19 Jan

TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

via TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea). Clay Shirky delivers a clear and cogent history and explanation of PIPA/SOPA, walking through both the intent and what the ramifications of the bill and how it changes the entire legal system under which websites operate. Shirky also makes the very real point that even if PIPA and SOPA are killed (as appears increasingly likely) a bill similar to them will be back.

05 Jan

The Contactually Blog – E-mail is the Universal Platform

We believe that e-mail is the universal communication medium. It is the best way to reach anyone, anywhere, for whatever reason. Your e-mail account stores the greatest knowledge repository outside of your brain – who you’re talking to, about what, when. Regardless of the communication medium you may use primarily in an individual relationship, any meaningful communication touches your inbox at some point.

via The Contactually Blog – E-mail is the Universal Platform. I don’t put much stock in stories that say e-mail is dead for precisely this reason. It’s hard to replace e-mail with another tool that has so many advantages.

11 Dec

O’Reilly Radar – The end of social

Taking this a couple of steps further, the article points out that, to many people, Facebook’s "frictionless" sharing doesn’t enhance sharing; it makes sharing meaningless. Let’s go back to music: It is meaningful if I tell you that I really like the avant-garde music by Olivier Messiaen. It’s also meaningful to confess that I sometimes relax by listening to Pink Floyd. But if this kind of communication is replaced by a constant pipeline of what’s queued up in Spotify, it all becomes meaningless. There’s no "sharing" at all. Frictionless sharing isn’t better sharing; it’s the absence of sharing. There’s something about the friction, the need to work, the one-on-one contact, that makes the sharing real, not just some cyber phenomenon. If you want to tell me what you listen to, I care. But if it’s just a feed in some social application that’s constantly updated without your volition, why do I care? It’s just another form of spam, particularly if I’m also receiving thousands of updates every day from hundreds of other friends.

So, what we’re seeing isn’t the expansion of our social network; it’s the shrinking of what and who we care about. My Facebook feed is full of what friends are listening to, what friends are reading, etc. And frankly, I don’t give a damn. I would care if they told me personally; I’d even care if they used a medium as semi-personal as Twitter. The effort required to tweet tells me that someone thought it was important. And I do care about that. I will care much less if Spotify and Rdio integrate with Twitter. I already don’t care about the blizzard of automated tweets from FourSquare.

Automated sharing is giving Facebook a treasure-trove of data, regardless of whether anyone cares. And Facebook will certainly find ways to monetize that data. But the bigger question is whether, by making sharing the default, we are looking at the end of social networks altogether. If a song is shared on Facebook and nobody listens to it, does it make a sound?

via O’Reilly Radar – The end of social. Interesting point, and hard to argue against. The more we share the less value each piece of information has to the people (but not the systems) that we share to.

01 Aug

Messy Matters – This Post Won’t Go Viral

In a recent study, Duncan Watts, Dan Goldstein, and I examined the adoption patterns of several different types of products diffusing over various online platforms — including Twitter, Facebook, and the Yahoo! IM network — comprising millions of individual adopters. The figure below shows the structure and frequency of the five most commonly seen diffusion trees in each case. In all six domains the dominant diffusion event, accounting for between 70% to 95% of cascades, is the trivial one: an individual adopts the product in question and doesn’t convert any of their contacts. The next most common event, again in all six domains, is an independent adopter who attracts a single additional adopter. In fact, across domains only 1%-4% of diffusion trees extend beyond one degree.

via Messy Matters – This Post Won’t Go Viral. Perhaps the more interesting aspect is that most adoptions occur without a peer-to-peer influence or within one step of the original peer.

19 Jun

The Filter Bubble – Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee weighs in: “There’s danger in the filter bubble”

The filter bubble phenomenon, I think that noun is applied to the idea that a search engine can get to know you and so it can get to know the source of things it thinks you’re interested in. You will end up in a bubble because you will reward the search engine — you will go to the search engine — it feeds you things which you’re excited about and happy about and it won’t feed you things which get you thinking.

. . . As a result, you end up being dedicated to your tribe. You will never understand as a Yankee why the Red Sox were so ‘cachuffed’ to beat you a couple of years ago. As an Israeli you will never understand why you’re upsetting the Palestinian people. So, there’s danger in the filter bubble… Once you’re bracketed as somebody who buys pretty expensive stuff, the web won’t show you the cheap stuff and so you wont believe that the cheap stuff exists. You’ll have a twisted view of the world.

So I think that’s a really interesting thing. Somebody mentioned the Web Science Trust. [This] discussion is very much what I call a web science issue, if you look at this sort of thing you really have to look at humanity connected as a very large system and you have to use a lot of different… you have to use sociology, psychology, you have to use economics and you have to use mathematics as well as computer science to figure out the web and figure out what the implications of this will be.

via The Filter Bubble – Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee weighs in: “There’s danger in the filter bubble”. For a long time I went back and forth on worrying about this and I’ve settled on worrying about it, I’m just not sure of a solution. There are unfortunately a variety of factors that cause someone to even in the face of contradictory evidence to stick with their already decided opinion or as Tim Berners-Lee calls it their tribe. So even if search engines and social media sites steer people towards information that was more neutral, who knows if it would make a difference. While the internet makes it easier to gain access to information outside of your normal world view (ie. what you observe and see in people around you) data-mining makes it easier to only display information that validates and connects with you, and for a business displaying information that connects tends to be a stronger model.

13 Jun

TechCrunch – Groupon Was “The Single Worst Decision I Have Ever Made As A Business Owner”

Since she wrote the post, she’s heard from other businesses who have had similar experiences. “What was the saddest part of it for me was that this had had happened to a lot of businesses but because no one had ever said anything we all just assumed (and myself included) we just assumed we were bad business people. That we just didn’t know what we were doing. If everyone loves Groupon so much, we must be wrong.” She estimates that she lost $10,000 in hard costs. Other businesses she heard from claim far greater losses.

The Groupon experience has soured her on similar forms of marketing. “Our most successful advertising is through Facebook. And that’s free. Even offering deals through Facebook, which is also free.”

via TechCrunch – Groupon Was “The Single Worst Decision I Have Ever Made As A Business Owner”. The more I read about Groupon the more I want this business to just go away.

More readings:

20 Mar

Marco.org – Why the Quick Bar (“dickbar”) is still so offensive

We don’t know Twitter’s true reason for adding the Quick Bar. Presumably, it’s part of a longer-term strategy. But today, from here, it looks like an extremely poorly thought-out feature, released initially with an extremely poor implementation, with seemingly no benefits to users.

This is so jarring to us because it’s so unlike the Twitter that we’ve known to date. Twitter’s product direction is usually incredibly good and well-thought-out, and their implementation is usually careful and thoughtful.

And in the context of this app, most of which was carefully and thoughtfully constructed by Loren Brichter before Twitter bought it from him, we’re accustomed to Brichter’s even higher standards, which won Tweetie an Apple Design Award in 2009. (I suspect he had little to no authority in the Quick Bar’s existence, design, or placement, and it’s probably killing him inside.)

The Quick Bar isn’t offensive because we don’t want Twitter making money with ads, or because we object to changes in the interface.

It’s offensive because it’s deeply bad, showing complete disregard for quality, product design, and user respect, and we’ve come to expect a lot more from Twitter.

via Marco.org – Why the Quick Bar (“dickbar”) is still so offensive. All true and wonderfully pointed, thanks Marco.

15 Mar

furbo.org – Twitterrific firsts

Why are third parties important in the Twitter ecosystem?

Let Twitterrific count the ways:

via furbo.org – Twitterrific firsts. Third party clients have been at the forefront of the Twitter experience for many years, that differentiation and unique spin on the Twitter stream is what drove many of Twitter’s core functionality today. Apparently though that unique experience is what Twitter is trying to eliminate or at least control more.

13 Mar

The Next Web – Twitter explains why developers shouldn’t build new clients

Ryan Sarver, a member of Twitter’s platform/api team, took a few minutes today to address concerns about the Twitter ecosystem and in particular its announcement on Friday that developers shouldn’t develop new twitter clients.

The gist of what Sarver said is this; Twitter won’t be asking anyone to shut down just as long as they stick within the required api limits. New apps can be built but it doesn’t recommend doing so as it’s ‘not good long term business’. When asked why it wasn’t good long term business, Sarver said because “that is the core area we investing in. There are much bigger, better opportunities within the ecosystem”

Sarver insists this isn’t Twitter putting the hammer down on developers but rather just “trying to be as transparent as possible and give the guidance that partners and developers have been asking for.”

via The Next Web – Twitter explains why developers shouldn’t build new clients. So basically Twitter is going to push hard into developing/perfecting official Twitter clients, so everyone else we’re coming after your business model, switch, differentiate or be dead in the water.

10 Feb

NYTimes.com – American Medical Response Settles Facebook Firing Case

An ambulance company that fired an employee after she criticized her supervisor on Facebook agreed on Monday to settle a case brought by the National Labor Relations Board.

The plan resolves an Oct. 27 complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut that said the employee, Dawnmarie Souza, had been illegally fired and denied union representation.

Among the issues was whether a worker has the right to criticize a supervisor on a site like Facebook if co-workers add comments. The case was the first by the National Labor Relations Board to assert that employers break the law by disciplining workers who post criticisms on social-networking Web sites.

via NYTimes.com – American Medical Response Settles Facebook Firing Case. Good decision employees should be able to comment in their private off time as publicly as they wish about their company (minus releasing trade secrets and such).