Matt Mullenweg is the guy who runs Automattic, which makes WordPress and hosts this blog. Since they are about to come out with version 2.7, I wanted to have a conversation with Matt and pick his brain about the future of the blog. It’s long, but this is one of my favorite interviews, hope you enjoy it too.
I met Scott Schnaars yesterday on my tour through Palo Alto. He’s a 15-year sales veteran of the tech industry and is working with Ross Mayfield at SocialText. He told me he’s already been video blogging to other salespeople about how to get through the bad economic times. I watched tonight. It’s not Wine Library TV, but it caught my attention. The name of the blog? Beyond Snake Oil.
Any other corporate bloggers out there who are giving good tips for how to ride out the economic turbulence we’re going through?
I’ve been investing nearly all of my available time on FriendFeed lately, which is why my blog has slowed down to a mere trickle compared to how often I used to update, say, four years ago (on some days back then I’d post 20 times in a day). Today I am rotating my content development between a number of places. Flickr. Dopplr. Twitter. Upcoming. Google Reader. Kyte. My blog. But mostly over on FriendFeed. (None of those existed back when I started blogging).
Most of my blogger friends think I’m nuts focusing so much effort over on FriendFeed.
But when you see co-founder Bret Taylor’s post on the growth FriendFeed has seen this year you’ll see exactly why I’m spending so much time there.
On the other hand, I’ve been missing writing longer pieces about what I’m seeing in the world.
Today, for instance, I’m off to visit Nicholas Negroponte and the One Laptop Per Child project, among other things here in Boston. It’ll be interesting to see what I learn there about how the project has been going (it’s been bumpy, according to my research tonight).
Oh, how else has blogging been changing? Last week I hung out at the Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. It was shocking to me to see just how many people were on Twitter (in the sessions I attended nearly 100% of the bloggers were on Twitter).
It’s the comment left by Michael Kowalchik, aka “MikePK” in response to Matthew Ingram’s post about Twitter’s architecture (or the lack thereof). He’s the CTO of Grazr and makes an important point that every entrepreneur should read. So should every pundit who is giving Twitter crap about being down right now. It is the most important comment I’ve seen in weeks in another blog.
This one comment made me look at Grazr yet again. In the comment Mike seemed disappointed about why the market didn’t show up to enjoy his great architecture. Got me thinking about why Grazr doesn’t have many users and, therefore, doesn’t have Twitter’s scaling problems. Either way, read the comment that Michael left over on Ingram’s blog. The rest of this is just a rant, with a bonus rant about why FriendFeed isn’t going to be Twitter either.
Here’s why Grazr is no Twitter:
1. Grazr’s name sucks. I HATE HATE HATE “Flickr” copy names. Er, Web 2.0 names. It’s so hard to tell other people about things when you introduce misspellings into them. Here, what’s easier to tell someone else about “FriendFeed” or “Grazr.”
2. Grazr solves a problem normal people don’t have. I think Dare Obasanjo is right, too many companies are trying to solve a problem only the weirdos in society (like me) are having. I explained this on the Gillmor Gang on Friday: I’m a noise junkie. Only one out of 100,000,000 people will be like me. If you think you can build a business just on those weirdos like me or Mike Arrington or Louis Gray will ever use, then go for it. But you don’t need an enterprise-level architecture to keep the two of us happy. Look at Grazr: how many people have too many feeds or want access to more? Only a very small percentage. Who wants to tell their friends what they are eating for lunch? A whole lot more people.
3. Grazr’s UI is too confusing. Look at all the hottest services lately. They are simple, simple, simple. Easy to get into and easy to use. Way too much use of color, too. Why? Put this sucker in front of an eye tracking research project and you’ll see why: you don’t know where to look so your eye gets confused and when it does that the next thing that happens is I look for the “back” button to get the hell out of there.
4. Grazr has a focus on A-list blogs. Who wants to read those things? I’d rather read the blogs from my friends. Those A-list assh***s? I already see too much of them in other places.
5. Grazr’s language is cold. No personality. At least Twitter has the “Fail Whale” with lots of little birds. It has a personality. Grazr? Look at the terms they use for their categories. Business. Celebrity. Gaming. Health. Music. Yahh, yahhh, yahhh, boring!
6. Nothing is moving on Grazr’s home page. I’ve been staring at this for five minutes and nothing has moved. Compare to Twitter Vision — which is more inviting? I even refreshed and nothing on the home page changed. Now go to Twitter or FriendFeed or Jaiku or Pownce. Click on the “everyone” feeds on FriendFeed. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Do you see new stuff? I do. It makes me feel like something is happening on those services and that there’s tons of users. Oh, wait, there are.
7. Grazr has UI that looks like Microsoft’s Windows. Enough said. I know what they are trying to do, but look at FriendFeed’s widget on my blog. Does it look like Windows? No, it’s customized so it fits into my blog’s design.
But, go back to the comment that Michael left. That’s exactly true. I’d rather have Twitter with all of its scalability troubles than a perfect system without any users.
END GRAZR RANT, START FRIENDFEED RANT
That’s why we’re all staying with Twitter. Now, if someone can figure out how to build a perfect system AND get the users to move, then we’ll talk again. FriendFeed is close, but isn’t going to be it. Why? Four reasons:
1. No realtime yet. When I can participate in FriendFeed by using an instant messaging client like Google Talk, then we’ll have realtime. Right now it’s pseudo real time and not wholly satisfying.
2. No SMS compatibility. Can I post to FriendFeed and get messages out of FriendFeed via a cell phone’s SMS feature? Not yet. How many cell phones are being sold everyday? In China alone they are selling six million new ones a month! Now THAT is a market Dare Obasanjo could get excited about!
3. No ability to see a river of noise. Everything on FriendFeed gets reordered based on participation. I want to see just a strict reverse-chronological view.
4. Poor querying abilities. I can’t tell the search to just show me every item that has “n” likes. For instance, I want to see only the popular items sometimes. I can’t do that. Same with comments. I want to see only those items that have lots of community engagement. I can’t. Steve Gillmor asks for this feature another way: he loved Twitter’s track feature. I can’t do that in FriendFeed either.
Oh, well, I’m off on a FriendFeed rant. Enough of that. Thanks Michael for making me think in a different way. What a great comment.
If you aren’t a blogger you probably haven’t noticed this company named Disqus unless you really are paying attention when you leave a comment. But head over to Dave Winer’s blog, click on the comments, and if you leave a comment there, like I just did, you aren’t actually leaving it on Dave Winer’s blog. You’re using Disqus‘s commenting service.
“So what?” you’re probably asking.
Well, there’s a few things that Disqus does.
1. It hooks into FriendFeed. Why does that matter? Well, if you register your Disqus account (like I have) all of your comments left on blogs that use Disqus’s service, will show up on FriendFeed. Look at my FriendFeed stream. You’ll already see my Seesmic video comments that I left on some other blogs.
2. In the past hour they just turned on video comments thanks to a partnership with Seesmic. Go here to see my first video comment left on Dave Winer’s blog.
3. There’s an identity system. I don’t have to sign into comment on anyone’s blog who also has Disqus implemented. For instance, when I went over to costpernews.com and left another video comment there, I didn’t need to sign in. Plus my comments have my picture on them, which makes it less likely that someone will steal my identity.
4. Disqus comments are spam resistant. Because they use a robust identity system across blogs they can kick people off who misbehave.
5. Disqus comments are threaded.
Sam Harrelson was the first one to report the Seesmic/Disqus news on his CostPerNews blog.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is because the video commenting system is quite nice. Easy to use and easy to watch.
This is yet another piece in connecting us all together in the real time system I call “the World Wide Talk Show.”
Here’s some sites that have the Disqus/Seesmic commenting feature turned on:
More will almost certainly come soon. I’m looking at this technology too. I’ve been talking with Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic (the folks who run my blog) and they are looking at a raft of things to do to make commenting better for WordPress.com users.
So, let the commenting wars begin!
If you are a blog owner, what do you think about Disqus? Like it? Recommend it to other people?
“Finally,” Om Malik just told me after I told him about my redesigned blog that just went live. We were just on a panel discussion talking to Google’s sales team.
Some things you’ll notice: a prominent FriendFeed component. I’ve really become addicted to FriendFeed. It’s the best place to watch my interactions around the Internet. More and more of my time has been spent on places like Qik, Twitter, Google Reader, Seesmic, Upcoming, Flickr, YouTube, and commenting on other people’s blogs. In this redesign, done by a team at FastCompany’s offices in New York, we’ve featured many of those in my navigation bar too. UPDATE: Haewon Kye did the redesign and it’s getting mostly good reviews — more than 100 comments in about an hour on various services.
I’ve also added an advertising panel, so I’m sure that’ll start some discussion.
Sorry for being gone so much lately. Now you can see my calendar, and see just how busy my life has become. Plus, something about Twitter is more fun. Trying to say something in 140 characters does have its charms.
I’d love to know what you think. We’ll do tweaks over the next month or two as well.
What else should I add along the side?