Tag Archives: social

Will Friendfeed move to mainstream?

A great deal has been written about Friendfeed and its phenomenal growth. This popular social site enables sharing of items across various social sites with others and also allows comment on items shared by friends. However, the ability to post direct to FF is limited.  Here’s the typical flow of information to FF, which as you will see is mostly from direct blog posts and other news aggregators.

Maybe this is a concious choice by FF to be a super-aggregator of feeds rather than a social bookmarking or sharing site. In which case, ability to share or post directly to the site is not as critical.

The Friendfeed blog recently described their favorite new application - Mail2FF, a new Friendfeed application that lets you send pictures directly to Friendfeed through email.

Since we launched our API, avid FriendFeed users and developers have built all sorts of cool applications. One of our favorites is Mail2FF, which lets you easily post pictures to FriendFeed via email. Built by Gary Burd, it lets you post messages directly to FriendFeed using a special email address that consists of your FriendFeed nickname and your FriendFeed Remote Key.

I think it’s a great idea and what I would also like to see is direct posting of news to FF from some of the mainstream media sites. 

NY Times CNN ABC News

The mainstream adoption of social aggregators is highly debatable and to say the social landscape is fragmented would be an understatement. I think becoming a super-aggregator of all content from all social sites is a brilliant strategy but I think FF could further increase its share of the social media pie by enabling direct sharing of content to its site.

Blogging – It’s about the conversations everywhere, stupid.

There’s an interesting debate going on in the blogosphere and at the center is Shyftr, yet another content aggregator. (I think my next post should be on ‘How many content aggregators do we really need?’)

Tony Hung’s railing against ‘content scrapers’ and Robert Scoble’s proclaiming that "Era of blogger’s control is over’. There are two issues here, one is about content plagiarism that Tony is most concerned about ,

However, in my mind, when a service cannot exist *without* republishing others content in its entirety, and directly profits from that republishing without the original consent of the author, there’s something that isn’t right.

I see Tony’s point, but bloggers can limit or block their feeds from being published in their entirety, thereby forcing folks to come to their blogs for the whole content. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I don’t condone plagiarism, but isn’t this is the same argument that traditional news media used when blogging was in its infancy? As I recall, there was a huge hue and cry about how bloggers were taking content from the news media and reposting with some comments on their own blogs, thereby driving traffic away from the traditional news media sites and to their own blog. Ironic, that bloggers have now started complaining about others ‘stealing’ their content.

The second and much bigger issue is around ‘fractured conversations’ that have proliferated due to feed readers like Friendfeed that allow comments. Louis Gray says,

The Web as a whole has clamored for full RSS feeds, not partial, so we don’t have to return to the originating site. Some of us have just as loudly asked for comments and conversations to enter the world of the RSS feed reader. Now that we’re starting to see what it’s like, maybe it’s not what we had fully anticipated.

That’s a great point, Louis. I can’t help but wonder if bloggers ever had control over the conversations in the first place?! Blogging has always been about distributed content (and conversation). The reason blogging took off the way it did, was because discussions were no longer monopolized by a few individuals/media networks. Some Joe Schmoe in Idaho could start a conversation around organic potatoes and get a gazillion people participating in that conversation. That’s true democratization of content and communication, thanks to the Internet and social media, blogging included.

I really liked Alexander van Elsa’s thoughts on this,

Conversation takes place everywhere. On the web, at home, in a restaurant, with family, friends, work, you name it. There is no controlling that, but we shouldn’t want to either.

To be honest. If a blog post of mine leads to discussion anywhere on the web I would be very satisfied with it. I’m not in it for the traffic, the amount of readers, the number of pageviews. I blog because I believe that I might be able to give something to the people that want to take the time to read my stuff. …It tells me that the things I have written could perhaps inspire others to do something with it, completing and starting new circles.

Say, you’re at a cocktail party and you start a conversation with one person. If it’s an interesting conversation, more folks will join in and the conversation will happen around you, with you. But if you (your conversation) aren’t engaging, folks may very well take that discussion elsewhere. I think the same theory applies to blogs, if you aren’t engaging the reader, they will move on and take their conversation with them. It doesn’t matter if you were the ‘original’ initiator of that conversation or just a passerby.

Here’s the thing, if someone picks up my feed through Friendfeed, and starts a conversation around it, I am okay with it. But you can’t force conversation and you can’t control where conversations happen, that’s true offline and that’s even more true online, where it is becoming easier to ‘move’ conversations.

That being said, would I love to have some type of ‘comment aggregator’ to help me track my ‘popularity’? You betcha. For folks who blog for a living, the lack of trackability (and measurement) is a real issue and needs to be resolved. I think that the social media tools like feed readers have evolved so fast that the players/bloggers haven’t been able to keep up. Now we are scrambling to control the conversation, instead of enhancing the tools that caused this ‘fracturization’ of conversation in the first place.

Last year, Washington Post reported on how RIAA was suing music fans. I saw many commonalities between that debate and this current one. Here’s an interesting insight,

As technologies evolve, old media companies tend not to be the source of the innovation that allows them to survive. Even so, new technologies don’t usually kill off old media: That’s the good news for the recording industry, as for the TV, movie, newspaper and magazine businesses. But for those old media to survive, they must adapt, finding new business models and new, compelling content to offer.

I think blogging is slowly turning into the ‘old media’ and the same advice holds true. I don’t think the question is about ‘picking sides’ as Scoble would have us do, it’s more about the fact that the Internet is constantly evolving and blogging, bloggers, and blogging metrics also need to evolve. It’s Darwinism, pure and simple, you can’t stop change, the only choice we have is to adapt.

Blogging is a ‘killer’ business, says NY Times

The NY times reports on the intensity of blogging and how the 24/7 Internet world is taking an emotional and physical toll on bloggers’ health. The web workers are apparently,

"…toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment."

It also cites how some prominent bloggers have had either died of heart disease or are at serious health risk.

"Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December."

I agree that blogging is intense but give me a break, how is this different or even as stressful as some journalist reporting from Iraq or Afghanistan? Now that’s intense.

There are some like Michael Arrington, the popular Techcrunch founder and co-editor/blogger, who NY Times says is close to a nervous breakdown.

Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

Given that 13-15hr workdays are becoming typical (even outside the Silicon Valley), I would say blogging is probably no different than any other high-stress profession. The blogging community hardly has a monopoly on stressed-out, workalcholics with less-than ideal fitness and diet routines. I blog (infrequently) in addition to my 13hr-work day at my day job and it’s not easy. If I weren’t smart about it, I probably wouldn’t have a life. That doesn’t help my blog ranking either, but that’s just how it goes. No matter, what your profession, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

That being said, I completely agree that frenetic pace of the Internet makes the madness more so. The proliferation of social sites and tools like Twitter, Facebook, and feed aggregators have made incessant communication and consumption so easy. Constant demand for information has created extreme competition in the online world. Now that the blogs are competing with the traditional news media for content, bloggers have to keep running (blogging) to stay in the same place. The computer and the blogger/bloggee(?) have become the modern-day versions of television and the couch potato. If you don’t have something interesting to say all the time, you’re irrelevant.

And that reminds me, gentle readers… it’s time to go work out :-)

Blogging is a ‘killer’ business, says NY Times

The NY times reports on the intensity of blogging and how the 24/7 Internet world is taking an emotional and physical toll on bloggers’ health. The web workers are apparently,

"…toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment."

It also cites how some prominent bloggers have had either died of heart disease or are at serious health risk.

"Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December."

I agree that blogging is intense but give me a break, how is this different or even as stressful as some journalist reporting from Iraq or Afghanistan? Now that’s intense.

There are some like Michael Arrington, the popular Techcrunch founder and co-editor/blogger, who NY Times says is close to a nervous breakdown.

Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

Given that 13-15hr workdays are becoming typical (even outside the Silicon Valley), I would say blogging is probably no different than any other high-stress profession. The blogging community hardly has a monopoly on stressed-out, workalcholics with less-than ideal fitness and diet routines. I blog (infrequently) in addition to my 13hr-work day at my day job and it’s not easy. If I weren’t smart about it, I probably wouldn’t have a life. That doesn’t help my blog ranking either, but that’s just how it goes. No matter, what your profession, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

That being said, I completely agree that frenetic pace of the Internet makes the madness more so. The proliferation of social sites and tools like Twitter, Facebook, and feed aggregators have made incessant communication and consumption so easy. Constant demand for information has created extreme competition in the online world. Now that the blogs are competing with the traditional news media for content, bloggers have to keep running (blogging) to stay in the same place. The computer and the blogger/bloggee(?) have become the modern-day versions of television and the couch potato. If you don’t have something interesting to say all the time, you’re irrelevant.

And that reminds me, gentle readers… it’s time to go work out :-)

How many social networking sites do we need?

T-mobile’s Fav 5 campaign got me thinking about how many is too many? I think most people would agree that there’s an optimal number for everything. So the question begs to be answered, how many social sites does the online world really need?

Take credit cards, we all have a few but how many do you use most frequently? With the travel industry, you have your loyalty program once you get into one, you’re more likely to continue to use the same brand to rack up the points.

Let’s take a look at email accounts, most folks usually have a couple, one at work, another personal, one for perhaps your business, and maybe just one more super-secret, that no one, not even your significant other knows about..except the spammers, of course, there’s no escaping those  @@%%$$  but it’s usually in the range of 4 or 5 accounts. (unless of course, you have multiple personality syndrome combined with OCD and you feel compelled to email everyone with a different id. I know you folks are out there)

But my point is that there’s a magic number beyond which there’s no incremental value to having an additional card or email account, because chances are you will never get around to using it.

My pet peeve is the insane proliferation of social networking sites. Every other day, I get an invite to join some new social network or ‘community’ network because someone I know is on it. So now I have accounts on every possible social site in cyberspace and beyond. But how many do I actually visit regularly, meaning every day or at least once a week?! Maybe 4 or 5, at the most. Facebook’s clean interface won over MySpace’s chaotic design, I peruse LinkedIn every so often, for friends and family in Asia, there’s Orkut, and Twitter’s my all-time favorite choice for social-fun-about-nothing, but that’s probably about it. Law of finite time gets in the way of having too much ‘socialization’.

I think it’s time, those who are thinking of starting a new social network or a community site should take a long hard look at their value proposition. At some point, acquisition is no longer that important, once you’ve signed up everyone from here to Kalamazoo (where ever that is). I’ve blogged before on the importance of user engagement. It doesn’t take much effort to sign up for a free account, but it’s far more difficult to stay engaged on multiple sites. There are so many choices out there and only so many hours in a day, even if you are an unemployed teen drop-out in the middle-of-nowhere-small-town-USA.

But despite my gloom-and-doom pronouncements, all is not lost. It does not mean the new social networks can’t win against the "incumbent" (it’s an election year, in case you haven’t noticed ;)). Facebook did it and so can your site. The key is to find your niche and grow that niche like crazy. However, it’s highly improbably (although not impossible) to pull users away from a site they’ve grown to like and replace it with your site unless you have some fiercely compelling value or offering. If you’re an aspiring new site, good luck to ya, it’s a long hard road ahead.