Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Will Social Media allow the public to be more influential?

November 20, 2008

One of the largest complaints a majority of citizens here in the United States have today is that for whatever reason they don’t really have the opportunity to make a difference.  Especially when it comes to the political actions of the very government which is designed to serve us.

During Abe Lincoln’s great Gettysburg Address – he stated that our government system is a one that is

… of the people, by the people, for the people …

Today the “by the people” really can only occur during election years (theoretically).  I know that I can write a letter to my congressman or go door to door to get signatures on a petition – I am fully aware of the chain of command.  The problem is – that not only does this type of message take long to deliver (unless you are personal friends with a congressman) the message is a one way message.  No one but my congressman (and probably not even the congressman but rather a deputy director or associate) will see this message.

If that congressman is supposed to make decisions based on his/her constituents then this current system needs a boost.  Especially with over 300 million people equally guaranteed a voice.

In comes Social Media!

With Twitter, Blogging, FriendFeed, SocialMedian or any of the other Socially aware sites out their today (and coming in the near future) we are hopefully seeing a radical change to this paradigm of communication.

I have been turned on by a rather amazing phenomon which was started in late September/Early October by the makers of Twitter.  They created a special site called Election 2008 (http://election.twitter.com) which gave site visitors the ability to view real-time Twitter “conversations” happening all over the world.  It was truly remarkable and has lead to some more open sites like Monitter and TweetGrid which allow you to monitor the conversations on any topic.

So while I sat there yesterday listening to the 3 CEO’s of our great auto industry grovel for cash to withstand this economic downturn – I couldn’t help but notice Senator Dodd flipping back and forth between ‘auto industry’ and ‘auto bailout’ on www.monitter.com with his iPhone – tilted oh so slightly as to “pause” the stream when an interesting question arose from the community.

We truly do live in an amazing time.  Truly historic.

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Monetizing Twitter

October 30, 2008

Ok, I think this subject has been beaten to death in the past whatever months but I want to throw another idea out there that I am not sure has been thought of.

What if there was a way to Monetize clicking on links from within a Tweet?

One of the hardest thing to do is to get someone’s attention – especially on Twitter.  I only follow 50-60 active users on Twitter and get more than 20 pages of tweets everyday.  I don’t read all of them – can’t.  It would take forever.  On Twitter you are forced to be clever or in a sense “market” their tweets in order to get someone to even read it.  And this is coming from someone with 50-60 active users – what about those people with hundreds if not thousands…

Here are 3 links that appeared in my stream today which exemplify what I am talking about:

@blakespot: Change. That’s what’s up. http://tinyurl.com/59resq about 22 hours ago from TweetDeck

@georgedearing: http://ping.fm/p/PrFjH – This is the crappy part of the trip about 4 hours ago from Ping.fm

@sfsmaus: Bugger all… http://snipr.com/4tqwo about 4 hours ago from digsby

Each of these Tweets was a promotion.  More so than posting it to their Del.icio.us accounts or to FriendFeed etc…. they posted to Twitter because it was something that they wanted to share.

In most cases (these three tweets as examples) I would have never stumbled upon (hee hee) these links and  would have never been subjected to their sites advertising.  Never.  Twitter is a crucial network for sharing information like this and if there was some way to monetize this I think it would help.

At some level most of the early adopters on Twitter – the one’s that are active – are all mavens.  Maybe not like a Blogger is but in a different way.  We are all promoting something – us and how we think and see the world.  In most cases that includes products.

I don’t know how many people I have turned on to Digsby.  I found out about Digsby on Twitter from @tonyk – else I might still be using that other crappy program – Trillian.  Goodness gracious.  So glad.

Maybe if we could track our influence similar to those silly pyramid schemes like Amway and Herbal Life – we could put a dollar sign to it.

Just a thought.

We Need to Implement a Comments (or Conversations) Microformat

September 26, 2008

Work has already begun to do this (see the Microformats site for more) and infact if you view the source of my WordPress blog (for those posts with comments) you will see that it has already in place.

If you were to think about the Internet like a Librarian thinks about the Library you would go nuts. Not only would the amount of information out there scare you into submission, but you also have to consider the types of information.  If you went into the local library and grabbed an index card from the Microfiche catalog and placed it into the Microfilm catalog the librarian would quickly and quietly escort you to the door and ask you to not return again.

The organization of information by type is just as important as indexing content by topic.

The Conversation
We are now having conversations everywhere.  Some popular places that I have conversations are:

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Twitter
  • FriendFeed
  • Facebook
  • SocialMedian

And if you go onto FriendFeed you will see that there are millions of places to have conversations.  Yes, Millions.

Today a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook.  The article outlined how people are being misinformed by mainstream media.  The content of the link prompted a conversation between myself, the user who posted the link and one of his friends.  The new Facebook design allowed us to have this discussion inside each of our News Feed Home pages.  This was great but in about 2 days this conversation will be all but lost and no one outside of our small group will ever be able to offer their opinion or reference the conversation.

A little later on I read a post by Jeremiah Owyang on Twitter asking users to answer the following question

Debate: should the debates continue this Friday? #debatedebate

Being newer to FriendFeed than Jeremiah’s closer friends, I decided that I would reply via Twitter.  After a visit to FriendFeed (which automatically aggregates information from many Social Networking sites like Twitter, Google, Flickr, Blogs etc…) I saw that everyone responded to Jeremiah’s post there.  FriendFeed also provides an easy “comments” section for almost any type of aggregated content.

As conversations move from the traditional Blog Post, Forms and even Twitter – how can we capture that content in a useful way?

Microformats

Are Images Any Different?

If you told the 10 year ago me that I would be able to type text like “American Flag” into a search engine and find all of the images that have something to do with an American Flag, I would have told you were crazy.  In fact, I might have even asked you to quietly leave.

When you think about what an image is – at some level it is a perfect Microformat and provides all the information needed to be fully indexed by most intelligent search engines today.

I think that if we implemented a common Microformat for comments (or conversations) we could begin to track conversations on any platform and treat them like a type of content (or information).  We could then aggregate this content in special search engines.

The result would be a glimpse into the conversations going on at any given time.

When will computers truly "work" for us?

August 2, 2008

I know that I don’t live in the time of the Minority Report or iRobot and I also know that I have a pretty big imagination but I kind of thought that computers were here to serve us.  While we are pretty far away from a central computer in our house asking us if they can turn our favorite music on or prepare some popcorn for the movie viewing time we have scheduled, I think we need to re-establish expectations.

Computer = No Help

Maybe I am being cynical but today my computer really only asks me to do things

  • There are 150 e-mails waiting for your input in your Unread Box
  • You have 24 meetings today you need to attend
  • There are 12 tasks outlined as “High Priority” due yesterday
  • AVG 7.5 needs to be upgraded (oh and by the way it is no longer free)

Rarely can I say to my computer: “Hey why don’t you get started on organizing those tasks in the project plan” or “When are you going to convert that Statement of Work to a PDF – the customer needs it tomorrow”.  Ok not even “rarely” – never.

I often wonder what it would be like to be totally connected to my computer.  I know that they are doing some cool things up the road at MIT and other Biotech companies related to integrated mind computers.  Mostly now these projects are isolated to paralysis victims or those hindered with MS – but I think I am ready.

Ok, so that won’t happen anytime soon.

Pattern matching

So there is one thing that I also think about a lot which I think could be quite possible (e.g. the technology is available – but it would require some work).  Ever get caught doing repetitive tasks? As an occasional programmer and administrative assistant to myself I find times where a pattern matching program might be nice – and totally possible.

Take the following situation:

I often miss a complete day of Twitter (remember the number of meetings/emails outlined above – only a slight exaggeration).  Unfortunately, today the interface for  twitter does not accommodate the occasional missed day – you see – the timeline display for Twitter runs descending and they only display a certain number of tweets on a page.  In order, to read the tweets you missed (while you were off doing oh you know work) you have to go backwards.  Which means if a conversation took place where someone asked a question – you would see the answer before you saw the question – dumb.

So, what I do to solve this problem is to add Firefox toolbar bookmarks to my Twitter pages backwards.  Starting with the URL: http://www.twitter.com/home?page=10 (um – yeah it only goes to 10 pages so if you wait to long you miss everything – which is another story) and working may way back to http://www.twitter.com/home.

The task for doing this is quite repetitive and would go something like this

  1. Create Twitter Folder on Firefox browser toolbar
  2. Navigate to ?page=10 and drag to Twitter Folder
  3. Navigate to ?page=9 and drag to Twitter Folder
  4. Navigate to ?page=8 and drag to Twitter Folder
  5. (Could use the pattern matcher right now …)
  6. etc…

pattern_matching_1

pattern_matching_2

pattern_matching_3

Computer = Help

What I would like my computer to “say” is this:

Ron, I see you are entering into a boring pattern related data entry task (and i would hope that this starts right after step 2 from above).  Should I copy multiple bookmarks stopping at ?page=1?

Where I would reply

Why thank you that would be great.

And now my computer would be doing tasks for me.  After taking with our development teams about our Automated QA program – where servers check in with a central QA management server to pick up their next set of QA test cases – I know that this possible.

Privacy enabled photo sharing?

July 23, 2008

I have been testing out brightkite lately and I really only get to work with it if I am traveling (which I happen to be doing this week).  I was in Logan today when I saw an interesting site.  A woman traveling with me (someone I did not know) was also traveling with her dog.  She had on a very interesting “Baby Bjorn” style doggie carrier.  One that strapped around her back like a backpack.  I thought it needed to be posted so I took a picture of it and posted.uploading_photos

Immediately, I sent it to brightkite hoping I would get some discussion out of it.  I then received a notice back from brightkite stating that they could not post my picture.  Being that brightkite is a rather new startup (and probably small in size) I thought that it would not be unlikely that my photo was censored  because it was of a picture of someone I did not know (I am surel that the woman would not be happy knowing I took a picture of her and posted it for others to comment on).  I waited a bit and then posted it again – with a different comment which was less descriptive and didn’t lead to any conclusions about my relationship with this woman (or lack there of).  It took.  So clearly, it was a glitch (or was it).

GPS based privacy(automated)

So then I got to thinking about the iPhone (which I do quite a bit) and specifically about the GPS capabilities of the phone.  Many phones have GPS (my BlackJackII for instance does).  But when you put so many people on the same framework (millions of them) you can start to see paths towards mass acceptance and change.

I started thinking about how this situation with the dog lady could be governed better with technology and I came up with this idea:

Phone users taking pictures in public places would be required to register the  capture range for each of their photos/movies and privacy concerned individuals (with GPS enabled phones) could be notified when they may be appearing within a phone.  If the privacy concerned person would be notified when a picture they were in was posted to a public web site.  They would then get a link to that post, and have the ability to “flag” that photo as inappropriate and the original owner would be required to take it down.

Not saying we need to do this – but it might allow those individuals who are concerned about public exposure a means to handle that when they are either  intentionally or accidentally included in a photo posted to a public web site.

How long will your old marketing prowess last?

June 7, 2008

No doubt things are changing – the question is really has it changed?  Did you spend the last 4 (or more) years of your life studying a field that just did a complete flip?  What types of companies are looking for marketing “geniuses” whose college pedigree reads “Graduated 1995”?

I posted this on Twitter a few hours ago and I could not get it out of my head:

“If you are in marketing and you don’t use FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and/or you don’t blog – get out. The field  will be passing you by soon”

There is still time (I think). When I see companies like the Undercurrent popping up it makes you wonder what value traditional marketing brings now a days.  Undercurrent is hiring “mavens” to spread messages with a virtual interview through a blog post asking you questions like “How would you spread a viral video”.

When I think about this I get scared.  Not because I don’t think that these types of things are cool (because I do) – but because there are a millions of marketing professionals out there who are going to lose their  jobs.

Remember door to door Encyclopedia Salesman (great book about that by Herman Miller – Death of a Salesman). Yeah – if your dad was one of those back in the early 80’s you know what I am about to ask – “Where is he now?”.  Replaced that’s where.

Tree falls in the woods…

How about the “Million Dollar Homepage” – do you remember that?  Here is the significance of that “experiment”- if you did not hear about this before it was posted on CNN, Time Magazine or any other mainstream media – it probably meant that you were already out of the picture.  This is the funny thing about where we are right now – there really will be an “in” and “out” crowd.  The reason this will happen is because there are information flows on the Internet that travel virally and if you aren’t near anyone that catches it (understands it)- you won’t even know it happened. In this case – a tree will fall in the woods and those near it will hear it and unless you talk to them you won’t know.

So when you think about the people that heard about the Million Dollar Homepage through non-traditional networks you begin to see where things are.  Those people have been entrenched in networks where information like this travels and they are essentially 2 years (plus) ahead of you – seriously.  This is how people like Michael Arrington has made his recognition – he is in the know – in an unfathomable way – point in case.

There was a great post today by Jeremiah Owyang which addressed where most corporations are on Social Media.  If you have not come to terms with what Social Media means and you have not come up with a plan to work that into your marketing plans than you better get a move on.  That 20 year old 1st year marketing college grad is suddenly looking a bit more attractive than you.

So for those that don’t have your bearings – here are some terms that your competition are going to be very familiar with shortly:

  • Viral Loop
  • Viral Networks
  • Double Viral Loops

There is still some time – if you hurry.  Good thing this is all documented and you understand the basics.  Good luck.

Automated or Connectimated

May 28, 2008

I guess I am really looking for here is an answer to a question that a lot of people are asking these days.  One that had become all to real to me recently: Is it better to have automated services or people backed services.  I am not talking about Robots doing the work – but more about the real life situations that we get ourselves into where we rely more and more on dysfunctional technology to help us.

Even though, Google is an amazing search engine, it still has it’s faults.  Searches on “Locksmiths in Springfield Ma” returns great results on the front end – it is the intricate details that it cannot.  For instance, if you call all of those results from Google you will soon find out that you are in luck with almost every major car brand except Volkswagen (one of the prices you pay to drive the best car ever made =).

So, unless someone lists on their website (more than half of the Locksmiths in the Springfield, Ma area don’t even have websites) that you specialize in Volkswagens – Google can’t help you.  It is beyond the technology leap – you need some level of human intervention.

If you are tenacious enough however, to continue to search for locksmith’s and you start calling them – most of them will tell you the dealer is the only place (who intern tells you to wait until Tuesday – not good when you are stranded 120 miles from home on Friday before a long vacation weekend) that can make Volkswagen keys.

If you happened to call 24 Hour Locksmiths in West Springfield they would have told you to call A & J Locksmith and when you talked to Johnathon at A & J he would have told you to call and ask for Paul at “Scott’s Locks” in West Hartford – and he would have called Scott (Paul’s partner) who would have called you back 3 hours later to tell you he could do it.  But that only goes for the tenacious few that have nothing better to do than to stare at all of the people having fun at Six Flags while calling every locksmith in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Flashback to earlier today: I was traveling to D.C. to work with a client and arrived early to my hotel in hopes I could get some work done before my 1:30 demo with a prospective client.  During my trip down from the airport (40 minute drive) I contemplated the possibility that the hotel would not have a room ready for me when I arrived at 10:30.  Quite possibly, I would have to find a place to do some work with a descent (cheap – if not free) Internet connection.

Ok – so here is my second scenario for “Connectimated” – I would have liked to have been able to connect with a few people in the area (more than likely people I have never met before) and ask them where a good place would be to get Internet access for a few hours in a quiet place (that was not Starbucks or Borders).  Preferably somewhere where I can get a Dew and sandwich.  My new “Connectimated” service application would essentially ping a bunch of people in the area asking them if they wanted to help an incoming traveler with a service request.

Sites like Mahalo and Spock have begun to challenge the “Automated” response system that is Google.  Each offering services which are either aided or centralized around Human interaction.  These systems are critical because I think that the automated services may never get to point where they can understand true human interaction.  Even Google is testing “User generated content”.  You can see it in search results using Google Maps.

What I see is a combination application like Twitter, Brightkite (or the like) and Mahalo.  A platform with which to communicate on rather than building a platform with all the answers.  A crowdsourcing style approach may be just what we need.

Maybe we are pushing too hard and maybe we need to use systems to be smarter at connecting people who can help each other and not providing the help beyond capabilities.  We live in a complex world and it is unlikely that we will ever teach systems to understand us – truly.  Why try?

I am finally getting what I once thought wis.dm was going to give me

May 27, 2008

I was once a member of the social networking site wis.dm – back before it changed it’s platform from a link sharing format to the current question/answer format.  I wrote about the site a few times and at the beginning was very interested in the content that I had amassed there – and the relationships that I had begun to build.

What I thought was great about the previous format of wis.dm was how easy it was for me to build my own community.  Instead of the masses of communities available in Facebook, you could create “groups” which were essentially “tagged” with topics. When people shared links (similar to what you do in del.icio.us) you could notify your “group” and engage them in conversations.  Since you could create your own groups I likened the experience to a “research group” – similar to those in college around a project or a specific class.

In these “groups” we could share links and add comments and weight responses – with the promise being that I could categorize my community:

– Who in the community knew the most about advertising

– Who had the inside track for latest fads

– Which group member had the best knack for interpreting analytics data

As a specialized group – each with our own goals – we could lean on each other and create a close nit community designed to educate us all – faster and better.

Talking with your community through Social NetworksI have begun using FriendFeed and joined a room (group/community) called “Social Computing Strategist” (thanks Jeremiah).  It is filled with people who want to talk about everything that I want to talk about.  And the nice thing about this – is instead of sharing links we share everything:

  • Messages – directly to the group
  • Blog comments – from any blog that supports “Disqus
  • LinkedIn profiles/changes
  • Posts to Digg
  • Posts to StumbledUpon
  • Heck – Link posts to every linking network known to man
  • Twitter posts
  • Flickr photos
  • Posts to Blogs

With every post (whatever it is) you can add comments.  The information is endless and what you get out of it (in a very chaotic sort of way) is a new way to talk.  A new way to find information.  It is sort of like Mahalo meets Wikipedia with a twist of RSS.  Very interesting.

Happy am I that I know have filled the void left by wis.dm – to bad they did not have the wisdom to see the possibilities with their original platform.

Twitter: @locksmith:springield:ma

May 24, 2008

I would like to add the following API to twitter or to have a service that would have made it easier for me today. I have to tell you a short story to set up the situation I was in today.

My wife (Shannon) and I decided to go to Six Flags Great Adventure today to get in some thrills and excitements before the beginning of the holiday weekend. It was to be my first real vacation day of the year (no computer, no cell phone, no work). We dropped the kids off to school and made our way to Springfield (actually Agawam but Six Flags is mostly referred to as being in Springfield).Superman Ride of Steel

We arrived at the park at 10:45 parked the car, took just what we needed (wallet, money, sunglasses, cell phone: wife’s only and the keys) and made our way into the park. We felt like we should have had on our “Hockomock YMCA Band Camp” t-shirts – wholly $hit was there a ton of kids there. Digressing a bit – sorry.

We got our season passes and were drawn inward. No real plan we just started walking as we passed the old wooden rollercoaster and the “free fall” we saw what we had both been anticipating since the day we decided to take this trip about 3 weeks ago: “Superman – The Ride of Steel”. 200+ foot initial drop 77 miles an hour and an amazing feeling of weightlessness at the top of every hill. Naturally I was stuck with everything in my pockets – including the sunglasses.

As we took the first deep everything felt good – wicked fast – wicked scary. We then approached the second hill – “way to fast” I am thinking – “dude we are going to launch off the top of this hill like a rocket” (note: this is where the feeling of weightlessness comes in) – as we were sucked down the backside of the hill I now knew that this ride, the one without the shoulder harness – just the bar and a sealtbelt, did not need any loops – just steep turns and many hills with which to launch off. After hitting all the major humps and feeling weightless about 5 times you head into the “slow-down” area for most coasters – accept this thing is still cranking.

The ride comes to the close after two small humps that still produce the feeling that your shooting out of a cannon – when it happend.

Shannon: “What was that” (sounded more like a yell than a statement)

Me: “I don’t know”

I didn’t. Just as we came over the apex of the last hill a little black thing flew in front and landed in the car in front of us. It was moving too fast to recognize.

Shannon “Your key”

Me: “No”

Clearly the key was nestled deep in my pocket along with every other valueable I collected from the car. My broken sun glasses (casualty of the Superman Ride) should have been proof enough that it couldn’t have been the key.

Alas, after I checked every deep pocket I had – it was no where to be found. The only key to my 2003 Volkswagen Passat – had been eaten by the Man of Steel. So – here we are (after visits to Guest Relations and hearing countless times that they would not be able to search for my key until the end of the day) at the need for my service.

After a call to the local dealership who stated the ONLY solution that I had was to tow the car to their dealership (I am 100 miles from my house mind you) and that they could get me a new key on Tuesday (the day I leave for Washington, D.C. – from boston at 7 AM). Uh… yeah right. In order to save my car and this weekends camping trip – I needed a locksmith.

This is how I would have liked to started my search:

Twitter: I am at Six Flags Great Adventure in Agawam, Ma. Lost my key on Superman ride – anyone in the park capable of helping me? @SixFlagsNE:help

The extra extension on the @SixFlagsNE would mean i needed help. There were thousands of people there that day. Why not connect us – all better. @SixFlagsNE:Line on Superman short, @SixFlagsNE:Batman closed, @SixFlagsNE:need locksmith.

Twitter + Brightkite.com equals locksmithI just signed up for Brightkite (still have 3 invites if anyone is interested) and I think that this is something that they may tack on to this – but for now this is for keeping in touch with your friends. I need it to help me when I lose my key on the Superman Ride. I can definitely say that we are headed to this communication level.

When I was at the park I could feel everyone in the park – and I am sure that there was probably someone that could have helped me.

Oh yeah and if you are curious – here is a link to the YouTube movie for the Superman Ride if you like roller coasters I highly recommend this and, If you look real hard at 1:31 of the film – I believe you can see my key – right below the track on the last hill. R.I.P switchblade VW key – I will miss you.

When technology changes rip out your bottom line

May 22, 2008

I was inspired by this great article in the only “paper” magazine that I subscribe to (Fast Company). The article is about the fall of AOL and how their tumble into obscurity was marred by general business mistakes which compounded with the eventual loss of the company’s largest revenue generator (dial-up).

I got a call about a month ago from my first tech employer (small ISP in Rhode Island called NetSense). The president of the company and I still remain in contact – he informed me that he was selling off his last PRI line (used to handle large amounts of dial-up customers). Lucky for him dial-up wasn’t his largest revenue generator (his hosting revenue is king).How will new communication channels effect existing channels?

I then started thinking about some of the other services that we use whose days may be numbered. I came up with one rather interesting service: cell phones.

As I have talked about before (here and here) communication is changing. Not only are the ways in which we communicate (Web, IM, E-mail, etc…) changing the channels in which we communicate are also changing (Blogs, Wiki’s, Facebook, Twitter etc…). I think about the ways in which I communicate with people. More and more of that communication is done digitally. I use IM and Twitter exclusively when I want to ask brief questions or touch more than one person at time.

Additionally, VOIP and software programs like Skype are making strong cases against traditional cell phones. Remember the tustle between Apple and Cisco – it was essentially over “who owned the connection”. Once cell phones started adding Wifi and services like Skype became more and more reliable – a traditional “phone number” and the services that companies like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon offer are becoming less valuable.

What I see happening is you will no longer need to “call” someone or send someone an “e-mail” you will simply say to your device (which will be tethered to the Internet) I want to communicate with Ron. Wherever I am and whatever services I have available (Skype, Twitter, IM etc…) we will be connected. I don’t see anyone needing a single number (except for the people that only have cell phones). Our children will be connected in ways we can only imagine and it won’t be with a phone number.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cell phone and right now I use it for a lot of my communication. What the article made me think about was this:

If you are a cell phone company today (or an investor in a cell phone company) what you should be doing is learning from AOL’s mistakes and should begin planning for the day when they begin to lose subscribers. Are they going to use their channels to deliver new services so they can keep their subscribers or are people going to be sick of paying $45 for a phone and $50 for connectivity services when they would only really need the $50 service fee to have connectivity for their communication applications.