Archive for Adam’s Rants

Myspace: A place for friends. LinkedIN: A place for business. Facebook: What the hell IS this for?

So,  A *lot* of people have been ranting to me about how Facebook used to be cool and how the new applications have ruined it completely by inviting the Myspace crowd.  Well, haven taken a step back and looked at the problem, Facebook just sits in a confusing position right now.  Their target audience seems to be ‘everyone’, and that doesn’t work too well.  This is particularly bad for people in MY position as well. 

Firstly, I have a pretty sizable network of friends locally, JUST friends.  These local people aren’t my business contacts, people from an online community, or any such thing.  They’re just friends, and friends want to have fun.  So, of course I’m getting invites to “Pirates vs Ninjas”, “Horoscope”, “SuperPoke”, and any other number of applications on Facebook.  All of these people were former myspace users, and I’m part of the reason they switched to Facebook, my mistake.

On the other hand, I have another group of contacts.  I have my fellow FriedCPU writers, my connections from various art communities, my connections from the Ubuntu community, etc.  These are contacts that couldn’t care less if I choose to be a pirate or a ninja, they don’t care what music I’m listening to, and moreover they get annoyed when I have 500 app boxes on my profile stopping them from getting to some information that actually matters.

The current setup just makes it plain impossible to make both of these camps of users happy without setting up (and maintaining) two different Facebook accounts.  As it stands my friends are addicted to the apps and probably wouldn’t be in a big hurry to get back to Myspace, but my contacts would like them gone forever. 

I’m stuck in the middle of two clashing groups, and now I understand why these communities were supposed to be kept separate.  But, either way, my Facebook is going to be a more contact oriented tool for me in the future, along with my Twitter and Pownce accounts, etc.  I can’t wait ’till Myspace opens their platform so everyone can go back to their camps and live happily again.

Rant Over.  Flame On.

– Adam.

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I’m actually curious about this:

What do you do with your social network?

It’s a fairly simple question:  How has your social network site benefited you?  Has it added anything to your daily browsing life, made life more convenient, etc?

I’m actually interested in hearing about this, if you read this and don’t mind leaving me a comment please do. 

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The Del.icio.us lesson is absolutely right!

Putting the Del.icio.us Lesson into Practice, Part 1

I think this post is onto something.  Everyday we see more and more applications, sites, and services starting up that have absolutely no value to you unless you can convince your friends to join and stick with it.  This includes even my favorite sites, like Facebook.  Without my ‘network’ Facebook is useless to me.  I hope that any of you aspiring to build your own networks will keep ‘The Del.icio.us Lesson’ in mind when you start building.

Rant Over.  Flame On.

– Adam.

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I has a Streamy review.

    So, thanks to a large helping of kindness on behalf of one of the
developers of Streamy, Jon, I and my fellow FriedCPU cohorts got ahold
of some Streamy invites.  Now, I’ve been waiting a while to write this
review, because the site is beta and a lot of changes were happening. 
I expect that this review will not be the last you’ll read on this blog
as my fellow cohorts will be doing the same whenever they feel good and
ready, I suppose.  So, without further adieu here’s a Streamy review:

    The concept behind Streamy seems to be a mixed bag of sharing your favorite
articles with your friends while getting new articles send to you based
on what you might like.  It’s pretty cool, and it seems to work to a
large extent.  I’m not sure how it filters all of this out, but it
does, and I’m fine with that.  Although, while using it I got some
odd-balls that didn’t exactly fit my interests (I’m not interested in
cars, for instance, but I got some GM articles) most of them did fit me
pretty well and I was introduced to a couple of new feeds that I really
like.

    The user interface of Streamy is probably my favorite part.   The
entire site is incredibly ajax-ified, EVERYTHING is drag-able, which is
particularly fun when you’re having a group chat with your friends or
just a one-on-one with someone from your friends list.  At first the
amount of options can seem rather daunting, but it’s very easy to get
used to it.  I have some minor caveats with the interface, but the
interface is under development still, but it’s still under development
so they could change very soon.  The developers have shown a
high-willingness to take input from anyone who is willing to give it,
so I expect a lot of modifications based on input from early
beta-users.  Pages are very simple to navigate in this site, and once
you’re used to dragging everything around the site feels very fluid and
fun.  Another note I have is that the original theme is a very
appealing sky-blue color and it’s very attractive, unless you’re like
me and have sensitive eyes.  Thankfully they have another theme which
is black, and I happen to find it much more attractive myself.  I’m
hoping for a white-text-on-black-bg theme soon, myself.

   
So,
there has been a lot of hype over whether this site is a ‘digg killer’
and it’s just not, the two aren’t even similar.  This site reminds me
of a very social, personalized, RSS-reader dedicated to bringing me
more news and stories tailored to my interests.  I’ve been reading
TechCrunch and other sites dooming Streamy to obscurity, and I couldn’t
disagree more.  Streamy is a great site that brings a great new
experience that keeps me going back and checking the site more often,
and it’s highly viral.  The best thing about this site is that it has a
strong purpose even if you don’t have tons of friends, but having them
makes the site much more engaging and fun.  You can simply
click-and-drag news articles to your friends and chat away about the
contents.  Granted, the site’s contents aren’t JUST news articles as my
two favorite feeds are ‘
I CAN HAS CHEEZEBURGER’ and The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs.


    Some aspects of the site I found to be
really cool, like when you add a feed to the site that feed becomes
available for anyone.  The AIM integration is a blast, as well as their
own network which allows for group chats (we have a lot of those). 
They’re planning on supporting more networks as time goes on, I suspect
that Yahoo!, MSN, GoogleTalk, Jabber, and maybe even IRC are on the
list of services to support, but I can confirm that they definitely are
planning on adding Twitter support (came right from a developer’s
mouth-keyboard-typing-thing).  The site also allows you to save
stories/posts that you were particularly fond of, and create filters
that will filter out the entire site’s contents based on the parameters
you put into place.  In short, it’s incredibly feature packed
considering that there are a grand total of two developers, I’m
awestruck when I see the site and realize it’s the work of just two
men.

    So, Streamy is now one of my irreplaceable services
with a permanent place on my bookmarks toolbar.  I’ll try to post up
some screenshots of it later, and maybe even a screencast showing off
the site for you all.  I definitely think it’ll be worth the wait you
are all being put through for this site, it may not be ‘revolutionary’
but I wouldn’t have any problems saying that it’s a step above similar
sites and that it’s definitely a good, usable, site.  I hope you’re all
going to enjoy it as much as I have.

Rant Over.  Flame On.

– Adam.

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Perhaps Google is sitting on the world’s largest social network already?

This is all just theory-craft on my part, but as I log into my iGoogle page, shift over to Gmail, and begin looking through my contacts by photo to find the person I want to email, I can’t help but get the feeling: “You know… this is an awful lot like any other social network I’ve been to…”

It seems that Google has everything other services could want, and more.  They’ve got seemingly separate communities for every single service that other sites offer, but are they really that separate? Just as a point, how many of your friends use GMail?  How many of them use YouTube?  It’s the same people contributing to a LOT of Google’s sites.

I’m sure that I’m not the only-one who thinks this about Google’s services, but we’ll just have to see what they come up with.  Right now ‘social’ features they’re lacking are a stream/friend-news, and profile pages.  We’ll see if they decide to make those or continue to let Facebook and Myspace dominate the landscape.

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Maybe ‘Free’ doesn’t justify the cost of entry…

I have seen infinite amounts of ‘Why Linux hasn’t succeeded on the desktop’ posts, and truly, they’re all right and wrong at the same time.  The reason services, products, and other things don’t take off can usually be traced back to one problem:  Entry barriers.

Linux has astounding barriers to entry, despite it being ‘free’.  Even Ubuntu, heralded as one of the easiest of the Linux distributions available is a serious PITA to even find, let alone install, if you’re not skilled with your computer.  Let’s look at the steps a ‘normal’ switcher would have to go through just to get find and get Linux.

  1. Find out about Linux: The user needs to find out that the alternative exists.
  2. Find the distribution they want:  This is both simple and difficult because Ubuntu is nearly synonymous with Linux anymore, but lots of options do exist. 
  3. Download a .iso file that they have no idea what to do with, this may very well be the users first experience with torrenting as well.
  4. Find out what to do with this .iso file, and how to burn it properly, and check for burn quality
  5. (optional) set their bios to boot from CD.

Now, OEMs make things a lot easier, but they still have higher barriers to entry than a normal PC would.

  1. Find out about Linux.
  2. Find an OEM where Linux is readily available (DELL, if you dig around the site a little bit)
  3. Purchase.

Now, I won’t insult you by bothering to go through the steps that it takes to get a Mac or a Windows PC, because the barriers are most certainly lower there.  I’m sure you can figure that out, but I’ll include an edit if enough people want me to. 🙂

So, we’ve looked at the barriers to JUST finding out and getting ahold of Linux.  Those are significant alone for the majority of PC users out there.  That’s also just a generalized example, I’m not accounting for the varied amounts of frustration, pain, and lost time that just doing these things to GET Linux will earn you.  As you well know there are a lot of other barriers to entry and use, that include:  Learning how things work, learning the CLI (Command Line) and learning how the concept of repos works and how it differs from the regular .exe installer’s we’re used to seeing.  The user needs to learn about their hardware, they need to learn about drivers, etc.

So, let’s assume that the user goes through all of this, what did they earn?  They earned an operating system that seems to be more geared towards (poorly) mimicking Windows functionality and UI for the sake of ‘familiarity’.  They’ve earned a more secure, but less functional, less friendly version of Windows. 

And therein lies the biggest problem, the barriers to entry are so much higher than the barriers to leaving.  It’s easier to go back to  OS X or Windows than it is to stick with Linux, and that’s a problem.  Ubuntu, or another distribution, needs to change things.  They need to give Linux a new interface, they need to make changes to make it clear that the users ‘aren’t in kansas anymore’.  Users are not going to jump through dozens of flaming hoops to get to a prize that is functionally a dulled down version of what they were using before.  The barriers to entry must be lowered, and the barriers to leaving must be raised if any degree of success is going to be attained ‘on the desktop’. 

That’s my personal take on it, at least.  Take it with a grain of salt, much like every other post on this subject.

*** Disclaimer:  “Linux” in this post and all future posts of mine is used to refer to “GNU/Linux” but without the annoying “GNU” portion. 

Rant Over.  Flame On.

– Adam.

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So, we’re getting page views… and social networks still fail at organizing my life.

Well, it seems like about one week into our blog venture John, the resident MIT geek, has had to go and get us all sorts of digg publicity.  Thanks John, now we’re going to have to live up to all that technical hype and I don’t think I can operate under that kind of pressure.  But no, seriously, good job man.  It’s a good article and definitely worth reading, keep ’em coming. 🙂

Anyway, onto the entire point for this post.  I’m just a wee-bit disappointed in ‘social networking’ as we know it today (as is very obvious from recent posts of mine).  I got into a nice little discussion/debate/argument with Bryan over IRC about my ideal social network.  The entire concept is ‘aggregate my life, don’t make me re-write it’.

Have you noticed that?  You log into a social network and you begin the monotonous task of convincing every one of your friends that it’s worth switching to, and then you have to re-write pretty much everything, re-upload your photos, and recreate a profile that existed on a another slightly less awesome network.  This whole system sucks, and I think we should be rethinking what the network is actually doing.

So, here’s my ideal network:  Aggregate my life… If I use Flickr let me tell you about that, and you can pull photos from that and use my flickr profile pic as my pic for the site.  If I’m uploading my videos to YouTube why should I have to re-upload my videos to a second location, just pull my content from other sites and build my profile from that.  Let me communicate and converse with people…

My ‘network’ should not be a locked in and locked down targeted-advertising frenzy.  My network should be about me, and about MY connections.  So, in short, I want a service that builds my profile page but lets me use other applications to communicate and share.  The network site itself should allow me to add friends and do other basic things, past that it should be syncing with the content I’m placing on the web in other places.

I just hope all of these ‘web 2.0’ companies realize this and start delivering services that meet my needs… it’s kind of sad when Wink builds a better, more care free, profile page for me than facebook.  

Rant Over.  Flame On.

– Adam.

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