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July 2007 Archives

July 17, 2007

Facebook and Mydentity

A few years ago (about 2002) there was a meme Mydentity I think first put up by Eric Norlin and others summarized here by Doc Searls which had me writing about Trust Circles.

Two months ago I considered launching a "Facebook Journal"as I am ready for a new challenge and I'd learnt from Skype Journal what both the advantages and disadvantages of such a strategy are. While it could be done; (there are some "Facebook" Tracking blogs already out there) the thought really traced to Facebook's evolution and the excitement it would generate. Yet it is not the real meme that is exploding here. Under it all is a greater need  for an "Identity solution"

Then at Supernova I missed seeing much chatter about Facebook (Kevin tried to insert it). The following week we arranged a small Facebook Face-Off - a small group adding applications in an accelerated learning and communications session. I'd recommend this to anyone, even novices who haven't been on any of these networks before. 

Three memes have recently emerged that are interesting to me.

  • Concentrating SNS on Facebook:
  • Facebook as an Identity Solution
  • Stuart Henshall is Media
My SNS on Facebook
I'd already started concentrating my networking efforts onto Facebook. However, it was a note by Jeff Pulver on Facebook yesterday (see his blog) that made the choice I'd already been making explicit. I'll admit that Facebook was the same ah-ha moment for me that accompanied Skype, Paypal, Napster, and eBay. I still dislike its closed nature however it works. It also means I've been inviting and enocouraging others to join. Something I've not done on a social network since Ryze. LinkedIn only existed because it was "approved" of by business types. I never had any fun there. My observation is the threshold to exchange is much lower on Facebook vs LinkedIn. Jeff notes the same re referrals. More importantly the exhaust gas from everyones activities helps to maintain and even strengthen weak ties. Facebook as Scoble notes is set to replace my contact lists.

Facebook and Identity
Any large community today can potentially offer an Identity solution. Jeremiah Owyang works of some predictions for Facebook, Identity and Social Networks. He correctly identifies that blog comments  require a better log-in system and his post provides a Books on Campus log-in via Facebook. Which is just another app. I'd be happy to provide this as an option tomorrow on my Blog. I'm still wrestling with the OpenID system in MT4.0. Perhaps a Facebook plug-in would be simpler. However using a Facebook Identity to log-in to other sites is really only half the battle. The question is will Facebook allow us to log-in with an OpenId. I'd like to see one identity for all my communications. I'd still like =stuart to mean something. However, while Facebook is aggregating my directory it is also aggregating micro-content. The power in Facebook is the directory. We don't have 1000+ connections anywhere else. In fact the belief was 150. Facebook overturns that. You cannot move a personal directory of 10000 or more. Scoble already has 3000+. I'm still waiting for an OpenID app for Facebook. It would work around communications access in a channel agnostic fashion and manage access depending on the relationship; an area where Facebook manages poorly. See also Facebook is now the New OpenID

I am Media:
I liked this post by Roi Carthy and the pharse "I am Media". He links to Robert Scoble is Media This reinforced the discussion we had yesterday in the Yitan call on Facebook. The discussion started about exhaust gas.

One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook -- at least to those over 22 years of age, for whom much of today's Net may seem counterintuitive -- is the way it works by routing seemingly insignificant exhaust data to your network of friends.

Do I really need to know the latest favorite book you posted? That you're now buddies with Sam? Apparently yes.
Facebook will reward those that share. If you believe like me that the more you share the more you will ultimately get back then Facebook shouldn't be too hard to understand. As a blogger I've learned that the more I blog the more I get back and that is a good reason to get back in the blogging habit. I'm still not using Facebook effectively, and there are many behaviors we will all learn that make it more effective.  I hear the same rejections and same not for business comments that I've heard about other social tools. Get over it. Start experimenting.

As we learn to share more it will become easier to aggregate information about ourselves. That is where the future is. In the meantime Facebook while interesting still lacks really meaningful controls.

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July 18, 2007

Future of Media Summit

Last night I headed over to the Future of Media summit hosted by Ross Dawson. This is the link to the Future of Media Report. I like the format he's trying to build both for Future Explorations Network and the way he connected Australia with the US last night. These distance connections and exchanges are becoming more effective. The two audiences were connected using Skype Video which other than a drop right at the very end worked very effectively. Ross was able to facilitate the panels one half in the US and the balance in Sydney from SF. The communications cost of this link up miniscule. A few years ago Satelite video links would have cost a fortune.

Both groups had an audience so they had visual feedback on what they were saying. That's important as there is nothing harder than talking to a camera where there is no feedback. Then the last challenge is setting up the chairs etc... so the panelists can see each other and the audience can also hold all the panelists and the moderator in one view. That's not quite so easy. A little more tech - dual screens etc and it may appear even more seamless.

The blog for the event. Here. I wrote a few notes on the first session covering media and virtual worlds. Posted here. Excerpt.

What are the new ways to reach customers using a Second Life type environment. Why should you have a branded site in Second Life? At the moment it is just a learning opportunity. It may provide some awareness for your brand. In the end it is experimenting with a new channel. No one has figured this out.

What they have been learning.... Conclusions.

  • technology complex
  • build costs high
  • engagement hard to control
  • traffic microscopic <6000 uniques per month
  • communities hard to aggregate and qualify
  • benefit soft and hard to measure
  • ROI NIL save for first mover' PR which is fading).
I cannot help thinking that the examples of big brands and Fortune 1000 companies jumping into Second Life are just applying a Brand 1.0 type of model.
Separately, the disucssion became more interesting when talking about influencers. The following is paraphrased I think spoken by Mitch Radcliffe.

Recently ... social networks meets influence networks. mostly noise in
social networks... the newsfeed and the api... events that have
occurred in your network. If you have people in your network that are
important influencers then .... role that is bridging...
synthesis.. different groups of people with complementary passions.

dell example . two groups. bloggers that needed to be a voice in the
marketplace.. Jeff. and secondly lot of people that were becoming
frustrated with dell. They needed a catalyst... and catalysing event
that brought the topic to a boil.... don't see the same thing
happening yet on Facebook. ... How do you use the API to create
synthesis? That's increasingly isolated by applications operating within Facebook. How to expand beyond one's borders and test the limits of one's
edge... influencers will play a very important role.

There is not enough thought going into this synthesis role. However the thought that applications may be destructive to influence and synthesis on Facebook is interesting.

Overall we know that Media is ripe for revolution. However, I remain convinced that the media industry isn't using the tools or the approaches to really explore "what next". Lock-in to old models (even recent ones like web sites) are limiting management and how they think. Social Media is low cost experimentation. Organizations are putting inadequate resources on the experimentation.

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Yahoo 100 Days and....?

100 Day plans always worry me. It's like a signal that McKinsey or BCG is coming in. Then they will magically have the answer in one hundred days. What ails Yahoo is simple. Their Ad model is obsolete. So in one hundred days can Yahoo figure out how to put the ad model into the hands of you and me. Solve that and open up on Identity and you have a revolution. Do it right and it changes the rules for Google. Take it further and we can have some control over what is searched and on the expiry of data.

Still no cure for what ails Yahoo | CNET News.com

On a conference call with analysts after the earnings report, Chief Executive Jerry Yang said he would "spend the next 100 days or so mapping out a strategic plan" and conduct a "top to bottom review of our business." "I have a great sense of urgency to move fast and in a focused way," Yang said. He promised there would be "no sacred cows" and talked about three key topics: insight, openness and partnering. Specifically, the company will de-emphasize underperforming products and "set a new bar for the Yahoo culture" by "prioritizing teamwork, leadership and a desire to win."
Now it is Day Two. I hope he has at least 5 radical items on his list. Looking down the cellar stairs is just one black hole.

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What's your Facebook Strategy

Jeff writes: What's your Facebook Strategy? A message I flogged about Skype for a long time. He's made his perfectly clear.  As noted there are many apps just waiting to happen. While the obvious apps are going in little focus is being placed on the threat that Facebook as a global directory makes to communications; or the power that "groups" might acquire in relation to media and access or the new distribution channels being created.

While the white pages never made any real money without them there would be no telecom industry. Facebook is certainly much more than white or yellow pages. From my perspective it is doing a great job at creating very rich profiles. Nothing else anywhere comes close. For the moment Facebook's strategy is "numbers"; more and more converts. Telecom companies should worry about it. For media companies it is a threat of a different kind which will over time turn over all their ad model assumptions.

The Jeff Pulver Blog: Facebook is: Self-Healing

And now is the time to think about what YOUR Facebook strategy is or is going to be.
I'd add I still have some reservations about Facebook, however these are not material in terms of where we are on the development curve today. Facebook is the one to study and the real question to deal with is "What's your Social Media Strategy?"

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July 19, 2007

Ooma - Will Blow $27 Million

OOOOOOOOOOOOMAAAAAAAAAAA or Ooma. Alerted by Andrew Hansen to Ooma's premature launch announcement (Available September), I read Techcrunch (a corporate release blurb rubbished in the comments). Then Saunderlog, and Aswath. Like them I don't get to try it. Aswath provides the technical reasons why it doesn't work. Alec I think tempered his comments. Ooma is already battling price perceptions in Techcrunch comments. 

The reality. Ooma is a box. It is supposed to replace a landline --- which most of us don't want anymore (except for 911). The cost of just the hardware $400 before they try and nickel you to death with additional charges doesn't add up for anyone. I'm not sure how that ever got past first grade market research. Although there still seem many that want it... or is that just the free giveaway ones via Gigaom?  There there will remain plug and play technical hurdles in the home for anyone that has cable rather than ADSL as the phone line may or may not be close by.

On the competitive front. Phonegnome provides similar technology options at a much lower cost. Skype and various handset suppliers provide various options for wiring your house and achieving the same thing with some sense of security on a computer that's already paid for. I'd add often at a sound quality that beats what this solution is likely to provide.

So far I've not seen it compared with mobile Wi-Fi related devices. My experience with Nokia's N80, and N95 have convinced me that before long everyone will carry a dual mode device. Too bad the iPhone still looks crippled in this regard. So, the comparison must be made with T-Mobiles Home Hotspots and what's already available though GizmoVoIP, Truphone and Talkplus type plans.  Dialing out for free (or almost free) is no longer much of an issue.

The marketing angle is wrong here. Lots of money, star appeal and yet at the end of the day those that both understand it and might love to use it won't go out and promote this product. While my VoIP friends and advocates may try and convince me to buy an iPhone; there is at least something to that. It's called progress. Ooma will never pass that test. It won't grow as your communications needs grow. It will become obsolete.

The VoIP blog world will give this a complete thumbs down. I hate to be the bearer of really bad news. I've given some other products some harsh reviews usually after I've done the "test" and considered how it works for me and a broader audience. The launch blogs Gigaom, Techcrunch and perhaps other haven't done their readers any favors by not providing more skeptical initial reviews.

Part of the corporate and investment problem here is the gestation period. Money has been in this baby for over three years. That shows up one of the big development challenges for hardware. Development is not fast or agile like software. The plumbing is now about software while the hardware is being driven by mobile handset cycle times of just months. This product is years late. It may also have a questionable legal interconnect strategy. Still those problems may come later.

This is not the next revolution in VoIP and certainly not the innovation the corporate site claims. In the end David Beckemeyer has the best response to Ooma. He simply says VC's you
can have it all in days before they launch for a lot less than 27 million. I agree, and it is possible
in that time to launch with a competitive brand platform and positioning with technology that is already deployed and tested with customer research etc. More importantly it creates an IP asset that the company can leverage even after the cost of calls go to zero.

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Blog 2.0 --- More Conversation Required

Blog2.0 is a meme I've been thinking about as I've been playing with MT4.0Beta templates all day. So what do I see but Stowe thinking about //Message2.0 and Dave Winer voicing similar in Twits. So I twit too...



thinking about where and how I would like to revamp how I blog... in
that blog2.0 type of meme. I want more facebook capabilities in my blog

And perhaps that is it. I want Facebook capabilities outside Facebook under my control. It's why I'm looking at OpenID. I'd like anyone to be able to connect with my site and me.  I'd also like to add a security layer with an exchange of public and private keys so all these relationships have some sharing with control type capabilities. I want to bring Facebook Type widgets into my blog.  And a whole lot more. 

This is a thread we should all be developing. Facebook is closed not open. My blog represents "ME" in control. That's what I really want. As I tell people from time to time. I still have registered "IOWNME.com. Registered back in 99 it looks like we are getting closer and closer to a time where it can be used.

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July 20, 2007

Skype for Nokia N800

I just updated my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet with Skype. In my case it makes the tablet many times more attractive to carry around.

Nokia's N800 Gets Skype - Skype Blogs

Namely, Nokia’s funky N800 Internet Tablet now speaks Skype. Officially, that is. (You may have noticed in late June that Skype did a pre-release demo of Skype for the N800 in New York). Andrew Brennan from Skype Gear has written a nice review that you can read here. Once you’re convinced it’s something for you, install the latest Nokia firmware version from here, as instructed by Andrew’s review. Or download Skype for the N800 here.

How does Skype work on it?
It takes awhile to load my buddylist which is a painfully long scroll. There are no groups (which I also miss on the Mac). It doesn't seem to work with multi-chats. I find getting from one chat screen to another isn't exactly intuitive or obvious (AH, now found the blue button - makes it easier). Yet it works as you would expect Skype to. As far as I can make out there is no video support, no SMS or file sharing. Video is particularly disappointing as it is already available on N800 to N800 GoogleTalk exchanges.

Impact. I may just start carrying around the N800 again. I have a bluetooth keyboard for it. I may also just get the navigation kit and put both in the tank bag on my motorcycle. Not sure I should ever be looking at it there. Still bluetooth headset and maybe it would all work. The N800 remains an interesting device for me. It is also still a curiosity. I've not found it habit forming. One of the reasons is I already have a phone that does it all and more in the N95.

In the end I'd have been much more impressed if Skype launched a Symbian app.

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July 21, 2007

Facebook Gets Answers

I've been using the Facebook application "Ask your Friends a Question". Today it must have had some visibility in news feed as I received many additions. It's neat and I'd like to thank all those that have answered. There's real power in Facebook,s connectivity. I'm not sure we really know how to harness it yet. Still I couldn't be learning with a better group of friends and colleagues anywhere. Note most recent at the top; however answers have been flowing in for six weeks. They are not dated. Some may have changed their mind or now have a different opinion. So this is more like an indicator... and the answers may be evolving.

Stuart asks...
How do you feel about Facebook today?

John Hammink:
MMM...I wish it had functionality to embed code widgets so I could stream my songs and videos....for me, I express myself better these ways than with short blog posts. Still using linkedIn and other networks and have no plans to quit.

Howard H. Thaw:
From a personal perspective, it's a great way to stay connected with our children as they travel around the world. From a business perspective, more and more of my contacts are migrating from linkedin to facebook - and the newsfeeds are entertaining.

Jim Courtney:
By keeping it to people I know via some other connection, it has more value. Still questioning as to whether it would be a "must have" servoce.

Neville Hobson:
Paying more attention to it than any other social network.

Lee Bryant:

Martin Geddes:
A lot of invites (which you can't bulk approve and the relationship classification never matches the complexity of reality). Hard to know what the value is.

Andy Abramson:
I like it, but it's getting overwhelming with all the people I don't know wanting to know me.

Jack Vinson:
I still haven't figured out the whole magilla here. I like this way of collecting my online world, but there seems to be too many rabbit tracks to follow.

Robert Mao:
it's nice...

Ross Dawson:
I started with the impression that is was quite straight and limiting, though now that it's opened up it could go in all sorts of interesting directions...

Jack Vinson:
exploring, not really wanting another landing page

Ken Camp:
I'm growing more impressed with it daily. It compliments Jaiku nicely for me.

Dina Mehta:
I love facebook because it lets me see so many facets of a friend all in one space!

Rob Paterson:
As nearly a senior - relationships have become more important to me - I like the effortless way I am being reconnected to people that I like a lot

Alec Saunders:
I think facebook platform rocks! Think about it... this little app duplicates the core capability of LinkedIn answers.

Tris Hussey:
Exploring and interested how this might become a connector

Euan Semple:
I reckon Ken's comment could be applied to life!

Andrew Hansen:
I love the fact I am connecting with old friends daily.

Phil Wolff:
excited! so busy and not all empty fluff

Gabe Wachob:
I am torn because its a huge silo, but its a very interesting extensible silo!

Ken Camp:
Ambivalent. I like some facets, but am dubious about the propensity for "evil"

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July 26, 2007

The "Social Strategy" and Alec Saunders

I have to tip my hat to Alec Saunders. His blog, his writing and the topics he's writing about. Including "Stop Using Me". Well Alec I'm using you today, as a friend, blogger, and  pointer to a person who writes a great socially aware marketing blog. Who acts as both the customer for many products and the CEO of Iotum. I'm holding you up today. It's both a knack and a creation.

I think I will go looking for more blogs like yours. It's an emerging genre and for some companies a foundation element for success with "Branding" and "Marketing" in a 2.0+ world.

Great commentary:

I enjoyed your Ooma insights and somehow you still managed the thumbs down politely. While I was described by you as thumbs down in criticism. I was certainly blunt in providing the feedback that I won't shell out $400 for this product.

Where I want to pick a bone is on your perceptions that the PR and Marketing failed to have the right blogger outreach. While it may have helped the real problem is still the product and the price point. Still I think it goes further than just the product and there are lessons for hardware / physical product launches everywhere.

In a 2.0 world marketing is reframed; the consumer is dead, and the users are people. Every product requires a social strategy. Products like the message are inherently social. All media is now social. I know you know this. Iotum has a presence and SOCIAL standing way beyond it's footprint. This traces to trust, transparency and a sense that "we" know and understand what you and your team are trying to do. Most importantly Iotum seems communications as social.

The Ooma marketing failed on all these fronts. They are not transparent about the technology. The product suggests security compromises. They brought in an Actor and and that's supposed to make it cool. They thought they were in control of the "message". That's an old school thought and thinking that too many companies are continuing to make. Ooma is not a social product.

The brand manager cannot own the message. We the "people" are the message and collectively "place" the product. In many ways it's always been that way. Just in this case --- no one seemed to ask... "what will the WOM (word of mouth) be?". Andy perhaps characterises this very well describing it as "Hype".

While I started this post with Alec, and close with Andy both these guys are exemplary examples of participating in next generation marketing and branding programs. It has become a "trusim" that if you want to launch VoIP products then you better think and build relationships with them; and I could name a dozen others. VoIP products today require a social context and backdrop to be successful. Names, branding, pricing etc all matter. However, if you are not prepared to talk about it early and often you can forget about it.

Just in the VoIP space these are (just some of the companies) that share their stories and are learning faster from their customers. Truphone, JajahFring Phonegnome,etc.
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Jeff Pulver's VoIP Investment Challenge

I'm considering blogging a Dear Jeff letter. Not today as you only get one chance to pitch and I'm going to frame some territory first. I'd need some encouragement to take it forward. Jeff's called for More Innovation in Voice Services and clearly targets his interests at something that's not more of the same. He follows it up with

The Jeff Pulver Blog:

Just to be clear, what I am looking for are new ideas and new innovations. From people NOT involved in a startup yet. Looking for people who have the seed of an idea in their mind that are waiting to take the next step and make their dreams come true...that's where I come in. That's what this challenge is all about.
So far I qualify and I'd add a couple of starting points.

  • We use communications and we are or will be all channel agnostic. We won't care over what transport it goes as long as it is secure.
  • We want different mode's of communication. Visual, talk, real-time text, asynchonous connections etc. Simplified it is Talk, Text or Post. Skype, Gtalk, phone number SMS, etc. all irrelevant; just channels for lowest cost.
  • We want communications that reflect relationships and context.
  • We want communications that are under our own control. The telephone really is obsolete. The caller remains in charge. We require a control paradigm. Tipping access control changes everything.
In Jeff's original post he alludes to an API to Facebook and Twitter. These API's are too basic for our real communications needs. They are the starting point. Presence too is dead. At least presence as we knew it (available, not available etc.) Context we are just beginning to see and respond to. It has to build on these in the beginning.

Facebook could own "communications" its already a better directory service. Still it isn't engineered to really be the People's Directory. However, if I was AT&T I'd be worried. The longer term play is one where "we own it" and we individually are in charge of all communications.

My passion remains in this area as it tips the economics in favor of you and me. In the end this is a play about information, packet control, and beliefs. The next inflection point for communications is the business that will truly empower the individuals role in communications. There's a lot of money ultimately at stake.

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About July 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in July 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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