Category Archives: social networking

LinkedIn: New School vs. Old School Networking

Talking about adoption issues with new social tools eventually touches on age differences. Are younger people more inclined to use Web 2.0 technology? Are managers less inclined? Whether you believe so or not, do we encourage this problem? It’s one thing when traditional industries struggle with this, and it’s another thing when technology or internet companies perpetuate this hurdle to 2.0 networking possibilities.

With business people now using Facebook for networking, I was struck by noticing on Susan Scrupski’s Facebook profile that she is a member of a network called “Dump LinkedIn and other networks in favour of Facebook”. Is LinkedIn old school networking? Some people must think so.

LinkedIn runs the risk of alienating an exploding market of 2.0 advocates if it doesn’t address this type of challenge. I am not surprised LinkedIn is allowing this to happen.

Sharing a panel with a LinkedIn exec, I asked him if LinkedIn had ever considered creating a collaboration space on a wiki platform such as what SAP does with its SAP Developer Network. Perhaps LinkedIn could offer a more exciting collaboration space to complement its network. LinkedIn’s question-answer feature is rather old school. Now I can be accused of promoting wikis, but his response said a lot about LinkedIn’s view of the 2.0 world. He said LinkedIn targets senior professionals and senior people are too busy to edit wiki pages and that senior people have little time to write, let alone handle email.

LinkedIn I will assume is commercially minded and has concrete business reasons for taking this tack. But why perpetuate this hurdle when you have such a huge valuable network? Whether it’s a wiki or not, I would like to see LinkedIn get more new school-minded and make the experience on their site a lot more interesting.

Twitter 2.0

family_of_monkeys.jpg
Twitter 1.0 is your first experience with The Illness. The Affliction. Twitter 1.0 can be disappointing. As CNET’s Elinor Mills complained and old friend Bob Page points out, knowing someone is eating a cookie or having problems with bodily functions does not exactly enlighten one’s life. Twitter 1.0 fails for many because they listen to the wrong people, or they may not have the proper Digital DNA to find a positive outcome with the medium. Ed Yourdon, who I remember from my structured programming days (OK, this was after punched cards), has referenced both generational and existential issues with social software:

Talking … with a group of very savvy, up-to-date colleagues who … felt very strongly that blogging is a largely narcissistic, unproductive, self-centered activity, and one that presents significant risks to companies. I’m beginning to think that all of this is somewhat of an existential thing: if you don’t blog on a fairly regular basis, you can’t imagine why anyone else would do so; and if you’re predisposed to think that blogging is just narcissistic chattering, then you’re not likely to spend very much time (if any at all) reading anyone else’s blog either. It may also be a generational thing: middle-aged and older people are less likely to read or write blogs, and younger people (and those who still feel young) are more likely to do so. This is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but it may be one more thing that separates the generations these days.

Ed is talking about blogging but it’s the same: are you social software inclined?

jp.jpgTwitter 2.0 requires a little existentialism. Jean-Paul Sartre may have made a fine Twitterer. Twitter 2.0 is when you get past the initial traps. Twitter 2.0 is when you start finding value.

What value have I found? For openers, the return is modest. Don’t expect the value you get from a wiki or IM or an insightful blog. The trick is the investment is very low. The ROI is good as Jeff Clavier has told me. I don’t spend much time on Twitter: quick scan, anything interesting, and exit. Because I am ADD and nowhere near as focused as James Governor or Robert Scoble, I don’t tweet much. As least yet.

Here’s the value I have found so far:

  • I find out what my network is thinking in a more organic way than through Techmeme which is expansive although useful.
  • I learn news important to my business. A customer alerted me to their purchase of the clustered version of Confluence on Twitter.
  • I find events. This weekend Brian Solis had a BBQ near my house, and I ran into some 2.0 colleagues. Last week, I connected with Susan Scrupski on an Enterprise 2.0 event. Both thanks to Twitter.
  • Twitter allows staying in touch with folks where you don’t want the more intense engagement and commitment of email or phone.

… and on a more basic level…

  • I sold two of my band T-shirts — raising money for a cancer charity — to people I have never even met, Ric Hayman in Australia, and Thomas Otter in Germany. That was very cool. Twitter and this blog made it happen.
  • Stephen Wright: perhaps the Single Greatest Thing about Twitter is getting this comedian’s hilarious tweets like, “If God took acid, would he see people?” Now if only Eddie Izzard Twiitered, my life would be complete.

Twitter 3.0 will be about refinement. So far I am accumulating people, but perhaps I’ll need to prune the Cookie Eaters, and get picky. Right now my criteria is lax. Twitter 3.0 may also be about Facebook. There’s a new link to get you on Facebook, and I signed up. Aside from my kids harassing me endlessly for being on Facebook, I have joined Stewart Mader and the Social Media Today on Facebook and will see if this is a useful extension to Wikipatterns. For now 2.0 is working.

Twitter Twatter

Okay, I give up. There’s a twitter wiki. Including 13 mashups, 33 scripts and libraries, 4 browser plugins, 5 mobile apps, 10 Mac apps, 10 Windows apps, and Oh… forget it. Some of the spine-tingling highlights:

  • Sounds like something I want in my band… Twapper: WAP browser for Twitter so you can keep up with Twitter on your mobile without the barrage of SMS interruptions. Something I perhaps (?) should worry about.
  • Try saying this fast 3 times… Twit Twoo: plugin that allows you to update your Twitter status right from your WordPress blog. Well, I like WordPress.
  • The deftly named… Spaz: multiplatform Twitter client for Windows, Linux and OS X
  • And for those with too much time on their hands… MyChores: keep track of your household chores and send automatic Twitter posts whenever you complete a task. Why? Please…

A Twitter in Training

twitter1.pngI’m not sure I get it. This Twitter Thing. I’m trying because the sheer weirdness of it demands some attention. I have Twitter Searched, Twitter Vision-ed, and Twitterriffic-(k?)ed. I am a Tweeter in Training I am afraid. This much is clear:

There is no end to social networking. If you tried to explain Twitter to most people in the world, they would think you were daft. Yet it is incredible to look at Twitter Vision and watch the tweets popping up all over the world real-time (there is some latency I discovered if you want to watch your own Tweet). What has come to us? Are we just desperate for another form of communication?

Twitter is a feature set in Social Software Land. It’s really a feature, but Twitter Search and Twitter Vision give it dimension, I guess. If I ever saw something that Google or News Corp. will acquire, boy, does this smell like it. Advertising is the logical next move, but someone else will be much better positioned to monetize this insanity.

Twitter is an interesting way to watch the Silicon Valley Bloggers talk to each other. Scoble, Arrington, Winer, and crew tweet away. Of course I could just wait and read the blog. But the color commentary is amazing. No surprise, but Scoble’s tweets can be interesting. Arrington is more of a self promoter, but hey, I don’t blame him.

Although I have succumbed to listening for Tweets, I don’t really get it yet. So far I see limited value:

  • You might cross paths with someone. I almost ran into Stowe Boyd when we were both in Palo Alto. Schedules did not allow but Twitter made it possible.
  • You can stay in touch with people who rarely see without any real commitment. It’s passive. I listen to probably the best tech industry analyst, James Governor of Red Monk, who also bought me a Guinness once and is a great guy, but Way the Hell away in London.
  • If you want to ask a bunch of people for advice, it’s one way. Scoble told me he likes it for that. He of course has around 2,100 followers so someone has dismantled a nuclear bomb or built a TwitBox. Yes, there is a TwitBox but nevermind… We are into self-fulfilling prophecies here in Silicon Valley.

Other than that, I still don’t get it. I remain faithfully a Twitter in Training.

Yelp: What is Hip?

yelp logoThis year I plan on writing about interesting social software and social networking, and Yelp is my first target.

I really like it. It comes down to two things: a well-designed review site is a great idea, and Yelp is very nicely laid out. It proves once again that being first or biggest in a category does not necessarily mean you can’t have your ass whipped by a better idea. Not that Yelp has whipped anyone’s behind yet. But if I were Citysearch, I would pay attention. (Disclosure: a close friend recently became Yelp’s VP Marketing).

Yelp’s thoughtfulness in the web experience becomes evident if you spend time on Tripadvisor or Citysearch. I am a Tripadvisor user, I really want them to succeed, but the mix of advertising, search, and content is poor. The valuable content on Tripadvisor shows communities will form around reviews, yet Tripadvisor’s execution is flawed. Citysearch has become a de facto yellow pages, but the reviews have lost any meaning. More important, Citysearch has no character that might truly engage a visitor.

Yelp, however, is employing some social networking tricks starting with your own url, friends, various types of ‘pokes’ (That’s a Facebook term) or ways to touch others, and even creating personal lists like “Wineries” (OK I live in California) or “Cheap Restaurants” or about anything you like. In fact, it can get rather nutty when someone reviews “Boyfriends”. And that edge to Yelp is the beauty of it. Yelp certainly has some grip on what is hip.

walkeryelp.jpg

There are things I don’t like. Primarily it’s annoying viral marketing tactics. When you join, you are urged to invite a bunch of friends. While social networks are about connections, I may not want this right away, and I may find this intrusive. I also dislike being asked every time I do a review who I want to send it to. These features should be available and off to the side.

Yelp is so well laid out I could even see us at Atlassian learning from what they have done on the personal page in creating an eye-catching template for a personal wiki page on our Confluence enterprise wiki. That may get some of our killer engineering team excited, but looks matter. Even in enterprise software.

What does Yelp need to worry about? #1 How to make money without pissing off the community? I am not privvy to their numbers, but it fairly safe to say they have a road ahead of them. There’s the You-Tube-It-Doesn’t-Matter business model, but that’s risky particularly the longer this bubble lasts. #2 Not becoming a pile of doo-doo reviews where everything adds up to 4 stars in a happy eBay-review kind of way. But Yelp has a ‘social networking’ pony in the barn to address this. What if I could filter to just my friends’ or respected favorites’ reviews? Then things could get very cool.