I really like Techcrunch's new "Facebook comments"

Techcrunch today changed from Disqus comments, like the ones I use on my blog, to Facebook comments. That decision was discussed on Techcrunch, including by me (see the comments).

They are hated by a lot of people, see the comments on this Techcrunch post, but I really love them.

Why? The quality of the comments went up 1000%. More on that in a second.

Plus, everytime I comment now I can shove that answer over to Facebook, which brings them more readers since most of their potential growth will come from Facebook.

So, why has the quality of the comments gone up?

1. Much less anonymity. I really hate anonymity. In 10 years of blogging I can only remember a few really great comments done by someone anonymous. But, anonymous people are far more likely to try to destroy the conversation and not be constructive. Even when they are constructively critical, you don’t know where they are coming from or who they are. The simple addition of a real name onto their comments makes their critique much more useful and interesting and more likely to be listened to, in my experience.

Think about it for a second. If someone anonymous says “your post sucks because it didn’t consider xyz point.” Now, what if Tim O’Reilly said it? Or Bill Gates? Are you more likely or less likely to listen to the feedback? Is it more or likely to lead to better conversation?

2. A provable social graph. On Facebook there are quite a few Bill Gates. Lots of people love to impersonate him. But I can pick the real one out because the real one has certain people in his social graph (his friends are people who match who his real life friends are). This means impersonators are easily thrown out of the system.

3. The font is smaller and more compact, so I can see more comments in one stream.

Anyway, for now, I’m sticking with Disqus. I’m watching Techcrunch’s experiment. Over on Quora Techcrunch’s MG Siegler explained more about why they switched.

What do you think? Would switching to Facebook help or hurt here?

Rob Glaser's next thing: SocialEyes, group videoconferencing

This post was republished, in part, from Rackspace’s Building43.

Rob Glaser got known by starting Real Networks so we wondered what he was going to do next. Here it is. He joined up with CEO Rob Williams, who used to be on the Netmeeting team at Microsoft. In other words he’s been doing collaborative real time video software for a long time (Netmeeting was hot in 1995/1996). In this conversation we cover a lot of videoconferencing history and what’s changed since Netmeeting.

While video conferencing via the web has been around since the 1990s, the concept hasn’t kept pace with the radical changes in social interactions made possible by services such as Facebook. SocialEyes is changing that with a new tool that introduces video into the Facebook experience.

“The way that people collaborate now in the age of social networks is very, very different than the way they used to,” explains Rob Williams, CEO of SocialEyes. “SocialEyes is a social video product that lets people connect with their Facebook friends in much more dynamic and powerful ways than they have before and to go beyond their Facebook friends to connect with people who have a shared interest or passion…both in real-time and asynchronously.”

SocialEyes is a free service and works directly within your browser using Flash. You can have multiple video conversations going on at once in separate windows, and if you want to combine conversations, the software has tools to connect windows and create ad hoc group meetings.

By associating with Facebook, SocialEyes has an enormous potential pool of users, and the goal is to make it easy for each of them to use the service. “One of the very powerful things we do with SocialEyes,” says Williams, “is rollout something that works across every [Facebook] user–500 million users around the world–with essentially no software download.”

UPDATE: GigaOm covered SocialEyes too. More coverage is on Techmeme.

More info:

SocialEyes web site: http://www.socialeyes.com/
SocialEyes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/socialeyes
SocialEyes profile on CrunchBase: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/socialeyes

Getting ready for SXSW: Order your "geek cards"

SXSW 2011

Back in 2006 I wrote my “best practices” for business cards. That advice hasn’t changed much but the technology behind business cards and business networking sure has. To see just how see the Building43 interview with Hashable’s CEO. Folks over on Quora expect Hashable will be one of the most popular apps at SXSW in 2011.

But as cool as Hashable, or Bump, or similar apps are going to be, most of us will still use paper cards. Damn luddites!

But that doesn’t mean your paper card can’t be geeky! At SXSW this year two companies sent me versions of “geek cards” that they are pushing. You see those two cards in the photo attached to this post.

Who made these? Two companies:

1. Paperlinks.
2. AvaKard.

Yes, both of these are using standard QR codes, so you can scan them with any app but with Paperlinks you can use their iPhone app, which works really well. Shows you all sorts of detail that I can change. You can even get to my Quora page just by scanning my card.

Overall I like Paperlinks better. Partly because I’m just not sold on non-standard-sized cards. Makes it easier to lose and scan and stuff like that. Plus I like the iPhone app they made.

I do like having a photo on a card, though, makes it easier to remember who handed you the card, and where. I also like that Avakards uses a SXSW-specific URL. Paperlinks, in its defense, shows you “I met you at SXSW” which is very useful when you end up mixing up your cards with all of those that you got elsewhere. They are always fun to look back at too.

But, what about you? Are you ready for SXSW? Do you have YOUR geek cards ready to hand out?

By the way, you can scan the cards above using QR code software or Paperlinks’ iPhone app. It even works in the photo above.

One last thing, be careful when handing these cards around. Your corporate bosses might not like you using non-standard cards. In fact I’ll find these hard to use because they don’t even say Rackspace on them. Or, if I did use them I’d also hand you a Rackspace card, too, so you’d know my official work info. But these are fun ways to network with the geeks at SXSW who will be trying all sorts of new mobile apps to network.

Thank you Google

Dear Google: yes, I know you are pissing off lots of businesses that today aren’t listed as high. CNN Money covers their plight.

I wanted to say “thank you.”

Why? In nearly every search I tried today results are better than they used to be.

Not many people look out for the users in today’s world when so many big businesses are pushing the other way.

I’ve been running lots of searches for things like “San Francisco hotels downtown” and overall your results today are less spammy, have more “real” hotels and fewer intermediaries, and have better results than they used to. Plus, they have fewer ads and fewer of these intermediaries than your biggest competitor, Bing.

Yes, I’m watching Techmeme and seeing the businesses that are hurting. Quora has a very good list of such.

But I just wanted to say “thank you” for trying to do something about the resultsets that are growing less and less useful because more and more sites were getting low-quality content into the result sets.

By the way, these changes don’t help bloggers but I don’t care. I’m a user of Google first and the results have definitely improved lately. I just searched for “Motorola Xoom iPad” and see that my blog is nowhere to be found, but the reprint on Business Insider is on the first page. Definitely Google is much more biased to big brands now than it was eight years ago (eight years ago bloggers were able to be seen much higher than brands).

First look: "no editing" iPhone video editor in HighlightCam

Editing video is a real pain in the behind. Here’s the workflow I use:

1. Hook up my card reader.
2. Copy my video files off of my video card or iPhone to my local hard drive.
3. Import them into a video editing program like iMovie on my Mac or Windows Movie Maker on a PC.
4. I need to edit it, pulling out bad footage, figuring out how to make transitions look good, etc.
5. Export it to a file that can be uploaded to YouTube.
6. Upload it.

I did all that to get the video on this post done today.

But, most people don’t want to do this just to get a video of their kid’s birthday party done, or a ski trip, or a school play.

They just want to shoot, and have it go up to somewhere they can share, like YouTube or Facebook, automatically. Or, even better, they just wanted to email it to grandma so she could see it.

When HighlightCam told me they had a better way to do videos, I was pretty skeptical. After all, I already have iMovie on my iPhone, which lets me edit videos, but then I remembered that most people don’t know what I know about video editing. I have a professional editor, Rocky Barbanica, who taught me a bunch of stuff. You probably don’t have a “Rocky” to help you out and you probably don’t care anyway.

So, what Highlight Cam does is replace Rocky with an easy-to-use system. You just tell it the clips you want to upload and what they are for. It does just that and edits them together into a great video.

Watch the video with CEO Robert Neivert and see how it all works.

First look: PowerInbox's new email platform makes it more powerful

PowerInbox founder Matt Thazhmon visited me this morning and showed me PowerInbox, a new email platform that enables new apps that do lots of cool things with email.

They turned on this platform this morning. Watch the video to get a sense of what it does.

But it can do a bunch of things with specific types of emails.

1. With social network notifications it can bring Facebook directly into the email so users don’t need to click out to leave a comment, for instance.

2. With enterprise email, it can build collaboration features right into the email, so two users can chat back and forth right from an email, without really sending yet another email that clutters up inboxes.

Downsides? It only works on Chrome today, Outlook and Firefox coming soon, and it requires loading some software on your machine. Doesn’t work on iPads or mobile, unfortunately, at least yet. We cover all that in the interview.

Love the idea behind this. How about you?

Why iPad is untouchable while iPhones were beaten by Android

iPad ads everywhere

Over on Techcrunch it’s fun to watch the comments come in after it ran yet another “Apple’s iPad still has no competitors” rant.

The Android fans are saying “just watch, Android will beat your iPad just like it beat your iPhone in market share.”*

No, this time won’t be the same.

(* I put an asterisk on this because I still haven’t seen convincing numbers that Android has beat Apple at anything that matters, like number of apps, profitability, or even sales at Verizon).

First of all, ALL THAT MATTERS IS APPS. Let’s keep repeating that until you get it.

See, with the iPhone Android got to “enough apps” that it largely took away iPhone’s advantage there. With that advantage gone, now the market could look at other things. Android beat iPhone in several key places: more carrier choices, more device choices, cheaper prices.

The thing is iPad has a total lock on the app market RIGHT NOW. Consumers won’t even be able to consider other advantages Android has until Android gets enough apps.

Now, some people think “enough” is 16, which is currently the number on Android. I totally disagree and believe the market will, too. Apple’s iPad has 60,000 apps.

Until Android gets “enough” apps (let’s say that’s 5,000) it won’t enable average people to consider it because they will look stupid when going into the store to buy one.

That’s why Google’s IO conference this year is so important. Can they convince iPad developers and others to build apps for tablets on Android?

Google needs to have a great developer story and, so far, it doesn’t have one. Mostly because its slates won’t sell nearly as well as iPads do, and even if they did have a runaway success, their app store doesn’t monetize nearly as well as Apple’s does. Can they fix that before the IO event? That’s worth watching.

That said, I can’t see any scenario that takes Apple’s iPad out of the #1 slot this year. That’s why it has no competition and why Techcrunch is right.

UPDATE: another proof point? Technologizer noticed how bad the Google app store is. Think that makes developers excited? Nope.