How can we help you build your business?

Yesterday Rackspace launched a cloud app partner portal called Cloud Tools. That’s a really boring way of saying that our partners rock and that we’re trying to help them build their businesses.

Why do that? Because by showing off the cloud tools ecosystem we help developers build their businesses (we are featuring 15 partners at launch). That makes them happy. Happy developers build more stuff, which needs more hosting, and they also tell their friends about how Rackspace is helpful to them.

Lots of people ask me why Rackspace is doing building43 and paying me to fly around the world to interview tech and business innovators. It’s to be helpful to developers and companies building business. I interview everyone, not just Rackspace customers. By helping them build their business, we make them happy. Happy developers build more stuff, which needs more hosting, and they also tell their friends about how Rackspace is helpful to them. Oh, I’m repeating myself.

How can we help you?

RSS: interesting or boring? (Hint @marshallk and @louisgray, we're not normal)

Marshall Kirkpatrick takes on the “RSS is dead” meme, started by Steve Gillmor, but really started by all those people who haven’t been using RSS much anymore.

My answer to Marshall: I’m not in the news business anymore, but if I were I’d keep Twitter up on screen. I’ve been looking closely at Google Reader’s latest features, Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed and I gotta say that most of what shows up on TechMeme shows up in my Twitter feed up to a day earlier.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been doing a little experiment: can I outrace TechMeme and TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb and all the others? The answer is a resounding YES. But it requires following a very select group of people on Twitter. Believe it or not, the same group puts most of their items into FriendFeed and Facebook, too. It’s very rare that I see news in Facebook or FriendFeed that I don’t see in Twitter first. It’s even rarer that I see news in Google Reader. Why?

RSS isn’t real time. Deal with it. Yes, it’s moving more and more real time, but I guarantee you that this post will be in FriendFeed and Twitter before it hits Google Reader. Why? I put it there manually the second I hit post. I’ve noticed that most of the top content producers (you call them writers or bloggers) do the same thing.

Anyway, want to see how this works? I’m watching 2,391 people and brands on Twitter. That’s FAR MORE than I could read on Google Reader, by the way. Headlines in Google Reader just aren’t satisfying and reading full text slows you down so you must be far choosier on who you listen to.

That means I see new Tweets every few seconds. Easy to keep up with, if you are dedicated.

What do I do with them? I click “favorite” on my favorite Tweets. In just about two weeks I have built up a database of about 1,700 favorites. It’s good stuff, but it’s mostly useless unless you only want to see the last 300.

What’s missing from my favorites? Noise. I’ve filtered it out. But to do that I’ve probably had to read about 100,000 Tweets. Maybe more. And THAT is the disadvantage of Twitter and why Louis Gray does have a point when he says he still loves Google Reader.

The thing is none of the four of us are normal. We are ALL news junkies. I love knowing what’s going on in people’s lives and what they are passionate about in the tech industry and I want to hear it directly from them. I can’t get that by just reading a newspaper. I can’t get that from TechMeme, just look at my favorite tweets. How many of them go to TechMeme or Digg? Not many.

I’ve also started playing with a couple of new feed reading tools. One is Feedly. It only works on Firefox, unfortunately, but it sits on top of Google Reader and is very nice. Still, I like Twitter better for some reason. Yesterday LazyFeed came out, I’m working on a video with the founder that will be up in the morning, but it does the RSS hard work for me (it goes and finds feeds on topics I’m interested in so I don’t need to know anything about RSS). The thing is it isn’t nearly as interesting as Twitter. Why? I have no idea who wrote all the stuff that’s coming in there. For normal people Facebook is far better than all of these ways of learning the news.

I personally am bored with the whole topic. I don’t need more feeds. I don’t need better readers.

What do I need?

Better filters. That’s why I got so excited by FriendFeed. It’s why I’m playing around with human curation and all that (which proves again that Facebook is going to win this game).

Anyway, to me RSS is no longer interesting to talk about. The battlefield has moved on. RSS will be used by lots of people for a long time, but, honestly, when I give talks to people I show them FriendFeed, Facebook, and Twitter and all the tools that play in those. I don’t usually open up Google Reader anymore. Why? It’s moved into the boring camp for early adopter audiences and it’s still too weird for late adopter audiences who are hearing more about Twitter and Facebook.

What about you? Is RSS interesting or boring to you? Why?

The new way to look like a dork with an iPhone: Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality apps are about to become the HUGE rage on the iPhone. Why?

They demo well.

What are they? These are new apps that use the iPhone 3GS’s camera, compass, accelerometer to overlay data on real life. You point your iPhone down the street in New York, for instance, and it shows you where the closest subway stop is.

The problem is, this will make you look like a total dork.

I’m cool with that!

Why talk about these apps today? The first one shipped today. Here’s some good articles about the trend.

Layar3, and others, discussed on Wired.com.

The augmented reality blog is covering the trend.

ReadWriteWeb writes about the first augmented reality app shipping yesterday.

Mashable on top 6 augmented reality apps.

TechCrunch on Layar.

So, what can we do about the usability and the dorky factor? Well, NRU shows off an augmented reality app that works well as both a regular iPhone app that you can hold flat, as well as one that you hold up in front of you.

Cool deal. I can’t wait to look like a dork, though. Shoot me.

Real time comments will piss off pro bloggers (at first)

Last week I sat down with Disqus CEO, Daniel Ha. Here’s that video where he explains the new real-time features (among others) that were just turned on this morning. Including on this blog. This means you can comment and “chat” with other commenters without reloading the page.

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Disqus competitor, JS-Kit, and got their view of real-time comments. We were the first site to use their real-time commenting feature, named Echo.

But now it’s clear that there’s a rift coming. See, these features keep you from refreshing the page to participate in comments. That will dramatically reduce the page views, which will reduce the amount they collect from advertisers (I don’t have those problems, cause I don’t have advertising like that on my site).

The thing is, over on building43 we saw engagement increase dramatically. On that post we saw a 10x increase in time spent on page. Overall we’ve seen the time spent on page increase about 3x.

Which shows we need a new way to get paid for advertising. No longer is refreshing the page important. That’s the old way of paying for advertising. The new way? How much engagement you have on the page.

The problem is that the advertisers won’t figure this out for some time. New companies, like Seattle’s Adometry, are coming that will help them figure this out (more later this week when I get a video up from them).

Anyway, it will be interesting to see which publishers choose not to turn on these real-time features. That will tell me who has business models to protect.

The best "audience" conferences (Pulver vs. Broback)

I keep one of the most complete lists of upcoming conferences and events in the tech industry. Why? Because I have thousands of friends who report to me over on Yahoo’s Upcoming.org the various events that are happening. Even more come to me via the tagging and search features there.

My friends who do tech events tell me they get a majority of their attendance thanks to being listed on Upcoming.org and on Facebook. If your tech event isn’t on my calendar, please do comment here and let me know your Upcoming.org URL and I’ll add it.

Anyway, I’ve been to tons of conferences and I am seeing lots of new conferences that have to do with pleasing an audience and/or Twitter. Two of the best new conferences I’ve attended this year on this topic don’t even try to sell themselves as “audience” conferences. They both say they are Twitter conferences. But, don’t miss what’s going on here and the approach they are taking.

Steve Broback runs TC140. Aka “The Twitter Conference.” His first version, earlier this year, had the coolest newest developers on stage that I’ve seen this year. I love people who are studying the data streams going through Twitter and Facebook and who are trying to bring something out of this. If you hang around Steve for a while he isn’t very flashy. He isn’t known for having big Hollywood parties, but everytime I get together he shows me a new tool for building web sites, or shows me a new trick he learned in Excel for looking at data a new way. His conference reflected his personality and I learned a lot of cool tools and techniques I could use with Twitter. His conference is biased toward businesses and developers, but this time he’s added a ton of celebrities, which makes it my favorite audience building conference out there, plus it’s very affordable, $299 through September 6th.

Jeff Pulver on the other hand is a guy who understands social media. I attended his breakfast in Tel Aviv where he had hundreds of people networking. He has a huge following. He also has good contacts in the music and entertainment industry. I remember one of his parties at his VOiP conference where he had a great rock band and it was lots of fun. His conference had great panels on charity, media, entertainment, along with musicians who played in between sessions. His conference, too, reflected his personality. His conference, 140 characters, is biased toward social media experts, storytellers, entertainers, and audience builders who are looking for inspiration to get to the next level.

Other conferences that are good for people who are trying to build audiences?

Blogworld in Las Vegas, October 15th.

LeWeb, Paris, December 9th.

What conferences are you going to attend between now and the end of the year?

Who will win your “audience” money, Pulver or Broback? Why?

Playing around with Posterous; post on "social media wars"

I’ve been playing around with Posterous, which is a hot new blogging service. Matt Mullenweg better watch out for this one. It’s nicer to use than WordPress.com. Way nicer. Especially if you are a 2010 web guy like me who carries an iPhone everywhere (that’s why I’ve been more into Twitter and FriendFeed over the past year and less into doing my blog).

Anyway, I just wrote a long post about the upcoming social wars over there that you might like. I explain why Yelp has figured out how to monetize all these things but why Facebook, in my opinion, will win the overall war.

Subscribe to my Posterous, because I’m about to upload a ton of videos from interesting startups and people I’ve met in Boulder and Seattle.

Where's the gang of 2,000 who controls tech hype hanging out today?

So, the other day when I signed onto FourSquare for the first time in a while I found 442 people waiting for me. As I looked through the names I saw the same names that had first added me onto Twitter. And Dopplr. And Google Reader. And Facebook. And FriendFeed. And others.

You see, there’s a gang of about 2,000 people who really control tech industry hype and play a major role in deciding which services get mainstream hype (this gang was all on Twitter by early 2007 — long before Oprah and Ashton and all the other mainstream celebrities, brands, and journalists showed up). I have not seen any startup succeed without getting most of these folks involved. Yes, Mike Arrington of TechCrunch is the parade leader, but he hardly controls this list. Dave Winer proved that by launching Bit.ly by showing it first to Marshall Kirkpatrick and Bit.ly raced through this list.

By the way, having this list use your service does NOT guarantee market success. This list has all added me on Dopplr, for instance, but Dopplr has NOT broken out of this small, geeky crowd. Studying why not is something we should do.

Who is on this list? I’ve added as many as I can find onto my Twitter following list (don’t just look at the ones on the first page — the real important people are deeper in the database).

I study this list and share the most important Tweets from this list on my favorites.

One place you can study what these folks are using is on Wakoopa. Lots of them have added Wakoopa to their computers and let this service track what’s going on.

Want to see what this list is adding to their iPhones? Appsfire is a great place to look at that. I just added that to my iPhone. There are a variety of others, that are similar to this too.

Anyway, why do you think that Dopplr got a lot of the 2,000 gatekeepers to sign up, but hasn’t escaped from them into mainstream acceptance? Will Foursquare be the next Twitter and escape the list?