabbed from my public facing profiles or information that i have written about, but rather the other tools provided by the site. If you look in the right column, you can do things like “Claim your profile”, “Upload a Picture” and “Add a Website” (among others).

This took me back to the old Yahoo days when you had to register your site for the search engine. Placing it in categories that you felt applied. Originally, you could plaster your site in many categories, eventually they only allowed you to post to a few categories at a time (catching on to the cross-posting for exposure). My feeling was that this site would not promote true organic growth. By adding to this site, the information was much like Facebook or MySpace in that “I” produced the content. Not very organic.

What would I wasn’t aware of was a little “trick” Spock played on unsuspecting Facebook people (found here):

These kids have a few things in common: They, along with 12,000 other people, recently downloaded a “Mad Libs”-like Facebook application and wrote stories about themselves and their friends, filling the blanks with scandalous terms.

But they didn’t realize the application was created by Spock, which debuted last week. And they were horrified to discover that Spock used the terms they supplied to build public profiles on them and other Facebook members. (After being contacted by Wired News, Spock erased the tags from many of these profiles, but some were still visible at press time.)

So when these people started filling out this application to be funny (and many high school kids did), the Spock website listed that information as “fact”. Very embarrassing! And not a great way to make a first impression.

I can now say that not only is this site not Organic, it is not professional. I do not see Spock catching on.

Let the “targeted advertisement” race begin

August 13, 2007

I have been anxiously awaiting this day. My Space has begun a “targeted ad” campaign which if successful, I think will revolutionize the advertising world. The benefits of targeted advertisements is simple:

Deliver more meaningful advertisements

It is a fact of life that quality content must either be paid for (Cable channels) or supplemented through advertisements (Network). We have been living with advertisements on television since it’s inception. Although TV/Cable content providers have become more intelligent about their ad placements (My wife does not understand half of the humor displayed in the advertisements during a Football game on Sunday), there was no real way to determine who was watching television.

Enter “Cookies” – no not your mom’s chocolate chip cookie. Imagine the Nielsen Ratings group – only in EVERY household. Essentially every visitor to a web site can be tracked. And with sites like Facebook and MySpace your content retrieval habits can also be tracked. Imagine watching television and getting an advertisement that said: “Goes great with the new pair of brown pants you just bought last week from the store”. Freaky yes, but I would rather have this ad then a bunch of ads completely unrelated to what I am looking for.

Targeted advertisements hold the key to increased click-through rates and even higher completion rates (someone actually purchases). I know this topic represents a mixed bag – but I think that this is the best thing to happen to the Internet. Among its benefits:

  • Potential for less advertisements – key concept here is that the websites sprinkle a ton of advertisements in hopes that one of them is clicked
  • Advertisements are more successful – no more campaigns with unknown return value
  • Freak the hell out of your Mom – ha- no seriously, though, remember the Minority Report? Imagine an ad directed towards your mom? I know mine would freak out. “How’d they know that I just remodeled my kitchen”?

There are certainly some challenges and I think that the general privacy community will certainly have problems with statements like this:

If someone’s been identified as someone who’s interested in fashion, we target ads to them that have nothing to do with fashion, and then ads that would direct them to say, the MySpace fashion channel.”

How do they determine someone is “interested in fashion”. Do they look at my MySpace messages? At my “Blog” posts? Surely someone will want a public deceleration of the data collection policies used to determine the targeted advertisements.

At any rate – we are on our way, so we shall see!

Gathering thoughts about SN, Web 2.0 and everything else

August 12, 2007

http://www.calacanis.com/2007/07/27/facebook-bankruptcy

 

 

One of my “friends” on Facebook posted a link to this BRILIANT blog post which has filled me with a ton of energy.  I am trying to figure out where to aim this and I guess I am hoping that you can help.  I have a few angles of discussion from this post and I need to know where to focus (may help to actually read the post =) :

 

1.) These applications that are popping up (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pownce, Twitter, ???) – are they opportunistic software application developers taking advantage of the hype of Web 2.0 to make a buck (or million) or are they opportunistic software application developers taking advantage of the shift in our societies decision to communicate more openly/freely over the Internet to make software that helps enable true “enhanced connectivity”?

 

2.) Is his disgusted with the Social Network System and his inability to internalize what is going on here (we are completely shifting our Communication techniques).  Is he part of the “older” generation that just can’t understand how to fit this into his daily actions?  Hyper connectivity anxiety disorder?

 

3.) Is he trying to get people to think further down the road?  Can we honestly think that the current state of Social Networking is the “Way it will be”?  Why do we have to travel around to all of these different sites?  Why do we have to post on other people’s blogs (only to loose that communication later when the user decides to close up shop?)  Should we think about shaking up the model a bit and leverage the Internet to communicate in a whole new way?

 

4.)Unrelated – I have travelled quite a bit over the last 2-3 years and I have met a ton of young professionals who either don’t know that much about social networking or find it to be a  waste of time.  To be honest I am not sure that I would have learned as much as I did if I hadn’t been on the road.  With a wife and two children, time is a precious commodity.

 

One of the conversations that I have been having recently is how we as a society is not interested in information for the long term anymore.  We are “experience” animals that search for the “next best thing”.   We revel in the challenges to achieve it (getting from A to Z is half the fun) but are disinterested as soon as we do.  Moving on to the “next best thing”.  We are an ADHD society who have been transformed into “minute-memories”.

 

Our means of communications have shifted towards this – IM, Text Messaging, Blogging etc…  We are very interested in the now – and NOW moves faster then any of could believe.

 

The nagging question for all of this – what does it mean to the next generation of “communicators”?  When they have grown up on Text Messaging, IM and {gasp} Twitter?  And more importantly, how can we establish these new levels/channels of communications so that these new communicators are capable of achieving more then we have.

 

I am certainly not claiming “Facebook Bankruptcy” but I have denied the Zombie requests and I continue to edit my “iLike” portion of my site (and encourage others to do the same).

When will we outgrow our current Social Network applications?

August 10, 2007

I will be the first to tell you that I am glad that MySpace is in trouble. After working with Facebook for the last few months I have decided to pull all of my content off of MySpace and just link to My Facebook account. However it and a recent article (LinkedIn to Open Platform in Response to Facebook) it has become clear that we are rapidly outgrowing the services available in some of the earlier Social Networking applications that we have been using. LinkedIn is a great site (I use that as well) and I think that both Facebook and LinkedIn have their values.

However as the networks grow and the companies producing the applications understand more and more about how their software is used things change. Sometimes the change for the worse (Wis.dm)! What has become increasingly clearer to me is that we will begin to outgrow some of these applications rather quickly. I agree with Michael – LinkedIn is here for the near term. They do however have some interesting challenges as applications which provide similar capabilities begin to produce more user retention.

The problem LinkedIn faces is a market suffering from too many social networking options; Facebook offers a one stop shop that for many is becoming their main and in some cases their only choice in social networks. LinkedIn must evolve to compete, the move to open their platform is a definite step in the right direction.

Evolution is key and we are already beginning to see the challenges ahead as “applications” like Twitter and Pownce begin their trek through the uncharted waters of social networking.

As the fundamental communication process is transfered to the Web we will see a myriad of options available to us.  Who knows maybe some day instead of posting to all of the sites, we may actually have a “LifeComputer” at home which publishes strategically to social network stations which publicize our lives for those that are interested.