Facebook has announced that they are about to release vanity URLs.

What most people don’t realize is that this move, while interesting, is not really about vanity URLs at all – it’s actually about addressable identity.

One of Twitter’s key advantages in the race for dominance over internet identity is their growing namespace of what I call Addressable Identities.

What are they I hear you ask? An example of an Addressable Identity is being able to write ‘@chrissaad‘ and have the system and users understand that it is a direct and concrete reference to me. This form of addressing is particularly interesting because it is easy to write in a sentence or micro-blog.

With Vanity URLs, Facebook will encourage users to specify a tidy/tiny/compact identity identifier by which friends/followers/others can reference/point to each other. This is a big step towards keeping up with Twitter as one of the web’s only providers of modern addressable identities (email is an old, less compact version of this).

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and how we consolidate these namespaces when using 3rd party services.

It might ultimately have to end up like good old email:

chrissaad@twitter.com, chrissaad@facebook.com etc.

Ideally though, we should be able to use our own/personal email address and have it resolve to an OpenID for true, federated and open addressable identity.

That, however, is still some way away.

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

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’m a little weary of the Twitter Vs. Facebook debate.

I posted this comment on Fred Wilson’s blog. I thought I would share here:

Twitter is the status service of the web-wide social network. Facebook status updates are the status update feature of Facebook. The web will always be bigger than Facebook therefore Twitter’s potential as a messaging bus will always be greater.

While Twitter continues to create loosely coupled links across the open web (a lightweight process), Facebook continues to try to expand the perimeter of its walled garden (a heavy weight process that is creating a backlash from major brands and savvy users).

Twitter is public and asymmetrical. It allows for bots and other innovations.

Facebook is private and symmetrical, forcing users to use their real names and deciding which updates get through to follower news feed.

The two services couldn’t be more different and the influence and effectiveness of their scale can not be measured 1:1.

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.

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!