Social Hacks


Ok, I agree with Loren Feldman about Seesmic. I followed a link from Twitter to some guy’s rant about social hacks. The title was irresistible. It drove me to register on Seesmic with the key I got from Rafe. What I found was an articulate rant, but I couldn’t leave a text comment! Damn. Let me leave a text comment please! I don’t want to brush my teeth, comb my hair, or fire up the lights. I just want to comment. The need to comment on Eric’s vid is why I wrote this post.

Eric Rice caught my attention because he used two of my favorite words in sequence, social and hack. Eric suggests that profiles can be set up that are not real people. As if this does not go on right now? Come on. Still, he had an important vidpost:

There are two threads of thought I’d like to share. One is humanity’s penchant for fantasy and the other is a reminder that the Turing Test hasn’t been passed by silicon…yet.

Marc Canter advocates that social networks allow multiple personas. The profile you show from 9 to 5 may be different than the one you show from midnight to 3. The details have yet to be worked out, but Marc’s idea conforms well with human nature. We present ourselves situationally in real life. Static profiles aren’t flexible enough.

Alan Turing’s test has not been passed by any bit of code that I know about yet. Bots in chat rooms are easily spotted and fake profiles are easily discovered. If you’re spending so much time online that you can’t distinguish people from proxies, it’s time to jack out and take a vacation.


The Open Social Web


The Social Computing panel at Office 2.0 failed to deliver on the premise of exploring the impact of Social Computing on the Enterprise. I was planning on ducking out when John McCrea of Plaxo started talking about the Open Social Web. The topic was far more important than any of the other panel blather.

John said “What I’m seeing reminds me now of a very exciting time in 1994, when the web emerged. We could see how the web would change the enterprise. What we’re seeing now is the impact of the social web. It’s not just interesting and fun. It’s something fundamental and important. It needs to be as open as the web.”

Users of social networking platforms are familiar with some of the symptoms of the walled gardens we inhabit. I’ll call it the Hotel California syndrome; your data goes in, but never checks out. All those photos on Flickr? Fergitaboutit, there’s no easy batch export. Tired of filling out yet another profile? That information is rarely portable. Same with your list of friends and contacts. In all too many cases, they can’t be easily transferred to your next social network.

That’s why the current set of social networks will never realize their full potential unless they become open. After all, Reed’s Law states that the utility of social networks increases exponentially when subgroups are able to connect. Today, that kind of connectivity is poorly served by limited APIs and less than open transport of data in and out of major platforms.

So how important is the Social Open Web? Critically important if we want to maximize the utility and value of all that’s been built so far. I just hope that the economic incentives are powerful enough to erode the garden walls.

Social Cisco

The New York Times reported that Cisco purchased the remaining assets of social networking pioneer That much they got right. Further down they say

“Marc Canter, a former consultant who has created his own social networking firm, People Aggregator, was an early supporter of OpenID. “Humans are migratory beasts, and we do not want to re-enter our data every time we join a new site,” he said. “Users own their data and should be able to move it around freely.”

That’s been Marc’s mantra for years. I’m glad he’s finally being heard. On the other hand, they garbled PeopleAggregator and called it the name of his company. You’d think they’d get their facts straight. They’re the professionals, after all.

Legitimizing Enterprise 2.0

IBM announced yesterday that they will release a set of social networking tools called Lotus Connections. “MySpace in a box” for the enterprise. This validates the market in a way that only IBM can. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM…

It’s also incredibly good news for Marc Canter. The burden of education and market preparation has been lifted from his shoulders. Here’s his take on it.

The Half Century Marc

Master of Ceremonies and birthday boy

Some ignore birthdays as a way of denying the inevitable passing of time. Others embrace it and create a memorable event. Marc Canter’s 50th was in the latter category. Interesting people, great conversation, and tasty food capped off by Marc’s slide show. Quite the aggregation.

Many of Marc’s friends showed up and a good time was had by all. I particularly enjoyed meeting Raines Cohen, a legendary figure in Macintosh history. He founded the Berkeley Macintosh User’s Group (BMUG) back in the day.

temps vs piratesRainesfsm.gif

He looked dashing in his pirate hat and brandished a high end bottle of grape juice. Like many pioneers, he’s moved on to new endeavors. This is important stuff and we ought to pay attention.

Digital personas

Ross Mayfield posts a link to Danah Boyd’s interesting research regarding ephemeral online profiles among teens. While creating multiple accounts and profiles is a byproduct of forgotten handles and passwords, the phenomenon also demonstrates that many teens are still searching for an understanding of who they are. Its a time when values, friends, and opinions shift like springtime winds. It doesn’t surprise me that kids may want to try out new personas. See if it fits.

That’s the idea behind multiple personas on platforms like PeopleAggregator. The designers recognize that even adults may wish to have a work persona, a weekend persona, or even a spring break persona. Having only one login to manage multiple personas seems like a step in the right direction.

The business of blogging

I work for a marketing communications company called The Communication Group in San Francisco, CA. When I started there, I was surprised to learn that they didn’t have a blog. To me, the purpose and place of business blogging is obvious. To others, it’s more obscure. My co-workers believe I’ve had several large pitchers of the new Kool Aide. They wonder what purpose a blog serves. Why expend the effort? What if I write something stupid? What if there’s nothing to say? To that I say let’s find out. First hand experience is a great teacher.

Disclaimer: For the past couple of years I’ve been inspired, influenced, and sometimes maddened by some notable folks. To make matters worse, I just finished Scoble and Israel’s Naked Conversations. I put this out there only to provide a point of reference as to which flavor of Kool Aide I’ve been drinking.

First and foremost, Dave Winer. He’s someone I heard about in the mid-80s when he had an innovative software company called Living Videotext. He continues to innovate in big ways. Next is my dear friend Renee Blodgett, as inspiring a character as I’ve ever met. She helped me understand what blogs can do for businesses. Stowe Boyd is noteable as much for his technology insights as for his humanness and “no assholes” philosophy. A cause I can endorse. Batting cleanup is Marc Canter. Marc and I have had an off and on association that has lasted over 20 years. He’s my nomination for comeback entreprenuer of the year.