About these ads

Social-Filtered Search

Recently, there was a lot of discussion about running searches on Twitter, using authority as a filter. The idea is to reduce Twitter search results to only those with a minimum number of followers. The idea garnered plenty of discussion. From that discussion, I saw some perspectives that I liked:

Frederic Lardinois: I would love to have the option to see results from my own friends (or those who I have communicated with through @replies) bubble up to the top.

Jeremiah Owyang: Organizing Twitter Search by Authority is the wrong attribute. Instead, focus search by your OWN social connections. People you actually know score higher relevancy. http://www.loiclemeur.com/engl…

Robert Scoble: On both services you should see a bias of tweets made by people you’re actually following. Who you are following is a LOT more important than who is following you.

Those ideas make sense to me, because they reflect the way we seek out information. I do think there’s room for search results beyond only your friends. Here’s what I mean:

social-filtered-search

The idea above can best be described as follows:

I’ll take any quality level of search results for my close connections, but want only the most useful content from distant connections.

The logic behind this is that any quality “deficiencies” in content generated by my close connections can be made up for by reaching and having a conversation with them. That’s not something I’d do with more distant connections.

The chart above has two axes: strength of ties and usefulness signals. Let’s run through those.

Strength of Ties

Harvard professor Andrew McAfee blogged about the strength of ties back in 2007. With an eye toward employees inside companies, he segmented our connections as follows:

strong-weak-potential-ties-mcafee

The segmentation works inside companies, and it also applies in the personal world. For example, on FriendFeed, my Favorites List is akin to Strong Ties. The rest of the hundreds of people I follow are my Weak Ties. Friend-of-a-Friend entries I see are my Potential Ties. And of course there are a lot of people I never see. Those would be the “None” Ties.

The hardest part of this segmentation is that people aren’t likely to take the time to create and update their Strong Ties. Rather, Strong Ties should be tracked via implicit signals. Whose content do you click/rate/comment on/bookmark/share/etc.? Extend this out to email – who do you correspond with the most?

For example, I tried out the social search of Delver. It lets you load in your social networks, from places such as Facebook and FriendFeed, and uses content from those connections as your search index. Innovative idea. What happened though is that when I run a search, I get a deluge of content. My social networks are too big to make the service really useful.

Here’s where apps that handle a large percentage of my clicks and interactions will have an advantage. FriendFeed, with an extensive library of content from my connections, has this quality. Inside the enterprise, workers interact with a limited set of applications. The company’s IT department can set up tracking of interactions to identify implicit Strong Ties.

Bottom line: determining Strong Ties via implicit interactions is scalable and useful.

Signals of Usefulness

I’ve already described these in the paragraphs above:

  • Clicks
  • Ratings
  • Comments
  • Bookmarking
  • Sharing

Implicit data + explicit signals are the most powerful indication of usefulness.

Putting These into Place for Social-Filtered Search

When I say that I’d want to receive search results, even without many signals of usefulness, from my Strong Ties, here’s an example.

  1. I’m planning to run a marathon
  2. What marathon training plan should I use?
  3. I run a search for marathon training.
  4. I see a tweet from one of my Strong Ties: “Just started my marathon training this weekend. 4 miles FTW!”
  5. I @reply my Strong Tie, ask what training program he’s using.
  6. I now can leverage someone else’s work on this subject.

Of course, I’d want to see well-rated marathon training programs too, like Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning. I’d want to see the content from my distant/non-existent connections that had the highest signals of usefulness. Not unlike Google’s algorithm.

But the key here is that I’ll make up for any deficiencies in the utility of content for someone I’m close to by contacting them. A search on ‘marathon training‘ in Twitter shows a lot of results. But I’m not going to reach out to most of these folks, because I don’t know them. I only want those with whom I can have a conversation.

As I said, the ability to track both implicit and explicit activity is key to making this work. Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter and Enterprise 2.0 all seem like good candidates for this type of search.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Social-Filtered+Search%22&who=everyone

About these ads

The 2009 Email Brevity Challenge

2009-email-brevity-challenge

Are you on Twitter? Have you perfected the art of communicating a lot in a few characters? Well how about putting that talent to good use, making the lives of your co-workers better ?

I’m talking about…

THE 2009 EMAIL BREVITY CHALLENGE

What’s that? Simple, really:

Keep your company emails to 140 characters or less.

Now let me tell you a little more about this.

It All Started with a Tweet

I trade tweets with Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter). Well, one morning we had this exchange:

Hutch: Are you a long form twitterer? I often hit 140+ characters in my tweets, and spend time cutting them back.

Jennifer: Yup. I think it’s made me more succinct in other mediums, too.

Hutch: You’re right about Twitter making us more succinct. You know where I’m seeing it most? In my emails, of all things.

Jennifer: I wonder if I should challenge myself to only send 140-character emails in 2009? hehe

Hutch: That’d actually be a great challenge. Make your emails max out at 140 characters. Recipients would be thankful.

Jennifer: Let’s do it. In some cases (i.e. work emails requiring tons of back-up) it might be hard, but I’ll shoot for 50 percent.

From that conversation, Jennifer wrote Micro-emailing: The 2009 email brevity challenge on her ZDNet blog Feeds. As she says there:

We understand that some emails need to be longer than 140 characters (I’m not sure my boss would appreciate it if I sent her multiple 140-character emails when she needs a detailed project report). For the rest of the emails, however, we’re going to try and give our co-workers’ weary eyeballs a break. More than that, we are going to start logging these communications and tracking monthly the average number of a characters we use in our sent work-related emails. I’ll post monthly reports here on this blog.

And there you have it.

Reducing Our Dependence on Corporate Email

Consider this little resolution another strike against our overreliance on email. IBM’s Luis Suarez has been quite an advocate for reducing the volume of emails inside companies (see Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 46 (Living without Email – One Man’s Story. Are you Next?). He has an ongoing quest to eliminate email in his daily job. He actually did that during Christmas week, as he reports:

It has taken me 46 weeks, but I have finally made it! I have finally been able to prove the point that you can go by a week without using e-mail, but social software, and still get the job done!

And upon seeing this challenge for email brevity, he offered this:

@bhc3 Absolutely! And more than happy as well to help promote it as part of the continued weekly progress reports s haring further insights

If you’re forced to be briefer with your emails, there are a couple outcomes. First, those epic emails are reduced. That probably is welcome news to a lot of workers. Second, it highlights the proper place for many email discussions: wikis, blogs, Yammer, forums, etc. You can use email more for notifications and links to the place where the longer form thinking/discussion/collaboration is occurring.

To participate in this initiative, you only need to do three things:

  1. Add a comment to Jennifer’s blog post
  2. Keep tabs on the character count of your emails (I’ll probably paste ‘em in Word, run a character count)
  3. Keep it light, low pressure. It’s an interesting experiment.

I particularly encourage you to try this out if you’re interested in Enterprise 2.0. What better way to put into practice what we all see as the future of social software inside organizations?

And drop me a comment if you’ve got any other thoughts or suggestions.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22The+2009+Email+Brevity+Challenge%22&who=everyone

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 010209

From the home office on the #35 San Francisco Muni Bus…

#1: Reading: Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions http://bit.ly/10QL5 Amazing data about what influences us.

#2: Surprised that Scribd is in the Top 20 most trafficked social media sites, while SlideShare isn’t. http://bit.ly/axdu

#3: Saw this search term led someone to my blog: “nude predictions 2009″. Wow, just what were they looking for?

#4: @vanderwal Where’s the definitive history of bacon and the Internet? The biggest practitioner I’ve seen is Mona on FriendFeed.

#5: Have you seen this bacon wiki, The Holy Church of Bacon? http://bit.ly/RqoG

#6: On my list of to-do’s…check out mortgage refinance rates.

#7: Chatting w/ my sister about her field, linguistics. She’s checking out blogs & social media, & found Alltop Linguistics http://bit.ly/MTD3

#8: Three great-to-have memberships for Bay Area parents: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium. What are yours?

#9: “Try to keep your following to follower ratio greater than 0.85 to 1. Point of a community is to engage in a dialogue.” http://bit.ly/3OdtRv

#10: A high school pic of me in a homecoming dress was uploaded to Facebook (uh…yeah…). Old classmates are now friending me. Cool! Maybe. :-p

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22My+Ten+Favorite+Tweets+-+Week+Ending+010209%22&who=everyone

The Correlation of Tweets to Twitter Followers

Courtesy of TweetStats and TwitterCounter, plus a little email surveying,  I was able to put together the graph below for my Twitter account.

twitter-followers-vs-tweets

Fascinating. Simple relationship:

more tweets = more followers

Correlation coefficient (on only 5 observation points) of 0.99.

DISCLAIMER: The results here are for example only, and may not represent your actual mileage. If you only tweet  simple grunts or what you’re eating for lunch, you’re not likely to experience an increase in followers. It helps if you’ve got another place where you’re sharing your thoughts, such as a blog, or you’re already well-known elsewhere, such as being a CEO or an NBA player. And it probably helps if your tweets are on topics that a lot of other Twitterers are interested in. Finally, you must give to get, so follow and engage others you find interesting.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22The+Correlation+of+Tweets+to+Twitter+Followers%22&who=everyone


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 641 other followers