Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Noise filter: “On”

May 19, 2008

I have to agree with Robert Scoble on the fact that “I love the noise”.  I am referring to Scobleizer’s post about Noise vs. News and why sites like Google News and Techmeme don’t have any noise:

First, let’s do a little definition of the difference between news and noise. The noise examples were pulled off of Twitter in the past few minutes.

NEWS: tens of thousands dead in China quake.
NOISE: BrianGreene: some pirate is playing old radio nova tapes on 92FM dublin, with old jingles and old ads. adverts for rent a 20″ TV 48p a day (48 pence!)

NEWS: Janitors go on strike.
NOISE: flawlesswalrus: @craigmod Iron Man’s fun times. Enjoy!

NEWS: Facebook blocks Google
NOISE: dmkanter: organizing my igoogle homepage

So, how come services like Twitter and FriendFeed have so much noise? Who likes the noise? Who likes the news?

Again – like news but I love the noise.  The noise on sites like Twitter allow you to make your own news or to read “news” before it happens.  Twitter is really the only place for people to break it open. It is a completely viral process and since it is a new medium it favors those people that can not only interpret the noise but those than can control it.

I have been listening to the noise for a long time – it helped me get into the Internet (which is pretty much filtered noise).  If you could look at all of the information flowing through the Internet at anytime you would first get a wicked headache – but you would then be the smartest person alive – but only if you can handle the noise.

Let’s take a few things that I have posted to Twitter recently:

Following the Star Wars movie up with Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga on the Wii reinforces the use of the force. Training young well I am

To an untrained eye this would seem like noise – clearly – who cares what movies I am watching – there are millions of people out there watching millions of movies every day.

But to a trained eye – this information may be interesting.  Look at this information from a different angle or compare this to what may be a trend.

Take this marketing issue for instance: How do we know that the video games that follow movie stories enhance the movies storyline and improve brand recognition.  Surely if they both make a lot of money you could make an inference but you may not know for real.

If you could comb all of the conversations on Twitter where people talk about movies and video games you could prove the theory.  Additionally, you could engage those users in conversations which will help enforce your theory.

This is the noise – and this is how you read it.  Robert is right – I love this!

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Twitter: What improvements and where is the money?

April 29, 2008

With all of the buzz around Twitter lately (Michael Arrington feels like Twitter will soon go mainstream – whatever that is – shortly) the conversation will obviously turn to valuation.

Twitter is currently looking for funding (with 17 people I am not sure why they need that kind of funding) to improve operations and possibly make enhancements to the product.  This brings two thoughts to mind:

1.) What improvements really need to be made (or better still where is the technology going…)

2.) Where is the money

What Improvements
When you think about improvements at this level you must separate the technology that is Twitter and the applications that allow us to use it.  Twitter is nothing more than a set of web servers, a few databases and a set of API’s.  Older data lists that twitter.com is used to post up to 60% of the tweets.  So that leaves 40% of those tweets to applications and Instant Messaging – all of which are not controlled by Twitter themselves.  These applications use the Twitter API’s to handle the posts and responses.

So, when you think about what improvements you may think about improving the website but I know in my circle of users – twitter.com is used way less than 60%.  I use occasionally and that is only from my mobile phone.  Give me something like Digsby on a mobile phone and I am all over it.

Where is the Money?
So have you noticed?  Twitter is free.  Not only that – you are not subjected to silly AdWords from Google every time you make a post.  Um yeah … sit back and chew on that for a moment.  There are not that many truly free services (of the magnitude of Twitter – 1 million users) out there.

I know that when I sit down with a VC group about my “idea” or “proof of concept” and I am looking for funding – they want to see revenue potential.  How is Twitter going to pay back all of the money that they borrow?

One school of thought would be that the Web site could serve up ads like they have done in the launch of Twitter for Japan.  I don’t have numbers to back this up – but my gut feeling is that the use of Twitter through a web site will continue to diminish and so too would the revenue stream if they were basing that on Ads.  I have read a ton on the web about the degeneration of Ad based revenue and what it means for the Web2.0 style applications.

Another avenue for Twitter would be to turn there features into a pay for service style application:

  • Small usage account is free – 20 followers – 20 tweets a month
  • Medium usage account costs $19.95 a year – 20 to 100 followers with 100 tweets a month
  • High usage account costs $5.95 a month – unlimited followers and unlimited tweets

It would be difficult for me to justify my use of Twitter if I had to pay a monthly fee (not that I am a “High Usage” account).

So I again have to ask – what is this money really going to do and how is Twitter going to pay it back?

Talking loudly on Twitter

April 26, 2008

Earlier this week Louis Gray wrote about his “Tweets vs. Followers” theory. His post cane be sumarized as:

I feel there are different categories of Twitter users, from those who have a listening audience, measured by a high “followers” to “updates” ratio, those who are engaging, seen with near equal “followers” and “updates”, and those who are more noisy, with a lot more “updates” than actual “followers”.

Twittering NoiseI guess I take offense (in a very lightly term) to the statement that there are more “noisy” people who have “… a lot more ‘updates’ than actual ‘followers’…”. While those that have a lower ratio between “tweets and followers” are “engaging”.

So if I have 2500 followers and 1400 tweets than essentially I am not even saying “hello” to all of the people that I am “engaging”. I think that what Louis is saying is that there are some people out there who are just blindly talking. And I would agree.

I have been followed on Twitter by various people and since I am using Twitter as a means to meet more people I used to be in the habit of of following people back that followed me. I have seen the type of people that he is talking about. They post their every move:

I just ate my apple
Got my apple out of the fridge
I think that I would like an apple
Boy, I sure could use an apple

I think that there is an interesting discussion here and it goes beyond the numbers of “tweets and followers” but what was Twitter really designed for.

I use Twitter for a couple of reason.

Reason 1: Keeping in touch with people I meet
I travel quite a bit and I meet some interesting people whom I have a lot in common with. In most cases, these people that I meet also have something common with each other (even if they don’t even know each other). Twitter is a great medium to touch them all with thoughts and questions easily.

Reason 2: Mini-Blog
Blogs take a lot of work and there is some distance between writing for fun and getting paid. I like to write and I like to “talk”. Twitter is an awesome medium for talking (quietly =). Sometimes I will have a quick idea that maybe doesn’t require an entire blog post. You can get an amazing amount of thought into 140 words.

Reason 3: It’s fun
I love to hear what other people are doing (at least the ones that I know). So Twitter keeps me smiling when I hear a friends joke or funny event. Inside jokes on Twitter are great.

I only have 66 followers yet I have posted almost 700 times. If I look at the people that I converse with the most – many of them have the same ratios that I do:

@reneemck 280 – 27
@protoolspc 205 – 30
@gregpc 1223 – 182
@mhostad 561 – 65
@knochie 754 – 43
@georgedearing 2451 – 305
@tpryan 1234 – 95

So one could argue that if you are communicating with 20 of your 2000 followers you are probably either more noisy or more popular than someone that actually communicates with more than 1% of their followers but you are certainly not more “engaging”.

The illegal usage of RFC 822

April 21, 2008

OK I will admit that RFC 882 did not have a true “usage” section but I can guarantee that if the folks at ARPA knew (not like they aren’t alive anymore) what we were using E-mail for we would certainly have this wonderful tool take away from us – much like a child’s toy is taken away when it is misused.  They define this as the “Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text messages”

When I was in high-school, e-mail was exclusive to higher education and governmental sections.  At the time, I took a shop class (where you learned how to build things with wood and such) and my teacher informed me that the Screwdriver was the “Most misused tool” in the tool belt.  While I would agree that I have used a screwdriver as a hammer, a chisel, a saw, a crow bar, an awl and probably nine hundred other things, I would have to say that it is no longer the “Most misused tool”.

I would like to submit my nomination for the current “Most misused tool”: E-mail

Let’s talk about the ways that I have seen E-mail used over the past few weeks:

Replacement for the “I know the answer to this but…” IM
Instant Messaging (essentially an extension of “Internet Text Messages”) is one of the fastest and most non-intrusive way of asking a question that you probably know the answer to but are too lazy to figure out for yourself.  I do it myself quite often.  However, IM offers the receiving party (the one you are interrupting for this stupid question) the option to answer your question or not.  I can’t count the number of  times I have received an e-mail – responded to it – and then realized that about 10 e-mails later, that user had already responded saying “never mind”.

Alternative to true IM message
Last Friday I responded back and forth with one of my colleagues more than 15 times in under ten minutes on three topics.  Essentially, some back and forth that would have been better suited for a quick chat via IM.  The kind of conversation that didn’t leave either of us with any “action items”.  Funny thing was, about an hour earlier, we had an IM conversation for about 10 minutes where we exchanged a ton of comments on what was going on between us and work.

Mechanism for sending large files
I know that we haven’t totally solved this problem yet and while there are a ton of options, most of them require you and the person you want to send files to an account – but there has to be a better way.  I received 20 e-mails this week with attachments – 4 of them were over 2 MB.  Ideally, I should have no issue keeping my mailbox size under 500MB but this becomes a challenge when e-mail’s are misused.  A reminder: They called “Standard for the format of ARPA Internet TEXT messages” – TEXT.

Method for sending and spreading crippling Viruses
For most of this unfortunately, this is related directly to the above, however if we were capable of keeping e-mail to simple text messages – we would not have this problem.  Virus writers would have to search for other ways to to send viruses.  2 places I won’t have to worry about getting Viruses from: Twitter and IM (it is not IM but the file sharing aspect of IM that causes problems).

I commend people that are beginning to write about this: Whipping up a batch of effective communications and Struggling to evade the E-mail Tsunami.  I can guarantee that my children will have solved this problem, not because they have to think long and hard about what an e-mail is and what it shouldn’t be, but because they will have available to them a whole new set of tools which will make the use of e-mail already either obsolete or useful for specific tasks only.

Update: 4/21/2008 – 19:21

How timely, I am now receiving 30 e-mails a day about an e-mail that I could not deliver:

Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

Subject:    Эффективная система обучения и развития персонала
Sent:    4/21/2008 5:22 PM

The following recipient(s) could not be reached:

mail@oxp.ru on 4/21/2008 7:10 PM
The e-mail system was unable to deliver the message, but did not report a specific reason.  Check the address and try again.  If it still fails, contact your system administrator.
< internet.referent.ru #5.0.0>

Um – yeah I must have a virus or something because I surely did not send an e-mail with the subject: Эффективная система обучения и развития персонала.  Awesome!

And – I also recieved this e-mail today (withholding senders address):

Subject: It’s too big…

Message: I will post it to the web

Oh boy I love e-mail =)

Why I have given up on Trillian and switched to Digsby

April 15, 2008

Hopefully I can do this justice – because it really does deserve it.

I have been a faithful Trillian user for quite some time – probably pushing 3 years which is an eternity in the software world. I really had no issues with Trillian, it served me well. But as my use of Twitter and Facebook increased I needed to change they way I conducted public and private conversations.

So I have now officially switched to Digsby. And if you do not follow me on Twitter (shame on you) then you don’t know how annoying I have become. One recent post I got was that me “… and Digsby: [should] get a room!“.

Let me start with the features I see as being paramount for Digsby

1.) True integration – I have one client that integrates all of my IM accounts (except Skype =( ), my Gmail account, my Facebook and the two Twitter (and) accounts that I use. One application. Nice

Manage your twitter posts and responses quickly

2.) Quick access to Twitter – The Twitter Icon sits in my task bar (1 for each account). Clicking one of the icons displays the recent history in a very nice window with a scroll bar and little images next to the individuals that have made the post.

3) Send Twitter updates quickly – An “update” link is located at the top with my latest update, which allows me to make easy posts to either Twitter account.

4.) Automatic URL inserting – you can easily insert links (it doesn’t use the usual TinyURL but it works just the same) just click on the Insert Link button and away you go…

Easily linking within a Twitter post

5.) Pop-Up notification – Twitter is a conversation piece (and a resource hog) – it allows me to follow conversations (when i want to). Even if I just laugh as a funny statement flies by or file it under – “Hmm got to take a look at that later. Really, really nice.Popups keep you in on the conversation

6.) Twitter management features – you also get the normal “Star”, “Reply” and “Trash” features you would get with your web based Twitter application. Each Twitter post by someone you are following appears with their name first which is clickable to their profile page. In addition, you can click on your name to go to the standard Twitter page for your profile. I no longer need quick links in my browser toolbar. In addition at the top of the toolbar I can click on a “tab” to see the different categories of Twitter posts like: Responses, Favorites, Direct Messages etc…

7.) Mini Gmail management – when an email pops up (just like Twitter) I can click on the pop up and it will take me to that e-mail. However, the real nice feature here is that when you click on the Gmail icon you can quickly delete messages that are useless without going to Gmail (which continues to take longer and longer to run lately) – very nice.Easily manage new e-mails from your Gmail account

8.) All Facebook notifications – pokes, messages, walls, alerts even the news feed is updated. From here you can click and get to your Facebook profile. Again – really nice.

9.) IM Management – so ok yeah – first and foremost this is an IM application. For those that have multiple IM accounts and that have not used applications like Trillian – this will seem like an amazing thing. All of my IM accounts in one place? There are no real advantages over Trillian (and I am sad to say that I have reported a bug in Digsby related to contacts that I think is associated with the fact that I had two MSN accounts and it got a bit confused. However, I relinked those contacts that were missing and I am off and running again.

For those users that have Twitter, Facebook and Gmail accounts (along with the plethora of IM accounts you surely own) – this is a great application. Right now it is in beta and they seem to be putting out consistent releases (I have had 3 updates since I started using this about 2 weeks ago). Each update went off without a hitch.

The developers seem keen on adding in features. I would have to say that my feature list would be:

1.) When adding an update to Twitter and type in “@” – give me a suggestion list of people that I can go to. I cannot remember everyones Twitter account and it gets annoying trying to remember them.

2.) Integrate Search. This would be the killer feature and I think it would then win this software some awards.

3.) Gmail – let me compose an e-mail (and/or reply to an e-mail) directly from the client. It is a pain in the butt to go to Gmail through the web – soooo slow. Even Bill and Karolyn Slowsky think it’s slow.

4.) Oh yeah and for those less fortunate (ProfeC) I would love to see Mac support.

I’m with Louis

April 13, 2008

There has been a lot of talk lately about the “fractured feed reader” which can be summed up as from Dave Winers post here (and since he kind of started this whole thing I think his point of view matters):

This week’s Bitchmeme is about comments on blogs and where they belong, on the blog, or on an aggregator. For example, when this item is viewed through FriendFeed they will allow comments on it over there and I’ll probably miss them unless I go look for them. I will certainly miss the comments on Shyftr which I have never heard of until today and have never used, but from what I hear it does the same thing. Is this a good or bad thing? Well if you like to know what people think it’s bad. If you ask a question in a post, as I often do, you might miss some good info.

While I can understand how someone would prefer conversation about a piece of content they wrote remain in the context of the content (in this case a blog post) I think that there is one fundamental problem. The medium for “conversation” around a blog post is poor.  Mikull and I have been discussing this off line recently and we feel that there is a significant difference in the way people use tools to have a conversation.

He has had a raging battle with his site visitors about the potential removal of his forums.  For various reasons the forums have become a bit too much work and present a road block with future growth for his site.  However, as you can see here they are an important part of many peoples lives.

The main focus here is that the blog is just not a good way to follow a conversation.  Additionally, it is difficult to find a blog that doesn’t turn into a flame war fairly quickly.  That is why places like Twitter and FriendFeed are so important.  It is where the conversation is happening.  It has become the new medium and it makes sense.

If I read a post on a blog that I think is important and I want my friends and I to have a discussion about this – I don’t post a response to the blog.  First I can’t guarantee that my friends will go there and follow me in the discussion and Second – who sits on a blog page all day hitting refresh waiting for someone to make a new post.  At least with the message board I can get an e-mail notification when there is an update.

With twitter I can post the link – make my short and concise comments (who has time to read fifty 400 line responses to a blog) and then let twitter notify me when my friends have something to say.  The difficult part of this (and where I feel there is a tremendous amount of opportunity) – and why I think Eric Berlin may be irked is how do we capture this conversation.  We can’t force the conversation to remain on the blog site simply because that is the easiset way to “archive” the conversation.  We need a meta-sphere application that follows the conversation or connects the dots.

Any python developers out there =)