Mike and Loic are wrong about Twitter search

Bob Warfield has it all right: Loic Le Meur’s call for authority-based Twitter searches is all wrong.

What is Loic’s idea? To let you do Twitter searches with results ranked according to number of followers.

You’d think I’d be all over that idea, right? After all I have a lot more followers than Loic or Arrington has.

But you’d be wrong. Ranking by # of followers is a stupid idea. Dave Winer agrees. Mike Arrington, on the other hand, plays the wrong side of the field by backing Loic’s dumb idea.

Here’s why it’s a stupid idea: everyone is gaming the number of followers. And, even if everyone weren’t, popularity on Twitter isn’t a good way to measure whether a Tweet is any good or not.

It would increase noise, not decrease it. After all, if such a system were in effect you’d see my Tweets at the top of the page, even for things that I don’t have any business being at the top of the page for.

For instance, let’s say we were talking about something in China. How about something affecting supply chain management. Who should be at the top of such a result? @liamcasey because he runs a sizeable supply chain management company in China. But, no, he won’t be at top if Loic gets his way. I would be. That’s really lame.

So, what’s a better idea? Study the metadata that really matters.

Here’s some on Twitter:

1. Number of retweets of that tweet.
2. Number of favorites of that tweet.
3. Number of inbound links to that tweet.
4. Number of clicks on an item in Twitter search.

On friendfeed there’s even more to study:

1. Number of likes of that tweet.
2. Number of comments on that tweet.
3. Amount of resharing of that tweet.
4. Clicks on each tweet.
5. Velocity of commenting and liking behavior.

On both services you should see a bias of tweets made by people you’re actually following. Who you are following is a LOT more important than who is following you. Why? Those are active choices YOU made, which should tell the system something about you and who brings you the most value. The numbers of people following you is almost totally irrelevant.

I really hope that the Twitter team doesn’t listen to the popular users on this issue.

Oh, and friendfeed, why is your search so bad?

I can’t pull much value out of the search engine. Why can’t I say “show me all tweets that include the word ‘obama’ and that have two or more likes and three or more comments?” If we had the ability to actually pull value out of friendfeed’s database this whole argument would be moot.

To Loic and Mike: since when did “authority” have anything to do with “popularity?”

The best gadget I stole in 2008

Maryam wanted a video camera. She asked her friends and they recommended the FlipCam. She thought it was safe from me. She got an ugly one (orange and white) just to make it very unlikely that I’d steal it. After all, if it isn’t an Apple product, or cool and black, it probably was safe from her geeky husband, right?

But I tried it out one day and found that it gave me a lot better quality that my Nokia cell phone with Qik.

Since that day I haven’t given it back. All the recent videos on my Kyte video channel are done with it.

So, now she wants it back. Hah, I think I’ll buy her one of the new HD ones. And me too.

One tip: you MUST use a monopod (which is what I’m doing) or a tripod with this. It is too small to hold steady otherwise.

Why do I love it? It uses AA batteries so I can either use rechargeables or, if those are dead, some of the AA’s in the freezer.

It has a little USB plug that swings out the side. It works with any computer. So, if I take video of my friends’ cute babies, I can give them that video right there. Oh, and the video works with Kyte, YouTube, Viddler, Facebook, and a bunch of other services too. No reformatting or work needed.

Hope a bunch of you find one of these under your Christmas tree.

One problem? The local BestBuy is sold out of the HD versions so you might need to buy them online.

Mike Arrington is talking about his experiences with the Flip and other small HD cameras on his Twitter account. For me, it might be ugly, but it is the best thing I’ve stolen from Maryam all year.

The best 2009 web development tool?

[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/6118/299801&tbid=k_961&premium=true&height=500&width=425]

I remember the good old days of 1994. Back when your only choice of developing a web site was doing it by hand. Remember typing HTML codes like <b> and <table> and making it all work? Or, if you didn’t know what those meant, you had to pay some developer $100+ an hour to do it for you. Seriously, back then HTML developers were in short supply and building a web site was expensive. The magazine/conference company I worked for, Fawcette Technical Publications, paid more than $100,000 to build its first web site, which was a pretty rudimentary one.

Then came a bunch of tools. I liked FrontPage. But played with Hotdog. Dreamweaver. And a bunch of others that I’ve forgotten. FrontPage has been morphed into Microsoft Expression, which is still a damn cool tool, but it was really designed for last year’s web.

What about the web of 2009?

Of course you’re going to use Ajax and build Restful APIs, right? What about putting your stuff in the cloud? Of course!

So, what’s the best tool for that job?

Well, three million people have chosen Aptana’s toolset and they are about to release a tool for building cloud-oriented websites and apps.

So, yesterday I went over and got a look. Here’s the videos:

1. Discussion of Aptana’s tools and what the 2009 web marketplace looks like with Kevin Hakman who runs developer outreach for Aptana. 20 minutes.
2. Demo of Aptana’s Cloud with Kris Rasmussen, cloud lead. 18 minutes.

What will you see there? The web-development tool for 2009? I think so and so do three million other developers. Got anything that helps startups build cloud-based websites and apps better? Let’s hear about them.

Hope you’re having a good Christmas with your family. More cloud stuff on Friday when we post our interview with Tim O’Reilly and go and visit 12seconds.tv in Santa Cruz to hear how they are using cloud computing to build a popular company with almost no money invested.

Ahh, the echo chamber

Ahhh, it’s always fun to look at the referrer log in WordPress and see who is linking to me and how much traffic they send me. Here’s mine from today. What are some trends here? Arrington rules. Techmeme is OK. Where’s the rest of the traffic? 

We are talking to ourselves. Mike. This is the real danger. 

I think I’ll go back to Facebook where 140 million people are hanging out. 
:-)

My blog's referrers today

It's time for the geeks to sit down and shut up

Eight years ago, during the last downturn, I would have supported things like Scrapplet with open arms. If you look at it the geeky way Scrapplet is incredible: it lets you drag and drop pieces of the web over to your canvas and create a new web page. The technology underneath — all developed by one guy, Steve Repetti, is absolutely incredible.

But it is way too unapproachable for normal people.

Why would I have supported it last time and not this time? Last time we didn’t have so many choices about where to put our attention. There was no iPhone. No Facebook. No Twitter. No PlayStation3. No Xbox. Etc. Etc. This time the small companies are still getting funded so there still is enough for TechCrunch to talk about and TechMeme to link to. Last time those two didn’t even exist. There simply isn’t room in the marketplace for a geeky technology like there was last time. Sorry Scrapplet.

Here, quick, read Webware’s post on the Scrapplet. Then read TechCrunch’s post. And finally, check out Louis Gray’s post.

Do you have a clue what this thing does yet?

I do, but only because Steve gave me a demo and, even, made me a page to demonstrate some of the key things behind the technology.

The problem is that Steve can’t give everyone in the world a demo.

And the other problem is that the world has changed. We’ve become a nation of Twitterers and Facebookers. Not of people who want to geek around and build mashups of our own. We want to push a button and have it all done for us. Which is why Twitter is the ultimate tool and why so many think the little-bit-more-complex friendfeed is awful.

If you can’t handle friendfeed you definitely can’t handle Scraplet.

So, here’s the deal: Ripetti is onto something here — being able to embed any code, URL, or drag and drop pieces of pages into the editor here is extremely powerful and the fact that he got all the geeky bloggers to talk about it demonstrates he got us all hot and bothered over the weekend. But he needs to go back and find a much simpler way to bring his technology to the masses.

Until he does it’ll only be us geeks playing with it.

The world-wide-talk-show host: Loic Le Meur

Now that the real-time web is upon us (and very addicting, as we’ve discovered) there is a need for new services, new events, new leaders who will take us through the rapids.

Loic Le Meur is one of those.

He’s an entrepreneur who has purchased Twhirl, a popular Twitter and social networking client, and is in the middle of a major rearchitecting and redesign of that. He, and his team, developed Seesmic which lets you communicate on the web with video, either at the home site or via video comments on tons of sites (TechCrunch, for instance, lets you video comment). He also started, and runs, the LeWeb conference in Paris, France, which has become the most international of all the conferences I attend.

So I wanted to sit down with him and get an update. I have three videos with him:

1. Our “pro” video that was shot on two HD camcorders and edited. 27 minutes (this was way edited down, by the way, our original conversation was about an hour). We talk about the real-time web and what he’s focusing on now.
2. His update on Twhirl. 4.55 minutes. And how it’ll compete with the new TweetDeck, which is releasing a new version, according to Louis Gray.
3. Loic demonstrating Seesmic’s new features to Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons. 7:32 minutes.

Some things he said in the first video?

  • That Twitter brought Seesmic the most traffic when they rolled out new features last week.
  • How Seesmic might make money.
  • Why “paid” accounts seem more serious and show one way to make revenues.
  • Discussion of European startups.
  • Seesmic will turn from being a video only service to being one that also lets you talk with friends via text.
  • Wrapup of controversy at LeWeb.

Watch these and you’ll see why I call Loic “the world-wide-talk-show host.” Follow his blogs, tweets, videos, and more on FriendFeed.

TechFuga makes it clear TechMeme is not innovating

OK, OK, I’m back to my blog thanks to popular demand. :-)

One new service came up this morning that caught my eye: TechFuga.

As Louis Gray says, it’s like TechMeme and AllTop had a baby.

Now, whether or not you think this will prove successful (the jury is out, especially since TechMeme’s traffic has flatlined the past year) this points to something else: TechMeme hasn’t innovated and that lack of innovation is opening the door to competitors.

How has it not innovated? TechMeme has not acknowledged that there is something interesting going on elsewhere. That people are using other aggregators, like Reddit and Digg, along with other social networks, like Twitter and friendfeed, to get their news.

Now that we see a service that, while imperfect, demonstrates what new features look like, we see that TechMeme has stalled.

Gabe Rivera (he’s the founder of TechMeme), are you going to answer this, or are you going to keep on the flat track saying that only “high end articles and blogs” matter?