Posts Tagged ‘Louis Gray’

Follow People? Follow Topics? Why not Both at the Same Time?

February 26, 2009

There’s been growing controversy lately about following people on Twitter – debate on why, who, when, how many, etcLouis Gray suggests that it’s topics, not people, that we really want to follow.   I think it’s both.  

How do we know people in the real world?  It’s by the roles that we play: Mom, churchgoer, PTA member, etc.; but it’s also by the interests we have:  blacksmithing, motorcycles, photography, and so on.

What social networks need to do, IMO, is break people down by their “hats” like Marine Mom, Movie Lover, Social Media Watcher, CEO, and so on.  Then instead of following a whole person, you can pick and choose which of their hats you want to follow and then designate which hat you are wearing as you do so.

1) Take Robert Scoble as an example.  Robert and I don’t agree on politics and we’ve clashed because of it.  I’d like to follow Robert’s “tech evangelist” hat, but I don’t want to follow his political hat.  Robert could slice himself down into the different persons he is:  Father, Silicon Valley Resident, Videographer, Photographer, whatever, and then I could pick and choose which Roberts I want to follow.  This takes out all the noise and offensive stuff I don’t want.

2) So instead of tagging every post to make it searchable, the writer simply has to state which hat she’s writing under. 

3) The system could easily keep track of the urls that people are exchanging and aggregate the pieces talked about most often by hat so that popular stuff is never missed.  There could also be a digg-like ranking.  This “group push method” decreases the need to follow so many individual people.

4) Since I would tell the system which hat I’m wearing as I follow somebody’s else’s hat, that person will know what it is I am expecting or wanting from him.  For example, right now Robert is just Scobleizer.    He doesn’t know why different people are following him.  But if people signed up for his feed under their hats, he could get a much better sense of who his readers are.  Maybe some are CEOs, some are IT guys, some are geek-curious…  The first tenet of writing is to know who your audience is.  A breakdown of hats by percentage is a heck of a lot more meaningful than the current blind lists of strange faces we now get.

5) With Twitter (or whatever social network it is) getting thin sliced into varied hats, it would be very easy to find people you want to talk to.  For example, I’m a dog lover.  I could read the dog lover feed which would blast every dog lover’s post, but from that I could select individuals I wish to follow, in order to get it down to a manageable size, customized just for me.  The way I would design this is to have a +1 and -1 ranking, so that when I see something I like, I give it a +1 and when I see something I don’t like, I give it a -1.  The system itself would keep track of who I like best and I would automatically start following those people I respond well to, with the others falling off.  Of course, I could also choose outright to follow certain people and block others.  (Wouldn’t it be interesting if everybody’s Twitter or FriendFeed posts were blind and you started sorting people by +1’s and -1’s according to what they write?  Do you think you’d end up following the same people you are following now?)

6) At some point, hats could be subcategorized so that I could still be “dog lover” but also “boxer owner” as a subcategory.  And hats could be cross-checked.  So if I choose to have a “Hillsboro, OR resident” hat,  too, another boxer owner in the area could easily find me and we could make a play date at the dog park.

7) With this system, there is no pressure to follow particular people.  I myself think it would be better if people could choose to make it blind or not.  Personally, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business who I follow and who is following me.

8 ) Of course, all this thin slicing sets the table for very targeted ads (even local ads!!) so a strong monetization plan is readymade.  Of course, as I’ve written about many times on this blog, I think that advertising should be turned over to users, so that you pick and choose which ads to promote (if any), and you get compensated.   This way, you don’t have to keep a blog to make money from all your interaction.

9) Besides hats, social networks should be divided by space, too – Intimate, Private, Social, Public – but that’s another story.

I don’t think Twitter is a fad, but I do believe all this following-orgy is.  That’s why I designed my own ideal social network a different way.  But with this horrible economy, I won’t get funding, and I’d still like to see this implemented.  So maybe somebody else will go for it.  If Twitter did, I’d start using it.  As it is now, it’s worthless to me.  More pain than gain.

At the risk of being a broken record, let me say once again that all of these problems (and more!) could be avoided if technology wasn’t the only thing that VCs and CEOs cared about when designing sites and applications.  It’s SOCIAL media, after all.  Bring in the social scientists and others who understand vital issues besides coding, and the Web will be a much better, more efficient and more peaceful place.  Not to mention a whole lot healthier financially, too.

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The Internet’s Destiny: Five Truths

February 23, 2009

I’m honored that yesterday, Louis Gray – an extremely prolific and well respected social media observer and commentator – named Dawn’s Plan as one of his “five new blogs to watch.”  Since I’m getting new readers here because of it (Thank you, Louis), I thought I’d state my basic beliefs that inform everything I write about here.

 1) Business Models must be Distributive

The Digital Age is inherently about undoing the most egregious economic imbalances created by the Industrial Age, not creating more of them.  There is little difference between getting obscenely rich off the backs of others and getting obscenely rich off the brains and hearts of others. 

To his credit, Mark Zuckerberg recognized the value of each person’s social graph.  To his failure, he has yet to acknowledge that your social graph belongs to you and you should be compensated for its use.

Zuckerberg is a billionaire on paper while the Facebook membership that makes the network valuable earns nothing.  I predict Zuckerberg’s paper wealth will never be realized, because obscene concentration of wealth generated by exploiting others goes against what the Internet is naturally meant to be.

2) Advertising Distribution must be in the Hands of Users

Except for Search, Internet advertising doesn’t work.  It will never work when it is thrust upon us, because it is kneejerk to despise and easy to ignore.  Online advertising must be willingly accepted to be effective.  This demands taking ad distribution control away from advertisers and giving it to consumers.

Closed ad networks that pollute the Internet and do little to help the advertisers themselves will inevitably be replaced by open networks which offer ads that may be taken by users and placed on their own pages – if it is a product or service they wish to help promote.  This power shift will make corporations more accountable and will lead to higher quality ads and products.  Also, people will be less fearful of buying when they have recommendations from friends, family and coworkers. 

Placing ad distribution in the proper hands will thereby help our economy rebuild from the bottom up, as trust is injected back into the system and people start consuming again.  So by giving up power to distribute ads online, companies will gain.  At least the ones that are worthy will.   The others can die a quicker death and quit wasting resources that can be freed for better concerns.

3) Free must be replaced by Free plus Compensated

Free has been a collective disaster.  We obviously cannot move from an industrial economy to a digital economy (which we must do to survive) if there can be no transfer of digital goods and services for money.  That’s what an economy is.

4) Everybody must have a Place at the Digital Table, despite their Talents and Geography

Let’s face it, when it comes to making a living, the Internet has so far mostly benefitted left-brained people and has too often devastated right-brain people.  While geeks’ opportunities and incomes have exploded, creators like reporters, photographers, cartoonists and other writers and artists have lost their jobs and incomes.2008-05-01

Trade in digital goods and services holds the promise of allowing great numbers of people all over the world to make a living without raping the environment, but this can happen only if doors are opened to allow in all skills and talents, not just coding ability.

5) Google’s Domination is Unhealthy and Potentially Treacherous

Yeah, I don’t like Google.  Their hegemony rivals that of ancient Rome.  The good news is that Google is much more vulnerable than people think.  Their lion’s share of online ad revenue won’t last once the above four tenets are inevitably manifested.  The only unknown is exactly how long it will take.

If you want more details about any of these, I suggest you check out my archive.  You can also subscribe to my feed.

I hope you will stick around and give me your input.  I appreciate your comments and welcome discussion about how best to spur the Internet towards its natural destiny, for everybody’s benefit.

Friend Limit Frustration Exposes Tech World’s Weakness in Social Science

February 15, 2009

Debate about friend limits has once again erupted, this time started by Louis Gray on FriendFeed. 

This is yet another great example of the problems that have been caused because social networks are created by tech guys who know little to nothing about social science.

Out of all the different social networks that have been launched, not a single one is architected to the way human beings naturally function. 

Here’s a tip guys: divide online space the way we all divide our offline space, into Intimate, Private, Social and Public. 

This hell-bent desire to dump sales and promotional activity into SOCIAL space is exactly why none of the current social networks will make it to the IPO finish line.  Advertising and PR should be a part of PUBLIC space.  Obviously, Facebook et al don’t know the difference.

Of course, I’ve been saying this for over two years to Robert Scoble and other thought leaders in the tech world, even to the creators of Twitter and FriendFeed directly, but nobody has yet aligned social networks to the realites of social science.  Design anthropology isn’t something Silicon Valley has shown any willingness to even listen to, much less submit to, much less invest in.   So I won’t hold my breath that these frustrated arguments caused by anti-human-nature design will cease any time soon.