Social Media is Dead

June 13, 2009

It isn’t SOCIAL media, it’s never been SOCIAL media. It’s always been PERSONAL media.

My friend Jeremiah just wrote a post about Social Media scale. He posses the question, how is it possible for those with growing audiences (or indeed celebrities) to really scale up their social media interactions?

He highlights the fact that most of our social media idols are actually using ghost writers to write books, tweets, emails and more.

I would argue that this these idols outsourcing their social media are missing the point. They are trying to scale up one-to-one interactions to a point where they are no longer authentic.

The media phenomena that is occurring all around is us not about being social, it is about being authentic and personal.

The point is not that u have to contact everyone 1:1 – only that what you DO say is real – your own voice from your own keyboard.

It also means that the news you get is not necessarily from or for the mainstream, but more from your personal connections and more closely linked to your personal interests.

It’s only social because each person has a social aspect to their ‘being’. It’s a symptom not a cause.

As I’ve said before, the reality is that this isn’t a new practice. Stories have always been personal. We have always shared our own experiences in our own voices with one another since man first started drawing on cave walls (women did it too!). The industrial age broke our ancient tradition with Mass Publishing leading to Mainstream Media. These new tools are just allowing us to take back our stories to get personal, authentic and intimate again.

The only difference this time is that we are not limited by geographies of landscape, but rather connected through geographies of ideas.

Please note: I’m going to be re-posting some of my posts from the old Particls blog here. These posts were far ahead of their time and were written at a time before streams, flow and filtering were popular concepts. I am re-publishing them here so that they might find a new audience. After each post I may write an  update based on the latest developments and my latest thoughts.

The Attention Economy Vs. Flow – Continued

Originally Published June 13th, 2007

Steve Rubel posts about his information saturation.

He writes:

We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore’s Law.

My attention has reached a limit so I have re-calibrated it to make it more effective. I think this issue is an epidemic. We have too many demands on our attention and the rapid success of Tim’s book indicates that people will start to cut back on the information they are gorging. If this happens en masse, will it cause a financial pullback? Possibly if ad revenues sag as a result.

Stowe Boyd writes in response:

No, I think we need to develop new behaviors and new ethics to operate in the new context.

Most people operate on the assumption that the response to increased flow is to intensify what was working formerly: read more email, read more blogs, write more IMs, and so on. And at the same time motor on with the established notions of what a job is, how to accomplish work and meet deadlines, and so on.

In a time of increased flow, yes, if you want to hold everything else as is — your definition of success, of social relationships, of what it means to be polite or rude — Steve is right: you will have to cut back.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Maybe Steve is just old and Stowe is divining the new social consciousness.

Maybe Stowe is just being an extreme purist (Stowe? Never!) and just needs to recognize that there is middle ground.

Maybe the middle ground – Flow based tools that help to refine the stream.

Our eyes can handle the sun – but sunglasses are nice too.


Update

Steve and Stowe’s posts were written pre Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook Newsfeed days. These observations were mainly based on blogs posts, Digg, Flickr, del.icio.us etc.

At the time these services were consumed using a traditional feed reader using an email Inbox metaphor – items in channels, marking items as read.

At the time of the post, we were building a product that would essentially stream items much the same way Twhirl or FriendFeed do today. One after the other in reverse chronological order. No folders, no marking as read.

Two years later, in a Twitter world, the notion of the stream has now become omnipresent. It is beginning to even replace the Inbox metaphor for email itself (refer to Google Wave). Allowing information to flow over you, as Stowe described, is now more important than ever.

So too, however, is the notion of filtering – sunglasses for staring at the sun.

So far the only filtering that has really made it into commercial products is filtering by friends. These days I don’t get raw feeds from new sources (at least not as many), instead I subscribe to friends and they help filter and surface content for me.

The filter I was describing in this old post, however, and the filter that has yet to be built and commercialized, is a personal and algorithmic one. One based on my interests. Based on APML. This is true because as your friends (think of them as level 1 filtering) begin to publish and re-publish more and more content, a personal filter will again become necessary (level 2 filtering).

In any case, streams are finally here to stay. Mining that stream for value is now the next great frontier.

google_wave_logo-760260

I was just debating with a friend about the value and usefulness of Google’s Wave in the enterprise.

His argument is that Wave has 10 years of adoption curve ahead of it and would not quickly replace email or wikis for enterprise staff.

I tweeted my response:

20% of enterprise users will be using wave in the first 12 months for more than 50% of their comms (replacing email and wiki)

Edit: To be clear, my 12 month time frame begins when Wave is publicly available.

That’s a big call to make on enterprises adopting a radically new technology. Enterprises move very, very slowly. So why am I so bullish on the adoption of Google Wave in the enterprise?

Here’s why…

Email is king

Everyone uses email right? Why would people swap? Because with Wave, they don’t have to.

First, with Wave’s API there will quickly and instantly (I mean in weeks, long before public launch) be integration between Wave and Email. Wave messages and events will  be funneled to email and back again as if the two were built from the same protocol.

Second, Wave will be viral. Users will quickly realize that their email inbox is only giving them a pale imitation of the Wave collaboration experience. It will be like working with shadow puppets while your friends are over having an acid trip of light, sound, fun and productivity.

If someone had told me that they were setting out to kill/replace email, I would have laughed in their face. Now that I see the Wave product and roll out strategy – I think it might actually happen.

Enterprise IT Departments

IT departments are slow to adopt and roll out new technologies right?

People forget that enterprises are just a collection of human beings. Social beings. Like IM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Wikis and countless other applications, Wave will soak into an enterprise long before the IT department knows what the hell is going on.

The enterprise adoption curve of Wave, however, will make those other technologies look glacial. Everyone who ever picked up a Wiki, IM client, Facebook or Twitter (I think that covers 99.9% of the developed, working world) will latch onto Wave for dear life.

Everyone else will be forced to open a Wave client to find out what the hell is going on.

Too many tools

Enterprises indeed have many, many tools that already ‘own’ a large part of a given knowledge worker’s/enterprise user’s day.

None of them matter anymore. Again, with Wave’s amazing API and extensibility model, each of these apps, custom or not, will have a Wave bridge.

Official Wiki Pages, Sales Reports, Bug Tickets, New Blog Posts, Emails, Customer Records will all be available and accessibly from the Wave interface.

Who’s going to write all those bridges? Hacker employees, smart IT department engineers, new start-ups and the companies that own those other products hoping desperately to remain relevant and competitive.

Half Lives

Geocities, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter. What do these things show us? That technology adoption has a half-life. Geocities lasted as king of the heap twice as long as MySpace, MySpace twice as long as Facebook and so on. We are approaching a kind of singularity – although just like with the mathematical function, one can never achieve 0 of course.

Sure, enterprises move much more slowly, but when was the last time a really new enterprise productivity application hit the market? Do we even know what the current half-life is? My bet is that it’s pretty damn short – and Wave has the potential to be ahead of the curve.

Related link: Business Opportunities around Google Wave

media-20-best-practices-logo

Today the Media 2.0 Best Practices went live. I’m very happy to see this come to light.

I’ve been working on something like it for a number of years now, and with JS-Kit’s backing and the participation of my friends it has taken shape.

I’d like to thank all involved. I look forward to having conversations with the participants and creating something that vendors can use to make and keep user-centric promises to their participants.

I’m also very happy that the Media 2.0 Workgroup was able to take on this process and see it through. There is a lot of potential in that group that is yet to be realized.

Check it out…

Visit the site and view the strawman at www.mediabestpractices.com


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Real Life Community

January 3, 2009

I’m sitting here in the shuttle to JFK having finished an awesome trip to NYC and I’m thinking about community.

In our industry that word gets thrown around a lot, but I’m not talking about our product, I’m talking about our process.

This thing that has happened over the last few years has been special. A global ecosystem of people – no of friends – has been created. Friends defined not by their knowledge of each other necessarily, but in the knowledge of a shared idea. A shared belief perhaps. That by being more open and connected we can achieve new, better things.

Better ideas, better friends, better businesses, better governance… maybe even eventually a better society.

I have met these people everywhere I go. From Amsterdam to New York City. They are individuals and groups with unparalleled openness to new people and new ideas. They have opened their homes and minds to me and the others around them. It has been amazing to watch.

We all seem to recognize our common hopes in each other instantly. Hopes about the social web, about our work and maybe even in a new kind of global social consciousness.

People like @askfrasco who let me stay in her Greenwitch Village apartment for almost a month. @Brett who invited and introduced me to almost everyone in New York – especially @tedmurphy, @mikepratt & @hellyeah1. My old friends (old in both age and length of friendship) @globalcitizen and @bryanthatcher who lent me their offices and reminisced about past parties and work. One of the first people I met in the US tech scene, @gregarious, who showed me his old family home and introduced me to new friends like @rogerwu @themaria, @suzymae, @skyle and @technosailor. And by extension their introduction to @hermannm who had us over for a random dinner party.

All these people (and these are just some of the ones in NYC), have all shown me this new kind of person. This new community. I hope that this collective survives the faded Web 2.0 bandwagon and the defusing funding surge to turn into something more important, long lasting and profound.

A new kind of global collective that seeds our ideas in the general, mainstream public to change the people around us – one at a time. To help them to discover the kind of global village we know exists. Because after all, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed… yet.

Happy new year my friends.

I just posted a summary of the current data portability landscape to the Official DataPortability Blog.

From the post:

Closed platforms are like ice cubes in a glass of water. They will float for a while. They will change the temperature of the liquid
beneath. Ultimately, however, the ice cube must eventually melt into the wider web.

Facebook’s success with Facebook Connect can and will further drive innovation in the community to develop an open alternative.

Facebook’s success will (like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, AOL, Myspace, countless major media properties and countless small startups) to create alternatives. At least some of those participants will recognize (if they have not already) that the most open among them will earn both the respect and the market share of the next phase. Moving from Facebook Connect’s ‘data portability’ to Interoperable DataPortability.

A web of Data.

That’s a landscape where we can continue to innovate on a level playing field.

Proposal: OpenID Connect

December 8, 2008

OpenID needs to be as simple as Facebook Connect if it has any chance of competing. The problem is User Experience. It’s a nightmare.

My proposal:

  1. All Email providers and OpenID Consumers (particularly Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail) implement: http://eaut.org/
  2. Until we have critical mass with step 1, a 3rd party, community controled “Email to OpenID mapping service” should be provided. Vidoop runs a related service at http://emailtoid.net/. It’s quite good but it should be donated to the OpenID foundation for independent control.
  3. OpenID Connect login prompts ask for your email address on 3rd party sites.
  4. When you hit ‘connect’ it generates a popup much like the FB Connect popup.
  5. The contents of the popup is either:
    • The password screen of the OpenID provider as resolved via EAUT OR
    • The password screen of the OpenID provider as resolved via the community EmailtoID service OR
    • A prompt from the EmailToID service that walks you through creating a new OpenID or mapping an exiting OpenID to this email address.Here’s the important part: In all cases, the screens MUST conform to a strict UX Design Guideline set forth by the OpenID Foundation to ensure the process is as simple as Facebook Connect.Only providers that confirm to this OpenID Connect UX standard (as certified by the OpenID Foundation?) may have their OpenIDs validated in this popup. This is a harsh rule but it ensures a smooth UX for all involved.
  6. This initial Email to OpenID mapping through a 3rd party service is painful since most email providers and OpenID consumers do not use EAUT yet.
  7. This can be overcome if we get a series of OpenID Consumers and OpenID Providers involved as launch partners. A major email provider (Gmail, Hotmail and/or Yahoo) would also be be helpful but not a blocker.

Potential Concerns:

  1. How do we deter phishing? Does this work-flow make phishing worse because of the predictable UX? Does it matter? Is there a way to ensure a distributed karma system is included in the work flow?
  2. This only solves the login problem and does not go into the issue of connecting to, accessing and manipulating data as the full data portability vision describes. This is a conversation for another thread.

Bonus:

  • If you provide OpenID but do not consume it you need to be named and shamed. There should be a 2 month grace period, then The OpenID Foundation, the DataPortability Project and everyone else who is interested should participate.
  • “OpenID Connect” should be a new brand with a fresh batch of announcements with strict implementation guidelines (not just around UX but also around things like consumption).

To summarize, my proposal world:

  1. Allow users to use their email address for OpenID
  2. Standardize the User Experience for OpenID
  3. Provide a stop gap while Email providers catch up with Email to OpenID mapping.

Get involved:

I’d love to do mockups for this – but I’m busy. Anyone interested in learning from the Facebook Connect UX and drafting OpenID Connect Mockups from which we can draw the strict UX guidelines I mentioned?

Could this work?

Have you seen this?

Let me quote the highlights for you:

If the initial development race of Web 2.0 centered around “building a better social network” then the next phase will certainly focus on extending the reach of existing social networks beyond their current domain. How? By using the elements of the social graph as the foundational components that will drive the social Web. Where we once focused on going to a destination – particular social network to participate – we will now begin to carry components of social networks along with us, wherever we go. In the next phase of the social Web, every site will become social.

Agreed. That’s been the vision and promise of much of my work for more than a year.

Here’s the scary part

Facebook Connect proposes to make data and friend connections currently held within the walled garden of Facebook accessible to other services. This has two distinct benefits, one for the sites and one for Facebook.

For the participating sites, Facebook Connect provides more social functionality without a great deal of additional development. A new user can opt to share the profile information in Facebook instead of developing a new account. This gives the user access to the site and its services without the tedium of developing yet another profile on yet another site. In addition, users can use the relationship information in Facebook to connect to their friends on the other services. In short, it makes the new partner site an extension of Facebook.

Essentially, Facebook is trying to replace all logins with their own, and control the creation, distribution and application of the social graph using their proprietary platform.

The most scary part of this, is that while Facebook is quietly and methodically building out this vision with massive partners, the standards community is busy squabbling about naming the open alternative.

Is it Data Portability? Is the Open Web? is it Open Social? Is it Federated Identity?

At the start of this year one would have thought that the open standards movement got a huge boost by the massive explosion of the DataPortability project. It’s set of high profile endorsements catapulted the geeky standards conversation into the mainstream consciousness and helped provide a rallying cry for the community to embrace.

Instead of embracing it, though, many of the leaders in the community decided to squabble about form and style. They argued about the name, about the organization, about the merits of the people involved – on and on it went.

Instead of embracing the opportunity, they squandered it by trying to coin new phrases, new organizations and new initiatives.

The result is a series of mixed messages that have largely diluted the value of DataPortability’s promise this year. The promise of making the conversation tangible for the mainstream – the executives who are now partnering with FaceBook.

Will we let this continue into 2009? Will we continue to allow our egos to get in the way of mounting a real alternative to Hailstorm 2.0? Are we more interested in the theater of it, the cool kids vs. the real world or will we be able to reach the mainstream once again and help them to understand that entire social web is at stake?

I’ve not lost hope. There are countless reasons why Facebook and it’s Hailstorm 2.0 are not inevitable.

I have, however, lost a lot of respect for a lot of people I once admired. Maybe they can clean up their act and we can work together once again in the new year.

I put a call out to all those who are interested – technologists, early adopters, bloggers (especially bloggers), conference organizers, conference speakers, media executives – let’s get our act together and take this party to the next level.

I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Internet Wish: Twitter Bot

November 30, 2008

I would love it if someone would write a TwitterBot service. It would:

  • Allow you to give it the Username and Password of a given Twitter Account (let’s say JSKitSupport)
  • Auto-follow people when they followed it
  • Auto-unfollow people when they unfollow it
  • Allow you to register one or more ‘Bot Owners’ (Both Twitter account and Email Address)
  • Forward any @replies or references to given keywords to Bot Owners
  • Allow bot owners to direct message it and have it relay those messages to its followers (perhaps optionally auto-append the Owner’s twitter name to the end of the message)
  • Allows Bot Owners to direct message it commands
  • One of those commands could be ‘d tag last’ which ques up the last @reply in some sort of ‘follow up’ queue for the bot owners.

Can you think of any other features? Add them in comments and if I like them I will append them here!

Is Data Portability Safe?

November 20, 2008

‘What about privacy and security’ is a question that comes up regularly when discussing Data Portability. I’d like to address some of the reasons why Data Portability is actually good for privacy.

More safe than today.

Data Portability is not about putting more personal data in the cloud. We’re dealing with data that’s already out there. The goal is to provide the ability to give access to your data to applications you trust.

Using proper protocols and formats to move the data such as oAuth and OpenID is safer than allowing sites to scrape your mail account by giving it your username and password. They are safer because you are not giving your username and password away and because the access is scoped. Scoped access mean that you can grant specific and precise access to only the data you want to share with the requesting application (e.g. just your address book) as apposed to giving them complete access to your entire gmail account (address book, email, account history, google searches etc).

Federated Karma – Market Forces made Explicit

It may be possible to build a distributed trust or Karma system that sites and services can expose on Authorization Screens so that users can make informed decisions before trusting an application.

Users could rate services and the ratings would be normalized and made available via trusted Karma aggregation services.

This would provide an explicit meta layer of market sentiment at the point of permitting a data portability transaction.

This solution is far better than the Facebook Protection Fee solution.

Privacy is the wrong word

The real issue should not be labeled Privacy. Privacy is an idea but it’s not actionable. It can not be converted into ‘functionality’. We should be discussing ‘access controls’, ‘portable permission metadata’ and ‘universal privacy models’. These ideas combined allow us to define and implement privacy preferences in concrete terms.

Hyper Transparency

Privacy advocates can never and should never come to peace with it, but it’s clear that traditional ideas of privacy are changing.

Remember that It was once thought unconscionable to share you photos, daily activities, location, relationship status and other personal information for the world to see. Now it’s standard practice for young people around the world.

What taboos of personal privacy will fade next? It’s quite possible the question asked by future generations of Internet users will ask not why their data is available for everyone to see, but rather why it isn’t.

“I think therefore I am”.

Maybe now it’s

“I tweet therefore I am”.

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