Burned By Social Media…Long Live the Blog

Earlier this month a wrote a post mortem on Google Wave as its demised gave me food for thought on all things social. As I most eloquently (I think) opined:

With Wave now riding off into the sunset I have begun to re-evaluate what I’ve been contributing to these products. I sometimes put so much time and effort into these technologies I forget what they are used for. How much original thought and content have you given Twitter, Buzz, Facebook, Wave, etc?”

Just as I thought those words disappeared into the echo chamber that is the “Social” web along comes a late night blog post from one of my favorite tech luminaries @Leo Laporte.  He noticed that none of his Google Buzz posts over a 2 week period were being posted as public nor were they showing up in his Buzz stream. He just thought of it as a glitch, but also noticed that no one else seem to either. This was much to his dismay. This episode caused some reflection on his part, much as Google canning Wave made me think about where my true attention should be focused, our personal blogs.  I think DeWitt Clinton’s post puts this new epiphany in prespective stating that:

“Ultimately we need to lower the cost, and raise the utility, of user-centric creation and presentation of content, rather than the network-centric creation and presentation of content we have today.³ In an ideal world, you’d be able to use whatever tools you want, to produce whatever content you want, to publish in any place you want, to whatever audience you want.”

This is what I have professed with numerous blog posts of my own  about the future of blogging platforms (part 1 & 2) and the Social Profile Wall of the Future. We need social media federation for blogs that is as seamless and less of a barrier to entry as Twitter and Facebook are today. Thank god for Posterous and Tumblr, they get it.  We should continue to encourage and support the DeWitt Clinton’s and Diaspora’s of the world to make blogging (macro or micro) in general as easy as a Facebook.  Hence liberating our data from the silos it exists in today.  This might be a space where Google Me could exploit the current disillusionment with a growing social network fatigue.  I mean seriously, where is this stuff going? Am I contributing in vain? Who listens to me?  These are my questions, but I believe Leo has touched on something that has the blogosphere a buzz again.

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Random Thought of the Day: Net Neutered

I’ve had a couple of days to digest the Google-Verizon “proposal” and now that I have calmed down a bit, I’m  started to put this whole thing in the its proper perspective and context. First, it’s just a proposal and carry no weight of law or legislation. Sure, a future congress or FCC could use it as a starting point for future legislation, but this issue (if ever taken up by the congress) will become much more diluted, convoluted and contentious before this ever becomes policy.  Those of you who think that Google just sold-out the entire internet your only half right. After many years of lobbying, battles, protests and court cases the ISP’s have essentially relented on control of their wireline assets. That argument has been won. In the end the data caps will rise and eventually disappear along with its iron grip on the internet backbone.  All-in-all the backbone of the internet will remain relatively traffic agnostic going forward – at least in principle. Wireless on the other hand is different. The Telcos had little standing in controlling the content flowing over networks seeing as that very network was partially government funded.  But to my limited knowledge the wireless networks were build mainly with private funding by dozens of carrier (most of which now comprise of the big 4) . They raised the capital to purchase (no lease) spectrum from the government and build out advanced wireless networks using that spectrum.  They have the right to do with those networks as they see fit. Sucks I know, but think about it on a more pico-scale. You build a $500 dollar Wi-Fi network for your house to extend your backbone. You manage traffic on it so that your XBox gets priority to stream Netflix over your iPad surfing the web. You enable encryption and MAC address filtering for only the devices in your house. You have that right. Why? You invested in the network infrastructure from the ingress point where the ISP delivers the bits, to the Wi-Fi access points, wireless extenders and antennas you installed.  Even if you you don’t lock down your network and allow anyone to access it in your neighborhood, if you were to find that your generosity was being abused you have the right (and duty) to regulate or eliminate that traffic. I know I am comparing apples and oranges, but the extrapolated premise still stands.  So you probably won’t like hearing this, but part of being an adult is living in the real world. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, MetroPCS, etc have every right to do with their respective networks what they DAMN WELL PLEASE.  Is this consumer friendly? HELL NO!! It’s just the reality of the landscape today. It won’t always be like this, but for now it is.  Give the carriers time to build out their networks and make their money. I predict that this may be a non-issue soon anyway. Soon most of the customers on wireless network won’t be people with smart devices, but simple devices such as gas or electric meters and other type sensors(an Internet of Things). These networks are expensive to deploy and even more expensive to maintain. Let’s marvel at the now and not the post-apocalyptic, non-net neutral future that every tech pundits is prognosticating. For Christ sakes, we’re driving down the freeways at 85 MPH listening to streaming internet radio while getting email and real-time traffic updates. How cool is that?  Let’s keep the anti-BIG business rhetoric to minimum.  We’ve come a long way since the days of WAP and ATT.Net. We’re winning the argument for a more neutral internet ever so slowly.

Image copyright Grassmere Animal Hospital

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5 Stories..5 Random Thoughts

Hurd Vs. HP

Forget all the innuendo about falsifying expense reports or upsetting the apple cart of an entrenched HP culture. How do I become a CEO of a billion dollar company who gets to bone a soft-core porn stars? I’m just saying….

Skype IPO

Are the 90’s fast times of over abundance and Pets.com back for tech IPO’s? Unlikely. This is an exciting opportunity to own a piece of a phone company of the future. WTF EBay!!

Marc Andreeseen, entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Ballar!

This dude started Netscape, went public. Then he sold to AOL, started LoudClould then sold that to EDS.  He now owns pieces of Facebook, Ning, Twitter and Skype through his Venture Capital firm. When Facebook, Twitter and Skype go public Mr. Andreeseen could stand to makes BILLIONS.

Google, Verizon and Net Neutrality

Better these guys than the FCC. Besides the technical reasons why absolute net neutrality is an a front to private property rights and freedom. Lets see how this plays out first before out right condemnation.  This is just a proposal. All the hardliner socialist types out there that are clammering for Government interference to keep the net ‘neutral’ remember this, last time the federal government gave us universal and liberal access they bestow monopoly on one company to do so.  That was AT&T. Enough said.

In More Google ME Speculation…

Google aqu-hired another piece to there games strategy by purchasing Jambool.  Who the F are Jambool?  They build something called Social Gold that allows other social-gaming sites to build there own virtual currency infrastructure. Sounds like the Federal Reserve to me. While I, and many others, are still licking our wounds after Google Wave, Google continues to mass an army of engineers and hires to go after Facebook, or at least create an alternative. This looks of desperation and is reminiscent of a Yahoo-like flailing (where last decade when they bought Flickr and Delicious and did nothing with them). Why all the buying? Can they even begin to cobble all this together into a cohesive social product?  I hate to say it, but Pete Cashmore is starting to look like a genius. BTW, does any one have any Google Me invites?

Nuff Said.

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A Tale of Two Monsoons

From the looks of our 7-day outlook we’ll be receiving a much needed break from our seasonal monsoonal weather pattern.  After today we’ll be drying out and our characteristically late season heat wave will come in with a vengeance.  I for one welcome it. I was born and raised in the south so I am more equip to deal with the uncharacteristic humidity then other native New Mexicans. That does mean I enjoy it.

As other parts of the state in the more rural corners dry out from flooding I can’t help but to contrast this event with the recent monsoons that have tragically ravaged parts of Pakistan. The scale may be larger, but results in such tragedy is always the same – an unfortunate loss of life.  The flooding around here yielded 1 fatality as compared with 1100, however we are not nearly as populated as Pakistan.  The only event is recent history on the same geographic scale would be the Tennessee floods of this Spring. Say what you will about government failure of even the sad state of our municipal governments, we still handle such acts-of-god fairly well (even Hurricane Katrina). Contrast this with the massive loss of life in Pakistan with the growing humanitarian disaster and I for one say GOD BLESS AMERICA.  Thank god for our prosperity, protocols and people for handling these things when everything else breaks down.  From earthquakes to Hurricanes,  where would you rather live when disaster strikes? Here or in Pakistan?

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My Post Mortem On Google Wave

After much agony (and drinking) I have finally come to grips with the demise of Google Wave. It was for all intents and purposes very ambitious and I commend them for taking such a huge leap. Collaboration software was not even an after thought to the wider web world before Wave. Sure if you were a developer you had Basecamp or if you where in a corporate setting Microsoft Sharepoint, but to a normal web user there were Feeds, Walls, IM along with email and never the sum shall mix. Now collaboration is all the rave and even Enterprises are starting to pay attention. We can indirectly thank Wave for this.

Most articles and posts I’ve seen online have pointed to the fact that the underlying technology was amazing, but its marketing and execution where far from it. We should also be happy that lots of the technologies and architecture of Wave will start migrating into other Google products soon, as Eric Schmidt alluded to in this interview. Wave was way ahead of its time. It was a solution in search of a problem, a problem that we’ll soon see rear its ugly head in my opinion.  Its place in history (not matter how brief) will forever change the way of communication eventually, but not as a stand alone product. But alas this is what Google is known for.  The creative destruction that leaves jilted lovers at a Las Vegas alter. I feel for the developers that were left in the lurch with projects and development efforts built around this revolutionary communications platform. Those that us whom invest passion and evangelized about doing things the “Wave” way are also saddened. Most of all I feel sorry for myself. I should not have invested so much time and energy in thinking about the potential of this product. It was nothing more than a product, but I too fell for the siren song of advocacy. Shame on me.

What worries me most about this is how often Google’s track record leads to the same roads of failure. Building community around anything social is not in its DNA.  Jaiku(Twitter predecessor) and Dodgeball(Foursquare predecessor are part of a growing list of Google snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Maybe Google should focus on mobile and the utility of search and leave the social to the new kids on the block. But I fear the dogs of war have been unleashed as Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering, has been tapped to turn the HMS Google toward a social course. I suspect the killing of Wave was partly his idea. There is good reason for it though. As Google stated in its blog post (more like a eulogy) Wave had not gotten the adoption and acceptance they wanted. This was mostly of their own doing, but the time for finger pointing is over and failure is failure. Google Me or whatever the hell they call it better be worth it. This post goes out to Thomas Beverley and the folks at Wave.to makers of the Mr. Ray bot that brought much needed integration with the outside web to Wave. To Alfredo Abambres who build his whole business on Wave and who I was honored to help in the his RITMO virtual Wave conference earlier this year. To Luciano Santa Brigida who got me excited about Wave all over again and shares my vision for wave as a federated protocol for mass real-time communication. All these folks were great and I was glad to meet them (virtually) on this platform.

With Wave now riding off into the sunset I have begun to re-evaluate what I’ve been contributing to these products. I sometimes put so much time and effort into these technologies I forget what they are used for. How much original thought and content have you given Twitter, Buzz, Facebook, Wave, etc?  Through these services I have found my voice and started a blog because of them.   So I have decided to take a little break from engagement in Buzz  (and other social platforms) for a bit.  First, I feel a little burn by Wave going the way of FriendFeed. Why invest so much and choose the wrong horse in the race when it’s double or nothing?  I’ll focus more on my blogging and my family and less on engaging in the fickleness of the social web. I  love Buzz, but I feel that anything or subject worth deeply engaging can be best done from my blogs me.relativeprogress.com or blogs.relativeprogress.com.   I’m not leaving forever, but I will be throttling down what I do here for a bit. The closure of Wave has made me look carefully at more open and federated approaches to doing things socially on the web. Posterous and Tumblr are great examples of what I would want from a Google Me. Diaspora and OneSocialWeb are two other example of where I want Google Social to go also, but I fear we will never get there. Hopefully from the ashes of this latest failure will rise the Google Me that will be all things to all people. Given the track record I doubt it. See you all later.

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