Archive for Friendfeed

Linkin Parks

Posted in Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’ve been a fan of del.icio.us for a long time, and was extremely happy with the plug-in they’d made for FF3.Β  Although this offers a perspective of people who don’t bookmark, I’ve found the idea of a taggable, online database that can be shared, extremely valuable, which is why the question of what Del.icio.us 2.0 would offer was an intriguing one. But I was quite disappointed with the url change, to delicious.com . There was something cool about the earlier url, but they have their reasons, as has been well documented by another fan here.

So what did they say the improvements were? You can hear it right from the horse’s mouth here. To summarise, they have promised speed, a faster and more social search and a new design. Hmm, good, but I think they could have done better, because to me, this is a maintenance job, albeit a good one. As a die-hard fan, I wanted something radical, like Facebook (another favourite) taking the pedal off social networking and putting it on conversation sparking off comparisons to Twitter and Friendfeed. Yes, it has its detractors, and they’d say not many conversations seem to be happening there, but hey, only a small % of my fb friends are on twitter, its early days, and I, for one, am getting responses to my status messages, video uploads etc.

But meanwhile, more than an FB progression path, this user generated discontent has been sparked off by a couple of entities I happened to come across, each of which could have been the lateral step that Delicious could’ve taken. I’ll start with Social Median. Its an online community where you can share links. So?Β  Well, if you use twitter, you’d realise the number of link sharing that happens there. Well, you can submit news to SM through Twitter. So, in this age of ‘noise’ you get like minded users to do “collaborative filtering to help people with similar interests identify/discover what to read/view.” And it’s not just people you can follow, its topics too. It is packed with features, perhaps thanks to an extremely user feedback based alpha mode. You can vote on the ranking of the keywords, sources that are used to seed the networks and can rank topics based on how important they are to you. In essence, it allows you to customise how frequently you want to read about ‘x’ topic and from ‘y’ media source. You can share the news you add, find through mail, and even twitter. You can also add a bookmarklet to your toolbar and add news to SN as you browse. A short term problem I see is the noise level, since many people would want to be community makers first. But the system will filter it in due course. They’re also planning to use the Google Social Graph API in some pretty advanced ways. While it seems closer to Digg, or Mixx, as a user, to me its fundamentally a collection of links, and shared interests,Β  and that’s Delicious’ premise. Meanwhile, there’s another one with the same idea, though not as feature packed.

The other site I came across is httpfuse (via pluggd.in). The idea here is to allow the community to build a set of ‘fuses’ (bookmarks/links) around a topic of interest. Their differentiation wrt Digg, Delicious etc is clearly explained here. While I agree with the explanation on Digg, I am not quite convinced on the Delicious part. Maybe I need to explore more. But one thing I’ll grant, and I’ll use an example for this. If I search for ‘India’ in Delicious, I’ll get links bookmarked by other people with all the tags they have used. But when I do the same in httpfuse, it shows me the subtopics under India. And that’s definitely better.Β  I’d like a browser plug-in though, or did I miss it? Again, a focus that Delicious could’ve tried out.

The last entity, is Browzmi, a browser within a browser. It not only allows real time collaborative browsing and bookmarking, with comments, but also has a chat functionality built in. You can also clip photos from a site you’re visiting, and share only that. All your actions are stored and can be viewed like any lifestreaming service. Unlike say, Yoono, its not an extension, and is actually quite a cute social browser which can be just another tab in your FF/IE browser. This is way lateral, but no harm in imagining. πŸ™‚

That said, you are still my first bookmarking love, Delicious. But the competition is getting hotter, andΒ  you seem very absorbed in a linear way, so please buck up.Β  I really wouldn’t want to see you in this list. You could at least have added image bookmarking, you know.

Meanwhile,a couple of other things you should check out, Feedly, an FF extension, which brings Google Reader closer to home, er homepage πŸ˜‰ and this one – iglue, which reminded me of Snap (only reminded, its not the same) and left me very impressed, with its potential.

until next time, spread some link love

Advertisements

One Stop Shops

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’ve always had a soft corner for Rediff, perhaps because, once upon a time, it was the site that led me to new things on the internet. First it was email, and though I had the eudora and usa.net and a few other mailboxes too, this was the one most frequented and used. Then it was blogs. My first blog was thanks to Rediff again, they got me curious with the messages on the homepage, more than 5 years back. And though I did sulk with them later for taking away a favourite id of mine in an upgrade that happened a few years back, and switched to blogger because of the code wrestling matches they made me go through, like I said, Rediff is still special, a brand that I hold in high regard.

So it was wonderful to find that they’d done a :p to the strict media portal outlook and introduced Orkut and Facebook feeds inside their mailbox. Yes, it is a great bit of innovative thinking, but nothing stops it from being copied by others. So they can’t stop there, they have already taken steps to integrate iShare, I wonder if having newsfeeds inside the Inbox area makes sense, like perhaps an iGoogle. Rediff is also active on the mobile scene (they even , so if they can move fast, they can actually do a lot of innovations quickly, thanks to their numerous services, and oodles of content.

And it looks like they are moving fast – they have already invested in Vakow, an sms sharing site, and one that I know a lot of people are using to update on Twitter. Interesting. A mobile based microblogging platform should be fun. But the big news was at proto.in, when they announced their developer platform. What is great is not just the announcement, but the fact that it was announced at proto and not just as some PR release. Rediff is being sensible, and thats good news for the Indian internet scene. Ouch at this allegation though. (via webyantra)

Meanwhile, the guys who had massive success when they opened their API, had a surprise for me when I logged in today morning. And that was the new Facebook design. While the Home page is more a design reorganisation than anything conceptual, the Profile page is a totally different story. Well, its actually profile pages. From home, a click on your name (as opposed to profile earlier) takes you to the first of the four pages – Wall, where you can use filters for others’ posts and yours, and has your basic profile and friends as well. The Info page has all the details that used to be Information, Group and Pages. Photos are the next page and the last is ‘Boxes’, all the apps you’ve been adding, though I did see a few apps (common) on all pages. Are they Facebook’s own? I doubt that though.

The important part is that it looks like a deviation from the earlier social networking promise. Though that remains, this seems increasingly like a Twitter and more possibly Friendfeed like direction. This was something that was visible sometime back when a ‘+’ sign could be seen near all news feeds, encouraging readers to start conversations. That soon became a very conspicuous ‘Comment’ tab.

While I like all this, since it gives me more chances at conversations with ‘real’ friends, (there is only about a 20% overlap with my Twitter friends) I wonder if this is a regression as far as keeping the conversation within Facebook goes. If Facebook provides all the features that say, a Twitter and Friendfeed does, would you be okay with spending the lion’s share of your virtual time within Facebook?

until next time, the rise of socialism πŸ™‚

PS. This is the 100th post on this blog :D. Thanks, all the commenters and the silent types. πŸ™‚

Buzz Off

Posted in Internet with tags , , , , on July 17, 2008 by manuscrypts

Even after building an entire army of twitter tools, the mania still continues. Hopefully its only a matter of time before the tweeding happens πŸ™‚ Meanwhile, this is a fairly good top 5 list. And since we have a new player in the social scene, a bit of attention has been diverted there too. So it wasn’t surprising to read about Moopz, a tool that tries to reduce the noise in Friendfeed. And its not the first of its kind, there are already other entities, and I’m sure more are in the pipeline.

Now, as an (almost) twitaholic I’d always agree that any tool which helps reduce the noise would be a blessing. I haven’t used friendfeed as much, but from what I have seen, noise is an issue there too, though I have always wondered about the term ‘noise’ since we are free to choose those we wish to connect to. I think my views have not changed much since I wrote this. And since its difficult for me to categorise noise, I’ll only say that I am missing out on some conversations, and perhaps its more a question of subjective time management than anything else, and creating ‘algorithms’ that work for you.

And that train of thought makes me wonder whether it would be a good idea to have some sort of a shake up of current services, that helps us better organise our conversations. Something that filters the buzzΒ  conversations we are interested in from the random ones. I realise that it is a flawed proposal to begin with since each service has its own die hard fans. I, for one would love for social networks like a Facebook to be integrated into these social media aggregators, including friendfeed, because there are still conversations I have only on Facebook, since there is already a group of people there, who I have connected with over time,Β  and who are interested in the same things I am. So how about services that combine all existing ones and then provide some additional value? Well, there already are aggregators (will talk about a few in a while), but I’m not sure if they add to the noise or reduce it. Friendfeed was an aggregator, and now we have aggregators that include Friendfeed as one of the services. Is that an improvement?Β  So, is it better to just stick on to a couple of services and derive maximum benefits from the conversations that happen there. Yes, I agree that not all conversations need to happen there, but what about the ‘cost-benefit’ between the number of services used and the ‘noise’ you have to wade through to reach the conversations?

Meanwhile, I read another new entity that aggregates Jaiku, Twitter, Pownce, Friendfeed, and Tumblr. Its called Posty and seems to be interesting. (via The Inquisitr). And though I am yet to utilise it completely, this one – Swurl seems much more interesting, one because it includes Facebook, and two, because it also automatically became a follower on Twitter. Smart! Do check out the timeline feature, I could see what I was upto in 2003!! Wow. Yeah, i know my archive can tell me that, and there is no comment feature yet, but still Wow!! πŸ™‚

As the services increase, the conversations also do. But does the converse also have to be true?

until next time, fed up?

Better..Best..Bested

Posted in Brand, Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by manuscrypts

A long time ago, during those heady MBA days, a few of us had put together a theme for the batch – kaizen, a Japanese philosophy for constant improvement. I think it still holds a lot of relevance with regards to the way brands treat themselves. Google, while not the web’s knight in shining armor it used to be, still teaches a lot of lessons, and I remembered them when i read this article on how, perhaps the first killer app on the net – email is now being challenged by things like micro-blogging platforms.

Remembered them because, even though they were late entrants into the arena, the ‘invite’ marketing really worked for GMail, and though competitors matched or improved their storage space factor, GMail was so good, that I have never felt the need to consider an option. Thats also because while most other players stopped after they matched the space and minor additions, GMail kept improving, and still does – check this and this. And the counter on the GMail homepage continues to increase. Constant improvement.

Meanwhile, the proposed competitor to email, micro blogging, and more specifically Twitter also seems to be on a constant improvement mode. After being heavily criticised for their downtime, they seem to be getting that under control and now the rumour mills are abuzz with their proposed purchase of Summize.

On the flip side, I saw a video sharing site – Viddler.com, with some pretty cool features, like being able to add tags and comments right within the timeline. So when a scene appears, the comment appears right then. I haven’t seen too many innovations from YouTube recently. I also read a nice article recently, on how del.icio.us had perhaps lost the chance to become Friendfeed. Intriguing, right? Perhaps, Yahoo may be getting the message, and hence this radical move in the search space, where lots of new players like Yoozilla, Gloofi, Evri and possibly a dozen others are cropping up and doing amazing things that Google is perhaps missing out on. And while Google ups the ante in virtual worlds with the launch of Lively, there is Vivaty, which is ‘virtual world meets social networking’

So, is improvement a function of current size? When a player gets beyond a certain size (in terms of products, sales, manpower and so on) is it then tougher for them to improve constantly.? Does the growth curve plateau and newer, smallers start taking the shine off from the once nimble large player? If we stretch that and step back a bit, is that the reason why say, a traditional set of players like newspapers are having problems adjusting to the web (generalising here) while new entities like Instablogs or possibly soon, a Topix (a potentially cool site, you must take a look) increase in popularity and relevance?

In the future, will this constant improvement create a scenario where services will, in short time frames , change so rapidly, that they will bear only a slight resemblance to what they started out as, with only the brand name being a constant, a brand that stands for the cutting edge in that service category?

until next time, zen and the art of constant improvement

Kwippy quips

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , on July 1, 2008 by manuscrypts

Move over microblogging, here comes nano blogging. Have been exploring a new service the last couple of days. Most of you would have heard about it by now, it goes by the name of Kwippy. This gives a great intro to the service. (a Kwiki, if you will)Β  While it is definitely related to the Twitter / Plurk clan, its distantly related, at least a cousin, and definitely not a clone. And its desi manufactured πŸ™‚

I got hold of an invite by just asking for one, the response was prompt. And that, from my interactions so far, has been the hallmark of the Kwippy team – timely and efficient response.

Kwippy can be made to work in sync with your GTalk or Y! Messenger, or like me, if you easily get sick of the GTalk alerts (i have disabled twitter because I couldn’t take the constant blinking) you could use the web interface. And using that, you can Kwip your status messages, share bookmarks and more or less do most of the things that you would do on IM with your friends. Ah, friends, thats another key thing, because unlike say twitter, where we add a lot of people who are not known to us, the IMs usually have friends we really know. While this may become very twitterlike when the crowd pours in, for now its friends and friends of friends, more so because its on ‘invite’ mode.

So you might ask, THAT’s the differentiator from twitter? No, the difference maker for me, is the threading. Unlike Twitter, but like Friendfeed, you can comment on my Kwip on Kwippy, which means we can keep having conversations on a post, but open up other threads simultaneously, and most importantly, easily keep track of all this.

So I’ve been reasonably impressed with the service so far, despite a few 500 errors. Dammit, twitter got funded, and still has problems,Β  and we still grin and bear, so its okay!!

But my common grouse with all the new services that keep getting launched applies to this one too. Most new services, with perhaps a small and partial exception – Friendfeed, take me out of the carefully created environs of the existing service, be it facebook, twitter, my blog and so on. To recreate the world, I have to wait till all my friends get there. So my immediate but (possibly) very ambitious wishlist from Kwippy or any service/ on the lines of ‘conversation enabling’ would be, for starters

  • making it easy to import friends from other ecosystems (kwippy from twitter? πŸ˜‰ )
  • evolving a mechanism to have a Disqus kind of widget (thanks to wordpress’ anti javascript stance, disqus won’t work here), that would allow me to connect my blog with a kwippy site (I agree that its a nano blogging platform, but in essence, comments are nanoblogging too) That would allow me to link my blog crowd (don’t snigger, my other blog gets decent comments) with the Kwippy crowd.
  • a browser (ff) add on, to some its more convenient than IM

Meanwhile I’m awaiting an invite from LiL, it seems to be on a ‘sharing moments’ path. In case you need Kwippy invites, all you have to do is ask. πŸ™‚

until next time, try kwipping

PS Speaking of Indian startups, this is an awesome compilation. Hats off!!

The Stage of Conversation

Posted in Brand, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by manuscrypts

Branded networks, that’s what the new property from Nautanki.tv (read the comments section) YouTopia is going to be. (via agencyfaqs). Update –Β  This is going to be called spaces, and is still under development.

The rationale is that since brands, especially in a nascent market like India,Β  may not want to invest in the infrastructure thats required for social networks, YouTopia would provide the same for individuals and brands to create their own networks with “necessary tools or applications like instant messenger, forum and facility to upload and share videos or photos while configuring their social network”, in return for an annual subscription fee (in the case of brands).

Reminds me of Ning, though in this case, they have said that the brand can choose an independent url (so is that unlike Ning where it has to be say, nautanki.ning.com). Also, there will be an ad network, which will operate on a revenue sharing basis between Nautanki and the owners.(?) (I don’t know whether Ning has a revenue sharing mechanism) And, does the last but one paragraph in the afaqs article mean an API? Hmm

Now the question I’d like to ask is, while (apparently) every brand manager wants a Gang of Girls, is creating a social network the way to go about it, or is it more important to maintain a conversation with the consumers? The argument I have is the same as the one i had for the online communities vs groups -on -social networks post. If the conversation is already happening at a social network, isn’t it better to be a part of the conversation there and be a facilitator? Would a brand have enough meat to pull the audience to a place where it will be the only ‘attraction’, and will they be able to maintain the interest for long. A Facebook group/ page, for example, already offers most of the stuff mentioned above, and I’m sure more features will be added. People have a certain comfort level with twitter conversations, would a brand specific network be able to recreate that? Multi Brand Outlet or Exclusive Showroom?

I understand that its debatable, but meanwhile, there are efforts on to sew the conversations happening on various platforms into one interface. So we have, in addition to Friendfeed, a browser – Flock, an add on to a browser – Minggl, and the last i heard a new entity – Combo (via Startup Meme), which attempts to do this through a web based dashboard and widgets. I hope they send me that invite soon, so i can do some test drives. πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, have you noticed a comment option in Facebook’s news feeds, quite like Friendfeed, i thought. And here’s something for you to go ogle. That was Aditi Govitrikar, now where’s that I’m feeling lucky button?

until next time, scatter or gather?

Opacity

Posted in Advertising, Brand with tags , , , , on June 25, 2008 by manuscrypts

Read two interesting posts, seemingly not very connected, but actually so. The first one was here, (don’t miss the article it has linked to either) and it talks about brands including an RTI clause in their charter, and anyone from a stakeholder (thats including consumers) to competition being able to demand answers from the company/brand and more importantly, being able to get it. I wonder though, how an RTI clause could co-exist with competitive advantage (brand strategies).

The second post talks about Friendfeed being a great tool for brands since it aggregates the contents from blogs, microblogging platforms, photo sharing services, social bookmarking sites and most possible social media. The snag though is that a Facebook or an Orkut are not accommodated there, yet, and the crowds frequenting the two kinds of sites are not exactly duplicated.

But yes, the connection between the two posts is transparency, and i feel that in india, we have a long way to go before we reach that state. That’s because more than a certain set of processes, we are talking about a philosophy here. In the first digital (mini) wave and its aftermath, when blogs became a corporate mantra, how many companies/brands took it seriously and how many have persisted? For a transparent system to get established and flourish, it needs to start with a strategy thats consumer centric, a strong rationale for why x strategy was chosen over y to achieve a certain strategic objective, the wisdom to understand that we are human, and plans can go wrong, inspite of having backup plans running from b to z, and most importantly the maturity to listen to feedback, accept responsibility and take criticism, but learn from it, fix it and get better.

When i hear people ask for changes in communication strategy based on very subjective likes and dislikes (sorry, its not always purely subjective, i have also heard ‘my wife likes pink’ for a campaign theme color), and when i get this response from them when asked about consumer preferences, and when, on hearing that I blog, I am asked to write good about the brands I work with, irrespective of reality, and when FYI (F*** You Instead – courtesy ‘One Night at the Call centre) responsibility strategies are given more importance than the brand’s performance, and many many more such occurrences, it gives me enough reason to believe that transparency is a long way off.

On an aside, I read here that apparently the blogosphere was abuzz today with the Vodafone ad for iPhone. Interestingly, I saw three tweets today basically asking why the Vodafone customer service couldn’t be manned by people who knew about iPhone. πŸ™‚

until next time, mind set