Wednesday Nov 07, 2007

Unclear on the value of social networking?

If you've ever wondered what the business value is of social networking, even if you aren't in the technology sector, please carve out 22 minutes and three seconds to watch this comprehensive video.

A pretty version of the social media starfish that is on Scoble's whiteboard is posted here (Thanks, Darren!). As you watch the video, I'd suggest having the starfish image open in another browser window for reference sake.

As a side note, there is an active presence of Sun employees in every arm of the social media starfish -- that's a hell of a lot of awareness and accessibility to Sun that wasn't previously in place. And this is in addition to the tens of millions of page views YTD (not including feed metrics) triggered by Sun sponsored community sites (Sun Forums, Sun Blogs, Sun Wikis, etc.).

Friday Nov 02, 2007

Press conference access via Twitter

This only works if you have a proxy in the room, but it's a cool use of Twitter by Scoble to pull a physically distributed audience into a press release and give them a voice to ask questions:

" The hidden OpenSocial press conference (future of information sharing) by ZDNet's Michael Krigsman -- Google’s OpenSocial announcement today suggests changes that may improve the future of social networking (click here for Dan Farber’s coverage). Hidden from view during the press conference, an improvised parallel event arose spontaneously, raising deeper implications than the Google announcement itself. This parallel event offers a provocative glimpse into the future of collective intelligence, information ..."

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

MySpace to use OpenSocial

Scoble got the scoop straight from the Google and MySpace CEOs.

Do you think this will change the theory that suggest middle/upper class young adults build their communities on Facebook while young adults in the working class use MySpace (since there will be some who migrate from FaceBook to MySpace because of benefits of an OpenSocial network)?

Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

Open Social

Wow -- this sounds promising. Open Social, spear headed by Google, basically is an open API that enables developers to build containers and applications that can easily integrate with web sites. Similar to how any developer can create and deploy an application for use on Facebook, only there's one big difference...

...it's open for use on any web site. It's not only for proprietary use on a single website. A no walled gardens concept.

Per Marc Anderson's blog post:
"If you have a web site today, and you want to turn your web site into an Open Social app, that's perhaps even easier than "porting" a Facebook app. Just take your current HTML and Javascript front-end pages and create a version of those pages that use the Open Social API."

The launch is this Thursday, but it sounds like there's some baking to set in:
"The API has to stabilize a bit, and containers have to finish testing and validating their implementations. But public production systems aren't far off -- Ning, for one, will go live as soon as we possibly can, probably just as soon as Google finalizes the API."

Although there is no perfection in this world, folks seem hopeful with a "wait and see" attitude and lots of questions -- this one being a big one:
Dave Winer: "When Google makes their announcement on Thursday, the question they should be asked by everyone is -- How much of my data are you letting me control today? That's pretty much all that matters to anyone, imho."

Saturday Oct 13, 2007

"Online all the time..."

Ze wrote a cute social network tune.

Dammit! I miss the full-strength Ze. Please come back Ze. I'll buy a duck this time -- I swear I will!

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

Google acquires Jaiku

Details posted here. Good news for Jaiku. Congrats to Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen, Jaiku Founders.

I'm wondering if this will have an impact on Twitters's usage volume. Although Twitter has experienced growing pains that have manifested themselves in the form of site uptime/stability issues, it still seems to hold the not-so-secret sauce: critical participation mass. Or in other words, people hang out where their friends are -- if Twitter were a pub, there would be standing room only.

Quick update: I've mentioned ease of integratability before when talking about social networks & give a hearty +1 to Dave Winer's comment regarding the Jaiku news:
"The big win of course would be if Jaiku supported the Twitter API in a plug-compatible way. Then all our apps that work with Twitter would work with Google's new tool."

Friday Sep 28, 2007

US Government Blog Site Launches...

...with Roller (the same open source, Java-based blogging software that this site uses). Check it out. Congrats to Henry, USA.gov IT Specialist, & team.

Side note: I just noticed the Roller site has a new look. Nicely done, Dave!

Tuesday Sep 18, 2007

Women in Technology aren't as absent as most think

One of my favorite female bloggers and Twitterers, Tara Hunt, wrote an excellent article on the perceived absence of Women in Technology.

The article has an impressive list of women in tech:
"Some of the hottest companies of early Web 2.0 (and before) have been co-founded by women: Flickr (Caterina Fake), Blogger (Meg Hourihan), SixApart (Mena Trott), Mozilla (Mitchell Baker), Guidewire Group (Chris Shipley), and Adaptive Path (Janice Fraser). An overview of current startups shows a seemingly endless list of women founders (and co-founders) including:

\* Mary Hodder: Dabble
\* Gina Bianchi: Ning
\* Ann Crady: Maya's Mom
\* Sandy Jen and Elaine Wherry: Meebo
\* Emily Chang: eHub/IdeaCodes
\* Xochi Birch: Bebo
\* Joyce Park: Renkoo
\* Jessica Hardwick: SwapThing
\* Margarita Irizarry and Monica Heitlauf: Scrapblog
\* Yael Elish: eSnips
\* Halley Suitt: Top Ten Sources
\* Elisa Camahort, Lisa Stone, and Jory DesJardins: Blogher
\* Ryanne Hodson: Node101
\* Ariel Kleckner Ford: CareSquare
\* Carla Morton and Cathleen Wang: BrandHabit
\* Sharra Chan: OrangeDoor
\* Erica Douglass: Simpli.biz
\* Lisa Sugar: PopSugar
\* Louise Wannier: MyShape
\* Beatrice Tarka: Mobissimo
\* Emily Boyd: Remember the Milk
\* Andra Davidson: Mothersclick
\* Eileen Gittins: Blurb
\* Rashmi Sinha: SlideShare
\* Julie Davidson: 30Boxes
\* Laura Scott and Katherine Lawrence: pingVision
\* Kathy Sierra: Head First Books
\* Gillian Carson: Carson Systems
\* Alex Vikati: CastTV
\* Vanessa Williams and Leigh Himel: Oponia
\* Dina Kaplan: Blip.tv
\* Rachel Cook: Minti
\* Amy Muller: Ruby Red Labs
\* D Millack: Zazzle
\* Ellen Miller: Sunlight Foundation
\* Linda Furrier: Podtech
\* Elizabeth Souther Tarbell: VivaPop
\* Maggie Fox: Social Media Group
\* Maggie Tsai: Diigo
\* Susan DeFife: Backfence
\* DiAnn Eisnor: Platial
\* Kim Polese: Spikesource
\* Angela Beesley: Wikia
\* Arianna Huffington: Huffington Post
\* Kelly Goto: Gotomedia
\* Merci Hammon: PMOG"
I like Tara's perspective on why she thinks Web 2.0 is conducive to feminine values. She says:
"If there is anything that the grassroots, collaborative modeling of Web 2.0 has taught me it is that for anything that was once thought to be a best practice, you can find better alternatives just by looking deeper. More and more people are doing this and realizing that the old ways of doing business inherited from Web 1.0 are just not cutting it in the more community-based, connected world of social networks. The more feminine values, such as relationship building, openness, and cooperation, are growing in popularity for everyone, not just the female entrepreneurs. Many of these values come from the egalitarian outlook of open source, but I also believe they are highly influenced by the diversity of customers."
The article is well worth a read -- and by far, the best answer I've heard to the question "Where are the women in technology?"

Friday Aug 03, 2007

#1 thing that would make me dump a social network site..

...like a hot rock: lack of openness/integratability with my other social sites. For example, requiring users to authenticate by default to \*read\* content on generally public social sites and and not opening up interfaces to integrate with other social sites is a major PITA for users and the first site that manages to effectively integrate my social network activities without limiting access to my friends social network activities, wins my sign-up.

People are getting fed up with shifting from one social site to the next and inevitably pitch camp where their friends are. Makes sense. But if sites were open and enabled \*easy\* integration (via open APIs & comprehensive UIs that enable easy use of the APIs, etc.), this wouldn't be an issue.

It'll be interesting to see what Plaxo releases on Monday.

Tuesday Jul 17, 2007

Social Media Index

Sixtysecondview has summarized an interesting attempt to measure one's social media footprint via what they call the "Social Media Index". They realize this is a first throw and there is a fair amount of subjectivity involved, but as far as social media rankings go, it seems reasonable.

They test drove their methodology by using the top 30 bloggers from the CNET Blog 100 list and scored them based on their presence in the following:
\* Blog - analysed Google Rank, inbound links, subscribers, alexa rank, content focus, frequency of updates, number of comments
\* Multi-format - analysed Facebook - number of friends
\* Mini-updates - analysed Twitter - number of friends, followers and updates
\* Business cards - analysed LinkedIn - number of contacts
\* Visual - analysed Flickr - number of photos uploaded from the person/s or about the person/s
\* Favourites - analysed Digg, del.icio.us

Each score out of 10 was the given the following weighting across the categories :
Blog - 30%; Multi-format - 20%; Mini-updates - 25%, Business cards - 7%, Visual - 3%; Favourites - 15% which created a total score for each category. The sum of each of these numbers created an individual’s Social Media Index. Clear as mud. And about as appetising for some I suspect, because the weighting system is massively subjective. I repeat, it is our first stab at it and we are interested in your take.
Based on this index, how did our Chief rank?

smi








Not bad. The majority of his points were gained because of his blog (no surprise there). His overall index score took a hit because he apparently doesn't use Twitter or LinkedIn -- I'm thinking as a CEO of a Fortune 500, that may not be a bad thing. ;-)

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Who owns your brand?

According to The Social Customer Manifesto, "You Don't Own Your Brand -- Your Customer Does."
"The ease of access to social media has flattened and democratized the market/bazaar. Instead of those with the loudest megaphones and billion dollar marketing budgets running roughshod over customers, we, the customers, now have the ability to critique, to talk back and to connect with each others and share stories and opinions."
The article has sound advice for how to handle online firestorms that have a critical tone:
"...a marketer's best bet is not to go into spin mode, but instead to address the issue directly. If there is no issue, or the facts surrounding the conversation are incorrect, then correct them factually. However, if there actually is an issue, address it, and state what is going to be done, and by when."
I think we'll begin to see more traditional corporate website pages infused with content from social network sites -- especially as more social network sites provide interfaces for syndicating content. Sun does this on many product pages by syndicating non-Sun employee blog entries and Sun employee blog entries that refer to a given product. The non Sun employee blog entries on the product pages are driven by a refined Technorati feed. Quick side note, there is a method for building custom Technorati feeds so that content relevance is increased -- Lou is going to blog a "how to". I'll update this post when he does.

One more example of community content blended with traditional sun.com pages...as commonly seen on many websites these days, you'll also see product ratings on the Sun product pages where anyone who has experience with a given Sun product can weigh in with their thoughts on the products Pros/Cons as well as details surrounding their usage experiences. Ultra20 Example:

u20























Saturday May 19, 2007

Why Twitter has staying power

You know why I think Twitter has staying power over competing sites? Two reasons:

1. They've reached critical participation mass. Scoble says it best on this tweet:
"I'm on Jaiku too. I just like Twitter better. I don't know why. Mostly cause most of my friends are here."
2. Growing pains transparency. If you follow the Twitter blog you'll see posts where the Twitter team shares details about scalability issues as well as mistakenly focusing on lower priority details. Per Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's The devil's in the details post from last Thursday:
"As much as we'd love to blame yesterday's outage on scaling issues, hardware, exponential growth, rogue bots, aberrant behavior, or even our brief stint on Japanese television last night, we can't. Having achieved a strong position with regard to scaling Twitter, we felt comfortable enough to begin optimizing lots of smaller parts of our application for maximum efficiency. We were so focused on those smaller details that we lost track of the bigger picture and the site was unresponsive for lots of folks throughout the day.

What went wrong? We checked in code to provide more accurate pagination, to better distribute and optimize our messaging system—basically we just kept tweaking when we should have called it a day. Details are great but getting too caught up in them is a mistake. I've been CEO of Twitter for two months now and this an awesome lesson learned. We're seeing the bigger picture and Twitter is back. Please contact us if something isn't working right (with Twitter that is)."
It's tough to be mad at someone when they own their mistakes and demonstrate improvement. And as far as growth mistakes of social networking sites go, participation volume is clearly the secret sauce -- if you've got it, the rest will hopefully fall into place on short order. I like Dave Winer's analogy that successful technology is like a coral reef.

Thursday May 10, 2007

Smart move: Yahoo hires a Sociologist

Why would they do that one might ask? My interpretation is they "get" that the participation age is largely driven by the social dynamics of individuals and the sum of a crowd. Take for example the Digg thing. A Sociologist would have known how it would unfold and would have watched it with great interest and perhaps would have interpreted it not as a mob who wanted to take advantage of free DVD watching, but as a crowd who saw one of their basic rights being threatened. I'm in the camp that believes the folks who distributed the DVD key didn't do it for the value of the key -- most of them don't know what to do with it and likely don't care, they did it to make a point: Don't threaten my basic right to speak freely.

A sociologist could be of great value in helping tech companies build a social platform that is conducive to meeting the needs of a crowd as well as ensuring a company effectively contributes to and helps build whatever community it is they wish to be a part of.

Per the CNET article:
"Duncan Watts, professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he was director of the Collective Dynamics Group, and author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, will lead Yahoo's research in human social dynamics, including social networks and collaborative problem solving.

Watts said his areas of interest include "trying to understand how social networks and communities evolve over time, how people influence each others' behavior and how people find things that are useful."

Having researchers who aren't focused on computer science will not only help Yahoo improve its product and service development, but could lead to advances in the development of technologies underlying the Internet, said Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo Research."
Smart move indeed, IMHO.

Friday May 04, 2007

Got Twitter?

In web 2.0 time, my official account setup in the Twitter-verse is late. I've been following conversations about it and have even dropped by for a few minutes here and there. As of this week, I pitched camp with the intention of staying as long as it takes to get a full dose of it.

As with all social media venues, people are going to use Twitter in ways that meet their individual needs. Perfect! A few "a-list bloggers" seemed to have modified their way of life and are full converts preaching the word of Twitter. Again, if that's what meets their needs in this space, excellent! They feel "a deeper connection with their friends". As Leisa says in her blog entry about her twitter experience, "Oh and…call me lame, but I DO care about what you had for dinner. I may want to eat there someday. It’s helpful for me."

For the most part, I have no need to know what my friends had for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I'm sure they feel the same about me. Similar to the depth of this blog, my presence in this space is far from that of an a-lister. I have no intent on becoming famous in the live web or else where. The level of personal detail that I share here is at a depth I feel comfortable with.

Do I see value in Twitter for my own use? Sure. It's a good thing to watch or participate in a conversation with people I normally wouldn't have easy access to. For me, those people are folks who are deeply involved in the social media space. I won't always be "on" and will likely be active on Twitter for a specific reason -- such as, to join/observe a conversation about a hot topic, to engage with someone specific, to kill boredom, etc. No different than the a-listers or Twitter evangelicals, I guess -- my dose is simply different.

As a new Twitterer (?), there's plenty to learn and I may one day be fully baptized in the Church of Twitter. In the meantime, a couple things I'm curious about:

1. I've seen people talk about Twitter replacing blogging for them in part or entirely. Since the submitted data is so fragmented and there doesn't seem to be notion of tagging, how does one search/find content?

2. For bloggers who do choose to use Twitter to record meaningful thoughts that they don't have time to blog, are there any concerns about long term archival of their content? What if Twitter flew the coop TODAY? As the Twitter TOS states "We reserve the right to modify or terminate the Twitter.com service for any reason, without notice at any time." And yes, this is a common disclaimer for most blog sites as well, but because Twitter is so far from formal content, I wonder if most twitterers have/will think about content archival.

So, you think you want to Twitter? Have a look... In the Twitter-verse, I'm known as lskrocki. Tweet at me if you see me around.

Thursday May 03, 2007

Mob humor...

...related to the Digg saga (see my last post if add'l context is needed): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9HaNbsIfp0
About

Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

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