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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 022709

From the home office in Denver, Colorado…

#1: Please, I don’t want your automated DMs after I follow you. This practice needs to stop. I never click your links, it’s just spam.

#2: To all you social media whales doing the mass unfollow routine, I say: “Go ahead, make my day.” Got my unfollow trigger finger ready.

#3: Reading @loic post about the realities of following thousands http://bit.ly/CR6A9 Future = Dunbar’s Number + @replies + keyword tracking?

#4: Yammer rolls out new features: lifestreaming a la FriendFeed, and DM like Twitter. VentureBeat: http://bit.ly/qamnq

#5: “Discovering problems actually requires as much creativity as discovering solutions” The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun

#6: Innovation myth inside companies: “if the idea were any good, the people at the top would have thought of it already.” http://bit.ly/CfPgl

#7: FriendFeed guys have created the FriendFeed Therapy Room, featuring Eliza http://bit.ly/LseaI See if you can get past her therapist tenacity

#8: Do you suppose accident rates are down in California now that we’ve banned cell phones in the car? Do you feel safer?

#9: My favorite Jelly Belly beans: 1. coffee 2. watermelon. My 4.y.o. son Harrison: smelly skunk (betcha didn’t know about that one). You?

#10: Driving down 101, behind this car. Smelled an odd sweet odor that I recognized. Pass the car minutes later, sure enough dude had a fat one.

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Workplace Productivity vs. Tracking the “Flow”

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that at Defrag last week, Stowe Boyd gave a presentation on following a cascade of information, a flow. While I couldn’t attend his presentation, what I heard from others was that Stowe argued that there are no limits on people’s attention. They can get work done and track information in real-time simultaneously. It is all a matter of training.

A common opinion I heard from others was that this was BS. Workers have things to get done, and cannot spend their time watching a ticker of information going by.

I know there are dedicated social media/blogging types who do swim in the cascade of information via apps like Twirl, Tweetdeck and other clients. It makes sense for these folks – they live a life of staying up-to-date on what other social media types are talking about, and engaging others in real-time conversations.

But does that fly inside the workplace? It’s hard to imagine your average worker watching a constant stream of information. (a) They likely don’t care. (b) It seems to imperil their productivity.

Yet should information workers care about what’s happening in their field? And does this flow really affect their productivity?

I’m not one of those with an Adobe Air client feeding me updates from Twitter and FriendFeed. I’m generally resistant to client-based apps, and I don’t feel the need to track the flows so much. But on FriendFeed, I found myself continually going back to the site to check my Enterprise 2.0 List. This list consists of entries from the Enterprise 2.0 Room plus the feeds of a number of people who are active in the space.

Well if I’m going to constantly go back to that List on FriendFeed, why not bring the real-time updates to me? So I’ve been experimenting with running my Enterprise 2.0 List in real-time on my work computer this week.

Getting Work Done and Enjoying the Flow

Here’s a picture of my screen, with a Word document open to the left, and FriendFeed real-time opened in a mini window to the right:

working-while-tracking-the-flow

I have two screens at my desk. A flat screen monitor, and my laptop screen. The graphic above is from the monitor, which is big enough to allow two windows.

Here are a few thoughts about adding flow to my daily work.

I already have an ADD work style: I’m probably not alone in this. Since way back when I was a banker writing client pitches and offering memoranda, I have a hard time writing something straight through over the course of an hour. I just can’t do it. I’ll write something, then a I need a break. I don’t know why that is. If I trudge through the writing without break, the quality suffers.

Thus the real-time updates are a welcome break as I write.

The pace of updates isn’t too fast: Not that FriendFeed real-time couldn’t handle it. There are 33 people in my Enterprise 2.0 List currently (the Enterprise 2.0 Room is one of them). They tweet a lot, rarely interact on FriendFeed, post blogs and share/bookmark articles. The pace of updates seems to average once every couple minutes, with a decent-sized standard deviation.

If I had real-time up for my FriendFeed home page, where I’m tracking over 1,000 people, I imagine the movement in the screen to the right would be constant. That would be too distracting.

I feel more on top of my game: Let’s talk about the reason you’d track the flow. By having this up, I’ve got a really good sense about the ideas, arguments, conferences, information and relationships that are going on out in the Enterprise 2.0 world. Professionally, I’ve never been so aware of the goings-on. A lot of this I feed back internally here at Connectbeam.

I also love seeing the @reply tweets of the people I’m following on real-time. I’m finding more interesting people to follow on Twitter as a result. Some of these folks end up on my Enterprise 2.0 List.

I’m still getting my work done: And this is the crux of the experiment. I’m still getting work done while that real-time window is up.

There Are Limits to Our Attention, But I’m Not Approaching Those

Probably the single biggest factor that’s making this flow thing work for me is that I’m not bombarded with an update every second. I think the Defrag attendees who thought Stowe was talking crazy probably were thinking about one update-per-second type of flows. If that was the case, then yes, it’s a mistake to try this.

But a more limited flow built on a select group of people and a feed of keywords is quite manageable. And actually really beneficial.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Workplace+Productivity+vs.+Tracking+the+%E2%80%9CFlow%E2%80%9D%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