Archive for the ‘social networks’ Category

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Who the Tweet are you?

21 January, 2009

I was told I had a new follower by Twitter today (I’m JenWilsonSydney if you weren’t across this).

 In the good manners of reciprocal social, I clicked on their link to see who they were so I could chose what I would do. Generally, if I’m being followed by a real person, who has any shared interests with me or who has shared friends with me, or who has some interesting posts (even if a newbie) – I’ll follow them. If they are a marketing scam, spam or zealot of any persuasion – I will block them (so they can’t follow me any longer). If they are in between – such as a blog update I am not sure I want, a newbie who doesn’t yet step up to the mark or a product – I will often ignore them (and hopefully review this status later). My particular gripe is with people who sign up to Twitter, start looking for people to follow, but don’t both to tell me who they are by leaving the description field blank.

 This morning, I had two new followers who were heading for the ‘ignore’ category. One was what looked like an application or service wanting to following me (what? So I’ll follow back and get spammed by product updates?) and the other was someone with about 20 followers, but absolutely zero description of who they were or where they lived.

 In the case of the product – it was interesting enough for me to head to the blog site listed as part of their description (an excellent start) and check them out. It was an interesting product and the blog was broader than just product updates – including a post on them trying to get Twitter to deliver more for them. (Yes, dear reader, I did leave a constructive comment – setting the brain cells off and leading to this post). So I am now following Mapanui.

 In the case of the individual, I was about to ignore them when I noticed, in their Tweet stream, a reply to someone I follow. So, mutual friends criteria met – I followed this newbie (five posts to date). But it did really bring up the importance of the description we supply to these states.

 Laurel Papworth rightly (and obliquely) criticised me a while ago for using Digg, but not using Digg. Basically, I went there at Laurel’s prompting to help Digg something she has written which was rocking up the ranks, but when Laurel went there and checked out who was supporting her – she found no description, no image and no activity from me. (I’ve since fixed that – but as confess, as minimally as possible.) My only excuse was that Delicious and StumbleUpon are more home to me that Digg, for some reason. But consistency says that if I am going to use social media (even to advance a friend), I need to play fully.

 So, if any of you are thinking about signing up to Twitter or extending your online identities to any other social forums – please, please, please make sure that you take the time to identify yourself a little, to say why we should be interested in you and provide something about the individual behind the handle.

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Is a Change in Social Capital/Currency Afoot?

14 January, 2009

I am not a daily reader of the stars, but I do think astrology often has interesting things to say. I’ve had too many coincidental things happen (and too many scarily accurate astroligical readings) to not pay some mind to this. Let’s add two personal facts to this: I am a Sagittarian,  and the first group I ever joined on Facebook was “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet” (a real testimonial if ever there was one). So of course, I am talking about the transition of Pluto from Sagittarius to Capricorn.

The short paragraph on the astrology side:
Pluto in Sagittarius was about (amongst other things) excess, consumerism and adventure. Pluto in Capricorn is about reality, value and the real worth of things. Very simplistically, the whole Global Financial Crisis is really about the end of the Sagittarian excess and we are all expecting that we’ll get a dose of (financial) realism, expectation of honest value and maybe a little less excess in our corporate greed.

Ok, regardless of astrology, the whole GFC is also altering our mindset in many ways. I know a lot of people who are questioning values and what they stand for and invest in. People are increasingly interested in local food (locavore); organics, real value and tangible good.

One of the things that I think this might affect is a classic GenC interest – celebrity.

If we look for real value, we are unlikely to look for it in the more vacuous famous faces; the YouTube 15-minutes-of-fame types; or the excessive party-boy with no redeeming features. GenC is still likely to be looking for role model images (every generation prior has also done that) but I think we might see a shift in them looking for real value in these images – real talent, real skills and real quality, rather than just the sheen of celebrity.

And, that makes me wonder if we will, as a result, see a slight shift in the role of social networks and media. If we are after real value, then social currency might start to lose some of the gloss. Tangible assets such as communication, quality of response, thoughtfulness and responsivness are likely to come to the fore are critical components of creating social capital. Not that they aren’t important now, just that other things (such as numbers of friends, looks, sarcasm and ability to waste time and/or money) seem to have as much importance. Add to this that it is generally well understood that a key value in social networks is the presentation of the image we want to show (whether real of not) and I think we might be ready for a little reality collision.

Whether you think it is the stars, the GFC, or just a maturing of the social environment – I am betting that we will be seeing less of the “celebrity in her own lunchtime” stars, and more of those with real value (and likely more positive values). And that this may, just might, start to change the way in which we use social networks, what we say and what images we portray of ourselves.

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Social networking: Collaboration, Aggregation or Disintermediation?

6 January, 2009

This last year has been a year for the rise of the social network aggregator, or, if not a tool, the rise of aggregation through collaboration. I discovered this to my own horror when I realised that my Twitter posts were appearing as Facebook status updates. I had done this so that I could appear more active in places where I wasn’t (really). Cheating, I know, and a lesson that I learnt. When I was Twittering a conference I was at in early December with about 45 updates over the course of an hour, my Facebook friends were spammed with status updates from me including hash tags that meant nothing to them, about something that wasn’t of interest. I am still in the process of disconnecting all these networks from each other.

So – lesson one – don’t take the short cut on allowing one social media service to update another without thought. The audiences are different, the purpose is different, and in the end, what I realised is that that Facebook is for friends and Twitter is for followers – and they aren’t the same group of people.

Now, thinking about Aggregation and Disintermediation. Disintermediation is one of those great words that are always a contender for “what does that really mean”. It means taking out the intermediary (the middle man) – in this case the social network service itself. But first, aggregation.

We’ve seen a huge number of social media/network aggregation services arise. These are aimed at allowing us to keep tabs on what our various friends are up to on the various networks that they might play in. In theory – through a single interface, we can follow what people are doing/saying on Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Facebook, Twine, MySpace, Bebo, Qik, Mashable etc. Many of these also work on mobile phones – so in theory we have a single site/application that allows us to keep in touch with all of our networks all of the time. Some examples: Plaxo Pulse (nice one), Friendfeed (from ex-Google peeps), Xumii (on mobile), Flock (browser based), Profilactic (one of the first) and a range of others. For a good overview/review, see Fabric of Folly’s great review at http://www.fabricoffolly.com/2008/03/review-of-social-aggregators.html.

So, in 2008, there were a few sites that heralded social aggregators as the big thing of the year. I wonder if 2009 will be the year of social disintermediation rather than aggregation. We are seeing this in a few sites already – often, to me, incorrectly named as aggregation. I’ve written about this before – the concept of social network as ‘feature’ not ‘function’. Yahoo integrated this last year, and there are a host of sites that are coming up that include some form of social media/network within them.

My experience in with collaboration really brought home the idea that there are different networks for different purposes for good reason. What I want to do is often determined by where I am, and what I am doing. So, when I am loading pictures in Flickr – I’m interested in what my friends have been up to in Flickr and would love for Flickr to tell me what my friends have done there recently. When I’m reading the news online, I would love it if I could see what my friends had be commenting on, rating or tagging on that news site; when I’m in iTunes – that same – what are my friends buying, listening to etc. To my mind, this is exactly what I think Facebook does. When I am in Facebook, I am interested in what my friends have been doing – so all their updates are relevant to me at this time.

I suppose that what I really would like is context with my social aggregation. I want to be able to see what my friends have been doing online that is relevant, wherever I am at the time. I want to see the footprints they leave as they travel across the net, so I can walk down some of those same paths. I also don’t want to have to go somewhere special to see this (the aggregator) but want it bought to me where I am right now and where they actions in this space are relevant to what I looking at/listening to/doing.

In summary, I guess what I want is contextually relevant social media that is given to me where I am, rather than making me go and find it.

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Seeing some light

14 April, 2008

Two recent things have happened that make me feel as though we really are on the cusp of some exciting new stuff in the mobile application world.

 I’ve talked about how raving over the mobile internet is really just raving over the current major communication form on the brand new medium (radio with pictures). This shouldn’t be taken to mean that I don’t think the mobile internet is a good thing – I think it is great, long over due, and I am really looking forward to seeing more smart sites being built. I just mean that the mobile internet isn’t the end game.

In the last week, I’ve seen some serious and beautiful work done around a mobile social networking that includes location, presence, awareness and groups (and profiles, and chat and dating). It’s gorgeous – but sadly only for iPhone users.  There is a good Techcrunch article on it.

I understand, but don’t necessarily agree with the elite angle this socnet is aimed at. It really is for the ‘already well connected’. But it does show that thought is going that way. I doubt we’ll see social networks limited to any other handset as none of them (yet) has the social cache of iPhone.

But I do think we’ll start to see more use of groups. I designed a mobile social network called ‘tribz’ some three years ago (a little head of its time) and I still believe that the world, socially, comes in different sizes for us. Not all friends are made alike and we need to be able to manage them, as groups, in different ways.

Stirred enough to be determined to finish the business plan this week. Interested in being part of this?

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The New Natives

6 December, 2007

Rupert Murdoch certainly created a common term when he referred to himself as a ‘digital immigrant’. The term ‘ditigal native’ has become common enought that I received a chart today with a generational breakdown showing where groups ar natives, immigrants or aliens.

I think the same thing is happening in mobile, and that it has happened with every paradigm shift device.

When television first arrived, we called it ‘radio with pictures’ – and that’s exactly what we did with it. We also treated it like theater and had static camera with actors moving about. Eventually we realised it was a new phenomena and TV as we know it took off.

With the internet – this started the same way. We took the existing forms of media – TV, magazines and newspapers – and put them on the internet. Even now, a huge number of internet sites remain digital version of legacy media.

But that changed when the natives, who had grown up with the internet, reached the age of invention. Suddenly we got internet sites (and services) which could exist only on the internet. Amazon, eBay, Google for starters. More recently we’ve seen tagging, sharing and social networking sites join them.

On the mobile, what we’ve got now is really the same thing. The previous media (in this case the internet) on the new medium (the mobile phone). Mobile natives, those who grew up with the mobile as a integral part of their life, are only just coming of age.

I don’t think we’ve seen even the first wave of native application for mobile, and I think most of us are so steeping in other media/mediums that we can’t even conceived of what these might be. Sure, they are likely to include location, bluetooth and integrated uses for the camera and phone – but I’m not even going to start imagining what they will be.

And, like all good innovations – once we see them, they will be so obvious that we’ll wonder why we didn’t come up with them first.

Anyone who says they know the future of mobile, mobile services, mobile applications – is more than likely only a mobile immigrant. The future will be with the natives.

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FaceBook vs mySpace

25 September, 2007

Reading today about the battle (so called) for the social network space. Will it be facebook, will mySpace? Will it be both of them, one or the other? Does it really matter?

In my discussions with GenC a couple of consistent themes come up:

  • we go where our network is
  • we prefer to message people through the social network application
  • we want to say what we want to say
  • we like ‘playing’ with who we are

So a couple of thoughts on this. If my classic GenC (17, female) is on mySpace; yet my classic GenX (44, female) is on FaceBook, why is it? Our GenC likes to say she lives on Christmas Island (even if all her friends live in Sydney’s inner west); she likes to say she is 99 (but doing her high school leaving certificate); she likes to be friends with Pink (who has has met) and Tom (who is friends with everyone) and lots of people she doesn’t know; she knows her mySpace is vivid and loud and her mother would hate it – but it’s all about HER – ok?

And my GenX – she only really wants to talk to people she knows, or who come recommended, but who she is pretty sure are real; she is more interested in seeing what other people are doing than in making statement about herself (loves the news feed); she doesn’t mind playing, but sees FaceBook as a bit of a time waster and is starting to get to the point where updating it is difficult and tedious (FaceBook Fatigue).

Maybe the biggest difference is two fold – where their community is; and where their sense of self is – internally focussed or externally. In reality, does it matter? Some of us are comfortable in more than one place and we might never chose one network over the other.

But then again – if home is where the heart is, social networks will end up being where the network is. I’d be interested to see the possibly different networks we keep or develop on these different sites – do they reflect different elements about who we are and how we connect?

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Email is a Window-Face Envelope

13 September, 2007

First – no excuses for the silence, but sometimes work gets in the way of a good idea!

I was recently at a session on social networking with a couple of school kids who were talking about how they communicate with each other and with their networks.

On the whole, their preferred manner is through the network application (mySpace in their case) – notably if they knew their friends were online *now*. If not through the SocNet, then their next preferences were Instant Messenger or SMS (text). In fact, they commented that they used IM and SMS for private conversations; SMS for speed; and the SocNet for the public comments (more on this later).

They don’t like email.

Yes, in fact they really don’t like email.

Why not? Well, the only who they need to talk to who aren’t on either their network or their IM buddy list are clearly not friends. They are parents, teachers, supervisors – authority figures of some kind, with whom they communicate through the ‘legacy’ communication systems of their elders choice. Email.

Remember the days of snail mail? Hand written or even machine addressed envelopes were fine, looked forward to, exciting. But when a window-faced envelope arrived, well, that meant the bank or the lawyer or, more likely, some bill for something. You dealt with window-faced envelopes reluctantly, as a necessity. This was authority encroaching on something that should be fun.

And that’s how GenC sees email. Just like a window-faced envelope…..

Makes you wonder if long term, this might have an impact on how FaceBook sends out alerts. While email suits those tied to their inbox, if I live on IM and SMS, the alerts are going to dead air. Only when I join the workforce and my inbox rules my day, will those little alerts become a have instead of more hell.