The blog world, along with my slice of the twitter world, is abuzz with attempts to understand, analyze, deconstruct, laud, and excoriate Google’s new OpenSocial initiative.
One key question seems to be: is this true openness or simply using the (increasingly at risk of dilution) “open” mean as a handy cudgel to ward off Google’s current nemesis, Facebook, with it’s extremely popular but closed application development platform, active and growing userbase, and impending social ad network play?
Another key question I’m hearing people ask is whether this is a hand-off attempt by Google to hew to its roots of faciliating access to information and monetizing the traffic and data that passes through its metaphorical ands or is it an attempt to do judo and place itself at the hub of the social web as it matures?
My meta question might be to ask whether each pair of possibilities is truly mutually exclusive.
But I don’t feel like I really can comment on this right now.
If I were still an independent writer or even just a user experience consultant at an agency with a blog, I’d be much more comfortable jumping into the geek-punditry fray, but I’m not.
I work for a company that view Google and Facebook as competition, a company full of people who use both Google and Facebook, a company in the midst of announcing and operationalizing its new strategy, a company that has just made a commitment to openness and has its own ideas about what that mean, and it’s really just too hard to figure out what has been announced and what hasn’t and I really don’t want to talk out of school, so I’ll just adopt a wait and see attitude and for the time being keep my opinions to myself.
In reply to apophenia: Twitter questions (curiosity is killing me…):
> **First, the practical question. Can i quote you?**
>[ ] Yes, and you *must* use my real name.
>[ ] Yes, but please use a pseudonym and don’t use any identifying information.
>[ ] No, please just use this for your own weird thoughts.
> Hmm, those options have an excluded middle. I’d say “Yes, feel free, and you may use my real name, my online handle(s), or whatever other descriptor you find useful.” If I have to pick one I guess I’d pick the first one.
> **1. Why do you use Twitter? What do you like/dislike about it?**
> I use it to jot down my thoughts and narrate my day and to keep up with what some of my (online) friends are doing and thinking about. I like the ambient intimacy, to quote Leisa Reichelt.
> **2. Who do you think is reading your Tweets? Is this the audience you want? Why/why not? Tell me anything you think of relating to the audience for your Tweets.**
> I think my followers are reading them. Is that a trick question? It’s a perfectly OK audience for me, since it’s opt in. There are people, like close friend and family whom I’d like to also read them (if they were willing of course), but there is no invite feature.
> **3. How do you read others’ Tweets? Do you read all of them? Who do you read/not read and why? Do you know them all?**
> I read them sometimes via twitterific, sometimes from the Twitter website, sometimes receiving them as text messages. I don’t always read all of them but I do tend to read down till I reach familiar territory, much like the way I catch up on a blog I haven’t read in a while. (Having said that, I *scan* – I don’t read everything carefully.)
> I read people whom I’ve met and a few whom I find interesting or appealing. So I don’t know them all but I think I know (meaning have met in person) 90% of them. I don’t expect any of them to reciprocate necessarily. That is, it doesn’t bother me if they are not interested in following my thoughts.
> **4. What content do you think is appropriate for a Tweet? What is inappropriate? Have you ever found yourself wanting to Tweet and then deciding against it? Why?**
> I haven’t thought about it too much. I go by instinct. I guess some descriptions of graphic bodily functions might not necessarily feel appropriate to me, at times. Beyond that I think it’s fair game and the character limit kind of helps.
> I have thought about tweeting something and then decided not to, usually because I think it’s too random or trivial, because I’ve ceased to find it amusing in the first few seconds since thinking of it, or because I’ve posted a bunch of tweets lately and don’t want to be spamming people.
> **5. Are your Tweets public? Why/why not? How do you feel about people you don’t know coming across them? What about people you do know?**
> My tweets are public. I like doing things in public and don’t mind people paying attention. Therefore (back to the appropriateness thing) I probably won’t be tweeting about things that are illegal or offensive or humiliating (unless I can’t resist because it’s so entertaining or revealing). I don’t mind people coming across what I write. I expect it’s all out there and people will see it and even form opinions about me based on it. It’s all good.
> **6. What do i need to know about why Twitter is/is not working for you or your friends?**
> I can’t get the IM interface working and I would find it useful during the workday. There are many people I’d enjoy sharing with on Twitter who are not on the system but I can’t be sure they’d like it (so many people don’t) so I don’t feel comfortable evangelizing.
So I just wasted, er, spent a half hour surfing twitter pages and poaching friends of friends. I noticed that I had a strong gut sense of who I felt it was ok to befriend, most of the time, but that it doesn’t necessarily map to people who are actually my friends or whom I’ve met, although it may factor in how recently I’ve dealt with them.
For some, I added them because I’m interested in what they have to ssay or what they’re doing. I anticipate that their feed will be intereesting, or the preview of their recent thoughts is copmpelling. I’m aware that some of these people may not remember me, may not add me back (which is fine) or allow me to add them if they are twittering privately.
The etiquette is awkward. The UI at twitter sort of implies you should add people back, but that may be just in the contexts of private twitters.
I often notice odd disjunctions between my friend lists or various social services. Some people have talked about being able to bulk upload friend networks using hcards or something from one service to the next, but I wonder if that mapping really makes sense. For whatever reason, for example, Joi Ito is a contact of mine in Flickr but not on LinkedIn. At least one of us probably wants it to be that way.
The whole topics of reciprocity and social guidelines about when it’s ok to ignore a connection or a friend request and when it carries a social burden to do so is interesting too.
This has been another in a series of posts full of questions and half-baked proto-thoughts with few answers or real insights.
Speaking of twitter, I’ve dressed up my sidebar with badge bling. Been thinking hard about seriously redesigning my main blog and possibly moving it over to mediajunkie, which may be the catchiest domain name I own.
My pal Ted Nadeau just hipped me to yubnub, which bills itself as a social command line for the web. It looks like an extremely powerful meta-syntax for accessing searches and other web services via unix-y looking shorthands, regular expressions, and mini-scripts. It also seems to have a very active community rapidly extending its capabilities.
Grazing through the yubnub blog you can see news about an instant-mashup command, a way to invoke automatic spellchecking of your search on the fly, a fellow who says he is starting to handwrite his notes to himself in yubnub shorthand, and a way to invoke yubnub commands via Yahoo Open Shortcuts.
It’s also possible to install yubnub into Firefox so for example you can run a Yahoo! search from the address bar with “y y searchterm” (the first y invokes yubnub and the second one specifies a yahoo search – you’d use “y g etc” for a Google search and so on).
The energy of the user community is fairly inspiring.
UPDATE: I notice that the blog peters out around April of last year so, (a) this is not really new news to anyone but me, and (b) what happened to the blog?
Mostly a note to myself: When I get a moment free I’m going to follow these instructions from OpenDNS: Instructions for faster DNS on your mobile. Seems at least worth a try.
I stumbled across Yahoo! Next last night. Similar to Google Labs, this is a glimpse into what Yahoo! is working on. It’s a collection of some pretty nifty beta services. I particularly like the Open Shortcuts.