I’ve been avoiding to blog for a while due to being in the middle of building a house but Holden Page influenced me to write this piece. No he doesn’t have a higher Klout score than I, nor is he as valuable as I am in Empire Avenue but I do hold a lot of respect for Holden as a friend and peer of the Internets. I met Holden many years ago literally before he had any social media influence, I just happen to find him when he had some Windows Mobile questions on Twitter and I responded with answers. Holden has recently written a few pieces about influence tools on the net and how you should not care about them. I mentioned the little story of me meeting Holden into this because at the time he would have had a Klout score of something like 15 if Klout would have existed back then. Though I agree that these systems are by no way perfect, I wanted to share my personal view of them.

I like Klout and use it often. I like seeing a quick view of a person, what they like and what style Klout puts them in. I also respect the number system and algorithm that they have put in place. Does it influence who I follow and who I don’t, that answer is somewhat complex but I’ll say sometimes. Klout is a tool, like any tool you need to understand what the tool is good for and what it is not designed to be. Klout tries to determine a person’s style, what they talk about, who they talk to and their response rate and potential audience width is. All of this comes up to a general score which is what many refer to one’s influence score.

The downside of Klout is that it can be gamed whether consciously or subconsciously. Numbers are motivating factors to do better and we see that evidence throughout the internet and in business. I’m a strong believer in building your Personal Brand but systems like Klout can make you run your brand much more like a company than a person. What I mean by that is that it scores your conversion ratio no different than how you measure sales effectiveness. To increase the number of sales there are a couple of things you could do. Firstly, you could increase your conversion ratio by improving your sales page, reducing your prices, improving your product, etc. Alternatively, you could work the numbers game and increase your traffic – you already know that 500 visitors will give you five sales/conversions so if you can get 1000 visitors to your site, you should generate ten sales/conversions (assuming that the quality of the traffic is equal to or better than that which you are already receiving).

Sales is always a numbers game as long as you have developed the skills to compete. But sales don’t equal the best product, nor does a high Klout score. Some high scorers are because they are celebrity or very well known to an wide enough niche-audience. Others literally add keywords that are known to be widely searched or retweeted such as FREE or Lists of something. Some pump out a lot of volume and follow everyone in hopes for auto-followers. It is a numbers game in that the more you do, the closer you get to the “gold ring”. The point of this article is to be honest that if your really are in it for winning the game and not so much on being you, like any other marketing, it takes a lot of work to properly tweak a campaign for maximum effectiveness.

But the other issue I have with these systems is that they measure a rather one dimension of a person. They measure the relentless hours spent on social networking but not the physical stuff like your score of value at meet-ups, at work and in life in general. The also are general to a generic audience and not really to the relevancy of the person looking at your score.

I think EVERYTHING is a numbers game but i like to think of my brand of me to be a little more personal. The product quality of you and the people you follow should be under authentic product creation and not just Internet marketing tricks. People should not strive to be “SEO friendly” just to be indexed higher in a scoring system. Influence is really about people and changing the behavior of people. In general, we don’t want to change the behavior of people, we want to help each other or collaborate in some way by sharing information that hopefully isn’t wasting anyone’s time. ANYONE can be that person even if they have nothing that measures their Klout well. It is great to belong to a social circle where people can support one another and in this great world of digital collaboration, we are there for one another.

Your personal brand is only a numbers game if you allow it to be…keep you real, don’t get too caught up in the game where your brand has now been severely influenced and altered by just an algorithmic scoring game. I personally want to provide people a quality, accurate, and real opinion of me and my interests which at this moment equates to a Klout score of 61 somehow. You don’t need a million followers or a Klout score of 99 to justify your value online, just be you while I’ll be me and hopefully we will get to know each other better without needing a system to influence the opportunity.

We all know that meetings are expensive. In fact, one of the most expensive things a business does. But that expense goes well beyond the actual meeting itself. One-hour meetings, many of us have them all the time while at work but their not really just 1 hour of time taken away. If you have 8 people in that meeting, it’s really an 8 hour meeting as you’ve taken up 8 hours of productivity within that hour. But that’s only a fraction of the true cost of that meeting. Usually, some members need to prepare for that meeting but there’s a much more costly piece to the equation.

I’m mostly talking about weekly or recurring meetings. There’s certainly an importance to team and project status meetings but we must be careful of what they are for and why you are having them. How many people have had that one hour a week same time meeting where an agenda is passed out and we go through the items one by one? And then people get assigned some deliverables for the next meeting. You see, not only is it easy to get into the trap of having meetings just to have meetings but we also fall into the trap of letting meetings become tollgates.

Tollgates are a certainly good thing but a weekly or worse a monthly meeting shouldn’t be the primary tool for defining the delivery of deliverables. What this does is time box things that could be done in a day into something that is delivered in 5 or more days. This doesn’t sound like a big deal except it compounds over the course of months and years. Meetings begin to slow us down like running in mud.

Then there is the other problem, trying to set up a meeting time that is good for all parties. You know the meeting, the one you had to push out for weeks due to everyone’s schedule. You’ve just created a mountain of stagnation for weeks! Human nature wants everyone to be physically together at least virtually on the phone but really challenge that impulse unless it really needs people together at a specific moment.

The worst are the meetings where a ton of people are involved to discuss a problem that in actuallity costs less than the attendees in the meeting. Know the scope of the meeting’s impact based on the scope of the issue. Discuss issues like these over lunch or a few one-on-ones. Don’t slow down everyone on small issues.

The number one reason for business travel today is still meetings. Face to face interaction is surely important at times but try to do them sparingly. Travel is good to introduce new people, project kickoffs and every once in a while team building and workshops but not much more. It keeps your costs down plus it reduces a lot of dead time such as going through airports and finding the right date for all to travel.

It’s also a huge myth that you need everyone at every meeting, it’s a huge mistake leaders make by “trying to include everybody” all the time. Don’t do your team any favors, chances are they would rather be at their desk working on whatever project they are working anyway. Let them get to it and stay at it.

Many of these situations are where a communication tool should shine. Pick your poison of the tool whether it be email, a portal or something more “2.0ish” but pick one and use it universally. Make it clear that this is the primary communication tool and make everyone accountable to keeping up with it. The other key point is that the activity is recorded and can be referred to later as opposed to each person’s version of notes (or lack of). Far too often, people will schedule a meeting for a purpose that could just as easily be handled electronically or in a drop-by conversation. Have meetings when things appear to be misunderstood or out of sync but also address the people who aren’t reading the information if you see a trend.

Yes, I know some are concerned about how we are moving farther and farther away from real, face-to-face, human interaction. How we send emails and IMs rather than a phone call instead of meetings around a table over a cup of coffee. I get it, I really do, but understand how much meetings are slowing your team or company down on the core objectives. Social tools have proven that you can grow and improve a group’s working relationship and efficiency without much face-to-face time.

Most meetings are very expensive when you think about the potential productivity lost or diverted. I’m not saying that all meetings are bad as there is always going to be a need for time to sync up or brainstorm. Meetings certainly form an essential part of the communication process. If you need a meeting, it’s probably best to schedule it early or late in the work day so you have the best chance of not interrupting anyone’s workflow. But really think about whether you need a meeting or can a social communication tool tackle the job. Don’t let your meetings create a pace that allow your competition to run past you.

No this is not a pun on Apple, it has been an idea I’ve had for quite some time and actually one of the first articles I wanted to write about when this blog began. There are so many limitations of where mobile is today. I’m not going to discount all the incredible work that has been done with Smartphones, they certainly have become the lifeblood of how many people function on a daily basis. But Smartphones evolved from tradition cell phones, which evolved from home phones. We’ve chosen form factors that feel like something we have known for decades. Sure the Candy Bar Style of phone doesn’t exactly look like your phone that you had at home as a child but the evolutionary path of Smartphones of today basically merged PDAs and Cell Phones when Handspring stuck a VisorPhone Module on top of a PalmPilot. Not much has really evolved from an external design point beyond that, just more polished (sorry Apple).

However, in the last year or so, things outside of the SmartPhone have evolved. People are using Tablets and needing ‘always on’ access to Notebooks. Though there is more WiFi than ever before, its never there when you really need it so we move to our SmartPhones at that point. A small few use their phones to “Tether” and some have bought MiFi devices. New laws have also come into play where you are required to use hands-free devices while driving.

So Where Am I Going With This?

I think we are at a time or very close to a time to reverse what we call the “mobile phone”. The cell antenna, Bluetooth, RFID and WiFi should all be driven by the Bluetooth headset and be your communication hub. I know this sounds radical to some and some people think that I have lost it but I’ll explain why we should be on the cusp of major mobile change.

  • The components have gotten small enough to do this. We could not have done this 10 years ago.
  • This frees our mobile cellular connection from the screen. The carriers will hate this but you finally will be able to have one device drive all of your voice/data and share it among all of your devices.
  • The only time that you will need a cellular upgrade would be for new, faster speeds and major communication spec changes.
  • One day you can carry an iPod Touch, the next day an Android Tablet, the weekend just you Bluetooth Headset. It frees you from being locked into the need of a one size fits all device environment. SIM Cards were suppose to allow us to do this but never really fulfilled the promise. And CDMA never had an option.
  • This also means any PDA device can work on any carrier so iPod Touches could be used on Verizon and so on.
  • Few people will carry multiple devices today but the iPad, Kindle and netbooks have entered enough mainstream to begin changing that. I’ve lived the days of a bunch of devices on my toolbelt, this could eliminate that.
  • Don’t think of today’s Bluetooth headsets being the same as the ones I’m talking about tomorrow. Voice technology is vastly improving and many things could be cloud-driven and collected without the need of a screen or full mobile OS. Carriers could be tracking location while apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude could make use of the Carrier’s API to that data. Alerting triggers can be filtered in the cloud.  This would significantly reduce the overhead of multiple apps collecting the same thing which heavily drains battery.
  • Think of form-factors of devices sensor-driven such as the FitBit that can also track all of your Activity and Sleep Patterns
  • RFID Tags sensors in your cars, in stores and even in rooms of your house that can create very low powered scenarios in a small radius that can do adaptive things such adjust lights and temperature based on presence too small for things such as GPS to recognize. Check-ins can occur once you enter a door.
  • The headset will always be with you, something that we are suppose to have with us in the car but usually don’t
  • Do you really need a full screen at all times? Really? Didn’t you think the same about a physical keyboard?
  • Decoupling Communication could technically move screens to glasses
  • It allows for new ways to evolve mobile. This big Candy Bar is holding us back in ways we don’t even know yet. Size does matter!

We’re still clearly at the beginning of this evolution and we may still be years away but it takes bold leaps of change to avoid ending up in the same place as what has come before. If you had this smaller device, your ‘new normal’ may no longer be a pocketable device, maybe it will but it allows for new growth of many form factors  and choice. We need to release the ‘death grip”.

Since we were kids, we’ve been pretty taught that there is usually a two contrasting party system in place and that you need to pick a side. Whether it’s the perceived concept of good versus evil, rooting for the local sports team, being picked for a team or political party (in the US); we’ve been trained that we must choose a side. Sometimes we pick the lesser of two evils do to not liking one choice for whatever reason, the anybody but the Yankees mantra. Somehow human nature made this rule up, rarely can your view be anything in between black & white unless the subject isn’t important to you. If you’re neutral, many consider that as a sign that you don’t know enough information to make a decision. But why is that?

I bring this topic up because I along with many others on social networks see and somehow get passionately involved in these debates every day. I believe as human beings, we are naturally led by our emotions and rivalries trigger those feelings. Debates are of course discussions over opposing views. Does there have to be a best Smartphone or OS? Does there have to be a Twitter vs Facebook debate? Gowalla vs Foursquare? Star Wars vs Star Trek , etc. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a view on any of these things but why do we feel so passionate that there is only one right answer and it’s ours?

In many cases, there is no right or wrong answer but it seems that everybody has it. The answer you have is the answer for you and I’m sure that you have good reasons for your position on whatever subject. I think it’s healthy to discuss and debate these things and perhaps share a piece of information that perhaps they did not know. You can say that you are trying to influence your position and help that’s position’s momentum. But we all need to realize that trying to influence someone who has a strong opposing view on the debate is highly unlikely to change that person’s position. Yes, we will take cheap shots at the other side when problems or signs of weakness arise and perhaps the bias has blinded the person from establishing a well-balanced conclusion but we believe in what we want to believe which is very difficult to change. But in many ways even two opposing views still brings us together as a community,  a ying needs a yang to complete the circle and add balance.

Call us fanboys but just be thankful that we have choice in this world and let others choose the other team. The word Choice seems to be overused in certain topics as of late however it is really one of the greatest gifts we have. We should embrace choice and diversity, the goal is not to influence a person to see things our way but to know that multiple solutions exist because of different types of people and needs. Competition and rivalry fosters passionate innovation in multiple directions which is good for everyone!

The past few weeks have had a lot of news that are about “the future of TV”. Everyone is apparently moving into this space at a rapid pace. The past few weeks major players such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and TiVo have made new product announcements. I think most people reading this knows about the Google and Apple TV news, those are huge topics on their own. Microsoft’s didn’t get much press to the mainstream that they will now have Media Center ‘Headless Appliances’. Maybe you may not have heard about TiVo’s somewhat similar plan. A theme has certainly been solutions without any local disk. The problem I have with TiVo’s approach to this is that they will create market confusion and in many ways it’s their own fault.

TiVo has a branding issue, A HUGE ONE!: Because they were pretty much the pioneer and leader in the space, the word “TiVo” means “DVR” to the mass audience. I mean really, DVR is literally synonymous with TiVo. Having an TiVo-branded, Insignia TV using the “latest TiVo non-DVR software” is just going to cause a huge mess for Best Buy. I’m not going to know Best Buy but their majority consumers and staff are normally not the best educated on their products.

A Quickly Crowded Space: Can TiVo really come out on top of the names of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple (not mention Boxee, Roku, PopcornHour, etc) in an all out war of merging TV and the Cloud? And TiVo’s 3rd Party Cloud Apps are rather sparse and a bit dated compared to what Google could bring from Android. I know TiVo is facing some financial issues with 5 straight quarterly losses but I’m not convinced that this is the best strategy to improve that situation. In fact, I think its a distraction that will prevent them to focus where they need to.

Cable/Satellite Industry Boxes: Steve Jobs said the other day, “nobody’s willing to buy a set-top box” because cable operators “give everybody a set-top box for free, or for $10 a month”. But this is exactly why putting the UI into the TV is going to fail too. Unless the Cable/Satellite industry gives up control of that core box (ROFL) and replace it with a CableCard/Tru2Way alternative, putting a UI inside the TV’s core features will struggle just as much as another set top box. Why?

Remote Controls: There’s not much detail on what this TV’s configuration will look like but it’s either going to require a CableCard or IR Blasters. I’m assuming it will come with a TiVo QWERTY remote but will it be Universal? If they have a BluRay or DVD Player, A/V Receiver, etc then they will more likely use the Universal Remote which means a built-in TV UI will most likely now be used, at least not it’s full potential.

Local storage Is Nice: Sure I think Cloud TV or IPTV is the future but I like to queue and store shows, not just for the sake of storing but also to eliminate bandwidth constraints and lags. Most of the videos I watch online on a TV, I store locally first to have a seamless watching, pausing and rewinding experience. This can be done on a TiVo today for selected Podcasts, I’m not sure about this Insignia solution yet.

Revenue Concerns: I sure hope TiVo doesn’t try to generate monthly fees and/or a “TiVo Basic” Tier. Those days are behind us and this economy is not going to help TiVo generate revenue in that way. I still own and use two TiVo Series 2s with Lifetime Subscriptions on them because I can’t justify the upgrades when I also have a Windows Media Center/Boxee/Hulu machine to handle HD and much more.

All-In-One TV Lock-ins: Lastly, I (and many others) don’t like all the things being built into TV’s. People don’t want to by a new TV every 3 years, it’s a longer term investment. The industry is trying to push things like Widgets and 3D Technology to spark consumer spending to replace a 1080p TV they fairly recently bought. I would rather have all that stuff in a seperate box. That way if something goes wrong it is easier & cheaper to repair/replace. Keep the TV a TV and let us decide what options we want with a seperate box.

There’s no doubt the Internet-connected TV is an idea that’s finally ripe for consumer adoption, I’m just afraid that TiVo’s newest strategy is 3-Thumbs Down though with the other options out there.

A TiVo Suggestion (Again)

Back in February of 2006 I wrote about a crazy concept for TiVo: I suggested that the Palm OS could have been embedded into TiVo units based on how the Treo 5-Way Rocker for navigation was much like the TiVo Remote’s design. This suggestion was mostly do to the frustrations with TiVo’s APIs (still a frustration BTW) but let’s flash-forward to today.

First I want to say that TiVo has a great product for your basic needs of a DVR and has some great extras that many DVRs lack. However, HTPCs and many newer devices that connect to internet services has made the TiVo feel a bit dated in features. I use to watch Video Podcasts on my TiVo (moved to a HTPC) and still rent a Movie through Amazon to TiVo but I’ve had a thirst for more from this company for well over 4 years now. I don’t want to see TiVo go away but they need to reinvent themselves as something special and new.

Fast forward to today. I still think that TiVo has one of the easiest forms of UI navigation for DVRs, it’s design works much better than things such as Boxee and Roku. I still believe my concept of Palm OS integration would have been a perfect fit for the time but now they can take that same concept and use either Android along with the Google TV concepts or even look to partner with Apple and bring the iPhone OS to the TiVo Platform for unlimited application expandability. A TiVo/Apple partnership could really be a win-win. Granted many of today’s apps will have more navigation challenges that didn’t exist with the Palm OS or Windows Mobile that used 5-Way Rockers more but it gives developers a new way to help reinvent TiVo. As I said in 2006, it can turn TiVo and your TV into a Personal Information Center. TVs are no longer just about sitcoms, they are a 10 ft interface that can give us unlimited information from a remote control if done right.

David Weinberger & Dave Winer discussed this weekend “What if Zuck invented the web?”.

The hypothetical “what-if” of one different person creating one event is really hard to see the rippled changes in the future. But let’s have some fun. If you’ve watched Hot Tub Time Machine, it illustrates that one person can change the future if they knew how to change the future for their benefit. This story is a bit lengthy but I really hope you enjoy the wild journey and ending, I had fun making it up.

Would Zuckerberg have seen the birth of the World Wide Web as something that he would have had the drive to build? In hindsight of course but without the knowledge of the future, I just don’t see Mark being “that guy”. The concept of creating hypertext data and using TCP with the help of DNS for addressing to transmit to rendering tools for viewing systems is not something I’d see him coming up with. But let’s suppose he did and let’s suppose he worked for CERN.


Zuckerberg would most likely have designed a core centralized system that all data from TCP would have gone through with nodes (think Twitter with 3rd Party Clients being Nodes). Those nodes would expand all around the world but there would always have been a core that acts as an intermediary for requests to go through. That core would have acted as a HTTP proxy to allow two nodes (the server and the browser/server) to transport the hypertext data. This core would have had the ability to collect, categorize and store transactions and the hypertext data stream. He even created a way to encrypt the stream to ease the concern called Domain Front-end Security (DFS) which acted as a Public-Private key type system. Essentially it had full control of the World Wide Web.


He decides that he needs to monetize HTML/HTTP somehow. By this time, Search Engines have become major start pages. He comes up with a plan and decides to create his own search engine and firewall these other Search Engine nodes claiming that they are scrapping information and datamining is no longer allowed unless they pay WWW Credits.


Sites which connect people Socially begin to form and they begin to really become the new Internet. Zuckerberg’s Search Engine is becoming less relevant but he still collecting incredible amounts of metadata within the hypertext between the various nodes, he starts to build an Identity Store which also creates relationships. Zuckerberg goes further to add the need for WWW Credits to any nodes that are making money through the HTML/HTTP services. The centralized design allows him without much alternative to collect 30% of money following on the Net.


Zuckerberg is challenged do something new to transform his amazing revenue-generating creation. So he decides to embed new information within the hypertext being transmitted without giving much notice. In the newly embedded information contains information about the author and the viewer’s past and the two nodes that exposes lots of good information to add value to all parties because it is assumed that it is what everybody wants. People begin to notice a very different World Wide Web, their interests and information throughout all of the years suddenly become merged between all sites and others can see it. People freak out but have little control, the data has already been stored and seen. Some decide to live an off-line life.

Some college students come up with their own idea to replace Mark Zuckerberg’s World Wide Web. The word gets out about this concept and many people love the concept. They donate a lot more money than the students are looking for. The concept turns into reality and becomes the World Direct Nodes (WDN) which skips the centralized core proxy and allows Nodes to connect directly. A new smaller Web is born, some people use it but Zuckerberg’s momentum of size and tight control of existing nodes makes it very difficult for this WDN to go mainstream. It’s simply too late because we all allowed this form of the future to happen.


Over time the concerns quiet down but human behavior has changed. People become much more Open in some respects but become much more reserved with items only a handful of people should know about. People resort to other somewhat more private protocols such as SMTP and WDN to communicate to close friends. Now when someone watches a movie on Netflix, Pandora and iTunes will know that and will suggest the Soundtrack while the “actor” (bot) will pretend to want to be your friend. When someone goes to a restaurant, their cell phone notifies a waiter that they are their and that they have complained about the service in the past and Blippy tells him that they usually spend a very low amount at this location. The waiter doesn’t bother to give them great service and spits in their food. That customer doesn’t really know transpired except they had gotten bad service again. People are relatively happy with how information is shared.


More profits were needed to be made for the Shareholders of Zuck’s Internet. The Internet is “free” now with a Global Wireless WiFi system. Mark Zuckerberg decides that people have adapted to an “open web” so well that he decides to expand the idea. He decides to release data that was secured in transactions using his DFS encrypted system (you see, his private key system that everyone is using has a backdoor in the Centralized Proxy Farm and yes DFS stands for something else he said years back in an IM). Now any individual item you buy, any bank transaction, any move you make with your cell phone, your Net Worth, anything “securely transmitted” is exposed to public consumption. Through Augmented Reality, we know everything about everyone by just pointing our phones at each other. A reputation management system determines if a company should hire people, no interviews required. Your date on Friday already knows all the names and activities you have had with past relationships. Cameras are everywhere and anyone can access the public ones and for a fee, the private ones. The government and companies will be watching us, but we’ll also be watching them. Nobody can hide their true selves. Our Digital Life and every action make up our historic DNA. Is this good or bad, you decide…

Back to Real Life:
We’re almost already here and if it wasn’t Facebook’s recent changes, someone else would have taken the bold next step. Video cameras track you in stores and are also cropping up in many public places. Point of Sale systems and Credit cards already record of what you buy, credit-rating agencies know if payments are late. Web sites record your browsing preferences. Insurance companies store your medical data on computers, which can be hacked. Wiretapping phones, legal and otherwise, is on the rise. Many people find this trend alarming, and they should. But privacy between people only gives us a false sense of privacy, someone has your information and a lot more than you think. Why not just make it public and not give companies or government any advantage of power. The next step may force them to be less private (though doubtful).

Science-fiction writer David Brin, argues that in a more perfect world, privacy might matter less than we think. Many others assert exactly the opposite: that privacy is critical to our way of life. I can’t tell you if this is a good thing, society and companies will do that for you if you have no opinion of your own. But each of us carry a critical role of trying to error-correct cyberspace.

As always, Louis Gray very eloquently said tonight “It’s Time to Stand for Something Better (Again)“. Things have gotten a little vicious as of late because some very sensitive issues have arise and I admit I’ve been caught up in the emotions. Yes at some point the mob needs to die, I’m not sure if we are there yet but it’s always good to reflect on your role in the picture. The sad thing is, we’re not talking about technology these days, we’re talking about philosophies, politics and religion of technology companies and their users. Now these are all important things to talk & debate about but they do tend to lean towards the negative writings after a while and mud gets thrown very heavy from all sides. We’ve essentially have become “The Tech Baggers” (Hey, Tech people drink coffee not Tea), not something I’m proud of when you put it into that type of perspective.

But we really want to be talking about technology and it’s better future. The issues we are talking about today really do define the tomorrow. But we need to be reminded sometimes that it should really be done with respect and civil. That of course goes in hand with respect over breaking news first. There are lines that should not be crossed even if you have something to prematurely break.

An Echo Filter and Ranker

But finally, I did want to touch upon “the echo effect”. We all want to say our piece on current topics and honestly, there isn’t that much news on a daily basis. Yet every day I easily have 1500 new RSS feed entries which has a lot of overlap. Some of this issue is too many voices but this is something that I know technology can fix for us. We need ways to reduce the Echos to our individual eyes. Between Feeds, RTs, Shares and Ranking Systems there needs to be a way that you can group topics and echos together while choosing to expand the grouping out if you really want to read every article. I kind of want Robert Scoble’s curation dream or at least the early building block of that system. This isn’t Lazyfeed or anything that exists today that I am aware of, this is something like Google Reader and Seesmic with much smarter ways of auto-grouping topics with sub-topics and knowing which ones give me all the news information I need at the top and which ones are opinion. AND it gets smarter by the reader’s actions understanding what and who the reader feels gives them the most signal. If I subscribe to an RSS feed, remove those RTs of who I’m following and use those as ranking Likes instead. I don’t know what this fully looks like and I know this is no easy task but it’s needed badly.

I think the world needs a break from FB-related posts and though this still somewhat touches the subject, Kickstarter really had significant news this week due to Diaspora and have been mostly an Unsung Hero in the process. Something that’s not really being said is this week has proven that Crowdfunding can work if you have a killer idea and the proper marketing awareness around that great idea. But what it also told me is that despite popular belief, people are willing to pay for social networks and web applications. There may even be a business model hidden in here have your community fund you early or before they join and then crowdfund future features. Personally, I would prefer this over monthly recurring payments. The Kickstarter.com platform is really the key here which I had the pleasure of hearing other success stories at SXSW.

There are groups of people that have been classified as Freediots or Freetards because they want everything to be free. I could be wrong but I believe some of those people may have donated to Diaspora this week. On the opposite spectrum, even Fred Wilson donated money which isn’t very surprising but always a good sign when VC people support the idea with no strings attached.

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Fred Wilson

@fredwilson: I just funded this project on Kickstarter - Decentralize the web with Diaspora: http://kck.st/9QC2zk

May 13, 2010 @ 12:42 AM from web Powered by Tweeted

Was all of this due to getting caught up in the anti-Facebook movement and timing? Yes a lot of it was due to perfect timing but it still showed me something I’ve never seen before, a lot of money was given to 4 college students who have a vision and a dream which obviously a rather large group share even for this moment. The team was only looking for ten thousand dollars, they now have over $130,000 with another 2 weeks of funding to go. Again, a huge shock to me as many people could have easily decided that Diaspora clearly met their goal and not bothering to contribute at that point. Not to put any extra pressure on the Diaspora team but they now have a spotlight on them to deliver something big. If they remotely meet people’s expectations, I can assure you that you’ll see many other projects come to life via the same route.

People will pay for stuff. They will always look for the best deal, and yes that usually is free with it comes to apps online or on a phone, but you need to create something people want that nobody else is doing cheaper. People like to buy things that give them emotional satisfaction. We pay for iPads, Internet Access, Music/Entertainment, Souvenirs, etc. We pay money to travel to visit family and friends , see new places or just relax on a beach/ski trip. Shopping or Contributing is a very emotional transaction, it’s imagining owning or wearing or using something that’s “just the right thing” for us. In Diaspora’s case, privacy and control are features that people think are worth the value.

So words for thought, people will pay money for things that give them emotional satisfaction, especially those things that involve interacting with others or have a high emotion content or strokes their egos. Figure out your idea, figure out how to get some early media coverage and then use something like Kickstarter to plant the seeds of yours and other people’s dreams.

Michael Arrington yesterday wrote a piece on Kevin Rose and how the users of Digg.com and listening to their constant opinions on things was a problem. Mike goes on to say that products should be a dictatorship, not consensus driven. Michael says Digg or any company should never back down and listen to their users. I was not agreeing with him while I read this as this read very anti-Web 2.0 and he even hints that its Apple’s model but it’s Michael’s view. Fine, but then I read this line, “The point is Facebook knows what you want and is willing to street fight you in order to give it to you” following that statement as the reason why a half of population of the internet goes there and my blood began to boil.

Michael, with all due respect, these two things are not related in this case until you can show me that significant active growth has happened after the recent changes. I will not argue that Apple has had great success going anti-Web 2.0, very closed-source and controlling but Apple’s products aren’t “directly tied” to social networking or Web 2.0. I will also give Steve Jobs the credit to say that he would treat Privacy almost the opposite of how Facebook does. I almost see padlocks on the Apple Logo now just writing this.

But as Michael switched gears at this point of his writing so will I and look at the Character of both core CEOs mentioned in the article, Kevin Rose and Mark Zuckerberg because it’s an interesting comparison. Both actually on paper would sound very much alike (College Drop Outs, Young, Partiers, Entrepreneurs, good replacements for the Dude Getting a Dell, well a Mac for Kevin but you get the point). But it pains me to even remotely compare these two people because they are so different in philosophies and how they approach business and their audience.

Kevin Rose is a Rock Star when it comes to the Tech/Geek community, that has a lot to do with him being on TechTV’s Screen Savers and the many things that Kevin has done since those days (Digg, Diggnation, Revision3, Pownce, WeFollow, etc). But Kevin knew back in the early days at Digg that being CEO at that time wasn’t for him and his calling was to be Chief Architect of Digg in which he called his friend Jay Adelson for the CEO role.

Digg and Jay of course  recently parted ways, I even had a piece written about the event before it happened called “The Most Dramatic Kevin Rose Ceremony Ever” speculating on why this was going to happen (I felt it in my gut at SXSW and drafted in Austin) but chose not publish. When the news broke, I recall a few news events briefly talking about the concerns of Kevin’s new role but the one that sticks out the most was a Molly Wood video joking about “this guy” becoming CEO which some Diggnation clips of Kevin and Alex beer chugging. Yes, Kevin has a personal brand that some would question of being “CEO-caliber” but I have no doubt that Kevin is more than capable of handling the role. He hasn’t just been lucky once and Kevin is much more than what you see on camera. In the recent months, Digg/Kevin have made some significant changes that some would say are back-peddling but sometimes your strategy and approach need to be re-evaluated. Every good Architect or Project Manager will tell you that Project Review is one of the most important phases of a project. Is Digg ever going to get to a “Mainstream Site” status? Doubtful unless Kevin and team can do something very transformational (I have thoughts on this) but to me the customer of your product is much more important than going against the grain of your community even for money reasons. These service are “free” but that doesn’t mean you can disrespect your peeps. So Kevin has a very well respected image despite being very free spirited and not what someone may think as a typical CEO and it still is interim.

This brings me to Mark Zuckerberg. I’ve never met Mark, yes I have an outsider’s bias but I know many people who have either casually and who have worked with him professionally. Mr. Zuckerberg is one of those people that has all the talent in the world but has an arrogant-punk attitude like the kids that hang out in malls. Very few names can I type into Google and dickipedia.org comes up on the first page of results. We all know about his first business cards for Facebook and today we learned about some early IMs. Most of you reading this know many of his other events. Earlier today I tweeted:

Twitter Avatar


Mark Nielsen

@manielse: Easiest way to rebuild Trust for FB: It won’t happen but the best move for Trust being rebuilt is for Zuckerberg to step down from CEO.

May 13, 2010 @ 07:24 PM from web Powered by Tweeted
The point is, I have no idea what was said in today’s All-Hands Meeting but Mark Zuckerberg being the CEO of Facebook is becoming a major problem. And I believe he will be the biggest obstacle for Facebook to regain the recent Trust lost of privacy concerns and respect to users.

Michael Arrington, the debate is still out on whether you should listen to your customers and you are hardly not the only person who has said that. Little customer voices usually never get what they want but we should never give up voicing our concerns. Facebook is loosing support from many influencers that don’t have vested interest in developing for Facebook. But Facebook has a huge image issue right now and the irony about the Privacy Topic now is that Mark Zuckerberg’s public image including private data is part of the problem that will prevent any significant recovery at this point in many Dumb F**ks, I mean customer’s minds.

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