Category Archives: facebook

Microsoft, failing to own the main internet, may try to buy a new one

From Scoble today: Why Microsoft will buy Facebook and keep it closed

That Microsoft will buy Yahoo’s search and then buy Facebook for $15 to $20 billion. Add that to all the news that Microsoft is buying Yahoo’s search and that gets very interesting…

[Facebook] can’t be seen if you don’t have a Facebook account. It’s NOT open to the public Web. Google’s spiders CAN NOT REACH IT…

Google is locked out of the Web that soon will be owned by Microsoft. We will never get an open Web back if these two deals happen.

This has created HUGE value for Microsoft and has handed Steve Ballmer an Internet strategy which brings Microsoft from last place to first in less than a week.


Now Microsoft/Yahoo search will have access to HUGE SWATHS of Internet info that Google will NOT have access to.

Data and social graph portability is dead on arrival.Microsoft just bought itself a search strategy that sure looks like a winner to me.”

This is a monster of an idea. Out of desperation you could see MSFT going for it. They have far more cash than is healthy for any company to be sitting on. They’ve failed pretty spectacularly at owning the consumer internet like they own(ed) the deskgtop. When it comes to consumer-facing services, in recent years Google and just about any other startup (facebook included) have walked circles around microsoft, seemingly with a fraction of the effort.

So much so that sending 15-20B to buy a big chunck of the future social web is actually cheaper or more efficient than Microfts efforts to build anything equivalent themselves. But there’s a few ways this strategy could go wrong. Mostly related to putting a lot of eggs in one basket.

facebook has to continue to stay relevant in the social web. Something else could come along.

facebook has to grow up and offer an environment catered to a broader demographic, especially in the US.

MSFT has to not sit on facebook for 5 years with no enhancements while they work on the fabulously overwrought vista of facebooks…. Can you hold your breath for Windows Live BookFacePoint 2013 Ultra Edition?

Facebook vs Twitter as latest refuge of the nerds

Mark Evans writes that he’s almost done with facebook. He’s not the first or the last to grumble about the blue book (see my post for example on “attention viruses”: Facebook Fatigue, it’s Spreading?.

As Mark says, is the facebook honeymoon ending? A certain schadenfreude [twopointoh-denfreude?] in me would like to claim it so (damn that Zuckerberg, so rich and so young).

Certainly, the “open” application platform (open crapplication platform?) has nearly been facebook’s downfall. A grand experiment in which Mr Z has learned that if you do freely open up your wildly successful internet platform to thousands of pointless, self-interested, attention seeking crapplets, that – like some epic biblical plague of digitally-winged attention locusts – tens of thousands of self-interested, attention sucking crapplets will rapaciously attempt to take advantage of your success. Who knew?

My facebook page looks as though seized by a grand mal craptileptic fit in spam factory.

Meanwhile, it gets worse, you just can’t hide on facebook anymore. Every ‘slackjawed acquaintance’ you’ve ever known is poking you now, biting you like a zombie or worse. Some of these people don’t even have any proper geek cred at all (the horror). I joke, but there is known problem of managing facebook if you are a highly popular person.

So anyway, the real nerds are going back to Twitter. [I don’t know where the actual popular people are going]

Twitter is safe. For one it does a lot less, so it’s as yet uncorrupted. And, lets face it, it’s really only the nerds who are on Twitter so far. Twitter is mostly interesting for who’s not on it (and it’s handy that you can discretely un-follow people if need be) and for the special culture and secret @ # language that has grown up around it.

I like twitter a lot, but know that facebook is working hard to put the wrong bits of toothpaste back in the tube, and will be doing a lot to, no doubt, be twice as big in 2008. And if the alpha geeks are turning away from facebook, maybe this means they’ve actually exactly hit it right, and made something everyone else can use.

When twitter too, jumps the shark chasm this year to general popularity, I’m sure the flighty geek-set be on to something else by then anyway. Mixin anyone?

You can add me on twitter here.

You can add me on facebook here.

Why doesn’t Flickr let you tag your friends in photos?

One of the favourite stories Facebook likes to tell is about their photos application. Facebook doesn’t even have a very good (by which I mean feature-rich) photo application. But what they will tell you is this. In just 6 months, Facebook’s photo application surpassed the usage all other internet photo sharing applications in the US combined. All this on the strength of one little, brilliant, why-didn’t-we-think-of-that feature called tag your friends.

In facebook you can tag your friends in photos, and when you do, they -and friends of that friend- are notified that a new picture has been posted of your friend. It’s great, it’s simple it’s been around now for a dog’s age now (in internet terms) so…. Why doesn’t flickr (the web’s original social photo site) allow you to explicitly tag your friends in photos too?

There can only be a few possible explanations why flickr doesn’t let you tag your friends, please choose your favourite:

(update: full text may not be visible in your feed reader click through to post the full post)

Facebook Fatigue, it’s Spreading

Attention Virus
Do you feel like the applications are killing Facebook? For all the gold rush and hoopla surrounding the Facebook platformitization, is it living up to expectations?

I don’t think it is. The world could use a great social operating system. But the best applications on facebook are still the original ones: pictures, events, the basic poke.

The facebook platform is still young. Only 4 months old. Lets hope that the good kids at FB find a way to reign in the social viral crapware.

And that’s what most of it is. Almost all of successful apps on facebook are distractions or “entertainment”. Or advertisements. The original facebook apps were about socially enabling the user. The new apps are about enabling their own propagation.

I’ve come up with a new term for it:

Facebook applications = Attention Viruses

They spread just like real viruses, through social contact. Their lifecycles are short and evolution is constant thanks to the rutheless pressures of competition on the open platform. App DNA is all about self propagation – and stealing away our attention fraction by fraction.

The same will go for OpenSocial apps as well once they get here.

We’ve seen this before. In the race to monetize a web property, the original value is corroded away. Remember when facebook was a revolutionary clean, sparce and refreshing change from the gaudyness of myspace and friendster?

The internet’s universal advertising model is partly at fault here. Sometimes I just wish that as users we would grow up, stop expecting everything to be free and pay a couple bucks for the tools we use and media we enjoy.

(We’d probably earn it back 10 times over in foregone distraction and unprocrastination) and the web would be a cleaner and more productive place.

Michele quit* facebook last week. Drastic medicine for sure. But her and good company are saying, I’d like to use facebook, I just don’t have the time for it anymore. Or time for it the way it’s become.

original photo: Marcelo Alves

*temporarily, she’ll be back at some point

Social Network Portability Has Arrived

Google has launched it’s Open API for Social Networks. It’s about time someone did this.

This explains why the goog wanted so badly a piece of facebook. And why Microsoft would pay at any wacky valuation for FB to keep it out of teh google. Facebook is the singular major social network not participating in google’s new scheme.

At the same time though, it cuts out at the knees the fundamental (would be) game-changing advantage of the facebook platform: the idea that someone should be able to build a social app or someone should be able to use a social app without the redundancy of setting up a new profile page, another buddy list, another messaging and comment system etc. (not to mention the viral adoption and network effect advantages that have made some facebook apps the most rapidly adopted software apps ever).

Meanwhile at long last, Google combats microsoft with it’s own operating system… a social operating system for the new web.


see also recently: Albert Lai’s great deck on Web 2.5, 3.0 and social operating systems
Jevon’s insightful post on Startup North: Delusions of Facebook – Should you be a Facebook Startup?

Social Network Optimization is the new SEO/SEM

Or, how to buy friends and influence people:

“need someone with knowledge on how to post and title youtube videos and digg articles in a compelling manner… will be paid bonuses for results (ie getting on the first page of Digg, getting lots of viewers, comments, channel subscribers etc) in Youtube”NYCraigslist Posting
“We need someone with experience in adding friends via Friendblaster Pro or other similar applications to Myspace company profiles… We could pay by the friends. Say fixed amounts for every 500 friends. This is a lucrative position and would be long term. We already have a number of clients lined up.”NYCraigslist Posting
“We are looking for active Facebook users with lots of friends in their network. Since we are building a highly social app, it would be expected that you share it with your friends network…For current college students this could turn into a longer term campus rep position. “NYCraigslist Posting

The sharks are moving in. Buy your social network distribution now, while the kids are going cheap.
File under social graft. [tmJay Goldman]

thanks to M for the keen eyes and amazement.

What you need to know about FaceBook

fbcamp crowd
My home town Toronto just held it’s second ever FacebookCamp to another near-soldout crowd. I’d say approaching 250. You really can’t swing a cat in this town without someone tagging the cat on facebook.

Ami Vora form facebook led off, followed by a rather exhaustive series of talks and demos from local facebook app builders and marketers. of note:

At Harvard., Amy Vora maintains 43 friends

This is a just small fraction of 43M active users this week. 3% growth each week
1 in 5 canadians on facebook

Canada is wildly overrepresented on facebook and will be soon a good case study of what happens after you saturate a country (will the book still be as interesting without a constant influx of new faces?).

Canada is bigger than UK. 20% of all Canadians are on facebook (something to do with long winters?).

International and non-english countries are not on the radar. They say internationalization is coming soon though. Yes, some people in the world don’t speak English first. The bastards.
Demographics are different everywhere except the US. US or A is totally college dominated, everywhere else is not. There was a pretty chart.

FB is creating the social graph of how ppl interact (really?). Everyone thinks social graph is a stupid name.

Social graph powers massive more usage of facebook photos/events than flickr, evite
From a scientifically rigorous 3-person sample size of a facebook HQ lunchroom snapshot, I can reveal that everyone that works at facebook is also under the age of 23. This may explain a lot.
If the social graph is so important why are the relationship descriptors so weak? (We hooked up once, it was awesome has been pointed out as a relationship descriptor you may/may-not want to use amongst your professional colleagues. Or after the age of 23. Depending I guess on exactly what your profession is. The word from Amy is that facebook might be working on this.

As a platform Facebooks thinks about providing
1) Gowth (powerful viral distribution)
2) Engagment (all those great feeds and alerts)
3) No business model. Sorry kid, you’re on your own to figure that out.

Facebook is also a little confused about this idea of monetizing apps. They list their granting fund and VC as options. No, these are financing options not business models.

Advice on how to provide engaging content
• Relevant info
• Showcase interaction
• Usability
• Fresh content
• Use integration points well
• Develop and iterate, low investment, quick feedback, lots of control
• Think of intelligent promotion
• Incorporate privacy

And this is just the beginning. Only 4 months in to platfomification of facebook

Here’s how to make money on facebook

How to monetize by Greg Thomson of My Garden and My Aquarium fame:

You need at least 250k installs, 10k users to start making money

$3.00 an active user is worth per year [really? To be safe assume 20% of your users are worth $3]

He’s at 8M installed users

Start with a base of ad-support: Appsaholic pay per click 0.10/click. Adsense 0.07 click

CPM rates of about $2. Depending on page view frequency per user

Most of the popular apps are entertainment

Ads peak after a day or two. Keep them fresh. Constantly need to keep monetization and ads fresh.

A/B testing has huge benefits. [flip side: This isn’t a turn it on and walk away money making machine]

Selling your app. Never happened. $1 install, $8-$10 per active user

Have a base of banners and sell incentiviszable offers. they can earn “coins” to spend on fish for their tank if they click on surveys for which you earn commission. (see your favourite affiliate ad network)

What’s it take to support 8M users in this case? 2 servers. 10 rendering servers uploading flash to jpgs on s3

Don’t spend more than a week(!) on an app, or the risk goes up

How experienced this grizzled veteran of the blue and white book? About 3 months now.

The Robotification of Usability Design

1998-2000 Human to web interaction, Web Usability, Human factors. The great bubble of Web-enabling networked databases and applications – like Online Banking,, lets sell pet food online etc. (eBay never heard of usability)

2001-2005 Website to robot interaction design, the golden age of Search Engine Optimization

2004-2006 Human to Human and social web interaction, funny how no one thought of this sooner. Web 2.0 and all that.

2007- Robot to Robot web interaction, Microformats, CAPCHA’s and RSS the carrots, sticks and duct tape of mashups. APIs and widget sandboxes of Facebook, Salesforce and google/yahoo/OSX desktops where our applets do our browsing for us and play -maybe- nice with each other. RSS made interacting with websites redundant, now robots will read our RSS for us too, sometimes with the aide of the ‘community’ acting as the proxy of intelligence.

In this scheme we’re somewhere between users and used. Human-mediated robot interaction etc. Which part of Artificial Artificial Inteligence (google it) becomes an oxymoron? It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Welcome to Web3.0.

Has Facebook killed blogging?

Have you noticed the blogosphere growing quiet? The pros and the a-listers and the corporate blogs are still at it as strong as ever. But tumbleweeds blow through the empty feed folders of personal friends. Flickr too is fading away. Maybe it’s just summer and we’re all outdoors, as we should be, instead.

But I think it’s Facebook, first twitter, but now much more powerfully Facebook is sucking all that personal stuff, all that social presence and ambient intimacy behaviour and desires (usecases for you techies) out of the blogosphere and in to it’s fearsomely purpose-designed boxy blue and white world.

There’s a flavourshift in the blogosphere. The olde flavour of blogging is leaving us.

When you think of it, (personal) blogs never really caught on anyway.

Compare this one data point, my blogroll: 21 my FB Friendlist: 249

Blogs as dead media. At least as we once (hardly) knew ye.

Blogs are for pros, facebook is for friends

blogs dead. long live blogs.

Collecting a lot of Underpants and the unbundling of social platforms

Dave Winer and Euan Semple are writing about the eventual unbundling of social platforms.

I like this idea that we could all manage our own bundle of apps both social and professional to track our calendars, “buddy” lists, statuses, media habits and etc. etc. yet somehow all of these would stitch together as well, or nearly as well, or even better than they do on facebook but that we wouldn’t have to rely on a single closed platform designed for 23yr olds* to do so.

RSS and openID are somewhere down in the roots of the tools needed, but I think we need tools that take these to higher level of abstraction before we’ll get anywhere.

For example, I see Jaiku [my Jaiku page] taking the first step(s) in this direction. You can feed Jaiku feeds for near every social presence app you can think of from you blog to your status feed to photos and music etc.

As I’ve said Jaiku manages to collect a lot of underpants. But underpants are only half the problem.

(of course we know)

Step one: collect underpants
Step two: ???
Step three: Profit!

So what’s step 2? I think we’re still missing the room that really ties all the rugs together. Even, Dave, the great prognosticator is a little vague “How exactly it will happen is something the historians can argue about 25 years from now. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will, unless the rules of technology evolution have been repealed (and they haven’t, trust me)”

*23yr olds and native English speakers at that

Location, location, location (and social presence)

Discussing dopplr on the lawn reboot

Location is the next big thing in social presence. but are we there yet?

# Plazes introduced at Reboot their big new v3 redesign. Or I should say their new un-design of the usability chernobyl that was their version 2 website (it’s much better now). They’ve also added status messages, groups and more community features. Will this be enough to finally get them to critical mass? I dunno. Something about convincing me to maintain a whole other social network, community and buddy list just to share location data strikes me as, um unlikely. speaking of this problem…

# Dopplr also made a splash at Reboot. Dopplr is the twitter of travel. Add friends, add your upcoming trips and find out when you might be passing in the night (so to speak). I have many invites! email me if you want one. But again, great idea, lacking integration with my existing social networks. Paging mr facebook…

# Facebook, rapidly becoming the [English speaking] world’s defacto social platform, now has a location-based “Trips” application. It’s buggy and pretty much sucks at this point. But then it’s only about a week old.

So there you have it, great apps with no integration and great integration with no great app.

The race is on to set the standard in social presence locality. So it begins (though don’t forget, Garmin GPS etc. In reality, there are many niches)

[picture – Dopplr conversation on the lawn at reboot9. One moar pic]

Walkah on ID and the Implications of the Facebook Tidal Wave

Facebook continues to steamrolelr it’s way to becoming the defacto OS of the social web. With their new launch of applications, facebook is finally opening the door to federate all of our social identities under their umbrella. And it lets us developers build all manner of new social applications – without having to bother with recreating the fundamental plumbing of buddy lists, commenting and messaging etc. – and – (most importantly) lets any 3rd party social app leverage Facebook’s massively growing install base.

But is this how we wanted it to happen?

Walkah has a great post up today [Facebook apps and the importance of Identity 2.0] looking at the issues this creates

The problem here is that we, the users, don’t own our identity on the internet. There are walled gardens and data silos of information about us. Twitter and Facebook both have directory entries – a username and a password – that they use to identify me but there is no correlation that the directory entries match. I can’t verify that they do without giving one system full access to the other to verify that the username on each system actually correspond to the same person. This is where we need user-centric identity. This is “why OpenID”.

James will be leading a workshop on OpenID during the ‘camp’ portion of our E20 event on Tuesday
. Looking forward to the discussion.