The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 07:03:00 AM on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
I read Ed's posting the other day and wrote a blog posting which got put on hold and turned into a Mashable article you can find right here.  Join the conversation.  Here is a excerpt:
1. What are the rights of the user and the responsibility of the social site or online company?

2. Does every company, no matter the size need a policy defining what steps need to be taken to tackle this growing battle of identity squatting?

by Chris Miller at 02:12:22 PM on Thursday, May 8th, 2008
I have highlighted, defined and explored VGS the past month or so.  Apparently it is an Internet phenomenon with the number of links back and chatter on the pull of Virtual Gratification Syndrome.  However, dosage has become the most recent issue.  Normally you would get your minimum intake from your news readers and some chat services.  More often than not, you would overdose to the point you had to turn some of them off entirely.  I watched Scoble do this today when he turned off Twitter and FriendFeed but was soon posting on both again anyway.

Here is how dosage is being affected.  With the splitting of content across services, you either have to be on them all, or watch your VGS flare up since you no longer can get everything you want in one place. Cases in point:
  • People aren't commenting on blogs as much, they comment on blogs in FriendFeed
  • People don't blog as much, they Twitter
  • Bookmark services now add up to over 200, which one do you think I use?
  • RSS readers are numerous and offer alternate abilities, some just for feeds (a la my Google shared), some for friends and some for social networking around feeds
  • People don't send files over email, Drop.io and Pownce are trying to take that market.

So how do you cope? Where do you turn? When you start to get the VGS shakes, do you fire up 17 browser windows, a Twitter client and a multi chat interface (Digsby or Trillian)?

As each new service comes along, a small percentage of poeple move over.  Not always because it is new, that is for immediate testing, but the value of the service.  Then you have a few choices:
  1.  Create a mega feed as I did in Jaiku long ago
  2. Pull as many friends with you as you can to the new service and start again
  3. Leave everyone behind to find you if they want
  4. Move to the new service and push everything back into it, as I did with Facebook.

So VGS dosage not only comes from the amount of time and energy you put into getting your fix, but the scattering of your suppliers.  Do you drive to every new intersection to pick up your fix?  Hope a central supplier comes in?  Or find new ones where you were before when someone leaves?

Tell me, where is your daily dosage?

by Chris Miller at 12:28:33 PM on Monday, May 5th, 2008
I find myself overwhelmed like many of you with enormous amounts of feeds, news and sites that I wish I could absorb in one sitting.  I have recently taken a different approach to get back some of my time and allow for exploring more.  Let's go into it.

First, there is the news reader dilemma.  I know there is specific content I always want to see and topics I wish I could find more on.  News readers like Particls take care of this for me.  I not only give it all my feeds to go and find, it also takes key word searches, and key word rankings, to go out and explore and find more articles based on my interests.  If I find I am not liking something, I can deny more on that topic, source or even blacklist it all together.  THink about this.  A newsreader that takes a topic and finds content and feeds instead of specifying feeds and hoping for content (much like you hope from me all the time).  Timesaving and absorbing new knowledge is the key here.  I have found some online readers that are trying to learn from you and they do ok.  But ok is not enough unless you can plug a feeder into my head at night while I sleep.  I need finely tuned, cleansed and accurate feeds in a timely basis.

Second there is self built alerts from items like Google and TweetScan.  Unless you can watch the public Twitter stream, you miss tons of good links and conversations.  Using such tools as TweetScan, I configure a listing of items to watch and each day it delivers me those Tweets.  I can then scan quick and see if I want to comment or even follow that person. Not only have I sparked good conversations, I find new people to follow based on topics they write about.  Instead of waiting for people to find me to follow back.

Social aggregators, or alligators.  Whatever you want to call them.  The large mouth of conversation as people tell us all about their entire life.  I did a nice piece comparing aggregation versus lifestreaming a while ago here.  My point is, people control what they put into the stream,. not you deciding.  So even with all the good stuff, as soon as someone inserts a site in their stream you don't like, you get the crud too.  We need an aggregation service which a person lists all their stuff and then let me pick from there.  A tuned and tailored information feed of poeple I want to follow.

Attention profiles.  Do they exist in the true sense?  How do they know what you attention is?  Are things you look at required for work or for outside learning? Attention profiles are a new area I am exploring so my opinion is lopsided right now.  I will refrain since I admit I need more practice before I speak.

by Chris Miller at 02:56:20 PM on Saturday, March 29th, 2008
1339559049
I read a great blog post on OwnYourIdentity.com while sitting at the airport.  Many great comments followed the posting titled "A Journey of a Thousand Steps"

My mind starting racing around all the great ideas and comments.  However, to me there is that glaring hole.  Many people posted they don't care how their data syncs between services (bookmarking services were used as an example) or if they can export their Flickr photos if that site goes under and move them to Picasa.  The point isn't about synching or moving.  If we follow that path, we start with a small pod of information that another provider can grab and bring over into their systems. Now we have duplication of data and expect eh vendor to maintain the integrity and timing of the updates.  At any time, a vendor could decide to cut all ties and then you either move to a manual approach or dump one of them.  And the friends on that site with it.

Why aren't we treating the data as a blob, with limited (some basic rules) structure requirements, an open API to know how to get the blog and good user controlled security models?  From there, the developers of all these applications really give us a reason to utilize them.  They build a social networking site that accesses the blob and wraps cools tools and services.  Notice I did not say copies, takes or moves the blob.  Accesses.  You provide them with the proper access to what data you want that site to see from your blob and let them build.  I now know that I am storing my data one time, one place, one security base and when I update, everyone can get it in the way I want across services.

Forget updating 20 sites and then attempting to map blog posting into Tweets, Tweets in FriendFeed, photo into Flick, Flickr into Jaiku and Facebook and then all that into some widget on your blog once again.  What a mess.

So I think the word goes from DataPortability to DataStability or DataSittingInOnePlace

Update: Another blogger with an opinion

by Chris Miller at 12:33:59 PM on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
While reading Twitter today, SheGeeks asked the question, what is the difference?  There is a symbiotic relationship between the two, while still maintaining differences.  The current sites out there do not reflect true aggregation, while many are attempting to do lifestreaming (like Profilactic)

Aggregation
The mere definition is the pulling together of disparate information to be available at once place.  FriendFeed is a form of aggregation, as well as Spokeo.  I go to one place to find the information.  LDAP services give a good example.  I can federate, or look everywhere for the information, or collect all of you together in aggregation to look in one place.  I can force federation through some of the social products, or I can let you aggregate all of your information into a social profile that gives one output.  So what you end up with is little pockets of aggregation by person, but not for me in consumability.  For true aggregation to occur and be functional in social networking, each person must aggregate, or better yet have a single source for their data (a la DataPortability.org and my posting previously) and then allow me to further aggregate all of that single information into a sole place I get it all.  From RSS feeds, to friend updates, to instant messaging.  The whole ball of wax as the saying goes.

Lifestreaming
Lifestreaming is the first step in people trying to pull every facet of information they post, every profile they maintain, every instant message they send, every song they listen to, every favorite everything they make a list from and somehow put it into a clean interface.  This in turn becomes an aggregation point for that single person, yet not for everyone else.  You now need an aggregator tool on top of the lifestreaming to make it usable by any one person.  Sure, if I had one friend, then this would solve it.  But people are watching hundreds of Twitters, hundreds of blogs, hundreds of newsfeeds and still trying to entertain themselves on the Internet.  Have you seen one yet that accurately also gets all my IM's across all the networks added in there?  Not a chance.  Does everyone use presence awareness coupled with location awareness?  That means not only am I online and available, but where am I in the world (Plazes and Dopplr for example).

So where does that leave you and I?  Busy finding just the right mix of consolidating our daily Internet presence and finding sites that pull enough of our friends stuff, we keep up.  Forget news feeds and any other meaningful site.  The recent TWIT podcast stated this well, that we naturally crave for information and it is coming to us at a rate faster than we can absorb.  All of us top line bloggers and Internet presence enthusiasts are blasting away, while many can't keep up with the river coming at them.  

No single site is yet the golden ticket that gets us to see Willy Wonka.  Wait, is he online right now to ask?

by Chris Miller at 08:55:37 PM on Thursday, February 7th, 2008
As I watched (couldn't be there) the DataPortability meet-up on uStream, some good chats were happening in the side panel.
08:52 aminissa : You cannot take without giving back. DataPortability is essentially taking from businesses and giving to consumers. We have to outline what DataPortability can give back to businesses.

A great point.  Here is what DataPortability offers in my eyes, following what Chris Brogan answered in comments to my posting yesterday.  Chris pointed out that data should be able to be stored anywhere, hence the theory of the Internet.  I agree, but formatting it so every vendor can access the data the same way will be the challenge.  I still believe a centralized site is a starting point for everyone to win.

Business then spend less time worrying about how to build their own data storage formats and behaviors and instead focus on what they do best as social network sites, build applications that draw people as well as advertising.  If the specification standard was in place for DataPortability, everyone can immediately start writing business and value added feature sets.  Then the best site wins.  The user wins with data stored one time, updated one time.  Business value becomes the extras that get offered to draw that same crowd.  You pick your current consumabilities in life the same way.  Favorite car wash (same car, same water, different approaches) for example.  Medical cards (same name, same social security number, same personal health) but each offers different service levels around it.

So for grins, I registered two domains and welcome anyone that thinks we can take the starter of a specification to make a data framework that then all these people in the room in San Francisco can get at.  I would happily move and reenter all my data one more final time to know it was the last and then start approving all these vendors I already have accounts with to start accessing some parts.  I have them parked as of my epiphany last night.

So we have:
  •    MyPortableData.com
  •    DataBlackBox.com
  •   OnlineHabit  (old domain name I own that seems fitting at this point with the proliferation of social networks)

The domain name isn't important, I just wanted a focal point to get started.  Each site asks us the same info over and over, so let's give them a fixed format with security wrapping and make it portable to each site.  The consumer owns the data, gives social network or profile aggregators access and people like FaceBook never see the difference and keep writing goofy little apps and widgets.


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Yes this is a blatant theft of the outline that Jess uses on her page, but I asked permission. Why?? Because I am a hardcore admin and can make ugly tables to make you developers frustrated, but this was too nice to pass up.

Also Known As: Chris Miller (when awake)

Boring Certifications: (only because someone asked twice)

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Yes, I write some of those dreaded admin cert exams you take. I won't say which ones so you don't come looking for me, but I will say they are the real good recent ones that have been coming out.

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Animals:

One dog, a Pug. He has been on this world before and seems to understand slippers and a fine cigar. Mind you that is him in the chair and not me.

Let us now also add a deranged cat that is in the process of being toilet trained. Update: Toilet traning was very very close.

Music:

Non-stop. At my desk, in my car, walking to work and back to my car downtown. In the house there is a crazy zoned set-up for you home automation geeks.

I am a self-proclaimed MP3 fiend, to which I have tried rehab 4 billion times to no avail. Next is the MP3 hard-drive for the car that I found. Now what kind of music you ask? I will never tell.

Languages:

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Skills:

Get back to you here

Spells:

Hershey’s Stomach of Holding: Jess and I are fighting over who eats more chocolate. TWDUFF can help me out and vouch for me.

Character Bio:

This will take far more time than I have today. I will start with I was born and still live in St. Louis, MO. Even though for a couple years I was never, ever here and always on the road, this is smack in the middle of the US. Everything is just a few hour flight. That part is nice. No beach/ocean/coast isn't the best. But with the travel I make up for it.

Don't Panic

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