Category Archives: understanding the technology

Announcing two new blogs

Hello loyal subscribers!

I’m changing tack! To follow my continued interest in creating better communities, better teams and better ways of working together, I’m leaving the social media ocean, which has met many of the needs of individuals but has struggled to build collaboration and dependable communities.

So  as I head into new waters, I’d like to invite you to join me.  The new waters are:

The Sea of Meetings

We all have meetings and I guess we all feel they could be a bit more efficient.  I’m going to be focusing specifically on the structure of meetings: agendas, minutes and actions – helping people to get the meeting, this fundamental unit of team work, right. How can we use web technology to make meetings altogether better and more productive?

The blog for this is http://www.themeetingminutes.com – a web resource for anyone searching for advice on running great meetings. It features my own posts and also guest posts – so if you have a view of meetings that you’d like to share – ping me a mail (toby@pailz.com) – and I’ll send you a brief.

TheMeetingMinutes.com - meeting advice blog

The Big Game River

Games are everywhere, we play them everyday, we just don’t usually call them out as such. Whether it is ‘levelling up’ at work with a promotion or losing points on your driving licence, the mechanics of gameplay are often used.  Over the next few years, as a new generation of workers join the workplace, those brought up with the benefits of game playing, will expect those same benefits when applied to work. Common game benefits such as transparency of how to win (which points make prizes) and visibility of progress and where you stand versus colleagues (leaderboard) will become standard.

I’m launching a blog to track and analyse this change – called ‘Gamification Of Work‘ – do subscribe and keep track on the Game Layer at the top of the world….

And social?

I’m afraid that means the end of blogging at The Social Bazaar – the social layer is built, it is now widely understood, now on to build the game layer…  join me

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Why the unread flag is becoming really important


William Hague responds to my request for information on our Libyan strategy...

Yes, it’s end-of-the-week bug-bear time. Today I’m going to express a slight irritation over the handling of unread flags for social media inboxes by my various smart devices.

Let’s take the example of a simple twitter @ response. In this case one I received from William Hague (good in itself) to a simple question I posed to him about Libya on twitter (‘Why are we there?’) during a demonstration of the power of social media. I saw his response appear on my Blackberry and I retweeted it proudly. That all went well.

However, what is less satisfactory, is that I was also notified about this tweet mention on my android phone (ok so maybe I’m on odd in having two phones) despite already having ‘read’ it on my blackberry. I also was notified when I opened my Ipad by the twitter app that sits on there.

I don’t want to have to read things twice or even three times to flag that I read it. It’s a complete waste of time.

The problem is that the unread / read flag (as so often used by email inboxes) is not shared by the API or is not handled correctly by the various client software.

This isn’t a problem limited to Twitter – I get frustrated having to ‘mark as read’ LinkedIn emails online that I’ve responded to via my phone, via email or on the Ipad, it’s also a problem with Facebook messages and notifications – the Facebook for blackberry app currently shows 23 unread messages yet when I look online I’m all up to date.

It’s a problem that unless addressed is only set to get worse as we get more platforms and more devices – I like the convenience of accessing social messages from various devices but this is an issue I just wish would go away.

So, if you’re implementing a social media platform then please make sure the unread/read flag is part of your messaging API. If you’re implementing a social media client application then make sure you take account of the unread/read flag (thank you Flipboard who are quite good at this!) and you’ll make the information stream a better, less frustrating place to be.

End of bug-bear. Have a great Royal Wedding weekend!

Should social media be reclassified as a weapon?

Software can be a weapon too, as the PGP encryption code once was

 

It’s a strange statement but social media is being used in revolutions across the Middle East and not just to report on what is happening. It’s also part of the cause.

Let’s look at the facts!

  • Mass media, in this case radio, was used effectively in Nazi germany as a propaganda tool. It is a weapon.
  • Software can be a weapon: PGP (an encryption standard) that gave citizens miltary class secure person to person communication ability – was outlawed for export from the USA (see t-shirt above)
  • The Internet itself is military by original design.
  • Social media gives citizens the power of mass media – to be able to publish content with unlimited distribution.
  • Governments across the Middle East are closing down access to social media.
  • So clearly governments see social media as a weapon.

Q.E.D…. Social Media is a Weapon

Rockmelt fails to lift the crowd


RockMelt is a hyped new version of an integrated web browser targeted at a consumer who wants to bring the social web with them wherever they go. Like its always-just-about-failing predecessor, Flock, that made it’s name with neat ways to surf photos in the days before Facebook, the RockMelt browser has added side-bars and plugins which show Twitter and facebook news feeds as you browse the web.

It won’t succeed for two main reasons, and they are not to do with it’s functionality, it’s more fundamental than that:

– firstly modern browsers, like Chrome, now come with sophisticated plugin technology so techies like me can customise their browser to exactly suit them. For instance, I’ve added a password generator tool, GetGlue social bookmarking and OneLogin single sign on to my chrome browser for example. For techies, RockMelt doesn’t provide anything really new, simply a browser already clogged up with add ons that I may or may not choose to use.

And second, this is the sucker punch, is market adoption of new browsers is notoriously tricky – the sort of user that might use a ready-for-social browser like RockMelt has never installed a new browser in their life, in fact there’s a pretty good chance they can’t distinguish between the Internet, the web, google search and Internet explorer. They all do the same thing….. Don’t they?!

So, sorry RockMelt, thanks for playing, but go and write a cool plugin for chrome instead, get a serious early adopter tech following, then maybe Google will buy you in its quest to understand what all the fuss about social is..

Open Graph Explained

Could the web be better? That’s a question we technology people keep asking.
The answer is invariably yes.
For each tech company “better” means something different.
If you’re Google then knowing where you are (“geolocation”) will allow them to give you better search results – “Pizza” for example brings you your local Pizza shop rather than Domino’s in San Francisco.

The Open Graph uses Facebook to connect you to more than just people

If you’re Apple then a better form factor to view web pages might help – so they bring us the Ipad.
And if you’re Facebook then the web might be better if it were more like Facebook… which brings us to “Open Graph“.
Graph is the term Facebook uses to describe our connections with each other – my relationship with you is one link in the “social graph”. But social relationships aren’t the only interesting links – what about between me and the companies I like (“brand graph”) or me and the films I like “movie graph” or even me and news articles “news graph” – in fact you could put just about any object in front of the word graph and it might be worth recording.
Of course this is something companies have been doing for a while – lovefilm tracks what films I like, Digg records the news articles I like. However what is new is Facebook’s centralisation of this information.
Any “open graph” information is centralised in your Facebook account. And this is why the Facebook privacy debate just got hotter – it’s becoming more than just my social life at stake when someone looks at my Facebook account data.
Each time I “like” a movie at IMDB, like a restaurant on Yelp, or even like a news article on the Nudge blog a consequent story appears on my Facebook wall. Toby just liked Iron Man 2 for example.

Open graph Likes appear on your Facebook wall for friends to see

Friends will see the story in their news feeds and click on the link will be taken to the web page I was just on, whether it be IMDB, LoveFilm or the Iron Man website.
So for each of us, figuring out how to use open graph in our business should be an item at the top of our  agenda – what services or products will make good objects on the open graph? What will customers like to like? What does it mean for our objects to be connected to the graph? What messaging do we want to push to people who like our objects?
And what’s the end game for Facebook in all this – why all this bother in mapping the whole graph, not just the social one? I think it’s all about search.  Because, as Facebook have discovered, we’re more interested in what our friends think than what an arbitrary authority (eg. Yahoo’s web directory ) or other web pages (Google’s page rank) think would be the right answer.
Now when my friends search for the best film to see on Facebook they’ll discover that I liked Iron Man 2 and that might be all they need to tip them to go and see it.

Google IO – whats next with the web

Vic Gundotra at Google IO keynote yesterday declared that the web had won. It is the dominant programming system. He then went on to introduce a host of new technologies. What does this mean for us in the real world of app development?

  1. Mobile apps will eventually be web apps. (no more developing separately for Symbian, Iphone and Blackberry). Mobile browsers will soon be able to talk to native mobile features like the accelerometer, GPS and calling.
  2. Web apps will be faster (browsers are getting faster through processing javascript quicker, allowing local data storage) and will compete head on with heavier and heavier desktop apps (think Google Photo Editor, Google Project and so on)
  3. Geolocation is coming –  we’ve filtered information now by its popularity (Google / Digg), and by what our friends think (Facebook) and next we’ll filter by its proximity to us (Geolocation).

Obviously I care more about a friend or celebrity popping into a bar in the next road to me than I do about someone on the other side of the planet. Accurate, reliable geolocation services (see Firefox 3.5) are just around the corner for the mass market and will see a new way of filtering information.

For the techies out there here are a few links and notes to get you excited:

  1.  HTML 5 will be in Firefox 3.5 and Chrome soon – looks cool – allows tag and enbaling pixel based layouts (draw a diagonal line). They showed a cool demo of rotating a playing video with a javascript transform.
  2. 3D engine will be in browser natively so you can access with javascript
  3.  Web Elements allows you to drop code snippets (like a comment wall) onto your web page really easily
  4. App engine now supports Java – Manuel Lemos has managed to get PHP running on app engine as well
  5.  Geolocation is going to be in and working in Firefox 3.5

Spotify takes the download out of song sharing

Nudge has been beta testing the Spotify music player for several months now. It’s greatest strength is the ability to share songs and even entire play lists with a single URL.

Rather than send songs around in cumbersome 3Mb files you can simply send a 20 character URL. This will revolutionise the discussion around songs. Now every blog and web site that refers to a song can link its readers directly to the tune in question.

So…. now we’re at the end of the day – you probably need to chill out a bit? Well why not try this super cool Nudge says unwind playlist from the team here at Nudge (you’ll need the Spotify player to play it). Listen to Matt‘s Radiohead track, Paulius’s Red hot chili’s or my Mika version of Relax. The in-house DJ prize goes to Iskandar who found the gorgeous Samba Da Bencao.

I have a couple of invitations left so email me if you want one and start listening to the coolest music from the boys at Nudge.

Update 9 October 2008 – All invites now used up – Phil and Matthias I hope you enjoy!

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