Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook: still a data roach motel when compared to Twitter and friendfeed?

Twitter has done something really remarkable: they have made the entire database of Tweets available to other companies. My favorite friendfeed is one of the beneficiaries of that “firehose” of data. You can watch my Tweets go from Twitter to friendfeed and back again. Oh, and friendfeed makes its firehose available to Twitter in return. You can see how this benefits both services. My liked items go from friendfeed to Twitter.

Now, what did Facebook do today? Well, it turned on an open stream API so that developers can put things into the stream over on Facebook. It also looks like developers can take some data off of the stream and use it in their own applications.

Loic Le Meur, CEO of Seesmic, has already shipped a version of Seesmic that does just that.

One big problem that Marshall Kirkpatrick, over at the ReadWriteWeb points out: Facebook is still keeping most of its users’ data private due to the privacy contract that it has made with its users. See, over on Twitter and friendfeed the bias for most user data is that it is public by default until you make it private (like, in friendfeed, you would have to open a room and make that explicitly private to be able to keep your data from going over to Twitter and over to Google. On Facebook it’s the opposite. If you use Facebook as designed your data only gets shown to your friends, not anyone else).

This is a HUGE difference between the openess of the Twitter/friendfeed model and the Facebook one.

Go see the comments on Marshall’s post. They are very telling about how poorly people understand what’s going on here and how they can articulate what they want.

The real elephant in the room is “where’s the money?”

The real money is in search. Yeah, I’m sure that someone at Facebook this afternoon will point out they are selling lots of display ads because they know their audience demographics pretty damn well (hint: Facebook knows EVERYTHING about who you are. I told it, for instance, that I’m a male 44-year-old democrat who loves skiing and photography, among other things).

But the REAL money has NOT shown up for Zuckerberg and crew yet. What’s that?

Search.

When I can ask Facebook “what sushi restaurants do my friends like?” ONLY THEN will you know that Facebook is getting close to the gold mine.

The thing is, Facebook doesn’t want to let you build that kind of business using its data.

THAT is reason #2 why Facebook isn’t going to turn on its real firehose for friendfeed to study, the way that Twitter has let friendfeed have access.

Reason #1, though, is that Zuckerberg hasn’t yet figured out how to change user expectations from having everything private by default to having everything public by default, the way Twitter and friendfeed work.

In an hour a group of us will be meeting with Facebook executives. If everything works out you’ll be able to follow along at http://live.twit.tv as part of a special Gillmor Gang at about 4 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll definitely try to figure out how Facebook will change the default mode so that it can turn on the business social graph.

I also will find out if there’s a roadmap to opening up the data stream to include more data leakage outside of Facebook. If I were Zuckerberg I wouldn’t open that up until after I could change user expectations and get people to build a public instance of themselves. That could take a couple of years.

I wonder what you think of Facebook’s moves? Join us on the Gillmor Gang and over on friendfeed (we’re having a live chat about this post over on the beta friendfeed) and let’s see if we can learn something together about where Facebook is headed.

UPDATE: friendfeed cofounder Paul Buchheit just wrote this over on the live chat: “It’s not about defaults, it’s about ownership. On Facebook, you are not allowed to give other people access to your data, because your data belongs to Facebook. On FriendFeed or Twitter, you can choose to be public or private, but either way you can still access your data and do what you want with it.”

Facebook Fund deadline today (and a video with Dave McClure)


Facebook is looking for entrepreneurs who are looking for funding to build Facebook apps and the guy who runs the fund (Dave McClure) just warned everyone today is the deadline.

Yesterday Dave visited me, along with Washington DC entrepreneur Jared Goralnick and we talked for 50 minutes about a variety of topics. Dave is an entrepreneur and much more. He did editorial for the Web 2.0 Expo, taught a Facebook application class at Stanford University and now is an investor in a variety of companies, including Mint.

Separately Goralnick, who is the CEO of AwayFind, talked to me about how his service helps keep email more productive by letting you answer email only once per day, but letting emergencies through your filtering system.

The newspaper industry just gave away another free meal, er Twitter: do they have any left?

I’m listening to Dave Winer and Jay Rosen “reboot the news.” Jay is a journalism professor and Dave is a geek that helped either birth or bootstrap all sorts of publishing technologies including blogging, RSS, OPML, XML-RPC, and more. So, hearing the two of them do an audio podcast every Sunday is very interesting.

I’ve been pretending in my head that I’m a newspaper exec. When I do that I keep beating myself around the face. Why? Because the newspaper industry keeps giving the geeks free meals. Let’s study the free meals:

Free meal #1. Giving away classified advertising to Craig’s List.
Free meal #2. Giving away photography to Flickr (look at the photos from the Chinese Earthquake, why didn’t this happen on a newspaper branded site?).
Free meal #3. Giving away front page news to blogs like Huffington Post.
Free meal #4. Giving away “small” community news like births, deaths, birthdays, etc to Facebook.
Free meal #5. Giving away real-time news to Twitter.
Free meal #6. Giving away news distribution to Google News and Amazon Kindle, among others. With new sites like Kosmix coming on strong (hundreds of percent of growth month over month).
Free meal #7. Giving away restaurant reviews to Yelp.
Free meal #8. Giving away traffic information to Google Maps.
Free meal #9. Giving away celebrity news to Facebook and Twitter. (Why is Oprah on both of those, and why didn’t the newspaper industry lock up Oprah and keep her on a newspaper brand?)
Free meal #10. Giving away local news to Topix (at least that was funded by a newspaper brand).
Free meal #11. Giving away business news to Yahoo Finance and Google Finance (and something new that will get announced tomorrow).
Free meal #12. Giving away news ranking to Memeorandum.
Free meal #13. Giving away astrology to Astrology.com.
Free meal #14. Giving away comics to Comics.com.

What is their latest giveaway? Crowd-sourced news. I visit Twitter Search every day to find out what is “hot news.” That’s something I used to look at newspapers and older media for (radio, TV) but Twitter is just plain better at telling me what is trending.

OK, so now my face is bloody because I’m seeing all the things the newspaper industry gave away. Do they have anything left to give away?

YES!

“OK, Scoble, you’ve lost it now, there isn’t anything left.”

Oh, you are wrong. There are still some tasty meals left. The rest of this post will be a plea to the newspaper industry to NOT give away the last things they have left.

Meal left #1: their distribution. About half of the houses in Washington D.C., for instance, still receive the Washington Post.
Meal left #2 (partially eaten): their understanding of the local community, although this is disappearing very quickly in many communities. I’d still rather read a New York Times review of Broadway Plays or restaurants than a Yelp review, but that is changing fast too.
Meal left #3: they still have journalists who can be paid to chew on something for a while (like go to Iraq to cover the war), although this is disappearing too. Sorry, I’ve watched the blog world and we aren’t willing to self fund longer term projects. We chase the fun short stories, or things that will get a quick hit on Memeorandum or Techmeme, but doing the longer stories that require doing real reporting with hundreds of sources, say, about what a politician is doing, just isn’t there.
Meal left #4: objectivity and accountability. I can argue that lots of journalists aren’t objective, but the truth is they are part of a system that adds objectivity and accountability as a system BEFORE publishing. Blogging and Twittering, I have noticed, can be objective and accountable, but it sometimes takes time to figure that out, especially when bloggers and twitterers don’t disclose their conflicts of interests up front.
Meal left #5: Systems for aggregating and archiving information. Far beyond what I’ve seen on most blogs or on Twitter. Here, find quickly the first four Tweets about the Chinese Earthquake. Now, why does the New York Times make it easier to find the front page of the paper the day they reported the Titanic sank?. Hint: they have this figured out in a way that Twitter and others just don’t.
Meal left #6 (partially eaten): they have brands that many people who are older, and therefore understand politics, business, sports, news, influence, wealth, and many other topics, love a lot more than Facebook or Twitter.
Meal left #7: They have news systems that are very robust. Do you have the Associated Press warning you about news events coming up? Newspaper editors do. Do you have a scanner and a team of people listening to the police full time? Newspapers do (or did).
Meal left #8: They have a room of curators. People who understand the news. Understand their communities. Who pick the top stories and who add understanding onto them with photos, graphics, headlines, etc. Believe me, I’ve been watching most bloggers and most of them suck at packaging their stories.
Meal left #9: Sources. The San Jose Mercury News can get into the Mayor’s Office. I can’t. Well, I probably could, but it would take a while to figure out who to call, what the stories are, who the gatekeepers are, etc. When I visited the Capital I had a journalist as a guide. If I didn’t have someone who was familiar with the Capital I would never have gotten past all the gatekeepers and I would not have been as effective.
Meal left #10: Relationships and an understanding of same. Most of us haven’t really thought about how the Mayor of our town is related to other people. Journalists study that in depth.
Meal left #11: a newsroom. I’ve been in a few newsrooms, including the New York Times. Being there gives you access to other people who care about the news. People who’ve been around a long time and understand how to get to the bottom of a story and how to tell it in the best possible way. You also have access to all the machinery of creating news. Can you afford a 300 mm F2.8 lens? I can’t. That costs $8,000, but the local newsroom probably has several. The New York Times even has a TV studio to shoot HD interviews that I can’t yet do.
Meal left #12: great opinion writers who understand the news system a lot better than most Twitter users. The New York Times even ran a post about that today, which is causing interesting conversation.

So, what is the next meal to be given away and, how could I, as self-appointed head of journalism, keep our industry from giving it away to yet another San Francisco geek with his or her hand out?

We are in the middle of moving to a real-time system for EVERYTHING. Tomorrow afternoon at about 4 p.m. Pacific Time a company called SkyGrid will show off just how this is true. But you already have plenty of taste in Twitter, Facebook, and especially, friendfeed. But those systems are still VERY UNSATISFYING.

That is where we could work together. Why don’t the geeks and the last remaining news organizations create something new?

Let’s start with Facebook and Twitter. They are onto something, but they have NOT nailed the monetization system. Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook knows they are very close. Let me explain a little of how close they are.

To do that, first let’s go back to how people buy things. I’m in the middle of buying a mountain bike, so am studying this process very closely. Here’s the buying process:

1. Something created the need in my head to buy a mountain bike. In this case it was a doctor who told me I should exercise more. I have a great trail near my house. I don’t like swimming. I don’t like running anymore (did too much running in high school when I ran four marathons). I don’t like going to the gym. So, I’ve been looking for something more fun that will help me in my goal. My friend Luke wants me to surf, and that might play into it, but I like riding a bike and I like photography, so I want to carry a camera while mountain biking.
2. Now I’m researching. That means visiting stores. That means asking my friends. Talking about it on Twitter and friendfeed. Just a few minutes ago (while writing this post) I did just that and already have dozens of replies, all in live time!
3. Soon, this week, I’ll be buying. That’ll be the only time you can really monetize me.

So, let’s look at Facebook, Twitter, friendfeed.

Can they create the need? Absolutely!
Can they help you research? Yes!
But can they monetize? No!

That’s the opportunity Mark Zuckerberg has left open and it’s only open for a little while.

So, what can we do?

How about we create our own social network? One that is a meritocracy. Best participants get recommended. Not like Twitter where celebrities get recommended above people who are actually participating. Oprah, for instance, already is on Twitter’s recommended follower list despite only being on Twitter for three days. Huh? Twitter will come to understand why that’s a pretty stupid idea. Celebrities rarely will tell you where to buy a great mountain bike and even rarer will they answer your questions in live time. Come on, do you really hold delusions that Oprah will answer your questions? I don’t.

First, let’s start with cloning Twitter. It’s the simplest to clone. Heck, there’s already an open source system that did just that. It’s called Laconica.

But remember, what we really need is a search engine to pull interesting things out.

Here’s some use cases we’ll need to design that search engine to do:

1. Local establishments. When I am walking down University Ave (or any ave) I want to be able to say “show me sushi restaurants within walking distance.” Now, imagine if Facebook did that? Well, it could tell you “four sushi restaurants have been liked by 10 or more of your friends.” But it doesn’t store location information. Friendfeed? It can give you the real time metadata, but we need more to be able to really pull back just restaurants. Relying on comments and titles, the way its engine does now, will lead to lots of noise. And Twitter? Twitter doesn’t give us enough metadata to do much of anything except to know that a few sushi restaurants were retweeted a lot or that there’s one with a popular metatag.
2. Movie feedback in real time. I remember seeing movies with my team at 7 a.m. on release day when I worked at Microsoft (they bought tickets for lots of us and made us go early in the morning so that we’d be at work on time). The email lists would tell everyone else whether the movie was any good or not. So, why can’t we do that? And rate theaters at the same time?
3. News sharing. Already Twitter does THAT pretty well. I knew about the Chinese Earthquake while it was happening thanks to just watching Twitter. But months later? Try to pull out the important Tweets. I can’t. Over on friendfeed I can. Over on Facebook? Nope, because my friends started yelling at me when I pulled Tweets in there. They like baby photos and personal information, meant for close friends, but not a lot of news. Facebook is going to have a tough time getting over that.
4. Product feedback. I need a way to look for good feedback about all sorts of stuff. Dave Winer just bought a toaster oven that he has been raving about. Now go to Twitter Search and tell me about his toaster oven. I couldn’t find his info. Over on friendfeed I was able to find his info, but it’s unstatisfying, because I can’t see who else liked that particular toaster oven.

So, how do we build what I need?

I have some ideas. First, let’s assume we can match friendfeed. That’s already a tall order. That company was started by four superstars from Google. I’m not a superstar from Google.

But, I know that there are a few technology superstars at, say, the New York Times. I’ve met a few of them on my travels and there are a few others out there, too, and if we pool our efforts we could convince others to join us. There’s lots of engineers on the streets right now.

How about making a platform that would enable everyone to build their own little Twitter? You know, have a community of people that they could draw out of Twitter and over to your private community? Friendfeed is very close to that. Watch how I’m using Twitter to get my Twitter followers to answer questions over on friendfeed. But that means you’ve gotta have something that adds functionality onto Twitter over on our own site.

Look at my question on Twitter and friendfeed about mountain bikes again. What do you notice is missing?

1. Price data.
2. Comparison charts.
3. Separation of very credible and uncredible answers. Let’s say someone from Nike’s adventure team, who I believe is the winningest mountain bike team, comes over and answers my question. Why is his or her answer the same as everyone else’s? Doesn’t he or she have more credibility and authority?
4. Other metadata that shouldn’t be visible, like metatags. Maybe someone wants to connect my answers to another answer on, say, bike components. But why should that connection be visible? Today building such a connection in Twitter, Facebook, and friendfeed is not possible. So, how would we do it? Invisible comments and a command line interface. More on that in a minute.
5. My ability to mark different people as credible for different reasons. Let’s say the CEO of Specialized came over and commented on that thread. He would be credible, but he would be biased toward pushing Specialized. So, he’s not as credible as, say, someone from the Nike adventure team, at least when it came to bikes. He might be VERY credible when it comes to other biking topics, though, and even in bikes he’s more credible, than, say, me, who has no expertise in the industry.
6. Connection with existing resources. I like how Mahalo does this. If they don’t have a human-built connection they add algorithmic ones from Google.
7. Links to places to buy. Anytime I mention “mountain bikes” why doesn’t Twitter and friendfeed bring up a link to different mountain bike stores? Heck, even Amazon ships Mountain Bikes and if I included my affiliate link (I have not here) I would get paid some cash everytime someone bought a bike.
8. Comprehensive links to all the reviews that already have been done about the products that are getting mentioned in there. I have to manually put each one of them into Google to find more info. Why is that?

Here’s what I meant by “invisible comments.” Look at friendfeed. Each comment is a piece of metadata that can be used by the search engine. For instance, I can put “greattoasteroven” into a comment, like I did underneath Dave Winer’s toaster oven post, and now you can use friendfeed’s search engine to find it. But why does that “metatag” have to be visible? Here, let’s design an invisible commenting engine.

First, let’s invoke the invisible commenting engine. We could pick something like %%0, which is a string that would never get used. So, let’s design an invisble comment:

%%0 metatag=”greattoasteroven” This one could do metatags.
%%0 location=”25 Pinehurst Lane, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019″ This one could do location.
%%0 price=”$1,499″ This one could do price.
%%0 language=”german” this could tell the search engine to pull this entry up only if the speaker wanted german results
%%0 invisible=”Dave Winer is a nice guy.” This could be used to leave a comment for you, or for the search engine, but that wouldn’t be visible for the outside world. You could even use that to make things only visible to certain people, so you could have private conversations INSIDE the comment thread.
%%0 administrator=davew This one could make Dave Winer an administrator of the item, which would give his comments a different color, and would enable him to delete or edit comments on that thread.
%%0 post comment at 12:01 p.m. Pacific Time April 29, 2009: “this comment will appear on April 29th at 12:01″
%%0 credibility=10:davew This would mark Dave Winer as “highly credible” on this topic, and because everyone else has a default credibility of 5, would give him a different color and a star icon. You could then do the next invisible comment:
%%0 display credibility of >8 only (this would make only comments of people with credibility of 8 or above visible, once the user had invoked this).

Anyway, I could keep going all night long. In the real-time web having such a console would be important to be able to talk to the search engine. We could brainstorm such things all night long.

Now, isn’t that “geeky?” Yes. Would the celebrities that now are moving into Twitter get it? No AND yes!

See, while the geeks might be stuck with such a command-line interface, I expect that very quickly developers of applications like Tweetie, Twhirl, and TweetDeck would add on UIs to take advantage of the invisible functionality. You could click a “price” button in TweetDeck, for instance, which would show you the price of the bike you are now looking at (or allow you to input it as a Tweet-like message, if you knew the price).

This would build a very rich microblogging service and I think everyone else would want to build invisible comments into their system and interroperate with the ones we designed.

But, no, I suspect this whole post is for naught. I suspect that the newspaper industry will give away their last few meals to the geeks in San Francisco yet again.

Why is that?

Mike Arrington and I disagree on the future

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Last Saturday on the Gillmor Gang Mike Arrington wondered aloud whether Twitter had won a “winners take all” game and whether that meant that friendfeed was toast. He then wrote a blog post titled “FriendFeed is in danger of becoming the coolest app no one uses.”

If Arrington is right, then Friendster would have kept MySpace from happening. MySpace would have kept Facebook from happening. Facebook would have kept Twitter from happening.

The thing is that Arrington and I disagree about the future.

He is right about one thing. Twitter has won. It is now the favorite way for people to do microblogging. It LOOKS like a “winner take all” thing, right? After all, who will use a different service than all those celebrities now? To be serious we already know that Twitterers won’t switch, because last year Twitter was down all the time and no one switched, even when they were being abused by the technology.

So that game IS over and Arrington is right about that.

But, is the microblogging game where the cash is? No, I don’t think so.

Well, then, where is the cash?

Search.

“Huh?” I can hear you asking. “Twitter has real-time web search already.”

Yes, but it isn’t all that good.

Here, let’s demonstrate. Remember the plane that crashed in the Hudson?

I want you to find the original picture that someone sent in from their iPhone over Twitter.

Here, I’ll do the searches for you. Go to Twitter Search and type in Hudson Plane Crash. See all the noise? Yeah, the picture is there somewhere but it’s hard to find.

Now, here’s another search, this time using some of the filtering systems over on friendfeed. The picture stands right out.

See, what is going on here is that for search to work you MUST have metadata. Google built a multi-billion-dollar business on the metadata of linking. The next big business will build on top of the metadata of these three things:

1. Who shared or commented on an item. The search above I knew I had liked the picture, so I constrained the search to only things I’ve liked.
2. How many comments or likes are on an item. The search above I knew had tons of comments and likes, so I looked only for items that had more than five likes. That got rid of 95% of the noise.
3. What was said in the item. See on Twitter there’s only 140 characters and other people can’t add tags or info onto that item. On friendfeed I can leave a comment underneath a tweet and make it even more searchable. These comments get indexed in seconds now, which makes them very useful. I can add “cool tweet” to a Tweet and then search for that tweet later. Here’s an example.

NONE of these pieces of metadata are available in Twitter.

This is not just about friendfeed, either. Over on Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has a TON of extra metadata to study as well. He knows who has commented on each other’s walls or who has sent a message, so he knows who your “real” friends are.

Now, to be fair, Twitter does have some metadata to study as well. Retweets are metadata. Already Retweetfeed and TweetMeme are watching that metadata and there are other sites as well.

Twitter can also study hashtags, but I have been talking to people about why I think they are dead. Certainly hashtags are less relevant in the future.

But, notice what Twitter’s metadata is: it has to be included INSIDE a Tweet, where Facebook and friendfeed’s metadata is OUTSIDE the Tweet. Which gives you more characters to communicate with your friends.

So, why are the dollars in search and not just in microblogging?

Well, let’s look how people buy something.

Someone or something creates the need in their head to buy something. I have a baby on the way so I’m starting to look at strollers again since our old one isn’t good enough for a two-baby family.

That’s the “need.”

Then I start talking to my friends. That’s where Twitter and Facebook and Friendfeed come in. I also start researching. That’s where Google comes in and parenting sites and all that.

Then we make a decision. NOW that is the only place where monetization is possible.

Let’s say I decided on a Bugaboo stroller. I search Google for such. Notice all the ads along the right side!

Why are all those ads there? Because businesses know that’s where the money is. Not in blasting ads on the Superbowl. Not in bothering you with ads in my videos or on my blog, where there aren’t many people buying strollers.

No, they want to hit you AT THE MOMENT YOU ARE BUYING.

So, why would Bugaboo want to put ads inside your Tweets? Hint, they won’t. They won’t get many sales that way. But, what if you are searching for information on strollers? Absolutely! That means you’re looking to buy.

OK, here’s where we differ on the future.

We found our new doctor on Yelp. You’ll find all sorts of things this way in the future.

How about a restaurant? A plumber? A TV repair shop? A lawyer?

Consider that you’re walking down the street with a future version of Facebook or Twitter or friendfeed in your hand. You’re looking for a restaurant.

Which is going to be able to bring back the best restaurants that your friends care about?

That requires having metadata to study. That’s why Facebook copied friendfeed’s likes so that it can come back and say “there are four restaurants that have more than 20 likes from your friends within walking distance.”

Translation: the future hasn’t been built yet. That’s why Twitter has not won the entire game yet. That’s why this is a fun industry to watch.

Oh, and Mike, you only have 62 comments and 72 likes, which demonstrates you haven’t done enough with these systems to see the real value. I have 18,300 comments and 17,284 likes and now I have a database that ANYONE can search and find a LOT of value. Plus, I have now been to the future and you haven’t. Yet. You’ll get there. :-)

I gave my Twitter and friendfeed followers a look at the video I did, discussing our disagreement and here’s the comment area that erupted. Keep in mind that this is a live chat room and you can add comments and I’ll see and be able to answer them live on screen there. Oh, that’s something else that Twitter and Facebook can’t yet do. Like I said, I’ve been to the future. You should come and join me.

Big shifts in microblog/social networking world

What a week in the microblog world.

First Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had a ton of really nasty articles written about him after his CFO left and was replaced. My take? Zuck got the service to 200 million and he’s one of the smartest businesspeople I’ve met. He’s also young and has definite ideas of where he’d like to take Facebook. He also has investors that he has to listen to at least a little bit. Add all that up and it’s a spot I’m glad I’m not in. That said Zuckerberg and crew are so close to the gold that their metal detectors must be going nuts. Now they have to execute and get show us how they are going to add businesses to the social graph and also how they are going to build public entities so that they can take the hype away from Twitter. If they get those two done, they’ll cash in big time. But those are two big ifs, especially if there are major management troubles like what some of the bloggers are sensing.

The second big shift this week was Mike Arrington’s reporting that Twitter is in talks with Google to be sold for a quarter billion dollars. First, disclosure: I really don’t like Twitter’s management team. I think they have more problems than Zuckerberg. They treat their community even worse than Facebook does. Their technology has been horrid (and still has major problems, when I refresh Twitter 100 times I see a Fail Whale at least five times, if not more). But, no one can argue the fact that Twitter has gotten more PR in the past 30 days than any other company I can remember getting in the past year. Everytime I turn on TV or Radio lately I hear “we just Tweeted.” That alone is worth a ton and they deserve to be compensated for yet again building a great brand. Why does Google want Twitter? Easy, search features. How did I learn about the Chinese earthquake? Well, that was by accident (I was the first American to tell someone else about the earthquake) because I follow so many people. But what did I do after that? I went to http://search.twitter.com and started watching what everyone was saying about the earthquake. Today tons of people do that or use tools like Twhirl and Tweetdeck to do those searches.

Lots of my friends think that this search behavior will let Microsoft get back into the search game if Microsoft bought Twitter. Heck, Todd Bishop just wrote that too. Unfortunately Steve Ballmer doesn’t understand Twitter (he isn’t on it and probably thinks that’s yet another stupid thing that Scoble uses) so he probably won’t see the value here. Ballmer has done a horrid job at getting Microsoft into the search game, so I’ll be shocked if he wakes up and buys Twitter. Of course just by saying that I probably made Ev and Biz a few hundred million dollars more — if Microsoft and Google get into a bidding war valuations on Twitter could go up to a billion or more. Pretty rich territory for a service that has only 10 million users in the United States.

The third shift? It actually is coming on Monday as friendfeed brings out a completely new UI. I saw it last night and I’m still stunned (mostly in a good way, but change is always exhausting). I’m not sure I’ll like it all, but you’ll definitely want to watch the video I shot of the press conference and I will have a LOT more to say on this on Monday morning. I’m under embargo until Monday, but the video is long and they go into tons of details about the new UI and their business.

What a week in social networking/microblogging. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Facebook is lucky it missed buying Twitter and now should eat Yelp

Poster inside a Facebook office

Twitter is getting a TON of hype right now. Even today, on ABC radio, I heard about a meter for your plants that tells you they need water via Twitter. Here’s a “Tweet a Watt” do-it-yourself kit that lets you build a power meter that will work with Facebook and Twitter.

Sorry, got distracted there by the hype. Remember when Facebook tried to buy Twitter and failed?

That might have been the best possible thing that would happen to Facebook (and Twitter, actually). Let’s be honest, much of Twitter’s functionality is already built into Facebook, Zuckerberg and team just need to turn on a few new features (Steve Gillmor calls them “track”) and then everyone will get why Facebook will do just fine without Twitter.

But Twitter isn’t where the real money is. Where is that?

Getting businesses onto the social graph.

“Scoble, you’re smoking some of that funky weed again, aren’t you?”

No, hear me out.

Go back and look at the phone books that we all used to use before the Internet came about. In my house we used to get two books: one that was white, which had listings for people, and one that was yellow, which had listings for businesses.

Which one made AT&T tons of money? Hint: the Yellow Pages. I paid thousands of dollars a month to have our camera store advertisement in there. It generally paid off by bringing us tons of customers. After all, when you needed a camera store, or a dentist, plumber, lawyer, or a variety of other things, you’d look in the yellow pages and the one with the best looking ad got our business.

Now, let’s go back to Facebook. What’s the equivilent of the “best looking ad?” The business who has the best reviews. That’s a shift. A major one. Up to today Facebook has built the equivilent of the white pages: a site of people, but not of businesses. Soon Facebook will have tons of businesses on the social graph, but it needs to grab as much of that space as absolutely possible before others, like Twitter, get into the game.

Here’s why: if you have a bar, like my brother, how do you get a lot of Facebook’ers to come into your bar and “like” your bar?

Well, how about you advertise an offer to everyone in your local area? Hint: Facebook is NOT going to let you do that for free. How about you give all Facebook’ers the first beer for free? Think that would get a lot of Facebook users into my brother’s bar? You bet it would. Then, how do I get you to “like” my brother’s bar? Well, I’ll bribe you once again: I’ll give you a free basket of chips if you click “like” on my brother’s bar when you’re there.

“That’s bribery.”

Yeah, yeah, but this stuff goes on every day in business. You think those celebrities on TV that sponsor Nike are doing it for free? No. So why shouldn’t businesses try to pay for you to like them?

UPDATE: a few people have noted that Yelp’s TOS says you aren’t allowed to do this to get good reviews. OK, but you are allowed to ask people to review you, I’ve had that happen, and tons of restaurants around the world have Yelp stickers in the front window, which signal the same thing. And of course restaurant owners ask their friends to help give them good reviews. Heck, speeding is against the rules, but try doing 65 on FWY 280 and see how many people pass you.

Think this doesn’t matter?

Ask Christina Tan. She’s Milan (our son)’s new doctor. I took a picture of her and wrote about her here. How did Maryam (my wife) find Christina?

Yelp.

See, on Yelp, Christina is the top rated pediatrician in San Mateo.

“Scoble, you’re smoking that wacky weed again, Yelp is for rating restaurants.”

Not any more. Yelp is building a list of all sorts of businesses and letting its users rate them.

I asked Christina yesterday how many new patients she’s gotten thanks to Yelp. She said “several.” What’s funny is that Christina has never even been to Yelp (at least as of yesterday, she said she’s very interested in checking it out now).

So, right now, it’s easy to be accidentally “best” on Yelp right now. That won’t last. You think there won’t be a pediatrician who won’t try to figure out how to get the #1 spot away from Christina? I know there will be several. The stakes for new business are too high (restaurants are already seeing the impact of Yelp).

So, that brings us to Facebook. Yelp will help Facebook get to the real money: business recommendations.

I would not be shocked to hear soon that Facebook is in negotiations with Yelp. It makes too much sense to me. I hope Facebook eats Yelp.

What do you think?

Why Rob Diana is right: Twitter gets the hype while Facebook will get the gold

Rob Diana just wrote “Sorry Twitter, Facebook is The Data Gold Mine.”

First, let’s go back to Ronn Owens. He’s a talk show host on KGO Radio. Actually, he’s the #1 rated talk show on the #1 station in San Francisco (if you exclude nationally-syndicated radio guys like Limbaugh). I was listening the day he discovered Twitter. He resisted at first (a guest told him he MUST be on Twitter, because it’s a good way to let his listeners know what’s coming up). The next day he announced that he had joined Twitter to his audience. I was follower #24 (he now has 558). I joined about 20 minutes after his announcement because I was driving. It was amazing to me that he had only gotten 24 followers in that time, which demonstrates the lack of engagement of a talk radio audience, but I’m getting off track.

What got him onto Twitter? (He’s talked about it several times since). Its publicness.

This is what is driving Twitter’s hype. See, for a celebrity like Owens, or a brand like CNN (which has several accounts on Twitter) the publicness of Twitter is like crack. Facebook might have more users, but it’s hard to be “public” on Facebook. Google’s spiders (the software that indexes web pages) can’t get into Facebook easily while those same spiders eat up Twitter.

The “publicness” of Twitter makes a TON of sense for someone like Ronn Owens who wants to reach a world-wide audience with very little work. Facebook makes less sense because it’s not only more work (there’s a lot more to do on Facebook than just write simple text messages from a cell phone) but it isn’t as public so it’s harder to get new followers.

But this is exactly why people tell me they use Facebook instead of Twitter. So, Facebook has the numbers (about 180 million for Facebook vs. about 10 million for Twitter). It is also why Rob Diana is right: people will put more intimate stuff, like having a baby, into Facebook rather than Twitter.

Only weirdos like me like sharing intimate stuff in a public forum and having conversations. Hint: for every weirdo like me, there are 1000 who are like my wife and only want to discuss that stuff with their “true friends.”

Which brings me back to Rob Diana’s point. It’s those intimate details that will bring advertising opportunities. “I’m having a baby shower in San Francisco at the Hyatt” is the type of thing normal people will share in Facebook with their friends but will never think of sharing in Twitter. Yet that’s the kind of information that a brand like the Hyatt needs to engage with you.

When I went to Las Vegas recently and said I was staying in the Luxor, someone got back to me at the Luxor on Twitter and said something like “let me know if I can help you, I can get you show tickets and make reservations for you.”

This kind of customer intimacy will be far more prevalent over on Facebook because WE are far more intimate there.

Rob is right, I wonder how Twitter is going to shift to get us to be more intimate with sharing the intimate details of our lives?

Oh, and I wonder how Facebook is going to keep us sharing the intimate details of our lives as it tries to add businesses to the social graph? The first time some business answers back a Facebooker like the Luxor did to me on Twitter they might get freaked out, so Facebook has to be careful here.

So, why would Facebook get any money from the Luxor? I can see a ton of ways. Can’t you?

Think of the Yellow Pages. Simple listings are free there (or were back when I advertised in the 1980s). But bigger ads that are more impressive cost thousands per month. Use that model on Facebook. Imagine a brand, like Luxor, just wants to say hi. That’s free. But how about post a link? That’ll be $4 please. And on and on.