The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 02:42:32 PM on Thursday, April 30th, 2009
After discussing Google Profiles yesterday, I ran across Nombray today.  At first I thought it was a social aggregator of my web data.  After looking at the site and their limited help areas, one thing was clear.  They basically ask the normal user to pay an annual fee to get themselves promoted in search engines while offering some web templates for yourself.

I do like the simple fact that they offer the normal user a way to aggregate all the places they participate and I see the business case for providing a service.  I wasn't able to see a walk-through or any detailed information.  I was incredibly surprised by that when the first thing you are asked to do is provide credit card information.

I looked at the sample pages and most were tabs hooked to public profile information (some had RSS links).  The main design of most of them brought their Facebook/LinkedIn pages to the front frame.  I was thinking it would be more of a sleek drag and drop type widget interface.

So how they then promote you to be found higher in search rankings I am not sure, and it is not described.  There is plenty of social aggregators on the web (here is my collection on Diigo) for you to play with and place as a widget on your blog.  Or take a look at my homepage I did with some simple widgets from each site.  Either way, own your name on the web.

by Chris Miller at 10:04:52 AM on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
When someone Google's you, are they getting the real "you" or a combination of people sharing the same name?  You previously had to work hard to control your identity and found search results.  Google has opened the door to better control with  Google Profiles.  I can see the argument that Google is going after social sites that have large profile information, a la Facebook.  But do you really think they want that space?  Why not simply pull profile information from sites where I have aggregated data and profiles?  If Google could make a hook into some of those, it would save me incredible amounts of time.  It would also increase the number of profiles that get built on their own site.  Is this more of showing yourself off or becoming a control point of your own identity?

Let's cover how the whole thing works.  When someone searches for a name now, there is a new profiles section that shows at the bottom of the search results page (sample for me).  If you have a unique name, this really benefits you since you may well be the only result.  For that scenario I would want to make sure I gave them all the correct information I possibly could.  But if you have a fairly common name, you need to stand out.  Here is a sample from Google if you do not want to click my sample.

Image:Do you own yourself on Google? (Google profiles)

Taking an example from the real world, someone like Tom Duff, would want to not only claim his name, but Duffbert (his online persona he built) as well.  Google makes this easy with a customizable  URL with your Google email username. (Note this can make your Google email address publicly discoverable.) This unique name will also be used in other links to your content on Google.  Keep this in mind if you have a private Gmail address.  In this instance Google allows you to create a random number profile address instead.

From there you can fill in tons of fields, hiding and providing as much or as little as you want.  Without a percentage of information, which Google does not show, you can not enable your results to be shown publicly.  I luckily already had a handful of sites that had my entire profile links built and just copied them from there.  Any physical address you enter is then mapped and a link to it is shown.  Profile URL's are listed in a long list down the side.  From there you can write a short bio, list where you lived previously and even fill in such items as birthdays and instant messenger names.

I spent some time adding a myriad of sites to my profile, even after the self discovery suggestions went to work and began filling in the important information.  as you can see, it needs some serious formatting and personalization help, but I can't imagine that Google will not get there in due time.  Pay special attention to the information you show on your "Contact info" tab as this will be shared to everyone.  So if there is an IM name, physical address or even email address you do not want shown, then be careful what you provide when you make your profile public.

by Chris Miller at 09:53:00 AM on Monday, April 13th, 2009
To go swimming in the social media pool you need to know where the deep end is.

The Sinker states they do not understand all the excitement of social media.  They state that it has no effect or benefit to them.  They fight every attempt and turn off every news story about anything to do with any social tool.  They never want to get wet and could care less where the pool is located.  We often think they do not even like being near the water.  Soon everyone around them is using some social network site and the sinker complains about all the invites they get.  Heck, they used to hate email.  This person is easily identified by the answering machine at home that still uses cassettes.  Every so often one of them breaks down and becomes a Treader.  This is usually after getting pushed into the pool.

The Treader takes the first step in signing up for services to appease the requests of all their friends and family.  They never quite understand all the benefits the tool can offer, nor even how to use have the features.  They were likely pushed into signing up by someone close just to make them shut up.  The treader rarely screams for help and will flounder in the corner holding onto the edge until a cannonball takes them under.  If they manage not to drown and become a Sinker again, they head towards the light and become a Swimmer.  Do not get too close to a treader as their constant whining can sometimes take you down with them.

The Swimmer takes pride in knowing how to navigate numerous social tools.  They coast along seamlessly between sites and often use the integration between them.  They share not only how their day is but useful tips and find value in the tools they use.  Social networks become a knowledge source and place of solace.  This is the high point of the bell curve of users and adoption.  The Swimmer will often cause splashes and kick a treader in the face with no regard.  Swimmers often do not understand why a Treader will not let go of the edge and join them in the deeper waters.  They hate the whiners and ignore them quickly. Increasingly as they see postings of misunderstanding about the social tools they offer some advice and correction making them Lifeguards.

The Lifeguard is the watcher of the social tool or network they care about most.  They save the newcomers (Treaders) from talking bad about the service by making sure they know how to do specific tasks.  They exceed depth of the Swimmer and are not scared to go into uncharted waters.  This means beta versions of the tool they use.  Swimmers often hesitate before trying a  beta for fear of hurting their computer.  The Lifeguard has made accommodations for testing, like test machines, Virtual Machines or the thought they can always reinstall if something goes bad.  They jump at the chance to get on the most recent version to stay ahead of the bell curve.  Some will become Instructors accidentally by producing a quick how-to video.

The Instructor has mastered many social media tools and is looked upon as a knowledge master.  Sometimes they might even be referred to as early adopters for their drive to learn every corner of a new network.  They willingly share information to anyone who will listen and often write long blog postings describing how to use a tool.  Or even worse, screencasts on how to install, configure and best utilize the tool.  The Instructor seems to always be online somewhere, sharing information to anyone that will listen.

by Chris Miller at 12:22:20 PM on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Nomee is an Adobe Air application that allows you to consolidate your network profiles into a business card.  The benefit does not only reside in the consolidation, but the ability to specify groups of people and different parts of your profile that gets shown to those groups.

For example you have a business card with your company blogs, sites and all your public social network/media profiles.  You then have another that has your home address and phone plus personal profiles on networks.  Lastly you have groups that may blend them together.  What happens next is where they stand out.  Here is a quick business card screenshot (outside of the demo networks)

Image:Nomee - screencast and review

As you can see from their sample, they are now reaching out to over 100 sites (you can add manual ones) and pulling your profile updates.  Once in the client, I show you in the screencast how it will poll all of your friends cards looking for updates across their networks.  In one interface.  So you get updates from what they share with you on that particular card.

I was a bit lost at first, admittedly.  But once I started playing with it more I wanted to find more cards to start consolidating how I saw things.  Until....I don't like the fact that it launches me to public web pages, I was hoping for something more inline with the app.  That is a showstopper in my mind.  If I am going to live the poling an consolidation in the app itself, I do not expect to run to every site and get the updates when clicking buttons.  Let the app pull that data for me and show me in a clean interface.

It performed well and everything I clicked on worked as I expected.  All the business cards float in their own window when you click on a persons card icon.  I wish that was optional, I don't want everyone floating nor would I want everyone glued.  Some people need to stand out more.  I did see how they are going for a revenue model right away by embedding ads in each card (you see this in the screencast).

Making a new personal version card for myself was very simple and I could assign new pictures and alternate IM, social and mail accounts to it.  I saw the benefit and ease there by checking and unchecking items I did not want to show.

I could keep rambling, but I like what they are doing if they can get the information pull into some slideout or popup so I am not worried about a browser bring available.  A mobile version is in the works, per their site and I will leave this one loaded on my laptop and check out the next update to the beta.

by Chris Miller at 09:51:44 AM on Friday, April 3rd, 2009

In the above video, I install Sideline.   It is a new Adobe Air desktop client from Yahoo that watches the Twitter public stream for trending:
  • The ability to watch topics in the public stream opens new options for bloggers and reporters
  • The ability to create search groups allows you to create fine tuned filters
  • The ability to capture data in real-time, in a filtered way from so many sources can make you a cleansed siphon of information
It was clean and easy to install because of the Adobe Air choice and the UI was sleek.  I was able to easily understand the limited menu choices (outside of one) and started working away in it immediately.  I created a few groups with custom searches and was shocked at the results I normally would have missed.

If you are going to need information on a conference or hot topic, this might just be the desktop client for you.

Conference/Article Materials

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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)

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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.

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