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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Twitter killed the RSS reader

March 20, 2009 1 comment

First, I stopped using my favorites, then Digg, Delicious and other social rating/bookmarking websites,  now I found myself using less and less the RSS reader, Google or Netvibe. I find great content on Twitter, Twitter search Trending Topics and recently even greater quality content using Twitter based search tools. These are services that mine links from Twitter updates, using different algorithms and post them in an organized fashion. I will refer to these as real-time news search services like Feedly, Microplaza and others.

RSS readers limitations:

Limited selection – it takes time to find and build selection of great blogs.  What if the selected blog did not produce any good content lately?

Scalability – it requires the time to organize feeds into tabs or folders. Also some readers, after adding more content grew slower (some more than others).

Social rating/bookmarking websites

I do use delicious for bookmarking of great information and some time for search but I rarely visit the Popular Bookmark page. Submitting content to Digg is too slow and I think that rating is not as powerful as retweeting.

Email subscription

There are some blogs that I follow constantly and I find the email subscription option to work best. This way I know for sure that I’m not missing new content on a daily basis.

The new feed

I now count on Twitter and a growing number of real-time news search websites to feed my curiosity with links.

Feedly – the irony is that Feedly is actually taping into your Google Reader feeds and tags, but it also brings content from other sources including Twitter. You can even see Hot topics via Twitter i.e. trending tags and hashtags. Read more here

MicroPlaza – this service looks at popular links posted on Twitter by the people I’m following (my timeline view). You can also see popular links posted on the public timeline. There is a new feature called Tribe, it is in the work but this option allows me to filter/organize popular links by grouping (enrolling) different people whom I follow on Twitter, into different Tribes. I wish I could use Twellow or WeFollow to speed up organizing my personal list into categories and use them as Tribes in MicroPlaza but this is still better filter than TweetDeck grouping option. In MicroPlaza I only see the popular links from the tribe and not other useless chatty noise – this is a great filter . There are more features and I do plan to cover this service more thoroughly in another post but here I want to focus on the new Trend.

MicroPlaza

There are growing number of similar services out there. I’m monitoring an additional one but I won’t mention the name yet (giving them a chance to improve). The key feature for me is the quality of the links. How good is the information that the service successfully managed to mine from all the noise on Twitter. The speed is important too. So far the two mentioned above are doing fantastic job.

Using Twitter timeline for the content source pool, employing millions of human web crawlers, filtered by the people I trust (follow) and other mining technics seems like an improved method for finding the best content out there. It truely gives me an edge over RSS feed reader.

Did you stop using your RSS reader too?

I owe it to Sagee Ben-Zedeff for helping me to become aware of this change in my habits and the new Trend. This is another great thing about Twitter – I now reflect more rapidly:)

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10 practical questions about Social Media

March 15, 2009 5 comments

Social media may sounds too simple: sharing, caring, and link love. It is tempting to jump right in, getting on-board without planing. Although  that might work well for the individual, I don’t recommend it to the business. The company should think about goals, content, expectations, and strategy, before making the leap in. Here are 10 questions that the company may start with.

10 practical questions about Social Media

  1. What should an established company blog about?
  2. What should a start-up company blog about?
  3. What should both company types avoid writing about?
  4. Should you be on Twitter (a question for the CEO/Founder)?
  5. Should you have a personal Twitter account in addition to the venture account? Should you use both in conjunction (a question for the CEO/Founder)?
  6. Whom should the corporate invite to write on its blog ( from within and the outside)?
  7. How does a thought leader looks like?
  8. How do you project an Executive Presence on social media channels?
  9. Assuming value using Social Media, how long do you expect till it materialized (a question for the venture leaders)?
  10. What do you expect to drive using social media tools: leads generation/traffic, brand marketing/monitoring/web presence, relationship building/corporate development, else?

thought leader?

Is this how a thought leader looks like?

In order to come up with the right strategy for an effective use of social media, these questions, among others, should be discussed. Participation in Social digital media is an on-going effort, one that requires an investment of company time and resources. It is a cross-functional effort with multiple stakeholders. Having clear expectations for the effort level required from each organizational function, is crucial.

I think that it is possible to come up with  good answers to most of the questions  above (and I don’t claim to be a Social Media expert).

Other questions are still open and will require more research:

Are social media values quantifiable? How? What are the measures?

Large corporation should invest time searching for social media measures and ROI. A large corporate, with Marketing budget that could be allocated across multiple channels, will have to identify and monitor different indicators  in order to justify an investment in social media. Even prior to adding social media channels and tools, the company must evaluates its commitment level for participation in social media.

For a small start-up company where Social Media is, by large, the cheapest way around for building presence in the market (for both targeting investments and market penetration) the ROI question is almost irrelevant. The investment is small in compare to other means of branding and the results are potentially dramatic. A single lead can make a critical difference to the start-up survival chances. Being reviewed by an influencing blogger can drive traffic and product adoption. Getting feedback or advice from fans and followers may get the company/product on the right track.

Prior to adding social media to the mix, no matter what type of organization you run, think about the 10 questions above (and some more). There are great resources out there that can help you to start on the right foot. The best advice I should give you is to start reading blogs.

What other questions about social media should be asked?

Btw, the picture above was taken by me while visiting the Sidney Zoo in Australia (2005).

The new cool mom is a social media maven!

March 6, 2009 4 comments

The new cool moms

cool-mom  If you are in the blogsphere long enough it is hard not to notice cool mom’s blogs, blogs networks, and twitter streams.  Sometime employed and other times staying at home moms are sharing their stories, knowledge and life using social networks and tools. Whenever I land on a cool mom blog (oftentimes, thanks to Twitter) I never leave it before reading the About page. This page usually tell me about the mom author’s past education, employment and the current family status. In most cases it reflects well how talented, smart and driven that blogger is. In some cases it shouts – I’m a very cool mom! 

Finding cool moms

On Twitter

I did a search on Twellow crossing moms with social media (@bio mom & @bio “social media”) and my query returned 174 moms. The top mom on that list was Jessica Smith (@JessicaKnows) who has more than 10,000 followers. Recently Twellow added a powerful new feature that enable to limit searches to the scope of your personal Twitter network i.e. friends and followers. I tried it searching for moms/mother and found a total of 21 twitter moms amongst my twittership. One of them is Nansen Malin, a mom of 4 who has more than 43k followers. I found two additional cool moms searching for both mom and “social media”. Btw, searching the entire Twellow directory for @bio SAHM yielded 675 people. Here are three cool moms on Twitter: GeekMommy(10k+ followers),  MommyBrain(2.8k+ followers), BargainMama(878 followers). If you want to find influential moms on Twitter, search TwittterGrader.

The blogsphere

The first stop for looking at cool mom blogs authority is Technorati.  I also did a quick search using IceRocket for the term SAHM and here is one interesting page that I found The Obnoxious SAHM’s Page, then my Firefox addon Headup window poped-up and suggested Mom-101 blog (in the top 10K on Technorati). Another tool that helped me to find active moms and bloggers was backtype. Sifting thorough blog comments (the heartbeat of the blogsphere) I found many more interesting social media blogs like social media mom and Holistic Mama.

Communities and networks

I Googled women’s/mom’s blog networks – here are some of the top ranked results:

I’m sure that there are many more. I’m yet to see a tool that rank blog networks (as a whole) or a search engine that focus on finding what mom does in her very little spare time. Yet, this is beside the point of this blogs.

Cool moms are social media mavens

Some moms are cooler than others

What that make some moms cooler than others is how skilled they are executing the essential social media activities such as writing interesting and useful content, selfless sharing, and leveraging the technology. If you are a newbe mom and want to learn how to become a social media maven follow the Cool mom guide (on Twitter CoolMomGuide – 3k+ followers). Even of you are not a mom, or a women at all but interested in learning about social media I recommend following some of the cool moms out there.

Cool mom is a business

Some moms blogs or network seems to be a real business. It is easy to see ads, banners, affiliated links on many SAHM blogs. Others become social media consultants that offer from their experience. If you have any doubt, if what that looks like a hobby, but is actually a real business just read TechCrunch-  BlogHer Inks Deal With NBC Universal, Raises $5 Million.

Summary

I think that it is great to see how social media helps people to find the way to channel their energy, talent and skills using blogging and microblogging no matter where they are physically (@home) or  in life (raising kids).  The new mom or the new cool mom is a social media maven – an expert in building networks and tribes, delivering her message to the world, becoming a leader and influencer.

What do you think? Are cool mom behind fueling the social media buzz?

Picture taken by sean dreilinger

Glue, the Firefox addon that wisely links people, things and relationships from all around web

February 14, 2009 2 comments

Short Introduction

Glue is a Firefox addon that uses semantic analysis to connect people around books, movies, music, and other common things across popular sites. Glue can understand and map both structured and unstructured data and then become the bridge (or better the glue) that connects people looking at the same object from multiple web sites. There are few good blog posts that have covered Glue already. This is the reason that I’m keeping this intro short. I prefer to focus on the value of using Glue.

glue1

 What to do on glue?

Start Glue-ing by visiting a page on one of the many web sites that Glue supports like Wikipedia, Amazon, Last.fm, O’Reilly books, Yahoo! Finance, Citysearch, Wine.com, IMDB, Last.fm and many more. When you’re looking at the book, music, movie, star, artist, stock, wine, or restaurant you will see the Glue toolbar slide down from the top of the web page. Glue’s toolbar shows you friends and other Glue users that visited the same object. Glue shows you friends who liked the object and you can read their “2 cents” – a short comment about the object (140 chars long). At this point you are presented with lots of ways to benefit (actually, more than I realized the first few times I use it). Here are some of the things to do next:

  • Read a summary describing the object
  • Check which other Glue members visited the same object (anywhere on the web)
  • Read others’ comments (two cents).
  • Take action
    • Object specific actions – find it on your preferred web site, read a review, compare its price, find similar objects, and more
    • Sharing option – use Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, FriendFeed, and Delicious to tell the world about it
  • Learn more about the people that liked it by looking at their profile
  • Follow people and become friends if they follow you back
  • Say that you like it – by pressing the heart shaped button
  • Add your two cents
  • Grow your knowledge and network by moving from things to people to things to people and stop only to connect, comment or to take an action.

What else to do on glue?

  • Grow your network on other social networks like Twitter or FriendFeed – most Glue members have their Twitter and FriendFeed accounts linked to Glue. Glue allows you to find out more about their interests before following them on these social networks.
  • If you are into the stock market you can use a new service called StockTwits. This is a Twitter mashup that lets you follow discussions about stock trades, find active members to follow on Twitter and build your own portfolio to use as a filter for finding related conversations. When you select a stock to read related twitts you’ll see the Glue toolbar sliding down with all its glory. Now you can see other Glue members that were interested in the same stock and connect on both networks.

Explicit values

  • Your network is built automatically as you browse your favorite web site without leaving it
  • It is a single, web-wide network that works on popular book, movie, and music sites
  • It replaces both search and bookmarking – Glue brings you the information when and where it makes sense
  • It’s easy to move from object to people to object. This helps you find great books and music – this is what that I found myself doing on Glue.
  • The option to take action no matter what web site you are browsing helps to complete your search tasks faster.
  • Glue is very intuitive and simple to use. It takes not time to get on-board.
  • Crowd wisdom – you can see what is most popular with friends and other interesting people

Implicit values

  • The building of the network is driven by objects you like. You connect to likeminded people around common objects automatically, regardless of the website visited. Since there are lots of objects out there and many curious people looking for them it makes Glue a network building machine.
  • Contextual lifestream filter – it shows users relevant information from friends about things they visit. Other lifestreams have a lot of noise and require work. Glue brings you a filtered lifestream of valuable information i.e friends activities wrapped around object and people in the context of an object. 
  • Connect around the rare stuff – connecting around objects that are loved by many is a rapid way to build your network but some times it is meaningless, like joining the Facebook beer lovers group :). Using Glue you have a good chance for finding new people that are interested in objects that are not so common like this amazing British TV series from the 90th that I like so much – Cracker (I did find a few Glue members that liked it).

AdaptiveBlue

AB-logo

AdaptiveBlue was Founded in February 2006 by Alex Iskold and has 11 employees working from their New York Office. The company has two products: Glue and SmartLinks (patent pending). In its short existence it earned industry recognition and top press and blogs.

Glue use two methods to understand meanings from data on the web. The top down approach using its semantic engine to understand some of the most popular web sites out there that don’t use any of the known metadata format (like RDF). AdaptiveBlue also collaborated on a new format to describe objects attributes on the web called ABMeta. Sites like Oreilly books, UGO and others have already adopted it. This is referred to as the bottom up approach, which is a more robust way to make web pages easier for machines to understand.

 Additional thoughts

After using Glue for sometime now I have a few features that I hope to see in the future. The first one is coming soon and it is the option to discuss with friends about different objects.

  • I also would like to get an alert when someone was looking at one of the objects that I have visited in the past (set selectively on certain objects)
  • I think that Glue needs a landing page. The toolbar is cool and subtle yet there is a place for presenting some aggregated data like:
    • Most active people on Glue (sorted by object type)
    • Most looked at objects – most liked objects
    • Most connected people on glue – featured users
    • Recently joined and recently visited objects
    • Promotions – Glue knows what people are looking for and like. This informarion gives an opportunity to get some nice deals for its members.

Glue is a simple to use application with great benefit supported by very complex technology in the back-end. It manages to bring a lot of value to the front-end without scarifying usability and ease of use. Is Glue the first consumer application that’s showing us the semantic web finally fulfilling its promise?

Eight good reasons for using headup (Firefox add-on)

January 25, 2009 6 comments

Headup – the semantic web Firefox addon

I recently started using Headup. I’ve been looking for this kind of addon for some time now. When bits of information are missing from peoples’ profile pages, product specs, media, and other online content it is crucial to combine multiple data sources to piece together a complete picture. Headup does this!

Using its smart semantic mapping of entities and relationships Headup gathers and links information from multiple online sources. To complete the picture it then personalizes the results using your presence on multiple web services like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.
Headup is not only innovative in its semantic approach to linking data, it also integrates nicely with your Firefox browser and offers you a few ways to access the data it discovers. One example is Google searches: After installing Headup you can expect to see your search term annotated “Headup:[search term]” with a thin orange underline at the top of Google’s results. When your mouse hovers over the term a click-able circular plus sign loader will allow you to open Headup’s overlay  interface.

headup-topserp 

The starting point – googling eagle eye.

headup-eagleeye

The complete picture – headup-ing eagle eye

I recommend you visit Headup‘s website to learn how to use it but as a whole it’s pretty intuitive and I prefer dedicating this post to the reasons you should get it:

My eight reasons for using the Headup Semantic Web Firefox add-on :

  1. Because hyperlinks simply aren’t enough – Relying merely on arbitrarily selected outbound links that send you to find info related to the page you are browsing is limiting. There are more relationships among the different entities on the page that could be leveraged to retrieve associated information. Headup already mapped out these semantic links and makes them available for you in a neat and accessible interface. The experience doesn’t end with search results.
  2. Because you can save valuable search time - Both the user interface, and the way information is presented, require less clicks to complete an in-depth search through multiple search sources.
  3. Because the information comes to you – Search can be an exhausting task. In many cases it involves either a recursive drilling down into multiple levels, or traversing the search vertical up and down for additional information. Google itself is aware of this potentially laborious process and is making an effort to bring associated information to the first SERP: Recently when I googled the term “movie” I got three results that were movies playing in theaters in my area. Headup provides multiple data types as a default: Using Headup on the “Pink Floyd” will get you a summary relating to the term, the bands albums, see photos depicting it, listen to the bands songs while reading their lyrics, find news blogs and web activities related to it, and much more.
  4. Because it brings down the chances you’ll miss key information – “Headuping” people is a terrific way to learn more about them. I “Headup-ed” my friend Bill Cammack on Facebook and immediately discovered that he’s a video editor with an Emmy award to his name. In this case the extra information regarding the Emmy award was brought in from Bill’s LinkedIn profile.
  5. Because you can learn and find information you didn’t expect -  If the example from my previous item wasn’t proof enough here’s anoter example: I ran Headup on “Kill Bill” (what can I say? – I’m a Tarantino fan) and discovered this blog post published today (1-2-2009): “More Kill Bill on the way” – Tell me this isn’t cool!!
  6. Because it’s personalized – When configuring Headup after download, or later via the “Settings” option, you can choose to connect Headup to the online services you are subscribed to. Headup connects to a wide variety of web services like: Gmail, Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, FriendDeed, Digg, Last.fm etc. The information Headup retrieves from these services allows it to personalize the info it discovers for you: If you Headup a firm you’ll get friends of yours that work there. If you Headup a band you’ll see who in your network likes them. This is another example of how Headup is not just a search tool but a browsing experience.
  7. Because you don’t lose your starting point – Headup is designed as an overlay window that keeps your starting web page, and anything else you have open on your desktop, visible beneath the interfaces’ SilverLight frame. Inside Headup you can drill down endlessly, but when you’re done you are back where you started.
  8. Because your information is safe – from Headup’s Privacy Policy – “In plain English”:
“We here at Headup treasure our privacy and that’s exactly why we made every effort to create a browser add-on that would live up to user privacy standards we would be comfortable with. We’d be embarrassed to let you download an add-on we wouldn’t download ourselves.”
 
**You don’t need to sign-up for using Headup and your information is stored on your machine only**

 **Bonus: one additional reason – because on some pages it ROCKS! Try it on last.fm and you’ll see why it ROCKS…literally! By the way, the Headup user interface lets you watch videos and listen to music like a regular media player.

My questions for the Headup team

I plan on occasionally checking Headup’s blog for updates. At this point Headup supports Firefox on Windows and on Macs but I know that they plan to support more browsers in the future. I think that at this point the key thing to focus on is that the Headup concept works.

I do have few questions for the Headup team:

  1. Do you plan on adding vertical derived classifications? I can see some use cases for health (and maybe even for software development). Just as headup was able to map out “Actors”, “Films by the same director”, “Web Activities”, “Related News”, “Trailers”, etc. for a “Film” type entity. I can see it applied in a similar fashion for a “Health” type entity – retrienving things like: “Case”, “Treatment”, “Clinics”, “Pharmaceuticals”, “News Groups” etc…
  2. Do you see enterprise usage for Headup? I still need to give it more thought but having Headup in my email could be cool. Another possible implementation is supporting corporate CMS tools.

Epilogue – Is Headup’s “Top Down” approach the face of the future Semantic Web?

The Semantic web promises to make information understandable by machines. If you follow Alex Iskold‘s excellent series on Semantic Web on ReadWriteWeb you are aware of the multiple approaches to make this happen. The top-down method implemented by Headup helps brings the future to us a little sooner. I think Headup is giving us a taste of what future browsers will look like in an age when they, and other tools, will be able to understand more than just hyperlinks. When using Headup it feels like I’m doing more than “browsing” or “searching” I feel like I’m experiencing a new web!

One last thing: using Headup for some objects didn’t yield complete results. Don’t judge them too harshly for it, instead please focus on the concept. My experience with Headup so far is that in most cases the relevancy of the information provided was more than reasonable. I think that for a small company just out of Alpha what has been accomplished in the short time the company has exited is impressive and promises that improvements will be fast coming.

I’m using Headup and gave you the eight reason I have for doing so. If you are using it too I’d be happy to hear why…

Groundswell technology test – entrepreneurs take notes

December 28, 2008 4 comments

I’m currently reading a book called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (1 edition- April 21, 2008). This book was written by two Forrester analyst, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff . In this book the authors are  advising companies about the power of social technologies and how to see it as an opportunity instead of a new threat. The book objective is to educate marketer working for different size corporations about social networks, crowd sourcing, social bookmaking, forums and other people empowering technologies. As I’m reading it I’m realizing that this book is also a very useful resource for entrepreneurs contemplating about building applications engaged in social objects. It is also a good resource for VCs that are about to invest in these kind of endeavors.

Groundswell In the second chapter of this book the authors suggest a brilliant test to justify the existence of a new social technology. They name it: The Groundswell technology test

This test consists of five questions and in the book the authors ran Twitter through the test. Twitter passed with flying  colors as you can imagine.

Anyway here are the questions:

  • Does it enable to connect with each other in new ways?
  • Is it effortless to signed-up for?
  • Does it shift power from institution to people?
  • Does the community generate enough content to sustain itself?
  • Is it an open platform that invites partnership?

Could this be the recipe for viral product?!

We know that a product requires more non-feature requirements like being scalable, having good performance, better than average usability, being secure, supporting global adoption, well designed (looks good) and more to be successful, yet the justification for its existence could be found in the answers to the questions above.

So run your new creation through these questions, find the gap(s) and make it better along these five dimensions.

This chapter on Google Book Search

This book on Amazon

One Tweet three Qwitters

November 8, 2008 4 comments

 

QWITTERI signed up recently to QWITTER , this service tells about people that stopped following me on Twitter. I had doubt about the value of this tool but since it was easy to use I gave it a try. Getting on-board only require your Twitter user name and email for sending you the notifications.The first couple of days I got one or two messages that looks like that:

Hi, kerendg.
<Twitter user name> – stopped following you on Twitter after you posted this tweet:
<my tweet>

Check out <Twitter user name> profile here:
http://twitter.com/<Twitter user name>

Best,
Qwitter

I could not find any logical connection between my innocent tweet and this person abandoning my Twittership.

Anyway, few more days passed and on the election day I was monitoring closely the tags on TwitScoop. At some point I notice the word Miracle on the screen. I clicked to check what conversations on Twitter mentioned this word and in what context.

Well, the conversation where basically saying that John McCain will need  a miracle to win this election.

So I sent a Tweet about this tag….

The following day I got three Qwitter messages that looks like this.

Hi, kerendg.
<Twitter user name> stopped following you on Twitter after you posted this tweet:
my tweet about TwitScoop capturing the MIRACLE tag <the TwitScoop tag>

Check out <Twitter user name> profile here:
http://twitter.com/<Twitter user name>
Best,
Qwitter

OK, now I can see some connection. I can assume that these followers were not too happy with the election results. I can assume that they assume from my Tweet that I’m favoring one party over another. By the way I did not vote in this election (I have to wait few more years to become an American citizen first) and I can’t say that I formed a rock solid opinion yet.

A wise friend once told me that if something happened once it is a fluke, if it happened twice it is a coincidence but if it happens three times then it is a system (or a pattern in my geeky world).

What can we learn from this example:

  1. If there are more than one followers that un-follow you after a tweet then there is a chance for causality association between the tweet and the reaction.
  2. If this works on the negative way there is a high chance that it will work in the positive direction too. Why only look for connections between poor tweets and people that stop following you. For a single twitter user it is easy to find what he said or did that won him a bunch of new followers. Yet, if QWITTER could tell me what others are doing that suddenly adds to their Twitter followers count I might learn a thing or two. 
  3. Finally: It may not be my assumed political opinions that cost me three followers, it could be my insensitivity, sending this tweet in such troubled time for supporters of the other party was probably a poor social media action. I think that I’ve actually learned something from this service.

Your thoughts.

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