Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook, Friendfeed, the Real Time Stream, and RL

Today’s big news, in case you are — let’s just say — a surgeon in the operating room or the President in a Summit–is that Facebook acquired Friendfeed. I have several minor insights to contribute to the conversation about this:

1)Only the unemployed or underemployed even know about it yet, because they are the only people with the time to participate in the real time stream. The folks who spend their lives in corporate meetings, teaching children, or walking police beats probably will find out later. The real time stream is a nice idea, but there are entire days when I can’t dip my toe into it until dinner time. It is, therefore, of minimal utility to most people.

Today I happened to be down for routine maintenance (manicure, pedicure, hair colored) so I was available for the stream, which soon became a tsunami, to wash over me.

2)There has been a firestorm of sadness (what a mixed metaphor) from Friendfeed early adopters, and a mass of questions from pundits about what Facebook is going to “do” with Friendfeed.  Do They don’t know what they are going to do. They bought it because it was doing some things they felt were important and they either wanted to remove it deftly from the market or get a look at it up close and personal so they could knock off its features better.  Or both. But it’s like when you buy a sweater.  You think you know what you will wear it with, but it doesn’t become a worthwhile purchase until you find something absolutely unexpected in your closet that it updates and improves.

3) Or maybe they just wanted to make an acquisition, because they can. And because companies that make acquisitions get noticed by investment banks and maybe get to go public and cash out more early investors and employees.

4)At any rate, this is typical echo chamber news — fascinating to the people in Silicon Valley and of little consequence to global warming, health care reform, or Afghanisan. Or is it?  Can we use it to share breaking news? Naaaah, that”s Twitter. So what are these two platforms, now joined in unholy alliance, good for?

5)Community and conversation.  That’s what they have in common, how they differ from, and probably don’t even compete with, Twitter.  And that’s why they probably belong together.

Time to get the color rinsed out of my hair:-) The real time stream is the gray going down the drain and the blonde replacing it.

And boys, it’s only business.  Friendfeed wasn’t your baby. Get over it

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The Conversation is on Facebook, Geeks!

I’m not an engineer, so my life is made up of individual datapoints, not formal tests. But last night I posted a link to a NY Times article on sub-prime mortages and loan modification scams to Twitter, so my friends there would see it. This morning, I awoke to six or seven email notifications on Facebook that my friends had been having a conversation about the article and the situation surrounding it while I blissfully slept. And all it was, was a link from Twitter that fed my Facebook status updates.

What amazed me wasn’t the number of comments, which certainly doesn’t equal what Scoble gets on his blog, or Leo LaPorte gets on his Friendfeed page. Rather, it was the depth and thoughtfulness of the conversation. People had taken the time to write long posts, and sometimes not even to me — to each other. People on FB actually still see each other’s streams.

Just last week, my brother, got into a similar discussion (read argument, as my bro is from New York) with some friends of mine about education after something I wrote in my FB notes. Again, people were wildly arguing with each other at great length.

Conclusion from these data points: the real conversation is where the real people are — on FB. More conversation is taking place than we geeks are aware of, and it is taking place where the barrier to entry is lowest: on the social network everyone is already on.

I have a larger number of FB friends than most people, and as a result the conversations come from all over. I’m beginning to find this more fun than Twitter, and more diverse than Friendfeed. And I just got a reply from Adam Glickman that he also finds his FB activity picking up.

Thoughts, folks?

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Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

No way. Social media has given me a platform on which to share my knowledge of things I care deeply about. Health care and the environment are two of those, and still another is the current economic crisis and how it is affecting me and my world. Without social media, I’d be in a far smaller community around these very troubling issues, and I could easily be very depressed.

Most people also think I care deeply about new technology, because I write so much about it. They’re wrong. I only care about technology to the extent that it enables a person like me, well-informed about things I care about, to offer some information to people who don’t have the time to acquire it first-hand, and to gain strength from others who have found ways to deal with problems I also have.

I start with Google Reader, through which I subscribe to a dozen trade journals and blogs each about health care, environmental issues, and economics. I also subscribe to tech journals and blogs, and to major news sources like the New York TImes, Wall Street Journal, and my local papers in Arizona and on the Coastside in northern California. I read about 1000 items a day, often just scanning to weed out repetition. I try to read several sides of controversial issues, so I know how the doctors, the insurance companies, the patients, and the IT people feel about health care. When something’s really good, I “share” it with other friends of mine who are on Google Reader.

But it doesn’t stop there. I want to discuss what I read with people who can either help me understand it, or tell people what I’ve found out. So I also maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter. On the latter, I maintain several accounts. One’s for general posts; another is @azentrepreneurs, and is specific to Arizona’s entrepreneurship community. Still a third is @ushealthcrisis, which a colleague and I use for our volunteer web site with health care reform information.

When, in the course of my day, I come across something that might help or interest one of these “constituencies,” I post a link or a mention to one of those accounts. Less important for general sharing, but very important for learning more, is Friendfeed, which aggregates the combined knowledge of many educated and intelligent friends and acquaintances of mine, often in extended conversations. Every so often, to spread news of professional opportunities and networking events, I’ll even use a status update on LinkedIn.

And oh yes, in addition to all this, I blog. That’s mainly a place to display my own thoughts and syntheses.

Do I tell people on Twitter what I had for breakfast? Never. Do I write about my personal problems? Only if they can be a metaphor or an example for other people’s experiences (like my effort to modify my mortgage loan). People who are not using social media always worry about lack of privacy. My theory? If you don’t want people on these platforms to know something, don’t tell them.

Now let me answer the questions I get asked all the time when I tell people what I’ve just written about.

"Wasting TIme on Social Media"How much time does this take every day? As much as I want it to take. If I’m very busy working, very little. On other days, or perhaps in the evening when there’s “nothing” on the 200 channels of digital TV in my home, several hours. It’s not a compulsion; it’s a pleasure. It makes me feel like 19th century people used to feel in a salon. Participation is a choice.

And what does it do for me?
It has introduced me to an entire new community of engaged, educated people who discuss the world. These people are located anywhere — Brazil, China, New York, India. It finds me friends, investments, and cousins I haven’t heard from in years. It increases the time I spend talking with my brother.

And last, but not least, it makes me money. It exposes me to the world and people can hire me to advise, to write, to teach. In other words, sometimes when you are useful, there’s a payoff:-) And no, I do not call myself a “social media guru.” I leave that for others.


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An Expert Weighs in on Facebook Etiquette

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Community. It’s Everything

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Yesterday was a big day in the social media world, what with the launch of Friendfeed’s new beta in the morning and the recording of Gillmor Gang in the afternoon.It was an all-day community day for me, as I first joined my community in the morning to try the new interface and joined another community in the afternoon to listen to the opinions of friends about it and its chances against the other community platforms I use.

But the “meta” information from the day is more important than the actual discussions. The metadata tells me that the feeling of being linked to others of like mind is more powerful than jobs, economies, almost any competing activity. People up-end their lives to be part of these communities. People who are not really geeks, like my friend Michael Vandervert, a human resource specialist in Florida, are involved. Michael is a spiritual person who believes in the power of connections.

I can’t help drawing a parallel to my Blueprint for Survival workshops. The one coming up on April 20 filled up in two days. Why? Because when people lose their jobs they lose their communities, and if they don’t have these online platforms already in place, they’re stuck trying to figure out how to work LinkedIn.

LinkedIn, however, is not a true community, as Twitter is, or Friendfeed. Or even Facebook. If you lose your job, your wife, your 401(k) these communities offer empathy, help, alternatives. LinkedIn only offers a chance to do the “work” in networking. But what we really need is the “net” — the circle that draws us in so we don’t feel alone.

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Last Week’s Gillmor Gang

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Last week’s GIllmor Gang was one of the best.

This episode was one of the best ever.  Let me dispense with Facebook and Twitter and move on to the really interesting part, which is how the people on the call look at the economic downturn. You’re all very smart people and you will be part of the solution, as I hope I will be.

About Facebook: Marc, it’s only fun to connect with your old high school buddies if you enjoyed high school.  For every person on Facebook that I’d like to re-connect with, there’s one I am glad I never see. Facebook creates a noisy stream and demands too much politeness from me. At least in high school I could turn my back on some of these people, but now that we are all aging and they come on to Facebook as newbies, it is cruel not to add them as friends, and I feel compelled to do it. That makes my stream way too noisy, with “regular people” (translation: people who don’t share my interests) and converts Facebook into an obligation (thanks, Jason) for me.

I much prefer Twitter. Period. Even with the number of people I follow and the number of people who follow me, I have found ways to know almost all of them and connect meaningfully with them in some way. I can learn from Twitter. I have never learned anything from Facebook, except how long some of the unhappy marriages of old friends have gone on through inertia. Ugh.

And yes, I have huge problems uploading video to Facebook, so I can’t believe it will ever be like YouTube and allow completely up-and-down loading. And why should they.  They’re doing fine as a walled garden, and each episode of opening up just creates more noise. For myself, I have begun to work in earnest with Brian Roy’s Just Signal because I feel the need for filtering more than ever. You can see JustSignal on USHealthCrisis right now.

Now to the future: it will happen.Of this I am sure.

Yes, Robert, I am now temporarily poor enough to be under water in my house. But I say temporarily because, depressing as it is, this has happened to me before. The deals I’m in WILL exit some day.  The companies haven’t changed; and they will get restructured, acquired, sold, etc. One day in the future, I will be fine, even if, as Jason so correctly points out, I’m a little shell-shocked now. We people who were “comfortable” are now uncomfortable, and we’re not angels right now.

BUT: that doesn’t mean I don’t believe, as Jason says, that innovation and the start-up economy won’t pull us out of this. It will: the unemployed will innovate, which is why I’m starting  a string of workshops http://www.blueprintforsurvival.com to bring them together and introduce them to each other. Coming from Arizona, I have always been an expert in bootstrapping companies (no choice).

One last comment: one of the industries I play in will never come back like before, and that’s commercial real estate. There have been too many structural changes in our economy to bring it back–from e-commerce, which knocks out retail, to  social networks, which knock out office. You no longer have to bring the people to the market, or to the work. This changes many things about bricks and mortar. The next upturn will have far less commercial real estate opportunities.

We are in a period of rapid transition, brought about by the very things we have early-adopted, evangelized, and fought for. And now we’re frightened. Think how all the OTHER people feel!

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