Saturday, June 30, 2007
I have a Twitter attention span.
I expect speech utterances, blog posts, chat entries, forum remarks, telephone messages, and all other communications to be 140 characters or less, with occasional content strings of 280 or 420 characters.
We sputter now. We don't go on and on like a traditional blog post. We barely have the space, within our textual confinement, to be myopic or misanthropic. We have to stifle the narcissism, and get right to the point.
Perhaps this reality is what inspired my recent comment at TechCrunch "Everyone's Gunning for YouTube".
YouTube is said to be threatened by Joost and other longer duration video and television over the internet pipes and protocols. I doubt it. At least for my creatively fractured mentality.
Here's the comment I posted at TechCrunch:
Non-inclusive conclusion: have you seen my latest YouTube video, posted today? It's called "the amazing uPhone, u not i" and it's less than 2 minutes.
Go watch it, if you want.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Twitter has 7 secret powers.
Twitter provides to its users:
Fast electronic transfer of memes and emotions. Ideas and rebellion spread quickly from one impassioned mind to another via the simple functionality of Twitter.
Ability to make a long thought short. Many Twitter users come from shamefully prolix blogs, and it's a tragically painful (but auspicious) process to go from long-winded, tangential, scholarly posts to snappy, 140 character thought-bursts.
Ability to quickly form the entire support system of a user's life-frame, engulfing like breathed air or background music. One is either an abstainer or an addict, there is no casual user. Those who merely toy with Twitter will abandon their page after a few half-hearted tweets about lunch and boyfriends.
This is, for most user-addicts, a more private, less public avenue of communication, thus they're more prone to issue morbidly self-congratulatory statements ("I'm so hot and in-demand as a conference quack"), airport posts that are more appropriate for Plazes, predator-unsafe remarks like what gym the wife is at right now, and insufficiently suppressed office declarations ("I hate my boss and coworkers, damn them! I want to throw things at the idiots!").
Your list of Followers you Friended comprise a more or less tight-knit inner circle of astonished admirers, a growing online assembly of those who relish, are amused by, merely tolerate, or barely stomach your improvised ramblings and disgruntlings.
Using @ for "in reply to" and DM (direct messages), one may respond as soon as one sees a message to get excited about. Preferably tweets admiringly addressing oneself, or an issue they all know you are fanatic about.
You can pretend to be "communicating", but in actuality merely using Twitter as a repository or treasury of links and quotes you want to use someday in a book or white paper or blog post.
You, meaning your consciousness, can morph and barely be noticed.
Twitter users change mood and opinion in a seemingly unlimited pliability that resembles silly putty, thus many addicts find their entire personality and world view shooting off first this way, then suddenly, unexpectedly off in that direction, then again going way over that way, back and forth, with the ebb and flow of the message propaganda. This may be due to the exaggerated sense of attachment, and fear of offending fellow addicts, which results in this herculean effort to see the good in every tweet, and not be too dismissive of the carefully crafted and chiseled messages of the cloistered addict enclave.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Look at the controversial People Ready promo site for Microsoft, who paid bloggers to incorporate "People Ready" in a quote used in ads.
"Microsoft pays star bloggers to recite slogan" at ValleyWag is one of the first contributions to the Web 2.0 meltdown.
It's a matter of transparency, integrity, trust, credibility, and it relates to the lines drawn between journalistic objectivity and compensated or financially influenced opinion.
Dave Winer: "Did Microsoft pay star writers?"
CrunchNotes has "Ha. Battelle says authors should have disclosed"
Self-policing nature of the blogosphere in this People Ready parody: "Wipe Ready".
Can a quote from a blogger, inserted into an ad whose slogan is People Ready, be considered unethical blog whoring? Is this done with the intent of making the blogger seem to endorse the product? Was the blogger coaxed, incentivized, or coached in making this statement that is quoted and mixed into the ad space?
Can marketers be allowed to "enter into conversation" with bloggers and blog readers?
Marketers attempting to enter the conversation must respect the hostility to "marketing" exhibited by web users. Providing friendly, unselfish, unprofitable advice, free samples, inspiration, insight will generate good will and can establish an expertise that may eventually lead to trust and product sales.
We don't mind if a snow shovel manufacturer gives us advice on ice removing salt, as long as the manufacturer is honest and upfront about any financial interests or dealings with the salt manufacturer. But if there is a financial connection, the "advice" will probably be dismissed as mere profit propaganda in the minds of many customers.
Marketing can add value to a conversation, but it's lame to do so in a "hey, check out my web site" or "try my product" manner. Most old skool marketers will sound spammy.
If the product/company is so great, the genuine word of mouth buzz will naturally arise, it has to, the virtues of the product will propel discussion.
There is a way for marketers to help that initial buzz to start, but not by "entering conversations" in any type of promotional manner, or disguised as a satisfied customer.
Only by displaying expertise in context of helping members of a community, with no agenda of sales as the ultimate motivation, merely good will, which can lead to sales.
There's a vast difference between the two.
You cannot have paid or incentivized opinions and still be a valid journalist.
They have solved all these problems in print media ages ago. There is not much "new" here, no matter how the damage control spins it.
I like you John, and of course we must experiment and innovate. But we must do so in the spirit of altruism and always thinking, "how could this be misconstrued?" and "how selfish is this?" even "are we blurring the line between journalism and hype?"
Take Consumer Reports for an extreme example, and the advertorial/infomercials for a hated opposite side of the spectrum.
Can a you speak of your advertiser's products? Sure, but you better say bad things as well as good things, be cynical and jaded when doing so. But as soon as you start, you'll have already lost a sizeable portion of your audience.
Purity. Transparency. Integrity. You have these values, and sometimes it gets difficult to see through all the creative noise to the actual morality invovled.
Aren't these ancient journalistic puzzles that have long ago been resolved?
Some of you Enronish trolls just don’t get it, do you?
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Is this the most efffective way to do it?
Are consumers seeking a newspaper, even a local one, that conforms to the print version? Is that how you set yourself up in an adversarial position, or a content-rich contender?
Why would anyone care about local news, politics, sports, crime, business, obits, music,
opinion, art, society?
And why would they want to consume it online?
Is the news a primary hunger, or is it integrated now with digital information and interaction in general?
What else are people consuming along with news?
How do you make local online news interesting, superior to TV, better than paper, unique, attention-worthy?
I guess I am bewildered by traditional journalism in an online newspaper.
I am more optimistic about a single investigative voice, or a small team of web researchers and alley haunters, in a blog, that also uses Ning, Twitter, Spock, Jaiku, Stumble Upon, Sphere, Campfire, Mahalo, Wink, Thinkature, Instructables, Facebook, Rock You, folkd, del.icio.us, Tumblr, and other socnets and Web 2.0 tools, to disseminate news and reader commentary on a focused topic, with a clear and distinct personality uniting and guiding the user community.
That's what Web 2.0 journalism looks like to me right now.
Blending investigative reporting with internet information foraging skills.
Micro-journalism (via Twitter, Jaiku, JetSetMix), personal presencing hub channels (Ning, Jaiku, Mashable) mobile journalism, photo/video journalism, crowdsourcing, citizen journalism, and journalistic wikis and team blogs.
If you can say it quickly, and show it small, you're on the right track.
Jim Long, NBC photojournalist, known as "newmediajim" on Twitter, is a good example.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Several clients have recently expressed great interest in starting a blog.
They suddenly either feel they "need" a blog for business purposes, or they have a sincere, genuine zeal for expressing some ideas and opinions.
What links would you provide to a client who knows he "should" blog, or is excited about blogging about personal expertise and interests?
If both types of bloggers could merge a bit, the reluctant dutiful blogger catch some zeal from the wild-eyed visionary blogger, who in turn becomes a bit more pragmatic about marketing and economic opportunities, I could really have fun.
Here's my tossed together compendium of links I feel will educate, amuse, and inspire a New Blogger. It's mostly blogs, but a few interesting web sites are included as well.
Like: Visual Search Shopping
NewsForge: online newspaper for Linux & Open Source
The Blog Herald: bloggers online newspaper
Dave Winer’s Scripting News
World’s Dullest Blog
Lipsticking: Marketing to Women
Blog Write for CEOs
Edelman Global PR blog
Origin of Brands
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Photos, recipes, videos, links, tips, and reader comments. Join our online community. Share your insights, opinions, and stories. The conversation has begun!
Your new online source for healthy living ideas.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Beta means hacker slop.
Dumb-ass, inelegant coders piecing it together in a test environment, then unleashing it, without code and API testing.
Beta means wannabe wanker, inflicting garbage on the web, losing trust, destroying credibility.
Beta means you don't know what the fuck you are doing.
Beta means "Go away, maybe come back in a few years, when it actually half-way works".
Beta means screw the early adaptors.
Your "BETA" offering is screaming: "Look at the Free Laborers, those masochistic beta testers and innovation-junkies. They're smart. Let them finalize our product, by finding and recommending fixes for its many flaws."
Beta means you're too stupid, lazy, or cheap to conduct user observation tests and do usability analysis.
I test products in alpha, beta and public release versions. Many public release 1.0s and 2.0s are really still in the baby alpha stage of Good Idea, Lame Execution.
If you hire a usability analyst to test your API, forms, and functionalities you'll gain more customers and brand loyalty in the long run.
Venture Capitalists (VCs) should hire usability analysts to do user observation tests on Web 2.0 products and sites, prior to any discussions of investment potential.
Main problems I'm seeing lately (and these are basic, not advanced or power user complaints!):
(1) can't complete register or login process, due to problem with pw/username or Submit not working
(2) you can upload photos or mp3s, but have a limit, and cannot delete any already uploaded
(3) you can enter text for a profile or other page, but subsequent editing fails due to Save Changes not working.
(4) difficult to get invites to distribute to friends
(5) time-consuming to delete addresses from email address book when importing them to an Invite Your Friends functionality (solution: self scrolling ticker tape widget that you simply zap the unwanted addresses off with keyboard command or mouse)
(6) the priority functionality (upload mp3s or contribute new link) is difficult to perform, generally due to the convoluted navigation to even get to the page that displays the desired function!
Sunday, June 03, 2007
First, let's deconstruct the way this post title was chosen.
I went to Google Battle and tested some alternate titles, and the number of times each phrase was searched on Google was as follows:
Web 2.0 errors: 92 M
Web 2.0 mistakes: 23 M
Web 2.0 sucks: 1.6 M
Web 2.0 problems: 155 M
top Web 2.0 problems: 113 M
most common Web 2.0 problems: 23 M
Thus, the winner was "Web 2.0 problems", according to Google Battle.
Now, here are the worst Web 2.0 annoyances I have encountered in my relentless quest to find well coded, relevant, valuable interactivity tools and social networking communities. I alpha/beta test many sites as I seek new platforms for clients and for personal purposes.
Top Web 2.0 Problems:
(1) broken functionalities
Example: click on Submit or Sign Up at Instructables, nothing happens.
(2) missing functionalities
Example: you can't delete uploaded mp3s from Podsafe Music Networks.
(3) no, or insufficient, FAQ, Help, Getting Started Tips, or User Guide
Many times you're expected to just know intuitively how to work the site, how to accomplish basic tasks. Often, I have to navigate the site in convoluted manner to get to the functionality I seek.
(4) no clickable sidebar badges
A powerful, effective way to promote a new site or tool is to freely advertise it on your blog. A great way to do that is by adding a graphic link button, or clickable badge, to your blog's sidebar. But many companies fail to provide the HTML code, or even a right clickable logo, for us to make into a clickable badge.
(5) no Feedback form/sluggish response to user input
New sites in particular stand to benefit from large amounts of critique from early adaptors. But they often make it a pain to provide this free expertise. When you email the support team, your input is either ignored or it takes a long time to hear back from the company. This negligence is contrary to the principles of Web 2.0, which is supposed to be more participatory and interactive than Web 1.0
(6) CEO/Lead Developer is on Twitter, Jaiku, etc. but fail to provide link to their page
While they may talk about being on Twitter, Jaiku, and other social networks, good luck trying to find their page. Often they're using not their actual name but a nickname or avatar handle like "code prowler", "Fitz", or "Frivmo". Smart ones will use their real name or company name. like "Mobasoft" or "Fuel My Blog", to facilitate finding their Twitter page.
[EDIT UPDATE: I did not mean to slam those, including me, who use non-anonymous aliases, nicknames, pseudonyms. I use "vaspers" for darn near everything, but I always reveal my real name in a Profile or About page: Steven E. Streight (don't forget the E.).
I just meant that using your company name is a bit better in some cases, as in Fuel My Blog. Robert Scoble uses the name of his blog "Scobleizer" like I use "Vaspers".
You must determine what works best for your branding, memorability, etc.]
(7) insufficient input choices
Example: on Facebook, when you add a Contact or Friend or whatever the hell they call it, a panel appears, asking you "how do you know this person?"
But there possible answers provided are leaning toward casual friendships, school, and romantic entanglements, making it like the MySpace toilet. There is no "met via blogging" or "on another social networking site". So you have to select "met randomly", then a text entry box pops up, so you can explain what you mean.
(8) no invites to distribute to your friends
Amazingly, some Web 2.0 sites fail to provide you with any method for inviting your friends, family, or colleagues to join. Freebase commits this error. Spock gives you 5 invites by default, but I asked for 30 more, explained who I was and who my colleagues are, and I got 50 invites. That was very cool.
(9) no info on your personal URL, or a long, hard to remember URL
I love how my URL at Twitter is twitter.com/vaspers and at Jaiku, it's vaspers.jaiku.com, but at some sites, you are given a complicated URL string that's hard to recall. They say it's for security, but why should there be a security problem with people simply visiting your page? I thought access to your profile and site files was protected by your email addy, username, and password.
Some sites don't even display any "your personal [tool/community] URL" info.
(10) dysfunctional sign up, register, login, installer, or upgrade
Popfly has a broken login. I could not even get past the sign up process. I had a valid invitation key, but the site kept rejecting my email and password. Horrible coding.
Joost installer will not work.
Skype upgrade generates a "corrupted file" error message.
All these problems, annoyances, and headaches could be avoided by running user observation tests on 4 to 8 typical users.
Instead, they slap the crappy "Beta" label on it. Beta means screw the users. Beta means mediocre, "don't worry, be crappy" garbage. Beta means they're too lazy, stupid, or cheap to do code testing and usability analysis on their products.