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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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This TimeOnline story about Twitter is clearly linkbait. But dammit, I can’t resist.

Here are some of the quotes from some clinical psychologist dude by the name of Oliver James and a Cognitive Neuropsychologist David Lewis. Oliver and David clearly have no idea what they are talking about and should quit their day job.

The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”

“We are the most narcissistic age ever,” agrees Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist and director of research based at the University of Sussex. “Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”

Are these people for real? A lack of identity?

Twitter is simply the most recent tool by which we perform an age old, very human, very healthy behavior. Connection and Communication.

Connecting and Communicating is the very essence of identity. It is the method by which we test, refine, express, learn and declare our identities. It is everything.

Twitter is two friends chatting all day while they work. It is a group of friends sitting around a camp fire. It is a group of colleges learning from each other. It is the world expressing its collective identity to each other.

If it is narcissism to express yourself and tune into the expressions of your family, friends and peers then we are all narcissists.

Twitter is a return to story telling that was sublimated by the invention of mass media. It is the purest most durable expression of personal media to come out of the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

We’ve all heard these knee-jerk reactions before at the advent of the Telephone, The Internet and Blogging. Each time we find a new, easier ways to communicate, out of touch people need to question why human beings need to be so connected.

These crack pots who have not experienced these tools for themselves should do a little more research. Maybe Andy Pemberton, the author of this article, should have spent a few more days learning about and trying the tool he admits to have just discovered before passing judgment on it, lest someone confuse his self-expression (i.e. his ‘journalism’) as ill-informed filler.

I’ve written more about this on my book outline.

I also spoke about it in my interview for the ‘Life In Perpetual Beta’ documentary.

I appologize for the tone of this post, but when ‘professionals’ seem to make such clearly absurd statements it drives me a little crazy.

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.

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!

The web-wide social network

November 19, 2008

Ross Dawson has an excellent summary of a Gartner presentation on the Distributed Social Web by David Cearley. A web where each participant is their own central node on a web-wide social network.

It is the only natural conclusion of the vision of Data Portability.

It will be made possible by a series of futurists, technologists, philanthropists and engineers developing core building blocks like OpenID, oAuth, APML, PortableContacts, XMPP, RSS/ATOM, OPML, Microformats and more.

It will be commercialized by a series of entrepreneurial start ups with stars in their eyes running in and around the feet of the giants who are each fighting each other to keep up. Startups like JS-Kit.

It will be fueled by traditional and not so traditional media companies, steered by young, idealistic intrapraneurs, who are willing to take a bet in order to stake their claim on the next generation of social networking and human communication.

It will be monetized by a recognition that one can’t monetize word-of-mouth. Instead Attention will emerge as the ultimate way to measure, discover and interact with participants. See Faraday Media.

It will be popularized by bloggers, smart IT journalists and conference organizers who understand the importance of open over closed.

We have already started to see a preview of the world to come via the early attempts at rudimentary aggregators and proprietary data portability implementations. This is just the beginning of the beginning.

For a more details around the emerging trends, check out Ross’ post.

According to CNet, Facebook is going to start charging app developers a fee to achieve ‘Verified Application’ status. The fee is optional, but that doesn’t matter. Apps that are not ‘verified’ will quickly get buried by those that are.

I think in hindsight people will recognize this move as one of the final death knels of the Facebook platform as we know it today.

First, they de-emphasized applications all together by relegating them to a ‘boxes’ page and making the stream their primary interaction metaphor (Read: FriendFeed clone). Now they are trying to lock down the platform further, raising the bar for participation and charging what amounts to a protection fee for app developers to get any real attention at all.

The fact of the matter is, an increasing number of people are finally realizing that Facebook looks very similar to Pre Internet networks, AOL, Passport/Hailstorm, and any other proprietary implementation of a platform that can and must be open.

The only platform that matters on the web is the web itself, and Facebook through its actions and inactions is helping us all learn this lesson faster than ever.

Who owns your comment data?

November 11, 2008

We have started a conversation over on the JS-Kit blog about data ownership when it comes to comments. This is one of the Data Portability grey areas that needs a resolution in the ongoing journey to create the data web.

This is also an important question for social media. If we are all participants, who owns the space inside which we are particiapting?

I would love your input!

In this video, Tim O’reilly speaks about Data Portability. He suggests that it will be much like Open Source software in that it will never truly be adopted. I don’t know if I agree. 

Data Portability is less like Open Source software and more like the Internet and the Web itself. The standardized and interoperable protocals that make up the web – TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML etc – are adopted by anyone who wants access to Internet users. In much the same way, anyone who wants access to user data from the emerging web-wide data ecosystem will need to adopt emerging data portability formats and protocals.

Later in the video he goes on to say that data portabilty will actually be adopted, but not through legislation, but rather through organic mechanisms that gravitate towards open solutions that ‘just work’.

On this front, I agree. But Tim does not mention how we might help the process along. He does not mention that organic processes can and should include incentives. How the DataPortability project, through its definition of the problem and ongoing work to highlight good work towards an open data ecosystem actually encourages our collective desired outcomes.

Data Portability will indeed occur organically. The building blocks themselves were born out of organic efforts. An accellerant in the form of community, media and support documentation, however, has already helped push things along.

Who is JS-Kit?

October 14, 2008

The news today is that JS-Kit just closed a $3.6m round of funding and I have joined the company as a Strategic Advisor.

I’d like to take this moment to explain who JS-Kit is, what it could be, and why I decided to get involved.

First, I get offered a lot of advisory roles or full time jobs. It’s always very tempting to help entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams.

The reality is, however, between my company Faraday Media, my work at the DataPortability project, APML Workgroup, Media 2.0 Workgroup and other projects there simply isn’t enough bandwidth left to give the attention required.

The JS-Kit opportunity is different. When I first met Khris Loux (The CEO of JS-Kit) it was clear very quickly that we had a unique connection and a shared vision for a distributed Personal Web. As a result I have broken my own rule and accepted the offer to consult with/advise the company on a formal basis. It will be a significant commitment and take up a large part of my time.

The company he has quietly built over the last 2 years reflects our shared vision and its success is unmatched in the marketplace. With more than 550,000 registered sites, JS-Kit is the largest provider of light-weight plug in social features on the web. More importantly, though, it has no destination site. A philosophical choice that allows it to execute on a strategy of powering the edge to get more social – and more personal – without siphoning traffic back to a proprietary center.

JS-Kit technology powers some of the biggest sites on the web – with more to be announced soon.

This combination of scale and a focus on the edge makes the company uniquely placed to build something very special.

There are a number of challenges ahead for the company though – challenges of which Khris and the team are all too aware.

The name is not great! It was the name of a prototype product that became very successful very quickly despite not being ready for prime time so it sorta stuck. Blame Nick Gonzalez for writing it up in Techcrunch only days after it was put live for preliminary testing (just kidding I love Nick in a manly platonic sort of way)

Adoption is easy, but customization (it’s possible to make the widgets unrecognizable from the default style) is far too hard to do for average users.

The design is Web 1.0 at best. The site, brand and products lack a cohesive visual language and a modern look and feel.

These are just some of the things I will be helping to change over the coming months. The funding round also allows the team to execute on these opportunities quickly. These changes will be a precursor to a much broader strategy that we hope will delight users, empower publishers and surprise the industry.

In the mean time though, Faraday Media is still very much alive and kicking with both my involvement and the involvement of my best friend and co-founder Ashley Angell. I believe the core technologies developed in its labs will change the web. Faraday Media and JS-Kit will continue their business development activities and my role will help to shepherd the process.

So too is the DataPortability project under the stewardship of the stellar new steering group lead by none other than Daniela Barbosa.

So in this time of Economic woes, failing companies, staff layoffs and uncertain times I am proud and honored to be part of a team that is continuing to have a sustainable and positive impact on the web and actually growing the opportunity for a distributed personal ecosystem.

So now I’m involved, I’d like to encourage you to try out the tools on your sites and blogs and send me feedback directly. I’d like to start a conversation with you to improve the company and the web together.

Also follow Me, Khris and Nancy on Twitter!

 

Coverage has already started

DataPortability is boring?

September 29, 2008

Drama 2.0 has made a guest post on Mashable suggesting that DataPortability is boring. I obviously disagree.

Let me address each of his main points one by one.

(1) The average Internet user probably isn’t an active member of dozens of Web 2.0 services. While this may be difficult for some to believe, the truth is that most people don’t feel compelled to sign up for every new Web 2.0 service that launches. And quite frequently, users sign up for services that they eventually end up using very little. Data portability seems a lot less compelling when one recognizes that many, if not most, mainstream Internet users aren’t actively investing their time equally across a wide range of Web 2.0 services.

Actually you’re wrong. Data Portability is not about ‘Web 2.0’ – it’s about any web-based service. A typical user might use CNN, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, AIM, their cell phone and their PC or Laptop. That’s a lot of apps. Imagine the possibilities of having them sync some aspects of your data.

(2) The average Internet user probably doesn’t need or want to take his friends along to every Web 2.0 service he or she signs up for. These services can be fun and entertaining, but the notion that every user wants to be able to import his data when signing up for a new one is asinine.

Really? I remember the same argument against Telephones, PCs and Cell phones. It’s only asinine if you have a failure of imagination.

The point is not what users do today, but rather what new applications and innovation are possible in a standards based data ecosystem.

(3) Privacy is just as important as openness. Where does my data end and yours begin? If you believe that users of Web 2.0 services have some inherent “right” to control their own data but that this data is in inexorably linked to the “social graph,” what “rights” do users have to control where “shared” data goes?

Openness is the wrong word. The DataPortability project does not refer to the ‘Open Web’ for a reason.

Privacy is also the wrong word. Privacy is too broad a term that has no actionable attributes. We need to focus on words that represent features for implementation. Features that allow Access controls and permissioning for example.

As for shared or derived data, the lines are being drawn and the issues are being debated. Just because it’s hard to work out doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.