Tagged: Social Software

Social Search, User Discovery

As a follow on to my social profiles post I'm adding more images to help examine the way in which users find each other on a given social network. Billions of dollars have been made solving the search for content problem, but for the most part finding people is still a fairly tedious task. Most networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter depend on you having some other type of relationship. For example, you might already be friends or coworkers and then send a friend request with Facebook or LinkedIn. I might discover your twitter account because I found your link or because you happened to come through via a trending topic etc. Facebook does offer a recommended friends feature now which occasionally finds someone that I know.

Niche social networks face a very difficult challenge when it comes to user discovery. Much of the user to user interactions on such networks are serendipitous. I find someone interesting by chance because their photo was on the home page and I happened to no...

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43 Social Profiles

One challenge any community site faces is how to let users express themselves. It is hard to express the sum total of any individual on a web page, but in the virtual world that interface is the one chance a user has to connect with another human being. The challenge for designers is making the profile look good. In most instances the profiles end up cluttered and in the MySpace instance where users are allowed to customize the look of their profile the site ends up with some of the ugliest pages ever created. However, I'm not convinced that is a fault in their system. If you look at most teenagers rooms they would likely qualify as a superfund cleanup site. Their online profiles reflect that.

The following is a list of profiles from all types of social networks. Some are general networks like Facebook. Others are niche networks like Bakespace. One thing I find interesting is how each niche site tries to let the user express themselves in a way that is unique to the site. For examp...

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Social Network Dilution

My wife thinks it's funny that I never check Facebook anymore. I got her into it and now she checks it daily. I got my account way back when you still had to have a .edu email address to get an account. It was worthless for a while because no one else I knew had an account. Then for a while it was a great way to communicate. Now Facebook is basically worthless again.

I get that I can connect with old friends and I like that. I can track the daily actions of people I haven't seen in years by watching the constant stream of attention metadata. It's kind of a social pornography. I can watch. I don't have to engage or put any meaningful social effort into the interactions. I think that is the addiction people have to Facebook. You know when your friend is furious with their kids. You can see that an ex boss/girlfriend/bff etc just experienced something rotten and feel the disgusting elation of another human being's misfortune. There's a constant stream of photograph...

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Twitter – The New Borg

I'm not a twitter power user but people frequently ask me what it is and why would I use it. I used to tell them it was a 'micro-blogging' service. Of course that explanation assumes that the person asking the question knows what a blog is and why they would need a smaller version of one.

I have a new answer: "We are the borg"

For those who are geeky like I and my wife* the borg were a human like species that merged the organic with metal, wore goth makeup and thought as a group. Twitter is our first evolutionary step towards becoming the the pale faced, laser wearing, funny talking collective that lived in giant boxes. Perhaps the borg have even come back in time and brought us this wondrous technology and destroy our lives.

Don't get me wrong. I love twitter. Never before have so many voices been able to be heard at the same time. However, the negative is that now there are so many voices. Borg thought was shared among all members of the race. At the time th...

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Make Facebook Butt Out

Marion told me that he rented 'Enchanted' for his kids from Blockbuster.com. Now in all his friend's feeds it says 'Marion rented Enchanted'. Maybe I am not truly social yet, but this activity makes Facebook into that really annoying neighbor who spies on you and then spreads neighborhood gossip. Time to butt out. They hide the functionality that turns off this annoying behavior, but here's a link to turn off integration with external websites and here's one to turn off social ads. If I want to rent 'Where The Red Fern Grows' for a cry it is not of your damn business. Good riddance.

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Ringside Networks

I have been writing quite a bit lately about open Social Networks and the infrastructure that I think will emerge from WordPress to help fill that niche. Then David sends me to Ringside Networks. Although new, this projects appears to be a fairly robust piece of software that can integrate with your existing website and add social networking. One of biggest selling points is that the platform will run Facebook applications. Very cool.

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Ringside Networks

I have been writing quite a bit lately about open Social Networks and the infrastructure that I think will emerge from WordPress to help fill that niche. Then David sends me to Ringside Networks. Although new, this projects appears to be a fairly robust piece of software that can integrate with your existing website and add social networking. One of biggest selling points is that the platform will run Facebook applications. Very cool.

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BuddyPress

There's real information on the BuddyPress site today. I am so excited. This is one of the first steps towards easy to create, distributed social networks. Hopefully it is as easy to extend as WordPress.

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Family Search Conference

I am at the FamilySearch conference at BYU today which means that I had to get up at 5:30 this morning which is one my least favorite things in the world. Luckily caffeine is my friend and I managed to stay awake for the drive down. I did discover this morning that my truck's top speed is 75 MPH and that it is scary to drive it that fast.

Here are some highlights from the keynote.

Ransom Love is talking about Social Networking and is showing Geni, FamilyBuilder, WorldVitalRecords - especially their Facebook application 'We're Related'. All of these companies have open and collaborative technology, use social networking and focus on family relations and because of that formula are extremely successful.

Guesses there are 70 billion records in the world and they have 6 billion records and 3 billions images in the 'vault.' Over half of all children have no official record of their existence. What they currently have will require about 24 petabytes of storage. Record...

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This Clears Things Up a Bit

I'm not sure if anyone has seen David Wiley's blog today, but I think his efforts help to illustrate the idea of distributing the social network. Take a look at it. It might change, so look soon. Does it look familiar?

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Turn WordPress Into Social Butterfly

I have been pitching this idea of a distributed social network to everyone that can stand to listen to me. I realize that the conversation around WordPress and the future of social networking is heating up, but as it does I think it is important to begin thinking about implementation. It is fun to philosophize, but at the end of the day users want some toys to play with.

Chris Messina lays out his vision and the particular functionality associated with it on his wiki. Automattic picked up Buddy Press, and the code is still available on Google Code. For historical reasons here's a thread on the WPMU forums about the activity around Buddy Press. There is another social plugin for WordPress called Xiando]4 that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. We are going to do our part and contribute as well.

As part of an effort to build a social network for Teachers Without Borders we came to a realization that it would be hypocritical to create a network filled with borders. Thus, we began t...

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Turn WordPress Into Social Butterfly

I have been pitching this idea of a distributed social network to everyone that can stand to listen to me. I realize that the conversation around WordPress and the future of social networking is heating up, but as it does I think it is important to begin thinking about implementation. It is fun to philosophize, but at the end of the day users want some toys to play with.

Chris Messina lays out his vision and the particular functionality associated with it on his wiki. Automattic picked up Buddy Press, and the code is still available on Google Code. For historical reasons here's a thread on the WPMU forums about the activity around Buddy Press. There is another social plugin for WordPress called Xiando]4 that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. We are going to do our part and contribute as well.

As part of an effort to build a social network for Teachers Without Borders we came to a realization that it would be hypocritical to create a network filled with borders. Thus, we began t...

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Niche Communities

Over the past few months I have talked quite a bit with Joel about online communities and about what philosophically makes a community. I think it is a group of individuals who collectively are interesting in something and need tools to facilitate communication and production of some artifact(s). The way the community interacts to make this happen differs greatly and so thinking that one tool set will cover all needs is short sighted.

Now I go back to being a WordPress fan boy. I think one of the big reasons WordPress is so successful is that not only is it open source but it is open source that is easy to skin, hack and extend. It is a platform that provides some really great functionality, but the real power is that it empowers experienced and inexperienced hackers alike and gives them a powerful place to begin building something that fits their needs.

WordPress is hackable. Communities have specific needs. Build the basics that are required to fit those needs and then let each com...

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Disposable Communities

I had a great chat with Brian Lamb yesterday. He and his team are working to use WordPress to support learning communities at UBC. In case anyone else is sick of WebCT, Blackboard or the boring Moodle interface this could provide an interesting replacement.

Anyway, as we were talking it made me realize that it would be helpful if we could connect everyone working in this space so that we can share ideas and collaborate. My first thought was to use Prologue a Twitter like WordPress Template. I think the template provides an interesting way to keep track of what people are up to. However, in thinking more about this I really don't want yet another site to go to.

How do we fulfill both goals? How do I share ideas, but escape creating another website that I will forget to go to? Bits are cheap and don't fill up landfills. How about a disposable community? What if I could go online to say WordPress.com and click a few buttons to create a new community? Then I send out an email invit...

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Connected Communities

When Digg was new I spent plenty of time following the latest news 'dugg' up by the community. Now I rarely go back. Somewhere along the line Digg became an online Frat house and I am no longer interested in the 10 ten latest shocking things or in hearing about Scientology or in seeing pictures of puppies (Marion pointed out to me that if you do some research and you will find how many pictures of puppies get thousands of Diggs. Top 10 hot chicks, interesting ways to use vulgarities and puppies, what a bizarre community).

However, I like the idea behind Digg. It is the same idea that made Slashdot successful. (I am a Slashdot refugee as well). Get lots of people together and let the share what they think is interesting.

What is interesting and exciting to me as we look at building on open source community solution is the opportunity to let users break out of a community when the larger group moves in a direction that no longer interests a minority. Say community one is built on ...

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Note to Facebook, Myspace and Other Social Silos: DIE

I wrote three Facebook apps and I have ideas for several more. The most successful was the House Plans application I did for ThePlanCollection.com, but in the Facebook world you can't count a couple thousand users as especially successful.

When Open Social started up I felt like I needed to go sign up for a MySpace account so that I would be ready for when the next big thing showed up. So far Open Social feels like that high school party the nerdy guy threw and two or three other nerdy guys showed up but come Monday morning it will be the joke of the high school. I turned off email alerts for MySpace because I grew tired of the offensive bot spam. I tried playing with Orkut because that was the first platform that supported Open Social. Orkut feels like the Twilight Zone. I tried Twitter for a while. It is a cool service, but I forget its there unless I am bored and the only thing handy is my phone and I want to post about my boredom. How's that for boring.

There are countless ...

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Note to Facebook, Myspace and Other Social Silos: DIE

I wrote three Facebook apps and I have ideas for several more. The most successful was the House Plans application I did for ThePlanCollection.com, but in the Facebook world you can't count a couple thousand users as especially successful.

When Open Social started up I felt like I needed to go sign up for a MySpace account so that I would be ready for when the next big thing showed up. So far Open Social feels like that high school party the nerdy guy threw and two or three other nerdy guys showed up but come Monday morning it will be the joke of the high school. I turned off email alerts for MySpace because I grew tired of the offensive bot spam. I tried playing with Orkut because that was the first platform that supported Open Social. Orkut feels like the Twilight Zone. I tried Twitter for a while. It is a cool service, but I forget its there unless I am bored and the only thing handy is my phone and I want to post about my boredom. How's that for boring.

There are countless ...

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Utah WordPress Meetup

I spent this afternoon with some really cool and interesting individuals from around utah. Matt Mullenweg, the original developer of WordPress was in town and was willing to come and hang out, each lunch and chat for a couple of hours about anything. Matt is a very cool guy not only because he created the best blogging platform of all time, but also because he is just a plain nice guy.

It is to bad that Salt Lake is as far away as it is. These kinds of events are a great chance to meet other people with similar interests and to generate ideas. It is also important to break out of your own personal sphere every now and then so that you can see what the outside world looks like.

A couple of highlights:

  1. Matt said that he prefers a business model that works off the ubiquity of the software rather than a model that limits your ability when using the open source version so that it can charge for more functionality/license (think Mysql)
  2. Holding a Word Camp here in Utah wouldn't be diffic...

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Another Social API – I might explode

Just as I finish my Facebook app here comes OpenSocial which is supposed to be an API that works with LinkedIn, Orkut, other Google services and the big recent addition, MySpace. I might just explode into a million pieces. I love that with these apps you get traffic almost as soon as you turn it on. The site isn't up yet, but the API for Open Social is supposed to live here:

You can bet that I will be living there as well during the next month.

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Facebook as an Authentication System

I have been playing with OpenID for about a year now. It is a very cool, distributed authentication system. The concept is great and I love that I don't have to create accounts everywhere. Instead, I just log in with OpenID and away I go. The biggest shortcoming for OpenID from a user perspective however is the fact that you have to remember a url. People aren't very good at that. I have my OpenID mapped through justinball.com which is easy to remember, but most people don't have that luxury and if your name is Bill Smith or Sam Jones you are not likely to own the corresponding domain.

Over the past week I have had some time to play with the Facebook APIs. Before I became a Facebook fan I could not figure out why anyone would use the stupid thing. Quite frankly before my friends started showing up in the system there wasn't a good reason. Facebook really depends on the network to be meaningful to an individual, but I digress.

So I am playing with Facebook in a number of ...

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Facebook as an Authentication System

I have been playing with OpenID for about a year now. It is a very cool, distributed authentication system. The concept is great and I love that I don't have to create accounts everywhere. Instead, I just log in with OpenID and away I go. The biggest shortcoming for OpenID from a user perspective however is the fact that you have to remember a url. People aren't very good at that. I have my OpenID mapped through justinball.com which is easy to remember, but most people don't have that luxury and if your name is Bill Smith or Sam Jones you are not likely to own the corresponding domain.

Over the past week I have had some time to play with the Facebook APIs. Before I became a Facebook fan I could not figure out why anyone would use the stupid thing. Quite frankly before my friends started showing up in the system there wasn't a good reason. Facebook really depends on the network to be meaningful to an individual, but I digress.

So I am playing with Facebook in a number of ...

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Social Software is for the Young

An interesting study by business week shows who is doing what on line. The visualization helps to show what is in many ways obvious - young people are more likely to do social things online.

I don't think this is bad.

I think it means that over the next decade social software is going to become more pervasive. There are a lot of successes in the Web 2.0 space right now, but I think they are only the beginning. Future tools will help us communicate and collaborate in a global way.

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Social Software is for the Young

An interesting study by business week shows who is doing what on line. The visualization helps to show what is in many ways obvious - young people are more likely to do social things online.

I don't think this is bad.

I think it means that over the next decade social software is going to become more pervasive. There are a lot of successes in the Web 2.0 space right now, but I think they are only the beginning. Future tools will help us communicate and collaborate in a global way.

Continue Reading →

New Website for Academic Types

We have started a new site for those who are academic in nature. As part of what we do at COSL we have Brian Lamb helping us out with research. As we searched for good research questions our we had to ask ourselves if the questions had already been asked which means that we started down a literature review process. In order to help facilitate (now that sounds academic) this process we built a new website called gistr. It is still spartan, but the idea is that as you find interesting papers you share the "gist" of the paper with the rest of the world. One paper can have as many "gists" as the reader thinks is reasonable and of course you can tag the gist.

The plan is to add features that allow users to save off gists and maybe even generate a bibliography from that group. This process should make it easier to create the lit review part of any paper.

Also, it should help researchers who use similar tags find one another and share findings (gists). It isn't much to ...

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Yahoo opens browser authentication

You can use Yahoo to authenticate your users if you want. http://developer.yahoo.com/auth/ This might be worth looking at. 500 million people have accounts at Yahoo. Numbers tend to overwhelm standards so this might be something to look at alongside OpenID, Sxip, Shibboleth etc

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Social changes at Amazon

There are some interesting changes happening at Amazon. Pick a product and look close. You will see two new features. One is the addition of tags. You can now add a tag to a product. As you do you will be prompted with tags that others have used. After you tag it, you can click on the tag and see other products that have the same tag. The second big feature is the addition of a customer wiki. Customers can modify one of the product descriptions. Very interesting.

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