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Weekly Recap 072508: Twittering into the Mainstream

Twitter got some big play this week: 2 good, 1 bad…let’s start with good…

USA Today had a nice feature on Twitter, Twitter took off from simple to ‘tweet’ success…this quote from the article really gets it right about Twitter these days…

Twitter has become so popular, so fast, that keeping up with its fast-growing user base is a real issue. So many people now use Twitter to update friends that the system often crashes.

The outages are the markers of a company that is experiencing success beyond its expectations…

The New York Times ran a story about how companies use Twitter, blogs and other social media to keep up with customer issues and questions…

If you’re scoring at home, that’s two mainstream, huge-circulation newspapers writing positive stories about Twitter this week…if you wonder a couple years from now how Twitter became so mainstream, remember weeks like this…

But not all was well with Twitter this week…the company inexplicably chopped off subscribers from every user…there were a lot of pissed Twitterers…people threatened to leave Twitter…but when the followers were restored?…

Temporary retraction .. comes back up 50 more followers ? I can’t help it … it’s sticky”

Twitter’s je ne sais quoi

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I’ve never said jailbreaking

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SmugMug seems to have figured out FriendFeed’s visual dynamics…SmugMug pictures come thorugh big, bright and beautiful on FriendFeed, especially compared to Flickr pictures…

SmugMug pix on FriendFeed, courtesy of Dave Cohen:

Dave Cohen SmugMug Pictures

Dave Cohen SmugMug Pictures

Same pix, this time Flickr on FriendFeed:

Dave Cohen Flickr Pictures

Dave Cohen Flickr Pictures

Great advertisement for SmugMug…and the little guy is cute regardless of the photo service…

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Noticed a change in my Google Reader shares these days…I’m tending to share blog posts that I haven’t already seen a few times on FriendFeed…that means fewer TechCrunch shares…more emphasis on those nuggets that haven’t seen wide circulation yet…

Figured people were seeing the big blogs enough already…

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I got to do a guest post on Louis Gray’s blog this week…really good reactions out there in the blogosphere, which was great…blogger Barry Schwartz thought enough of the post that he wrote his own post in response, Am I Losing the Connection?

Unfortunately, Barry got the author wrong…he overlooked the “guest post” announcement at the start of the post, and naturally figured Louis wrote it…from Barry’s post…

  • Louis Gray wrote a blog post named Bloggers’ Interactions With Readers Decrease With Prominence
  • Louis Gray documents what are “interactions:”
  • “It’s these two dynamics that cause some bloggers to head onto the next stage,” explains Louis.

Sigh…I am happy the post resonated, but it’d be nice to get a little recognition…so I left a comment on Barry’s post a few days ago:

Barry – glad you liked the post. One small correction – I actually wrote that particular post. Louis was kind enough to let me guest post on his blog.

As for losing your connection to the industry. Look to people like Fred Wilson and Louis Gray as examples. I don’t think any blogger should feel the need to connect with every reader. Just like connecting anywhere else – pick your spots, right?

Despite the comment, Barry hasn’t updated his blog…Barry – you’re losing touch with your readers!…

Well, I’m not alone…Rob Diana wrote a piece on Louis’s blog, Can Microblogs Just Talk to Each Other?…Dave Winer thought it was Louis’s post…such are the benefits and perils of guest blogging…

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According to Allen Stern, Mahalo employees are busily writing articles for Google Knol…Unsure of Google Knol’s future impact on his company Mahalo, Jason Calacanis is making sure they have plenty of articles with links pointing to Mahalo pages…

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Plan to buy an iPhone this week, if they have inventory

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+072508%3A+Twittering+into+the+Mainstream%22&public=1

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The New Facebook Newsfeed: Slow. Over-engineered. I Like It.

Facebook recently rolled out several changes related to activity streams and commenting. As TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington noted, these changes represent the “Friendfeedization” of Facebook. The changes include the ability to import activities from other services (e.g. Twitter, blogs, Last.fm, etc.).

Before looking at these changes, let’s take a moment to understand Facebook’s market position. Recent numbers indicate that Facebook continues its tremendous growth. Mashable’s Adam Ostrow reported that Facebook had a terrific June in the United States:

According to Nielsen Online, Facebook swelled to 29.2M unique visitors in the US, up more than 10 percent from May.

It’s clear the site continues to do well with larger numbers of mainstream users. But among the tech cognoscenti, there is a different view of Facebook. Dave Winer wrote this on FriendFeed:

Am I the only one who doesn’t give a flying fcuk about Facebook?

There were a number of concurring comments. And that’s fair. I really haven’t been on Facebook much in the last several months.

But Facebook is definitely working to improve the experience on its site. Now one might argue that with mainstream users’ growth, what do they need to do? From my perspective, they need to make the site more interactive.

So we have the new changes. Let’s look at them.

Services Import = More You, More Activity

Definitely a component of the FriendFeedization. Having been on FriendFeed for several months, I’ve gained a healthy appreciation for others’ content: Flickr photos, Last.fm music, blogs, tweets, direct posts of cool and funny stuff. It really is like people are TV channels on FriendFeed.

Bringing these into Facebook is a great complement to the usual apps and group joining that seems to dominate the newsfeed. It will be nice to see more of the things my friends like.

Hopefully it will help the level of activity on the site. Compared to FriendFeed’s Mississippi River of content, Facebook is a quiet brook.

Newsfeed Rules Make the Activity Stream Pretty Quiet

Facebook has rules that govern what content makes it into the newsfeed of members. This is a difference to the wide open flow of Friendfeed. In FriendFeed, users control the noise. In Facebook, the site controls the noise. And according to TechCrunch, those noise control rules will be updated. It will be harder for many apps’ activity to make it into the newsfeed.

Great for managing those annoying app updates. But not so good for fostering increased interaction around users’ activities, as only a fraction of them will get through. A half-commitment to lifestreaming.

Maybe it’s just me, but my newsfeed is dominated by Facebook photos. Keep those in there, but I’d like to see a greater variety of entries show up.

Commenting = Great Addition, Wish It Was More “In the Flow”

This is the most direct FriendFeedization feature: commenting on the activities of friends. I really love this feature. Previously, it was see something in the newsfeed, then go post a message to the person. Nice that it’s all bundled together now. Conversation around activities.

I already received some benefit from the feature. I now know of a website that will tell me where iPhones are available. How’d that happen? I commented on an item on my Facebook newsfeed:

My friend Amy isn’t on FriendFeed. But her status update, my question, and her response, are exactly the kinds of interactions that regularly occur on FriendFeed.

One observation about the commenting. After someone responds to a comment on their entry, the ‘comment’ button disappears. No chance to follow-up commenting in the main newsfeed. You can see this in the graphic above. There’s no ‘comment’ button to click.

You can go to the user’s profile page and post a follow-up comment. So it is possible to continue the conversation, but Facebook takes it out of the newsfeed flow.

One other point versus FriendFeed. In Facebook, you get notifications of comments on an item. This contrasts with FriendFeed’s “bounce to the top” approach of seeing new comments. Notifications are just fine for me.

Facebook Is Still a Little Strange to this FriendFeed Addict

FriendFeed is very good with presenting content and letting users make quick interactions around it. Facebook isn’t quite that. Consider this exchange. My sister had an update in the Facebook newsfeed from one of her apps. Here’s how that conversation went:

My sister’s update: Helen has updated the Cities I’ve Visited map, by TripAdvisor.

Me: Which city?

My sister: Which city, what? 😉

So I’d have to add the TripAdvisor app to my profile, then navigate over to my sister’s profile, and figure out what my sister updated. Painful.

Facebook Is Slow and Heavy

Facebook is very slow. Every page takes forever to load. Facebook’s slowness is a restrictor plate on interactions there.

Robert Scoble talked with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about this, and posted this comment on FriendFeed:

Mark Zuckerberg and I talked about FriendFeed today. He says he likes the search engine here. Explained that Facebook’s scale is slowing them down. Says that 90 million users make things go slow.

In that FriendFeed thread, Duncan Riley points out that Google Search is lightning fast with billions of users. But to be fair, Google Search doesn’t need to access everyone’s individual rules, settings and apps loaded specifically to everyone’s page. Doesn’t make the slowness any better though.

Facebook Status Updates Are the Best Comment Fodder

The status updates are great because they provide a natural basis for conversation. The things people do are those things which they’re most likely going to talk about. As the experience with my sister’s TripAdvisor app shows, commenting on actvities with apps is a little more painful.

One of my friends did include a blog post about Pandora and the iPhone in her newsfeed. I clicked on that, read the post, and came back to the newsfeed to make a comment. Felt very FriendFeed-ish.

I ‘Like’ the New Facebook Newsfeed

All that being said, I do like the new newsfeed.I have a whole circle ofd friends who do not hang out on FriendFeed. And the stuff that makes up their streams is different from those I follow on FriendFeed.

It’s a slower pace over on Facebook, but that’s OK for what it is. I use FriendFeed to learn information and points of view. I use Facebook to keep track of all those other little life details.

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22The+New+Facebook+Newsfeed%3A+Slow.+Over-engineered.+I+Like+It.%22&public=1

Should I Buy the Apple 3G iPhone or Nokia N95?

I’m in the market for a new phone. And I’m pretty damn easy.

Apple has now released the next version of its phone, the 3G iPhone. With all the buzz around it, it’s hard not to consider buying one. But before taking the plunge, I wanted to understand what I’m getting myself into. I also wanted to consider what many people claim is a superior phone on the market, the Nokia N95.

But first, about my being pretty damn easy…

I’m a Mobile Phone Luddite

When I bought my current mobile phone, I really didn’t want all the fancy stuff. Just the ability to talk to someone. And that’s just what I got with my Nokia Sprint phone, pictured below:

Not much “smart” about that phone. Just cheap and functional. Any phone that does the things I list in the picture above will be a quantum leap forward for me. Obviously, I’m no early adopter.

Hence, I’m easy when it comes to smart phones.

Apple iPhone vs. Nokia N95

The crux of the argument seems to boil down to this:

  • 3G iPhone offers a superior web browsing experience
  • N95 offers superior camera and actually has video

Oh, there are other things…

Apps for the iPhone are supposed to be really cool. But I’m really not interested in Tap Tap Revenge. One thing I learned from Facebook is that most of these little apps grow boring quite quickly. However, there’s always the possibility that some interesting app will be developed.

There’s also Apple’s closed platform and restrictive DRM, which means all development requires approval of Apple. But considering that I’ve been using a phone without anything that would cause such concern, I’m mostly unconcerned about this as well.

The Knocks Against the iPhone

Here are the the biggest knocks I’ve seen on the iPhone. Gotta know what could ruin my day if I buy one.

Short battery life. This consistently comes up as a negative for the iPhone. It sounds awful, especially in comparison to my current lowly Nokia phone. The battery on that phone can last for days. But it sounds like any 3G smart phone may suffer a similar battery life issue. Here’s what GigaOm said about the Nokia N95:

The battery on this device [Nokia N95] simply sucks. It doesn’t even last the whole day, and that is when you are using it in GSM mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS turned off.

Apple does provide tips for preserving battery life. In addition, Cyndy Aleo-Carreira reports that a simple change to one feature – push email – can dramatically improve battery life.

Crappy camera, no video. There’s no getting around this one. The iPhone’s 2 mega pixel camera is woeful compared to the N95’s 5 mega pixel. Here’s a picture that Fred Wilson took with the N95:

Look at that quality! And with two young children, I think great pictures would be nice. Not to mention the ability to do easy video.

Forced to go with AT&T. This is a big one for many folks. They don’t like AT&T for whatever reason. AT&T appears to have good 3G coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area. But outside the region, coverage gets dicey. As Robert Scoble tweeted about his drive from southern California back to the Bay Area:

Out of the past 7.5 hours of driving we have had 3G for less than an hour. AT&T needs to do a much better job at coverage.

My Sprint phone actually has pretty bad coverage inside my house. So I’m not sure AT&T can get much worse, unless I was unable to get any signal. I did ask about what happens when 3G isn’t available on FriendFeed (comment on Scoble’s tweet). Here’s what Zach Flauaus said:

The iPhone’s priority is 3G, then EDGE, then GPRS. Aka: Fast, ehh… And “Oh hell no!”

So even if I can’t surf the web, I get a phone signal. OK…I probably can live with that.

The new apps crash the iPhone. Let me repeat that: NEW APPS CRASH THE iPHONE! Tim O’Reilly describes the laments of iPhone users and their crashing phones. He includes a Summize Twitter search for iPhone crash. The search reults are frightening:

  • “so it seems writing mobile applications is not such a trivial task. On the iPhone they crash like crazy”
  • “first iPhone crash since I restored it 4 days ago, I guess my strategy has worked, and coincidently it crashed on a newly installed app”
  • “Experienced my first iPhone app crash tonight. Screen turned black. After a few tries the phone came back to life but I deleted the app.”
  • “Just had my first iPhone app crash. Facebook!”

Sounds like it’s best to avoid putting apps on the iPhone for the time being. But I am hopeful about  downloading some good apps down the road.

No copy and paste. Honestly, this one doesn’t bother me so much…yet. The iPhone doesn’t support a clip board to copy things you find. My initial reaction is “so what?”. But I”ll probably want that. One example: wordpress.com’s new iPhone interface. You can post blog entries from the iPhone. As you can see in this post, I’m a huge fan of copy-n-paste. Not having this feature could chafe.

The Nokia N95 Knock: Web Surfing Is Bad

The N95 does include web surfing and email. But this is what I’ve been reading about that experience:

  • “@Jonathan – does Nokia have a decent web browser?” – Yolanda
    “@Yolanda, no, it’s crap. But there’s Opera mini (http://operamini.com) which is somewhat decent.” – Guillermo Esteves (link)
  • Question: “If you could only take one device to a tropical island would it be a smartphone or a laptop?”
    Robert Scoble: “Assuming I am going on vacation to get away from it all? My Nokia N95. Good camera to take pics and videos of me drinking MaiTais. GPS so I can get around. But hard to use for Web and Email so I am not too tempted.”
  • “After seeing, feeling & experiencing the Web on the iPhone, I Know I need one, even though I have an N95 (hate it for browsing)” (link)
  • Yes, I borrowed a friends N95for a day and they had my Blackberry. Phone quality is important to me with a hearing aid. The web browsing sux on the N95, phone was ok. The camera and video were way cool though, nice but not necessary toys.” (link)

iPhone Gets Some Real Love Though

I’m impressed by the number of people expressing their affection for the iPhone, despite its limitations.

Ryan Spoon blogged: Confessions of a Blackberry Addict – I’ve Moved to the iPhone 3G

Yahoo EVP Jeff Weiner was raving to Tim O’Reilly about his new iPhone, urging him to write something that explains why the iPhone is such a paradigm-shifting device.

Gina Trapani of Lifehacker wrote this in a generally negative piece on the iPhone: “But Mobile Safari’s tabbed browsing convinced me to trade in my principles for convenience. This job requires me to be online everywhere I go, and as far as I could see, the iPhone was the best way to do that.”

And here’s the Twitter search for “love my iPhone“. Look at all that love!

What About You?

So I’m close to making a decision. My use case is more web browsing than picture/video taking. But there are definitely issues with the iPhone.

If you’ve got thoughts about the 3G iPhone or the Nokia N95, I’d love to hear ’em.

UPDATE: ReadWriteWeb covers the Apple vs. Nokia issue this morning as well here.

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Should+I+Buy+the+Apple+3G+iPhone+or+Nokia+N95%3F%22&public=1

Weekly Recap 071808: Define ‘Frienderati’

Literati means intelligentsia…

Intelligentsia means…a social class of people engaged in complex mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them

Guy Kawasaki’s at it again…he rolled out his latest list of the “Top” in a medium, this time FriendFeed…his Frienderati lists ~100 people on FriendFeed and their 5 most recent entries…I actually follow a number of the people on his list…

But something’s not quite right with his list…Frienderati is a derivative of the term literati…look at that definition above…Frienderati should have a hand in the “development and dissemination” of culture on FriendFeed…

But many of them don’t…Shey Smith wrote Frienderati: Making it Easy to Find Popular Inactives in which he questioned the “-ati” credentials of Guy’s list…his title hits the nail on the head, inactives…

There’s Amber Mac, listed as a “new media journalist”…her FriendFeed stream is all Twitter, and she has 3 comments and 1 Like all time…Paul Kedrosky, “investor, writer, entrepreneur”…he streams his tweets and blog posts…2 comments, 1 like all time…Rebecca Briggs, “helping the world heal from the inside out”…tweets and blog…has never commented or Liked anything in FriendFeed…

The best has to be Guy Kawasaki putting himself on the list…nearly all twitter, which he only added on July 4th…2 comments all time…and there are others with similar levels of inactivity…

In what universe are these people the ones that develop and disseminate the culture of FriendFeed? They barely know it!…Two things at play here…

  1. Guy wants to make sure there are known personalities on his list, because you can’t just have a list with us regular folk who actually are part of the culture
  2. The lifestream aggregator part of FriendFeed is still important. Frienderati looks at FriendFeed as a simple aggregation of the streams of Important People, not as a place of interaction.

The nice thing is that FriendFeed makes it easy for n00bs to find interesting people…friend-of-friend and comments can help users get beyond the Important People…

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I’ve never said meh

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Mattel, maker of Barbie, won its lawsuit against MGA, maker of Bratz. Mattel alleged that Carter Bryant, a designer at Mattel, created the Bratz concept while under contract for Mattel. Two  pieces of evidence…

  • He used a discarded Barbie body and Ken boots to mock up a concept of Bratz (via LAT)
  • He used a Mattel notebook to write about the Bratz concept (via WSJ – subscription)

I don’t disagree that employees are obligated to provide value to their companies…but the actions of Carter Bryant are probably similar to those that a lot of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley have done…imagine if all the big companies came down on ex-employees for taking ideas they started while employed and building their own companies…

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Noticing increased use of pictures in FriendFeed direct posts…they really make a post clickable and interesting…I did a quick survey of 100 FriendFeed direct posts in my ‘Friends’ stream…46 of the 100 direct posts had pictures…

And the pictures really work…they tend to dominate the poor text-only links…however, a bunch of comments on a text-only link still is the #1 draw for me…

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Interesting comment by Wai Seto regarding the iPhone’s too-short battery life and AT&T…

On the power issue, I have learned that handset receive and transmit power is actually set by the network over the air. The base station can tell the handset to tune down or up real time. The rumor is because AT&T coverage is not very good (not enough base stations?), so they set this setting very high and drain most of their 3G devices pretty quick. The power setting at AT&T is believe to be higher then European operators.

I looked at Wai’s LinkedIn profile, he’s a software architect at Nokia…so I’m thinking he knows what he’s talking about…

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Possibly the cutest baby picture ever…

Uploaded to Flickr on July 16…by July 18, it already has 10,732 views…

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+071808%3A+Define+%27Frienderati%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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