March 2010 Archives

links for 2010-03-26

Gaga on Social Media

The Twitter fail whale error message.

Image via Wikipedia

*Sigh* If I had a nickel for the number of people that have professed to be SEO or social media experts.. Heh, I'm sure that I would be able to retire in a couple years ;-) Don't misunderstand me. I do grasp the value of social media. POTUS overwhelmed a very established Clinton political machine with his clever use of social networks. You can create a very real personal brand leveraging social networks. What I don't quite get is the plethora of folks jumping into this endeavor hoping levitate above important technical underpinnings. More specifically, there are too many people interested in the user production and distribution aspect of social media than really understanding the underlying software. Of course the majority of social media is powered by Free and Open Source Software.

I suppose it is much easier to wrap your head around the "what", rather than the "how" of social media. IMHO, the conversation is very unbalanced and probably will not be sustainable over the long term. I compare it to the present state of HipHop. Lots of people sounding like everyone else, no lyrical structure or content. All Dirty South. Very different than when I came up KRS1, Kane, Freddie Foxxx, BigL, DITC, ATCQ, Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, Kool G-Rap, BeatMinerz, Heltah Skeltah, GangStarr, Rakim, etc.. Real MCs and DJs.. I digress, but you get the picture.

For instance, when I first began using Twitter there were at least 6-10 followers which were social media consultants or SEO champions. When you visited the websites included in their profiles, there was no mention of any "building materials" associated with social media (ie Linux, MySQL, PHP, python, perl, etc). I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to be a code slinger or sys-admin. I certainly am not a code slinger. However, I would argue that if you are involved in social media, you will certainly encounter these building materials. Taking the point a little further, if these building materials are not part of your conversation you really are missing the bigger picture. This phenomenon called social media and social networking would not be possible without the F/OSS. Period.. I dare anyone to challenge me on this point. Moreover, if you spend time actually understanding how these properties are built (ie Facebook, Twitter, Identi.ca) your "loot" will actually grow faster over the long run. At some point we will reach a critical mass and these social networks will actually become profitable. Once they are sold to the highest bidder and then become paid subscriber only property or eventually dismantled how will you then make your money? If you don't understand the foundation you'll always be running to catch the next idea.

I would rather rest easy at night knowing that if all this social media would change to a "pay to play" model, that I could still make money working on the bare metal stuff. Create my own social media platform. Producing value instead of regurgitating and consuming.

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Facebook, Inc.

Image via Wikipedia

I'm always fascinated with the stuff people data mine about others. It is not surprising that FBOOK can harvest this sort of information. Why should anyone else be amazed? In the wilds of the Interweb, anything is fair game. This is particularly true when folks give their ish away for the sake of convenience. I suppose when it comes to ad revenue everybody is evil.

According to Zuckerberg, privacy is a thing of the past. Well kiss my ass ;-)
My suggestion has always been to be mindful of what you share and be very clear about who really owns the data. Even if you've unknowingly hired an ad broker (aka GOOG), or photo curator (aka flickr) or you've decided against learning basic HTML so that you could quickly host a webpage and share pictures with friends (aka myspace and facebook)... You give up your rights almost immediately.

Facebook Confessions

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AT&T payphone signage

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Perhaps that most meaningful request to originate from the so-called leaner AT&T. I would venture to guess many people across the country no longer use phone books. I have witnessed the real-time shrinkage of the Yellow Pages content in S.E Mich. The once monstrous Yellow Pages and White Pages are now condensed into one publication, roughly 1/3 of the size.

Moreover, it would seem that the overwhelming popularity of cellular phones, online phone directories, and search engines have marginalized the utility of hard copy phone listings. Hell, I have not used a POTS line in my home since 2002. Strictly cellular and VoIP in my household.

If AT&T wishes to be truly lean, it should probably stop printing these books. However, it appears that they are mandated local Public Service Commissions.

Bob Frankston has a very interesting assessment of the pickle AT&T has found themselves. He isn't all too sympathetic either :-) See his excerpt below.

This sounds like a great deal. If ATT wants to hand over their copper physical plant to communities to use as a resource I would take them up on their offer immediately.

The communities can then hire companies to "light" it up as DSL using 2010 electronics (100Mbps per pair or higher). This is divestiture II done right.

And without being shackled by the 19th century telegraphy idea of charging services we'd be able to achieve Ambient Connectivity (http://rmf.vc/?n=IAC) with or without wires!

He raises some valid points about the greed associated with PSTN and the general disdain that AT&T now has for all of its copper networks. What are they to do with the millions of copper lines running across the US?
Allowing municipalities to purchase the copper lines would be one method of disrupting the stranglehold that wireless carriers have on consumers. Imagine what would happen if there was added competition? True free market model at its best, not a simple oligarchy of a few dominant wireless carriers as we have today.

Though I often worry about the new GOOG, they seem to looking off into the future and strongly considering muni-fiber networks.
*Aside* - AT&T also owns its fair share of dark fiber too, perhaps they'll suffocate on the vast stretches of fiber before they figure out how to really benefit from it. It does appear that the venerable MaBell wants to get out of the telephony infrastructure business and leap into the VoIP service arena. It would seem that there is much more profits to be made offering services for the next growth market. POTS is dying a slow death, and any left holding onto a service level agreement that is laden with PSTN is plain foolish. IP vs. Dark Fiber is another topic for another

I have long been a proponent of muni-fiber (citizen owned fiber networks) efforts. Sadly, there just are not enough viable muni-fiber projects in this country.

I long for the day that FTTH is commonplace and de-regulated so that people could have choice.
At this point, greed and arrogance is very pervasive in the leadership ranks of the wireless carriers, that innovation is essentially stifled in this country. The other issue is that most Americans are not really familiar with the technology or their rights for access. So-called developing nations (ie China and South Africa) have more infrastructure problems but have far better connectivity (albeit prohibitively expensive in certain areas). The point here is that the US must figure out a means to totally disrupt the existing data delivery model paradigm. It really takes courage and money.

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Mobile Open Source: Better lucky than smart

Assorted smartphones. From left to right, top ...

Image via Wikipedia

Every so often I get inspired by a random blog entry, and Fabrisio post gave me pause. Firstly, I have admired the Funumbol project and its very slick syncml application. Anytime you can have the ability to sync your smartphone to the server that _you_ own without any proprietary middleware, I must simply rejoice.

I have been pseudo-ranting about the state of Linux based smartphones. Most of my angst comes from the lack of competition in this space. I don't happen to be an Android fanboi, as I struggle with the tracking that GOOG has deployed in their default software stack. Sure, I know that most of the stuff can be disabled at the shell level, but I'm paranoid. He highlighted an alliance of sorts with Intel and Nokia - MeeGo project. I will have to learn about more about this MeeGo project, perhaps it could be something that bares watching. At least from the stand point of challenging the GOOG, people that profess to love free markets should be grinning from ear-to-ear. Geez, just 3-5 years the mobile OS market was quite stagnant. You had Symbian, PalmOS and crappy Windows Mobile. I suppose some might argue outside of iPhone's BSD with thin layers of proprietary paint and Android not much has changed. Well I suppose you might be correct if you were just looking at smartphones. The entire world of MIDs has really taken a leap forward in the last 3-5yrs. Outside of Apple Newton (device that few folks understood) which was peaked much too soon, and Palm devices there was not much innovation on tablets.

Somehow, I wish that Palm ALP could seriously challenge Android and offer consumers more choice. Perhaps this is just wishful thinking. I suppose time will tell.

FOSS Mobile - Better Lucky Than Smart

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