Buzz Off

This week, Google released its new Social aggregation service (I don’t think that it is a networking service) called Buzz. Jason Calacanis thinks Buzz just ate Facebook’s lunch. I disagree.
Buzz requires connections with people through my personal Gmail account. Unlike Facebook, where I can “unfriend” anyone, and hide them when I don’t want to communicate, tying this account to my personal email means that I have to give out that email to connect with someone. Even though I can block them or stop following them if they’re suddenly undesirable, they still have my email, and can abuse it, publish it, pass it to spammers, etc.
I think this is somewhat shortsighted. Of course, Google wants to drive adoption of Gmail and its’ other services. However, with Wave they created GoogleWave.com addresses, and still pulled in Gmail “buddies.” They could have and should have done the same.
Next, the requirement that I be logged into Gmail to see my Buzz stuff is not appealing. I have many email accounts, and still use various desktop clients to manage them. Call me a luddite, but I have no intention of using Gmail full time, so Buzz is going to be an interrupt – driven activity – I’m already getting emails on Buzz threads where I’ve commented and already contemplating how I’m going to filter them.
Jason, this is not the second coming of Facebook. Buzz is a lot like FriendFeed, which I also don’t use because it is cluttered and takes too much effort for me to organize. I see it as way too geeky. When my brothers and sisters are on Buzz, we’ll talk.

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The Four Hundred Words for “Friend”

In many social sites, such as Facebook, Hi5, and countless others, upon signing  up you’re encouraged to “add your friends.” confirm-requestsAs you use these sites, you get “friend requests” or “connection requests” to add more “friends.” Eventually, as you use these social tools, the concept of friend begins to blur. In fact, as the Inuit (we don’t call them Eskimos) were thought by popular culture to have 400 words for snow (it’s a myth), we’re approaching a place where we’ll soon actually need more words for friend.

I mentioned this at a conference, and I’m not sure I ever codified it properly. So, who is a friend?

you-have-1008-friendsAccording to Wikipedia, “Friendship is co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis.”

In Social Networks, a friend is someone who is willing to click “add this person” in a dialog box. We have very few ways of distinguishing other people’s true friends – the ones who share mutual affection or who would give service in a crisis – from their long time college acquaintances, neighborhood well wishers, elementary school reminiscences, and stalker ex-girlfriends. One early social network, Orkut from Google, actually allowed you to indicate how close you were to a person from “never met” to “best friend.” Today’s Facebook allows you to put friends into lists so you can ignore the ones you connected with but don’t really know, but that’s not the same thing.

The network that is most lacking in a way to distinguish levels of connection is LinkedIn. Since much of the intention behind the network is business networking and creating connections between friends, people often ask for referals to others. When you look for a way to make a connection to Bill, you may see that you’re connected by “John, Jane and 12 others.” Wouldn’t it be best if you were able to request the connection through John, who you know as well as 8 on a scale of 1-10 and who knows Bill as a 9 on the same scale? Instead you may ask Jane, who you also know as an 8, but who only knows Bill as a 2 – yet you may have no way of knowing this. This could lead to Jane awkwardly declining to make the connection, or having her request ignored.

I believe that as social networking services evolve, we’ll have more choices in how we distinguish our degrees of relationships, and how we expose that data to others. A project like the “Friend of a Friend Project” is doing so, and others such as Yahoo are attempting to start to use that data. Let’s hope we can somehow come up with words as descriptive as icy, powdery, slushy and packed to let us distinguish between our BFFs and our FOAFs.

Social Media Productivity Boosters

A very, very comprehensive list of tools and techniques for boosting  your social media productivity. So comprehensive, in fact, that I’m blogging this mostly so I can read some of the links at a later time. There are just too many – it would, ironically, make me unproductive to try to follow all this advice at once. .

How To Boost Your Social Media Productivity – A Guide For Busy People

In this post, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of articles with great advice, tips and tools to help you be more productive and efficient when using social media. We also have some posts that offer up general online productivity insights.

And, don’t forget to read the comments on the post – a few people have given their own suggestions. 

Clay on Why Small Payments won’t save Publishers

Clay spends a large portion of this article explaining how Micropayments, or small payments, won’t save large publishers. The real meat, to me, is in this almost-final paragraph:
Why Small Payments Won’t Save Publishers « Clay Shirky

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the media business is being turned upside down by our new freedoms and our new roles. We’re not just readers anymore, or listeners or viewers. We’re not customers and we’re certainly not consumers. We’re users. We don’t consume content, we use it, and mostly what we use it for is to support our conversations with one another, because we’re media outlets now too. When I am talking about some event that just happened, whether it’s an earthquake or a basketball game, whether the conversation is in email or Facebook or Twitter, I want to link to what I’m talking about, and I want my friends to be able to read it easily, and to share it with their friends.

This is where my reality lies. I seem to get a huge volume of information daily, but the best information comes from my friends (and by friends, I mean both those who I really know and spend time with, and those who are in name-only on social networks).

Clay names this ‘superdistribution’ – the sharing of content from friend to friend. I’m more likely to learn about breaking news from @breakingnewson on Twitter or someone re-tweeting that than I am by reading NYTimes.com these days. And that, in a nutshell, is a big problem for the Times. It is not un-solvable. And I do believe people at NYT are thinking about it. It will be interesting to see how quickly that translates to action.