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?

Google's five-year plan to hit Enterprise continues (Cemaphore helps Google out)

I’m convinced that Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, has a five-year plan to put Google’s foot inside the enterprise door.

Enterprise users aren’t easy to switch over. On the plane to New York I saw a guy using Windows 2000 with an older version of Lotus Notes. I felt sorry for the guy. But his usage is typical of those in many enterprises. CTOs don’t like to invest in new stuff when the old stuff is working just fine.

So, you try being a Google salesperson and trying to get the CTO to rip out old stuff (er, Microsoft Office and all of Microsoft’s servers like Sharepoint and Exchange) and switch to your newer stuff (like Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets, Gmail, and Google Calendar).

I’m going through that move myself and I can tell you it isn’t easy. And I’m one guy who can make up my own mind. Imagine the momentum a big company with, say, 100,000 seats has to go through. Next time you’re at Hertz rental car you can see that momentum in action: they are still using a character-mode app on their front line machines.

But the early adopters have already moved. When I ask audiences what they are using now, I see more and more Google customers.

I can’t think of a situation where the enterprise didn’t eventually follow the early adopter crowd. It might have taken years, but they do follow eventually.

Today we are seeing new signs of life in Google’s strategy and the help didn’t come from within Google itself.

It comes from a small company named Cemaphore. They just announced “MailShadow for Google Apps.”

What does it do? It synchronizes email and calendar items between Microsoft Outlook and Exchange and Gmail/Google Calendar.

Sounds really boring, right? Hey, didn’t Google just ship its own synchronizer?

Yes, and yes.

But Google’s synchronizer sucks compared to Cemaphore’s. It’s slow and buggy. Earlier in the week I got a demo of Cemaphore’s new offering from Tyrone Pike, Cemaphore’s CEO and President.

I saw that, thanks to Cemaphore, when I enter a calendar item in Microsoft Outlook it instantly appeared in Google Calendar.

He repeated the demo with reading and sending email from both Exchange and Gmail. Again, synched within seconds.

My own tests with Google’s sync technology showed that items wouldn’t sync for hours, and sometimes, never, if you screwed up and loaded two separate synching products like I did.

So, why is this important?

Because it lets Enterprises slowly introduce Google’s Enterprise products in.

Enterprises will never move wholesale over to Gmail and Google’s other offerings. Users just don’t like that kind of change. There would be revolt at work, if CTOs tried to force it. But this way a CTO can let his/her employees use whatever systems they want and still have them synchronized. And there ARE major reasons to move to Gmail: Cost, for one. I also am hearing that Gmail’s email servers use far less electricity per mail than Exchange’s do. Environmentalism anyone? You think that’s not important for CTOs? It sure is. Both are going to be major drivers that will get Google’s offerings paid attention to.

Anyway, I’m hearing rumblings that Google will follow this announcement up with several of its own over the next couple of months.

It’ll be interesting to see what CTOs think of this and it’ll be interesting to see if it does, indeed, take five years for Google to make major inroads into the Enterprise like I think it will.

What do you think?

Google about to drop the other Enterprise shoe on Microsoft?

I’m hearing about a few things that Google is planning to do to newly compete with Microsoft’s enterprise offerings.

Several people have told me about an offline version of Gmail, coming soon.
Other people say that Google, or a company working with Google, is going to come out with a new server that will let corporations replace their Exchange servers with ones made by Google. Both groups told me under condition that I not reveal who they are.

Now, it might be that my sources are pulling my legs, but I don’t think so. The news is coming from too many different places. I’m reporting this to explain that Google seems like it’s about to apply more pressure in the enterprise space and see if anything else is happening that I don’t know about. The audience here is far smarter and far more connected than I am.

From what I hear we won’t have to wait for Google’s next developer conference to see some of these things come out, although that’s not too far off either.

But what are you hearing?

Google Calendar Sync locked my team out

My team can’t edit my Google Calendar anymore. Why? Because it says that it has been edited too many times by the syncing software I’m running (which is both Plaxo and Google’s own service). It was working perfectly until I added Google’s own syncing software. I’ve now changed the number of times that I’m going to sync to see if it lets my team members back onto my calendar. It still is letting me edit it, but Rocky hasn’t been able to edit it for the past day.

Anyway, be warned if you’re testing out syncing systems like Plaxo or Google’s.

UPDATE: A Google engineer wrote me and said that they don’t recommend using Google’s Calendar Sync with other sync systems like Plaxo.

Plaxo is better than new Google Calendar sync

Google just came out with a new sync system for Google Calendar. That’s pretty good. It will sync your calendar in Outlook up with your online calendar on Google.

But if you have Plaxo I don’t see what this brings you. Plaxo syncs with more systems, not just Outlook and Google (I use Plaxo on my Mac too, so my iPhone’s calendar is always sync’ed up with my Google Calendar and Outlook.

What do you think? Why aren’t you syncing your calendars?