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Chatting Cars and Enterprise Software

Today’s big news is Salesforce Teaming up with Toyota to create a private social network where you can befriend your car and it will “tweet” you when it’s thirsty, need a checkup etc..etc..etc – see the details from @Krishnan’s post.  The opportunities are really endless – more on that later.   I have to get something off my chest first.

I admit when Chatter first came out, I did not get it.  Yeah, another activity stream, so what?  I’ve long agreed with Chief Curmudgeon Dennis Howlett that activity streams without business context offer little value in business.  Things started to get interesting when Chatter added the ability to follow documents, opportunities and other business objects.  Aha!  So now we’re getting business context in Chatter!  But why?

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Josh Groban Sings Kanye West Tweets

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When Real-time is Too Much – Can You Handle the Firehose?

FireHoseStreams

This morning I’ve been testing TweetDeck’s new super-fast version, based on the new Twitter User Streams API. TweetDeck provides fair warning:

This is a VERY experimental version of TweetDeck

I saw a few small glitches, but nothing major.  Yet I am in trouble, and it’s not because of the product.  It’s me.  My brain…

The new TweetDeck (and I suspect soon all clients adapting the User Streams API) is fast. Bloody fast. As close to real-time as it gets. Here’s a quick comparison of Seesmic Desktop 2 and the new TweetDeck:

Seesmic in the left, white column, TweetDeck in the right, black one.   Tweetdeck wins the race hands-down (note: this is not a comparison of the applications, but the API-s they use).  It gets everything first.  And therein lies the rub. I’m not sure real-time is always what we need.   This is like drinking from a huge firehose, without taking a break. It can be suffocating – unless monitoring Twitter is what you do full time.  Here’s my computer screen, while I am typing this very post:

I have a single column for Twitter on the right edge, but my eyes are not glued to it. I can focus on work, but notice the periodic screen updates in my peripheral vision, can quickly glance over to see if there’s anything noteworthy, and continue working.  That’s how far my continuously divided attention can spread.  The new TweetDeck does not give me that 30-second to a minute break to focus on work.  It’s in constant motion, updates come in tweet by tweet, not in batches, and I find my eyes glued to it.  It’s a productivity killer.

If I am live-tweeting during a conference, the firehose is what I want: set up TweetDeck with multiple columns, allow it to occupy the entire screen – in that environment I want absolute real-time.  But for most of my productive life, I need those split minutes undisturbed.  I turned off the firehose.

Update: The video does not fully support my point. As luck would have it I recorded a slower minute or so.  But it can become dizzying under heavy Twitter traffic:-)

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What Happens When You Abandon Foursquare…Twitter… Facebook…etc.

missing-guy

Missing | Agent-X Comics

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Facebook Big Mac Attack – Not For Me, Thanks. Top 10 Reasons to …

Burger Fat Kid Oh, just what the Doctor has ordered: more junk food coming your way, left and right, from the social network that’s taking over the Internet: Facebook.  McDonald’s will be the first advertiser taking advantage of Facebook’s soon-t0-be-releasing location feature.

The first reaction from most is this will kill leading location-based services: Hey Foursquare, Time To Close That Round Of Funding Before Facebook Chops Off Your Head.  Yes, probably true, but now I am more worried about Facebook users – all of us – then businesses, and not just as a defender of healthier diets.  Greasy or not, it’s not the ads that worry my, it’s yet another level of thoughtless surrender we’ll soon be committing: broadcasting our location every step of the way.

Yes, I realize there may be social benefits from bumping into friends via Foursquare Facebook, but have you really considered the danger of letting the world know where you are every step of the way?   While you think about it, also consider just whose hands you leave all that data in: not exactly the champions of privacy.

The Relationship Between Facebook and Privacy: It’s Really Complicated says Mathew Ingram @ GigaOM this morning, and I strongly disagree.  There is nothing complicated about it.  Facebook does not give a *** about privacy: it’s a concept CEO Mark Zuckerberg finds obsolete, simply does not believe in at all. Now, in reality, even Facebook caves in  to demands of privacy, but they are either careless or incompetent, or both, plugging one security hole after another.

Three strikes and you’re out – I guess Facebook is exempt from that law, now that they are becoming the New Internet.

But people are actually worried about privacy implications to consider quitting Facebook entirely: 10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account.  It’s a post worth reading in full, here are just the headings:

10. Facebook’s Terms Of Service are completely one-sided

9. Facebook’s CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior

8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy.

7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch

6. Facebook is a bully

5. Even your private data is shared with applications (you are no longer trusting Facebook, but the Facebook ecosystem).

4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted.

3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account.

2. Facebook doesn’t (really) support the Open Web.

1. The Facebook application itself sucks.

facebook internet 2040I must admit for all my grumpiness I have not deleted my account, and I likely will not (not that it would be easy ).  I resisted joining Facebook in the first place, was probably a year or so late, and even when I joined, I created a separate email account just for FB, and disallowed saving any Facebook cookies (remember Beacon? ). But resistance became just too inconvenient… so now I am in. That said I am not particularly active on Facebook, hardly maintain my profile and generally my presence there is a mess (this is where my marketing friends can jump in chastizing me for the lost opportunity).  I’m only sticking around because Facebook has proven to be too pervasive, it is everywhere and (almost) everyone is on it.  So yes, it is great to find long-lost friends and even discover some new ones.  But that’s all for me, and I seriously suggest you all reconsider the level of your presence.

And even if you are very disciplined in your Facebook usage (are you?) read #5 above again.  Just yesterday I was setting up my shiny new Android phone: I decided to enable location information, for the benefit of Google Maps and other really useful services.  But… but..but … I am also tweeting and communicating in a zillion other ways from that same device, and although I will try to be careful about reviewing the permissions of every single app, it’s likely I will slip sooner or later.

So think about this: in this API-driven intertwined ecosystem of mobile and web services, just how certain can you be that Facebook (and others) won’t get information you never intend to give them in the first place, no matter how careful (you think) you are?

Updates:

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As Twitter Takes Over IM, We Need Clients with Friendly Nicknames

twitter breakup It used to be Yahoo, MSN or AOL chat. Then Skype took over – it is my default IM system now, despite it’s obvious flaws. But nowadays the fastest way to reach most of my contacts is DM on Twitter.  That is if I can remember their Twitter account names. While @firstnamelastname has become a quasi standard, quite a few users have more cryptic names.

@bhc3, @treerao,  @scottfarkas, @tardate,  @ricmacnz, @nielr1, @philfree, @tardate, @sfishy – how am I supposed to remember all that?

Other communication systems have a “contacts” directory with customizable nicknames  – perhaps it’s time Twitter Clients look at this feature…

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Has SXSW Peaked?

How do I know, when I’m not even there?  By reading what others say.  For starters, here’s Jolie O’Dell who attends this year’s conference:

Too many people, not enough tech.

…non-technical people aren’t here to learn; they’re here for self-congratulation and mutual masturbation. People I’ve never heard of are referring to themselves as Twitter celebrities and generally making me ill.

This show isn’t fun, and I won’t be coming back.

For contrast, non-attendee Danny Brown says: Why I’m Not Missing SxSW.  Dennis Howlett chimes in: The not attending SXSW grump report Yes, Dennis is a self-proclaimed curmudgeon, but he has a point, and he does not seem to be alone.

I dropped by at the Cloud Connect conference yesterday (yes, dear organizers, I sneaked in with my badge from the previous event hosted by SAP’s CEOs, as your registration closed early.)  From the full house (standing room only) at Geoffrey Moore’s session I tweeted:

So are all the workabees @ #ccevent while the party types went to #SXSW?

Chirag Mehta picked up on my teasing Geoffrey Moore:

Well, all iPhone folks are at #SXSW RT @ZoliErdos: Geoffrey Moore needs to update his speech- said look at your Blackberries LOL #ccevent

You probably get the drift by now… but here’s Jeremy Pepper spelling it out for you: I Don’t Do SXSWi

For the past few years, I keep hearing the same thing about SXSWi:

  • It’s spring break for social media
  • It’s a week long party
  • It’s one night after the other of bars and alcohol
  • It’s great networking
  • I go every year, and make my agency pay for it no matter what because it’s a great party (this said to me by a former boss when I asked what the value is there – notice nothing about actual work, though).

I rarely hear “it’s a great event for my company/agency to reach the right people for product A, B or C”. It’s always about the drinking.

… take a step back and think of this: can you justify missing Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday to your boss or client? And, well, the rest of the week is a wash also if you’re hungover.

And, as a sage executive said to me about CES: there’s going to be a bad day of reckoning for social media. Corporations are going to ask for ROI, and going to party is not ROI.

Sour grapes?  I don’t think so.  But back to the question on how I know SXSW has peaked?  Because declaring non-participant status is becoming trendy.  This would have been unthinkable last year.  So my prediction for next year: there will be even more : “why I am not going” declarations, and the year after SXSWI will be “uncool”.  The trendsetters move on to another party conference :-)

Image by Hugh MacLeod, who calls it the annual 5-day drunken orgy (which he is attending, btw….)

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Why I Quit Reddit – Actually, Reddit Quit Me

broke reddit Three years ago I was quite active on Reddit – at least for a while, until I realized just how manipulated it became. I’m not really holding it against reddit, the same happens on Digg and probably on all similar sites – nothing new here, you’ve probably read all this a thousand times, so I won’t be the 1001st :-)

Suffice to say, I reduced my activity level, but occasionally still found interesting items I voted up or down there. Hack, I even broke Reddit – or that’s what it said.

Then it broke me. A few months ago I noticed I could no longer log in with my usual credentials.  No reason to worry, that’s what password recovery is for:

reddit no user

Oops.. “no email for that user” – I don’t exist.  Reddit killed me :-(  Except it’s not really true.  Reddit still knows me as a user:

reddit zoli

Still no reason to panic – that’s what support is for.  Or so I thought.  Most of the support links require logging in, which I obviously could not do, but eventually I found a feedback form, which I duly filled out – and am waiting for a response ever since.

As a last resort I tweeted up @reddit – but as it turns out that’s not a real Twitter presence for Reddit – it’s just a marketing bot that reposts popular reddit entries.

End of story… and I don’t really care.  I’m quite happy with StumbleUpon instead.

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Google’s FeedBurner Social Isn’t Quite Ready. Back to TwitterFeed – for Now.

googtwitWhy bother with an intermediary when we can now have FeedBurner send our blog post to Twitter directly?

- I wrote in Startup Bloodbath in Social Media and I meant it.  But for now, we’re switching back to TwitterFeed.

The new Feedburner service that pushes blog posts to Twitter directly isn’t quite ready. Let’s just say it’s a bit too trigger-happy: it pushes an update after every “save”, even minor updates to already published posts.

This is so crappy, we’re switching CloudAve back to TwitterFeed – for now.  Because it is crappy enough for Google to fix it soon – and then we’re back to the original formula: no need for intermediaries.

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Startup Bloodbath in Social Media?

Image credit: Evil Fish Google announced their own URL shortener. Great.  But some startups may be panicking.  The TechCrunch title says it all: Bit.ly Just Got Fu.kd: Facebook And Google Get Into The Short URL Game.

Of course bit.ly is not the only possible casualty, but they are the dominant one in the URL shortening space – or at least they have been so far…

But what most commentators haven’t noticed is another feature from Google: FeedBurner social, which might very well kill TwitterFeed.  Yes, why bother with an intermediary when we can now have FeedBurner send our blog post to Twitter directly?  Check out the URL for this very post on Twitter: it’s the shiny new goog.gl variety.

And it’s not over yet.. just as we’re absorbing what all this means, here’s news of Twitter testing business features, including the ability of multiple users posting on behalf of one organization..  Somehow I don’t think CoTweet, HootSuite and a bunch of others are too happy about it.

Are they all doomed?  Not necessarily – right now they all offer additional features (multiple accounts, scheduling, stats..etc), but nevertheless, it must not be very comforting when the Ultimate Giant enters their space…

Oh, yeah, I know … we’ll soon see the statements from all these startups welcoming Google, validating their markets…etc. :-)