Wednesday, August 03, 2011

HuB Quote of the Day

When great companies fail, they’re gone forever. When great people fail, they learn from their experiences and go on to pursue new ventures with greater chance of success. While we value powerful ideas and innovative startups, the lifeblood of any community is the individuals involved.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Does Social Media have a soul?

I spend a lot of time online reading tech blogs (e.g. TechCrunch, Mashable) - trying to keep up with the latest and hottest apps and web 2.0 companies... and I always have the same feeling when I am done reading the posts --- it's a feeling of emptiness. It's like when your starving and you eat a whole bag of potato chips, and realize the empty calories didn't satisfy you. Or is it worse???  I don't know... but I feel like we have sold our soul to "click economy".

What is the "Click Economy"??? It's what drives Silicon Valley. It's what motivates entrepreneurs. It's driven by the collective ego of the Internet - where the one who dies with the most clicks...wins.

Does anyone find this ironic??? Social Media is making us less human?  Don't get me wrong, I am not arguing that Social Media makes us less social (I do believe it helps bring people together like no other medium in history)..... I am talking about being "human". I am talking about what makes us unique - our ability to devote our lives to improve the lives of everyone. I am talking about compassion. I am talking about making the world a better place.

It seems every new company I read about is turning us into mice ... clicking for cheese. The applications help us book tickets easier, or help us find where we parked, or helps us "shop better".... really??? Is this what the greatest minds coming out of Stanford working on??? Shopping?

Are the Einsteins of our generation focused on creating the next best App for the IPhone??? or are they working on projects that will change our world for the better?

Unfortunately I think the bright minds are sucked into the Click Economy - lured by the collective conscious of Silicon Valley all chanting in unison "How many clicks can you get us?"

And when I say "change the world".... I am talking about simple things that improve the way we live as a society. I am not expecting anyone to spend their life trying to cure a disease or map the human genome.... I am talking about apps that actually help humanity. Applications that make us better people... make us human.

Instead of building applications that help us get the "best deals".... perhaps we could launch companies that help us find community projects that we can participate or support.  Instead of "group buying" perhaps we can find ways of getting people to gather in groups to help get out the vote.  Instead of "checking in" to get a badge - maybe we could "check-in" and the business would donate a dollar to charity. I realize there are a few companies out there that are doing good things... but it's too few.

Why can't social media be socially responsible? Why has our "value" as people been reduced to a click. Why can't every company give something back to the universe - if not out of good will - at least out of the interest of self-preservation. If the "click economy" continues without a soul - it will die. And we will all be left with nothing.

Are we mice? or are we human?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friend vs. Follow

Now that we are getting to the end of the honeymoon stage with Google+ .... and we have a few weeks under our belt using the service.... I wanted to talk a little about how G+ will be different from Facebook.

First and foremost.... G+ is nothing like Facebook. This is not a good or a bad statement - I am just trying to get any notion out of your head that the two services will have any similarity. Or if you are asking "Do I use Facebook or G+???" - the answer is most likely both.

When people ask me "How is it different?" - the answer is actually is simple - Friend vs. Follow.

On Facebook, the currency is "Friends". You have the ability to ask someone to be your friend, ability to invite friends, and you have the ability to deny friends. It is a pro-active system that connects people based on both agreeing to be connected.

Example:

1. John sends a friend request to Mary
2. Mary receives friend request. Decides to "accept" or "ignore"
3. Mary accepts friend request
4. John and Mary are now friends (connected on FB)

On Google+ ... is it different. There is no "friend request" - there is only "follow". On G+ it is driven more by who you want to follow (or put in your circles). Instead of having a double opt-in friend request transaction - the concept of "following" someone is a one-way relationship.

Example:

1. John finds Mary on Google+
2. John adds Mary to his circle "Friends"
3. John now gets updates on Mary
4. Mary will be notified John is "following" her - but no further action is needed.

This may not seem like a huge difference (especially if on Google+ John follows Mary, and Mary follows John) - but it actually is a HUGE difference because this is the context in how the network will grow and form to be completely different than Facebook.

Here are some reasons:

1. Abuse. There is really no way to abuse G+ like you can with Facebook. People send me friend requests all the time (even though they may not be my friends) - and in most cases I accept their request, because I am open to meeting new people and also because it adds to my social influence on Facebook (you see, even I am abusing Facebook). So why is this abuse??? Because it goes against the basic fundamentals of Facebook's origin - which is "Only accept Friend requests from real Friends" --- this principle is what keeps the value of the network high, and reduces the noise (e.g. SPAM) from your feed.  And simply having the ability to blindly invite hundreds of people to be your friend, and getting most of them to blindly accept creates an environment of abuse, spam and clutter - which ultimately reduces the value and fun of the Facebook experience.

2. More Real (and Real-Time). There is something about the context of G+ that makes it seem more real. It could be that we are early in it's life cycle and there are fewer users - but I am not sure that is a factor anyway. Don't get me wrong I think Facebook has a lot of "real" going on.... but it's different. I think the Message is the Medium when it comes to Facebook. More and more messages (posts) I see on Facebook strike me like "shouts" and not really anchored in any personal thought or intelligence. On Google+ - the posts seem much more thought out, reflective and real. Even from the "celebrities of Google+" like Tom from MySpace, or Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, etc --- their posts are more personal - and a little quirky (which is a true sign of real).

Here is a good example. Arianna Huffington (founder of Huffington Post). She has a Page on Facebook, and a profile on G+. I can follow both.  But look at how different they are:


This is her Facebook Page. It looks "corporate" and the feed (although it may be her posting, but I doubt it) - seems more forced... than real (and more importantly real-time).

Here is her latest post on G+


As you can see - its from her phone - you feel like your seeing news through her eyes, and it is more real-time.

This is the result of G+ choosing to be more like TWITTER in how they setup relationships - but leveraging a social graph to help people organize their relationships better than TWITTER.

3. Because it's Google.  The third major reason I think G+ will be completely different than Facebook, is because it's Google who is doing it. There is a huge advantage when you innovate new products, if you don't have to "sell out" to pay the bills. Google already has a money-making machine, and doesn't need to force their social network to be something it's not - just to find sources of revenue.  Everything beautiful in this world is created where money is not a driver. This is a huge advantage as they continue to build out the service, and something Facebook does not have the luxury for too much longer.

Let me know how you guys use G+ different than Facebook.

FOLLOW ME ON G+

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I got my G+ Profile back... but I lost a little something in the Process

Well, good news... My Google+ Profile was turned back on.... after 4 days of sitting at home staring at my computer screen... waiting for any sign of hope... .... it finally came early Monday....


I had mixed feelings after reading this email.... on one hand, I was excited to get back on Google+ so I could comment on "Tom from MySpaces" posts reassuring him it wasn't his fault MySpace sucked... and more importantly back to my quarrel with Robert Scoble (who innocently claims he had nothing to do with me getting shut down, but I think we all know the truth)......where was I??? Oh yeah... YES! I was excited to be back on the "cool people's network".... but then I read the LAST LINE on the email......

Sincerely, Ricky.

Are you F***ing kidding me??? I got shut down by a guy named "Ricky" with no last name.... ISN'T THAT THE REASON THEY ARE SHUTTING PEOPLE DOWN???? Because they are not using their real and full name????  And the hatchet man, the terminator of accounts, the angel of google death is named RICKY???

Do you know what image came into my head after reading this???


Thanks a lot "Ricky"..... I am now forever living in fear of you..... and this image will haunt me everytime I log into Google+ ..... wondering if I got shut down again.....

Sincerely,

Rich

Monday, July 25, 2011

Google+ Deleted my Profile.... Here are best guesses why?

Well, I logged into my Google+ account this weekend, only to be greeted by this nice "welcome to our new social network that we are desperately wanting everyone to love"


"Your Profile is suspended"

Apparently I violated their Community Standards (which by the way - when you click on the link it goes to a blank page). So after looking through their short list of standards, nothing really popped out at me as something I did... so I decided to list a few things I did do on Google+ - that may have triggered my suspension.

Here are my best guesses at why I have been kicked out of Google+

1. I called Mark Zuckerberg an asshole. This was the first thing that I thought... ok, maybe Google+ doesn't like free speech.... and although I was criticizing their competitor - perhaps they felt it was too harsh. Maybe they are following the FCC guidelines on censorship??? Or maybe Mark Zuckerberg sent a nice letter on Facebook letterhead to Google+ management -

"To whom it may concern, My name is Mark Zuckerberg, and I am not an asshole. Please cease and desist all references to me as Asshole, Prick, Douche-bag or otherwise."

2. I disagreed with Robert Scoble. For those of you who don't know Robert Scoble, he is a technofiliac who dominates discussion on Google+ constantly voicing his opinions on features and functionality... bordering on whining.... I like him, but he can be annoying at times (and by "times" I mean all the time). Anyway, we got into a little "comment disagreement".... so perhaps that is what did me in. I can see the email from Robert to Google now.

"Larry and Sergey, This is Robert. We need to do something about this guy Rich Swier... I am sure you heard by now, but he disagreed with one of my posts... and so I expect his profile to be eliminated immediately. Also, can you please add more emoticons to G+... like :) and ;) ... it would really make the service more user-friendly..."

3. I have the same name as my father.  As some of you know, I share the same name as my father, who is a political blogger and happens to effectively piss of every man, woman, child I know.... so I can only assume he posted a blog on how Google+ causes gayness, or how it is run by radical Jihadists (which I actually might agree with)..... either way... I am sure one of his blogs was place in front of the G+ folks....and they deleted all profiles with the word "Swier" in it....

4. I posted a blog asking for more features.  Another potential reason, could have been my blog post "Five Things I would like to see in Google+ (an open letter to Vic @ Google)"  where I asked the head of G+  to consider adding some features..... which apparently is a "no-no".... I can only assume this was what hap penned when a google employee put this blog in front of Vic

"What the F*** is this piece of SHIT????? Do you know who I am ... I am the man who created Google+ ... and you bring me some blog article from a nobody who wants GMAIL INTEGRATION (sarcastic tone)... this isn't Burger King asshole....is their a F***ing sign on my door that says "Whoppers 99 cents???"....

Oh, well... these are my best guesses... I guess until Google tells me why, I will fill out this form, piss in a cup to verify my identity... and hope for the best


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Five Things I would like to see in Google+ (an open letter to Vic @ Google)

Ok, Vic... I am a big fan of G+.... but here are small things I would like to submit as feature requests for G+ 2.0.

1. Integration into GMail.  I love Gmail. But one thing I am not good at is keeping my contacts updated. I know the guy from Plaxo is sitting right behind you - so I assume this feature is done, and your just teasing us... but if it's not - please make it happen. I would like my friends in G+ be automatically available in my Contacts (and their info be automatically updated if they update their profile).  And even better, would be to automatically categorize them in my contacts by the circles I create. So if I have a FRIENDS circle in G+ - you create a category in my GMail Contacts called Friends (and put the contacts there).

I'll even you give you a buzz word "Social Mail" - make sure you give me a shout out on Techcrunch next time.

2. Allow me to Share my Circles.  It would be cool to be able to use Circles as "groups"... for example if I create a circle called "My Softball Team".... to be able to share my circle (e.g. ask people in the circle to join - like a group). This would automatically create a circle on their account, and allow them to post to the same people.  I feel this could be a cool way create "relevant streams".... instead of just having general circles (like Friends, People at Work, etc).... streams that have relevance to more than one person (e.g. softball team) - will have more relevance to those people in the group.

3. Ability to increase or decrease posts from people in my circle. I realize this may be done in the algorhythm - but it would be cool to manually tell you which friends I want to hear more from, and which ones I don't want to hear from so much. Much like the "Mute this post" function, just simply put something that says "I want more" and "I want less" ---- and then my streams will be more enjoyable. Some people in my circle I like, but if they post a hundred times a day - I start to look for the "remove from circle" button.

4. Vanity Link to my Profile.  It would be nice to have a simple URL to point people to my Profile... instead of plus.google.com/797987987969687685   ... something like plus.google.com/richswier would be nice.

5.  Create a Follow Me button - I am sure this is coming with the G+ API...but it would be nice to have a "Follow Me" button to embed on a website or blog - so people can easily add you to their following circle.