Twitter Knows Me Well, Suggests ‘Who to Follow’

twitter suggested followers who to follow personalizedIt’s mid-2010 and the social web is finally getting comfortable with the opening and exploitation of the “social graph.” It likely helped that Facebook took a bit of backlash over the past few months to pave the way for the rest. And now, like any good social network should, Twitter is beginning to show the cards that we (the users) dealt it.

Twitter’s “Who to Follow” personalized suggestions can now be seen in the right-hand sidebar of the Twitter.com user web app and under this tab. This is familiar territory to anyone who uses Facebook or even Amazon. Twitter knows who you follow and who follows you back as well as who many in your circle follow that you do not yet follow. Hence the social graph. It’s a wild and crazy algorithm, but if you think about it in physical terms, we all have friends that we want to introduce specifically to other friends. And it should be assumed that by using Twitter, you hope to communicate with and discover new peers, business partners, etc.

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Facebook Questions: A Walled Garden of Echo Chambers

It feels like April Fools in July with the launch of Facebook’s inevitably anticipated Q&A service.

introducing facebook questions

facebook questions notifications galoreAges after every other internet portal and social network went ahead and entrapped the unfocused masses in endless loops of Q and A clickery, your Facebook news feed is probably popping with sophomoric questions right about now.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun — as in funny. I can’t take it seriously. And I’m going to have to make sure this April Fools joke comes to an abrupt end (as soon as somebody tells me how to opt out). Did I think twice before trying out questions? Well, I took a second to take the above screenshot, but then I dived right in. I wanna play! This is the most fun and interactive FB App since Mafia Wars! Look at all those notifications — mostly from people I don’t even know… yet!

But I really felt like I was doing this while trying not to fall asleep in 4th grade Language Arts class or something. ESPECIALLY when Facebook told me that I had to capitalize the first word [sic] of each sentence.

facebook questions tech blog walled garden
My answer was so dumb it was removed or voted off. So I had to answer another one!

Nice to see Facebook finally reaching out to its under-served high school (and younger) community and to provide some educational value while at it!

So now that I wrote this tongue-in-cheek blog post about Facebook’s latest feature, can I quit it?

Not before I ask.

facebook questions nmeta

Check out real Facebook + Media coverage of Q&A here, here, here, and here. I’ll come back to FB Questions if the API proves to really open up the platform and say, enable embedding of questions and polls on this here blog.

Facebook Apps on Profile and Red Ink

facebook ilike red tape inkApps like Cow Clicker would seem to be proof enough that the Facebook application marketplace is ridiculously oversaturated, but no — even Facebook itself can’t seem to keep up with the glut of apps old and new.

Every few weeks I come across a Facebook App on my profile, a page, or elsewhere, that is littered with red ink. The most popular splotch tends to be the warning that the iLike player (also known as the Facebook music player in spite of being acquired by MySpace last year) will soon disappear from your profile page. It’s said that for almost a year and… nothing.

A few months ago Facebook teased new Eventbrite integration — actually incorporating the Eventbrite payment system into the process of setting up a FB event, only to quietly pull the feature (which was functional at best) almost immediately. And the months go by…

causes app to leave profile box in august facebookNow it’s Causes, a platform that has grown with Facebook from the start. (Causes co-founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker apparently plays a prominent role in the forthcoming Facebook movie – Justin Timberlake plays the part.)

Whether or not the profile box really disappears in a couple weeks likely won’t upset anyone too much, however, the ugliness of the red tape over the badge (and the persistence of the iLike warning) ain’t pretty. And what’s with covering the actual cause campaign with a “Keep Causes on Your Profile” badge? It only instructs the user to add a tab. Essentially this means that eventually…. we might be looking at forced scarcity of apps that we can include on the main page of our profile. We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Have you seen other apps out there with similar “red tape” or red ink that never seem to go away?

10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World

This post was written by Rob Reed. He is the founder of MomentFeed, a location-based marketing, strategy, and technology firm.

Location technologies are transforming how we experience, navigate, and ultimately better our world. From the global to the local, here are #10Ways geolocation is a positive force for good.

Social media has changed the world. It has revolutionized communications on a global scale, and the transformation continues with every status update, blog post, and video stream. The global citizenry has become a global network.

Since becoming widely adopted just a couple years ago, social media has supercharged social action, cause marketing, and social entrepreneurship. Indeed, the true value hasn’t been the technology itself but how we’ve used it. Today, a second wave of innovation is defining a new era and setting the stage for change over the coming decade.

Mobile technologies will extend the global online network to anyone with a mobile device while enabling countless local networks to form in the real world. We’ve decentralized media production and distribution. We’re doing the same for energy. And we’ll continue this trend for social networking, social action, and commerce.

The combined forces of smartphones, mobile broadband, and location-aware applications will connect us in more meaningful ways to the people, organizations, events, information, and companies that matter most to us—namely, those within a physical proximity of where we live and where we are. Can location-based services (LBS) change the world? Here are #10Ways:

1. Checking in for Good: If Gowalla and Foursquare have taught us anything, it’s that people respond to simple incentives. By offering badges, mayorships, and other intangible rewards, millions of people are checking in to the places they go. Apps like Whrrl take this a step further and enable like-minded “societies” to form on a local basis. The next step is for these apps to add greater purpose by encouraging more meaningful checkins and offering corresponding badges and stamps, thus mapping the cause universe. Or for a dedicated app to be developed that rewards conscious consumption, social responsibility, and civic engagement. Yes, the CauseWorld app features a cause element, but it’s not about cause-worthy places.

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Do We Underestimate the Universal Reach of the Social Web?

“The new Revolution aims essentially at a change in directive ideas…. It [is] a choice between so carrying on and so organising the process of change in our affairs as to produce a new world order, or suffering an entire and perhaps irreparable social collapse.” – H. G. Wells, The New World Order (1940)

tree media revolution internet social web
Photo by Giovanni Orlando shared via Creative Commons license.

I view recent developments in technology and media (roughly 1995 – 2005) as nothing short of revolutionary. The incredible pace of technological advancement and increased access to new media and communication tools during those ten years was like nothing we’ve seen in such a short time span and nothing we might see again for generations. From dial-up to WiMax, the browser-less web to OSx and Google Chrome, from buddy chat to Twitter, and low quality streaming audio to YouTube and video chat. Not to mention, TVs and monitors are now flat and gigantic.

We can have it all now and slowly the big picture is coming together, new tools and modes of communication are growing more comfortable for greater proportions of the global population. In many ways we’ve already leapfrogged adoption of previous generations’ groundbreaking tech. For example, many Native American reservations in the southwest were NEVER wired for telephones but now are not only on the mobile grid but have hi-speed WiFi setups such as the Tribal Digital Village.

Even early adopters of social tools on the web still find themselves in a sort of honeymoon phase — so excited to have the new tools yet not ready to get practical with them and in other cases hesitant to engage peers and family members who may be slower to pick up on new tech. Even the media is waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop, slipping off the heels of privacy issues (Facebook), feature flaws (Apple), or media companies getting in the way of foreign policy (Google).

We’re nowhere near seeing the potential of the internet as a communication device and as a powerful social tool.

But I cringe a tiny bit when I see one of my mentors and colleagues minimizing the scope of social media’s — and the web’s global reach. That was my first reaction to reading the beginning of Geoff Livingston‘s next book, currently titled The Fifth Estate. Now, I know Geoff is not looking to repeat what he already covered in Now is Gone but I hope to see broader strokes applied from a global perspective.

For many Americans, the rise of social media is tied to a political shakeout due to blogger backlash or an embarrassing clip of a candidate memorialized on YouTube. Geoff points to the election of Jim Webb as Virginia senator in 2006, which happened after a pivotal YouTube video led to a destructive backlash against the incumbent George Allen — the infamous “‘Macaca’ moment.”

I had a similar awakening through the rapid rise and fall of the Howard Dean campaign in 2004. Dean’s campaign was the first test of the Netroots, in which bloggers on the progressive left, behind the brilliance of political strategist Joe Trippi, rallied behind Dean and turning him into a formidable candidate in a battle that was largely viewed as Kerry vs. Gore. Influencers in the blogosphere got on board, spread the word, and suddenly the people had their candidate, in spite of what the mainstream media was calling a two-man race.

But Dean’s undoing was not unlike Allen’s — and after a strong showing in the Iowa caucus, shot himself in the foot with the “Dean Scream.” There may not have been YouTube (or even Twitter and Facebook) at the time, however, the Dean Scream shot around the world, gaining “cult-like status on the web” thanks to social media, blog posts, and audio remixes.

For people in many countries, however, the rise of these new social devices and online tools have been marked more by mobile phones than online social media platforms — at least to this point. News and photos from the scene of the July 2005 London bombings were spread via SMS messages from people on the trains to their loved ones and photos uploaded directly to Flickr and other photo sharing sites like moblog.co.uk.

But it’s not just how social media has influenced how news is reported and affected the way political campaigns are managed. It’s about how these revolutionary technlogies enable a freer flow of information between agents of social change and primary points for action.

In 2003, journalists first got word of the severity of the SARS epidemic thanks to an SMS message from medical sources in China (read about this and more in Dan Gillmor‘s We the Media). Had it not been for these SMS messages and the ensuing global communications on listservs among medical professionals scrambling for a vaccine, the global scale of SARS could have been much worse — the Chinese media and government certainly weren’t letting on about it.

Personally I don’t like the term Fourth Estate and I certainly don’t think that our newly enhanced and increasingly social media need the badge of being a Fifth Estate — it’s all the same — and it seems to me that media in general can do a much better job of holding the government in check. Ironically (or maybe not) the term Fourth Estate refers to the press as a fourth branch of British parliament (or the three French states-general, as Wikipedia would have it).

Bollocks, I say! More branches does not make the tree grow taller, faster. Let’s take advantage of these revolutionary times, adapt and consolidate for the greater good and, like Wells wrote, save society from collapse and bring hopefulness to future generations.

Part 2 in an series of posts and cross-published comments inspired by friends’ recent blog posts. This one inspired by “Welcome to the Fifth Estate,” by Geoff Livingston.