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Hey Toluu Heads! Check Out the New Hover Boxes!

Toluu, everyone’s favorite blog discovery app, released a cool feature Wednesday morning. Hover boxes that show the last five posts for a blog:

Just put your cursor over any link to a blog, and the hover box appears. Anytime a blog is displayed in these places:

  • Profile
  • Matches
  • Feed Lists
  • Subscribers View

Discovery of interesting blogs just got that much easier. No need to click on the blog name and land on Toluu’s page for that blog. With a quick scan, you can determine your interest in the blog by reading the last five blog post titles. Founder Caleb Elston explains why this feature was rolled out:

We decided to build in this functionality when we found ourselves passing by feeds because we didn’t want to wait for the page to load or have to hit the back button if the feed wasn’t so interesting. Since we weren’t always willing to take a risk on a feed to see if it might be cool, we knew other users wouldn’t either.

And…the five blog posts listed are all hyperlinks that will take you directly to each individual blog post. My suggestion for Caleb – set the links to default as ‘open in new window’. I’d like to keep my Toluu window open so I can return to it.

Also, I think I see some FriendFeed inspiration for the new hover boxes…

As usual Caleb, really nice work on this feature. Both useful and usable.

If you haven’t tried Toluu, here are a couple posts that describe it:

If you need an invite, just leave your email in the comments below. I’ll shoot one out to you. And you can check out my Toluu page here.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Hey+Toluu+Heads!+Check+Out+the+New+Hover+Boxes!%22&public=1

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Good Move = Kleiner Perkins Drops Web 2.0, Goes After Alt Energy

I just read a nice piece in Fortune, Kleiner Bets the Farm. The article describes Kleiner’s big move into alternative energy. And this move comes at the expense of investments in new Web 2.0 companies.

Kleiner’s halting investments in Web 2.0 generated quite a discussion last November. Tom Foremsky reported the firm’s change of heart to kick off the discussion. In that article, he wrote this:

The firm is one of the trend setters in Silicon Valley, with a long string of massively successful investments over several decades. And Silicon Valley VC firms always invest in trends, rather than companies.

Which is what makes Kleiner Perkins’ new investment focus so interesting. And a good direction.

$4.00 Per Gallon = Better Green Tech ROI

Now that filling up your car requires $50, $60, $70 or more, consumers are much more interested in changing energy habits. And businesses are going to be whacked hard as well, with the costs inevitably costing us more money everywhere. Yeah, we’re ready for some changes.

I’m no expert in the field, but a common problem with generating alternative sources of energy is the high cost of production. But now with oil prices going through the roof, those alternative sources of energy suddenly look better.

Here’s one example: hydrogen fuel-powered cars. Hydrogen is a clean, abundant source of energy. But it’s not yet commercially viable. In 2003, gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a plan to foster the production and adoption of hydrogen powered cars. President Bush echoed this idea in a 2006 Earth Day speech:

It (hydrogen) has the potential — a vast potential to dramatically cut our dependence on foreign oil.

Good news, right? Well, the reality has not yet met the aspirations. First, there’s the cost of hydrogen fuel. Research Capital analyst Jon Hykawy had this to say about hydrogen-powered cars:

In my view, the hydrogen car was never alive. The problem was never could you build a fuel cell that would consume hydrogen, produce electricity, and fit in a car. The problem was always, can you make hydrogen fuel at a price point that makes any sense to anybody. And the answer to that to date has been no.

And this year, Govern Schwarzenegger had to retreat from his ambitious hydrogen and electric car  goals.

Which leaves us with $4 gas.

At some point, oil prices will cross over the economic threshold for other energy sources to become economically viable. Waiting until then will be bad, because commercial development of these alternatives will take several years. We need to get our collective asses moving to drop our dependence on oil. We need new investment dollars flowing into that sector now.

Web 2.0: Feature or Business?

We’re several years deep into the Web 2.0 revolution. Allen Stern at CenterNetworks asked How Many Web 2.0 Services Have Gone Mainstream? The answer? Not many. How many have had an IPO?

That’s not to say that Web 2.0 is going away. Anything but. What does seem to be happening is that Web 2.0 is being integrated into the traditional big software and Internet players. I did product marketing for BEA Systems’ Enterprise 2.0 apps. Not some small company, but a big name Web company adding Web 2.0 to its existing portal platform.

There will be Web 2.0 businesses that succeed. Most seem to be acquisition bait. Some will break through in a public offering.

The low cost of entry to create Web 2.0 businesses has democratized company creation. If you want to be snarky, you might say that just means a bunch of crappy apps have been created. This is true. But from a capitalist point of view, all that creativity is healthy because some good companies come out of all that.

Web 2.0 companies have become easier to create, and funding has generally not been a problem.

As Kleiner Perkins Goes, So Goes Venture Capital?

Going back to Tom Foremsky’s quote, is Kleiner Perkins the first of what will be several firms to change focus to alternative energy? My impression is that alternative energy is at the stage of two guys hacking together a computer in their garage. Some interesting experimentation, but clearly there’s a need to ramp things up dramatically, with attention, experimentation and financing.

Go Kleiner Perkins. And I hope other VC firms are following suit. And don’t worry. Web 2.0 will be fine.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Good+Move+%3D+Kleiner+Perkins+Drops+Web+2.0%2C+Goes+After+Alt+Energy%22&public=1

Weekly Recap 071108: iPhone’s Big Gulp of Humility

Today was Apple’s big day, the release of its new 3G iPhone…geeks lined up days beforehand…stores were full of new iPhones…money was burning holes in pockets…the doors opened…customers rushed in to be the first ones to have the shiny new gadget…they claim their iPhones and go to activate in-store, an Apple requirement…and…the activation FAILS

Damn, that sucked

Apple is a company that has been on a hot streak for a while…here’s a quote about them from a recent Fortune article:

Apple requires a special kind of workforce. The place is divided by product but also by function along what COO Tim Cook calls “very faint lines.” Collaboration is key. So is a degree of perfectionism. Apple hires people who are never satisfied.

Today’s activation flub has got to be eating them up sumthin’ fierce…Apple has worked hard to achieve and maintain its air of excellence and coolness…

Fake Steve Jobs recently retired from his blogging…but surely this is too delicious to not write one more post…

All that said, Robert Scoble gives the new iPhone a thumbs up

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Loren Feldman is currently following only 3 people on his Twitter account…he unsubscribed from everyone he was following…wow…he does say that he will be on FriendFeed going forward

I’m not comfortable damning this guy, as I’ve never heard of him outside of recent events…he seems pretty tightly wound and people describe him as funny…he messed up with TechNigga…I’m willing to watch what he does going forward…and was this really Wayne Sutton commenting on Loren’s blog?

Thanks for the official statement, continue to create videos and I hope everyone from this situation has learned something and does not stop the future of sponsorship from other national outlets with the online video blogging community. I’m looking forward to your next project.

If that’s Wayne, wow…

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I’ve never said meatspace….

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Lots of discussions this week about the fast growth of subscribers for big name people on FriendFeed…Allen Stern does a nice job of breaking it down in this video…the issue is that same people tend to show up in two key places on FriendFeed…(1) the first 12 subscriptions listed on users’ Me page…and (2) the same 9 people are often displayed on the recommended page…shaking things up on those listings would be nice…

For my part, I was really surprised at the number of subscriptions (~100) that occurred because of Mike Fruchter’s post about ten people to follow on FriendFeed…thanks for the shout-out Mike…

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Two young women keeping it real out there on FriendFeed…Mona N and Michelle Miller

Mona is a geeky gal who also attracts attention from the fellas…Hao Chen declared:

Ahh…Mona just overtook Robert Scoble as my #1 person you find interesting.

Michelle is irreverent, keeping folks entertained with updates about her dates with The UPS Guy…her blog post describing their first date was What Brown Did for Me

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On Twitter, there are two ways to broadcast a blog post:

  1. Tweet a link to your own blog post, usually including something like “blog post” so people have a heads up its your own post.
  2. Tweet the word “reading” and the name of the blog post with a URL. This lets people know that you’re reading someone else’s blog post, and you like it enough to tell others about it.

Jason Calacanis tweets “reading” for his own blog posts. Huh? Reading? He wrote it! Here’s one example:

Reading: “Official announcement regarding my retirement from blogging.” (http://tinyurl.com/5zae7s)

Don’t hate the playa, hate the game, I guess…

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Digg founder Kevin Rose provided a great example of changing the name of blog post during its submission to Digg…

Here’s Allen Stern’s post, referenced earlier, about the ways in which A-listers quickly accumulate followers:

  • “FriendFeed Follower Patterns Exposed: How Jason, Mike, Loic & Robert Get So Many Followers So Quickly (video)”

Here’s how Kevin Rose submitted Allen’s post to Digg:

  • “The politics of Friend Feed”

Call it social media attention optimization….

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+071108%3A+iPhone%E2%80%99s+Big+Gulp+of+Humility%22&public=1

Corvida’s Tremendous Perspective on Racist Rants

Corvida posted a response to the racist rants seen recently on a livestream hosted by Wayne Sutton. Is she actually only 20? Her response is tremendous.

Racists have been among us for years, they will be among us for years. Change will come, but it will take a number of generations to get there. We’re only a couple generations removed from the 1960s, when the U.S. civil rights movement changed the landscape.

So what to do in the meantime? I personally don’t like to bring it up a lot. It gives these morons too much of a spotlight. There are times when highlighting racism helps: Jim Crow laws, apartheid or businesses practicing racism. But those are institutions that could be changed by pressure. These are racist cowards living in anonymity, practicing free speech. Our decrying their antics won’t change their minds, or their habits. They will live on to post another day. They always do.

Here’s what Corvida writes:

I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood and I’ve seen racism and discrimination in many forms. I’m black, a female, and also a lesbian. That’s 3 ways to discriminate against me and I’ve experienced all three forms before I hit high school and 2 of them before I hit middle school. I’ve seen family members and friends harassed and killed by racist cops in my neighborhood. What happened in the chatroom is better than most of what I’ve experienced.

That’s the perspective of someone who was the target of these rants. Corvida’s age doesn’t speak to her maturity.

I think moderated comments are the best solution, something Louis Gray advocates. You can’t change the racists’ minds, but you can take away their platforms to spew hate.

But I like to hear from Corvida, Shey and other black bloggers as to what they think will help.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Corvida%E2%80%99s+Tremendous+Perspective+on+Racist+Rants%22&public=1

Email’s Changing Role in Social Media: Digital Archive, Centralized Identity

Alex Iskold wrote a great post recently, Is Email in Danger? This quote lays out the premise of the post:

From the 20th century mail was a fundamental form of communication. The invention of electronic mail (email) changed two things. It became cheap to send mail, and delivery was instant. Email became favored for both corporate and personal communication. But email faces increasing competition. Chat, text messages, Twitter, social networks and even lifestreaming tools are chipping away at email usage.

When it comes to email, there are some parallels to what happened to snail mail with the spread of the Internet and email. The biggest thing is this:

Snail mail found an unexpected opportunity for growth with the rise of the Web.

Email will lose out on some of its uses, but there are some interesting possibilities that will emerge.

The Disruption of Snail Mail

The diagram below depicts the disruption that occurred to snail mail.

I’ve kept the disruption focused on the effects of the Internet. In other words, no fax machine or FedEx in here.

Back in the day, the mail system was the way you got a variety of important communications to other people. Our grandparents wrote letters. L.L. Bean mailed us the stuff we ordered via their catalogs. All our bills came through the mail. We were notified of things like jury service.

With the arrival of the Net, a good portion of snail mail’s portfolio was assumed by other technologies. And it’s had an effect. Here’s a quote from a 2001 General Accounting Office report on the future of the U.S. Postal Service:

Although it is difficult to predict the timing and magnitude of further mail volume diversion to electronic alternatives and the potential financial consequence, the Service’s baseline forecast calls for total First-Class Mail volume to decline at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent from fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

Pretty bad, eh? Electronic alternatives were evaporating the revenues of the post office.

But something else was out there which would help offset these losses in first-class mail: e-commerce. With the growth of the Internet, people got more comfortable shopping online instead of going to their local mall.

Those packages had to get to shoppers somehow. That’s where the U.S. Post Office shined. It already had the infrastructure to get things from a centralized place to multiple individual residences. What got disrupted were the trucking companies who moved merchandise from manufacturers to retailers.

Sure enough, the U.S. Postal Service saw a rebound thanks to online purchases, according to Web Designs Now:

In 2005, revenue from first-class mail like cards and letters, which still made up more than half the Postal Service’s total sales of $66.6 billion, dropped nearly 1% from 2004. But revenue from packages helped make up for much of that drop, rising 2.8%, to $8.6 billion, last year, as it handled nearly three billion packages.

And the dark mood at the U.S. Postal Service headquarters brightened quite a bit:

“Six years ago, people were pointing at the Web as the doom and gloom of the Postal Service, and in essence what we’ve found is the Web has ended up being the channel that drives business for us,” said James Cochrane, manager of package services at the Postal Service.

There is a lesson here for email.

The Disruption of Email

Email is undergoing its own disruption:

Again, similar to the previous diagram, I’m focusing on the web here. No mobile texting as an email disruptor, even though it is.

As Alex outlined in his post, the easy messaging of social media is supplanting the email messages that used to be sent. I haven’t seen any surveys that show the decline in person-to-person communications because of email. But my own experience reflects the migration of communications to the various social media.

  • LinkedIn messages
  • Facebook messages
  • Twitter
  • FriendFeed comments

As Zoli Erdos pointed out in his blog post Email is Not in Danger, Thank You, wikis are growing as the basis for sharing documents. They provide better capabilities than does email: wider visibility, versioning and searchability.

But it’s in notifications where email’s future is bright. Many of us are members of social media sites. As we go through our day, it’s hard to stay on top of activity in each one: new messages, new subscribers, new friend requests, etc.

Where is the central clearinghouse of my multiple social media identities? Email.

Email is the permanent record of what’s happening across various sites. This is actually a very valuable position in which to be. Here are two examples where email helped me:

  • After I wrote a post about nudity on FriendFeed, I lost some FriendFeed subscribers. I know this because my number of followers went down. There was one person in particular I wanted to check. This person wasn’t on my list of followers, and I thought, “maybe wasn’t subscribed to me in the first place?” Checked email, and I did indeed have a follow notification from this person a few weeks earlier. So I knew I’d been dropped.
  • I inadvertently deleted a comment to this blog. On wordpress.com, once deleted, the comment is not recoverable. I was in a bind. But then I realized I get whole copies of comments to this blog emailed to me. So I went to Gmail and found the comment notification. I was able to add the comment back by copying it from my email.

As snail mail had to adjust to the rise of email, so too will email adjust to the rise of social media:

As the number of social media sites and participation in them expands, email will find new growth and value in being the centralized notifications location.

Email = Centralized Identity Management

Much has been written about email being the ultimate social network. The basis for this is your address book and the emails you trade with others. But might there be another opportunity for email?

If email has all these subscription and message notifications, doesn’t it potentially have a role in helping you manage your centralized identity? Gmail could map out my connections across various sites. Find those that are common across the sites. Gauge the level of interaction with others.

Even add APIs from the various sites and let me send out communications from email. Suddenly, email’s back in the communication game as well.

I’m just scratching the surface of what might be possible here.

What Do You Think?

Email’s primary role as a communication medium is diminishing. Many of us are enjoying the easy, contextual basis of communicating via the various social media sites.

But like snail mail before it, email has interesting possibilities for what it will do for us in the future.

What do you think?

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Email%E2%80%99s+Changing+Role+in+Social+Media%3A+Digital+Archive%2C+Centralized+Identity%22&public=1

What Interactions Do You Want from Social Media?

Mapping the different social media interactions to human anatomy:

Now…where to go to get those interactions? An incomplete list follows.

Ideas, opinion, information:

  • FriendFeed
  • Twitter

Share photos, videos

  • Flickr
  • SmugMug
  • Zoomr
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • FriendFeed

Music you like:

  • Last.fm

Chit chat

  • Twitter

What are you feeling?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

What are you doing?

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • FriendFeed
  • Upcoming

What are you eating?

  • Twitter

Where are you?

  • Brightkite
  • Twitter

Personally, my interest is in ideas, opinions and information. But some photos and chit chat are also nice.

How about you?

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

 

Do FriendFeed Comments Hurt Bloggers’ Ad Revenue?

Allen Stern at CenterNetworks recently wrote a post arguing that FriendFeed was hurting bloggers by taking away page views. I’d paraphrase his position as this:

Once people comment on the actual blog post, they tend to return many times to see the comments that follow theirs.

I mean, they reload the blog post…MANY, MANY times…

The numbers sounded aggressive to me, so I wanted to give some consideration to Allen’s calculations. I also created a separate spreadsheet that estimates the ad revenue generated from comments on FriendFeed. The tables are presented below.

One note. Allen’s CenterNetworks worksheet for blog-based comments shows ad revenue that crushes the revenue I show for FriendFeed-based comment ad revenue. But here’s the catch – there’s an uber-aggressive assumption about repeat visitors to blogs in Allen’s calculations. Right-size that assumption, and I think FriendFeed ends up looking better.

If you leave this post with one thought, it’s this:

FriendFeed will help the vast majority of ad-based blogs to increase their revenue by driving higher page views.

OK, on to the calculations.

CenterNetworks Blog Comment Ad Revenues

Allen wrote most the calculations below in his blog post. I did have to make some assumptions to hit the $100,000 annual revenue level he associated to commenter page views.

As Allen says in explaining the $100,000 in comment-related revenue:

Last step in the equation - how many people visiting the blog will reload the page a number of times to view and/or interact with the comments – on sites with major trollage, this number can be astronomical. Using our numbers above, I estimate that this could be a minimum of $25,000-75,000 per year. Again this is most likely a bare minimum and for large blogs with controversial content, this dollar figure could be way higher.

At the end of the day, a large blog could easily be generating more than $100,000 a year in commenting revenue alone.

Allen does say the number of reloads is astronomical. As the table above shows, to hit his $100,000 in comment-related revenue, commenters must hit reload 39 times. For all 10 posts. Every day. All year long. All commenters.

And presumably they’re doing this for all the big blogs: TechCrunch, BoingBoing, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, Engadget, Gizmodo, Huffington Post…and do these blogs actually average 70 comments per post?

Anyway, I’m sure there are those who actually refresh 39 times per post on all these blogs. But are there enough to generate $100,000?

FriendFeed Comment Ad Revenues

The crux of my analysis is not page views driven by reloads. It’s based on unique visitors clicking to the blog because of the viral attention features of FriendFeed. Specifically the tendency of comments to bounce a blog post to the top of people’s FriendFeed. Comments in general will advertise the content, and comments by someone you trust will increase the odds of clicking.

As you see, I set the revenue as 10% of what Allen has in his, but I’d argue it’s based on a more realistic assumption about page views. Remember this spreadsheet focuses only on the comments effects, not the Likes or the multiple times a blog post shows up in FriendFeed: Google Reader Shares, bookmarks, Stumbles, etc.

A problem with my spreadsheet is that I carry over the aggressive assumption about comments (70 per FriendFeed entry). But I want to make the comparison to Allen’s spreadsheet apples-to-apples.

Analyzing TechCrunch’s Comment Activity

To get a sense of FriendFeed’s impact thus far, I looked at ten TechCrunch posts from the July 3 period. I counted the number of comments the posts received directly on TechCrunch, and how many they received on FriendFeed. For FriendFeed, I found all instances of the link – TechCrunch’s RSS feed, Google Reader shares, del.icio.us bookmarks, Stumbles, etc.

I excluded notes included with Google Reader shares or del.icio.us bookmarks from the FriendFeed comment count.

Looking at the table a couple things stand out:

  • FriendFeed does not appear to have stolen too many comments from TechCrunch
  • FriendFeeders have put the link out into their individual networks an average of 85 times – that’s the kind of visibility most blogs would kill for

I want to call your attention to post #10 in the above table, “Judge Protects YouTube’s Source Code”. 29 comments on FriendFeed. 14 of those comments came on a direct post of the TechCrunch article by Jason Calacanis. Jason has 29,000 followers on Twitter, and many of those have come over to FriendFeed. So when posts a question, he can get a lot of comments. But more importantly, the people commenting on his post are in all likelihood doing it because it’s Jason Calacanis.

My guess is that most of those commenting would not comment on the TechCrunch post. They’re more interested in what Jason is discussing.

Some Conclusions

I’m sure Allen is right about the TechCrunch “regulars” who post and reload multiple times. I’ve seen the reload behavior in myself when it comes to FriendFeed. However, I suspect his estimated number of reloads is way overstated. If you were to look at the 70 commenters in his scenario, you’d be lucky to get an average reload of 3 times, not 39 times. Sure, some commenters will hit double digits in their reloads. But many commenters won’t return at all.

The other consideration is that FriendFeed will take away some of those diehard reloaders. But I’d be willing to bet most of the die-hards will stay on the blog itself. Why? These guys’ relationship is with the blog and if you’re really reloading 39 times, you won’t stop commenting on the blog itself. I’ll bet there are a bunch of TechCrunch-heads who know one another via posting there. The TechCrunch site is their social network.

For most blogs that don’t generate 70 comments per post, the viral attention features of FriendFeed hold greater benefit than comments on the blog itself. Look at the ratio of FriendFeed links-to-comments for TechCrunch:

11.5 times more links for a post than comments (85.3/7.4)

As a blogger, I’ll take that trade-off. All those links are added visibility. FriendFeed is just as much about discovery as it is about conversations. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

Even Allen’s post about this was visible 24 separate times on FriendFeed.

Finally, in an interesting development, check out how ReadWriteWeb is integrating FriendFeed comments into each blog post. That’s one of the top 11 blogs worldwide embracing FriendFeed comments.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Do+FriendFeed+Comments+Hurt+Bloggers%E2%80%99+Ad+Revenue%3F%22&public=1

Weekly Recap 070408: Identi.ca Nearly Identical

Plenty of buzz about the new microblogging service Identi.ca. Send out public messages of up to 140 characters, and subscribe to others to make sure you see their messages…

Twitter…

Well, a lot like Twitter, but apparently needs some other stuff…@replies seems to be a big one for Twitter phreaks…also Direct Messaging…Corvida’s post seems to lay things out pretty well…

Meanwhile, check out this post by Russell Beatie that predicts scalability issues for Identi.ca given its current architecture…

Finally, check out Erick Schonfeld’s post, The Problem with Identi.ca Is That It Is Not Twitter…money quote…

The bigger problem with Identi.ca is simply that it is not Twitter. However annoying Twitter’s erratic outages may be, it still has the advantage of having many more users than any other competing service.

Another case of Twitter’s Je Ne Sais Quoi

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I’ve never said w00t, FTW or pwned

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True statement?…

geek > nerd > dork > dweeb > goober

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Some interesting discussions around the future of email…Alex Iskold at ReadWriteWeb kicked things off with a post asking if email is in danger…Zoli Erdos said no…Corvida said no

I see the role of email changing…we’ll communicate with others on the various social media platforms, and get notifications of new messages and replies via email….

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Zemanta suggestions come through as pingback links…comment #7 in this blog post is a pingback from the site “all-digital-moves”…turns out the link love is thanks to Zemanta, the recommendation widget bloggers can add to their sites…

So the pingback wasn’t something the blogger did, it was an automated recommendation…probably not in keeping with the philosophy of the pingback, but good to know where your blog posts are recommended out there…

Duncan Riley has a nice write-up of Zemanta…

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My son’s summer camp teacher just quit the San Francisco JCC to go work in Google’s child development for its employees’ kids…I imagine the comp is better, especially after seeing this New York Times article about the rates for Google day care going up…

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Good question: “Why is Gmail still in beta? A friend of mine quipped that ‘Google Beta’ was like a spinoff company.”…

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+070408%3A+Identi.ca+Nearly+Identical%22&public=1

Darwin and FriendFeed’s “Bounce to the Top” Algorithm

I really enjoy seeing the flow of new content come through FriendFeed. And the best feature is that people’s interactions make content resurface at the top of your FriendFeed page. Human filtering to make the most interesting stuff bounce to the top.

We all enjoy the Likes and Comments that make the most interesting content in our social networks pop back up to the top. And it seems to be pretty simple, right?

{Like} or {Comment} = Content Bounces to the Top

Well, it’s actually a bit more complex than that. The FriendFeed “bounce to the top” algorithm has some interesting behind-the-scenes rules. There is a certain amount of Darwinism to it.

Having noticed that the “bounce to the top” function is not as straightforward as simple Likes and Comments, I posted this comment on FriendFeed:

Sometimes I don’t understand the FriendFeed “bounce to the top” logic. I just added my Like to Corvida’s blog post about email (http://friendfeed.com/e/68e566…), but I didn’t see it pop back up to the top of my FriendFeed screen. What drives the logic?

In typical FriendFeed fashion, there was a really interesting conversation that followed. Mark Trapp, who has really impressed me with knowing stuff, had this to say:

I’ve been tracking the bump logic for a month or so now, and this is what I’ve found out: likes will stop bumping a story after a certain amount of time, and comments will always bump to the top if either a) it’s your story, b) it’s someone you’re subscribed to’s story, or c) it’s a FoaF AND a friend of yours comments on the story AND it’s the first time your friend commented on the story. Everyone else’s comments won’t bump it. For scenario c, Paul had mentioned to me that a fix for it was in the works.

From Mark’s response, one can see a few design principles behind FriendFeed.

1. Comments Are More Valuable than Likes

Comments always bounce something back to the top. Likes stop doing that after a period of time. This makes sense. Likes are easy. They are quite valuable as signals for the “interestingness” of content.

But Comments are King in the FriendFeed system. Comments mean someone has taken the trouble to express themselves. And that engagement draws the content creator and others into the conversation.

As reviewed in an earlier post here, Comments don’t necessarily mean the content has information that’s good to know. Some bloggers are just really good at stirring things up.

But the supremacy of Comments in the “bounce to the top” algorithm clues you in to the FriendFeed founders’ orientation. Conversations are ranked higher than good content discovery.

I Like that.

2. The Value of Likes Decreases with Time

In my comment, I referenced that my Like of Corvida’s blog post failed to bounce her entry back up to the top of my FriendFeed. I believe the FriendFeed entry of her blog post was only an hour old at the time.

My initial thought for this is…why? Doesn’t a Like mean others should check out the content, even if it is older?

Good content doesn’t have an expiration date.

But there are other ways content resurfaces in the FriendFeed system. Google Reader shares. Tweets. Direct posts. Bookmarks. Unlike comments, which only become visible when the entry to which they’re attached bounces to the top again.

So the multiple ways content can resurface reduces the need for Liked content to bounce to the top again after a while.

Wonder how long Likes have an effect on the “bounce to the top” algorithm?

3. Comments = More Reputational Skin in the Game

This is the conclusion I draw. Likes are easy, and have multiple purposes, as described by Mike Fruchter. If someone were to call you out for an errant Like, you could always say, “I was just using the Like to bookmark the entry to my personal feed.”

But comments are more visible, and you are much more accountable for them. When people post comments, they are adding to or withdrawing from their reputation account. And in social networks, reputation is huge.

So the emphasis on comments makes sense. The threshold for adding those is higher, and its effect should be greater.

Survival of the Fittest

Only the strongest content seems to survive in the FriendFeed Galapagos Islands. An initial rush of Likes puts the content into the stream of many, many users. Strong content will get this initial rush.

Then the content has to evolve. If it’s going to get that ongoing attention, Likes are no longer going to cut it. The content has to attract Comments. These Comments sustain the content in a sea of new, competing content.

Of course, just like Darwin’s animals, eventually even the well-adapted content will perish. Fossils for our future searches.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Darwin+and+FriendFeed%E2%80%99s+Bounce+to+the+Top+Algorithm%22&public=1

Made the Switch: FriendFeed Now My Homepage

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed my behavior has changed when I fire up the PC in the morning. My Yahoo has been my home page forever. I love the portal approach, with everything I like easily visible and accessible with a click.

But as soon as My Yahoo loaded, I quickly clicked over to FriendFeed. I really didn’t read much of what was displayed on My Yahoo.

I can be pretty loyal to apps and companies I like. I was doing this with Yahoo, despite the change in my behavior. Finally though, I realized that staying loyal and delivering a page view to Yahoo wasn’t really getting me anything.

I switched to FriendFeed.

My Top 5 Reasons for Making the Switch:

  1. Content that is filtered by my network on FriendFeed has more value to me than what I see on My Yahoo
  2. My interest in all the content I see on My Yahoo is only fleeting, but a portal demands that it’s always there (e.g. stock quotes)
  3. Hitting Refresh on My Yahoo only brings up the same stories. FriendFeed has the most amazing river of new stuff.
  4. My Yahoo doesn’t provide some of the content I find most interesting = tweets, blog posts, articles directly posted, comments, Flickr Favorites by people I trust (note the Flickr irony…)
  5. My Yahoo takes too long to load

I know I can control the portal experience by adding/deleting content. But that’s a pretty heavy process to me. And it doesn’t really come close to the constant stream of interesting new content that FriendFeed delivers.

I don’t mind the ads so much, but that big fat Classmates.com ad sure does take up a lot of real estate. I expect when Friendfeed includes ads, they’ll be more subtle like Google AdWords.

Biggest concern? I’ll fail to check my Yahoo Mail without the link I have on the My Yahoo page. A number of people still use that email to stay in touch.

If Yahoo can get clever and revive itself, I might make it my home page again. But for now, it’s FriendFeed.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Made+the+Switch%3A+FriendFeed+Now+My+Homepage%22&public=1

What does this mean? “Organize the world’s energy”

Through a Fred Wilson post, I decided to check out Umair Haque’s call for the development of technologies that will help a number of the world’s problems:

Organize the world’s hunger.
Organize the world’s energy.
Organize the world’s thirst.
Organize the world’s health.
Organize the world’s freedom.
Organize the world’s finance.
Organize the world’s education.

The piece lays out some strong indictments of capitalism and the focus of web 2.0. To be honest, that’s pretty damn offputting for me. Socialistic urges don’t interest me.

But Fred Wilson is a smart guy, so I decided to read through Umair’s post and all the comments. I really wanted to know what he meant by “organize the world’s” problems.

As I read the comments to Umair’s post, I saw a recurring theme. Businesses and providers of capital just don’t get it, just don’t have the right incentives for this. No one really had a good answer for changing these dynamics. But the post made for some good venting, such as this comment by Platypus:

Bloggers are the online equivalent of “ladies who lunch”–a bunch of rich people chattering amongst themselves about how they’re going to spend their afternoons.

In the post itself, Umair provides an analogy that really helped me understand what he’s thinking. And it’s less socialistic than his preamble sounded:

Google utilized a market – AdWords – to utterly eviscerate a stale, broken media value chain. Here’s a more visceral example. Muhammad Yunus revolutionized finance – not by collecting more money to lend, but by using communities to fundamentally alter the value equation of lending to the poor. The result was industry transformation.

See the similarity? Two vastly different industries – finance and media – were both revolutionized by new DNA. It was new ways to organize and manage that exploded the boundaries of value creation.

The new DNA to which Umair refers is the web 2.0 ethos – people’s contributions and ideas create new value in hidebound industries. Also note that in both cases there was an organizer for people’s contributions. Google for web pages, Muhammed Yunus for the solicitation of capital. Here’s a graphical depiction of what he’s talking about:

Yes, that looks like most social media sites. Hence the web 2.0 angle.

But it’s hard to apply this model to heavier, capital goods sectors. Google applies the above model to digital information. Microcredits apply the above model to digital currency transactions (until the “last mile” where someone actually needs cash).

Capital goods aren’t as easy as transferring digital information. Moving water is capital intensive. Energy production and transfer is capital intensive. Agriculture is capital intensive. These don’t lend themselves well to the disruptive flows that digital information does.

With oil and gas prices through the roof, I want to stay on that problem. There are two ways to read the New DNA when it comes to energy.

  1. Web 2.0 allows more people to find out about energy production, usage and alternatives
  2. People will create their own sources of energy, the way they might create their own blogs

In #1, people could provide information of value to the organizing entity. Paul Kedrosky asks about something like this in a tweet:

why is there no Mint/Wesabe for home energy use? i want a tool that integrates all my energy/water/etc into a single web dashboard

Not bad, it puts conservation at the forefront. And you could compare your usage to that of others.

In #2, people would actually provide power to the organizing entity. Well, that becomes more capital intensive. Honey, we’ve left the web.

But there are probably some good possibilities out there. Solar panels for every home sounds plausible. And in Fred Wilson’s post, there’s this idea from one of the comments:

The friend I refer to in my comments on HN: he’s a grad student who has built a small-scale digestor that can convert any type of waste — human/animal/food — into usable energy. He is not a guy for hype, but he says it could technically replace every septic tank in America. That’s huge.

I don’t how real that idea is. Sounds promising. How much energy would it really produce? My dinner scraps probably won’t power much. In that comment though, I do see that there are people much more learned in the field of energy than me. So I won’t discount the possibility that individuals could create new sources of energy. But it does seem like a stretch, just based on my physics courses where we learned about the law of conservation of energy. I don’t where the untapped energy sources are around my house.

So we’ll see what Fred comes up with over the next year or two in relation to Umair’s post. Was Umair’s manifesto more feel good exhortation or the start of innovation desperately needed in a number of areas?

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22What+does+this+mean%3F+Organize+the+world%E2%80%99s+energy%22&public=1

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