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.

28 Aug

NYTimes.com – Man Accused of Stalking via Twitter Claims Free Speech

They certainly rattled Alyce Zeoli, a Buddhist leader based in Maryland. Using an ever-changing series of pseudonyms, the authorities say, Mr. Cassidy published thousands of Twitter posts about Ms. Zeoli. Some were weird horror-movie descriptions of what would befall her; others were more along these lines: “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.”

Those relentless tweets landed Mr. Cassidy in jail on charges of online stalking and placed him at the center of an unusual federal case that asks the question: Is posting a public message on Twitter akin to speaking from an old-fashioned soapbox, or can it also be regarded as a means of direct personal communication, like a letter or phone call?

via NYTimes.com – Man Accused of Stalking via Twitter Claims Free Speech. It’s an interesting case because while Twitter itself is a public medium, the person is directing their messages to a particular person. The better analogy may be while in the pulpit pointing to a particular person and speaking. At that point are you still creating a public message or is it a message directed at one person?

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.

17 Jul

guardian.co.uk – Networks are not always revolutionary

My corollary to O’Reilly’s "piracy/obscurity" quote is "fame won’t make you a success on its own, but no artist ever got rich on obscurity". That is, being widely loved isn’t sufficient for attaining fortune, but it is necessary to it.

By the same token, a global network that allows loosely coordinated groups of people to discover each other and act in concert while exposing their cause to the whole planet (especially its richest, most privileged residents) is not enough to overthrow a dictator — but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to try to stage a revolution without such a network.

via guardian.co.uk – Networks are not always revolutionary. Fair point I think, having the network or having fame isn’t enough to guarantee success but it does help.

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:

30 Mar

BBC News – Google to be audited on privacy after Buzz complaints

Google will be subjected to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years over charges that it "violated its own privacy promises".

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that the search giant wrongly used information from Google Mail users last year to create its social network Buzz.

The FTC ruled that "the options for declining or leaving the social network were ineffective".

"Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards," Google said in a blog post.

"While we worked quickly to make improvements, regulators unsurprisingly wanted more detail about what went wrong and how we could prevent it from happening again.

"Today, we’ve reached an agreement with the FTC to address their concerns."

That agreement will require Google to undergo a privacy review once every two years for the next 20 years.

via BBC News – Google to be audited on privacy after Buzz complaints. Google having it’s privacy policies reviewed for the next 20 years is going to be rough on a company who wants to organize the world’s information.

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.

06 Mar

ZDNet – Students suspended, expelled over Facebook posts

Two students have been suspended, and one student has been expelled, over negative Facebook postings they made about a teacher. The individuals are in seventh grade at Chapel Hill Middle School, meaning they are either 12 or 13 years old, according to My Fox Atlanta. The children are accused of violating a portion of the school code that is a “level one” offense, the worst possible: “Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting” allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee toward a student, according to AJC.

via ZDNet – Students suspended, expelled over Facebook posts. The worst part of the whole process is the fact that the students were forced to log onto their Facebook accounts at school. I’m not even sure how the principal could logically dictate that a student be forced to log onto their account. (Side Note: this once again pushes me to argue for using tools like 1Password for storing passwords, unless installed on that computer or your mobile phone no one can ever force you log in, when you don’t know or have access to the password.) The school shouldn’t have a right to dictate what students due in the privacy of their online accounts or in their free time.