Results tagged “blogosphere”

I Am Telling You This

September 29, 2008

As always, I am trying to be everywhere at once. Here's where I've succeeded:

  • Dan Costa at PC Magazine offers a look at the rise of micro social networks. I get a nod there, but it's more satisfying to see the idea itself take off. That's an idea that Chris and I revisited at the BlogWorld conference last week, along with a discussion of blogging becoming an industry.
  • There's a pleasantly inexplicable passing mention of me in reference to the Web 2.0 Expo here in New York. In case it's not been clear in the past, I am delighted that the tech industry in NYC is closely linked to other industries like media and finance. It gives us a useful perspective and makes tech companies in NYC wiser and less prone to falling into the echo chamber that frustrates me about a lot of Silicon Valley companies. And I never liked the name "Silicon Alley" anyway.
  • The South Asian Journalists Association invited me to participate in the first of two conversations about the South Asian blogging community. I thought a lot of the points raised were pretty interesteing, and am a big fan of the SAJA blog, so this was a lot of fun.
  • The less said about this, the better. I'm looking at you, Andy.

Thanks for the Add!

October 23, 2007

I added this thing to my site (the HTML version, which most of you never see) a while back, and it's gotten some interesting responses. I'll reproduce it here in a post for your convenience.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is stupid. Now, I like being on lots of social networks -- much of my job, and many of the opportunities that I've been able to take advantage of, are based on the relationships that I'm able to maintain online. But this process of hoping people manually recreate these networks over and over isn't just an annoyance for really geeky people like me; It also acts as a barrier to people creating new, useful services, because it's just cruel to ask people to clear this social networking hurdle yet again.

That's why I've really been enjoying watching the work on the Relationship Update Stream. I wrote an explanatory blog post, but David Recordon probably says it best since he's actually been the guy hacking on this stuff.

The thing is, this isn't new. The relationships that are being shared between social networking sites that use these technologies have been around since well before we started calling things "Web 2.0". For example, four and a half years ago, when Ben Hammersley wrote the first review of TypePad, as positive as he was in the Guardian, the part that he was clearly most excited about was TypePad's support of FOAF, the Friend-of-a-Friend spec that would let people reuse this sort of relationship data. That support found its way into TypeKey (and LiveJournal independently implemented it too), and just a few months later folks like Marc Canter were expectantly awaiting the arrival of open social networks. ("Anyone can come to this page and 'Add me as a Friend'. We don't need no stinking Friendster!")

I think we were hopeful then, too. A full six months earlier, Ben Trott wrote about what you could do with open social network data. I knew at the time that he was talking about TypePad's FOAF support, but TypePad hadn't yet been launched (or even named TypePad yet), so it was hard to give people context for what we were trying to do. Always the thinker, Tim Appnel took the conversation and ran with it, ruminating about TrackBack being FOAF-enabled.

But I find it heartening that so many people have been so effusive about the idea of opening up the social graph. I'm saddened how many people have prefaced their excitement with "Well, I can't say this publicly..." but I'll take endorsements where I can get 'em, even if that means they're private. Add that to the people who appreciated my penchant for boring history lessons about the web, and those who've put even more thought into the ideas here, and it's enough to make even a cynic like me get excited.

The thing is, I don't think the then-young blogging community as a whole was good at launching industry-wide efforts when we started talking about this stuff years ago. All of us who were around then remember all too well how viciously people could argue over things like XML formats, but it seems like we actually have learned a little bit since then. The nofollow initiative was a nice trial run to see how people could just work together, and Dave Winer's successes with things like enclosures/podcasting for RSS emerged fairly quickly, too, showing the power of simply shipping a good idea. I think for me, OpenID was the first time that I saw a really new technology, one of these things we'd been talking about forever, finally get shipped and adopted. And even though it came from the hacking community, some of the biggest companies in the world got behind it. Astounding.

So, though it's taken almost half a decade, I have some hope that these pieces will start to come together. And maybe that's why it took so long -- it couldn't have happened any sooner than now. I think it's only appropriate that the true test of whether open social networking will take off is whether those who make the social networks themselves are able to, you know, add each other as friends.

Web History's History

April 21, 2007

I found some really interesting responses to the launch of Google Web History that are all well worth visiting.

  • CNET's Margaret Kane has a roundup of news on their news blog.
  • Mark Blair's SMOblog (which stands for "Social Media Optimization", a term I kinda like) says Google is organizing the world's conversation. It's a fairly generous variation on Google's original mission of "organizing the world’s information", which I think Google abandoned long-ago, but it's well worth the read.
  • The Globe and Mail's Mathew Ingram asks How much do you love Google? I believe Tina said it best: What's love got to do with it?
  • Adobe's John Dowdell, whom I'm a huge fan of, always has a great perspective. This time on proprietary data:
Microsoft's hyperintegration of code and functionality led to their well-known security problems over the past ten years... Google seems similarly vulnerable these days, with their hyperintegration of user data. It looks like they're trying to handle it correctly, but it's a heavy weight to accept. I suspect that eventually we'll see a counter-pressure, towards decentralized data services rather than private, opaque, and centralized data silos.
  • Aliza Sherman has some nice words that get at exactly why I like blogging about these things -- hopefully a good blog post can provide perspective that's useful for those too busy to do the research themselves.
  • Rex Hammock offers a more personal look at Web History, focusing on the attention implications of the new service.
  • Geek and Poke already has a comic strip up about Web History.
  • And, winning the "Best Headline" award, is Good Morning Silicon Valley, with Those who do not purge history are condemned to reread it. Aaaand I think think nobody's topping that one today, folks.

It's Always August

August 31, 2006

There are lots of different corners of the web, most of which have the good graces to be supportive and interesting and to act like, well, a community. People generally like to be social. But then there's the high-profile personal websites, full of pundits and supernerds, and the kinds of people who I imagine talk on wireless headsets on their cell phones while at a restaurant. For these people, it's always August.

August at Shackleford Banks.jpg

First, a little background. If you've never worked in the publishing or media industries, you might not know that August is officially the month where everyone basically phones it in. Back in New York, people would speak of going to The Hamptons so often that it's been verbed into "Hamptoning" and used as a generic term for going on vacation. While bigwigs and editors are away cavorting, a makeshift army of interns, temps, and recent college grads generally takes over. These kids usually don't have much experience, and newspaper editors don't want to have to do any hard work during the dog days, so the end result is that you get a combination of lazy writing and some really crappy journalism.

What kind of crappy journalism? Listicles! "Best Of"s. Special Theme Issues. And all of these pieces are topped by blaring, or alarmist, or horribly-punned headlines. You might notice that the other time of year this happens is around the end of the year or at New Year's, when Christmas and the other December holidays conspire to leave major media outlets virtually unstaffed. Then, you get year-end wrapups or another round of Best Ofs.

Indeed, as former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card famously told the New York Times, "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

So, then, why is it always August in the "look at me!" part of the blogosphere? Because the people who are blogging for an audience of thousands, or for hundreds of thousands, are prone to a lot of those same tendencies. Digg and delicious and the rest are littered with Top 10s and geek equivalents of Cosmo coverlines. It's not long until we get "21 Ubuntu Install Tips That Will Drive Him Crazy In Bed!"

It's harmless, mostly. Hell, lots of it is even fun reading. But I'm struck by how the combination of light or lazy editing, an attention span too short to suffer much fact-checking, and the temptation of easy distractions like, say, a day at the beach can result in the exact same tropes being trotted out, regardless of medium.

I should point out that, despite the fact it sounds like a criticism, I'm not against this kind of thing, really. I just find it ironic that the people who make up the high-profile part of the blogosphere spend all their time living like it's August while accusing the rest of the blogosphere for sounding like the September that never ended.

The photo, by the way, is what Shackleford Banks looks like in August. So I'm not saying August is a bad thing.

I Put Links In The Blog...

July 25, 2006

...and you put links in your browser, and that's what makes the web work.

  • Michael Fitzgerald has a nice piece in CIO about starting a business blog. I'm in there, briefly, but it's worth reading anyway.
  • FAQs and Walkthroughs for New Super Mario Bros. I've got three stars, I've done Challenge Mode... now I'm just wandering around looking for things to do.
  • Data structures as culture. I love this stuff: "Microsoft emphasizes tree problems because their culture puts a high value on the kind of mental gymnastics often necessary to solve such problems, while Apple emphasizes hashtables because its aesthetically-oriented culture prizes their combination of zen-like simplicity and seemingly impossible speed."

YHBT HAND 2.0

May 31, 2006

Ha, ha, I could have sworn I went away for a week and while I was gone the biggest thing that happened in the tech blogosphere was that people were arguing over lawyers talking about rights to a buzzword that everyone had already agreed was so far past its prime that it was only used ironically. This is the best you can do?

Want to know why the tech blogosphere is rapidly decreasing in influence, importance, and prominence among blogs overall? Want to know why Cute Overload, Go Fug Yourself, and Post Secret are more important blogs than yours? It's because of these silly little incestuous locker-room ego-stroking flamewars that the boys are prone to. A few years from now, when you're bitterly protesting that you're no longer seen as relevant, you can look to stupid cross-blog flamewars like this and remember why.

In the meantime, I'm very proud that I'd get quoted for trying to encourage people to be constructive with their conversations. If my blogging legacy is that I wore a funny t-shirt and ranted ineffectively against the unkindness of the blogosphere, I'll be more than happy. I'm not saying everyone has to be nice, just that they shouldn't be proactively stupid. Calm down or shut up!

If I were writing Tim's post, it might be more like this:

Sorry a small number of vocal people were offended that our company tried to protect a brand that they don't even like. Sometimes our lawyers treat our publishing business like they would any other company, not considering that our community expects a referendum on any business dealings having to do with intellectual property. Next time they'll check with us first, but really it's not that big a deal. To those of you who are upset you can't take advantage of the value of the name, I'd suggest you probably want your own name so you can build your own brand equity. To those of you who've just been enjoying the drama and the pile-on, I'd suggest you direct your energies to something useful. To the sane people who were bored by this whole thing, here's hoping there's something productive being discussed soon.

See? Easy. As always, my wife said it first, more succinctly and eloquently than me.

Update: Great post on the same topic from Dave Winer, who's seen firsthand just how pleasant a blog pile-on can be. Also, I'm glad that people who know little about new web technologies can find a New York Times article on this stupidity where we can proudly reveal that our community yields such attractive artifacts as "[Added 27 May 2006 by Marc:] I deleted a comment that insinuated Tim is a child molester." This type of conversation really makes us all look great.

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