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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 111909

From the home office in the restarted Cern Large Hadron Collider along the French-Swiss border…

#1: What Shaun White & Snowboarding Can Teach You About #Innovation http://ow.ly/E8h7 Get exposure for ideas early, so others can digest impact

#2: Managing Employee Innovation Communities (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/3SREBr #innovation #e20

#3: City of Manor’s “citizens’ innovation” project (using Spigit) is featured on WhiteHouse.gov blog: http://ow.ly/DURl #gov20

#4: RT @CarolineDangson #IDC Social Survey: workers say they use IM for ‘collaboration’ & social networks for ‘sharing’ – thinking about diff

#5: RT @rotkapchen: RT @wimrampen Social Media Disrupts Decision-Making Process http://bit.ly/2KTUIz (via @GrahamHill)

#6 RT @tjkeitt Starting the process of researching #e2.0 technology pushed into business processes (CRM, ERP, project management, etc.). This is the future.

#7: RT @kevinmarks says @Caterina “Google never got social software – Knol means you have to write a whole article; wikipedia combines tiny contributions” #w2e

#8: Pitching Sequoia? They want to know which deadly sin your company lets customers indulge in http://ow.ly/DGn1 by @glennkelman

#9: Checking out: The Awesomeness Manifesto http://ow.ly/DmID by @umairh Much to love in that one #innovation

#10: Time Magazine is apparently torn between naming Twitter or the Economy as its “Person” of the Year http://ow.ly/CRbB
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Before There Was Twitter, There Was Dave Winer’s Instant Outliner

David Sifry

Photo credit: David Sifry

Twitter is the glamor girl these days. The latest triumph is the early picture of the U.S. Airways plane that belly flopped into the Hudson River. But before there was Twitter, there was Dave Winer’s Instant Outliner.

Never heard of it? Maybe you have, but I hadn’t. But it’s fascinating and eerily prescient of the rise of Twitter and Enterprise 2.0 today.

Dave can explain it better and more fully, but here’s what I have been reading about it.

Started in March 2002, here’s how Dave described Instant Outliner:

When you subscribe to someone’s outline, expect to see time-based notes on what they’re doing right now. I like to start each session with a top-level headline, and put a time-stamp in the headline (Control-4 on Windows, Cmd-4 on Macintosh). Then from that point, I narrate what I’m doing. When I start a new session, I start a new top-level timestamped headline. Sometimes I carry forward notes from previous sessions.

We can and probably will implement fancier notification routines, we’re ready to do it, but first we want to bootstrap with this brain-dead simple technology. It’s designed so that other outlining software can easily fit into the network of Instant Outliners.

See how Dave described it? “Notes on what they’re doing right now”. What is Twitter’s tagline? “What are you doing?” And notice Dave’s emphasis on designing Instant Outliner so that other software can work with it easily. I read this, and I think of Twitter’s API.

Here’s an April 2002 perspective on Instant Outliner by Jon Udell:

It’s been clear to me for a long while that the only thing that might displace email would be some kind of persistent IM. That’s exactly what instant outlining is. If it catches on, and it’s buzz-worthy enough to do that, we’ll have a framework within which to innovate in ways that email never allowed.

Instant Outliner (IO) as a form of instant IM. Something discussed here before in the context of Yammer. Here’s an early screenshot of IO, showing the organization by person and timestamps:

instant-outliner-buddy-list-messages

I like that the tweet…er…IO note here is the kind of thing you’ll see on Twitter these days. The IO message obviously doesn’t need to abide by the 140 character limit.

Here’s how Dave described use cases for IO:

We start with the Instant Messaging model, which many people understand. You get a structured surface to write on. You get to choose how you want to do it. I think that narrating your work is the way to go. But also answering questions or asking them of people you subscribe to is good too.

What I love about his use cases is how closely they align to Twitter use cases. This was microblogging, before microblogging was cool.

The Concepts We Associate with Twitter and Social Software Were All There

Check out how Jon Udell describes IO way back in 2002:

These are people who maintain outlines, in the form of Outline Processor Markup Language, to which I am subscribing. Some of them also subscribe to my outline, but not necessarily all of them, and this is one of the really interesting twists on email. Communication in this environment is by invitation only, and two-way communication requires mutual invitation. Sayonara to spam. If someone annoys you, just drop his or her feed.

You choose to whom you subscribe, and you only see updates for those to whom you subscribe. I especially like that Jon talked about unsubscribing from people whose feeds annoy you.

Retaining the IO notes and making them searchable as knowledge was another area Dave recognized:

The key is to find ways to flow the stuff entered there into a knowledge base. I have quite a few ideas about that.

Dave Luebbert, a former Microsoft programmer and collaborator with Dave, noted the enterprise social software possibilities of IO:

For leaders of large groups, Instant outlining has the very cool feature that you can allow folks to subscribe to you so that they can see what you are thinking about. The leader does not necessarily subscribe to everyone who subscribes to him because that would overwhelm his thinking process. But those who get to subscribe to one of his Instant Outlines get quite an informational advantage and can work better on their own goals because they have that.

If you’re organized around email, usually the only folks who get to listen are the folks who are direct reports. And those guys are always too busy to pass much info down.

The leaders also get to monitor activity in any of the subdomains of the company. They would subscribe to outlines in different groups of the company at their pleasure, but since they are not intimately familiar with those groups business they would not want immediate notification of changes made to those person’s outlines. They can see all the way down to the bottom of the company if they wish to. That’s been a near impossibility up to now with the communication tools that have been available.

And John Robb adds this thought about Instant Outliner that presages the rise of Enterprise 2.0:

I think this is a major new product that could sell in the hundreds of thousands of seats. It connects IM, weblog publishing (a weblog is essentially a published outline), RSS (if RSS items are brought into the outline), and outlining in a new way that radically improves team productivity. I bet I could do the same thing for this product that I did to business weblogs — turn it from a geeks only product and into mainstream productivity tool used by major corporations.

Based on search results for instant outliner, it appears the technology was most active between 2002 and 2005. I’m not sure the status of the project currently, although Dave Winer does subscribe to an entity called Instant Outliner on FriendFeed.

I’ve known Dave as the father of RSS. Now I know the range of his thinking included early models of microblogging and social software. Which tells me I ought be paying attention to what he’s thinking these days.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

If You Had to Choose One Form of Digital Communication, What Would It Be?

tin-can-phone

Via Mark Hillary on Flickr

That’s a funny question isn’t it? It is something of a parlour game question. Yet it’s a marvelous way to analyze the features of different communication modes, and to think about what we really need from our communications.

The inspiration for this blog post was a discussion with Chris White and others over on FriendFeed. The discussion centered around the merits of email, Twitter and other forms of communication. In the middle of the discussion, Chris asked:

If you had to choose one medium of digital communication, which one would you choose?

Well that, of course, got a good round of arguments. And it’s a good question.

Here are some modes that come to mind. I’m going to hold off on including mobile phones in the discussion. We’ll take voice as a given.

  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • SMS text
  • Twitter
  • Social networks (i.e. Facebook)
  • FriendFeed

The table below covers several considerations for these different communication modes:

digital-comm-modes-summary-of-characteristics

The characteristics listed above are those that came to mind in considering digital communications. They’re not tech-geek stuff (like bandwidth, architectural factors, etc.). More a list of things that lay people would experience.

A few notes about the table before I pick my communication mode:

Email is both persistent and searchable. Those are valuable characteristics, as Joelle Nebbe notes during the FriendFeed discussion. But they have to be in your in-box to be accessible, because they are private.

IM and SMS text are pretty similar. One happens on a phone, the other happens on PC client. Or both happen on the phone, I suppose. LOL kthxbai!

Twitter can be both private (DMs) and public (default). The 140 character limit is genius to some people, frustrating to others.

Social Networks are private? Doesn’t that fly in the face of all the media about embarrassing pix on Facebook? I know information can leak out, but that’s not the default setting. For instance, see if you can find the most recent blog post I wrote on Facebook Notes about my kids. Unless you’re my friend there, you can’t access it. It’s private.

Social Networks are private in terms of their in-site messaging. Like Twitter DMs.

FriendFeed is public or private. Privacy can be a setting for all of your stream, or you may live in a Room with restricted access. It’s one-to-many only. No way to reach out talk to a specific user directly.

My Own Selection

As I wrote in the discussion on FriendFeed, if pressed I’d have to select Twitter. Why?

  • DM allows private one-to-one conversations (unless you’re Robert Scoble)
  • @reply acts as an in-box for public tweets
  • Searchability is very important and valuable
  • Public tweets are a different form of communication, one that I’m increasingly valuing as a way to cast a larger net for information and feedback

On the FriendFeed discussion, Chris White noted that email supports file attachments, while Twitter doesn’t. But as I wrote in yesterday’s post about the Atlassian Confluence wiki, I could live with my documents being in a centralized web space. I’d just tweet (Yammer?) a link to the document. It’s not perfect. There are times you need to get a document to someone who may not have access to a private web space. That would be a pain. But the other advantages of Twitter are enough for me to live with the pain.

A word about FriendFeed. If they ever decide to support direct messaging and something similar to the @reply tab of Twitter, then they would become my communication mode of choice. There is so much more that can be done there via different media types, along with Rooms and Lists.

Those are my thoughts. How about you? Email has survived this long, and has a lot of well-designed features. Maybe that would be yours? Did I miss some key points about the various modes? Gloss over a deficiency too easily? Maybe there’s another form of digital communication I missed?

Take a second and say which communication mode you would choose in the poll below (RSS reader – click over quickly to select one).

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22If+You+Had+to+Choose+One+Form+of+Digital+Communication%2C+What+Would+It+Be%3F%22&who=everyone

You Know, If Yahoo Could Actually Focus, They’d Be a Helluva Lifestreaming Service

Yahoo announced its latest effort around making itself more social.  And unlike previous efforts (Mash, Yahoo 360), this one has potential.

Yahoo beta released the “Universal Profile”. To be honest, the initial release is underwhelming. Here’s what mine looks like:

The profile includes the picture + bio + interests that we’ve come to expect. What else?

  • Status Update = Facebook status, Twitter
  • Guestbook = Facebook Wall
  • Connections = any social network
  • Updates = Facebook news feed, FriendFeed

A Compleat Social Profile. Well not really. But it has potential.

Interestingly, the Status Update is a 140-character field. Not 125 characters, not 150 characters. 140, like Twitter. That probably says something about future Twitter integration.

Lets focus on that Updates box there. Because that’s where maybe, maybe Yahoo can finally integrate its disparate Web 2.0 properties.

Facebook, FriendFeed Have Been Enjoying Yahoo’s Sites

FriendFeed nailed the idea of pulling updates from different services. 43 of them currently, including three Yahoo properties. Check ’em out on FriendFeed:

Facebook, seeing the possibilities in lifestreaming, added feeds into the news feed. So now friends can see your activities on external sites as well, including Del.icio.us and Upcoming.

Currently, Yahoo’s beta release doesn’t include updates from those services. What is included? Yahoo 360, Yahoo Buzz, Yahoo Avatars (huh?), Yahoo Shine. I tested the update timing. Yahoo Buzz updated quickly onto my profile. I created blogs on Yahoo 360 and Yahoo Shine (yes, the women’s site). Neither blog post ever showed up on my profile.

So the initial profile is a bit underwhelming, the sites that feed into the profile are limited and activities don’t update from the sites that are available. Wow.

OK, not the biggest endorsement so far, but read on…

The Yahoo Advantage

Yahoo has three distinct advantages in the lifestreaming race:

  1. Traffic
  2. A set of sites that lend themselves well to lifestreaming
  3. Email/IM social graphs

Traffic

Yahoo draws the second highest traffic in the United States. For reference, here are traffic stats for Yahoo, Facebook and FriendFeed:

Critical to these lifetreaming social networks is having a sufficient number of users. Twitter has maintained its dominance in microblogging despite the emergence of competitors. Biggest reason? Everybody’s already there.

Yahoo ‘s lifestreaming starts with a critical mass of potential users.

Lifestreaming-Oriented Services

Yahoo has a number of sites that lend themselves well to lifestreaming, as mentioned above. The users of these sites are already putting things into the public domain, a psychological hurdle for many people in terms of social networks. While these sites aren’t available yet, Dan Farber reports that they will be soon.

Two services merit particular call-out here: Yahoo Buzz and Twitter.

Yahoo Buzz is Yahoo’s answer to Digg, Reddit, Mixx and other social news sites. Users submit stories, and other users can vote them up or down. Apparently, Yahoo Buzz delivers huge traffic. TechCrunch reported its single highest traffic day ever thanks to a link on Yahoo Buzz. And ReadWriteWeb reported that Yahoo Buzz had overtaken Digg in terms of visitors.

What I like about the integration of Yahoo Buzz into the Yahoo Universal Profile is that it becomes quite easy to see what users are interested in. It also becomes a great way to find stories via your social network.

Twitter is the best-known microblogging service, and competes quite well with Facebook’s status updates. Twitter is enjoying network effects allowing it to pull away from its competition. The 140-character Yahoo Universal Profile status updates are now available. I’d like to see how Yahoo either integrates Twitter into its experience, or creates a distinct microblogging experience built on Universal Profile status updates.

Email/IM Social Graphs

In the Yahoo Universal Profile, you are provided with a list of 10 connection recommendations. How are these recommendations generated? Check out what Yahoo says:

Now in a lot of ways, this is no different from uploading your email contacts to a social network and inviting people. The difference here is that these contacts are already using Yahoo. And Yahoo has the advantage of exposing lifestreaming via the email and IM that people use. Not as some third party social netowrk where a lot of people won’t bother to show up.

This goes back to the existing user base of Yahoo. If Yahoo can figure out how to put lifestreaming in-the-flow of its users’ daily interactions with the site’s properties, it’s got huge upside potential with this idea.

But Yahoo Is Always So Distracted

The latest distraction is the news that Yahoo will be laying off a lot of people. This follows the Microsoft acquisition attempt drama. And Yahoo has a history of acquiring sites, but not doing much with them. And many people question just what Yahoo is doing with this Universal Profile:

Don’t really see a point in setting up a profile on Yahoo!. I mean, I see the company’s goals here, but I do not see any user benefits. After all it’s just another Facebook, however tied to a dying Search Engine.

There is justifiable skepticism that Yahoo can actually pull off creating a vibrant, useful lifestreaming service. If Yahoo could pull it off, here’s what it gains:

  • Higher page views
  • Longer page views
  • Exposure and growth of its many sites via the lifestreams of a user’s social graph
  • A clear and distinct advantage over Google and Microsoft
  • An ability to lead the technology conversation again

I’m rooting for Yahoo from this corner. I would love to see Yahoo bring lifestreaming and social networks to the mainstream.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22You+Know%2C+If+Yahoo+Could+Actually+Focus%2C+They%E2%80%99d+Be+a+Helluva+Lifestreaming+Service%22&who=everyone

FriendFeed Real-Time: IM Now Means “Instant Microblogging”

FriendFeed released its Real-Time feature yesterday. This feature is very cool. With real-time, all new content entries and comments to those entries post automatically, in real-time. You get this amazing flow of content and conversation.

In its simplest form, it allows you to passively monitor the river of content. “Passively” might understate one aspect of it. This feature could pretty much kill off productivity if you passively watched the river all day. Here’s a representative exchange. Robert Scoble tweeted about the feature, which got a funny exchange going:

Robert: Now that Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed are giving us “real time” views, I find I’m “Media Snacking” much more. Watching the streams…

Mo Kargas: Robert, do you believe this will adversely affect your productivity ?

Robert: Mo: yes.

The time-suck element of the Real-Time feature is directly proportional to the number of people you follow. If you’re monitoring the activity of more than 100 active users, you’re going to drown in the river.

My sense is that this new feature works best in a couple scenarios:

  • Monitor activities for a limited group of active users, or a large group of relatively inactive users
  • Leverage the feature for group-based microsharing

It’s that second use that is of interest. In fact, that’s the use case that FriendFeeder Casey Muller described in his blog – following the conversation during last night’s Presidential debate.

Group-Based Instant Microblogging

A few weeks back, there was a post on TechCrunch titled Twittermoms Shows Why Twitter Needs Groups. The post described the emergence of Twittermoms, a site for moms who have met on Twitter. Here’s one quote:

At its core, Twittermoms is basically a group for mothers who Twitter. Because of that, it highlights an interesting point: why hasn’t Twitter addressed its need for groups?

The problem for a lot of folks is that the ability to converse with a specific set of users is tough on Twitter. The @replies help, but you can’t @reply to a large group. And tracking the tweets of a specific set of users is challenging.

Instant messaging is pervasive and quite useful. You can converse with others in real-time. As soon as you post, the recipients see the message. It fits quite nicely with the real-time nature of conversation.

But IM is NOT the same as microblogging. See the post I wrote earlier for a table outlining the differences between IM and microblogging. In many ways, microblogging is a superset of IM’s features.

So we’ve had this situation for a while:

  • IM is great for real-time conversations, but lacks many of the valuable features of microblogging
  • Twitter is great for microblogging, but lacks the real-time nature and the ability to focus on a smaller set of users

Enter FriendFeed Real-Time.

FriendFeed Real-Time works with both Rooms and Lists. What does that gain you? Rooms can be set up for people to participate around a specific subject. For instance, there could be a FriendFeedMoms Room. Moms join the room, and they can talk asynchronously (Standard view), or in real-time (Real-Time view). Rooms are searchable, so all the useful information and conversations are findable, and persistent.

Alternatively, one could set up her FriendFeedMoms List. Just tag a bunch of userrs into this list, and voila! You now have the ability to focus on a specific set of users and what they’re saying. Put the List in Real-Time mode and you’ve got Group IM.

In both cases, you can see Likes and threaded comments as well, giving context to the conversations.

Looking at these use cases, you can why FriendFeed Real-Time combines the best of instant messaging and micoblogging…

instant microblogging

The fact that FriendFeed Real-Time Rooms and Lists can be opened as mini-windows, and embedded on other sites makes them particularly useful.

They Built It…Will People Use it?

Personally, I think FriendFeed Real-Time puts even more emphasis on the value of Lists for day-to-day useage. Real-Time Rooms will be great for episodic uses, such as the debates or Apple events. But conversing with a group of friends will be a lot easier with a smaller List of users.

Since WordPress now has this cool poll function, I wanted to see what you think. Take a second to weigh in, and multiple answers are fine.

See you on FriendFeed.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22FriendFeed+Real-Time%3A+IM+Now+Means+%E2%80%9CInstant+Microblogging%E2%80%9D%22&who=everyone

“What’s the Difference Between IM and Yammer?”

It’s been a couple weeks since Yammer launched at TechCrunch50, and I assume Yammer is getting a road test out there in the workplace. One thing I saw after the launch was people wondering if Yammer was really just a copy of instant messaging. Here’s a representative tweet:

What’s cool about it? What’s the difference between IM and yammer?

Let’s hold off from noting the irony of posting that question on Twitter…

It is a fair question, because of their high similarity: short messages to a group of subscribers. But there’s so much more to the story.

Comparing IM and Yammer

The table below describes similarities and differences between instant messaging and microblogging (e.g. Yammer):

The table is pretty self-explanatory. Let me add a little more context from two blog posts related to this.

Sam Lawrence of Jive Software has a nice post, 18th Century Twitter. A quote from his post:

Everyday thousands of employees miss the opportunity to find people who can make what they’re doing less redundant or more valuable. What’s the ROI of a fully networked, 100% connected workforce? What’s the value of having all those connections saved for others to profit from?

And John Tropea writes about 140 characters to knowledge share. He makes several points about how Twitter inside the enterprise (e.g. Yammer) is a powerful basis for surfacing knowledge. In this quote, he comes at microblogging from a blogging perspective, not an IM perspective:

Twitters value contribution to the knowledge flow-spontaneous, unpolished, work in progress, thinking out loud-lends itself to this type or quality of participation due to its brief, immediate, and intimate publishing format…let’s hope internal blogs generate the same calibre of tacit value without being hindered by their format.

The fact that John looked at services like Yammer from a blogging perspective as opposed to an instant messaging perspective illuminates a key difference between IM and Yammer.

When you know what you write is visible to everyone, trackable and does not have the burden of being “on point” to recipients, you’re somewhere between instant messaging and blogging. I think Sam’s post does a nice job of summarizing the value of that.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.