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Archive for October, 2008

Social media role in delivering news events

October 31, 2008 3 comments

When I was in college I stumbled upon an article about dramatic media news events (printed copy). I can’t remember the name of the article and I could not find it online. The article talked about three dramatic news events: accomplishments, competitions, and coronations. For instance, stepping on the moon was quite dramatic accomplishments. Campaigning for presidency role is a very long competition with several challenging milestones (e.g. debates) and one dramatic end. The inauguration ceremony is an example for dramatic coronations.

 bush_coronationThis article was written many years ago way before the term social media was coined. I do remember enjoying reading it because the article captured well the role of TV and traditional mass media in broadcasting these breath taking news.

There are more dramatic events in our life some positive falling under the categories of the three mentioned above and others not so much: terror attack, extreme weather and earthquake to name a few. Social media today plays a significant role in dramatic events. People can participate and augment the news report via sharing, reacting, analysis, celebrating and more. It is a potential outlet for thoughts and feeling otherwise kept inside. It is much easier to share when you see that many more participants do so and so openly. The major dramatic events are not a daily thing (thanks god), yet there are numerous small scale life events that happens all the time.

A birth of a baby or getting married. Some people shared about buying a new iPhone as an accomplishment event (after standing for hours in line I can see that too:). Your product was selected for a voting competition is another. Being listed for the Oprah of the social media is some sort of coronation events or wining a prize. Running a short query on Twitter Search revels lots of  small to large accomplishments. On the negative side by registering to the Missing Persons room on FriendFeed we are now exposed to horrible and terrifying news. If you feel that the news does not following you enough go ahead and follow both traditional and social news about the elections here. It was hard to ignore the World Series tweets even after the Red Sox did not make it there:) . Even personal historical life events like the #badfirstdate are widely shared on Twitter – I had some good laugh reading through. And if there is a need to check the sentiment on Twitter when something new happened try this query. Beware, don’t try it on Monday morning:) I learned about Paul Newman death on Twitscoop. I was an admirer and I wanted to see what others are saying about it.

The social media news world provides the stage for endless additional sources sharing both type of dramatic and not so news events. Beyond sharing, this new media creates an echo chamber where people are commenting, reacting, voting and raising awareness. One would think that an inflation of news event will depreciate the value of a single drama but in my opinion it is the other way around. The social media channels (tools and applications) only amplified the experience of most events.   Sharing something that happened (or happening) in your life (good or bad) on Twitter, your blog or your news feed on Facebook could actually reach a large part of the blog/twitter-sphere. On the other end, participating and discussing world, country, town, friends and family events has the potential for changing the original news.

There are lots of open questions about the new media and its role in general. Here are few questions about its specific role in distributing and handling news events:

  • How to make sure that enough context is provided along with the report maintaining the integrity of the news item?
  • Can we deal with all these news events?
  • How accomplishments, competitions, and coronations looks like in a world of sharing?
  • In what ways social media opens up new methods for experiencing dramatic event?

When the news look like a bunch of tags organized in a circle (tag cloud), when what that matters is only the size of the font and the rate of change in size, it is very easy to loose the context. You may not see it now but some of us already getting use to consume the news this way. One day we can see a hashtag like this #theskyisfalling and only later find out that this is a name of a new movie:)

In social media where the word broadcasting was replace with self-casting, or better known as sharing, dramatic events from all types become a daily phenomenon. We are use to expect the traditional media delivering the news with dignity, integrity and respect (we are very mad when it doesn’t). Keeping these traditional values in the new media is crucial for its success (yes, especially for the business). I like to see that social media is taking the news from where mass media left it, using the great power of participation for changing the norm, from passive news absorption to active experience. Social media has the power transforming news to experience and maybe even relationships.

**I’m not an expert in social media and this is probably my first and last article about this very confusing and widly defined subject. Since this blog is about web phenomena (hence the name webnomena) I could not ignore the way I consume and partciapte in the news via blogs, twitter, social network and many other tools.

Twhirl vs. TweetDeck – choosing Twitter desktop clients

October 28, 2008 19 comments

**Update October 6th, 2009 – A newer and up to date version of this blog post:  Seesmic vs. TweetDeck – choosing your Twitter desktop client, revisited

I’ve been using Twhirl for few month now and I decided giving another Twitter desktop client application a chance. I picked TweetDeck and now I have them both running side by side on my laptop – lots of interruptions (but not for long).

For the Twitter users who did not choose yet a Twitter client application here is my report. By the way I can’t see myself using the Twitter web application. When I’m using Twitter I need it here and now:)

I will only describe the differences, feature-wise, between the two applications. You can assume the rest to be the same.

Features that are in TweetDeck and not in Twhirl:

  • Trending topics – TweetDeck is using TwitScoop for that. I think that this is a great feature that can help following Twitter rapidly changing agenda in near real-time
  • Integration with 12 seconds – not a deal breaker for me
  • Multiple views – All tweets, Replies and Direct messages, TwitScoop in the same window – this is true if you maximize the screen – I have few more application running on my computer so this does not work for me. I was not a fan of the sliding sub windows also.
  • Grouping – it took me some time to understand how it works and the value of this feature. Maybe “Groups” is misnomer and it should be called TweetView or View. This feature allows you to create a new sub window (I think that tabs should work better in this case) watching tweets from only subset of the people that you follow on Twitter. I liked this feature but the window real-estate management should be fixed.
  • Mark as read – this sounds like a good idea yet Twitter is too fast for me to start chasing tweets marking them as read. Twhirl has mark all as read – I don’t use it either.
  • Search – This is not just user search but a full search engine like Twitter Search (aka Summize) so it is really cool. TweetDeck also kept monitoring the search term as long as the search result window is open – like RSS feed. I have the same complain here: if there is no room for the search result window it will be shoved all the way to the right and be hidden until you scroll for it . I first thought that the search did not work.
  • Timeframe – you can control the timeframe up to 48 hours
TweetDeck Twhirl

Features that are in Twhirl and not in TweetDeck

  • Multiple accounts – a window per each – this is a deal breaker for me I need a client for both my personal account @kerendg and my other @BlogMon account (for a small mashup application that I wrote).
  • FriendFeed client – I can get my FriendFeed updates using Twhirl – this is a deal breaker
  • Twhirl support also Seesmic, Identi.ca, and Laconi.ca – I have a Sessmic account but I’m not so much of a vloger.
  • Friends/followers view – you can see the list of all your friends and followers with some of their profile details
  • Window organization – it is amazing how much functionality and information is condensed in such a small window’s area. It is not all out there like in TweetDeck but is is very close and does not take a lot of space on my desktop.
  • Favorite – I did not find the favorite view on TweetDeck it is available on Twhirl. I don’t use it much but I think that others do. Maybe we will see someday a Twitter public favorites section, keeping good tweets for the long run shared by multiple twitter users. Twittelicius?
  • Elaborate configurations – Twhirl offers setting multiple preferences for the client window behavior and visual effects. It provides multiple configurations around notifications and the API usage.

Performance – both applications perform well getting tweets to my desktop and notifying me about the message arrival and type (tweet, reply or direct message). It did feel like Twhirl was more responsive to my clicks than TweeDeck.

I liked the capability seeing the Trending Topics and to able searching right there using TweetDeck. I also think that creating different views has value (e.g. one for the people I usually interact with and one for the rest). Yet, till I can run multiple Twitter account I’m still a Twhirl fan. I also recommend TweetDeck rethinking their windows layout. Maybe tabs inside multiple sub windows.

I hope that you’ll find this information useful choosing your Twitter desktop client.

Categories: Monitoring

The "chicken or the egg" problem in social web applications – is it real?

October 27, 2008 Leave a comment

I keep hearing this phrase describing the problem in the way for social networks and services success.

What is the “chicken or the egg” problem in the context of social web applications?

  • The chicken: people will only be able to see the true value of the web site when there is a large user base
  • The egg: till people see the true social value of the web site they will not use it

Really?

*Since the order between the chicken or the egg is still in question we can replace and call the first condition egg and the second chicken.

chicken or the egg

Examples: Digg (web-site) is not worth a Digg (verb) if there are not enough participants. Delicious will not be able to bring great knowledge to the surface without having enough people submitting their bookmarks (same case for any other social search engine). Technorati can’t rank blogs without the vast majority of the blogsphere claming their blogs over there.

The problem that I have with using the chicken or the egg logic explaining why a web site is not growing is, if that was completely true there was never a chance to any social media web site. If I can’t understand the true value of the web site right away why should I recommend it to my friends. This contradict entirely the virality phenomenon.

I understand that there is a cold start phase. I realize that not everyone can get on Techcrunch radar (it is not that hard though). In the first pre-alpha phase when your mom, cousin and the good old friend are the entire user base not much is happing. Yet, there are few things that goes for you these days.

There are lots of free self PR opportunities. Your blog, Twitter, Jaiku, FriendFeed, StumbledUpon, tones of social networks, and many “the very next things bloggers” (like me) and more.

What that is common between the examples that I mentioned above (Digg, Delicious, Technorati) is that they were first of their kind. They came in with a new original approaches and “somehow” people dug their value quickly, with enough excitements going telling their peers about it.

I once heard that the difference between smart man and wise man, is that wise man does not get into the troubles that a smart man knows how to deal with. One option is not to get into this so called catch 22. Leave the social features to be the icing on the cake and not the initial driving force joining in. First, focus on the message. What is the value? What can be done here that could not be done elsewhere? For instance in the case of delicious -  saving bookmark on the web so one can access them wherever they are: @work, @home and @yourFriend’sHouse was good enough. Having lots of bookmarks shared, saved by others, and tagged so you can find great content – priceless:)

Make your initial value as clear as possible. Make it not socially dependent.Then find a way to bring data and people from the outside. People could exist in the system without registering. Content could be available without manually submitting it. Later data and profile could be claimed. Having people and content around will make the web-site not looking like an empty store. Leverage search engines API like Yahoo BOSS to augment the web-site dull content with live data.

There are other cases like listing web sites that the Chicken or the Egg problem applies. You need to brings both demand and supply almost at the very same time. It took craigslist some time to catch fire but this is not a social network web-site (yet).

Finally, as it takes time to farm a chick out of an egg it will take time to grow the community. In the meantime it is best to find a way not relying on heavy social use as the single way for growing the community. Focus on the value proposition for the individual instead.

Post Blank – blogging break!

October 19, 2008 5 comments

I feel like taking a blogging break lately. Why? not sure! Family, work, macroeconomic, microeconomic, I need some time for observation and reflection, spending the little extra time learning something new (don’t worry – just geeky stuff), devoting the little extra time to the community i.e. reading other bloggers’ posts, their comments and sharing the ones I like – send’em my way. Me on StumbleUpon: kerendg or me on Twitter: kerendg

I got a lot to write so this is not a case of creativity dryness…

I also want to strike for the low blogger’s compensation structure (I’m chanting the title of this blog post walking right and left in front of my laptop) – just kidding:)

NoPostTV

As a phenomena sensitive guy I wonder if this is only me. I wonder if this is just a phase growing from Web2.0 to Web3.0 or a serious post bubble traumatic disorder? Time will tell…

 If you feel or think in the same way please share. Is there an elephant in the blogsphere/social media room?

Blog Action Day – echoing Danny Brown words

October 15, 2008 1 comment

I admire Blog Action Day initiative for fighting poverty.

I did not know what to write about it but I do support the cause, so I decided to offer some link love to Danny’s post (from PressReleasePR) .  

Great post Danny and very generous of you too.

Here it is: Blog Action Day and Social Media – The Perfect Combination

If you leave comments on Danny’s blog post you then help too.

Categories: social Tags: , ,

Webnomena – eight prominent Web 2.0 phenomena

October 13, 2008 1 comment

This blog name is Webnomena web + phenomena  (plural of phenomenon) and this is where I share my observations living the web. This post sums ten month of observations and blogging. I’m not sure what lies ahead but at time like these we can count on it that there will be some changes. Some of these phenomena will vanish and new one will appear. So, before moving on to the very next thing (or maybe backward) I chose some of the most prominent phenomena signifying the Web 2.0 era.

Webnomena

Many to many communication – the old media consisted of only few broadcasting to the masses. It was distant and regulated. You could, with some effort to comment back on a news article yet there was very little chance that your comment will appear in the following edition. Your ability to interact with the newspaperman was limited if at all. Social media changed all that. You can be the news. You can comment almost anywhere instantly. You can interact with news generators. You can follow and  listening to the same source on multiple channels (Blog RSS feed, micro-blog, media streaming (pictures, video and audio – blogtalkradio), and comments). It is also easy to find what is going on right now i.e. Web-now – reading the news and the meta-news in real-time, at the same time. News become more conversational – bi-directional. This kind of media is impossible to recruit or regulate – this change comes with both the good and bad.

social-media-trend

Google Trend for the term social media

 Search engine is not a search engine anymore - it is a spell checker, idiom checker, translator, map and direction, alerts, knowledge base, value comparing tool, research tool, people business and relationship finder, content organizer, content visualizing tool, meaning extractor, entertainment and event planner, tasks based, support micro-format for integration with other tools, API, ad by context placer. And above all it could be a money making machine!! So much data and sooo much more metadata. I’m not sure how to call it anymore but if you want to take on Google it is hard to imagine someone wining by just providing a new magnificent search engine. 

Selfless sharing as a strategy - sharing without holding back is the heart of social media.  You stay ahead, read a lot of blogs, learn and experience new tools, technologies, means of communication, monitor changes across the web and then share your : information->knowledge->expertise->thoughts->feeling->goals with the community.

Blog-trend

Google Trend for the term blog

 Digital autobiography (digital life stream)- my, my, my: activity feed, timeline, location, preferences. The meaning of the term profile in the old days was your slow changing private attributes like address, age, marital status.  Now, it means a whole lot more. In the social network world the term profile is dynamic and includes your activity, your friend, your friends friends, your relationships, your chosen tools and games and more. There are new ways available for finding influencers and new marketing campaign startegies.

Ultimate empowerment – Anyone can do it and we all have access. Build your own [search, content, network, dashboard, scalable web-app (cloud computing)]. The new web world is more like cafeteria model than restaurant. It is up to you to go and get/build what that you need. Do you want that power or do you want to be served? Not everyone are excited about been empowered, not everyone can, not everyone will thrive in this kind of environment! Also, cafeteria food is not always great. This is why it is cheaper:)

Graph awareness – the graph is no more just a data structure that only computer geek’s care about. People are aware of their network(s). The Graph is now a strategy, it provides both power and knowledge. It started with LinkedIn then Facebook and continue with Twitter and Jaiku.  It is a way to filter out poor content and a mean for finding great one. Some social graph’s phenomena are: crowd sourcing, influence, cliques, and more. One big question is still unanswered: Who owns the graph?

Digital community work – the new social media helps to overcome fear of strangers. In a  way it forces you to interact. It is almost impossible to make it alone! Your succeeds is very much depends on your web relationships. What is the optimized investment allocation between writing, SEO tuning, and building a great supportive community? This is where Blog Networks make their case.

Online without offline -  it is possible to make it not leaving your computer!? No conferences, no meet-up, no leg work. Also, what should come first or what is more important? The offline or the online activity? It is not clear anymore even if you do both. Offline – You do something and then you go telling to your online friends. Online: You create opportunities to meet friends offline around certain online subjects. There are so many ways to build your Web presence – “I blog there for I’m”. Beside blogging there are numerous self marketing, and self branding tool out there. FriendFeed is one example. Sub phenomenon to the online presence is the strive for self scalability – dealing with inbox zero, growing social commitments, knowing the right time allocations between web tasks (research, reporting and community building), avoiding distractions, learning to say NO. The alternative is to work yourself to death.

Other sub-phenomena:

Attention starvation – too many puppies fighting for traffic. This leads to poor comments strategies: the first look something lime “great post..”, the second is comment trolling, and the third is building bots for spam comments and splogs. The real dark side is viruses and worms. The gray side is link bait and viral marketing.

Proven scalability patterns – incorporating some or all of the scalability technics like decentralization, virtualization, asynchronous operation mode (push vs. pull), keeping building blocks small, isolation (of responsibilities and resources) are essential for success on a web scale. We did see some examples for product with significant growing pains. We saw some great development in this area too like Ping services, RSS, and recently what the Gnip is now building.

Mashup – companies open their API as a growth strategy. The value for the community: the sum is greater than its parts. Examples: Twhirl, FriendFeed.

There are more web phenomena that I did not cover in relation to social media like the new development in the social media and location aware Mobile web, otheres are obsessive rating, widgets and viral marketing. I’m sure that there are more and this is great news for my Webnomena blog:)

Being Chris Brogan

October 10, 2008 3 comments

Inspired by Being John Malkovich movie 

Context: The objective of this fictional short story is not to share my wannabe ambitions (guilty) but to emphasize closeness and influence. In my opinion as we adopt social media tools for personal and work objectives we can get closer as if we share a single mind powered by many brains. Communication between people is a miracle. An effective communication between individuals is a phenomenon. Today, communication on the web happens more frequently than ever before.

Some bloggers influence so many of us that it is possible to recognize their tone of voice and content from other corners of the web. There is nothing wrong about it since these voices are on the good side of the fence, leading the way. It could be yet another form of closeness – identifying with.

 

chris brogan Being Chris Brogan – the story

Blogmon, the application that I built for monitoring Technorati ranks progress over time, was acting all week long. The numbers where all over the place. The tracing shows lots of errors coming from Technorati web service. I was getting a little agitated and finally when I started seeing weird rank numbers I decided to pay the web site a visit. I decided to look at the Top 100 blogs page first. As I was scrolling down just above the 8th blog from the top (Official Google Blog) and below the 7th place (Ars Technica) there was an additional narrow but obvious blank line. The distance between the two blogs seems off. Then I felt my hand suddenly moving the mouse as if I have no control over it, and as the cursor was hovering over this blank space I noticed that a yellow small font text become visible. The mouse cursor was now away so the text become invisible again. This time I moved the mouse intentionally and kept the cursor on the yellow text. To my astonishment the text in yellow and italic font said: 7.5. “Chris Brogan life-stream portal”. With a shaking right finger I clicked the link. Suddenly the bluetooth light at the bottom right end corner of my laptop flashed with purple light. The Wireless Network Connection icon at the task bar started blinking and Technorati page turned pitch black. I was sure I was attacked by an extremely powerful and distractive virus. After few seconds sitting frozen on my chair with what that looked like a turned off computer I touched (hesitantly) the laptop mouse touchpad.

The computer slowly turned on but the feel was as if I’m controlling another computer through remote access. It is more accurate to say that I was not really in control at that time, someone else was moving the mouse and clicking on all sort of desktop objects and I was only the observer. That got me even more paranoid thinking about worms and other goodies from the world wide web – why did I clicked the obviously suspicious link?? Just as I was about to go to the Start button (I run XP on my laptop) to shutdown the computer I noticed  that it was running Mac OS. More than that I noticed that I was starring at Chris Brogan blog while someone was answering multiple comments using the @mrX and @msY notation. I did not know what to do so I just sat there and watched the hectic activity, after few minutes I could only reach one conclusion. I’m watching thee one at work. That’s when I decide to un-mute my laptop speakers. A soft voice speaking almost without taking a breath started coming through the speakers. “25 ways to help the world using social media”, “50 ways to find your destiny using your blog”, “how to show your appreciation to the community”. Now, I was really freaked out!! I’m not just watching him I’m inside his brain!!!.

But before I had the time to digest all of this, a new window popped up and I could recognized Twhirl the Twitter Desktop client. The mouse clicked first the @ button looking for recent replies (there were 6 new ones) then the envelop button (there where 300 direct messages – poor guy). I could now hear the answers before they were typed although the typing followed in a speed that I did not even know possible. I or Chris or both started answering to some of the Twitter replies from @cspenn, @jeffpulver, and @jowyang. I haven’t touched my mouse now for more than 12 minutes but it felt like my brain was carried for a ride as if it was co-pilot on a combat jet plan.

Twhirl through Twitter sent us following several links recommended by friends, fans and followers. We left a couple of comments here and there (backtype helps to refresh my memory).  We shouted out other’s Tweets to share the sharable. Then after 20 minutes I got a “network failure” message. The OS changed back to Windows and the browser was loading one of those splog that copies other people work using a bot, planted with lots of AdSense ads all around -  a real beauty. It was then 2am and my brain was shut. I closed the computer and went to bed.

Tomorrow I will try and see if I can join the cognitive flow and shout out some of my favorite blog posts on Twitter… I heard that when Chris does it, it could do miracle to the web-site traffic:)

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