Monthly Archives: May 2010

Our trust relationship with Facebook: complicated

Today I, along with a ton of other journalists, met with Facebook and listened to their presentation on the new privacy settings. Afterward I met one-on-one with Mark Zuckerberg and I told him that Facebook still has a trust problem (you can watch that entire video interview here). I like Mark, some people say I’m a shill for Facebook, and that’s OK. I think Facebook is THE most important Silicon Valley company right now and still is. Anyone who disputes that is just not facing reality. Yes, I know Apple just passed Microsoft in market cap, but Facebook is the one that is shaking up my world view more than any other company (and, I’m hearing that inside Apple they are working on a range of things that will use Facebook, so even Apple is thinking hard about what Facebook means to its future customers).

Yes, Facebook largely solved its privacy problems by giving us simpler choices and giving us more control over our info and what we want shared with whom and I think Zuckerberg won over enough of the critics to — at minimum — allow us to move the discourse around Facebook to other issues than just privacy.

But I’m still don’t trust Facebook enough to move my business into it. Will I ever? Yes, probably. But it will take time for me, and you, to trust this company beyond just playing games or poking our friends.

What is holding back my trust:

1. This is a very ambitious company that changes its approach to the world every year or two and doesn’t have a good roadmap of what’s ahead. Even Zuckerberg, in the interview I did with him, admitted he doesn’t know where Facebook is going tomorrow. Some of that is excusable, we are radically changing our entire culture due to a range of new web services, but some just needs a more steady and predictable approach that will come as Facebook grows into a more mature company rather than a rough-and-tumble-run-by-20-year-olds startup.
2. They need a more mature approach toward customer service. People and content are still getting deleted by spam filters which no one understands or can explain to me and there isn’t good place to go to appeal content deletions. This the problem with not having a federated system that runs on our own servers. Facebook has too much control over our digital lives and that power to delete content really freaks me out.

So much has been said about Facebook today that I’ll just shut up now, and let the changes soak in and see where things go from here.

What do you think after watching this interview and the other press reports that came out today?

Oh, and here’s a video of Zuckerberg introducing the new privacy settings this morning to the press (this was 10 minutes of a much longer press conference):

Why can Soluto do what Microsoft can’t? They get rid of Windows frustrations (exclusive first look)

This video is reposted from Rackspace’s building43 site.

When we visited Israel a few weeks ago we kept running into people who would ask “have you seen Soluto yet?”

Luckily we were able to visit them in their Tel Aviv offices and get a good look.

What do they do? They get rid of frustrations on Windows through a combination of awesome technology and crowd-sourcing.

They have a bunch of products in the pipeline, but the first one being released on stage right now at Techcrunch Disrupt conference is a boot manager that gives users control over what loads into memory and dramatically speeds up boot times.

But there’s more, I’ll let you watch the video.

Oh, and remember the company I saw earlier this year, Siri, and my reaction “this will get bought within months.”

I predict the same for Soluto, Microsoft should buy this company and bring its anti-frustration approach to Windows. To understand how good their approach is you’ve gotta watch the video.

Thank you to my producer Rocky Barbanica for the nice editing on this video.

Is Comcast doing to TV what Foursquare is doing to location? Exclusive first look at Tunerfish

Tunerfish is an interesting new service launching right now at Techcrunch Disrupt. Here I sit down with founder John McCrea who tells me about this unique team and shows me what Tunerfish does.

You basically “check into” the TV shows you are watching, which lets your friends know what you are watching. This is cool because it is yet another way to discover new TV shows from your friends and it reduces the friction of sharing. Plus it will keep our Twitter and other streams cleaner of TV chatter (last night during Lost I saw a TON of messages that basically said nothing more than “watching Lost.”)

What do you think?

The “like, er, lie” economy

The other day I found myself over at Yelp.com clicking “like” on a bunch of Half Moon Bay restaurants. After a while I noticed that I was only clicking “like” on restaurants that were cool, hip, high end, or had extraordinary experiences.

That’s cool. I’m sure you’re doing the same thing.

But then I started noticing that I wasn’t behaving with integrity. What do I mean by that? What I was presenting to you wasn’t reality.

See, I like McDonalds and Subway. But I wasn’t clicking like on those. Why not?

Because we want to present ourselves to other people the way we would like to have other people perceive us as.

Translation: I’d rather be seen as someone who eats salad at Pasta Moon than someone who eats a Big Mac at McDonalds.

This is the problem with likes and other explicit sharing systems. We lie and we lie our asses off.

So, will we be rewarded for being honest with the system and each other?

How could we find out you like Big Macs too?

Well, we could give you a free one if you click like on McDonalds. If you really despise McDonalds you won’t accept the bribe anyway. That will out you and expose the secret lie you’ve been living.

Or, we could reward you for turning on a permanent tracking system so we could study where you REALLY visit.

But all this liking, er, lying, has me thinking. Just how accurate is all that data that Foursquare is collecting? After all, are you checking in only at cool places? Or are you also checking in at gas stations, super markets, or other lower-class places that you don’t really want to advertise that you’re at?

Is this a new bastion of privacy? One where we want to lie to each other without getting called out because we were just caught eating a Big Mac?

What else are we lying about to the companies that are studying us?

Did you delete that you were listening to Kenny G on your Facebook profile and Pandora and put something cooler in there? (I did, after all, we’re living in the like economy and there’s nothing worse than having my friends realize I listen to Kenny G).

So, why is this an economy?

Well, you are already getting free stuff for checking in. Starbucks is giving you a buck off if you become a mayor. You really want to lie to all of us and say you drink Peets or, even better, some local brand that is hipper and better than Starbucks. So now Starbucks has to bribe you to get you to stop lying to the world. That’s an economy of likes, er, lies.

How else can we make money off of our lies?

Hey, Apple, you have mobile competition…

Last week at the Google IO conference they handed everyone a Sprint 4G EVO phone. It’s the third Android-based device I’ve had in my hands in the past seven months.

The previous two times I quickly went back to the iPhone.

This time the Android is sticking. Why?

Look at this thread of dozens of “pros” and “cons” comparing the iPhone to the Sprint.

But, really, a call I had with my boss said it all. I called him:

“Hello?”
“This is Scoble.”
“You’re not calling me on your iPhone, are you?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because I can hear you.”

I’ve now done that test with lots of people. Calling them first on my iPhone, then calling them back on my new Sprint phone. Every single one of them says “wow.” The clarity is so much better that it isn’t funny.

OK, that’s really not the reason I switched.

How about this?

Last night we went to a party 45-minutes from my house. Maryam was driving. Patrick was in the back seat with his iPad.

I turned on Sprint’s tethering feature. Easy to do, anyone can figure it out now (huge improvement in tethering UI).

Within a minute we were both surfing the web through the phone with nice speeds. I even watched a video as we drove down Freeway 280. I waved at Steve Jobs’ office as we went by and said “thanks for the iPad dude” but damn, is the Sprint phone cool. Oh, did I tell you we were using Waze while surfing? That we could listen to Pandora too? Multitasking rocks, but we’ve laid it all out in the pros-cons thread.

Apple, you have mobile competition now and it’s serious.

Anyone want to buy a used iPhone?

When do you throw a CEO’s privacy under the bus?

It’s interesting that lots of people who really don’t like Facebook’s privacy don’t get mad when journalists and bloggers put into public view Steve Jobs’ emails to them.

Today I got an email from Mark Zuckerberg, CEO/founder of Facebook. I am not going to be the one to put that into public view until he gives me permission to.

Why not?

1. Mark is a friend. Someone I want to have a long-term relationship with and I can guarantee you that if someone took MY emails and put them into public view they wouldn’t be trusted as a real-life friend.
2. If I start doing that, other people will trust me less. Even if I didn’t care about what Mark thought of me, I do care what other people in the industry think of me and I want them to be free to send me emails without having them show up on my blog without their prior permission.
3. If he wanted it in public he could have answered me in public, there’s lots of ways to do that, including at http://facebook.com/scobleizer

That said, I asked for permission to put the email into public view because I think you all should have access to the information in it. I’ll let you know later.

What would you have done with an email if Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg emailed you?

It’s amazing to me that people who are speaking up about privacy and Facebook, like Jason Calacanis, Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis haven’t spoken out against having Steve Jobs’ emails taken out of a private context and printed in a public one.

If you don’t speak up for Steve Jobs’ privacy, what right do you have to speak up for your own privacy? Why isn’t that hypocritical? Just because CEOs are public figures and their emails contain information that would be of interest to the public?

Shame.

UPDATE: Zuckerberg gave me permission to print this email while I was typing this post:

Hey,

We’ve been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve. I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.

We’re going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we’ve built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time.

I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve.

I hope we’ll get a chance to catch up in person sometime this week. Let me know if you have any thoughts for me before then.

Mark

Here’s a screen shot of the email string:

Email with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook