Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

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:)

Web presence – piecing together an Identity

July 31, 2008 3 comments

People leave missing information all the time. No blog About page, no employer name, no picture, no blogger name, Twitter account without web page link. Some time the simple link connection is not enough to piece it together. Your network too can help in finding connections or confuse people if your connections are spreads on more than one social network and accounts?  In some cases it is done intentionally and no harm done but in others cases when done by mistake it could lead to lost traffic and opportunities. From what that I see and through my experience most times if the information is not just there, only few will bother looking for it. Isn’t bringing these connections forward and bridging information gaps the role of the new Social Graph Search Engines?

This post will cover:

Finding out how objects are connected across multiple web applications. Overcoming cases when the information falls between the web cracks or is deliberately missing. Looking beyond the trivial context of web links (URL), friends, fans or followers.

  • Understanding the problems – some examples
  • Looking what tools can help piecing the missing information together
  • Bringing it forward – making it easily available when needed

Understanding the problems

Example 1 – me and my blog:

I did not add my blog URL to my LinkedIn profile. I did not add my employer’s name to my blog About page. I did it intentionally. I like to keep them separate for now. Omitting these two pieces of information seems to work so far. This missing information is not bridged by any social graph search engine that I’ve seen so far. It is ironic but a simple search of my name on Google will reveal the connection (warning: there are couple more Keren Dagans out there – both has nothing to do with software or technology). The connection in this case between me, my blog and my employer is my identity (similar profile info such as name, picture and location).

Example 2 – disconnected social networks:

I keep my Facebook and LinkedIn networks separate. I only have a couple of relatives overlap. I use Facebook for personal connections and LinkedIn for professional ones. I use Facebook sometime to post my new blog posts. It seems like social search engines can link between my friends across the networks, yet again, there is no association between me and my blog. Some information inside one’s activity can help making the connection.

Example 3 – multiple presence using disconnected accounts:

Case 1: My “personal” Twitter account is @kerendg. The other day I submitted a query to Twitter Search, searching for references to my other Twitter account @BlogMon. I found out that Stowe Boyd (stoweboyd) was asking “who is running BlogMon?”. The link to my blog is on BlogMon web page, and can be easily found using Twhirl or Twitter Search. I don’t know if he ever got an answer to this question or no. Soon after, I started following @stoweboyd using my @kerendg account (I don’t follow from @Blogmon). He did not contact me or follow-me on Twitter till this day- maybe because it is hard to make the connection or maybe it is just not that important. Your blog is an important piece of the new identity (FYI – WordPress using your blog URL for your OpenID).

Case 2: Some entrepreneurs runs both the start-up blog and their own blog. Only in few cases there is a link from the corporate web site to the entrepreneur’s (see Mashery  -> Blogroll for Praxis blog ran by their CEO, Oren Michels – even this is not easy to connect). Same story using Twitter accounts (one for the business and one for personal updates). In LinkedIn organization is a connection. This is true across networks in addition to your role.

Example 4  – blog action:

Case 1 – comments: I don’t get too many comments on my blog. I can only wish to get more. Yet, I did get some comments from people with vast web presence. Is this some kind of connection? Did I Digg/Saved one of their blog post ? Did I mentioned their companies? You give me your attention I see it as another type of connection.

I also leave comments occasionally, mostly on the same 4 or 5 blogs.  This information can help to understand my preferences.  Similar interest is a another piece in the puzzle. Past activity on my blog too. Frequent reader is yet another type of connection with the blogger.

Case 2 – traffic source and blog reaction: I look at WordPress, BlogStats page. The section of Referrers shows traffic that is not coming from two type of sources:

  • Unidentified – there is no way to track it back to the person that looked on my web site.
    • Traffic from search engines
    • Traffic from commends that I left (and there is no reply)
    • Traffic from “similar post” links
    • Traffic from incoming link to my blog from other blogs
    • WordPress tags
  • Identified – tracked back, with some luck
    • Traffic coming from some sort of a network like Twitter, Jaiku, Digg, reddit, StumbleUpon, Twine, Pijoo.

Since there is nothing to do about the first type of traffic (non invasively) there is nothing to add here, but for the second type: let the search begin…trying to find the source. Who dugg my blog? save it in reddit? is there a reply to my comment (like in Techcrunch comment threads)? Who mentioned it on Jaiku or Twitter? The information is scattered all over the net.

Most of my Twitters followers came through my blog. I added friends, people that acted upon my posts in other networks. I care about the origin reaction.  When it is actually possible to track it back to the source, it involves a lot of  leg work. Blog reaction is another type of connection . As I wrote about this before in “What is a blog reaction these days?” I don’t refer to “Blog Reaction” in the narrow definition of someone writing a counter blog post (pingback is a trivial link).

Some of the tools that are available today for piecing it together:

  • Google search(Web) – searching for the person’s name, organization association – this is enough to discover presence across multiple networks.
  • LinkedIn – searching for the person name and organization – looking at both profiles to cross reference with the other details to make sure that this is the same person.
  • Google Alerts  – add your link, blog name, your name, Twitter @account and link – looking for references.
  • Technorati – looking for blog info and fans  
  • Twitter – this is a process
    • If the information is coming from WordPress Referrer then you can follow it (unless it is coming from your account and not worth following)
    • If not – you can search your link as is but it is better to try hashing it using TinyLink or http://is.gd/ or http://snurl.com or other URL shortening services. Use Twitter Search for that. Tip: select in all Languages – I found out that if this setting is not on a link search will return nothing even if the update is in English – the default.
    • Use Twitter Search to search your name, and @account too.
  • Delver – network graph – this service can save some of the leg work checking multiple networks.
  • Jaiku – same as Twitter. What that is nice about Jaiku is that Google Alerts pick up on conversion.  
  • Flickr – some people like me don’t have account but do have tagged pictures submitted by friends.
  • WordPress Referrer – this is the starting point
  • Digg, reddit, del.icio.us and a like – go to your profile page and see who dugg/saved/rate your post

Do you know about more tools?

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if there was one tool that does all that and bring this information forward when it is most relevant. 

Bringing it forward

If this information could be gathered through single tool then my ideal solution is something like SnapShots. When I click on any account, link from anywhere on the web present me with the graph. Show me this entity’s web presence. Show me how can we connect? This person blog, other accounts. The information could be context sensitive – e.g if I’m in Twitter show me all Twitter accounts for the same entity – show me if we are connected through Twitter first.

Alternatively, send me an alerts about subtle semantic links to me and my blog. Something like.

  • This individual
    • from this location
    • working at
    • in this role
    • own this blog
    • x degree from you on Y network
  • Acted:
    • was once at your blog before
    • looked at your blog on this post
    • you profile in LinkedIn
    • your other Twitter account
    • respond to your comment
    • dugg your blog.
  • Options
    • Do you want to make a “trivial” link and connect?
    • Go to his blog

Summary

In this post I was trying to explain that if we want to build a complete social graph network it is not enough to look only on the “trivial” links. This is just the beginning. It will not present a full picture of one’s web presence and identity. In order to construct a useful graph there is a need to look at other type of links. These links are scattered across multiple social network and services. They are part of the enhanced meaning of one’s profile attributes including activities and relationship.

I see three steps moving in this direction. The first is piecing someone’s identity drawing on information from multiple sources. The second is using this information for finding new ways that people are connected i.e. building the complete and rich social graph. the third is presenting it when relevant.

I did not cover the uses cases for having such information at hand. On top of my head I can think of a few:

  •  It could be handy to QA web presence – especially if the entity is a business
  • It could be handy for web-sites to understand their crowd
  • It could be handy for business development
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