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30 posts from July 2007

Sorting "network" members - another way that Facebook needs to grow beyond the college crowd!

image Today I went into one of my "Networks" in Facebook and was interested to see all the members (it was for my employer, and there are now 71 members in the network) and found yet more ways that Facebook needs to "grow up" outside of the college/university crowd.

First annoyance was that it just shows me some number of random network members.  If I click "Show More", I get some another batch of random members (seems to vary between 3 and 10 random members it shows).  However, if I change the "Sort Method" to "Alphabetical" I will then be able to browse through pages of, apparently, all the members.  I would really like the Alphabetical sort to be the default (realizing that some networks will be too big).

But the second annoyance was the sort options.  If you click on the image on the right you will get a larger version and see what I mean.

Here are the options for how to sort:

  • Sex (M/F)
  • Age
  • Relationship Status (and this is the one open by default)
  • Interested In (answers being "Men" or "Women")
  • Looking For (essentially what type of relationship you want)
  • Political Views
  • Other Criteria (where the options are "Concentration", "College Year", "Religious Views")

Now, keep in mind that this is for a work network!  Why do I really care about any of this for my co-workers?  Outside of Sex which may help me sort through it better?  I guess if I want to have a workplace relationship, but, well, sorry... I'm happily married and have no interest in any of that.

How about things instead like?

  • Currently employed with company (the network seems to have some former employees in it)
  • Job title/category
  • Interest
  • Skills  (things like programming languages, specialties)
  • Languages (of the speaking variety... say I want to find someone who can speak Italian)

I could go on... but you get the idea.  Those are the type of things I want to search for in the "work" context versus the "personal" context.  For Facebook to really gain traction within businesses, I think it will need to "grow up" a bit beyond the college/dating scene and add these type of search/sort capabilities.

What do you think?  Is the current kind of sorting useful to you in a work context?  Or do you want something more like what I outlined here?

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Wagner James Au debunks myths about SecondLife in Forbes article...

image Yesterday over on GigaOm, Wagner James Au (blogger at New World Notes  and former Linden Labs employee) took Forbes to task for their "spectacularly incorrect" article about Second Life in a post "Debunking 5 Business Myths about Second Life" which I would recommend checking out.   Between that and his post on his own blog he points to many issues in the article.  I liked the ending of his own article:

So do these copious errors mean Second Life is a marketers’ paradise? For mass eyeballs, definitely not—several virtual worlds which allow outside advertising are much larger.  As a boutique effort to a demographically attractive audience?  Maybe, depending on expectations and investment. No one knows for sure.  It’s why I’m still hoping a top-flight business magazine like Forbes does the research to generate some meaty answers.

As well as that of his GigaOm article:

Again, none of this is to say Second Life is the most ideal virtual world platform for business, certainly not for all purposes. For one thing, it’s not anywhere near the largest online world to allow outside marketing (the kid-oriented Habbo Hotel and Gaia Online, to name just two, are larger.) And Time Magazine’s recent diss of SL, for example, is mostly fair (if arguably short-sighted.) Ultimately, my real bias is against careless reporting from respected publications which consider Second Life worthy of coverage– but somehow, don’t feel obliged to apply traditional standards of accuracy, when doing so.

I think we're all still trying to figure out where Second Life and other virtual worlds fit into our ever evolving choice of communication media.  But in order to do that, we do need to have solid data and accurate reporting.  Reading the Forbes article, it definitely does seem rather skewed toward the negative side of things.

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Vermont political blogs team up for 2nd Annual "BBQ & Hamburger Summit" this Sunday (July 15)...

image Want to have a hamburger with local Vermont bloggers and politicians?  If so, head on over to North Beach in Burlington on Sunday (July 15) from 1-5pm for the Second Annual Political BBQ and Hamburger Summit.  The "Frequently Ass-Backward Questions" are at the very least entertaining.  This one, particularly:

Q: I’m a current office-holder, and worried about attending a gathering featuring beer and loose political chatter. Can you give me some assurance that my casual remarks won’t be edited out of context, uploaded to YouTube, diffused across 10 or 15 mega-blogs, and then viewed by 60,000 or 100,000 people as far away as Japan and American Samoa?

A: No.

Welcome to the transparent world, eh?

One of the aspects of "social media" that I enjoy so much is the "social" aspect and the way that this can translate into local events such as this.  I intend to write more on that soon, but today I'll just say that it's cool to me that Vermont Daily Briefing and Green Mountain Daily are putting on this event again.

Last year, I enjoyed reading the first event - "POLITICAL BARBEQUE ERUPTS ON NORTH BEACH; Officials Unable to Count the Injured and Disoriented; Welch Communications Director Hospitalized for “Percussive Gastric Event”; Odum Also Lost; Oh, The Humanity, the Humanity!" (and no one was actually hospitalized, it was an attempt at humor).  Now, it was an election year with the vote coming up in a few months, so naturally there was high attendance from local political campaigns.  We'll see this year in an off-year.  I would assume we'll probably see some presidential campaign crews there (although, with the completely screwed up 2008 primaries, they'll probably mostly be trying to get us to drive down to N.H. to help campaigns there).

This year I'll definitely be attending, since: a) I know about it (I didn't last year); b) it's a 5-minute bike ride from my house; and c) would I turn down a chance to chat with other bloggers?  not likely!

So if you are in the Burlington, Vermont, area this Sunday and want to join in the fun with other VT bloggers and non-bloggers, come on down to North Beach on Sunday from 1-5pm.  Note that you do not have to be a political blogger!

Q: Isn’t this BBQ really just for politicians and political bloggers?

A: No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, a good cross-section of the crowd will be made up of office-holders and office seekers. And yes, political bloggers will be out in force, as will their readers, especially hard-core readers of Vermont Daily Briefing, Green Mountain Daily, What’s The Point?, and Rip and Read.

But the greater point of the gathering is to bring together any and all politically minded individuals. People from all parties, and all demographics. And friends of those people, and the children of the friends of those people.

In short, no one in America is excluded from the guest list. It’s a wicked big tent.

Fun stuff... :-)

Updating "Netiquette" to embrace social media/networking tools... Chris Brogan takes a stab at it

What does "Netiquette" look like in today's world of social media and social networking?  In his recent post, "Considering Social Network Etiquette", Chris Brogan starts a conversation about what are the rules of etiquette guidelines in these new services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  It's a great conversation to have because the reality is that "etiquette" is a constantly evolving set of conventions... and those conventions naturally morph and evolve over time.

Those of us who have been around the Net for a while will certainly remember the Usenet Netiquette guidelines (look at the column of links on the right side) - more or less summarized in the Wikipedia "Netiquette" entry.  Some may even recall that this was written down back in 1995 in an IETF informational RFC as "RFC 1855: Netiquette Guidelines".  While those documents are a bit dated in their technologies (not many folks use "talk" anymore and Usenet is no longer where the conversation is), many of the points are still sound, but yet there are new nuances to the newer services.

What is best way to politely decline a friend request from someone you don't know?  Given that Facebook now shows all your friends when you leave a group or remove an application, what's the most polite way to leave a group or remove an app that a real friend created?  Should you somehow acknowledge every blog comment?  How do you politely decline to forward a LinkedIn request?  or politely decline a request to endorse someone in LinkedIn?  What's the best way to deal with inappropriate "wall" posts in Facebook?  (And let's not even get into MySpace...)  When is it appropriate to copy/paste someone's email into a blog entry?

The reality is that we're all making this up as we go along... and in our daily actions and reactions we are creating the "cultural conventions" that over time come to be known as etiquette.   They will vary somewhat across cultures - and that's the challenge because while we are part of our own culture, we are participating in a global culture, and that can be a challenge.

"Etiquette" also changes over time.  Cultural conventions evolve.

The conversation is one we all need to participate in as we all actors in this particular evolution.  Reply to Chris' post.  Or this one.  Write your own post - or book - or e-book.  Start a mailing list.  Or a web page.  Many newcomers are looking for the guidance in how to navigate the new frontier... let's help.

Lee Hopkins on Windows Live Writer...

image My colleague Down Under, Lee Hopkins, has not been as pleased with Windows Live Writer as I have been.  Strange, really, because I've not had quite the same issues as he has with graphics.  For instance, the one to the right is in at the original size, i.e. "as is" and looks to me quite like the original.  Now I did not do anything to it like give it a drop shadow or a box around it, which would have resized the graphic and changed it a bit. 

Lee, I'll suggest that you click on the graphic and then on the Image tab under "Borders" set it to "None".  That combined with ensuring that the image size is set to "Original" on the Advanced tab should give you "as is" size you are seeking.  At least, it does for me.

As to posting in the future, I'll try that out with this post.  I would wonder if it is a function of the blogging platform you are using.  Lee is hosting his own Wordpress - I am using hosted TypePad.  We'll see.  I'll set this with a date and time of today at 6:46pm, about 1.5 hours from now.  Let's see if it uses TypePad's queueing to hold the post or if it posts immediately.  (Hmmm... I wonder what Timezone TypePad operates on.)

Here goes the experiment...

UPDATE: Nope, it didn't work. Lee's right in that forward-dating a blog post does not appear to work in the current Windows Live Writer Build.

I'll note that I, too, used to have this capability in Semagic, but Semagic queued it locally and then posted it to the blogging service (assuming Semagic was running at the time the item was to be posted - otherwise it posted it when it was next started).

SocialNetworkDevCamp - an unconference for developers interested in mashups and APIs in social media tools...

imageWhat are you doing on September 8th and 9th, 2007?  If  you are in the San Francisco Bay area (or can get there), and more precisely Richmond, California (a bit north of Oakland and Berkeley), it appears that there will now be an "unconference" called "SocialNetworkDevCamp" with the purpose:

SocialNetworkDevCamp will focus on API and Widget development from Facebook, Twitter, Pownce, Linked In and others. The camp will also start the process of identifying open APIs and data structures which would facilitate the creation of open standards for social networking.

Very cool to see.... and hopefully it will stimulate a good bit of discussion and action around the potential mashups that can occur between all these various services.  "Open standards for social networking" would also be very good to see!

If are interested in attending, just edit the wiki page and add yourself to the list of participants (or volunteers).

(Tip of the hat to Julian Bond for raising this issue in a Skype groupchat focused on mashups.)

Wonderful use of storytelling in a video...

From Chris Brogan today, I learned of this video which I very much enjoyed:

Per adfreak, the video was a "Gold" winner at the Cannes Lions event.

The question is - how many of you had absolutely no idea why I would reference this video until the very end?  At which point you then went back and watched it again?  :-)

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"Vermont eyes virtual world" (SecondLife)

image It was a bit surprising to be flipping through our local paper, the Burlington Free Press, this morning and stumble upon an article about SecondLife called "Vermont eyes virtual world".  Not entirely sure why, to be honest, except that perhaps a Free Press writer just thought it was cool to write about... and given that IBM is a large employer in these parts, things that IBM is interested in are potentially interesting to area residents.

As noted, the Vermont tourism department doesn't have it in their plans yet, but is interested.  The article quotes Vermont's deputy commissioner of tourism and marketing, Steve Cook, and says this:

Cook envisions a virtual Vermont that includes rolling green hills, meandering wildlife, a portion of the Long Trail, the gold-domed capitol, the Bennington battle monument and aspects of downtown Burlington and the city's waterfront. An address in Second Life would give the state an opportunity to lure tourists by creating a spot for avatars from around the world to gather, socialize and experience virtually what Vermont has to offer.

If he's going to go that far, he should probably include a virtual ski mountain, too, since that is so much of what we have here most years.  They should also have a sugar shack... maybe you could help tap some maple trees and then connect the pieces to get syrup processing going. I do like the idea of "meandering wildlife"... if it were to actually be done it could be quite entertaining.

We've also got the "V" thing going... I mean... "Virtual Vermont" or "Virtual Vermont Valleys"... :-)

It would be interesting to see if the other places that already have a virtual presence to encourage tourism are actually seeing any positive results they can measure.  Are people visiting their area/region as a result of having seen it in Second Life?  (Not sure exactly how you track that unless you provided some way in-world to sign up for travel or had a code to use with agencies.)  Some day in all my copious free time (!) perhaps I'll investigate... - A sure sign of the success of Facebook Platform when there is a site out to review Facebook apps...

image You have to know that the "Facebook Platform" is being successful when there turns out to be an entire web site dedicated to reviews of Facebook applications!  Yes, indeed, courtesy of the previously mentioned Reuters article, I learned today about run by a gent named Rodney Rumford.  (Yes, okay, so I missed it when it appeared on Digg back in mid-June. Hey, I was on vacation!) In looking through the site, I learned of a number of apps I hadn't yet seen (like this one remarkably from LinkedIn or this one from c|net).  I do like the way he is providing a "rating" of apps - if you are going to do reviews, a rating is a good thing to have in my opinion.

In any event, it's good to see a site like this and I'll be adding it to the list of "social media apps" sites I watch.

Reuters reports on Facebook and its growth, app platform (and the fact that its walled garden is a plus)

image Reuters today came out with a lengthy article, "PluggedIn: Facebook lets friends share private view of Web", that will undoubtedly only continue to fan the flames of Facebook growth.  That growth, in fact, was apparently 1 million new Facebook users in the last week and 5 million in the last 6 weeks.  All in all, not a bad growth curve!  The article starts with the requisite quotes that people need a "Facebook strategy" and other such statements typical of recent Facebook articles.  It also weighs in on the privacy issue:

"Facebook is inherently not open the way the Web is open. Users share all kinds of information on the site they would never share on the Web," (Facebook CTO Adam) D'Angelo, 22, says. "We get users to divulge more information because we protect users' privacy."

Let's just pause there and take a look at that first sentence again:

Facebook is inherently not open the way the Web is open.

Therein lies my fundamental problem.  Don't get me wrong: I am a Facebook user.  I am logged into the site pretty much every day.  I'm also a huge privacy advocate who wants control over what information I expose to whom.  So on one level, I do applaud what they are doing.  I'm also a huge fan of open APIs and platforms... so I like what they've been doing with their "Platform".  But I still go back to my feeling that, as I wrote about previously, we're returning into a world of walled gardens.  To read messages, I have to be logged in to Facebook.  To use the apps, I have to be logged into Facebook.  Facebook has to really be my "portal" to the Internet.  Now, obviously that is good for Facebook... but it worries me to have one site become the lens through which so many people view the Internet.  (Obviously, similar statements though could be said about MySpace or even iGoogle or Yahoo...)

In any event, the Reuters article will no doubt expose even more people to Facebook and generate more interest.  I did enjoy page 3 where they talked about the sudden success application developers have had.  It will indeed be interesting to see where Facebook evolves.