More Examples of the Social Media “Shadow”

Camera+ Shot I Got, and While I Love the Effect, I'd Like to Have the Original Too.

I think every time I see a Tweet or other notification from out in the World of Social Media that is an example of Social Media’s “Shadow” Side, I’ll put in a post. We’ll call it the on going “Shadow Side of Social Media” series, although in some sense, I hate to harp on the negative. Maybe harping on the negative notes, brings more negative notes. Of course to balance it out, I’ll remind myself that Social Media has many positives. If it weren’t for Twitter, for instance, I wouldn’t see Jason Falls‘ experiences, both the negative and the positive, nor his knowledge, which mixed with a network of knowledge is greater than the sum of its parts. So social media is, overall, a Positive force in the Communications Revolution. I stress that to balance things out. But I’ll bring up the negatives sometimes too, if only so that maybe some momentum can be built to correct them.

Hey @posterous Why would the text in my emails not post? All I’ve got is pictures all day. Each one of them had copy with it?!@JasonFalls

Comment: This reminds me of the time I first tested Evernote. I decided to take a photo inside their application. Bad mistake. When you do something like that you can never recover the JPEG for yourself. Oh, it just so happened to be one of the best, cutest photos of my dog, ever. Now it stuck inside of Evernotes “Notes” folder, server, or whatever they call it. FOREVER. I can’t get it out.

Same thing happens in these iPhone Photo apps like Camera+ and Best Camera. I took this great action shot within Camera + and then played with the effects. Found one that was really cool, hit SAVE. Rut-Roh. After you hit save in those apps, again you’ve lost the original, which I would like to have in this case more than the one that I played with and found an effect for.

At least Jason Falls problem with Posterous, which I think is a great service by the way, nor my problems with Evernote or the photography apps are “intentional” in the sense of being evil, trying to lock you in. But they are lazy. And the shadow demonstrated here is a lack of attention to detail to some of the problems that may occur, and again the over riding theme I see again and again, in the so called Web 2.0 world, lack of appreciation or stewardship to the customer’s data.

Lesson for SmartPhone Users:

  • ALWAYS TAKE PHOTOS IN THE PHONES NATIVE PHOTO APP FIRST, THEN OPEN THAT PHOTO IN YOUR FAVORITE APP FOR FURTHER USE. That way you’ll always have the original.

Aspen, stuck inside an Evenote "Note" :***

Lesson for Posterous Users:

Actually I really don’t know. I have a posterous. Its cool and everything, but still, the whole idea of your data going out there on someone else’s servers, I just don’t get sometimes. Why not send it straight to your blog instead? I mean I understand the value of Posterous and Tumblr is that it makes blogs more Social. I get that, and I like it, and I want to try to be more involved in those services going forward, but sometimes it makes me scratch my head why I am sending traffic to those services based on my own data and content. But at least with Jason’s problem above he hasn’t lost any data. Presumably its still on his phone and in his outbox of sent messages on his email server. In his case, its just frustrating to have to do things over again, edit posts that didn’t display correctly, and otherwise not get information out to an audience, in the way that you meant, at the time that you meant.

What are your ideas on Posterous and Tumblr and how one should use them within the context of having your own blog on a server where you control the data?

UPDATE:

Hey, I think I just learned something. In an effort to find that Evernote photograph, I opened my Evernote account for the first time in a year. Well I found the photography of my dog Aspen that I was talking about. It was tied into what they called a ‘note’ Couldn’t find a way to share it or get it out of their system. But I did notice that when I right clicked the photo, it did give me the option to ‘save image as’ or ‘open image in a new tab’ which did allow me to pull the JPG out. Still, the photo, taken on the iPhone 3GS is much grainier than it would have been, if it was simply shot on the iPhone’s camera app. So, a little better, at least than I originally thought.

The Web Ain’t Dead. Blekko.com Has Come to Save It.

This is  a VERY cool, and very paradigm shifting new site: Blekko.com. I caught this on John Battelle’s Searchblog tonight, got a beta invite, played with if for a few minutes, caught on quick and already found tons of new cool things that I wouldn’t have found before based on my interests and the ability to filter the searches to give me more accented, tailored, specific results.

Example:

My favorite musician, Josh Rouse. Now with a simple / “slash” I can search for Josh Rouse say only on blogs like so: Josh Rouse/blogs or only in forums like this: Josh Rouse/forums (Click those links to see the results of said searches. I also just Tweeted a link to those results. You get the picture, and that’s just scratching the surface.

New interesting information which is valuable to me as a fan, as an aficionado of said artist, immediately begin popping up at the top, based on my filters.

This is making me feel that giddy, ‘irrationally exuberant’ feeling I initially felt when I tried Google for the first time back in 2000. I felt I had the World at my fingertips back then.


But some kind of sludge in search has slowly happened. Some have blamed it on SEO/SEMs gaming the system so much that the results have slowly deteriorated.

I have no doubt that’s part of it, but shouldn’t Google have been innovating like mad to keep up with the onslaught of deterioration?

I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE so many of Google’s additional services, Gmail, Docs, Voice, all their wonky, data, cloud stuff (not their social) and that to say they shouldn’t have extended their reach beyond search would be like saying Amazon shouldn’t have extended its own reach beyond books, but it does sort of seem like, especially in the last three years of the Social Media threat, that Google has not innovated enough on their main product. It’s kind of like Microsoft jealously chasing everyone else’s success so much, they dropped the ball on their Golden Goose. (They did rally and sell 200m copies of Windows7, but still, no one would deny the mindshare, at least in the U.S. lost to Apple.)

I mean filtered searches seem like such a no brainer that you would have thought Google would have had them in right from the beginning. (Well actually they do, but no one can figure out how to use them, and usually the results come back blank for some reason as if the data base and or code running it act like you’ve done something wrong. It’s like when a car back fires, and you hear what you think is an explosion. Except this explosion is not a band, but a ‘whimper.’

Remember the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford? One of the best Movies ever. Remember that scene in the Hospital when he’s searching the database for records of people who’ve received prosthetic arms? His first search delivers hundreds, maybe thousands of results. Then he keeps narrowing the search by filters (I can’t remember what the exact filters were, dates other types of subsets) and finally gets down to a manageable number of results, and more importantly, results that have meaning.

Granted it was a movie, but still, that was 1994! People understood even back then before the internet was mainstream, that one of the most valuable automations of computers was search, and that one of the most important features of search were filters.
It’s mind blowing Google hasn’t at least already initiated these kind of easy filters for its flagship product. I assume they will soon and or buy Blekko.

I’ve only used Blekko for a few minutes. I want to use it lots more in coming days, but it already has such polish, and it feels silky smooth and fast, the kind of silky smooth quickness I haven’t experienced since FriendFeed, which for the life of me I can’t figure out why no one can duplicate, not even Facebook itself, which purchased FriendFeed and has one of its founders as its new CTO, Brett Taylor.

Remember how last week Wired published a story about how the Web was dead? Well I didn’t buy it. Thought it was link-baity gibberish for the most part, but it did have some valid points. Steve Jobs didn’t leave out flash because flash was dated. Steve Jobs left out flash to close off, to a large extent, the media distribution ability of the Open Web.
More and more stuff is happening through apps and other such ‘silos’ which does tend to negate the open web.

Well, although Boing Boing had a great rebuttal to the Wired piece, I do believe that if there is a sort of , how shall we say, ‘jaded’ feeling for the Web itself, I do believe a large part of the problem is this lessening of the ability to find the really interesting, cool, exciting stuff. It’s out there, but for some reason our discovery engines, the main one being Google, have somehow become clogged and stale.

I think Blekko, for one, can be like Roto Rooter to this clogged drain. These filtered searches are going to re-invigorate the joy of discovering on the open web, and in turn re assert the open web’s, if not dominance, at least equal importance to “apps” in this ever evolving, every life changing, and ever standard-of-living-increasing thing we call the Communications Revolution.

Google said their mission statement was to uncover the Worlds information, or something to that effect. Well they are doing a lot of other good things, but their eye, at least lately, has been off that ball at least in the long tail stuff, which are the hidden treasures. Maybe its time for a new leader. Maybe Blekko’s it.

Oh, I’ve got 5 invites. Just email, tweet, or leave a comment, if you would like one.

Update 9/2/10 From my incoming traffic I found this page that is loaded with good information about Blekko over the last few days. Links to 10-15 stories written about it in blogs and a ton of ‘real time’ reactions based on the hash tag #blekko. I wish I could just copy and paste everything from this page and post here, but I wouldn’t feel right. Here is the full URL:

http://www.skrenta.com/2010/09/blekko_coverage_and_twitter_gl.html

You know I was just thinking, I wonder if you could create a cool page like that in Paper.li or really just using Blekko.com itself using the “/” syntax.

Yeah you can. Just check this out:  http://beta.blekko.com/ws/blekko+/twitter

Oh here’s a Paper.li I just created for the hashtag #Blekko. Pretty cool, although not filled with as much content as I would have expected.

What is Social Media?


Well it can be a lot of different things. Which is one reason it is so exciting and presumably so valuable.

From the point of view of a business or an individual who has their own personal website or blog, one thing that Social Media is, is advertising.

In the 90’s I owned and ran a retail furnishings store. We advertised mostly in the local newspaper and to some extent on local television and radio.

In the webspace, to a private website owner, the simplest way I can describe Social Media is that it is like new media’s version of the local paper. And your blog or website is like your ‘store’ if you will.

Simply put, social media is exposure, a way to extend your web presence to a larger audience with the scaling help of automation (electrons) and the virtues of the communications’ revolution itself (photons).

Translation: A little bit of intent and pushing a few buttons equals a ton of leverage and distribution.

You pay for this exposure, not with money, but with content. You and the rest of the network of members are providing the social media site its content, and in return it is providing you with exposure and extending your reach, along with a platform for making new connections.

On Google’s algorithmic, non-human network your website or business is passive, and the prospective customer, if you will, is active. Actively searching for something that you or some other site or business may have.

On the human, social network, you the business, website, or promoter, if you will, is the one being active. And the prospective consumer is in a passive mode, using the network as a river to dip in and out of, as entertainment, news, communication, emotional outlet, or just plain fun.

I think there is not only room, but a need for both types of networks, and that the rise of Facebook and Twitter doesn’t mean at all the demise of Google. There are times when we want our network to be flowing, serendipitous, and fun, and there are other times when we are in a more deliberative, utilitarian mode. We need (or want) answers, and we need them now.

Except with Social Media you are not selling your wares directly. You are indirectly selling your self as a real person, a genuine person with real interests. It’s a way to scale your ‘legitimacy.’ Trust is one of the biggest factors in making a sale. And social media is a way to scale the communication of your trust.

From a business standpoint or even just a human friendship standpoint, one’s activity in Social Media is comparable to the “Opening of the Sale” where the goal is to talk about anything except business. In sales this is what is known as the “Schmoozing” process. But before you start thinking how creepy it is to think in these terms, “Schmoozing” only really works if you are truly interested from a sincere standpoint in the subject you are “schmoozing” about. Any insincerity in this process, either in real life or in the venue of Social Media, and one would have been better not signing up for Twitter or any other such service.

So one way to look at Social Media, is as an advertising medium, a free way to extend your reach and your message. But in social media the message is your personality, your real point of view, and what you are selling is your integrity, your trust.

Let’s take one example that I remember coming up recently. Lisa Bettany (@MostlyLisa) is a professional photographer. She posts much of her work on Flickr, the most popular Photography Social Media site. She doesn’t post her work there with each caption screaming “Buy This Now Because I’m Great and I Need Money!” along with a Paypal link. She posts there because she loves photography and loves sharing her work and the tips behind her work with others. Such actions build trust and integrity. She feeds the site with its content. The popularity of the site feeds her with exposure.

She recently told the story of how this photo, which she posted on flickr over a year ago for no money, was recently purchased unexpectedly by Penguin, the book publisher, for use as the artwork for a book cover. Penguin only found the photo because it was on Flickr. They knew flickr to be the most popular photography sharing site. So they went there to search for the right potential content for their project. If the photo was only posted on her private website, it would not have been found. No transaction would have been made. So, the Social Network, in the virtual world, is like the Commons or Marketplace of a University or City in the ‘real’ World. It extended her personal work’s reach into the public sphere for consumption, enjoyment, and productivity.

That’s one example of the Social Network’s virtuous cycle. The users provide the content for free. And the network provides the user with free exposure.

This is just one thing that a Social Network is from the decided point of view of the business/website/blog owner, or anyone using the internet itself to scale a message.

Ads that you pay real money for are the ones for direct selling, talking about your product, its Features, Advantages, and Benefits.

Social Media is like hob nobbing at the Country Club or local Charity Fundraiser but without having to get into your monkey suit and drive down to the venue. Still, you need to be truthfully interested in that person you are chatting with, and really care about that charity you are raising ‘funds’ for, and not be in it just for you or the ‘sale.’

I think most would agree that’s a more fun way to live anyway.

Fail Whale: The Shadow Side of the Social Media Experience

Update Thursday Aug. 26th 2010As you can see I wrote this Sunday the 22nd the day after Leo’s blog post. I was a bit too negative and ranting. So I sat on it a few days. Read the always non- controversial Louis Gray’s piece that was also in response to Leo’s original piece Soaked it in. All in all, I’d rather have had Twitter and Facebook over the last few years than not. They are exciting in many ways. Facebook’s like rediscovering old friends. Twitter is new friends. There have been a lot of positive experiences. Still I’ll publish the original rant I felt and wrote Sunday pretty much unchanged, because going forward these negative issues are important and need to be addressed and kept in mind.

Original Post from Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Leo Laporte’s post yesterday “Buzz Kill” about how Google Buzz had failed him recently, and more importantly how Social Media had failed him in general, really got me thinking.

A) I totally agree with him. He nailed it. You should read the piece. We put all this energy into “Social Media” and what do we have to show for it? That information and energy goes into a vacuum, a black hole, if you will, and never comes back out again.

It’s our energy that’s creating the value in these networks, the content, and not only are we not compensated for our energy, we’re practically slapped in the face for it. “Who the heck are you, you pion with your 50 followers? You worthless piece of nothing loser! Why can’t you be more like Aplusk or John Mayer with their millions of followers or at least a porn star with their thousands? Yeah, you heard me, you’re not even worth what a porn star is worth in our eyes!”

Dial it down, Stephen. Dial it down! OK, I’ll meditate on it a few days before posting this, but isn’t that what Twitter, if not literally,  seems figuratively to be screaming at us all day long?

If they hadn’t had the followers number highlighted would the service have taken off? I don’t think so. So Twitter had to appeal to a lowest common denominator “High School Popularity Contest” mentality to, not only make it work, but for it to keep working.

When I first joined Twitter in early 2007 thanks to following early adopters like Leo and Scoble, I thought, “How cool is this? Even though no one in my small town knows about this, I can do all kinds of cools things.” I had always noticed how inspirational or ‘insightful” thoughts would come to me when I least expected them, usually when I was out somewhere in my car, at dinner with friends, etc. and now I could simply text such thoughts to my Twitter account and retrieve them later for expanding. Or if I simply wanted to remember something cool that I saw or heard while out. Just tweet and retrieve. A repository of my daily life, my existence, my continuum, my stream of consciousness.

But where are these insights, these things I wanted to remember, this digital outline of my life that I so dutifully recorded the last 3 years? Gone. I can’t retrieve them. I can’t search them. I can’t find them. And even though one hears that Twitter has been working on such a feature that will be released ‘sometime’ in the future, its like “Gee thanks Twitter, it’s my information, for God’s sakes. I don’t need it some time in the future. I need it now, and every day since I’ve been using your service, feeding your service, so that you could sell me out down the river to Microsoft and Google with your ‘firehose.’

If instead all of this info had flowed into my blog, it would still be there, searchable, mine, the true archive and repository that it was meant to be. Some will say, “Well that is the price you pay for ‘free'”

Oh yeah really? You know, I’m not the biggest fan of Ma.tt in the world, but look at WordPress.com. Totally free. Holds at least a thousand if not a million times more information than Twitter or Facebook, and it yours, you control it. You can put it in and you know you can always get it out. He’s not selling your information to third parties for his gain. He’s upselling (the freemium model) on additional features and using the popularity of the WordPress site and name to make a cut on Web Hosting purchases for those who choose to self host their wordpress blog. He’s Smith Barney. He’s making his money the ‘Old Fashioned’ way.

But look, this is not an attack on Twitter, per se. Facebook is 10x as bad. At least Twitter is semi part of the ‘Open Web.’ Facebook hides behind its wall, not because it wants to protect the privacy of its users, but because it wants to protect its monopoly at the expense of its users. You post a picture into Facebook, it ain’t comin out again. You post a video into a Facebook, not only is it not coming out again, you can’t even SHARE the damn thing with the internet. I mean, how evil is that? That is crazy evil. All the comments and exchanges and time you put into writing messages on the Twitter or Facebook platform? They’re not yours. They belong to these companies. And they can and do disappear at the drop of a hat.

Not to single out Twitter and Facebook. Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare, Flickr, (just go to Scoble’s Google Profile to see a list of every Web 2.0/Social Media company that’s every existed) just to name a few are all the same. ‘Evil’ gets thrown around a lot. That’s too strong. ‘Evil’ is Hitler. How about ‘Unethical’? More interested in building a brand, a critical mass or ‘network’ effect as they call it, ala the Zeitgeist of the ‘Start Up’ crowd, so they can have a profitable ‘exit’ and IPO rather than being ‘into’ it and wanting to build something cool to benefit the user him or herself.

Facebook’s Privacy Solution is So Simple

Instead of screwing with the granularity of your main page or account, confusing and aggravating the users, all that Facebook has to do is have two separate pages for each user: one completely private (except for those one chooses to be friends with), and the other completely open and connected to the open web. They already have this feature in “Pages.” All they have to do is tell people that this is your private page, and this other is your public page. To encourage users to create a public page, make the public page the only place that is searchable in Google or the open web. If only 10% of users choose to have a public page, you’ve got an automatic Twitter in one day. But to encourage even further adoption, innovate and iterate the public pages like crazy, and also tell the users, they must have a public page in order to search the public database. If the only way people can search and more importantly gain value from the Facebook public database, and the network effect that goes with it, is to have a public facing page, I can guarantee you 90% of users will adopt it.

What does this approach do?

  • It restores user trust. If you’re main account is completely locked down, not even searchable, you will also gain more users. My sister doesn’t belong to Facebook. She doesn’t trust it. Maybe it’s too late, but if trust were restored, she and millions of others, who don’t even consider Facebook and option, may join. But even if they don’t, you’ve restored trust in your main user base.
  • When users have a clear choice, they are going to contribute more value to the eco system. I recently heard Deepak Chopra quote, “A person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” This manipulation of users to “trick” them into sharing things in public, only makes them more reticent, if not in fact close their account, to share anything useful.
  • You’ve simplified things. Not all those “sliders” to give everyone a headache over their account settings. The main account is completely private except for friends. The public page is completely open. No frustration or headaches. The simplicity will make the value of the network effect and the eco-system, and possibly even the number of users, explode.

When Facebook aquired FriendFeed last year, I thought this was the approach they were going to take. Dead simple. Everyone would have their private account and then a separate public page that would essentially be FriendFeed, with all its value of search algorithms that I had thought simply nailed Social search, and would not only prove fruitful to a business model, but also provide even more value to the user. The perfect recipe for “win, win”, the exact recipe for applying Google’s search model to Social Search.

Instead, they seemed, and even more so now after F8, to move in the opposite direction. Screwing with everyone’s main account, violating that sacred trust that enabled them to get such a large user base in the first place, and what is more, doing nothing with “Pages.” And now it seems after F8, “Pages” are almost being discouraged in favor of the “Likes” implementation. I guess they figure that anyone with a public page already has a website, and instead, why not just encourage them to virtually turn that open page into a Facebook page with the “Likes” implementation? Sounds good. But what are the implications? What happens when I the individual user clicks the “Likes” button? Is all my information being shared with third parties? What happens when that gets out, and every headline across the country screams, “Don’t click the ‘Like’ button!” Turns what might have been a useful thing for not only the user, but also the Facebook brand, into a liability, not to mention simply just bad Karma.

I don’t know Marc Zuckerburg, or know what his values are. If they are indeed, “evil,” a term the industry labels a company that tries to make their money through manipulation, then I guess this post is like talking to a tree. For even if they do “Correct Course,” as Dana Boyd, Tim O’Reilly, John Battelle, and many other smart prognosticators predict they will do, does it matter? This is indeed one of the salutary effects of a free market: Consumer push back and the realization that the big money is in making the “right” choices, forces a company to change or be in danger of losing its business. In a true free market, what’s right for the company is aligned with what is right for the consumer. But still, if Facebook is the “it” company of the next decade, and only the market is forcing them to make the right choices, the internet won’t hold in its hands a very transcendent leader. “He who is forced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

The internet and the communications revolution is truly a place of infinite possibilities, almost a metaphor itself for the “Quantum Effect,” which states that, even in a complete vacuum, even in complete nothingness, (which is not to be imagined as a patch of empty space, because in nothingness, even space doesn’t exist), the idea of symmetry must exist, and the slightest break in it, which must occur, leads to an explosion of infinite proportions.

I would argue that Facebook would be of greater value and in turn be capable of making even more money than they ever imagined, by doing it the old fashioned way: providing value, innovating, and being completely transparant. Good will translates into cash in all sectors of a truly free market, but even exponentially so in the freest of free markets, one where “choice” and “free will” is the highest value: the internet. The Communications Revolution.

What do you think?

Neither Twitter, Facebook, nor Apple Will Survive the Open Web

I was thinking about this subject tonight, that there is no way such closed systems as Twitter and Facebook can survive the force of the open Internet in the coming years with the price of data, storage, and bandwidth all marching toward near zero cost, much less be an Eco System or “Platform.”

As these communication and computation costs lower each
year, it will drive so much innovation, the walls will be torn down.

See, what is exactly the value proposition of a closed network such as Twitter or Facebook?

A) The Network Effect.

The Network Effect, or “Metcalfe’s Law” says that the value of a network equals the number of users it has squared. Obviously, the more users the more exponentially the value of said network increases. Facebook has 400million users. Twitter around 50million. You might think Facebooks network effect is tremendously greater than Twitters, but Facebook is a much more closed network. On average a typical user may have 100 “friends” or network connections. On Twitter you can connect to virtually anyone on the network simply by “following” them. It doesn’t have to be a reciprocal agreement. Everyone on the network is accessible to you. This means Twitter’s more open Network is of far greater value than Facebook’s larger but more closed Network. That’s why Facebook is in a tremendous frenzy to open their network more through “Pages” “Facebook Connect” and changing the default privacy settings.

So if Twitter’s vastly smaller, but vastly more open network has more Network Effect value what does that mean? The more open a “network” is, the more valuable that it is. This means there is an incentive to build a completely open network. So one will be built, or shall we say, not built, but merely “facilitated” because the act of building one implies some degree of closed. The completely open network already exists. It’s called the Internet.

We all know how many users and how much traffic Facebook has every month. They say its like an upward hockey stick. But how much value are Twitter and Facebook giving off each month?

And how much traffic and how many users does Internet, Inc. have?

Basically you trade your identity and your content for their network effect. Also they throw in their bandwidth, storage, and programming. As of now this has value, plenty of it and that’s why you see the spike in these “networks'” traffic.

But now the process of them selling you down the river begins. They figure they’re giving you network effect, bandwidth, and storage for free in exchange for them selling your content. Sounds fine, right?

But the problem is innovation will drill a hole into any walled garden. Quickly, innovation will fork around sand boxed networks and find ways to connect people without them giving up their identity or their content. Each day, storage and bandwidth prices drop. They are heading rapidly to zero. So that part of the economic proposition is losing weight very quickly as well.

Twitter isn’t the network. Facebook isn’t the network. The network is the network.

Even the mighty Apple, as much as I am blown away by this iPad I’m typing on, can’t survive this onslaught of the open web. For instance, tonight I was watching a TV show on the wonderful ABC app and it occurred to me that I was being forced to watch the commercial because I couldn’t minimize the browser. it felt Pavlovian to me, being trained by the nature of the device, forcing me to behave in a way I didn’t want or like.

I don’t think the user will put up with theses strategies for long, and I’m sure the open web will come to the rescue.

It also occurred to me tonight that Gmail keeps 5 years and 25,000 of my emails forever available and searchable and yet Twitter only let’s me go back and see a few weeks of my Tweets, with a substandard if not plain archaic search system.

That’s just plain lack of innovation. And Facebook is hardly better.

Technology, driven by innovation as it is, is a poor place for a lock in business model. Technology doesn’t want to be trapped, and will eventually fork around it’s captors.

Sent from my iPad