Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009


    Microsoft and Yahoo have officially joined forces to work as a single search engine to challenge Google. Yahoo will now use Microsoft's bing search for all of its sites.

    Many news outlets are calling this a huge game changer and a bold move by Microsoft to disrupt Google's success. While I am surprised at Microsoft's recent changes in their company attitude, the coming Microsoft stores and PC commercials challenging Apple, I just don't see this as a real threat to Google.

    Google hasn't gotten to the top of the hill and just rested, they're constantly innovating and producing amazing new services. With years of that innovation, all of which has been free to the public, they've built an immense, loyal following. Ultimately people will use the superior product and bing has incorporated some interesting features, such as their in-search video, but at best I think this will simply be a challenge to Google to innovate at a faster pace. They'll need to produce either similar features or better, and given Google's track record I can't see them letting us down.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Digital Selves

    There are a number of services online that make an "e-penis" list of the things I've listened to, read, played, or watched. I religiously update both my Shelfari and MyAnimeList accounts, and takes care of itself as does Steam. I'm trying to find a comparable site to keep my movie reviews and ratings, and I was using Flixster on Facebook until I logged into the application with my actual Flixster account and it deleted the year and a half of ratings and reviews I had made while not technically "logged in." Great feature. IMDb is likely the place to go, and Mashable put out a list of 10 top social networking sites for movie lovers.

    I'm both curious and squeamish about exploring what makes these kinds of sites so addictive. Squeamish because I'm afraid all I can point to is they help me feel like I've done something "productive" with activities that might not otherwise be considered "productive". Sure, I just logged two hours in Team Fortress 2 and grabbed a handful of achievements, or I finished three more episodes of Nodame Cantabile, but I could have been spending that time studying Japanese. I can't help but come to this conclusion because I also tend not to be very social on these sites. Sure I've got real life friends on Shelfari and Steam, and I keep an eye on their updates, but I'm mostly content to see myself chip away at the massive list of films I haven't seen or books I haven't read.

    Is there inherent value in having these lists? Beyond justifying how I spend my time and sometimes not being able to remember all the media I've consumed.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    I'd Like to Buy the World a Twitter

    Rumors are flying that Facebook is developing a Twitter app, another one of those boxes on your wall, that would, well, let you use Twitter within Facebook. This would keep Facebook users on the site and let the less tech-savvy explore Twitter while not having to leave their familiar Facebook home. I have a feeling this large portion of the Facebook demographic would be interested in Twitter if they tried it but likely can't be bothered to go figure out how it works or jump into a new service where there's no one they know. It may not bring over the long-time power users of Twitter however, as it remains to be seen how feature rich the app is or even what it looks like. Without the features of desktop clients such as Seesmic Desktop to parse my Twitter information, I wouldn't be terribly interested in switching over to this app.

    As much as I abhor Facebook's misguided contortions in its attempt to block the rise of Twitter, I have to admit this is a smart move to co-opt the service's users and it would be a win-win situation for both services. It would keep Facebook users on Facebook and improve the ability of the service to keep users in touch with their friends, its core value. At the same time it would bring Twitter to the attention of Facebook's 250 million users.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Facebook for Better or Worse

    Facebook has made two changes to its service recently that reflect the two directions it could go in: the ability to send status updates to the entire Facebook network, and the placing of the Event feature directly in the "What's On Your Mind?" box.

    The first change, the ability to send your status updates to "Everyone" on Facebook, allows you to broadcast your updates to everyone on the Facebook network. It reflects the company's desire to be everything to everyone. It's a move clearly designed to target Twitter and co-opt their design into Facebook.

    The second change, the placing of the Event feature directly in the Status Update box, makes it easier to send a quick event to your network/friends, such as getting together for a drink after work that night. It's a useful enhancement of Facebook's core features, and it makes the service more useful in communicating with your friends.

    The status update change has gotten more press because it's an attack on a company that Facebook sees as a competitor. It's the wrong move. Facebook is a useful collection of tools to keep in touch with your friends and organize your social life around. It's become as big as it has because it streamlined the social networking concept. (Remember how you had to go through four different pages to post a comment to your friend's wall on MySpace? Not to mention all the bugs.) Twitter is a service best used for getting news and updates from and about important people and events. Sure, many people have their friends on Twitter but I know my friends' Tweets get lost in the deluge of other stories from the celebrities and news outlets I follow. On Facebook I can get, and want, just updates from my friends about their lives.

    By trying to be all the hot things on the Internet at once and attack Twitter, Facebook is losing what made it popular. Allowing me to send my status updates to everyone on Facebook does not enhance my ability to stay in touch with my friends. As Mashable points out in the above article, this change will at best be wasted man hours in programming and at worst will erode Facebook users' confidence that the network is a place for them.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Fascinating Developments in Freedom

    Two major stories broke today: China has indefinitely postponed their Green Dam Censorship Software initiative, and coverage of the Iran Election on Twitter has exceeded 2 million Tweets.

    It's cliche to say that current technology is changing the way we interact at a basic level but this is evidence that it really is. These are political movements in traditionally repressive countries that were fueled by technology. In the case of Green Dam, traditionally apathetic youth were galvanized to protest when their technology was being tampered with. Without the massive coverage on Twitter we would have very little knowledge of the size and extent of protests in Iran, and no knowledge of the protests from the average people involved.

    We've seen for years how technology evolves too quickly to be squashed by the powers that be (the U.S. music industry), and we're seeing that same power applied to the political sphere. It's exciting to see technology improving lives in such positive ways and becoming a tool for political change in the world.