Archive for the 'Social Software' Category

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.

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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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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.

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.

Categorizing our communities

May 30, 2007

Sarah Cooper posted a great response to the following series of posts regarding “Circles of Relationship”. The summary of which can be found here and here.

The flash application that Sarah built (here) brings up a good topic about classification for our communities. I participated in a beta site called wis.dm (which has currently shifted it’s format and is completely unusable) but when it started out it showed me clearly how a system could be built which would allow us to classify the people we participate with in our communities.

The system used a rating service (which had some scaling issues that lead to its ultimate demise) which allowed people to determine who were experts.

Basic idea was this:
1.) Someone posts a link to topic and adds some comments (to spark conversation). They then tagged the links (and people who posted comments could also add their tags).
2.) You voted on the link and comments

The result was essentially a system which would relate someone who posted a lot of information on say “Apple” or “iPod” with a positive vote as an “expert” on the topic.

We need this system in our world today so that you can tell me that “Jen” (from the sample flash application) is really good to talk to about concerts, OK to talk to about clothing and not so good to talk to about Movies. I think that this has been created as an internal memory piece (particularly on web forums where you participate with many of the same people) but how do we extend that?

For instance, I have frequented a web forum where people talk about movies. And there is this one person who is the “King-Transformer” guy. Knows everything about the history of the show, the movie and everything else that is Transformer based.

Know I know that this person is the person to go to in order to ask an educated question about Optimus Prime and gang, but how do I tell others. How does this person become widely known as the “King-Transformer” guy. This system has to be created some how. Unfortunately I think that this is something that will require the cooperation of many sites but we can hope.

Some crazy thoughts about Web 2.0

May 3, 2007

As Mike posted about “RSS in Plain English” , it reminded me of some of the conversations we have been having at work as we try to jump-start discussions surrounding our companies general approach to Web 2.0 (which includes a healthy dose of RSS). I spoke at internal round table last week about RSS, Wiki’s and Blogs and their place in the Web Content Management space. Particularly, focusing on how RSS was effecting the Enterprise business world and how our product would be growing to support that need. During my work, I came across a great video (like a great cult movie these days you need to watch it a couple of times to pick up everything) which helps to dispel the myths about Web 2.0.

What I found to be well done in the video was the process of not only describing what Web 2.0 is today but how we got here. How HTML was built as a markup language which was

“…designed to describe the structure of a web document … such elements defined how content would be formatted. In other words, form and content became inseparable in HTML…”

In the early days of pure HTML development, the tags were the power. <b> for something bold, <i> for something italics. We coded because we wanted to designate that something was important and should be looked at differently. We were not thinking about the actual content in the context of the document, we were simply saying “when this is displayed on the Web we want it to look like ‘x’.”

What is remarkable about the current changes on the Web is that they are not simply architectural changes (support for semantic style markup like <address>4222 Clinton Avenue</address>) but it was also the explosion of the user compiled data:

Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site useable. Owners of Adobe, Apple and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum web pages. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organising intelligence for a new economy. [excerpt from “Unto us a machine is born”]

Nobody could have ever imagined how much the consumers of the world would contribute to the web and it’s over all growth. In some articles it is said that a new blog is born every 1/2 second. When I first started blogging at WordPress.com (which was admittedly way after the general populous started) there were roughly 190K blogs. In the short amount of time that I have been active in the blogsphere, that number has grown to an astonishing 900K+.

So as this data grows and the web spins out of control, we must start thinking about the next thing. How many times have you gotten to a great Digg article, only to find that 850 people had already commented on this article. Rendering the comments section of this article completely useless. Who can sort through that many comments and make heads or tails of anything relevant to the discussion. Likewise, how do you weed out the unproductive comments that prove we still have a long way to go as a society? You don’t, that’s how!

One thing I will say that I have spoken about in the past (and is iterated in the article mentioned above) is that the system is growing and the tools that are becoming available to us are opening up our use-able networks. We are currently connected (most of us) with way more people then we were in the past. Additionally, we are capable of maintaining relationships with hundreds of people at at time through many different outlets.

I am not sure that we are “teaching the Machine (a.k.a. the Internet)” but I can say this, when I get involved with projects like Behavioral Targeting I can truly say that we are living in a remarkable time, and I am glad to be a part of it.

Where is wis.dm Webisode 2?

March 27, 2007

I have certainly been bitten by the Wis.dm bug lately and so I wanted to share with you a few of the interesting “things” going in the quite creative community which has so nicely developed over at wis.dm. To do so, I am going to introduce you to a “character” that has joined the community.

The first is George Pepper:

Sent to document and report on the pop culture of the early 21st century, I, Commodore George Pepper stepped through the time displacement portal and arrived in the year 2007. Expecting to find a time of peace and prosperity, as had been recorded in my history books, I’ve found a culture mass paranoia, military conflict, and degrading environmental conditions which will lead to mankinds doom.

Faced with customs and beliefs alien to my own, I’ve set forth to change history for the better. My only guide on this journey is Wis.dm, a research assistant from my own time, who appears in the form of an 8-Track player attached to a tripod. And so, I must scour pop culture, striving to find the people, events, and institutions that have corrupted the timeline…hoping to save this era, and my own.

 

In addition to some of his posts he has produced a video which can be seen here:

This was posted some time ago (February 12th) and I am very much looking forward to the second Webisode where I hope to meet some of George’s arch enemies like Dr. Digg and his evil henchman Facebook.

More from this later.