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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 101609

From the home office in a balloon 7,000 feet above Colorado…

#1: Well, this was unexpected. The Spigit funding news has hit Techmeme http://bit.ly/3ETPFp #e20 #innovation

#2: LinkedIn: 50 million professionals worldwide http://ow.ly/uq7s “Last million took only 12 days” Wow. Tipping point?

#3: RT @mwalsh: Seth’s best post of the year – get over yourselves…you’re not that cool, interesting or smart. http://bit.ly/3HwrV6

#4: Is Social Media the New Cigarette? asks @billives http://ow.ly/u8IY Looking at social media addiction

#5: RT @nyike First Jive, now Spigit building #e20 and collaborative functionality on top of Sharepoint http://bwbx.io/hina

#6: Within firms, collaboration technologies are dictated by most powerful person involved in the collab http://ow.ly/tJgf by @amcafee

#7: Just as interesting as this WSJ piece is, Why Email No Longer Rules… http://ow.ly/tZpj are the skeptical cmts left by readers #e20

#8: If companies like $GOOG and $MMM excel and incl employee 15-20% personal time for innovation, why haven’t others adopted same?

#9: Wind farm firm makes sure its wind mills are 30 miles away from nearest Starbucks. http://ow.ly/tRQP Why? Best way to avoid NIMBY’s

#10: When a company gets funding, all sorts of interesting “opportunities” emerge. Just got a solicitation for Spigit to sponsor a NASCAR driver.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 031309

From the home office in Austin, Texas…

#1: @defrag has been saying he thinks the economy is slowly coming around. To that end: http://bit.ly/pP5bd and http://bit.ly/nRkzv

#2: “I think the days of the traditional San Francisco startup approach are numbered.” http://bit.ly/jyw4H

#3: @petefields Companies should follow all who follow them. I’d bet companies’ tweet reading is more keyword & @reply based, not person based.

#4: Maybe it’s just me, but Techmeme has improved a lot recently in terms of the variety of interesting stories. Human editor + user tips = +1

#5: “Facebook is the SharePoint of the Internet” http://bit.ly/4fu73o

#6: This shouldn’t be too controversial…The Case Against Breast-Feeding in April’s Atlantic Magazine http://bit.ly/Xs4ZG

#7: If browsers were women http://bit.ly/kO1su (h/t @mona)

#8: I’ve been blissfully unaware of what Sophie’s Choice is about all these years. My wife told me about it last night. Never gonna watch that.

#9: Actively banishing artists showing up in my Last.fm recommendations: Peter Cetera, Richard Marx, John Parr.

#10: In an email f/ my son’s preschool: One kid: “We’ll take them home in the future”. My son Harrison: “But I’ve never been to the future.”

Fred Wilson’s Techmeme Challenge: Can a Little Tweet Go Big Time?

Last week, Fred Wilson asked this:

What will be the first twitter post to get picked up on Techmeme and who will post it?

It’s a good question. First hurdle is a technical issue – Techmeme doesn’t index and scan activity around Twitter.  Here’s Gabe Rivera’s response in full:

It’s hard for me to see how automated aggregation of tweets could be a net win for Techmeme. As others have said, tweets lack context, unlike blog which are much more self contained. Could tweets be reassembled into something more coherent for Techmeme? Automated processes for doing that are too error prone, at least by the standards Techmeme would demand. And even if they were perfect, the results will still look strange and disjointed. And in any case, blog posts tend to emerge quickly for the most important stories “breaking” on Twitter. Techmeme has definitely benefited from the Twitter ecosystem. For one thing, Twitter serves as a backchannel that prompts people to blog about things they otherwise would have discovered too late or not at all. Of course Techmeme publishes to Twitter too. But aggregation of the tweets themselves is a tough nut to crack.

In there, you’ll see the technology answer. He also addresses a larger issue, which is that tweets lack context as standalone content. But Fred Wilson answers that question this way:

But you can permalink to a tweet So if dozens of high profile blogs did that, then would that tweet be techmeme material and would it be right for that to be the anchor post?

Context is the name of the game here. If Gabe ever tracked individual tweets (thus solving the technical issue), I think there are two paths toward getting context.

  1. Self-evident context for the specific tweet
  2. An aggregation of comments around the tweet

These are different angles on the context subject. Let’s break ’em down, shall we?

Self-Evident Context

Fred Wilson hits the nail on the head for one way to evaluate context. What blogs are linking to the tweet?

My understanding of the inner workings of Twitter is incomplete, but one thing that’s important is whether a given party has been on Techmeme before.  Even better if said party was part of the Techmeme 100. Here’s how Robert Scoble described it:

TechMeme works partly on this principle: past behavior is best indiction of future success. So, Techcrunch gets on top for a lot of things because he’s been best in the past.

With zero tweets on Techmeme thus far, any tweet that makes it there will need an extra boost to get there. Self-evident context will be provided by two sources:

  • The Techmeme status of the person who made the tweet
  • The Techmeme status of the blogs that link to it

The Techmeme status of the person twittering is key. It’s one thing for Joe Blow to tweet “rumor: amazon.com to buy yahoo”. But if Techmeme regular Kara Swisher tweeted it, then we’re talking! There’d be the challenge of linking Boomtown Kara Swisher with Twitter Kara Swisher. But that doesn’t seem insurmountable.

The first element of context – the Twitterer’s Techmeme status – is linked to the second element, which blogs will link to the tweet. Unless we see a delphic newbie emerge, most high profile bloggers will pay attention to existing A-Listers. Here’s a visual description of all this:

This shouldn’t come across as a negative. It’s reality. The A-Listers got there by knowledge and skill, and have reputations to protect. If they put something out there, you really can put greater credence in it.

That’s self-evident context.

Aggregation of Comments Around the Tweet

The second scenario for a tweet would be the aggregation of conversations around it. The thing here is that the heat of the comments drives its placement on Techmeme. Assuming a lot of comments, and that the subject matter fits the Techmeme sphere.

But this scenario for context still requires some Techmeme juice. Both the original Twitterer and the subsequent commenters will need Techmeme status. Using the commenting from FriendFeed, here is an example:

The red boxes on the FriendFeed comments are for bloggers who regularly make Techmeme (Fred Wilson, Mathew Ingram, Louis Gray, Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble). So the presence of those comments gives the tweet the right context. It’s got Techmeme firepower.

I could see the aggregated comments for a tweet driving that tweet onto Techmeme. And FriendFeed makes it easy to track the conversations around a tweet. Which answers one of Gabe’s concerns in his comment above about tracking the contextual conversations around the tweet.

Final Thoughts

Fred ain’t so crazy. I could see a tweet hitting Techmeme, under a couple scenarios. But it will take the right combination of existing A-Lister Techmeme firepower to make it happen.

*****

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You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play: A Blog Hits 50 Posts

WARNING: this is a navel gazing post. If don’t want to read this, go see what’s on Techmeme.

This blog just hit 50 posts, nearly three months after it started. That number actually crept up on me – hit me when I wasn’t looking.

I wanted to recount a few things of note over the past few months. Ideally entirely in Larry King dot-dot-dot format. But I tend to be more verbose. Anyway, let’s dig in, shall we?

Dot…Dot…Dot

I’m having a lot of fun, the little blog experiment has taken on its own life…getting blog subscribers, FriendFeed followers and Twitter followers means I don’t have to pimp my blog on other blogs as much anymore…that Louis Gray, well, whew boy…one thing I’ve learned, there are informal, unstructured social networks of bloggers…speaking of which, I need a better connection with Sarah Perez…my appreciation for uber blogger Robert Scoble has increased immensely: insightful, witty opinions that fire up readers…best feeling in the world is to put a new post up on the blog at midnight, go to sleep, wake up and see Gmail filled with notifications of new blog comments, Twitter and FriendFeed follows, links from other blogs…my social media consumption workflow: gmail, this blog, FriendFeed, Google Reader, Twitter, in that order…appearing on Techmeme, like getting a plum part on a Law & Order episode for an unknown actor…Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera’s Twitter page currently has a picture of lion eating a zebra, which makes me think, what’s Gabe’s story?…how long until I screw up and write something I shouldn’t?…my blog idea process is ad hoc, haphazard and based on serendipity – every day is a surprise…

Biggest Surprises

I titled this post “You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play” as a way of saying that you need to just participate in order to see the benefits. I could not have foreseen some of the following things that occurred when I started this blog.

LouisGrayCrunched. Louis Gray wrote a very nice post on April 7, 2008 that said this was a blog people should be reading. He did it after I wrote a post reviewing the Toluu service. His post put this little blog on the map for a lot of his readers, many of whom are here now as well. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for his ongoing support.

Proposal to Clean Up FriendFeed Clutter. FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor picked up on a post I wrote suggesting ways to better organize the updates in FriendFeed. He posted it to FriendFeed and a there was a really nice discussion there around the ideas.

Web 2.0 Jedi. This post has really surprised me. It was picked up by Digital Inspiration, based in India, which has a huge following (“the 40th most-favorited blog on the Internet”, according to Technorati). Many, many clicks from there, and that blog has been a gateway to bloggers around the world. A number of international blogs have included the graphic and linked to the original post.

Techmeme. Three posts made it onto Techmeme (here, here, here). Can’t believe it.

Social Media Identities. I love the discussion that occurred here. Included industry folks with whom I don’t normally connect.

Twitter Just Grows and Grows. This simple post turned out to be quite popular. It told me there’s a real interest out there in Twitter, and information is harder to come by than I realized. TechCrunch later ran a post about the “real Twitter usage numbers”.

‘Peanut Butter’ searches. I continue to be haunted by the mysterious ‘peanut butter’ search visitors. People searching for ‘peanut butter’ continue to be my biggest source of visitors. Who are you? What search engine are you using (it’s not Google)? What makes you click through? I may never know the answer to these questions.

My 5 Favorite Posts of the Blog

This is like picking your favorite child, but here they are:

  1. FriendFeed RSS Is a Fantastic Discovery Tool
  2. Becoming a Web 2.0 Jedi
  3. Farewell, Pay By Touch, Farewell
  4. Proposal to Clean Up the FriendFeed Clutter
  5. Innovation Requires Conversations, Gestation, Pruning

Best Posts for Comments

These posts were most active in the comments section (including my comments):

  1. Becoming a Web 2.0 Jedi: 20 comments
  2. Social Media Identity: Personal vs. Professional: 16 comments
  3. The Best Blogs You’re Not Reading? Toluu Knows: 11 comments

Most Viewed Posts

  1. How to Write a Farewell Email to Your Co-Workers
  2. Early Adopters: Attention Is Migrating to FriendFeed
  3. Pay By Touch and the Peanut Butter Manifesto
  4. Becoming a Web 2.0 Jedi
  5. Farewell, Pay By Touch, Farewell

Top Referring Websites

My blog really isn’t part of the StumbleUpon and Digg worlds. FriendFeed has become my top day-in, day-out referral site.

  1. Techmeme
  2. FriendFeed
  3. Google Reader
  4. louisgray.com
  5. wordpress.com
  6. Digital Inspiration
  7. Twitter
  8. Stumbleupon

Top Search Terms

Peanut butter…peanut butter…peanut butter! Aaagh!

  1. peanut butter (several variations)
  2. farewell email (many, many variations)
  3. pay by touch
  4. peanut (basically a peanut butter variation)
  5. friendfeed rss
  6. blogs
  7. facebook
  8. reasons for fatigue

And that concludes the navel gazing. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

*****

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How Do Solo Bloggers Break into the Techmeme 100?

26% of US internetters have started a blog
Stat from Universal McCann study, courtesy of the blog 3008

A couple weeks ago, Steve Hodson at Winextra wrote a post that caught my eye. In Why today’s solo bloggers may not see Scoble-like fame…, he observes that the emergence of investor-funded professional blog networks (e.g. TechCrunch) will be the dominant industry structure going forward. Breaking the top end of that oligopoly will be tough for any solo blogger.

However several solo bloggers are regularly in the Techmeme 100, as Steve notes here. It got me thinking about how someone’s blog goes from a little experiment to achieving a large audience and becoming influential. The stat above about 26% of Web users starting blog strikes me as high, but let’s assume there’s a large number of individuals starting blogs.

From where I sit (far, far outside any kind of Techmeme rankings), I can envision three ways the influx of solo bloggers can break into the Techmeme 100. To be sure, there are other rankings beyond Techmeme. For instance, the Technorati 100 is a big deal. Political blog Huffington Post doesn’t show up on Techmeme, but it dominates the Technorati 100. The paths below apply to non-tech blogs and non-Techmeme rankings.

The three paths to the Techmeme 100 are:

  1. Long Slog
  2. Big Events
  3. Celebrity

Long Slog

Slow and steady wins the race. This is the most accessible to a the solo blogger. Through a lengthy amount of time, you accumulate readers. It’s a ground war, where you need to be “good enough” most of the time with flashes of occasional brilliance. Here’s what the growth chart would look like:

Patience. Quality posts. Devoted long time fans.

Big Events

This blog experiences a series of big events that give it jumps in subscribers. Each events attracts a flood of new visitors, some of whom decide to subscribe.

What might these big events be?

  • Recognition by bigger bloggers with huge followings
  • Freakishly popular posts
  • Specialized area of focus that suddenly becomes hot

I think that if a blogger emerges on the other side of these big events to have a wide following, there’ll be this sense that they burst on the scene. But like an actress who suddenly gets hot, you’ll never see all the bit parts and ‘B’ movies that she was in before.

‘Big events’ is the one that’s most likely to get solo bloggers into the big time. This is the path that requires the most luck.

Celebrity

This is a path open only to a select few. Celebrities who have made a name for themselves in other realms, and then turn out to have talent in blogging as well. Celebrity blogs attract subscribers almost from day one:

Marc Andreessen has proven to be quite talented at blogging. And it didn’t hurt readership that he had already achieved legend status based on Netscape. Imagine if Microsoft buys Yahoo and Jerry Yang decides to start blogging on his own. I guarantee that will get subscribers (I know I’d subscribe).

Final Thoughts

Celebrities go right to the front of the line, but they’d better have blogging talent. Long slog blogs are testaments to the love of blogging. Big events seem to be the most likely path for the next Robert Scobles and Louis Grays to emerge.

*****

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Bitchmeme Recap: What Happens on Shyftr, Stays on Shyftr

Background: Shyftr is a service that pulls the entire feed of a blog into its site, and lets users comment on the post within its site. The comments never make it back to the original blog. What happens on Shyftr, stays on Shyftr.

The spark: Louis Gray (who else?) wrote about Eric Berlin’s concern over the comments that had accrued on Shyftr, not his own site. A legitimate beef, and one that clearly generated some heat.

The bitchmeme: Some liked the idea of posts and comments being anywhere. Some didn’t. Some liked it. Some didn’t. Some…uh, well…you get the picture. I will note that Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests became the poster boy for anti-Shyftr sentiment.

The Scoble Factor: The preeminent blogger of our time, Robert Scoble, weighs in with the post, Era of blogger’s control is over. He’s gung-ho about Shyftr and all ways by which his content is distro’d. Now based on Scoble’s preferred use of social networks, this ain’t surprising. He sets up our man Tony Hung as the old-school thinker about controlling content.

Tony Hung: Comes out swinging against Shyftr. Says the aggregation of comments away from the originating blog is wrong. To make his point, Tony proceeds to single-handedly post a comment on every single blog that weighed in on the issue. Tony, that must have taken forever. Next time just put up a comment on one of those aggregator services…

The scorecard: On the question of whether Shyftr has stepped over the comment line or not…

  1. Eric Berlin = yes
  2. Louis Gray = no
  3. Robert Scoble = no
  4. Tony Hung = no
  5. Pauk Glazowski (Mashable) = no
  6. James Robertson (Smalltalk Tidbits) = no
  7. Mark Evans = no
  8. Mathew Ingram = yes
  9. Ross Dawson = yes
  10. Alexander van Elsa = no
  11. John McCrea = no
  12. Frederic (Last Podcast) = no
  13. Mia Dand = no

So that makes the vote…two + three…carry the one….

Shyftr sucks = 3

Shyftr is OK = 10

Denouement: Shyftr announces that it will no longer carry the full feed for any blog post that has conversations “outside the reader”. I think they’re saying no more full feeds? Frankly, it’s a little unclear to me what they’re saying, but I’m not active on Shyftr. Louis Gray gives his opinion on this change here. I’ll probably have to check Shyftr out in more depth sometime.

The final word: Dave Winer provides a helpful definition of “bitchmeme”:

A Bitchmeme is something that happens on weekends when new stories are in short supply so ideas that otherwise would be buried on Techmeme rise to the top. Usually they’re people complaining about something or other which is why they’re called Bitchmemes and not Happymemes or Sarcasticmemes.

*****

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Becoming a Web 2.0 Jedi

Thinking about the ever deeper levels of involvement one can have with Web 2.0 apps and the Web 2.0 ethos. Came up with this chart.

Thoughts?

*****

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