Posts Tagged ‘social applications’

A Proposal to Fix Online Identity

February 10th, 2012 02:53 admin View Comments

shutterstock_constellation.jpgFacebook’s social graph of you isn’t you. It’s an approximation and an extrapolation based on little clues you’ve left lying around the Web. Using your Facebook or Google identity gives those services more data points about what you do, but that doesn’t mean it substitutes for whom you are.

The central thing wrong with the social Web is that users don’t own their identities. Users share themselves with identity services – like Facebook and Google – that then act as representatives of the people using them. Facebook and Google allow other sites to rent those identities. But when you log in to a new service using Facebook Connect, you are actually constraining your identity to the Facebook version of it, though you’re expanding Facebook itself. Do you want to be the same version of yourself everywhere else as you are on Facebook? Or Google?

Facebook & Google Act On Our Behalf

Sponsored-Like-Story.jpgBy doing things this way, Facebook, Google et al can lend your name to things without really asking you, like ads and promotions of various kinds. You have implied your permission by ‘liking’ things or ‘checking in’ to places.

But you didn’t create the ad. You just initiated an action that triggered it. Social applications that speak for us this way are using our identities without us.

Identity Is Prismatic

Our Facebook and Google identities are like constellations. The stars are our actions on the Web. Facebook and Google are on the ground, staring up at the sky with a bunch of marketers and advertisers. They’re the know-it-alls pointing at abstract shapes and confidently labeling them with names.

But the actual user, not the vague constellation of her online actions, is a multi-faceted person. “Identity is prismatic,” as Chris Poole says, and “Facebook and Google do identity wrong.”

“It’s not ‘who you share with,’ it’s ‘who you share as,’” Poole says. In other words, we’re only presenting one, Facebook-facing aspect of ourselves when we share online via Facebook. The advertisers who make Facebook possible don’t have a full picture; they have a Facebook caricature.

Today’s Social Web Is A Performance

The more about ourselves we share with Facebook, the more stars you can see in the night sky, the clearer the constellation appears. Hence, Facebook rolls out Timeline and asks us to share our entire life story.

But what Facebook has to acknowledge is that this is still a performance. It’s a make-believe Facebook self. And Facebook’s (and Google’s) business consists of spinning that self on our behalf, mapping it and stereotyping it and selling it.


It’s not wrong of Facebook or Google to do that, per se. But I have a feeling that better products, better ads, and a better Web would be possible if users owned their identities, showing as many (or as few) facets as they want to show.

A Proposal: Online Identity As A Fingerprint

Users should have signatures that are truly theirs, instead of their Facebook and Google guardians signing on their behalf.

Identity on the Internet should be embedded by the user like a fingerprint. It should be written into the digital material we make using hardware we have authorized. We should also be able to withhold it whenever we choose and make the content anonymous.

We should also be able to sign multiple and pseudonymous identities, but we’ll have to hash that out later, as a political issue, once this is even technically possible. The first step is to create a protocol that lets us sign off the bits we’ve written as being of us, so that they remain identifiable no matter where the content is repackaged or republished.

Why Do We Want This?

We want this because it would delineate a difference between something we made or we said and something an outside service extrapolated about us.

We want this because it would simplify problems of attribution and copyright on the Web. If we didn’t sign something we created, it would default to the other ways we deal with unsigned content. But content that is signed would have an unmistakable origin.

“There would be a layer of protection between whom we declare we are and whom companies assume we are.”

We want this because it will make identity services like Google, Facebook and the rest compete honestly for our attention instead of boxing us into their worlds.

Facebook and Google can only make enough money from their profiles of us by tracking our activity and extrapolating who we are and what we do. But that would still be possible on top of a layer of authentic identity that those services didn’t own. They would be able to compete based on whose recommendations were more accurate, but there would be a layer of protection between whom we declare we are and whom companies assume we are. We would no longer be tied to just one of those identity constellations.

OpenID is not what I’m talking about, either. It’s more than just logging in to websites. This is something we write in. It’s not a handle and a password. It’s like one of those wax seals on a letter, except with Information Age security measures.

The Naïve Things About My Idea

Many things about my above proposal are naïve. Here are just a few:

  1. I am not well-versed enough in the longstanding projects of this nature that already exist, like GnuPG signing or Mozilla’s BrowserID, to know what the challenges are. But I’m working on it.
  2. I haven’t specified at which layer of the user interface this identity signature should take place, whether at the device level, the browser level, or what. Again, that’s because I am not well-versed enough in the technical requirements of such a project.
  3. And yes, the inertia of moving away from siloed Web identities (Google/Facebook) towards this is unconscionably humongous.

So I know there are experts on these problems out there. Talk to me. What’s right and what’s wrong about this idea? Who’s working on it? How is it going? Is it impossible? Is it unnecessary? Is it hopeless? In the interest of a better Web, let’s talk about this.

See also: Scott M. Fulton, III’s year-end post, “Issues for 2012 #3: Who Gets to Define Your Online Identity?”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Source: A Proposal to Fix Online Identity

‘Superpoke’ To Be No More, Thanks To Google

August 28th, 2011 08:28 admin View Comments


angry tapir writes “Apparently the age of ‘superpoking’ social network friends and throwing sheep at them is coming to a close. Google plans to shut down the social applications developed by Slide, a company it acquired a year ago for US$182 million. Slide products include SuperPoke, and photo management and decorating tools like Slideshow and FunPix. Slide’s applications like Slideshow were very popular on MySpace during its heyday, and found success on other social networking sites, including Facebook, where the sheep-throwing feature of SuperPoke caught on, entertaining and annoying many.”

Source: ‘Superpoke’ To Be No More, Thanks To Google

Jive: 53 Percent Of Execs Believe They Must Adopt Social Business Or Risk Falling Behind

June 29th, 2011 06:16 admin View Comments

Social enterprise giant Jive is releasing a study today, called the Jive Social Business Index, which surveyed 902 US-­‐based executives at large and mid-sized companies on their views of social in the enterprise.

The study revealed that Social Business is increasingly perceived as a strategic executive imperative in the enterprise, with 78 percent of the executives surveyed admitting that having a social strategy is critical to the future success of their businesses.

Specific findings include:

  • Sixty-­‐six percent of executives believe that social applications for business represent a fundamental shift in how work will get done.
  • Fifty-­‐three percent of executives believe they must adopt Social Business or risk falling behind.
  • 57 percent anticipate “increased revenue or sales” as a result of implementing a Social Business strategy.
  • Seventy percent of executives and 51 percent of millennials have downloaded at least 1 web-­‐based application for work use either on their mobile device or personal computer.
  • Fifty-eight percent of executives and 58 percent of millennials did not seek or receive permission from a systems administrator or an IT professional before downloading or using apps in the workplace.
  • Eighty-nine percent of executives, 88 percent of millennials and 76 percent of general knowledge workers believe that they and their teams would be more productive if they could dramatically reduce the time spent writing and reading emails.

The findings aren’t earth shattering but interesting considering that more and more companies are looking to add social to their in-house communications.

Source: Jive: 53 Percent Of Execs Believe They Must Adopt Social Business Or Risk Falling Behind

Facebook’s “Open Compute Project”: Their Server/Datacenter Expertise Now Open To All

April 7th, 2011 04:44 admin View Comments

We’re live today at a Facebook event at their headquarters in Palo Alto. They’ve already noted that this event won’t be about a consumer facing product, but instead will be about the underlying technology that powers the service. And to that end, they’ve announced a new iniative, The Open Compute Project.

So what is it? Facebook is opening up the specifications and design documents that went into creating their customized servers and datacenters. According to Facebook, these are much more efficient than the industry standards out there right now — especially if you’re specifically building social applications. In fact, Facebook says their servers are 38 percent more efficient than the off-the-shelf ones they were buying previously. And that has meant a 24 percent cost savings.

As you can see in the chart above, when measuring in PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness), Facebook’s data center (Prineville) is much more efficient than the industry average (1.07 versus 1.5).

So why open this? It’s about both giving back and pushing these technologies forward. Normally, software is opened up, but not hardware. “We think sharing this will help the ecosystem grow,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says. “We think there will be a lot of demand for this,” he continues. He notes that the Facebook team has been working on all of this for over a year.

Zuckerberg then introduced Jonathan Heiliger, the head of operations. He spoke about the way most companies lease space in a datacenter, and how Facebook was in that position for seven years. Then they realized they could do better. So they opened their own datacenter in Oregon. And now they’re building a second one — again, with their own servers as well.

With these specifications Facebook is handing out, presumably other startups (with enough cash, of course) will be able to build their own servers and/or datacenters this way. And they can modify these designs to suit their own needs. One company that immediately jumps to mind is Twitter, which also recently got to the size that they need their own datacenter. And of course, giants like Google has been doing this for a long time. But again, Facebook is opening all their learnings up. That should help the industry.

“It’s time to stop treating datacenters like Fight Club,” Heiliger quips.

Source: Facebook’s “Open Compute Project”: Their Server/Datacenter Expertise Now Open To All

Mobile-Patterns: New Resource for Mobile App Makers from Foursquare’s Lead Designer

April 4th, 2011 04:14 admin View Comments

Mari Sheibley, the lead designer at Foursquare, has created a resource of inspirational mobile user interfaces for the benefit of the mobile design and development community. The website, available at, offers dozens of screenshots of popular mobile applications showing how they implement various UI elements like comment boxes, splash screens, lists, sign-up flows and more.

Filling a Void in the Mobile Design World

We recently discovered this resource via Twitter, but Sheibley says she launched it back in mid-February. “I’m always looking at other apps for inspiration on how things look, but more importantly how things work and interact,” Sheibley told us. “There are a lot of great pattern resources for websites, such as, but I couldn’t find anything quite like this for mobile.”

Sheibley also noted that while there were a lot of different design-oriented blogs, they only touch on a few things and were hard to organize. And while design websites like dribbble and forrst are great for inspiration, she found them more useful for questions like “how do I make this button look really hot and 3D?” and less for questions like “how do other apps handle EDU for their first time users?” or “how do other apps handle notification systems?”

To fill this void, she launched, a site dedicated to organizing screens of various mobile applications’ user interfaces. The site was created using the collection of screenshots she has taken over the years.

Mobile patterns 1

Much of what’s currently featured on the new website is related to what Sheibley works on and researches for Foursquare, she says, which explains the site’s focus on activity feeds, check-in screens, user profiles and other aspects of social applications.

Recent additions to the site include sections on Settings and Sign-up Flows, while a section featuring Venue and Place Detail Pages is forthcoming, she says.

Overall, the Mobile-Patterns website is great resource for mobile designers and developers looking for inspiration and ideas on how to craft the interfaces for their own mobile applications. To stay tuned regarding future updates to the website, you can follow Mari Sheibley here on Twitter.

Source: Mobile-Patterns: New Resource for Mobile App Makers from Foursquare’s Lead Designer

Why Salesforce Overpaid For Radian6

March 31st, 2011 03:12 admin View Comments

As you may have heard, yesterday Salesforce announced the $326 million purchase of social media monitoring company Radian6, the CRM company’s largest acquisition to date. While we know that Salesforce has been actively pushing its social strategy with the debut of a Twitter and Facebook-like Chatter and the Service Cloud 3, $300-million plus is a lot of money for the CRM giant to shell out for a single company. In a press call with Salesforce executives and analysts yesterday, the company’s CEO and founder Marc Benioff said that Radian6 currently has a revenue run rate of $35 million and is expected to add $40 to $50 million in revenue to Salesforce’s top line this year.

At $326 million, Salesforce paid nearly ten times Radian6′s revenues, which is rare. So why did Salesforce want Radian6 so badly? First, Salesforce is aggressively pushing a social strategy and it’s a dog eat dog world in the social enterprise space with a massive number of companies trying to capture marketshare for social applications. Salesforce is actively marketing Chatter but the Yammer and Jive competitor isn’t a clear cut leader in the space. Radian6 boosts the company’s footprint in social, and provides an established set of well-known clients, such as Dell, GE, Kodak and UPS.

Salesforce has already stated its intention to integrate the two applications to ‘create the bridge between public social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and online communities, and Salesforce Chatter, the private, secure social network for the enterprise.’ According the company, ‘Chatter feeds will no longer just contain the activity happening within the walls of a company, but will be filled with real time insights from fans on Facebook pages, followers on Twitter, comments on blog posts and more.’

Another reason why Salesforce bought Radian6 (and paid through the nose) was that it was in a rush to add social media monitoring to its family of products. When an analyst asked Benioff why Salesforce didn’t just develop the technology in house, he said that he needed to move quickly as more competitors move into the world of social enterprise. Salesforce CMO Kendall Collins said it would have takes at least three years for Salesforce to build the technology in-house.

Collins tells us that the company looked at entire space of social media monitoring companies, but narrowed it down to a few select companies. In the end, he says, Radian6 was the leader in terms of technology, clients and talent.

Clearly, Salesforce is making it known that it is willing to pay the big bucks for social. Even the company’s latest investments, including Seesmic and HubSpot, have been made in social applications for businesses.

And for social media monitoring, this exit is probably the largest acquisition to date. Lithium bought ScoutLabs for $20 million to $25 million last year and Jive bought Filtrbox for an undisclosed (and probably small) amount.

It’s unclear if Salesforce’s massive bet will pay off in the end. Yes, it will have a social media monitoring application within its comprehensive portfolio of products. But what’s to stop a competitor (i.e. Microsoft or IBM) from buying a smaller (and less expensive) but equally as feature rich app like HootSuite or ViralHeat?

Photo credit/Flickr/blatantnews

Source: Why Salesforce Overpaid For Radian6

Google Exec Repeats: “Google Me” Is Not A Product (And Says It’s An Awful Name)

November 11th, 2010 11:40 admin View Comments

In a talk at the Monaco Media Forum earlier today, Google’s Product Management Director, Mobile, Hugo Barra, denied that the search giant is “working on building a traditional social network platform” to compete with those who’re leading the pack in that space, and scrambling to build a variety of social applications instead.

The Telegraph puts it this way: “Google’s mobile chief has flat out denied that the search company is developing a ‘traditional’ social network, called Google Me, to rival Facebook”.

This is all very interesting. Thing is, we’ve heard that song before, from Google CEO Eric Schmidt himself no less, back in September. Heck, Mark Zuckerberg even kinda sorta responded to its rival’s proclaimed strategy after Schmidt’s statement, saying ‘social’ doesn’t equal merely putting a social layer on top of existing products.

We also identified Google VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra as the person who will control overall product strategy and execution around Google’s new efforts to find relevance in a quickly changing Internet landscape that is increasingly dominated by Facebook.

Anyway, Barra reportedly told the audience: “We do think that social is an ingredient for success for any app going forward, search and advertising being probably the best two examples that I would mention. So that’s how we’re thinking about the problem.”

He added that he thinks Google Me, the rumored name of the “product”, is ‘awful’.

(That may be, but it’s still much better than Orkut.)

Hopefully Barra’s statements will, once and for all, obliterate the rumors of Google building a full-fledged Facebook competitor anytime soon. I just hope Google’s strategic plans continue to include throwing fighting words at Zuckerberg and co.

Source: Google Exec Repeats: “Google Me” Is Not A Product (And Says It’s An Awful Name)

Live: Kleiner Perkins Unveils The sFund With Facebook, Zynga, and Amazon

October 21st, 2010 10:29 admin View Comments

We’re here today at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. But it’s not a Facebook event. Well, it’s not totally a Facebook event. Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has summoned the press here for an announcement. What will it be? Judging by the signs posted around here, it’s called the “sFund”. And Facebook, Amazong, Zynga, are major partners with Comcast, and Allen & Co. are on board to help out as well.

You may recall that in 2008, Kleiner Perkins announced a $100 million iFund, to spur iPhone app development. In March of this year, they doubled that down with another $200 million. They haven’t announced the size of this fund just yet, but we’d guess it’s closer to the latter amount. And judging from the name, I think it’s a good bet that this fund will be all about social applications.

The event should start in a few minutes. We’re hearing the heads of all the main companies are hear to talk about the new fund. And the first batch of companies should be presenting. Stay tuned.

Source: Live: Kleiner Perkins Unveils The sFund With Facebook, Zynga, and Amazon