Craving intimacy in our social networks

It’s Ironic that Facebook is moving into a more public space occupied by Twitter and FriendFeed.

I think their jealousy of the hype that Twitter is getting might be leading them astray.

Why?

I’ve been asking “normal people” what they use. You know, people like my wife and her friends who aren’t tech bloggers and don’t pride themselves on using the latest thing. She is addicted to Facebook and is not interested in the public part of it. She doesn’t get Twitter and FriendFeed although she understands how I use those to talk with a large public audience.

She’s craving intimacy with her friends. She uses Facebook to talk with her childhood friends about the little moments in life that they will find interesting but that she doesn’t want open to a larger public discussion.

She’s not the only one craving that kind of intimacy. I’ve noticed it about myself too. Recently I started a private group for people I liked that I wanted to have a way to discuss things with just them. It never went anywhere, but I noticed that when we have small, intimate discussions that all of us have more fun and learn more.

Living our lives in public often leads to very weird behavior and worrying about what the crowd will think. That doesn’t lead us to a good place often.

I’ve often wished that FriendFeed and Twitter have more private spaces, or ones that have a better combination of public and private areas. The fact that they haven’t worked much on the private spaces (FriendFeed’s private groups are pretty good, but private messages get lost in the noise and there isn’t a good way to notify people that messages are waiting for them and Twitter’s direct messaging features are a total joke, unusable for anything group related and pretty unusable for anything else either). Now that Facebook is spending more effort becoming more public I find myself looking for some other system that provides that intimacy.

This week I’ll explore several, but one I found that is already gaining a devoted group of passionate fans is ThisMoment. They opened up for business last week.

Unlike with other experiments I’ve done on other social networks this one I’m going to keep just for my family and closest friends, but they have put up some interesting examples that are shared with the public. The founder, Vince Broady, put up a page of his Mad Max movie night. You can see here that the “moment” is intimate and the story told with both text and pictures.

Vince formerly ran Gamespot and entertainment at CNET and Yahoo and he — and a team of 11 loyal engineers — are building out this effort. I always look for good teams behind services (that’s why I got so excited by FriendFeed) and that’s one reason I’m excited about thismoment.

Anyway, some other examples. Even brands can use the more intimate approach. Here Road & Track is using thismoment to share moments of beautiful cars with its fans.

Here Stephen Blake recorded his experiences on Obama’s Inauguration Day.

Am I the only one noticing this trend? Is Facebook nuts for being jealous of Twitter and copying FriendFeed? Where do you go online to talk with your close friends? Are you looking for a better way?

Teaching unconferences to newbies, Cloud Camp style

Dave Nielsen, co-founder of the Cloud Camp series of unconferences (one was just held in San Francisco) gives me an innovative way that he’s found to introduce unconferences (video) to people who don’t know what those are. I like his approach because we all have to teach people who are unfamiliar with things we are building or talking about. I remember how hard it was to get many of you to try Twitter (although most of that hard work is conveniently forgotten today). Anyway, if you have a chance to participate in a Cloud Camp (there are two that start tomorrow in Portland, Oregon and Columbus, Ohio) you should do it. The people who went to San Francisco’s version praised it.

Drama vs. Helpfulness, how I will rebuild a friendship

Twitter. It almost means drama. Heck, for those who didn’t catch musician Wil.i.am and Perez Hilton going at it over on Twitter you can get a whif of the kind of things that seem to happen in our real-time entertainment-focused world.

I have drunk too much from that world.

It’s too easy to be nasty. To build alliances, mobs, and use them to hurt people. I know, I’ve been on both the receiving end of that and the giving end of it too.

But I’m going the other way. How can I be helpful?

Yesterday I reminisced about the good old days, when coders ruled the world, not drama. Code isn’t dramatic. It either works, or it doesn’t.

Code doesn’t incite riots. Code doesn’t call people names. Code doesn’t end friendships.

So, I’m leaving the drama world to those who want to use Twitter to riot, to harm, to hurt, or to cause a fight to encourage people to click on their links so they can get the page views and get paid.

Tonight a friend says he’s ending his friendship with me. I don’t care how or why, but I’ll work to be helpful again. I used to be helpful.

I used to help by being excited by seeing the coolest latest startups. I used to help by trying out all the latest technology and knowing more about how to use it than anyone else.

That is still there, but it’s been repressed by the real time world. The drama. The fights.

My friend is noticing the same thing, although he’s articulating it badly. So am I.

It takes two to fight, so now I’m off. How to be helpful?

Well, for one, have you tried Feedly? I’m playing with it and it is now my favorite way to read Google Reader’s feeds and tell the world about who has the best blogs. Yeah, it only works with Firefox, but most of you should be using that anyway. Would love to help out.

Anyway, earlier today I wrote that with every tweet we have a choice: helpful or hurtful. I’m trying to be helpful. Kick me if I’m not.

Excuse me while I try to patch up a friendship.

The future of TV:

Hey, I’ve learned you gotta write a catchy headline to even have a chance to get attention. Even then, this one will probably barely get noticed in the river of Tweets and other noise rushing by. (UPDATE: I changed the headline, cause many people complained about it).

But there’s a point here, over on Building43 we’ve been getting around and Adobe showed us Flash running on a set top box with full glorious HDTV. Did you catch that video? Probably not. How will you see sex in the future? HDTV, so the headline sorta fits. And, if you’re here for porn or something, sorry if I fooled you.

In the first couple of weeks we have a bunch of other videos over on Building43 that you might have missed:

Famous author Don Tapscott talks to us about growing up digital. He wrote a book on the topic and you might like his thoughts.

Mark Zuckerberg gives his first video interview in Facebook’s new building and gives his dad, a dentist, business advice.

Stu talks to us about Hadoop and building large dataset search engines.

Are you a famous person or a brand that wants to use Facebook like Oprah and many others do? Caitlin O’Farrell works with celebrities on their Facebook pages and she gives us her best tips.

Four Seasons has 82 hotels worldwide and Kelly Nelson is the first in the chain to get permission to use Twitter and other social networks to represent the brand. Hear her talk about the experience.

Luke Kilpatrick shows us how to create an iPhone mockup in Adobe Fireworks.

You might have heard that Zappos is cool, but after taking the tour you’ve heard nothing until you hear from the CEO in this conversation with Rackspace’s Chairman.

Uservoice is a cool startup in Santa Cruz. Why are they cool? Their service helps companies get closer to their customers. Here you meet the founder and get some insights into what makes UserVoice something that brands are praising.

You’ve probably heard of Fred Wilson if you’ve been on the tech and business blogs. He’s a New York venture capitalist who invested in Twitter, among others. Here he spends 45 minutes with me explaining what he’s seeing happen in the 2010 web world.

If that’s not enough we have blogs from Wes Wilson on branding, Bruce Hughes on small business weapons, Nan Palmero on simplification of technology and the role it plays in business, Michelle McGinnis (she played a huge role in our site’s design) talking about embedding FriendFeed, Michael Sean Wright made a video documentary of our launch party, and Guy Kawasaki talks about the new economics of entrepreneurship.

So, what’s next? Well, Rocky Barbanica is editing up a storm. This week we leave for London to visit a bunch of technology companies to see if we can find ways we can help your web business.

We’re specifically looking for people who can help teach other people about how to do the 2010 web. Are you interested? Please join our Building43 FriendFeed group and leave a note there or, if you want something a little more private, email us at contribute@building43.com

And sorry about the misleading headline, hope you found some sexy videos here anyway. Hey, to me ideas, technology, and geeks are sexy. I’m a geek, what can I say?

Crowd sourcing works, here's some examples

Ever use a crowd to learn something? I have. Here’s some of my favorite ones:

1. What Netbook would you recommend?

2. Examples of “now” marketing.

3. Teaching me about microformats.

4. Top apps to load on your new iPhone 3GS.

5. Favorite Twitter app for iPhone.

6. A bunch of people’s favorite web sites.

7. Tools people use to build 2010 websites.

8. Hundreds of people teach me about “leadership.”

9. What apps/services people think should be included in a list of 2010 web ones.

10. What to do if you see FriendFeed spam.

11. What to use instead of PowerPoint to give presentations.

12. What should CIOs consider about the 2010 web?

13. Interesting groups of Twitterers.

14. Should you use Disqus, Intense Debate, BackType on your blog’s commenting system?

15. What kind of mountain bike do you recommend for $1000-$1,500?

There are plenty of other examples too, but most of these have very good answers and are participated in by dozens if not hundreds of people each.

Have you found other examples of where crowds were used to answer questions and where the answers that came back are better than what you can find elsewhere?

Real-time systems hurting long-term knowledge?

Whew, OK, now that I’m off of FriendFeed and Twitter I can start talking about what I learned while I was addicted to those systems.

One thing is that knowledge is suffering over there. See, here, it is easy to find old blogs. Just go to Google and search. What would you like me to find? Chinese Earthquake? Google has it.

Now, quick, find the first 20 tweets or FriendFeed items about the Chinese Earthquake. It’s impossible. I’m an advanced searcher and I can’t find them, even using the cool Twitter Search engine.

On April 19th, 2009 I asked about Mountain Bikes once on Twitter. Hundreds of people answered on both Twitter and FriendFeed. On Twitter? Try to bundle up all the answers and post them here in my comments. You can’t. They are effectively gone forever. All that knowledge is inaccessible. Yes, the FriendFeed thread remains, but it only contains answers that were done on FriendFeed and in that thread. There were others, but those other answers are now gone and can’t be found.

The other night Jeremiah Owyang told me that thought leaders should avoid spending a lot of time in Twitter or FriendFeed because that time will be mostly wasted. If you want to reach normal people, he argued, they know how to use Google.

And if you want to get into Google the best device — by far — is a blog. Yes, FriendFeed is pretty darn good too (it better be, it was started by a handful of superstars who left Google to start that company) but it isn’t as good as a blog and, Jeremiah argues, my thoughts were lost in the crowd most of the time anyway.

And that’s on FriendFeed which has a decent search engine (although it remains pretty darn incomplete. Here, try to find all items with the word Obama written in Washington DC on November 4th 2008. Oh, you can’t do that on FriendFeed and on Twitter search you can’t pull out the important ones and the location information is horribly inaccurate because it isn’t based on where a Tweet was done from, but from the tweeter’s home location).

Here’s an easy search: find the original Tweet of the guy who took the picture of the plane that fell into the Hudson. I can do it on FriendFeed after a few tries, but on Twitter Search? Give me a break. Over on Google? One click, but you gotta click through a blog or a journalistic report to get there. Real time search is horrid at saving our knowledge and making it accessible.

This is a HUGE opportunity for Facebook, which has more than 10x more users than Twitter and 100x more than FriendFeed.

Or, it’s how Google will get back into the social networking business and lock everyone out.

What do you say Larry Page?

Back to Blogging Week (no FriendFeed/Twitter for a week?)

Sorry for being gone so long. It’s clear I have spent too much time on social networks. Been hanging out on FriendFeed and Twitter and not blogging.

I’m not the only one, Steve Rubel, famous PR blogger, said he’s giving up his blog for lifestreaming.

Jeremiah Owyang, the other night, told me I was losing myself. Or my thought leadership or something like that. It made me wistful for good old WordPress. So, here I am.

Starting today I won’t use FriendFeed or Twitter until Saturday.

Now, my items will still show up on Twitter and FriendFeed because of RSS and automatic posting, and your comments will get posted here thanks to Disqus, even if you leave them via FriendFeed.

On Friday Rocky and I leave for London for a trip with Traveling Geeks anyway. Check out our schedule and I’d love to meet up with you in London or Cambridge.

So, it’s time to answer a bunch of email I haven’t answered. It’s time to dig out Google Reader and Feedly and rediscover blogs. It’s time to develop some helpful content here and over on Building43 (which is rocking and rolling, by the way).

Oh, if you care about blogs, go ahead and retweet this. ;-)