Category Archives: facebook

WANTED: New Kind of CMS and New Kind of Start Page

wantedI’m looking for a couple things that I’m surprised I cannot find, yet:

1) New kind of CMS, turning your site/blog into your single profile/lifestream/social graph instead of maintaining those concepts across Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed or elsewhere. There are some lifestream plugins for WordPress and some one-off integrated design efforts, but this feels like something worthy of a new CMS from the ground up — the mix of profile and social graph requires rethinking refresh cycles, data location/sharing, and existing blog/page design concepts. Now that APIs are proliferating at a rapid rate, it’s possible to create the truly distributed social network — where we own/control the end-nodes. Any ideas who is closest to this?

2) New kind of Start Page, combining SearchMe‘s visual pageflows, in-pageflow navigation/scrolling and PageFlakes/GReader RSS organization. The result would be a Start Page for my top 10+ pages of daily consumption, allowing in-page navigation/reading and the aesthetics of coverflow. This may be possible with SearchMe’s stacks (still trying), but I’m curious if any other start page platforms are incorporating the coverflow design concepts. Ideas?

I think #1 is a bigger idea, but both would bring me value.

UPDATE: @quangt mentioned Chris Pirillo’s new WicketPixie design as coming closer to the SocialCMS I’m suggesting. I really like what Matt Brett pulled together for Chris, but the Social Me and Faves pages are a couple examples of why I think a new CMS structure is in order. There should be a way to incorporate blogging, profiles, and the social graph in a more elegant, inclusive way than just pages/tabs.

Microsoft, Facebook and Twispers

Do you remember playing Whispers, Operator, Telephone or Chinese Whispers (UK) — where one person whispers a phrase to another person, who whispers it another person…until the last person hears something significantly distorted from the original phrase?

I’ve seen it play out many times in the blogosphere, with the added incentive that bloggers gain traffic/celebrity by twisting things to give their post an “angle” and fuel controversy. The speed of distortion only increases with Twitter. It usually just makes me chuckle, but with the influence/agendas of some bloggers it can border on business tampering. If this weekend’s Microsoft/Facebook story continues to morph as it already has in 2 days, there could be billions of shareholder dollars at stake.

Over the weekend Microsoft released the following statement:

““In light of developments since the withdrawal of the Microsoft proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft announced that it is continuing to explore and pursue its alternatives to improve and expand its online services and advertising business. Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo! Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or with other third parties.

“There of course can be no assurance that any transaction will result from these discussions.””

Pretty straightforward, no mention of Facebook, no mention of locking anything down.

John Furrier combined that statement with some rumors he was hearing:

“Why would such a complicated transaction (just Yahoo search with all the headaches and all) be in the cards for Microsoft? After the failed bid for $40 plus billion for all of Yahoo, Microsoft’s intentions are clear. Buy the search business from Yahoo and take that team and go spend at least 20 billion for Facebook. Integrating the search team at Yahoo with Facebook puts a formidable army to take on Google.”

Distortion #1: “Microsoft’s intentions are clear…go spend at least 20 billion for Facebook.” Clear?!? I saw no mention of Facebook in Microsoft’s statement. At least John didn’t claim anything would be locked down, just a formidable integration.

Robert Scoble then expands on John’s post to claim:

“Google is locked out of the Web that soon will be owned by Microsoft. We will never get an open Web back if these two deals happen….It’s Facebook and Microsoft vs. the open public Web.”

Distortion #2: “It’s Facebook and Microsoft vs. the open public Web” Robert doesn’t state any plans by Microsoft to lock anything down, but he does play the tried-and-true “open vs. close” card.

Then, Umair Haque takes Robert’s bait (or maybe John’s) and adds a litany of open vs. closed buzzwords for Harvard Business Publishing:

“According to an interesting rumour making the rounds: Microsoft is to acquire Yahoo’s search business as well as Facebook, and lock both down, to better take on Google….Microsoft is trying to shift from open to closed….That’s what evil really means: coercing others into accepting value destruction….Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Ballmer’s hare-brained scheme for world domination…Microsoft’s move is a textbook example of how not to think strategically at the edge….”

Distortion #3: where do I start? Somehow we got from a Microsoft statement about Yahoo to “Microsoft is trying to shift from open to closed” with a couple good vs. evil references for spice.

Not only does this game of Whispers continue with republished out-of-context quotes, but it even comes full circle with John’s follow-up Twitter promotion of Umair:
Furrier: @kellyrfeller you should sub to this blog by Umair http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/haque/ he’s strong on strategy”

There have been many names for this whisper game over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised one day to find my kids calling it the Blog Whispers game…or maybe even Twispers 😉

GuessNow: Can Predictive Markets Be Fun?

I’ve always been intrigued by the potential of predictive markets: speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. That’s why I was excited when Delray Beach, FL-based GuessNow contacted me about sponsoring an FVB review via PPP Direct. It was also timely because I’m following up my completion of Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, with James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds.

The broad idea behind predictive markets is that large populations of people, who stand to benefit from accurate predictions, can become an engine for predicting future events. If you read the wikipedia article I linked above, you’ll find that there is some controversy around the accuracy of results and various approaches to received optimal results.

GuessNow.com has an interesting management team, with John Ferber leading the charge as CEO. John, with his brother Scott, previously founded Advertising.com before selling it to AOL in 2004. I like serial entrepreneurs. I like the connection of advertising minds to predictive markets, because I’ve seen too many companies pursue “cool ideas” like artificial intelligence, behavioral modelling or predictive markets with business models as a secondary concern. I also like that the site feels a bit more engaging/fun than you might expect from a predictive market.

Turning to the site itself, I thought John’s incentive system was interesting. Instead of a pure stock market type of system with various prices for different outcomes, GN implemented a point system. Specifically, users can earn points for answering questions correctly (more points for correct, fewer points for incorrect), answering questions early (more points for early, fewer points for later), and avoiding group think (more points for correct answers going against the crowd). They also have a bonus point system for site participation and advertiser offers, but I don’t entirely understand the “bonus” section of the site — that section feels more like rewarding site behavior and CPA advertising than predictive.

Points are then redeemed for cash, according to a “point value” decided by the total Prize Pool for a month divided by the total number of points awarded in that month. For example, if 500,000 points are awarded in a month with a $5,000 Prize Pool, then each point is worth $.01. If you earned 1,000 points that month, then your points are worth $10.00. I believe a similar calculation happens for the Bonus Prize Pool and bonus points.

They have a good set of questions, including topic areas such as:

Some of the questions I’ve answered include:

The model is pretty flexible. In addition to predictive questions, I also noticed trivia-type questions (e.g. “name the state that…”) and survey-type questions (see hybrid car question above). It’s not clear these are necessary to keep people engaged for predictions, but I can see them opening monetization options.

A few of my suggestions include:
1) I loved some of the higher level data concepts such as accuracy ratios, friction and confidence levels — find ways to share that data and reward publicly on these;
2) I know the “Shocking New Video” ads are probably prompted/related to your Miss Internet Pageant 2007, but they could be a tad risque for the diverse demographic good predictions will require; and
3) I may have missed it, but I couldn’t find where to compare past group predictions with past actual results — that is the question everyone has about such markets and there has to be some data you can share, probably great linkbait.

And, lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention GN’s points-based affiliate program and blog. I don’t know GN’s funding status, but this review has prompted me to dig a little deeper. Thanks for reaching out to me guys!

(sponsored post)

To all the messages I’ve missed before…

While at lunch today I saw an entrepreneur who reached out to me awhile back. He was cool about the lack of follow-up, but I hate that so many messages fall through the cracks nowadays. My New Year’s resolution to clear my inbox monthly has been a complete washout.

I currently have over 11,000 emails in my inbox — just from this year. I’ve driven most phone messages to email and I use RSS-to-email for my subscriptions. That allows me to focus on one inbox, but Facebook messages are starting to become a separate inbox that also needs to merge. You can see from my post dates that it’s not like blogging is getting in the way of inbox triage. I don’t have any great solutions and plenty of others I respect have just declared inbox bankruptcy. I’m not there yet…

If you’ve reached out to me and didn’t hear back, let’s try again. My apologies. Also, if you have inbox-overload ideas that have worked for you, I’m all ears…

UPDATE, 09-11-07: While driving this morning I realized that my inbox overload really kicked into overdrive when I got my first Treo a few years ago. That’s ironic because you’d think always-on connectivity would help clear my inbox. However, the process of reviewing emails on my Treo AND later having them download to my laptop inbox creates an odd triage issue. Specifically, it introduces the problem that I’m not really filing many emails when first read (on Treo), and I’m less motivated to re-read those emails for filing purposes only when they hit my laptop. I could delete emails from the server when pulling from my Treo, but then I’d create two separate filing repositories. Anyway, I thought the irony was interesting and I’m curious how others have handled inbox triage/filing with laptop and smartphones in the mix.

Will I See You at NextMiami?

miami skylineI know it’s late notice, but I am now confirmed for the NextMiami shindig tomorrow night. Jason Baptiste, Nathaniel McNamara and a bunch of other smart folks are getting together Wednesday, July 25, 7:30-11:30pm at 510 Ocean Drive, Miami, FL. You can check the Facebook event page or the NextMiami Ning for more details.

Miami’s startup network is buzzing and gets me excited every time I visit. I look forward to seeing some new faces and old friends…

Yahoo Buys the Future of the Internet, er MyBlogLog

Eric and the MyBlogLog guys made it official last week — Yahoo has acquired MyBlogLog. I couldn’t be happier for the whole crew over there including Eric, Todd, Scott, John, Steve and even the CloudSpace cheering squad. I’m especially proud of these Florida natives making such a loud and successful blogosphere impact.

Yahoo now has a powerful blog community/analytics platform in their quiver, but there’s a fork in the road. They can continue to grow organically in the blogosphere while the world catches up to face-aware browsing, or they can chart a bolder course that extends well beyond blogs.

I touched on this back in June when I first uncovered MyBlogLog because I was proactively looking for the uber-social network, that travels with you. MySpace, FaceBook, and the 1,000 dwarves are all domain-specific social networks that are powerful, but handicapped. The full potential of social networks exists across domains — allowing you to see/connect others in your network who researched the same vacation you’re researching, who bought the same camera you’re considering, friends to chat with about the video you’re streaming or friends who want to leverage group buying power for the latest FJ Cruiser.

At least three tweaks are needed to make this possible:
1) aggressive expansion of MBL/widgets beyond the blogosphere to research, commerce and entertainment sites;
2) social intelligence beyond just contacts and site visitors, allowing you to see who, specifically from your network, recently visited a site you’re at; and
3) a solid API to enable sites to build upon that awareness to unlock group buying, group research or other social network value that is absent from today’s domain-centric approaches.

This will take money and manpower, in parallel to letting MBL grow organically in the blogosphere. If Yahoo pulls it off aggressively instead of passively, however, it could be the social paradigm for all future surfing, media consumption and online commerce. Sound crazy? Maybe so, but if Yahoo/MyBlogLog doesn’t do it I’m looking for the entrepreneurs who will…