New Twhirl Twitter Client adds real-time-web integration

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Last night Twhirl (one of my favorite Twitter clients) introduced a new version. Here’s Loic Le Meur, CEO, showing off what’s new in Twhirl.

Biggest new features? integration and Seesmic video integration.

Loic has a blog post explaining how to get it and he talks about lots of other new features. Highly recommended.

A Tale of Four Venture Backed Companies

You’ve probably seen the nasty headlines over on TechMeme and TechFuga yesterday. You know the ones, like this one about how Venture Capital has dried up.

Before I leave for Davos, Switzerland on Monday morning to attend the World Economic Forum, I wanted to get around to a bunch of San Francisco and Silicon Valley-based companies. In the past two days I’ve met with six companies. I’m beat. But Friday I got to four companies and I found them to be impressive. One of them, iWidgets, will announce its A round of funding next week.

The videos I shot reveal how these companies got funded (one, Kosmix, has received $50 million so far from its investors).

Let’s meet the four companies:

SkyDeck. Video: 28 minutes. SkyDeck takes your cell phone and makes it much more useful. They just shipped a new version this week. They say they are getting business from big companies who are looking to save money on their cell phone bills and make their workers more productive. I’m using it here and it tells me all sorts of stuff about my bill that I didn’t know, and the new version does a lot more than that — on some phones it takes over your voice mail so you get voicemails sent to your email and much more.

iWidgets. Video: 23 minutes. This company has an easy-to-use tool that lets you build widgets for most of the popular social networks out there. This looks and feels a lot like Visual Basic, but it is much more interesting because it lets you design apps for Facebook. They are closing a round of funding next week, weren’t quite ready to announce who their investors are.

JaJah. Video: 22 minutes. JaJah lets you make overseas phone calls for very little money. One of the co-founders explained why their service is better than others and showed me a cool VOiP application for iPhone Touch. Says that they will soon announce their new user numbers, which they told me are “dramatically more” than exist today.

Kosmix. Video: 33 minutes. Did you know that one of the co-founders had a chance to buy Google and turned it down? I learned that story on the video as well as got a tour of this new kind of search engine. This showed me a path for Microsoft to get back into the search market. Do you see it? I’m already an addict of this site and will visit it every morning. Shows me interesting news and search from around the Web.

Lessons I learned from all four companies?

1. They all told me of friends who are having trouble getting funding, so funding isn’t flowing easily. But…
2. Some of these companies have received funding recently. In the case of iWidgets they are closing a round next week. So it’s not impossible. But…
3. They bring something unique to the table. All of these are interesting, fun, engaging sites that I will use (I already use SkyDeck and added Kosmix and JaJah to what I do). It’s so nice seeing four companies that provide total solutions that have some depth to them.
4. Kosmix talked about how they convinced investors to pitch a lot more money into the company in the past few weeks: demonstrate adoption, they said.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this little tour. One other thing, these videos were made with my Nokia N95 cell phone with the just released Kyte.TV app on it. It gives dramatically better quality with the Nokia than they had previously. More on that vs. Qik in a later post.

Anyway, looking forward to bringing you to Davos with me. Talk to you next week!

FIRST LOOK: A "different question every day" Twitter: Plinky

Jason Shellen has seen the social media world grow up and has been in the lead group. He was one of the first employees at Pyra back when it started Blogger. After that got sold to Google he was the guy who came up with Google Reader (and kept pushing for it even after executives at Google told him the idea was lame).

Now it’s his turn to start a company and an hour ago they turned on their new service called Plinky. What is it? It’s riffs on Twitter and Facebook. Instead of asking “what are you doing?” it asks you a different question every day.

Yesterday I sat down with Jason and he gave me a demo and told me stories about his view on social media.

My account is at:

Welcome to Black January: Microsoft, Intel, IBM and others lay off tons

I’m tracking the dismal news on all the various blogs. This is the worst month the tech industry has ever seen. The bad news from Microsoft, Intel, IBM is all over TechMeme and TechFuga.

Wake me up when it ends. More later, but today there is some good news, just not enough to stop the tide of bad. A new startup, Plinky, will come out of stealth mode at 1 p.m. (we’ll have a video of that up on FastCompanyTV) and I’m getting around Silicon Valley and San Francisco starting at 9 a.m. at Seesmic, with stops in Mountain View to see something secret, and Sunnyvale. Back to San Francisco tonight for a Fast Company dinner event. Whew!

My heart goes out to all the people who’ve lost their jobs this month. What’s worse is it isn’t over.

Solution? Next week at the World Economic Summit my “Davos Question” is how can we create one million new startups with a failing/failed VC system?

That’s what it will take to repair the damage this month has done to the tech industry and our economy. Yes, the depths of our problems ARE that deep. Got any ideas?

Interactive blogging experimentation

I’m playing with a new technique of writing that I call “interactive blogging.” What is it? Well, instead of writing a post like I’m doing here and then publishing it after I’ve finished it, I post WHILE I’m writing my ideas on a topic. I’ll start a Twitter post like, but I will post it onto friendfeed. I’ve set friendfeed to publish to Twitter, but when it does it leaves a URL at the end of the tweet back to the friendfeed item. That lets me setup some interesting questions that I’ll write really quickly on. The advantage here is that I can see how people are reacting LIVE to my ideas. They often ask me questions and take me down paths I wasn’t expecting to go. Here’s some examples, wonder what you think:

I will discuss why I can never have another Diet Coke here.

Health privacy is dead. Here’s why.”

Too many choices at Best Buy. Photo and discussion.

Want a news tip? Amazon Kindle is sold out. Hint here.

@netvalar now wants to know about friendfeed’s rooms. Here’s why they are the coolest tool for Twitter users

“To new friendfeeders (there are thousands due to Twitter invites and follows), here’s what you need to know.”

On the other hand, sometimes you just need to do a really well thought out post and not have the distractions. Comments from other people are distractions and they can take you down paths that aren’t very productive and interrupt flow. You can see all that in the examples above. But they are fun to do because engagement from other people is fun and addictive.

Your healthcare privacy is dying and why you'll kill it

Two days ago I told my friends on friendfeed that I had a rare kidney disease and that I could no longer eat red meat or drink Diet Coke or Pepsi, among other dietary changes. Don’t worry, my dad has the same disease and he’s still doing fine, and the doctors have run a crapload of tests and found that I’m otherwise healthy.

But look what happened. 200+ comments.

That prompted me to write another friendfeed item saying that health privacy is dead. I gave a ton of reasons and lots of other people jumped in and either agreed or argued with me.

So, how about you? Why don’t you join in on these two threads, or leave a comment here, about why or why not you will share your medical condition with the public.

Things I've learned by clicking "like" 15,301 times

Mike Arrington is right. I am addicted to friendfeed and it’s very difficult to pry myself away from it and do a more serious blog. I now have 15,300 reasons why I am so addicted.

It is called “Like.” But clicking “Like” doesn’t mean I actually like that item. It means I want YOU to see it.

People ask me why so many people follow me. (26,000 on friendfeed, 50,000 on Twitter, 5,000 on Facebook).

This is why: I shine my flashlight on other people. So far in the past 11 months I’ve done it 15,300 times.

Most other A list bloggers that you know never even try to link out and tell their readers about other people doing great work this way.

Some things I’ve learned?

1. I’m more likely to share items from people I’ve met face-to-face. Why? There’s a social reciprocity aspect to it. If I’ve met you at a conference I know you a little more reliably than other people I haven’t met.
2. There is some overlap with TechMeme because I have similar interests but my likes tend to be far smaller stories than will ever get onto TechMeme. Things that will make you smarter, but aren’t big news items that’ll attract a lot of links. Things like Tim Ferriss’ post about how to learn any language in three months.
3. More “independent” voices make it onto my list than onto TechMeme.
4. I like racing TechMeme. Often I can beat it with a like by half an hour or more. But lots of times it beats me. Which, brings me to #5.
5. I don’t get nervous anymore about missing things. Why? Because I am following 13,000 people on friendfeed and they will keep bringing back important things. Plus, important things get onto TechFuga and TechMeme. I call my behavior “media snacking.” If I have time I’ll snack on different stuff from around the Internet.
6. After I like something I can see how other people respond to it, so I can refactor my likes. If people hate a like, or tell me I messed up, I will use that info in future likes.
7. Likes are searchable. If I search for someone’s name on the Everyone tab anything they’ve liked will come up in the search. Which brings me to the next item.
8. Likes are metadata that improves the original item. How? Well, for instance, in friendfeed I can hide all Tweets that don’t have a like. That makes finding interesting tweets DRAMATICALLY easier.
9. By having all my 26,000 followers on friendfeed see the items I like (it puts them into their view) I find that I am getting to know my followers in a much more intimate way than if we just tweeted at each other. On a separate page you can see all the items I’ve commented on, to see this in action.
10. Likes can overwhelm people. I am liking about 700 things a week. Many people just can’t deal with that flow (and it gets far worse the more people you follow on friendfeed). That’s why I say on friendfeed it is hugely important to be very careful who you follow. I recommend putting noisy likers like me into a separate list, which will help you get more value out of us.

What do you think? Does this behavior help you? Or do you think it’s lame?