Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

App.net: changing the face of social networks (possibly…)

 

In just 6 short years twitter has established itself in our lives.  Hashtags on most TV programmes, the @ sign has become ubiquitous and every day celebrities help to extend it’s mainstream audience a little further.

It’s here to stay right?  Well lately there have been rumblings that twitter is losing its way, the increasing restrictions on developers using the API, the disgraceful way in which it sucked up to a major advertiser, deleting a journalist’s account for daring to criticise NBCs coverage of the Olympics, it’s all looking a bit murky.

The problem of course with an ad supported network is that, as we all know, if you’re not paying, you’re the product; a commodity to be bought and sold.  This is something we have always accepted but perhaps in the future we will look back in surprise at our compliance (if you’ve not read it, highly recommend Michael Wolff’s excellent piece on the essential problem with the ad supported model).

Just because it’s the way it’s always been, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

The founders of App.net are daring to do something bold.  In their words they’re building, “a real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers”.  Asking users to commit to paying $50 per year for an account, they’ve raised nearly $300,000 of a $500,000 goal but with 5 days to go until their deadline to raise funding it’s looking questionable whether they’ll get there.

And it’s not just the relationship with the users, App.net will offer much more flexibility (and therefore innovation?) for developers.

I really hope they reach their target.  It’s so easy to plug ourselves into these platforms with no real consideration of the Faustian pact into which we’re entering.  Go join.app.net and let’s find a better way.

*UPDATE: There’s a great piece about app.net just gone up on TNW, which includes a Q&A with founder Dalton Caaldwell

*UPDATE: With 19 hours to go, App.Net have exceeded their target (currently at $600,00), so now it gets interesting.  I also wanted to link to this post by Orian Max, since it explains very well, all the various benefits of a App.Net.

Social media fatigue and tweeting taxi cabs

After coming back from SXSW I was suffering a bit from social media fatigue. Despite deliberately avoiding panels that had social media in any part of the description (always a rehash of the same stuff; the gems at SXSW are in random, bizarre and more pure tech based panels – oh and Clay Shirky), the endless talk about location based services being the next social media landgrab left me feeling a bit, well, bored of it all. Apart from my chat with the lovely James Hart of course ;)

And I’m even more dulled by the never ending “10 ways to demonstrate social media ROI”, “5 ways to build a blog”, “3 ways to skin a cat” blah blah blah.

Then I saw this post by Will McInnes about how taking a break from work, on holiday in the real world, made it even clearer to him how much of a feedback loop the world of social media can be, “Because it has got a bit cluttered and noisy and samey and frankly, a bit overwhelming hasn’t it?” I couldn’t agree more.

But then, just when I was feeling particularly jaded, I had a lovely experience that reminded me of why social media can be hugely enabling. I’ve talked before about the power of social media to build communities but down in London last week I came across a fantastic example. Tweetalondoncab are a collective of London black cab drivers who have got together to offer direct bookings of black cabs via twitter. It’s a great service and one I’d highly recommend. But it’s not the service itself that I wanted to mention, it’s the way in which their use of twitter has helped to build an offline community for the drivers.

My driver was @cabbydavid and he explained how twitter has been fantastic for building a network of like minded friends,”I love it, if it’s 2am and I’m quiet, I just tweet that I’m going to xyz cafe for a cup of tea and I meet up with some of the other cabbies for a chat”. He went on to say that using twitter had expanded his circle of friends and made the whole experience of being a London cab driver, just, well, better. Simple, effective and a reminder that social media doesn’t have to change the world, sometimes it’s enough that it helps us connect with others.

As an aside, we talked briefly about how they could incorporate Foursquare or Gowalla into their services. I’m still pondering this one; tie-ups with cafes, bars? 10% discount offered for cab journeys from various specific check-ins? If anyone has any bright ideas, I know @cabbiescapital would love to hear them.

Oh and I reckon @jackcabnory‘s audioboo election updates will be well worth a listen.

*image Patrick Mayon

What do your lists say about you?

Ever since they were launched, I’ve liked Twitter lists. When I joined Twitter in 2007 it was actually pretty tricky to find people you might want to follow, it was, at times, like looking for a needle in a haystack. Lists can really help newbies to start getting value from Twitter fairly quickly. Services like Listorious allow you to search for lists by topic. And it’s only taken Twitter nearly four years to sort out their own lists, moving from a much hated ‘suggested users lists‘ to a set of suggestions based on interests. But what I find most interesting about lists is what it says about how people categorise you. Jay Baer came up with a neat little tool that allows you to look at the lists you’re on in one easy to browse list. If you then import this into Wordle, hey presto, you have an instant visual representation of how you are perceived.

In honour of my new site, for anyone who has arrived here without knowing me, I thought I’d do my own. It’s pretty accurate and if nothing else, Wordle always make a lovely picture….

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