Tag Archives: facebook

Will Social Q & A site Quora find Twitter-like success?

A useful article about Quora. I’m still trying to make up my mind about it. I started using the service about 2 weeks ago, since when I’ve asked one question (currently not answered) and responded to three questions. However, I’ve started to follow several other q & a threads which I’ve found quite informative. I can’t see it having the same mass appeal as Twitter, and users seem far more intense and serious. But on the other hand I don’t see as much inane drivel as I do on many Twitter conversations (with apologies to all the good Tweeters….but if the cap fits….etc.)

Amplify’d from www.time.com

With websites, as with bands and restaurants, few things feel as good as discovering the next big thing before it gets big. If you were on Twitter back in 2007, for instance, you got in when the service still felt like a cool private club — long before Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and millions of their admirers moved in. If you belonged to Facebook before mid-2004, you were used to being part of an elite class: only students at Ivy League schools and Stanford were eligible for membership.

Today, there’s Quora. Founded by two former Facebook bigwigs and opened to the public in June 2010, the Q&A site isn’t yet a household name. But it has a feeling of hip exclusivity and impending greatness that’s reminiscent of early Twitter and Facebook. Silicon Valley überblog TechCrunch is already covering the service so obsessively that the comments on its Quora posts are rife with pleas from readers begging it to take it down a notch. (See “Your Best E-Reader May Be No E-Reader.”)

Like many Web 2.0 services, Quora isn’t so much a new idea as a fresh take on a leftover concept from the Web 1.0 era — it’s a spiritual descendant of long-forgotten 1990s start-ups such as Abuzz, AskMe and Keen. You can post questions and answers on any topic and search for ones that have already been posted, from the mundane (“When did Steve Ballmer become CEO of Microsoft?”) to the metaphysical (“Why do people lie?”). As with Twitter, you can follow other members (as well as specific questions); as with Digg, everyone can vote answers up or down, so the best responses are easy to spot and the worst ones stay out of the way.

Nothing extraordinary about any of that. So why is Quora attracting so much attention? It’s the community. On an Internet that can feel as if it’s inhabited largely by belligerent know-nothings, Quora is a place where the average citizen is an intelligent, well-informed person — and where, in a Lake Wobegon–like effect, most everybody seems to be above average. If you ask a question about a particular Web start-up, odds are that you’ll get one or more thoughtful replies. And it won’t be the least bit startling if one of them comes from a founder of the company in question.

Even if your questions don’t get good answers — some of my queries have been ignored, period — reading other users’ conversations is addictive. In one example that’s the stuff of legend among Quora enthusiasts, a member asked how much AOL spent to send out the zillions of trial-software CDs it distributed in the 1990s. The closest thing to an answer that person got was the less-than-definitive “over $300 million.” But among the respondents were AOL founder Steve Case and Jan Brandt, the marketing executive who came up with the idea of carpet-bombing the country with sign-up discs in the first place. Both gave personal looks at a topic they know better than anyone else. (See the 100 best gadgets of all time.)

You don’t have to be a geek to love Quora, but it helps. For one thing, its interface is impenetrable—I’ve been using it for months, and I still feel like a clueless newbie at times. Right now, it’s saying I have 1,010 notifications, 899 items related to me, 97 items on my home page and one message in my inbox. I’m darned if I can remember the distinctions among them. For another, Quora — which is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., not far from Facebook headquarters — is still dominated by chatter of interest to tech-start-up types. So much of the fodder is Silicon Valley–centric that I’m startled when someone recommends a restaurant or other local business and it turns out it’s not in the Bay Area. (Comment on this story.)

For Quora to have the lasting impact of a Twitter or Facebook, it needs to appeal to the masses. It’s tough, though, to imagine the service welcoming an influx of millions of new users while retaining its cozy, smart feel. If you believe there’s no such thing as a dumb question, you haven’t spent much time on the big Q&A sites. The quality of the conversation at Aardvark, another such service that once seemed full of potential (and which is now part of Google) has been suffering lately. As I was writing this column, it sent me this important missive from a user: “Can someone tell me what is the time right now?” And on Ask.com — which recently announced it would de-emphasize its venerable search engine and focus on questions and answers — one of the most popular questions at the moment is “Can penguins fly?” (See 10 start-ups that will change your life.)

Still, it’s not unthinkable that Quora could both get big and stay good. Twitter was once just as cryptic and insidery, and it’s managed to grow with surprising grace. (If you don’t want to interact with the Gaga freaks and Bieberites, don’t follow them, and they’ll be all but invisible.) I’m sure rooting for Quora — and if you’re a fan of Web services that are bursting with potential, so should you.

Read more at www.time.com

The Biggest Tech Surprises and Disappointments in 2010 – DailyFinance

No major suprises here – Facebook continues on its mission for world domination; the iPad hits the mark for big boys’ toys; video game developers are realising that substance trumps presentation (3D is not the panacea for user immersion); Groupon is the one to watch; privacy is an illusion; Google has ‘buzzed’ off.

I think that about sums up the social web landscape for the start of 2011!

How Google can thrive in the age of Facebook

Some good points here about the dangers of adopting a ‘me too’ strategy as opposed to amplifying your own strengths. Maybe Google should stop trying to be a social network and look to providing better integration between its myriad products (vidoes, maps, books, blogs, news, docs sites….etc.). Not forgetting the ace in the pack – Google is an open web environment, whereas Facebook is closed, i.e. information you put in is held hostage forever. Once users’ realise that their information has value, they might begin to think more seriously about where they want put it.

Amplify’d from tech.fortune.cnn.com
By some measures. we’re hitting an Internet age that leaves Google behind. But here’s a prescription to keep search relevant in the face of Facebook’s social empire.

Google and Facebook logosBeing king of the web is a short-lived gig. Only several years ago the web was navigated by search and Google was the clear king of innovation. Now, as the web takes on an increasingly social structure we seem to be heading into the Age of Facebook.

By some measures, it will be an age where Google isn’t welcome. The company has long been seen as a one-trick pony, gifted at search and little else. It’s stumbled again and again in social media with Orkut, Buzz and Wave – efforts that were at best mixed successes. Increasingly, executives and engineers in Silicon Valley openly declare that Google can’t beat Facebook at its own game. Underscoring the pessimism, several key employees have bolted Google for Facebook in recent months.

Meanwhile, Facebook is expected to earn $3.2 billion in revenue next year, mostly from online ads – which is more than Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) makes on display ads alone. Time is running out for Google to find a way to keep its revenue and profit growing. Doing that will mean thriving in social media. While there’s not a single strategy that Google can use to reach that goal, there are several approaches that can help. And early signs are that Google is busy taking those steps.

1. Don’t copy Facebook.
Copying Google’s search engine didn’t work for Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Ask.com or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) – it only made clearer that they were laggards. Besides, Orkut was Google’s attempt to copy Friendster and MySpace, and while Orkut was popular in India and Brazil, it never gained traction elsewhere.

Instead, Google would be smarter to study how people are behaving as the web evolves and then anticipating how the social web will operate in the future. Google hasn’t offered too many details on what kind of social features it’s building, but CEO Eric Schmidt has said it won’t be a full-on social networking site but a social component built into existing Google products.

This approach has its risks as well. Google has a large installed base of users with, for example, Gmail. Google Buzz, a second-generation social network, failed in good part because of how Google handled the importing of Gmail contacts into Buzz connections.

Since Buzz, Google went back to its drawing board. Since then, one of the worst-kept secrets in Silicon Valley has been what a project called Google Me, an ambitious effort not to launch a new service like Buzz, but to incorporate a social element into all the services associated with a Google account – documents, calendars, photos on Picasa, videos on YouTube. Throw in the Google Music store it’s long been planning as well as the ebooks for sale on the newly announced Google Editions and there starts to emerge a critical mass of services that a social layer could be built upon.

2. Focus on Facebook’s weaknesses.
A few months ago, a 224-page Powerpoint presenation by a member of Google’s user-experience team made the rounds. It thoughtfully made the case that our online identities aren’t one-dimensional, that we all interact differently at work, with family, with friends, etc., and that social networks don’t reflect that complexity. The presentation was seen as a vulnerability of Facebook that Google could attack.

Facebook responded quickly with Groups, which lets users share different content with various groups of friends. But Google had made its point: Facebook can’t do everything, and there is room on the web for different approaches to social media. It made clear that Google would try to focus its strengths on Facebook’s weaknesses.

It also explains why Schmidt takes every opportunity he can to swear that Google takes privacy seriously. He’s not just regretting the privacy brouhaha that greeted the launch of Buzz, he’s taking aim at the loudest and most consistent complaint about Facebook – its cavalier attitude toward privacy.

Facebook has pushed our comfort levels on privacy for a long time. Zuckerberg has argued that in time we’ll all grow to accept that there is no privacy anymore on the web. But the reality is, as I’ve argued before, Facebook can’t make its social ads pay without collecting and sharing as much personal data as it does.

3. Invest in a customer base.
So what does Google do if it builds a social component throughout its myriad products and nobody uses it? That was the problem with Wave, a well-designed tool for real-time collaboration that Google quietly killed this summer.
In fact, it’s the Catch-22 that fells many social sites: Nobody wants to sign up unless their friends sign up, and their friends don’t sign up because their own friends haven’t signed up…

To start a fire under its social offerings, Google may become aggressive in buying startups with a strong social bent. It approached Yelp with little success, and is often mentioned as a suitor for Twitter. This week, Google is reportedly talking with Groupon, a deal-of-the-day site with a loyal customer base.

Viewed from one angle these deals don’t make sense because many users of a site bought by Google are already Google users. But from another angle, that’s the beauty of it. If Google owned Twitter, say, then users might start interacting with each other in Picasa, or documents. Google has the cash to keep buying other startups – a music site with social connections like Spotify or Mog, for example – until it can nurture a viable user base for its social layer.

It’s too early to count Google out of the social web. Its failures in the field to date are ominous only if Google hasn’t learned from them. It needs to do a lot of things right to succeed, but if it does, then we may not be calling this the Age of Facebook for very long.

Read more at tech.fortune.cnn.com

Impact of the new Facebook Profile Page on business social media – San Diego online marketing | Examiner.com

Some useful information about the Facebook Profile page changes. One of the big changes to all this is a change to the way Facebook will roll the change out. Often criticized for making wholesale changes, Facebook will allow uers to opt-in to the new profile page.

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg – a conundrum

Facbook – you either love it or you hate it. I hate it – but Mark Zuckerberg does at least seem a nice sort of chap. Maybe he’ll settle down and get married soon – that will add a sense of reality to his life!

Amplify’d from www.mercurynews.com

His face pale and shining with sweat, words stumbling out in a voice pinched with anxiety, Mark Zuckerberg appeared on the verge of a panic attack in June at the All Things Digital conference, as he fumbled to explain his mistakes in college and in building Facebook.

Less than six months later, in front of some of the most influential figures in the Internet industry at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco this week, Zuckerberg looked like a different person — relaxed, thoughtful, even funny — as he talked about his shortcomings.

“Ah man, I’ve made so many mistakes in running the company so far,” Zuckerberg said, answering a question from an audience member who called him a “celebrity entrepreneur.”

“Basically, any mistake you think you can make, I’ve probably made” — Zuckerberg paused to smile — “or will make in the next few years. But, I think if anything, the Facebook story is a great example of how, if you’re building a product people love, you can make a lot of mistakes.”

Facebook’s reach continues to grow. Experian Hitwise said Friday that nearly 1 in 4 Internet page views in the U.S. last week were on Facebook.com. And despite his unflattering film portrait in “The Social Network,” Zuckerberg in recent weeks has appeared comfortable talking about his personal life. At a Nov. 3 product announcement, Zuckerberg started out with a story about an exchange with an elderly neighbor

as he walked to work in Palo Alto.

On Monday, with more than 100 journalists massed at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco to hear Facebook unveil its new Message service, Zuckerberg talked about hanging out with his girlfriend’s family in Boston last Thanksgiving. Recounting conversations he had there with high school students about e-mail that “make me feel really old,” Zuckerberg said they influenced his view about how Facebook should build its Message service.

On stage at Web 2.0, Zuckerberg spoke slowly and thoughtfully, making eye contact with the audience, his palms open with fingers extended as he talked.

Zuckerberg said he thinks “every day” about

building a unique culture at Facebook, and talked about one internal yardstick the company uses — the number of Facebook users, divided by the number of engineers who work there. For some time, that formula has yielded a number greater than 1 million. The size of that number, Zuckerberg said, indicates that Facebook is in a “golden period” where it has the influence of a big company and the creativity and agility of a startup.

His response to a question about criticism leveled by Jobs that Zuckerberg’s demands were “crazy” in negotiating a deal between Facebook and Apple: “It’s fine.” His take on how big tech companies need to think about social media: “Get on the bus!” He even laughed when co-interviewer John Battelle said, “you’re gonna want to stay away from those movies,” referring to “The Social Network.”

Read more at www.mercurynews.com

Five Simple Steps To Improve Your Facebook Site

Facebook fan pages are a great way to promote your business or organization, are easy to maintain and they keep your personal profile separate from your business page. To its credit Facebook has done a lot lately to make pages more brand-friendly, even website-like. Here are five things you can do to improve your fan page

Facebook ‘threatens’ web future

Some interesting and pertinent points made by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, regarding the ‘coralling’ and siloing of information on the web. He cites Facebook as a particular example of how they capture user-generated information and hold it hostage. I also think he makes a good point about the increasing and pernicious development of smartphone apps that don’t work as web apps – i.e. limited to a vendor’s closed operating system, such as the iPhone. I think TBL has a right to be considered an authoritative voice on these issues – he not only invented the world wide web, he’s one of the few leading figures who isn’t trying to make a fast buck out of it!

Amplify’d from www.theregister.co.uk

Tim Berners-Lee has dubbed Facebook a threat to the universality of the world wide web.

Next month marks the twentieth anniversary of the first webpage – served up by Berners-Lee at the CERN particle physics lab in Geneva – and in the December issue of Scientific American, he celebrates the uniquely democratic nature of his creation, before warning against the forces that could eventually bring it down. “Several threats to the Web’s universality have arisen recently,” he says.

He briefly warns of cable giants who may prevent the free flow of content across the net. “Cable television companies that sell internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company’s mix of entertainment,” he says. And then he sticks the boot into social networking sites, including Mark Zuckerberg’s net behemoth. “Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph,” Berners-Lee writes.

“The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site. Each site is a silo, walled off from the others. Yes, your site’s pages are on the Web, but your data are not. You can access a Web page about a list of people you have created in one site, but you cannot send that list, or items from it, to another site.”

This echoes the complaint Google made earlier this month as it banned Facebook from tapping Gmail’s Contacts API. Mountain Views won’t allow netizens to export email addresses to Facebook unless it reciprocates. But Berners-Lee goes further.

“A related danger is that one social-networking site—or one search engine or one browser—gets so big that it becomes a monopoly, which tends to limit innovation.” The threat here is not Friendster. It’s Facebook, which now boasts over 500 million users worldwide.

Berners-Lee urges the adoption of more democratic services, including Facebook alternatives GnuSocial and Diaspora as well as the Status.net project, which gave rise to a decentralized incarnation of Twitter. “As has been the case since the Web began,” he says, “continued grassroots innovation may be the best check and balance against any one company or government that tries to undermine universality.”

“You can’t make a link to any information in the iTunes world—a song or information about a band. You can’t send that link to someone else to see. You are no longer on the Web. The iTunes world is centralized and walled off. You are trapped in a single store, rather than being on the open marketplace. For all the store’s wonderful features, its evolution is limited to what one company thinks up.”

He also bemoans the proliferation of net-connected apps on the Apple iPhone and other smartphones. “The tendency for magazines, for example, to produce smartphone ‘apps’ rather than Web apps is disturbing, because that material is off the Web. You can’t bookmark it or e-mail a link to a page within it. You can’t tweet it. It is better to build a Web app that will also run on smartphone browsers, and the techniques for doing so are getting better all the time.”

Dredging up Comcast’s BitTorrent busting, he then warns against threats to so-called net neutrality. This includes Google for the FCC filing it laid down this summer in tandem with US telco giant Verizon. “Unfortunately, in August, Google and Verizon for some reason suggested that net neutrality should not apply to mobile phone–based connections,” he says.

He also warns against Phorm-style snooping and governments that restrict free speech on the web. But ultimately, he’s optimistic. “Now is an exciting time,” he says. “Web developers, companies, governments and citizens should work together openly and cooperatively, as we have done thus far, to preserve the Web’s fundamental principles, as well as those of the Internet, ensuring that the technological protocols and social conventions we set up respect basic human values. The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine.” ®

Read more at www.theregister.co.uk

Google bars data from Facebook as rivalry heats up

So, it seems a walled garden is being erected around Google services (it’s always been there for Facebook). I can’t really see this hurting Facebook very much. The loser is (once again) the user who will no longer have the facility to easily join up address books between networks. I think we can look forward to these two heavyweights continuing to slug it out over the coming months. An interesting spectacle since both are too big to fall.

Amplify’d from www.reuters.com

SAN FRANCISCO

(Reuters) – Google Inc will begin blocking Facebook and other Web services from accessing its users’ information, highlighting an intensifying rivalry between the two Internet giants.

Google will no longer let other services automatically import its users’ email contact data for their own purposes, unless the information flows both ways. It accused Facebook in particular of siphoning up Google contact data, without allowing for the automatic import and export of Facebook users’ information.

Facebook, with more than 500 million users, relies on email services such as Google’s Gmail to help new users find friends already on the network. When a person joins, they are asked to import their Gmail contact list into the social network service. Facebook then tells the user which email contacts are also on the social network.

In a statement, Google said websites such as Facebook “leave users in a data dead end.” Facebook did not immediately provide a comment on Friday.

While Google framed the move as an attempt to protect its users’ ability to retain control of their personal data on the Internet, analysts said the move underscored the battle between Google, the world’s largest search engine, and Facebook, the dominant Internet social network.

“The fundamental power dynamic on the Web today is this emerging conflict between Facebook and Google,” said Gartner analyst Ray Valdes. “Google needs to evolve to become a big player in the social Web and it hasn’t been able to do that.”

“If people do search within Facebook, if they do email within Facebook, if they do instant messaging within Facebook, all of these will chip away at Google’s properties.”

RECIPROCITY

Google said that while it makes it easy for other Web services to automatically import a user’s contact data, Facebook was not reciprocating.

“We have decided to change our approach slightly to reflect the fact that users often aren’t aware that once they have imported their contacts into sites like Facebook, they are effectively trapped,” Google said in an emailed statement.

“We will no longer allow websites to automate the import of users’ Google Contacts (via our API) unless they allow similar export to other sites,” Google said.

Some technology blogs were reporting that Facebook still appeared to be allowing users to import their Google Gmail contacts into Facebook as of mid-day Friday.

A Google spokesman told Reuters that the company had begun enforcing the new rules “gradually.”

Google also stressed that users will still be able to manually download their contacts to their computers in “an open, machine-readable format” which can then be imported into any Web service.

Google has coveted the wealth of information that Facebook’s half-billion users generate and amass. Having access to that data could be especially valuable to Google, whose business model is based on allowing its users to find any information anywhere on the Web.

Read more at www.reuters.com

Is Facebook Privacy Just An Oxymoron

I’ve long thought that if you treasure your privacy, then don’t use a social network! They exist to share information – about you and the people that use it. I must admit, Facebook seems to be worse than most in playing fast and loose with personal data, and the closed nature of the platform makes it quite difficult to know excactly what they’re doing. Giving them the benfit of the doubt on this particular issue, I don’t think they may have realised that the Facebook User ID is being shared between apps, but I think the problem is symptomatic of their overall ‘laissez faire’ attitude to privacy (except of course Mark Zuckerberg, who clearly worries about his own privacy!) So if you treasure your privacy, don’t use a social network, and definitley not Facebook.

Amplify’d from www.marketingpilgrim.com

With the box office for “The Social Network” beginning to feel the effects of everyone in the social media industry already seeing it and the likelihood that the rest of the world doesn’t care, it’s time to get back to real business for Facebook. Oftentimes, though, real business and Facebook is more about what Facebook is supposedly doing ‘to’ people rather than ‘for’ them. Today is no exception.

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.

The rest of the article essentially says what we already know because we follow this stuff including major app / game developers like Zynga who are getting more data than they should. Anyone who looks at what apps in the Android store are looking at when you download them should know that supplying you with fun is not the end game for most developers. Why? Because they need to make a living too so the best thing they can sell is your data.

The problem has ties to the growing field of companies that build detailed databases on people in order to track them online—a practice the Journal has been examining in its What They Know series. It’s unclear how long the breach was in place. On Sunday, a Facebook spokesman said it is taking steps to “dramatically limit” the exposure of users’ personal information.

“A Facebook user ID may be inadvertently shared by a user’s Internet browser or by an application,” the spokesman said. Knowledge of an ID “does not permit access to anyone’s private information on Facebook,” he said, adding that the company would introduce new technology to contain the problem identified by the Journal.

Wait a minute. Hasn’t Facebook been taking steps like this all along? Apparently not. It’s hard to really know what Facebook is or is not doing and where they are actually doing or not doing it. It appears as if that rule #1 in their PR department is to be sure to “Baffle them with BS” which results in no one knowing if Facebook has or has not actually done anything substantial to protect users privacy.

As for the developers of these games that are taking your data and selling it? They must either be coached by Facebook or they learn well with their coy responses to inquiries about their perceived privacy transgressions.

Defenders of online tracking argue that this kind of surveillance is benign because it is conducted anonymously. In this case, however, the Journal found that one data-gathering firm, RapLeaf Inc., had linked Facebook user ID information obtained from apps to its own database of Internet users, which it sells. RapLeaf also transmitted the Facebook IDs it obtained to a dozen other firms, the Journal found.

So let’s face it. No mater how many people suck up to Mark Zuckerberg and claim that he is a nice guy who is trying to change the world blah, blah, blah (and there are seriously big industry names who like to publicly profess their admiration etc for Zuckerberg) the evidence points that underneath all the buzz, he likely has a black heart when it comes to privacy concerns.

So don’t expect the term Facebook privacy to ever mean anything. They need your data to make money. It’s that simple. As a result do you think that Facebook and its entire ecosystem are going to just stop trying to get your data? I hope you’re not that gullible no matter how ‘nice’ the real Mark Zuckerberg is or is not.

Read more at www.marketingpilgrim.com