The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 10:55:18 AM on Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Due to the recent rush to FriendFeed (I don't know why and that post is coming shortly), let's at least be able to find and add anyone/everyone that we know since the site doesn't pull your current friend names from environments or even email address strings (a la Spokeo) to add in bulk.

so to find me  http://friendfeed.com/idonotes

search for "IdoNotes" in the search box

by Chris Miller at 03:25:56 PM on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
So you want a new all-in-one, consolidated client? What would it support?
  • AOL
  • MSN
  • Yahoo
  • ICQ
  • Gtalk
  • Jabber

What if you were part of social networks? What would it support?
  • Facebook
  • MySpace

What if you had email? Would you check it?
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo mail
  • AOL and AIM mail
  • Hotmail
  • POP and IMAP accounts

Whew, can it be done?

Digsby client

So there is a screenshot of the client, that has options to have things in your system tray as requred for email and the social networks. What about a screenshot of the preferences?

Digsby preferences

Well after I played with this some, I found that it did not do Twitter yet (I suggested it to them), nor did it have the hook for Sametime or LCS (not unexpected). I can see more social networks coming in also as they grow the beta and the product. But what I did enjoy was the tiny pop alerts (as shown here)
Digsby

that not only showed you the feed event, but let you have a mini chat window if you wanted to.

One other item I enjoyed was the slideout for the social network viewing as well as the ability to do some basic mail functions from the client. This has saved me time already and if they listen to suggestions for more inclusions, a real winner. Couple this with Spokeo for reading all the friend updates from all over and I have two things running that encompass the social network world. At least until tomorrow comes along.

by Chris Miller at 08:51:54 PM on Monday, February 25th, 2008
I played with this site for a few weeks before saying anything.  I was not quite sure if I liked it or not, but found myself checking it or debating on adding it as a RSS feed.  What to add what the biggest question, since it was not clear.

The interface
This is quite the simple interface (see image below) showing tons of links in what they call a river or stream
  • River - links by a particular user and all users that then follow that user
  • Stream - links shared by only a certain user

Image:Riding the LinkRiver to the waterfall


There is also a river of the top link sharers on the site.  Who they are is not apparent, and doesn't really matter.  To get yourself putting links on the site, there is no special toolbar required (yet there is one I found you can use to post direct instead of following your RSS feeds), click or pasting you have to do.  Just import your RSS feeds of where you post links and it starts sucking them as you post them all over Digg, De.licio.us, blogs or whatever.

The usage
So as I mentioned, I did not know why I came back.  But I soon realized it was interesting to watch the stream of the top people that have feeds coming in.  There is no rating and raking like Digg, so everyone is equal.  You soon learn who posts interesting and valuable links and you can then watch just their river or stream.  But I found it to be much like watching the public Twitter channel.  Except they are posting about their coffee the drank or how the kids did that day.  You are getting links to other sites, posts and topics.

There is a popular river that I have found the best place to start.  The watershed of information flows fast, so you might be better following this river by RSS yourself.  Basically think of it as someone took Yahoo pipes and pulled links from all over, then hooked them with people that follow each other.  Interesting twist to social bookmarking.

What they can improve or fix
I don't like the rating, so leave it off.  But adding some ability to read tags via RSS would be beneficial and then let me watch streams on certain tags.  Talk about finding the right data in a constant flow.  I can think of many streams and rivers I would follow.  This would also help me eliminate any crap that is floating on the river.  With no siphon, scraper or filtering you do get some in your boots.

So ride the whitewater path (public area) first and learn to navigate yourself down to the calmer streams and rivers. Even if you get too much information to swallow and fall right over the waterfall.

by Chris Miller at 11:43:16 AM on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Today's podcast brought to you by Buy.com.
Buy.com


Chris Saad of DataPortability.org and I talk about the recent meet-up that took place in San Francisco and what it meant for the development. We cover the big names joining the group and then finish with everything else Chris does with Faraday Media. I would visit the Faraday site and get info on Particls, the Engagd platform, SyncStream and APML

TheSocialNetworker is a member of the TechPodcasts Network


by Chris Miller at 03:19:20 PM on Monday, February 18th, 2008
I completed an interview with Chris Saad last week, founder of DataPortability.org and Faraday Media.  A quick edit there and it will be out.

Also, I have a slew of aggregation sites popping up again so I side by side comparison might be in order, thoughts?

by Chris Miller at 09:32:00 AM on Thursday, February 14th, 2008
I am starting to get requests to actually review sites before or right when they hit beta. But being asked doesn't mean I am biased. So this one came from Space Mail
Space Mail
I can say the entrance page was clean, bright and welcoming. So I went ahead, registered (quite easily) and went poking around the site. I always try to do as much as possible without reading all the help files to do what most every user does unless forced. Their theme on the banner was as follows:
Space Mail : Your Social Attachment
In a world where everyone is moving from circle to circle, why not put your social mail in to one easy space

Well why not? Centralize all that social ring stuff, makes perfect sense. I imagined this was going to be a Meta Mail of sorts pulling in messaging controls from all the social networks. This is where I fell flat real fast.


So you see the interface here below, now what the heck do I do with it?
Space Time interface
I clicked the first tab for my circles and named and created a circle. Guess what? I know have a circle where I can post a comment and invite people to come see! Huh? I really didn't get it. I thought this would consolidate a lot of my social stuff by providing access to sites in one place and be a meta place to make a posting and have it go everywhere. Maybe I am not there yet. I also noticed there is a free and paid version. In the free version you get 50 circles. Fifty? I don't need 50 more circles inside of another social site for sure.

There is a section for another address book and calendar as shown here
SpaceMail menu
But I really don't want another place to store contacts. If they had made this site to pull data from numerous other social network sites like MySpace, Facebook, Upcoming, Gmail and more. Hidden all that in the back end under Accounts and then given me one mailbox an, address book and calendar integrated, we might have been on to something. Even the menu item shown above for The Social Pages had great promise until I actually tried to use it. So as always, take a look yourself, give them feedback and let me know what you think.


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.

by Chris Miller at 02:28:33 PM on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
I came across the link to the blog posting by Nitin on "Data Property Rights, Not Portability" referred by Chris Brogan.  One little part from his posting:
...is not whether web app vendors "allow" me to take my data and go play elsewhere, but whether they "play fair" with my data when it's in the web app.


I agree overwhelmingly with this portion.  However, he goes on to speak of exit and moving our data.  I think that is too far out.  Let me try.

 I have an approach in my head, and it is one of the reasons I am part of the Data Portability working group.  The ownership of data should always lay in the hands of the person, not the vendor.  Here is the basis of my thought.

We spend far too much time populating profiles on numerous sites.  Then along came the profile aggregators that I have reviewed many times on this site.  So they attempt to pull all your meta-data or APML or whatever form into one interface for people to follow.

So here is my theory:
  •  We should have one central, standardized, loose object (pics, videos, meta data, profiles, etc) storage facility
  •  It should be a blackbox data storage where everyone dumps their info
  • Then vendors build frameworks around this same data store to pull data
  • We authorize the vendors to access certain data parts as we see fit
  • They all pick some centralized authentication mechanism like OpenID (don't scream it is an example)
  • We then allow and disallow the who's and what's centrally

What is the added bonus for vendors?  Well what they wrap it with and offer as services around my data.  If I do not like what the vendor does with data or what services they offer, I don't spend time making another profile to find out.  Or I do get involved and they change their path.  No need to remove content I spent tons of time on, I simply remove their authorization and they cannot pull the data to make the interface for me any longer.

I know this simplifies things greatly, but we have to take a different approach then all the social network sites that pop up and try to be the next big thing.  My data is the big thing and centralizing it is the  mission.

by Chris Miller at 09:56:54 PM on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008


I read the blurb about this site and thought, wow, it finds out what I like and then scours the Internet for videos that might match by tags or categories. What I got was a bunch of short clips that didn't really fit what I wanted and I didn't really want to watch. Sure I tried 2 or 3 and the huge fast forward button was nice, but why sit there and skip through videos when I gave them examples of what I liked in the sign-up process.

You can do the standard of sharing the clips you find, making some friends that may like what you do and then each clip can be rated and commented on. Basically YouTube with a sign-up process, again. They are not storing the videos, but pulling them from every known video source. Blip.tv, YouTube, Spike and even a couple I hadn't seen yet. Friend recommendations are simply those that might ahve selected some of the same shows as you in the sign-up process. Quick weak without more of a profile or tagging/rating.

Now I know it took me to like comedies and detective type shows, but I am not sure what the art student girl slightly undressing and flopping onto a bed as an art video had to do with it...


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