On Iran, Technology and Social Media

There is a reason we value art and those who create it. I could write 3 or 4 hundred words about how technology and Social Media are making it impossible for despots to control the message… or I could just point you to the justSignal FreeIran site and get out of the way and let Peter Himmelman (who I’m proud to know) use his art to say just about everything that needs to be said.

Why Twitter Search Does Not Mean Twitter is a Search Engine

canstock1336888.jpgArrington is back. And he dropped a nice post today over at TechCrunch indicating that he believes it is time to start thinking of Twitter as a Search Engine. In general terms I agree… but as always the devil is in the details.

There is one major hole in Arrington’s theory, but that hole is HUGE. The fact is, Twitter Search isn’t a search engine. It is a simple keyword search which returns results in chronological order. That is very useful in some ways, but it negates every example Arrington cites in his post.

People searching for news. Brands searching for feedback. That’s valuable stuff.

Twitter knows it, too. They’re going to build their business model on it. Forget small time payments from users for pro accounts and other features, all they have to do is keep growing the base and gather more and more of those emotional grunts. In aggregate it’s extremely valuable. And as Google has shown, search is vastly monetizable – somewhere around 40% of a ll online advertising revenue goes to ads on search listings today.

In reality FriendFeed’s search is much better positioned to execute a “search engine” strategy. Why? Because they have measures of relevance, authority, and rank via comments and likes. We know these things matter when people search – how? Because Google won the search engine battle – and by no small margin – and did so on the simple idea that the results have to be ranked by relevance (i.e., PageRank). Excite, Yahoo and a bevy of other search services completely missed the boat by failing to realize that in search the relevance of the returned information to the user’s question is everything. Without that there is no revenue from ads – because if the ads are not relevant they are worthless.

Can Twitter build a relevance engine into Twitter Search? Maybe, but execution is everything. And thus far Twitter’s execution has been lacking in almost every regard. More importantly, since every Tweet is indexed by Google and (potentially) pulled into FriendFeed – two companies who’s ability to consistently execute far exceeds Twitter’s – they will face immediate and stiff competition for those search dollars.

As importantly, for companies (and “brands” – for example, musicians, movie stars, etc) search isn’t nearly as interesting as being able to take the raw data and analyze it. For what? Whatever it is they want to know. I can not predict what Peter Himmelman will want to discover today (or next week) about what his fans say on Twitter – so why would I offer him a canned report that only tells him one or two things?

So, while search will matter to Twitter in terms of revenue generation (I’ve officially boycotted the term monetization – but that is a subject for another post) – I’m not as sure as Arrington is that it is the key to selling services to brands.

And I’m not just shooting my mouth off – I’m betting I’m right by using justSignal to set the data free. justSignal will collect Tweets and make that data available to our customers. Not in a fancy report that tells you something I think is important, but in raw XML format – allowing you to analyze the data for what is important to your business. Again – the value is in the Signal – and you are in a better position to determine what Signal you are looking for today (and I know it will be a different Signal tomorrow).

Follow Friday – a justSignal Experiment

UPDATE 5:11PM AZ Time – I added a list of frequent Follow Friday tweeters. You can find it after the jump/at the bottom of the post.

Yesterday a little birdie told me that Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research (@jowyang on Twitter) was looking for a way to figure out who gets recommended the most on Twitter for Follow Friday.

This seemed like a perfect way to use justSignal – we could set up a “collector” that would – using our ability to filter out specific contexts (subjects, topics, events) from everything else being said on Twitter – to grab all the Tweets about Follow Friday, cache them and do some data analysis later.

So yesterday at 9:57:47 AM Pacific time we began collecting the Tweets.

This morning I created a quick script to parse each tweet for Twitter user names (with the @ in front).

Here is what I found:

There were 32,342 recommendations (individual recommendations for a specific user).

There were 16,083 users recommended.

The most recommended user was @mayhemstudios with 127 recommendations.

Ironically the second most recommended user was @ – not sure what that means.

There were 10,684 users recommended one (and only one) time.

Obviously I could spend all day breaking down this data, but I think you’ve got the idea.

For your viewing pleasure I’ve included a table after the jump that contains every user who was recommended 10 or more times.

If anyone would like to work on a site that displays the weekly data (query by user, recommendation trends by user, etc) drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

By the way – the little birdie was @lahne – If you are looking for someone to follow that is who I recommend.

You can check out justSignal Trackers in action here:

Peter Himmelman’s Furious World

UStream Studios as SXSW

US Health Crisis

Demo 09

Suns Tweets

Continue reading “Follow Friday – a justSignal Experiment”

justSignal Widgets now Offer iPhone Optimized Page

js-logov2b-nff.png Mobility matters. I know that there are times when we are not at our computers and still want to be able to connect with others about topics that matter to us.

In order to make the justSignal service even more valuable for those who want to provide their subscribers, fans or readers a way to swarm around specific topics, subjects or events we’ve added an iPhone/iPod Touch web application to the justSignal widget.

For those of you who have not seen the justSignal widget in action you can see them at:

Peter Himmelman’s Furious World – iPhone Page: http://justsignal.com/furiousworld

US Health Crisis – iPhone Page: http://justsignal.com/ushealthcrisis

About Page on My Blog – iPhone Page: http://justsignal.com/brianroyblog

These widgets will all receive a major upgrade next week which will allow user’s to post a new Tweet and reply to Tweets that appear in the widget. This upgrade will apply to all existing widgets and iPhone/iPod Touch pages.

If you are interested in putting one of these widgets on your site you can contact me directly (either check out the about page or leave a comment on this post).

More big news will be out next week. Make sure to check back to see all the latest.

Here is a screen shot taken on an iPhone:

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What the Hell is a Wombat – and Why Are We Tracking Them?

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My interest in Twitter/FriendFeed and all things social media is so like my interest and involvement with VoIP it sometimes keeps me up at night.

VoIP for me was never about the technology – and it certainly wasn’t about “making a phone call”, we could already do that. It was about the possibly. The possibility of being able to communicate with friends, family and strangers who have a common interest in the context of what we wanted to talk to them about.

It was always the power of context. It was always about moving our communication into the contexts that mattered to us right then.

Twitter/FriendFeed and social media resonate with me for that reason. And more. We now have the ability to merge the private and the public. To, not only bring the communication into the context (like, for example, a UStream Chat Room does), but also to extend the conversation beyond that venue.

The context then becomes the subject, topic or event – like Peter Himmelman’s Furious World – and that event can live outside the venue in which it takes place (Peter’s studio in CA). UStream extends the walls of Peter’s studio and allows him the ability to invite us all in. Peter gets to do what he’d be doing anyway… and we’re invited.

The Wombat Tracker does the same thing for the conversation about Peter and the Furious World. It tears down the walls of the UStream chat room and let’s the conversation live. Because what we are interested in is talking about Peter, his music, and the Furious World – and that isn’t limited to the venue – just like freeing Peter to tear down the walls of his studio via UStream and invite us in… we tear down the walls that separate the conversation from the rest of the world.

Which brings us back to the cocktail party principle. Have you every been at a cocktail party and just hung back? Stood off to the side and observed everything, all at once? There are dozens of conversations going on, some people are talking to each other, some people are talking at each other, while others appear to be in the conversation, but are really just observing.

You are in a room of people, each making their individual noises – and if you try to take it in all at once all you register is noise. But if you get up, and join a conversation, all that noise recedes into the background. Voices emerge, thoughts are exchanged, friends are made. From a room full of noise we are able to discern the signal – and in doing so participate in conversation with those that share our interests and – if you are lucky – connect with people you’ll maintain a relationship with.

That is what JustSignal is for – and what the Wombat Tracker does. It filters out the noise, turns up the signal and allows those of us interested in Peter, his music and the Furious World to become Wombats.

You’re a Wombat, and you can’t watch Furious World live – grab the Wombat Tracker and we’ll keep you updated. And when a Himmelman fan has yet to discover Furious World and their inner Wombat – we can see that and invite them in. Because the Furious World isn’t a place, it isn’t a webcast, and it isn’t separate from the world – it is you, me, and every one of us – in the world, wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

My Sorry Sick Self…

So today I’m supposed to appear on Furious World – Peter Himmelman’s weekly live music and technology show.

So of course I wake up this morning and my annoying low grade cold has blossomed into full on body achin’, voice losin’, head throbbin’, racking coughin’, sick as a dog-ness.

I know, you are all disappointed… but be sure to tune in tonight at 7PM Pacific to check out the show… I might just pull it off… But even if I don’t you are still in for a treat.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3075463&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=8f3b55&fullscreen=1
My Sorry Sick Self… from Brian Roy on Vimeo.