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Posts Tagged ‘Real-time’

VivaStream – how to know “who to know?”- during DMA2011 conference in Boston

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

imageI’m going to the DMA2011 conference in Boston next week, and this year the focus is on Real-Time marketing. What could be more relevant than that?

Learning about the different marketing methods that are leveraging mobile, social, and real-time data will be one goal of this event and networking is yet another (not a side effect).

VivaStream is a startup that is building a real-time mobile app and web-site that aims to take networking during business events like DMA11 to the next level.

image

Before the event starts: you setup your profile, select the conference, browse the schedule, and press the Attend button for the sessions that you plan to go to. Any of your actions is broadcasted to the VivaStream stream telling others about you. VivaStream also offers a reach lists of relevant topics and you can select from one of the two following options: I’m Interested or I Can Help. VivaStream uses this information among other factors to suggest people that you should connect with. There are more useful features and details, but this is the basic.

During the event: Since this is my first event using VivaStream, I’m yet to see the real-time capabilities in action. As you can see in the picture above, VivaStream plans to share some of the statistics based on the information gathered from users’ activities, and to let us know about interesting presentations and spontaneously organized after parties – IN REAL-TIME.

After the event ends: there is a strong possibility to see VivaStream building a new professional social network for networking with a purpose, based on interest and need, and fairly quick.

VivaStream is a very busy start-up, but here are few suggestions for additional features that I would like to see:

  • Show me my agenda (calendar view) built based on presentations that I planed to attend to.
  • Allow users to enter topics
  • Create multiple streams based on different activities (it could get too noisy in a single feed stream)
  • Allow users to shout-out (for example: book signing now next to room ###)
  • Check-in to a session (and maybe check-out, or leave a comment)
  • Number of people interested in a certain topic (next to the topic)
  • Number of people attending a presentation (next to the presentation)

VivaStream has the potential to become an important component of any business event. It is fairly easy to see the value to the event organizers that can learn in real-time about activities within the conference rooms as well as outside, the presenting vendors looking for leads, and for the consumers that are looking for relevant help and experience.

Now, I’m looking forward to see how it all plays out in real-time. Go Viva!

#140conf Boston meetup: real-time web – observations and insights

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

image I had the pleasure of participating in #140conf Boston Meetup this evening.

Jeff Pulver was very inspiring showing enthusiasm, about the “state of now”, twitter, and how the real-time web empowers each and every one of us to make a real change in our world.

I listened to Adam Wallace (@adwal) and Brian Simpson (@Bsimi) from the Roger Smith Hotel telling other businesses that “it is ok not to be perfect”. The brand is not measured by not making any mistake, but by how it reacts to shortfalls. The key takeaway here is that don’t let the fear of bad criticisms to stop you from building your brand’s web presence.  The real-time web is the best new tool for listening and responding in timely manner to customers’ incidents as they develop. This tool provides a human voice to the company.

I heard from Kerry Israel (@kerryisrael) about how her re-tweets become the bridge between fans, having similar entertaining experiences, provided by the American Repertory Theater (americanrep). The real-time web people are becoming the glue, the hyper-channels, and the connectors for the rest of the community members.

I listened to a very moving presentation by Alicia Staley (@stales), 3 times cancer survivor, about her experience comparing the pre-internet and twitter era to nowadays. The real-time web helps you not to feel a lone. Not because you have a lot of friends, or followers but because you’ll find support from others in similar situation. It is helpful and rewarding to share both the good and bad experiences with other people. Twitter is also the best place to post a question when no one in your local network has any idea how to solve it, including your physician.

Finally, I had a very interesting conversation with Will Eisner (willboston) from awareness a B2B SAAS offering for building online communities. The real-time web sure plays a big role in this task. I hope to learn more about this field and product in the near future.

It was an interesting evening (at some point more interesting than anyone expected) and I hope to attend the 2 days big event in NYC around April time. Go real!

lazyfeed – new mosaic interface for driving fresh blogs content in real-time

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I like lazyfeed! I’ve been using it for few months now and I find it far better than any other real-time content streaming tool. I read a lot of blogs and I like to discover new blogs and bloggers, lazyfeed delivers diversify content fast, and with less effort than the rest. Recently, lazyfeed made some significant improvements to the interface. Now it is even easier and faster to read new blog posts.

lazyfeed-treadmill

From the user stand point lazyfeed delivers new blog posts about pre-selected topics, as they publish. The user adds new topics (filters) and lazyfeed does the rest, finding relevant blog posts . Done! There is a lot going on behind the scene but from the user point of view, new and relevant content gets refreshed continuously, effortlessly!

lazyfeed-add-new-topic

This is lazyfeed’s second attempt for coming up with the user interface that aims at bringing more laziness (ease) to fresh blogs’ content deliverability. I think that the mosaic metaphor works well in this case. The UI is very intuitive, requires far less scrolling and the Treadmill feature does it job propagating the more active topics to the top. Other than that the site is quite minimalistic. I’m not sure if going forward it will stay this way, but for now, the simple focused look and feel make it very easy for newcomers.

More lazy

Minimalistic or not there are few things that I’d like to see in following releases:

  1. The feedback button on the side – so I can submit my suggestion there:)
  2. The option to pause the flow for a single topic (square) and turn the Treadmill off (maybe to pin a square and doc it to the top). Sometimes it is working too fast.
  3. More control over the topic filters:
    1. Combining tags operations – and, or, hierarchical (like book and review)
    2. Exclusion of tags – not
  4. Favorites or a button for saving on delicious
  5. Engagement indicators (hints) – hot trending topic, comments, reactions
  6. Some blog posts are timeless others may be only relevant in the next couple of hours or days. These two types of content requires two different laziness methods. It is the way that the users handles this content that hint on the difference. If a user share it on twitter or facebook the content is mostly transient but if the reader bookmarks the link (saving it as a reference for later) there is a chance that it has longer lasting value.
    1. The short term relevant content should be served as soon as possible and be rotated quickly. I see it, I read some or all of it and I move on to the next one.
    2. The long lasting content should be served as soon as possible too but it should be also possible to schedule reading it for later. I know it is great content, I don’t want to loose it but I can’t read it at this very moment. It is the kind of content that I will visit again more than once. I will probably check to see if others left comments and added to the discussion. For example think about very technical blog post – maybe about software.  To be very lazy – I like lazyfeed to tell me that there are new comments/reactions on this great blog post that I marked somehow.
  7. I think that lazyfeed feels a little lonely and is missing some social features. What that make Google Reader great (work) is the content sharing feature. I see some places where crowd-sourcing can contribute to the way lazyfeed filters and delivers new blog posts. Maybe via sharing tags (playlists), sharing blog post within the lazyfeed community.

I like the disciplined way that lazyfeed choose for adding new features so far. Prioritizing simplicity, ease of use and quality over functionality. So, if any one of the suggestion above break this practice please ignore it.

Summary

There are growing number of products that aim at delivering real-time content. lazyfeed focused on ease and simplicity. Pick some topics of interest, sit back and let lazyfeed to do the hard work for you, finding and presenting the most up to date and relevant content. Maybe just like conveyor belt sushi

Real-time search – the missing piece

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Shifting the problem from finding content to finding people for search, discovery and filtering is not enough.

The evolution of finding new and engaging content:

Step 1: We started by searching for engaging content using search engine like Google or blog search engine/directory such as Technorati. These search engines operates web crawlers scanning the web for new information, then index (categorize) and rank web pages using different algorithms. As time went by we started adding blogs  feeds (using the RSS and ATOM protocols) to our feed reader of choice like Google Reader.
Results: with some effort we managed to find great bloggers to follow, but new content was slow to arrive, it was slow to discover, and even after awhile we ended up with not enough variety. No wonder it was a dead-end!
Step 2: step #1, plus finding the people behind the content, following their feeds on social media tools (twitter, FriendFeed, facebook etc.).
Results: initially, we got faster and richer content , but it got messy very quickly (especially when we auto follow back), it was also overwhelming at times, and lots of people share the same content (whether it is lame or great).  Add to the feed stream cacophonies the fact that people are using these channels for chatting with their peers, sharing thoughts and feeling, promoting their business/products/services and we end up with yet another dead-end!
Step 3: step #2, plus lists. Now we can group people into categorized twitter lists, and follow their tweets.
Results: Now, the content is a little less messy because we have more control over the data filtering. The process for building your own list is very slow and tedious at the moment, but you can use other’s lists via listorious or tweepml. On the flip side it requires coming up with a new process for scanning the lists timelines (how frequently? whom to give more attention? adding/removing tweeps), and you can easily end up with too many lists. The worse part is that the people on the list not always share just about the subject that matches the list category.  Bottom-line, it is somehow better than step #2 but not by much – another dead-end?

Content by people

In steps #1 we let the crawler to find and categorize the content and it was up to us to find it. In step #2 and #3 we shifted to people search and then we let them drive content to us. This time the crowd took care of the categorization tasks; finding and matching people to domains of knowledge. People categorized themselves and others, built many great lists, follow other lists (indication of popularity) and shared them for us to grab.

The shift

imageIn the process from #1 to #2 we shifted the content discovery problem to people discovery problem.  Due to this shift we gained big time in scale, arming the entire web community to search for new content. We accelerated discovery and knowledge gain. We also gained speed over RSS or the web crawler. Among the changes, going from steps #1 to step #3, the focus shifted from filtering content to filtering people (lists).

Small pause to recap: we have categorized content thanks to search engines and tags, we have people grouped by categories thanks to the people, but we still have a lot of noise.

The missing step

In my opinion, we are missing a step.  I think that we ought to get back to the computerized categorization. We need a crawler, to categorize and rank the data in the context of the list.
I would like to be able to filter list timeline view by: links only, discussion threads only, and even more important by content that matches the list’s definition in the first place.
If I follow a list that discuss mobile phone technology I want to see only mobile phone technology related content.

Picture credit orangeacid

How do you take your blog?

October 9, 2009 1 comment

The most significant change to my reading habits since I started reading blogs is that I started reading a lot more blogs. What that I lately realized is that there are growing number of different options for getting blog posts streamed to my browser.

Email subscription

  • Pros: Since I check my email regularly I know that I will not miss it.
  • Cons: I will probably get the post few hours later and if there is something “hot” to share it might get cold by the time that I will see it.
  • Use: This subscription option is only reserved for few blogs that I know will provide information that has value (above and) beyond the day of publication.

Reader subscription (RSS)

  • Pros: Fast to receive and fast to read. Especially, if you are using GoogleReader and invest the time to learn some of its cool shortcuts.
  • feedly
  • Cons: You have to know what to look for. It takes time to build and organize reach blogs list. There is only a little room for serendipity.
  • Use: It is a great way to keep half open eye on lots of blogs. It is also possible to see it like a magazine start page via feedly.

Tag based real-time subscription

  • What is Tag based Real-Time subscription? Using new technology and real-time protocols like RSSCloud and PubSubHubBub, blog service like wordpress, can notify us about new blog posts as soon as they are published.  Let’s leave the buzz word for a minute because in my mind this is only half of the big news.  The second half of the change is that it is tag based.  If you don’t know what tag and tagging is please read Wikipedia explanation here.  Let’s go for a use case to explain the value of this new capability.  Let’s say that I like to read about Social Media. The way that I did it in that past was to Google “Social Media”, or to set a Google Alert looking for web pages with the “Social Media” keyword.  I could also check the Wordpres tags page searching for the Social Media tag.  These option are all either slow or tedious.
    The new real-time RSS protocols are tag based. In human language it means that it is possible to retrieve new blog post by tags.With the adoption of these new real-time protocols and the fact that they are tag based, it is possible to get new blog posts while they are still “hot and fresh” into your browser. Service like LazyFeed let you list several tags to listen to.  You can read more here. Now,  back to our use case. I can add the socialmedia tag (no space is allowed) to my tag list and start reading new fresh blog posts about this subject.lazyfeed
  • Pros: I don’t have to know the blog name, url, or feed url like in the Reader subscription case. I can just listen to certain tag(s). I get new blog posts as soon as they are published. I get a chance to lean about new blogs and blogger that I can later promote to one of the other subscription way. Tags are not hierarchical but they are associated somehow (some times hierarchically) so I can drill down to switch listening using related tags.
  • Cons: Not all blog services adopted this protocols yet. Some time it is just too fast. I would like to see more invested in the usability and scalability on the client side. It would be nice to be able to combine both the Reader and Tag Based Real-time subscription in a single tool.
  • Use: It is a great way to learn about new blogs and bloggers. It is a great way to find new content for sharing on Twitter.

These are only few of the ways to find and read blogs. There are many more, like using Twitter, Twitter tools (like twitturly), Facebook feed, delicious and other social sharing web-sites.

Just remember that blogs reading leads to more blog reading:)

So, how do you take your blog?

Seesmic vs. TweetDeck – choosing Twitter desktop clients, revisited

October 6, 2009 8 comments

A year ago I wrote a blog post comparing Twhirl to TweetDeck. So far, it was a very successful blog post with lots of visits and direct traffic from search engines. It could be due to the timing, or maybe comparison posts are very search engine friendly, or that it was just useful, helping people to decide which twitter desktop client works for them.

Since a year is a long time on the web I decide to revisit my findings and to check what has changed during this period. Based on this Mashable blog post from early February 2009 TweetDeck is by all mean the winner. A similar post from Techcrunch supports these findings too. The most recent TwitStat report from October 5th, 2009, shows TweetDeck with 12.82% of users and twhirl with 0.07% of the users. The next serious contender (and one of the selected top 5 based on a recent survey done by lifehacker) from Seesmic (twhirl was bought by seesmic in April 2008) is the new Seesmic client with 3.8% market share.

Up until recently I was one of the 0.07% that were still using Twhirl. I do also use TweetDeck. I used Twhirl at work because of its tiny condensed screen. Twhirl was really good at utilizing window real-estate and it allowed me to use twitter more discreetly in the office. TweetDeck on the other hand let you see more of twitter and other life stream social networks in a single glance when it is maximized. I used it more in the evenings, at home.

I recently replaced twhirl with the new Seesmic client. So now it is time to compare TweetDeck vs. Seesmic Desktop. In this post I will mainly describe the differences, feature-wise, between the TweetDeck and Seesmic applications. I will also cover what has changed since my last examination. You can assume the rest to be the same.

Features that are in TweetDeck and not in Seesmic:

  • Trending topics and Tag Cloud – via TwitScoop, TweetDeck shows what is going on right now on the web. This is a killer feature and having this view locally on the desktop ensure that you won’t miss a beat.  This feature was already there when I first reviewed TweetDeck, yet it is still a big differentiator.
  • TwitScoop
  • Integration with 12 seconds – not new and not a deal breaker for me
  • Unique timelines views – there are many twitter time-line types  views like: all friend (home), Mentions(@replies), Direct messages (Private), Favorites, Facebook, and Search results. Both applications shows all these view types. TweetDeck offers few more unique time-line views:
    • * StockTwits view for people sharing trading information. It is not a bad idea to add more niche community timeline views. Hint: look at the #litchat hashtag.
    • * TweetDeck recommend which is a group of people on twitter that TweetDeck thinks highly of. This could be a useful service for people who just joined twitter and can learn what to do and what not on twitter.
    • * Groups – in this great feature TweetDeck provides a very efficient way to construct new timelines following groups of people. I have my “experts” groups for all sort of subjects. Metaphorically, a group provides you with a new lens looking into the twitter update stream. A group is a filter. Harnessing good group members ensure great stream of information. It is a great way to avoid spam.
    • *MySpace – I don’t have MySpace account but I guess that this is very helpful to have just single desktop client that could brings friends feeds from any desired social network. I noticed that I do more with Facebook just because I have it locally via my twitter desktop client.
  • Mark all as Seen, Clear seen tweets and Show what is popular in this column – all great and useful features that are helping to manage the time-line. I don’t understand yet why it is not available on the TweetDeck recommend column ??.
  • TweetDeck multiple accounts. This, for me, was the most significant reason for sticking with twhirl. Now, actually, I think that TweetDeck is doing better job handling multiple accounts than Seesmic. Switching from account to account in the Compose Update frame takes only one click or two. In Seesmic it requires opening a dropdown and then another click or two.To be fair, it was easier to find how to add new accounts on Seesmic than on TweetDeck. But once an additional account was added in TweetDeck it is easier to know what are you doing for which account. For every new time-line added you’ll see an option to select the associated account. I liked that.
  • Window management:TweetDeck minimize more horizontally – I think that it is more important than vertically.
  • Translate – From an initial examination it looks like it really works and I could understand some of the tweets that I see in foreign language (Hebrew was on reverse – is this my computer?). I did not test it enough though.
  • Text Shrinking – Both serviced offer this option. This feature takes a tweet and replace some of the words with abbreviated version or numbers. I tested only couple of tweets comparing the two and I found the results to be very similar.
  • Reply to all – this is a cool feature that can save you some time communicating with your clique. In a single click TweetDeck copies all the referenced twitter user names from the selected tweet to the message edit box. Seesmic has this feature too. I mentioned it here because it was added to both since my previous review.
  • Configuration:
      • Show preview information for short urls. This is useful in a couple of ways. It is nice to see where a link is taking us before actually going there. It is also a good way to validate that the link that I just posted is actually working.
      • Show # of followers in tweets – if you care about size!

Features that are in Seesmic and not in TweetDeck

  • Navigation – here I think that Seesmic did a great innovative job. The left page serves as a hypertext-ed index, linking to each one of the columns. Since there could be so many columns added, each for any time-line, it is great having the left pane for easy and quick navigation to the desired column. It is easier/quicker to click than to scroll to the right place. On the other hand Seesmic did not make it intuitive to find the General configuration page – it requires clicking the plus sign next to the Accounts label. Some of these setting are not Account specific (at least not at the time I was writing this blog post).
  • Seesmic
  • Multiple accounts – I miss the single window per account. It is not always clear for which account the main five timelines will be added when I clicked on them (Home, Replies, Private, Sent, Favorites).
  • FriendFeed client – gone, I don’t miss this one
  • Services – Seesmic supports a list of services yet beside bit.ly I don’t use any of the other so I can’t tell much about this feature. It was easier to set the bit.ly account on TweetDeck, they did a good work pointing me to where my bit.ly API key was.
  • Spellchecker (English only) – as you can learn from reading this blog post, I was not born in an English speaking language country, so for me this is a life saver.
  • Friends/followers view – I need this view back! I used it to learn about my new followers. It use to be available in twhirl. Dear Seesmic, what happen to this view? In this view I could see the list of all my friends and followers, together with their profile details.
  • Color coded notifications – gone, I missed those too.
  • Window management– Seesmic allow multiple window mode: single column mode (good when you work from the office), One fix view and many detached column, or all column detached. Also Seesmic minimize more vertically. I prefer it to be thinner. I expected that after shrinking the right pane I would be able to minimize it more horizontally but it didn’t. One more thing, could it be possible to add another window mode? How about single window for account:) ? Hint: just launch twhirl.
  • Archive button vs. Sent time-line view – I don’t know if there is a difference.  Anyway it is convenient to have this right at the home view.
  • Lists – It seems like an incomplete feature. There is no way to add more than one person to the list. Was this the intent? I did like the way it was organize though, as a tree.

Performance – both applications perform well retrieving information and being responsive to user action. TweetDeck crashed once on my laptop.

Each of this application is packed with features and I’m sure that I missed some from this review. I hope that I did cover the notable differentiators.

What’s next?

What else could be added to these desktop clients? They are already more than twitter client. If the objective is to bring the real-time web down to the desktop I can see few additional real-time web services out there.

BackType Alerts – BackType crawl looking for comments on lots of blog posts. It is possible to create an alert searching for a word or phrase in blog comments. This is another listening tool that can lead us to where the action is.

LazyFeed – Real-time stream of new content feed from web-sites, blogs and twitter, filtered by tag (subject). I love this new service and i use it a lot. This is taken from LazyFeed web-site:

Never miss out.
Save all kinds of topics and don’t worry about missing out on anything. The most recently updated topics will rise to the top, keeping you always updated.

Conclusion: both applications are doing great job helping us to constantly be connected and to find out: what is going on now, what’s hot, and what’s next. It is getting harder and harder to find a key differentiating feature that can help us to deice which way to go. It is a matter of preferences and also a matter of what is that you are doing on the web. I personally plan to give Seesmic a chance. I think that the Seesmic team is doing a great job organizing the different  time-lines and hopefully soon I will see back some the features that I liked so much on Twhirl.

What are your thoughts? Do you see a killer feature that can help Seesmic to acquire more market share? Are there any other real-time services that you want to see streamed to your desktop?

Few ideas for improving amazonassociates – Amazon affiliate marketing program

October 4, 2009 2 comments

I recently wrote about how Amazon website lack some of the new web 2.0 social media characteristics here. I now want to talk about ways to make both amazonassociates; Amazon Affiliate Marketing program, and Amazon website better, more geared toward selling on twitter or other social network, sharing and life stream web site.

This post may seem very specific to Amazon affiliate marketing program but it is not. Most (if not all) of the ideas here can help Any affiliate marketing program developer, making his service better.

As I wrote in my previous post about Amazon I’m not unhappy with what that they are offering, the opposite. I would say that Amazon Affiliate Marketing program is one of the best out there, Amazon Product Advertising API is very powerful, and Amazon web site contains so much valuable information, that all three combined leave other affiliate marketing programs way behind.

With that said, I do believe that the real-time web changed the trade in some ways. I think that there is a growing need for arming the associates (the affiliate marketer) with more products’ news. Sharing on twitter about an old product will result with poor click rate. On the other hand, sharing about a book that is soon to be released and is now available for pre-order will result with way better response.

So here are my suggestions for making amazonassociate program more real-time:

  1. Pre-order feed – including ISBN, author name, and release date. Provide feeds (via Product Advertising API) for products that are available for pre-order for a certain month and category.
  2. Knowing the exact time of the sell. In the Order Summary report add the timestamp. Knowing when people are buying, and what could tell the associate when to focus his effort on which product. When to tweet the product links.
  3. Amazon website
    1. Allow using the Associate code for any page. It does not matter what people buys on Amazon once they get there via the associate links. Since this is the case why restrict the associate links to only product pages. Example: an associate tweet about news related to author and share the link to the author page on Amazon. If someone make a purchase at Amazon getting there via this link why not compensate the associate. This is a great opportunity to increase traffic to the website.
    2. Compensate the Associate who is sharing a product with friends directly from Amazon website. Amazon (not so easy to find) allow sharing a product directly from Amazon’s website via email, twitter, Facebook, delicious and MySpace. If an associate is logged-in and share a product, why not automatically add the associate code. Even better, provide a place to enter bit.ly API code so the link could be to shorten by bit.ly. This will allow the associate to track how many people clicked on the affiliate link.
    3. Improve sorting the search results on Amazon website. Searching for pre-orders other than the popular ones is hard. For example, looking for books about pets that are soon to be release, and available for pre-order, results with items sorted by relevance, by default. In most cases, many items returned from the search, and those are span across many web pages. The associate has the option to sort by Publication Date.  Now, the search result are sorted from the latest publication date to the oldest. This is not bad, but the only problem is that the latest date is too far into the future. E.g. when I tried today the first item’s Publication Date was Jul 19, 2010. This behavior cause extra navigation getting to the desire time frame in the future (usually no more than two months).amazon-sort

People always wanted to know what’s hot, what’s new, and what’s coming next. The new trend of real-time web serves this desire big time. Real-time search engine, augmented reality, location based services are all products of this need. The technology is out there. I think that the affiliate marketing world should adapt too.  It is time to revisit the way things are built to serve the new real-time affiliate marketer.

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