Category Archives: Social Media

Blue Bird Got Da Blues

Blue bird...In case you haven’t heard yet, Dick Costolo is out as CEO at Twitter. I’m an outsider, so I have no idea whether this is deserved or not, but when analysts question a CEO’s tenure publicly, it can easily undermine their stature to the point where it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In this case, it wasn’t unexpected.

Twitter isn’t profitable, and has lately shown signs of stalling growth. Whoever takes over the reins there (Jack Dorsey is stepping in as interim CEO) is going to be under pressure to “fix” whatever is ailing the company, and fast.

The problems may only have manifested since the IPO, but they aren’t really new though. Here’s something I wrote (I was talking about a spate of Twitter-imitators at the time) four years ago:

I always wonder about sites that are focused on Twitter-like feeds though. To my mind, that functionality basically forms the same purpose as RSS feeds. Its just crying out to be aggregated, and then where does that leave the feed sites, or the individual content creators?

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Various updates

Its going to be an interesting week in the technology universe.

Wahooly is launching on Tuesday. More on them below. Then the Facebook IPO will apparently be happening on Wednesday, which could potentially start off another big round of startup frothiness.

The overall level of excitement in tech is as boisterous as I’ve seen it in a number of years. Whether it has “legs” remains to be seen, but there appears to be a definite shortage of qualified people to go around. Over the past few months, the number of resumes sent my way has slowly dropped, and instead I’ve been receiving calls from head hunters and startups (although typically they haven’t bothered actually checking what I actually DO). It will be interesting to see whether things actually pick up economically (or even just in the tech world) over the course of the year.

Wahooly is an interesting riff on startup incubators, crowd-funding and viral marketing. The amount of attention that they’ve achieved in the past couple of months is larger than anything I’ve personally encountered. The basic idea is that startups give them a small amount of equity, which they then “share” among their users, in exchange for which the users promote the startup. The amount of “equity” given to each user depends on how effective the users are in helping to market the company in question, according to some internal formula. To avoid market regulations, it looks like they’re giving some kind of virtual equity to the users, rather than actual shares, and the users will only profit directly if there is some kind of liquidity event. Remains to be seen whether it will work (and whether they can keep it on the right side of legality), but there’s already a large number of users who have registered, and approximately 50 to 60 startups to begin with. My approach is to view it as a combination of an interesting source to find out about new startups (i.e. pure entertainment value), a possible deal flow source, and maybe, just maybe a couple of bucks on the side, somewhere down the road. In the meantime, I’ve been chatting with other users on two groups (here and here) that have been started on Facebook, and its been fun.

I’ll be posting regular updates with regards to Wahooly (and particularly the startups that are launching via their system) over the next few months. Also, two startups I’ve been working with are gradually getting closer to Beta launch, and I will have more to say about them as that time approaches.

Why some people are intensely fascinating

Image: Carlos Porto /

I’ve had a number of conversations with people online in the past few weeks regarding the topic of why some people are so good at holding others attention online.

You already know the sort of people I’m talking about – they have tens or hundreds of thousands of follows on major social media sites, and people hang on their every word.

What we were discussing was the ability of people to grab our interest, not general influence (although in many cases these are one and the same people).

As I told somebody on Twitter, I think I have pieces of the answer. Not the whole answer, unfortunately. That would be worth its weight in various precious minerals. Continue reading

Is social media displacing creativity?

This post originates out of a number of discussions I’ve had lately with people on Google Plus.

The underlying notion is that people have a limited amount of free time, and if they’re spending it using social media websites then that activity displaces other – potentially creative – activity. There’s already been a lot written on whether social media displaces actual friendships (answer is: maybe). Continue reading

On Social Manners

Flickr Creative Commons - Tracey Hunter

Until recently, Facebook was for friends, LinkedIn was for business networking, and Twitter was for yelling as loudly as possible, while covering your own ears.

Lately the lines have become blurred, particularly since Google Plus was launched.

Facebook now has highly business oriented functionality, some of it third party (various networking and job apps, pages, plus the ability to follow somebody without “friending” them).

Many third party websites have integrated tightly with one or more social platforms.

And there’s significant convergence between platforms (they’re all gradually introducing features that replicate what the other sites are doing).

The result is that the way in which I personally use these sites has changed, and sometimes has resulted in my doing things that just might be considered rude in other contexts. Continue reading

Interesting update regarding Zynga

There’s an interesting update on Business Insider today that reveals the level of control that Facebook has over Zynga, and indeed over its entire development platform.

Indicates the extent to which they recognize the potential threat (as well as opportunity) that their API represented.

What’s interesting is that Google has also been acquiring a stake in Zynga.

This confirms that I was on the right track regarding both Facebook’s and Google’s competitive strategies, although it looks like both companies were way ahead of me!

Strategy for Google

Back in April, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz wrote an article on his blog entitled Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO. He concludes that Google is transitioning from a period where it was a dominant, unchallenged player, to a period of intense competition. This is unique during the existence of the company; Google has famously declared in the past that they have no competitors, and that they seek a collaborative role with other companies. Continue reading

Plus One

Finally got signed up with Google Plus on the weekend.

My reaction so far is mixed.

Its certainly interesting to be able to follow some very influential people, but not going to be feasible to actually strike up a meaningful conversation with them, as far as I can tell. Too many people talking, but few listening.

I’ll probably check in from time to time to see how things are progressing. Google has promised a large number of new features, and they look like they’re integrating it very cleanly into other tools, particularly Gmail.

I always wonder about sites that are focused on Twitter-like feeds though. To my mind, that functionality basically forms the same purpose as RSS feeds. Its just crying out to be aggregated, and then where does that leave the feed sites, or the individual content creators?

Don’t get me wrong: it looks to be a useful tool. I’ve already implemented the +1 tool on this blog. Unless there’s going to be more to it though, there isn’t going to be a pressing need for me to login frequently.

TweetMUD Beta is Live

TweetMUD is a silly little project that I threw together, just to see if I could.

Its a MUD (multi-user dungeon) game that runs in Twitter. It still runs very slowly, and is missing some functionality, but it appears to be working.

There’s a quick and dirty website here with instructions on how to play.

The way it works is that you post messages to the “bot” (or using its name as a hashtag). The bot listens for mentions, picks up your username, processes the game commands, and sends back a response. I still need to implement inventory and armor.

Twitter’s “you already tweeted this” functionality is getting in the way a bit. I find that it is necessary to put a random number at the end of commands in order to make it work properly.

The game is built using Zend Framework, and particularly Zend’s OAuth module, which makes it fairly simple to integrate into Twitter.

Total development time was about 3 days (with lots of breaks to work in customer’s projects). If nice people sponsor me, I’ll put in more effort to add functionality, make it run faster, and add levels. A polished game of this nature is probably a few week’s worth of work, particularly if it integrates picture posting (i.e. images of the room you are in).

Oh and please excuse the silly humor. I tried to make everything as ridiculous as possible, in order to demonstrate that this is just a feasibility test for building Twitter games.

Why Facebook probably shouldn’t pick a fight with Google

I know its old news, but I’ve still been thinking about the Facebook PR misfire from a few weeks back. A few people I’ve spoken to lately have asked me to write some more strategic material, so I’ll take one more hack at it here before writing about something else (I don’t want to bore people!). I can’t take credit for the central idea below though; a fellow by the name of Jay Gould used to do this a lot back in the 1800s, and it probably predates him too.

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