Social software and online media

Analysis of social software, blogging, microblogging, and online media. Related subjects include:

March 25, 2009

The grand discussion on the future of journalism

The past few weeks have seen a huge outburst of commentary about the perilous states of the newspaper business in particular and journalism in general. Having been a little busy, I haven’t found the time to chime in seriously. That said, my views include:

Highlights of the recent discussion include (but in no way are limited to): Read more

January 23, 2009

Plinky: The microblogging apocalypse is upon us

Plinky — a tool to help people come up with things to microblog when they don’t actually have anything to say — has launched.  I’ve posted an anti-Plinky rant in response.  The gist — but with plenty of links so that you actually know what I’m talking about — is:

[Plinky] is like throwing a cocktail party, getting the conversation going, then encouraging your guests to run out in the street with megaphones spreading their drunken chatter. Except in this case what people are drunk on is not actual booze, but rather the promise of “social media marketing” and “building your personal brand.”

January 2, 2009

Daniel Tunkelang idealizes Twitter

Daniel Tunkelang has a couple of recent posts decrying what amounts to, at least in his eyes, the abuse of Twitter. (My word, not his.)   For example, he writes in criticism of Loic LeMeur:

Twitter is a communication platform, not a marketing platform, and there’s a subtle difference.

But I’d disagree that there’s a bright line separating the two.  In particular, I think most business blogs serve or should serve as both, in no small part because the areas of marketing and communication overlap heavily. And in my opinion Twitter (microblogging) and ordinary blogging aren’t that far apart.

Earlier this evening I posted praise of the BI expert Twitter community — of which Daniel is indeed a member — even while admitting that unlike other members, I “follow” too many Twitterers to actually keep up with their posts.  Daniel refers to following patterns like mine as an attention Ponzi scheme, Read more

January 2, 2009

Enterprise IT experts on Twitter

It was my birthday yesterday (New Year’s Day), and I remarked on Twitter that I seemed to be getting more automated greetings from message boards and the like than I was getting from real people.* Naturally, a number of folks set out to redress the imbalance :), specifically J A di Paolantonio, Rob Paller, Neil Raden, Claudia Imhoff, Gareth Horton, Donald Farmer, IdaRose Sylvester, and Seth Grimes.

*In retrospect that was a silly comment, made soon after midnight while humans were generally either partying or asleep. But it’s the set-up for the rest of this post. 😉

Sheer self-indulgence aside — “Happy Birthday To Me!!” — I see something blogworthy in that. Indeed, it reflects the emergence over the past 6 months or so of one particular Twitter community. Takeaways include: Read more

November 16, 2008

The silly fuss over Obama’s use of YouTube

President-Elect Barack Obama is posting videos on YouTube. Clearly, his use of relatively cutting-edge communications technology is a Good Thing. It’s also unsurprising, giving the sophistication and importance of video in the recent presidential campaign.

However, various commentators — even ones as smart as Dan Farber — see something wrong with the use of YouTube for this purpose. I think that’s silly. Read more

October 28, 2008

Google and the Author’s Guild establish an ASCAP for books

Most of the coverage of the Google/Authors Guild settlement today seems to focus on Google’s side of things. But I think the authors’ side is much more important. This deal paves the way for traditional publishers to become quaint and useless — and not a moment too soon.

Below are some quotes — fair use!! 🙂 — from the Authors Guild official statement on the deal (emphasis mine): Read more

September 11, 2008

Blog user interfaces

Over on A World of Bytes, I’ve started highlighting interesting tech blogs people might enjoy. However, I chided each of my first three selections for UI failings. A comment thread quickly ensued, and social media maven Jeremiah Owyang asked how he could make his blog easier to read. This post is a followup to that discussion.

Jeremiah’s blog and my most active ones – DBMS2 and Text Technologies – have a lot in common. Specifically, they are multi-hundred-page websites, featuring dense material meant to be read by busy, tech-savvy people. And so my core advice boils down to: Make it as easy as possible for people to find and recognize what is interesting to them.

In particular, I suggest: Read more

September 3, 2008

A cautionary tale about Facebook ad targeting

Washington Post writer Rachel Beckman complains that Facebook inundated her with ads accusing her of being fat and then, when she got engaged, warned her of being a “fat bride”. Now, although she’s newly married or about to be, Facebook is (obviously prematurely) advertising fertility treatments to her.

It’s just the early days, but this sort of thing is bound to create backlash. I don’t think there’s going to be a resolution until people can create profiles so detailed that, for example, they contain the fact that you disapprove of ads about weight-loss aids.

In the short term, e-commerce software vendors should be thinking about how to create UIs that offer most of the benefit of this kind of targeting, but without giving offense.

Sigh. I guess today’s my day for writing about offensive marketing.

August 25, 2008

Evidently I’m a social media expert too. Who knew?

Network World asked me to do an online chat. That isn’t surprising. What’s surprising is that they asked me to focus on social media. My views on social media boil down to:

The long form of my views on social media — with a little data warehousing thrown in — may be found here.

In somewhat related news, Jason Fry of the Wall Street Journal showed his exquisite good sense by quoting me carefully about online presence, and expanding upon my points at length.

August 19, 2008

LinkedIn name search is ridiculously bad

Somebody named Conor O’Mahony has posted excellent comments about XML databases on a couple of DBMS2 threads. After a look at the blog URL he provided and the job description he posted there, I resolved to look him up. LinkedIn seemed as good a way as any of figuring out where he was geographically located. But on the first try I typed his name from memory as Conor Mahony. LinkedIn had no idea who I meant.

Once I confirmed that he was indeed listed, I went on to test such errors as Connor Mahony, the very common misspelling of my name as Kurt Monash, and several variations on Dan Weinreb. Almost nothing worked. LinkedIn did get Daniel/Dan, and didn’t require the hyphen in Tony Lacy-Thompson, but otherwise pretty much every misspelling I could think of stumped it. Read more

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