Daily Archives: June 29, 2009

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.