Daily Archives: October 31, 2007

Twitterquake: Sitting with TechMeme during earthquake

Last night I was hanging out with a small group of people when Shel Israel told us “there was just an earthquake.” His wife had called him and he happened to pick up the phone. I instantly looked at my phone and saw Maryam had already called me. Turned out that 80% of the people at the table had the same experience — that a wife or significant other had called them and checked in.

But what was fascinating was what happened next: we all went to Twitter where the earthquake was causing its own “Twitterquake.” Damn, were the posts flowing fast. What a lot of people on Twitter realized was there was MUCH BETTER information flowing through Twitter than on any other media. Quickly we realized no one was hurt, no real damage had been done, so we went back to our dinner.

In San Francisco most of us at the dinner didn’t feel it. I immediately left a TwitterGram, so that everyone would hear our voice and understand that nothing happened where we were.

But the more interesting thing was that I was standing next to Gabe Rivera, the founder of TechMeme/Memeorandum, as this was all going down. He predicted, accurately, that the earthquake wouldn’t make it onto TechMeme. He told us that the only way it’d show up is if it started affecting something in technology. He did keep nervously look at his cell phone to make sure that TechMeme wasn’t displaying anything about it.

We did talk at the table, though, that how we get news has dramatically changed. First of all, the word-of-mouth network was the fastest out there. Loved ones are going to probably tell you news like this before anyone else. Twitter is damn fast, too. Beats the USGS Web site with data. And that’s saying something because the USGS sites report quakes within minutes.

Lots of chatter on Twitter discussed that Google News, CNN, and other mainstream outlets weren’t reporting the news. The local newspaper wrote a story, but this demonstrated how inadequate local journalism is: Twitter had far more information than this story had and had it FAR faster and thanks to things like Twitter, Flickr, Kyte.tv, Seesmic, Twittergram, and Utterz, we can cover the story with micromedia in a way that the San jose Mercury News simply hasn’t gotten a clue about.

Well, that’s the Twitterquake wrap up. Anything from your point of view that we should discuss regarding the changes in how we get our news?

Oh, during the quake we didn’t lose power, didn’t lose cell phones, and didn’t lose access to Twitter. During a really big quake there will be lots of infrastructure down, but SOMEONE will be able to get messages out and that’ll really be interesting to watch how information gets shared if, say, all of San Francisco isn’t able to communicate with the Internet.

UPDATE: Mike Doeff was tracking Twitter for every mention of the Quake. Wow, thanks for doing that!

Andreesen explains impact of Google’s Open Social

I’m reading feeds and putting the best stuff on my link blog. So far the best thing I’ve seen on the impact of Google’s Open Social is Marc Andreesen’s post. His company, Ning, is one of those who are involved in the announcement.

See my link blog
for other good posts. I’m trying to find stuff that adds value to what’s already on TechMeme, but Marc’s post is so good that it needs your attention anyway.

Will Google “Friendster” Facebook?

Anyone remember Friendster? It was an early entrant into the social networking scene. If they had done their work right they SHOULD have been a much bigger player than they are now.

Why aren’t they?

1. They didn’t take care of PR and didn’t take care of bloggers. Hmmm, Facebook is doing exactly the same thing. Several people at the dinner tonight noted that Facebook hasn’t responded to claims that Facebook’s employees are spying on data that the public doesn’t have access to. And that’s just one PR complaint.
2. They kicked people out that they didn’t like. Hmmm, Facebook is doing exactly the same thing.
3. They didn’t respond to new competitors who took away their coolness. Facebook? They are about to meet their biggest competition yet.

Last night I was at a dinner for Hugh Macleod and Oren Michaels. There was talk of an earthquake. No, not the 5.6 one centered near San Jose. The fact that Google is about to jump into the social networking world. TechCrunch caused the shockwave of the year with that one.

One name that’s on the Google announcement, Plaxo, tells me that Google is looking to build a “social graph” that’s open and doesn’t have walls keeping developers from playing. They are looking to “Friendster” Facebook.

Add into this last week’s little “Vic Gundotra” dinner and I’m already seeing a trend: Google is going full bore after influentials, bloggers, and other “new media” developers who need a social network as part of their efforts to remain competitive.

Think about it. Nearly every cool Web property lately has a social network. Upcoming.org, Flickr, Yelp, Channel 9, etc. All have their own proprietary social networks.

Look at MySpace and Facebook. Both don’t solve that problem.

Will Google? And, by helping out Web 2.0 developers and other influentials (Facebook calls them “whales”) will Google cut off Facebook’s PR air supply (which is proving quite lucrative)?

Those are things I’m going to focus on for the next few days.

Some things we still need answers on:

1. Is this new Google social network really fun to use like Facebook is?
2. Does it beat Facebook’s aesthetics?
3. Can the social graph be componetized so that I could add a social network to my blog, for instance?
4. Does the development platform beat Facebook’s? (Can I see which apps my friends have loaded, is the key question).
5. Does it build a really open social graph?
6. If Google does match Facebook’s utility (really easy: just clone the hell out of it but give the “whales” more than 5,000 friends. I’ve talked with many celebrities and businesses and they say 5,000 simply isn’t enough which is why many of them are forced to stay on MySpace) do they allow new kinds of social ads?

It’s going to be an interesting next month getting around to all these companies again and seeing what they plan to do.